Recently, Wilma, our gilt started to look very pregnant; so I put the farrowing “runners” in the shed; and we looked forward in anticipation to the day.
Well, this past Monday evening, I went out to feed the pigs; and lo and behold, a little piglet was running around:
We were excited the process had begun. However, minutes went by, then hours, and no other piglets. We started to look online to try to investigate the situation: some sites said they should be coming out every 15 minutes or so, some said up to and hour, some longer. After several hours (which included the several it looked like had passed before we even found the piglet, as the piglet was very dry, and its umbilical cord was already dry), we decided to try to check if we could find a piglet in the birth canal and pull it out. We found it about five to six inches in, but were unable to grab onto it in any way. We solicited help from the Bunkers, who have dealt with pulling animals before; and they worked for a couple of hours trying to pull the piglet out, but could not. We even tried using salad tongs. When we couldn’t get it out, we thought we’d leave her for the night, and see how things were in the morning, as maybe she would pass it. We also pulled the born piglet out of the pen and took it with us, so it would be warm (as there were no other piglets and her mother was incapacitated and in labor) and not get squashed or that other harm might come to it.
The next morning, there was no change. I called the vet, and he suggested we either need to get the piglet out, or bring her in for a C-section, or euthanize her. He also suggested that by then, the unborn piglets were probably dead. We weren’t going to bring her in for a C-section (he even suggested we not do that for economic reasons); and so we tried various other things, including pliers, to try to get the piglet out, all to no avail.
At this point, there wasn’t much left. We spent several hours going back and forth, trying to decide if we let things be and see what happened, because maybe she’d pass it; or butcher her, losing the sow we had thought maybe about having for a couple of litters. After prayer and lots of indecision, we made a decision. This video could be a little rough if you’re not used to this. Sadly, this part of the process didn’t go as we had hoped — it usually goes better than this:
As I mention in the video above, the plan was to kill her and quickly get to the unborn piglets, in an attempt to get them out and breathing. Here was that process, which I believe no one around here as done before (at least with the people participating). If you’re squeamish, this one is pretty intense:
And then it was to the butchering station:
It was a rough couple of days. Sue was up about every hour the first night (and has been similarly since) tending to the piglet, and the whole ordeal was fairly stressful.
But, the Lord, in His graces and mercies, allowed a successful butchering, which appears to have yielded quite a bit of meat and fat; and He has graciously granted a new piglet — His providentially perpetuating the species. The new little piglet didn’t have to be the first one out — she could have been behind the stuck one, and so we are very grateful.
And yes, I said “she” — it’s a female piglet; and because her sire’s name was Fred, and her dam’s name Wilma, we’re calling her Pebbles. And here she is:
I know some of these videos could be somewhat shocking if you haven’t seen or been around these kinds of things before, but I wanted to include them so you all could see some of the experiences that are part of life here on the farm.
Another aspect about being here on this farm is that we are part of a community of like-minded brethren. I was able to put out a short-notice solicitation for help with the processing of Wilma the pig, and many folks showed up, representing every household that had someone available. That is a lot of the reason we are all here: Christians serving their (spiritual) family.
Finally, once again, we thank the God of creation for His graces and mercies, and allowing us the provision of this new piglet; and we pray that He might grant this little piglet to grow and be a productive part of the homestead and community, as He might will.