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Things have been busy here at the farm as is typical at any farm most any time of the year. We’ve had our goats kid, we have been working on the ground getting ready for planting, the pigs have started to farrow. On top of this we have had a few mishaps and some around the home appliance malfunctions and this is on top of the never ending cold that I seem to have. (since end of Feb beginning of March and its not giving up)
With pigs on the mind lately I thought I’d show a few pictures I was able to get of the Tamworth’s and Old Spots to help those who may be farrowing pigs for the first time get a visual of of signs of farrowing. Emily, the more yellow of the Tamworth’s farrowed the morning that these pictures were taken. You can see that her teats have dropped and that her vulva is quite swollen. Compare this to Fran (more red of the Tamworths) Fran is also swollen. Fran farrowed two days after these picture was taken. Petunia the Gloucestershire Old Spot, also posed for this indelicate photograph. Her vulva is not puffy at all. She has some time to go before she farrows as there is no milk letdown in her teats and she is not poofy yet.
So far we have had two litters both Tamworth X GOS. The one was a terrible litter of 5, yet all were born and are still alive. This mother will get to wean them and have one more go before she is off to slaughter because its not economical to keep her if she is only going to farrow a few at a time. Plus she is just awkward with the piglets laying the wrong way for them to get to the teats. She does however have a good length and structure.
The other litter was 1 stillborn, 1 crush, and 9 alive. This is not bad and she is good mother wise, very attentive and yet friendly with us. She is a bit shorter in body length but the numbers for her make the difference for us. She has thrown good sized piglets and tends to be able to raise them well. I’m excited to see how these TamX GOS grow out as these will be our first litters of crosses.
Saturday the pigs arrived at the pasture land from our woods down the road. Since then it has rained and rained and rained. Today we had a break in the rain because it turned to snow. It is supposed to rain Tuesday and Wednesday as well. The animals and I are sooo not looking forward to it. I guess its easy to forget how much mud hinders daily life on a farm. I know I was sick of the snow and cold but overall having it cold and dry and frozen is easier on all of us than having wet and cold and mud.
Because of the mud I added more straw to the huts tonight as I wanted to make sure that the girls were able to keep cozy and dry. Prior to getting the port-a-huts we always had huts with floors. These proved to be terribly difficult to move and sanitize hence the port-a-huts. However, when it comes to mud nothing beats a floor. I figure we’ll need to add a bale every other day if the rain keeps up. That way the ground builds up a straw pack keeping everything upabove the mud level. I’ve recently bought straw at 4.95 a bale because we needed it (hay just isn’t as good for bedding when its muddy plus the pigs eat a lot of it, leaving them with less bedding) With the straw they are much less likely to eat it and it holds up better in the wet than does hay. Luckily I found a man selling hay for $2 a bale. I told him I’d take all he has. This weekend we are getting the 50 bales he has figuring the money will be well spent.
We still don’t have a clue when the pigs will definately farrow. Tomorrow is the full moon. The girls are due anytime after the 12th. I know I saw a boar mount each of the tamworths the day that they were put together. I also saw one of the old spots breeding as late as January 18th. This means that the piglets could start coming as early as the 12th by the math and then as late as April 13th. Its always a waiting game this time of year.
Speaking of waiting, the goats are bagging up real well. I still have two weeks until the scheduled kidding date for Riley one of the LaMancha does. She will be a first freshener and is due the 21st. She has an udder that really impreses me. This is my first time with dairy goats but I think she is looking huge. Her ligaments are still really strong so I don’t expect her to kid soon. I just don’t know how much larger an udder can get on a goat. If it keeps going, in two weeks time it will be weigh as much as her!!!
In preparation for kidding to begin we borrowed my brother’s baby monitor. We set the goats up in a pen in the garage instead of their normal, further away housing. Now its waiting time. Two are officially due the 3rd week of march. Riley, one of the LaMancha goats, is bagging out and also looking pregnant. The other LaMancha Missy, is still slim and has no signs of an udder. Missy was supposed to be due around the 15th of March while Riley should kid around the 21st of March. Soo either Missy hids a pregnancy well or she did not take. One of the myotonics is also looking closer to kidding. She was with a buck for nearly a month to make sure she was bred. So now I have a date range but she is bagged out much further than any of them and her ligaments are looser than the other three. Since I’m paranoid and with the crazy cold weather they are now closer to the house and in a nicer locale just in case they decide to go early.
Also on the pregnancy front, Fran, one of the Tamworth pigs looks pregnant as well. Though all should be pregnant (including the Gloucestershire old spots) From my calculations, if she “took” to the breeding she should be due some time around March 10th. Thankfully we are going to get our new farrowing huts this Saturday so she will have a posh new place to have her piglets. Though this hut worked well and we like it, the weight of it being made of wood is a definite drawback. We are hoping that the new huts will be better in terms of the ability to move the hut as well as ease of cleaning between litters.