We have a bit of a mystery going on here at the farm. My bib overall-wearing buddies pigs, all his pigs, have not produced babies for over a year. We thought perhaps it was due to Sir Boris’ age, and if you read my blog regularly, you know how very difficult the decision to send Boris away was for us. We introduced a new boar, Cleetus, with his crooked-toothed smile and happy disposition. Changing boars did not result in new babies. We have had multiple vet visits. We have had blood work done on all the girls. We have sent bloodwork to Penn State to have it analyzed. We have had everyone tested for STDs. Yes, pigs can get STDs, and it affects their fertility. The bloodwork has all come back with all counts in the normal range. We have given medications to bring the ladies back into sync. We thought the girls were pregnant. Some of the girls have even made milk after doing what boy and girl pigs do to make new babies. But alas, there have not been any new babies.
My pig-loving bibbed wonder is becoming discouraged and frustrated. You see, dear reader, pigs are expensive animals to keep. It takes a lot of sow chow to keep our girls happy, healthy, and in good condition. As with everything, the price of feed has gone up. The Bibbed Wonder could rationalize his love of his pigs and their expensive upkeep by producing ethically raised pasture pork. He also thought that adding the at-risk heritage breed, large black hogs, would benefit his breeding program and sustain an endangered old-world species. He and The Bean bought three registered large black girls in hopes of selling piglets to encourage the growth of a lovely, docile, self-sufficient breed of pig and supplement the pig’s upkeep. To date, Rose is the only large black girl to have a litter of piglets, and she killed them all. Sigh.
Dorothy, one of the large black hogs, is currently making milk. She has been making milk for over a week. In Eric’s lifetime of experience with raising pigs, he has never had a pig make milk for a week without producing little ones. Dorothy makes so much milk that it squirts when you rub her tummy. One can see that she is heavy with milk from across the pasture field. My pig-loving bibbed wonder readied a private stall for Dorothy over a week ago. However, much to his disappointment, he has yet to see the birth of any little piglets.
We are at a loss, dear reader. Eric is diligent about record keeping and breeding. He has dates written down of when he saw his pigs “do the deed.” All but two pigs have bypassed their potential due date. At this point, my bib overall wearing wonder buns is considering sending his beloved girls to the market. We simply cannot afford to feed eight full-grown pigs without some sort of production. Making these difficult decisions is the most challenging aspect of being a farmer. These decisions are not made lightly, and they are torturous.
My bibbed wonder buns has been in a disgruntled, cantankerous funk for over a week. He will go off on random tangents about the “shit luck” of everything. He wracks his brain, trying to figure out if it is something he is doing or has missed. He spends hours researching on the computer, talking to experienced farmers, and consulting our veterinarian. I have suggested we have the environment tested to see if a pathogen in the soil or barn is affecting them. He is going to send a feed sample to Penn State to have it tested for proper nutrients. We are at a loss, dear reader.
However, despite all our frustration, angst, and confusion, Dorothy continues to make milk. Where are the babies? Are her babies being absorbed back into her body? I did not know that this was a thing. Regardless of the situation, Dorothy has a lot of milk. One cannot milk a pig like one milks a goat. Against my better judgment, my bib overall wearing wonder buns created an unorthodox solution.
Eric now takes Little Lester, our abandoned baby goat, to nurse on Dorothy, the large black hog. Yes, dear reader, our little outcast now nurses on a large black hog. Eric reasons that Lester needs milk, and Dorothy has milk and is uncomfortable with said excess of milk. There appears to be no relief in sight for Dorothy with her own little ones. In Eric’s eyes, it makes perfect sense and benefits everyone.
I fear that A) Lester is squished by Dorothy and her hulking mass. B) What if Dorothy is pregnant and a baby goat is depleting her milk? C) If Dorothy is not pregnant, how will she dry up if her body continues to get the signal to produce milk? The Bibbed Wonder has all the answers. He doesn’t allow Lester in the stall with Dorothy unattended, and he holds Lester while he nurses. He believes Dorothy needs relief, which is why she allows Lester to nurse. Eric also rationalizes that perhaps Lester’s nursing will send some sort of signal to Dorothy’s body, and she will miraculously produce little ones. It’s a long shot for sure, but I will trust my pig-loving farmer and his judgment.
How many farmers do you know that can say they have a baby goat raised on pig milk? There is never a dull moment here, dear reader. No, never dull at all. For updates and sheer entertainment, check out our farm videos on the website or follow us on social media. We will keep you up-to-date on all new developments. In the meantime, Lester, my little rejected goat, will be nursing on his adoptive mama pig several times a day. Sigh, only in our world.
On this beautiful spring morning, stay safe, be smart, be innovative, care for those who need it, and keep washing your hands.