So apparently, having piglets is a bit of a novelty in our small circle of friends and acquaintances (well, not having piglets in the “giving birth” sorta way~ just raising them). Many of our neighbors have horses. Some of the families in our high school have beef cows. Lots of kids in our 4 H club raise piglets from weaners to the butcher stage for the county fair. But I don’t actually know anyone who has raised a gilt past 12 months. Then allow her to be bred and then farrow. And because raising piglets is kind of original, or unusual, we’ve had lots of company come out to see the fatties.
Most of the company have pretty predictable comments like:
“oh, they are so cute!”
“those piglets are so small!”
“those piglets are so big!”
You know. The usual.
But every woman who has had a chance to visit tries to hide her startled expression when she sees Willow’s udder. Each mother has had that wide eyed mix of admiration and open amazement when she pulls me aside and asks me the same question:
“Oh my, that poor thing! Will her body ever go back to normal?”
And so it was again this past weekend when we had guests come out to the farm to pick up their piglets. And though I’ve been pretty sure the sow’s body will “get back to normal”, based on my own personal experience with udders and nursing my own babies and such, well, bless her heart, right now I’m not so convinced.
It takes a lot of milk to feed 10 fast growing fatties, who get bigger by the second and never leave you alone, even to eat, or lay in a cool mud puddle or get a drink or ….you know….. go to the bathroom (bleck).
7 of the piglets have been weaned off of Willow for over a week. And we moved the last three
lucky smaller piggies off yesterday. However, her udder hasn’t perceptively changed though she has been feeding only a very small number of babies. The udder is still quite pendulous and awkward. Hmmmmm. Maybe her body won’t completely be “normal” again. Maybe she will never look like the young gilt she once was. Maybe she will be destined to have an out-of-shape, floppy udder; a reminiscent of her very first litter.
But maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.
Our sweet sow successfully bred within her first heat with her new beau when the success rate of first time gilts is only 70%. She housed 10 babies in her body for 3 months, three weeks and 3 days. She gave birth to 10 live piggies and nourished them vigorously for 8 plus weeks. She taught them how to be pigs and do piggie things. Now those big pigs are able to robustly live independently of her nourishment and protection.
All good mothers want their babies to live happily, robustly and independently. And we try to ensure that for our children even sometimes at our own expense.
So even if Willow’s body doesn’t ever look the same, we can say greater things about her: she was a good mother.
She is a good sow, our Willow.
Bless her heart.
Today’s count: 47 eggs, 2.5 gallons milk
Weather: Low 31.5 Sunny, with a high near 74. Southeast wind around 5 mph.
Ham and cheese waffles for supper!
PS: I have been assured that Willow will indeed have her girly figure back given time 🙂 https://thekitchensgarden.com/2016/04/18/a-little-red-kite/comments).