Any day now, for the past week, we’ve been expecting the piglets to be born. The mamas were huge and pregnant, and the first possible due date had already passed.
We’ve got them in rotation with the cows right now – the cows eat hay, litter it around, and poo everywhere. When a pack of hay and manure covers everything, we let the pigs in to turn it up and aerate the compost. Once the pigs are moved, we drag the chickens along like a harrow and then sow rye on top. It seems to be working well, composting nicely in place, and keeps everyone together, which makes the chores easier.
One morning, Clothilde went up to gather eggs. This is her special job, and she is always running up to check for eggs. She came back with two eggs and news that the piglets were born!
We headed up right away, and sure enough, there were some tiny, spotted little piglets flopping around in the hay and scrambling for a nipple. Star, the sow, was laid out nursing them.
She has many more nipples than piglets, but they still fight over them. It’s amazing how alert and able they are, right after birth. They make the sweetest little noises – tiny squeaks and snuffles. Star grunts to them in a soft, deep voice. It’s a special voice she uses just for her piglets, just the way people talk to babies in a different voice.
Star is an excellent mother. She is very careful when she lays down around them, and most of her piglets survive and thrive. There are many pig mothers that will just flop down and squash a lot of their piglets. If any of the other pigs get close, Star charges at them and drives them away. She trusts us and lets us come close. Ethan even picks the piglets up.
There were nine piglets, but a few minutes later, the last piglet was born. It was nursing with red caul all over it still. TEN little piglets running around!