Though I’ve lost quite a lot
I am still in control
They can keep what they’ve got
But they can’t have my soul
And if I don’t have this all worked out
Still I’m getting closer, getting closer
I still have far to go no doubt
But I’m getting closer, getting closer…
– lyrics and song: Billy Joel “Getting Closer” from his 1986 release “The Bridge”
We are getting closer to having piglets! Last night we experienced a line of pretty big thunder and lightning storms. So what do you suppose one of the pregnant Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs decides to do? Challenge the humans to a test of nerves. It became the game: “Who wants to stand by a metal animal fastened to metal fence posts, located on the top of a hill, in the dark in a thunderstorm and talk to the piggy”? My husband and I were volunteered, and my mom drove to town to purchase more flashlight batteries. We scratched her ears, and talked some sense into the pig, even though we assumed that it would be a long night, thinking that she would go ahead and have the piglets last night. The weather couldn’t be much worse — with our “luck” that is the way that it should have happened… but it didn’t.
Back story: Last year we had goats somewhat unexpectedly give birth in the absolute worst places and in the most foul of winter weather — birthing them into a puddle of ice and water, mere feet from cover — with precipitation (sleet/freezing rain) thundering down. That was a long and difficult birthing. Before that was a Galloway Gelbveih cross heifer who was not very friendly and who needed assistance and wanted none of it.
Back to the present: So we have yet to experience a farrowing. After calculating out her due date, she is about four to nine days early — but I don’t think that ever stopped a pig from giving birth. We have decided, though, against modern pig farming technique, NOT to use either the farrowing crate or to confine the pig to a small room and use rails. We are going to allow this to be completely natural. Pastured, and with humans present, but allowing the pig to move about as she needs to in order to get more comfortable and relieve any labor pains. Please wish us luck. We might need it.
In other baby news: One of our rogue chickens who had crept off into a dark corner in the loft in the barn, and layed about a dozen eggs, has successfully hatched a number of them. It is exciting when we make these lovely little unexpected discoveries. This chicken will probably need to be moved to a safer location in order to allow her to defend and raise her chicks – though it is the plan at the moment, to leave her with her own young and take care of them… again, in a natural, normally maternal way.
When was the last time you heard of a farmer who left their chickens to hatch their own eggs and raise them as they would if they were free animals, and not farmyard animals? I guess that is what makes Wells Tavern Farm a little bit different from other farming operations.