Concharty Heritage Acres

A Home For Heritage Breeds Of All Kinds!

   Feb 09

If Roseanne Rosannadanna lived on a farm

From Karen…

It’s been a rough week at Concharty.

Last weekend, our newest goat, Dominique, had her kids in the middle of the night. Both were little doelings and both were dead when we found them. We suspect hypothermia, but it’s only a guess. We started milking Dominique twice each day. We milked her by hand for a couple of days, then started using our milking machine. The quantity of milk hasn’t been great, but is on the upswing. She’s been quick to adapt to the routine and is rapidly becoming one of my favorite goats.

Because Olive (AGH sow) had run with Wilson for several months, we were not sure when her piglets were due. A few weeks ago, we could tell she was getting closer, so we moved her to a pen by herself with a nice pig house that Cliff had last year for Lily when she farrowed. We needed Olive to be alone and to have a farrowing rail because she has a history of crushing her piglets to death. (A farrowing rail allows a place for piglets to escape, because the rail keeps the sow from laying right up against the wall). She doesn’t do this on purpose, of course. She’s just not a great mom and that, combined with her apparent inability to note she’s laying on one or more piglets, has been a big problem in the past. Her previous litter, only two of nine piglets lived to weaning age. I don’t know how many she’d lost before that when she lived at Anthea’s but the same thing had happened there.

I’d been going out and checking on her at least twice a day, before work and before bedtime. Cliff also checked her several time in between. Then on Wednesday morning, I went out and found dead piglets scattered in her pen. She didn’t have them in the farrowing house – she had them outside with no protection from the cold wind. She’d had eight. Three were dead already and two were so near death that we could not save them (though Cliff tried valiantly after I had to go to work). Three, however, were vigorous and nursing well. Cliff got Olive moved into the hog house, and set up a heat lamp to help keep the piglets warm.

The next morning, I found another piglet dead – crushed in the middle of the hog house, not trapped against the wall. By the time I returned from work, only one was alive. Sigh.

Then this morning, as the sun began to rise, I looked outside to see why Feather was barking her head off. There was a black “lump” on the ground out side the puppy pen (about 50 feet from Olive’s pen). It took only a second for me to realize was the last piglet. I ran out and grabbed him. He was still alive, but only barely. He was cold as ice, almost literally, as it was 35 degrees outside and there was a pretty brisk wind blowing. I wrapped the piglet in my arms and ran inside. I warmed towels in the dryer over the course of the next hour, and held the little piglet close, wrapped in a warm towel. Life started to return to him. I really needed to go out and milk, so I finally put him in Joker’s crate, wrapped in one towel with another warm one on top of him.

When I was finished milking and cleaning the equipment, I was very pleased to find a toasty warm piglet alive in his crate. I took him back out to his momma so he could get some breakfast. I just finished checking on him. He’s still in the house, still warm and running around like nothing ever happened.

I’m tempted to take him away from his mom and raise him as if he were an orphan – but I can’t imagine how I’ll do that this week with Cliff’s new job, my work, milking, and the other chores. I guess if I am realistic, he’s going to have to fend for himself. Olive’s fate is sealed, however. We can’t keep a sow that can’t produce piglets – and keep them alive to weaning.

So – ten babies born here this week, and we have only ONE of them still alive. As I was trying to warm up the little piglet this morning, I heard Roseann Rosannadanna’s* voice in my head. “It’s always something. If ti isn’t one thing, it’s another!” I don’t remember there ever being a sketch about farming, but her famous line sure fits!

*Roseanne Rosannadanna was a character played by Gilda Radner several decades ago, back in the days when Saturday Night Live was funny. Her’s one of the famous sketches… http://www.hulu.com/watch/4147

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