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Thursday, March 12, 2009

And still more!

Some 24hour periods are just too long. I was out collecting more feed on Tuesday when the kids called me, it was raining at home – terrific. Ben told me it was raining hard and I might get stuck on the track on my way in – yeah sure!

By the time I got home the rain had gone – not a trace, the ground was wet and we had obviously had a decent fall. There was a lot of debris and soil mounded in places and the ground was very soft. I walked over to the rain gauge to have a look and was astounded to find it was full to overflowing – we’d had more then 25mm in about half an hour.

On a more thorough investigation I found water had flowed through all the sheds and half drowned Archer the dog, he was lying out in the sun drying off. I thought I’d better check the pigs, when we get really heavy rain water tends to run through their shelter.

I stuck my head in and was greeted with the sight of Floppsy lying in the mud with a piglet in breech. A sudden dread came over me - I’m not the midwife, so I panicked, got it over and done with, grab my work gloves and jumped into the pen. The rest is way too gruesome. After helping Floppsy I decided I’d better check out the other mothers, two more hade decided that the largest rain event in nearly two years was a good time to farrow as well. A couple of these piglets where lying in the mud half dead, I didn’t think they had much chance of surviving at all. So I bundled them up into a bucket and took them inside. I asked Harry to find the hair dryer and start warming the little things up and see if we could save them. After about half an hour they started to pick up. We force fed them milk out of a syringe and after an hour or so they were asleep on Harry’s lap. Altogether we had about six piglets in the house that evening in various states of revival. About half way through all this; it occurred to me that some of the piglets may not have had any colostrum, so I had to work out which ones and get them back out and on to a mum as quickly as I could. I spent a couple of hours holding piglets on nipples to make sure they received a good feed. By 10pm only two of the piglets remained in the house.

The next morning I went out to the pig house to see how Floppsy was doing, she was fine. I couldn’t see her piglet at first, but after a quick search saw it was sound asleep on top of a pile of pigs in the next shelter.

The Cook had gone off to work, so I was in charge of getting the boy’s off to school. I went in and woke them had a shower and grabbed a cup of tea. The kids launched into their chores and I went back out to the pigs to feed them – I was only away for half an hour. Another mother had decided to give birth in the mean time; her piglets had decided to scatter in various directions, through the mud and puddles, instead of making their way around to her teats. We gathered them up and two of them seemed very poorly, so once again out came the hair dryer – the buggers were still covered in afterbirth and muck. I fed them a couple of times and by lunch time I had them back out with their mum – well they actually have two, Floppsy is sharing these piglets. All together we had about 25 piglets in 24 hrs, of these two were born dead and two died after birth. Considering the chaos, mud and cold, we were very lucky.

After all that - the kids missed the bus and I had to drive them to school. I spent the remainder of Wednesday cleaning up and building a separator in the pig shed to keep the older piglets away from the new mums. I was told that piglets wouldn’t swap mums – but ours tend to drift between two or three different mothers depending on how large the litters were.

Of course other things happened during the day. I heard a strange sound coming from the feed shed at one stage and went to have a look. At first I couldn’t see anything, then I noticed a hawk on the cattle yard fence. All the sparrows had flown into a prickle bush next to the yards to shelter from the hawk and they were making an unusual sound – some sort of defence mechanism I suppose. The horses and cattle paid us a visit yesterday; they all wandered down from the back paddocks, spent an hour hanging out at the house, and then slowly meandered back to the river flats.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Sounds a busy 24 hours.