Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jessica the gilt and "the thaw"

I was reading another blog and she mentioned that "the thaw" had come, and I thought about my farm.  I don't really have a "thaw" to speak of because I don't have very much of a 'freeze".

Jessica the gilt is the red pig top center
I actually like it better when it freezes hard.  The mud firms up, it's easier to get around, the tractor doesn't sled around as much, and it's a lot easier to keep the house clean.  Muddy boots are my bane.  It's "the thaw" from November to June around here.

I got a call from a fellow and his wife that had found a piglet about 6 or 7 months ago.  It was running around in their neighborhood, loose, and they couldn't figure out where it belonged, and they ended up working out a deal with their neighbor.  They'd raise it between them and then split the pig when it came time.

Unfortunately for them, pigs are endearing, and even more so when you name it Jessica.  This pig got peanut butter sandwhiches and scratched and talked to, and as most pigs do when they're raised by themselves, the pig identified with and bonded with this couple.

So when the day came they just don't do it.  So I got a call, and I ended up trading this pig for a finished pig of mine.  She was a fine looking gilt, and unrelated to my herd, and I agreed that I'd give her every opportunity to breed on my farm.

The thing about pigs that are raised on their own is that they really don't have much in the way of social skills with other pigs, and they certainly don't know how to lose gracefully to a bigger pig.  So i kept her away from my herd for couple of weeks to make sure that she didn't have any signs of illness, and then started introducing pigs to her.  First smaller pigs, and then working up over a couple of weeks to some good-natured full-sized sows.

Good natured is a relative term, though.  Jessica was used to being first in line for everything, and it's taken a while for her to realize that the top of the pyramid is a shaky place to be, particularly when there's bigger pigs around.  So I've watched carefully as she learns the ropes with her larger teachers, and she's doing ok so far.
She's being exposed to the boar now; she's being a bit shy about it, and I've got my fingers crossed that she breed successfully in the next few weeks.

1 comment:

ellie k said...

I grew up on a farm and people used to ask me if it was hard to see animals go to slaughter or to the sale. I think after all the work it takes to get them to that size it is a relief to see them go. Freezing water, animals out at two in the morning, a sick animal or just the care one takes. No it is easy to see them go but then you start all over again and love almost every minute of ot.