Friday, March 07, 2014

Farming is Hard

Farming is hard. We've known that is true for quite some time. Any romanticized visions we ever had of raising a large garden, and a few animals are long gone. There are so many variables, so many things out of your control. There are long hours. There is heavy physical labor. There are things that need done regardless of how you feel, or the plans you originally had. There is a lovely reward and great satisfaction at the end, but the journey is difficult.

The hardest part of farming is losing animals. Yesterday was that kind of day. Second time farrower, LuLu, was due. We watched as the physical signs increasingly showed piglets would be here anytime.We gave her plenty of straw. We got the heat lamp set up for the little ones.

LuLu did beautifully the first time. This picture is from her first litter. She had a large litter, and kept all but one.

June, 2013
Among farmers there are different thoughts about playing midwife to your animals. We tend to let nature take its course. Animals know what to do, and sometimes having us around during birth/labor only seems to aggravate them. The fact that we are all working full time off farm only adds to that mode of operation. 98% of the time all goes well, and we find happy momma and happy piglets. That other 2% is hard.

Yesterday, Tim and I had to work. Mamaw was taking Kellen, Lydia, and Nolan to their Ham, Bacon, and Eggs breakfast. We were all up and moving early. Tim went down to check on LuLu, pretty sure he'd find piglets. What he found was not what we hoped for.

She had twelve piglets, another large litter. Piglets are pretty fragile the first couple days. They do not produce their own body heat, and need to stay warm. Normally after birth, they will go straight to nursing and then all snuggle together in a warm place. For reasons we can't explain those piglets decided not huddle into the straw or to huddle near the heat lamp provided, but to huddle right beside the door. The outside door has to stay open for the sow to access her water. We don't like to provide water in the pens because it makes it hard to keep the pens dry. We have a heavy rubber flap on the door (as you can see in the picture) that helps keep the pen warm, but that night was windy and there was no way those piglets would stay warm where they were.

She lost eight. The other four were happily nursing and playing in the pen. This is the frustrating 2%. Had we been there, we probably could have saved that litter. It is hard not to beat yourself up. There are always "would of, should of, and could of's" that haunt you. This is the frustration of not having enough time or money to all the things you want on the farm.

This is farming, and farming is hard.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry to hear about the piglets. If only we could be everywhere we need to be right when we're needed. You're blessed with the four. God Bless you and yours!