Long post but a year in one post is a lot :)
First six months with our gilts
In August 2015 we decided to get us some wiener pigs. No that doesn't mean they are related to the dog, it means they have been weened from their moms and are ready for raising.
We got 3 piglets and had them in a temporary pen till we could make one of our horse pens pig proof by putting panels vertically all around it to keep them in. While that was going on one of our piglets got loose and we never saw it after that.
You could come up with a cool story that there is now a wild pig running around in the Payette National forest and it is strong and big being able to battle the forest alone but in reality a bald eagle or a coyote probably ate it...(this is where I think of the saying from 'finding Nemo', fish gotta swim birds gotta eat)
So with our now 2 girl pigs or gilts we set to raise them up enjoying their fun personalities. We found out very fast after getting them that they love water and love to dig in the mud. A favorite pastime I know. So we finally dug a hole for a 5 gallon bucket to fit into and that is how we give them drinking water. Then we spray down the dirt in part of their pen for some good muddying around.
The kids enjoyed playing with them till they got big and scary. Well bigger and made more noises and started trying to bite you. Yeah I think it was a little scary too. But nothing we couldn't handle. They would even start foaming at the mouth whenever we would feed them. We could just shake the bucket of their feed and Que the saliva forming drool. Lovely :). All in all it was almost shocking to watch these girls grow. If you missed a few days looking in on them you could see the difference.
Well the first snows came and my amazing husband with his mad skills enclosed their pen and put a ton of hay and straw in there for bedding. They love to burrow down in it to keep warm.
We finally put a black tire around their watering bucket and that helped it from freezing all the way through. Being with out a well at this time we hauled our water from home. We would get water containers and fill them up with HOT water. We would do that morning and night.
The pigs got a high quality sow feed from a mill in the valley that teams up with Zamzows and we would go and get a ton of that every other month. The pigs would eat till they are full and then they are content. So they are not like black labs that will clean up any food you put in front of them. They loved table scraps like veggie scraps especially roots. It is really fun to listen to a pig eat. You should try it some time.
The next few months with our Sows
So at the beginning of the year we bought a boar pig (a male breeding pig) and brought him home for a month and let him do his thing. He ate a TON! Literally we ran out of food really fast with him around. So after he was done doing the thing he was raised to do which was making our gilts into sows, we took him to Greenfields butcher and made him all into sausage...... That is a lot of sausage. We now have a year plus supply of sausage. We even bought a new Chest freezer to fit it all. I have always wanted one it just took a need to get us there. I am just really grateful they do such a good job with their meats and it tastes good.
So the gestation period of a sow is 3 months 3 weeks and 3 days... Cool eh! So being the newbies that we were we didn't see when they came into heat and were just waiting for the time bomb to go off in May. It just had to happen on a weekend when my hubby and his dad were out of town and I was alone with the pigs and my kids... and being pregnant... and stressed.... Not a good combo :)
The Piglets are here!!!
So on a Saturday morning I noticed one of our sows (puddle) was leaking milk. So I called my husband and he said that was exciting and he would be home that evening and she would probably go in the next 24 hours. Well little did we know that she was at the early stages of labor. Just before my little guys nap we headed out to check on pigs and low and behold there was a red speckled piglet on the ground trying to crawl around.
The first time mom was so shocked that there was something small and moving around her pen that she started attacking it and being the mom I am, I was a nervous wreck. I tried getting the piglet out of there but then the mamma would try attacking me as soon as she would hear the pig squilling. It was like half her instincts were kicking in but she was still confused on what to do.
So I had to just hope that mom would calm down and lay back down let this baby nurse and have the rest of her piglets. While awaiting that hope I called a reliable person with experience with farrowing pigs (that means when sows are having their piglets) and had him and his family come over. He was like a pig whisperer. He did an amazing job calming down the sow, delivered the next 4 piglets and all of them nursing..... Big Sigh of relief here!
My hubby finally made it home and we all enjoyed watching life happen and it was really a great thing to watch for the kids and all involved. Puddle had 5 piglets and seemed like she was going to be good especially after our pig whisperer did his thing.
Then all heck broke loose or so it felt like it
So that night when my hubby did his night check, the other pig (Muddle) started going into farrow mode and he helped deliver 8 babies. All piglets were doing well and mamma was doing a really good job. He came in when all seemed fine and she acted like she was done.
First thing in the morning the hubby went back out to check on things and found two of puddles baby's had been killed probably from being stepped or laid on. Puddle wasn't none too careful. She would get up fast and lay down with no grace as well and that doesn't give the piglets enough time or warning to get out of the way. She was rougher with her piglets too. She would toss them with her nose and try stomping on them.
After burring the lost piglets he brought in one of muddles 9. She had another one after Joseph left during the night and it was chilling.
We tried bottle feeding her, getting her warm by the fire but she was just too weak. The kids learned a valuable lesson with life. We can only do our best in helping and that is really all we can do. Come what will and make the best of it. It was a bittersweet experience. My daughter was all ready for church, because it was Sunday, and we told her that the piglet would probably not make it and be in heaven when we got back. She said her good byes. Here are the pictures from this sad yet sweet experience with our children.
When we got back from church and checked on pigs it seemed like there was 2 more piglets that died from either chilling or being laid on. That is when we made a choice. We grabbed all the piglets (yes from both mamma's) and put them into a bin and brought them home.
We stoked up the fire in the house so it was quite hot. We put them into a trunk and I was up every couple of hours with them trying to feed them some milk and make sure they were all doing alright. It was like a night and day difference with their energy. They just needed a good nights rest with a really warm bed.
The following morning my husband went out and fixed up the pig shed insulating the walls with hay and setting it up so it would be warm for the piglets. He made a space for the piglets to go out of the way of mamma when she laid down and moved around. We also set up a propane heater in the corner behind some mesh wire where they couldn't touch it but could feel its warmth. We ran that for just over a week.
So now we have 9 piglets out of 14. We had lost 5 piglets before I brought them in for a warm nights rest.
We put them all with the one gentle mamma. We were done with the other sow. They reunited well and she took all of them as her own.
It did my heart good to see them doing well. It seemed like from the time they started coming on Saturday until Monday morning I was stressed for these poor little piggies but from here on out things went well.
Our Conclusion with Pigs
We liked having the piglets especially after things calmed down. They were so fun to watch. You could literally watch them for an hour and still be enjoying it and not know where the time went.
They grew so fast. We sold them today at the auction because of lack of interest we got from people and sold the sows with them. We found that it just wans't worth it with all the feed costs and trying to get it back with selling pigs so we are officially done and enjoyed the experience that we had.
The piglets were 1 month and 11 days old. We turned around the money we got for them and bought goats. So hopefully eventually we will have a better return from our pigs from breeding goats. We plan on it.
What we got out of it.... A love for piglets, a dislike for adult pigs, fun times and experiences and some priceless life lessons.
Camille Loves being a Mother of five, wife to an amazing cowboy, A photographer, blog writer, and an Adventure seeker.
Homestead Life and more
Links I like about Our Country