New family farm animals.
The first few weeks of October have been really fun because Miss Piggy, our only female potbelly pig, finally gave birth to eight piglets! We were beginning to wonder if she had a tumor inside her growing. We just couldn’t believe how big she was getting and how long it was taking for her babies to arrive. Her belly was literally rubbing on the ground as she walked.
We thought she would give birth in August or September, but of course she waited until October 3rd when the temperature dropped 20 degrees. I had been checking on her morning, midday and evening because I didn’t want to miss the birth. On the day she did give birth, I noticed her belly moving like jelly and thought she might be close.
When I looked in on her at 6:30 p.m., there was a commotion inside the little shelter where the pigs sleep at night. We had made a fenced in area with a shelter just for her to be alone during the birthing process. I looked in and there was a piglet running around and Miss Piggy laying on her side giving birth. Three male pigs were close by and one was in the shelter right behind her. I was afraid they would step on a piglet or worse, eat them, so I quickly ushered them out.
I was so thrilled to be there to witness the birth of her last two piglets. They came out slimy and attached to mom by their umbilical cord, but somehow they detached and started moving around almost immediately.
It was getting dark by this time and I was trying to reach my son and daughter-in-law by phone to come see the birth and to help me. Once they heard the news, they came running with their headlamps on.
It was getting cold and dark so we had to get Miss Piggy and babies closer to the house to provide a heat lamp for them during the night. Her little shelter was too far from the house to run electricity to her.
We finally decided to move her to the shelter where the chickens were being kept and move the chickens further down in the coop. Fortunately there are fenced dividers and more shelters with roosting areas for the chickens which made the move simple.
My son and I put wood shavings, food, water and a heat lamp down in the new location. By then my youngest son and husband had arrived at the farm and we discussed how to move the babies and momma to their new location.
We finally decided to put the momma in a large plastic dog carrier that we had used to fly our black lab across the country when we moved. We placed four piglets in two buckets and carried them to their new home. My husband backed the tractor up to the pig pen and the guys were able to put momma in the dog crate with only a few squeals. Then she was placed on a carrier on the back of the tractor and moved to her new home. Miss Piggy immediately gathered her babies to her in the back corner of the shelter and everything was just fine again with her.
Every once in a while we would hear loud squeals from a baby and realize momma had accidentally put her weight on them. She always moved off them, however, and so far all eight have survived.
She has been a good momma, letting them feed whenever they want, climb all over her, and snuggle close to keep warm. When we pick one up to hold a few seconds, if it squeals a little too much, she gives us the evil eye. We put them down and she quickly settles back down. So far we haven’t seen any aggression toward anyone coming close to her piglets. The four male pigs were depressed for a few days after Miss Piggy was moved out. They didn’t eat for the first day and finally started to nibble the second day. We feel sad for them and wish we could tell them she is okay. They will probably never be together again since the mom will feed her babies for two months and by then the male pigs will have been butchered.
Our turkeys are also full grown and have started producing a few eggs. The egg on the right is a normal chicken egg. The turkeys have been the easiest and sweetest birds to raise until just recently when the females and males started fighting each other. They fight by grabbing the loose skin around their necks.
We had to put the one male and female that were being picked on in a separate area over by the chickens. Now it seems like everyone is happy again. There is always a pecking order for the birds and we are learning to watch for it and protect the weaker ones. My husband calls the male turkeys, Mr. Puff. They love strutting their stuff.
Living with farm animals is fun, sad, and challenging. We are always observing them to make sure they are okay, watching them grow and change and adjusting to their needs. It is sad when we say goodbye, but we take some comfort in knowing we have given them a good life in the country.
If you want to see the pigs & turkeys when they were babies check out this post: Our Little Farm is Growing!
The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.