Spring’s coming–really it’s got to be. Even though everyone in this house was feeling the winter blahs today, we’ve got enough babies in the barn that we know we can be looking forward to warmer weather.
It started off with baby pigs. The one female we had started showing signs of imminent delivery–a tough one as we’re not set up for that yet. She ended up in the hay, which was a lesson to us. She’s a russian boer and therefore considered very heritage–feral almost. She built herself the most amazing nest, piling the hay up into a 2-3 foot pile and burrowing into it so that you couldn’t see her. She had her 6 little ones in there in the middle of the night with a bone chilling north wind whistling around the barn. Mark didn’t even realize she’d had them because they were all so snug in the nest. It took Sam observing from the hay loft above her for quite awhile to get a good head
count. And the hay loft was as close as anyone was willing to get, too! When the storm hit this past week, she rebuilt her nest and crawled in–I couldn’t get a picture of them in the nest because all I could hear was her grunting the dinner call and all I could see was hay moving a bit. If the old fashion minded Mangalitsa sows turn out to be such mothers, the method of farrowing them will be an easy pick! We realized how much basic pig things like motherhood and foraging skills have been bred out of modern pigs.
Then the goats started. I decreased the herd by half or more this fall, and then really focussed on herd health by addressing some long-standing problems, investing in goat specific minerals, and generally trying to do a really good job with a small handful of animals. I was rewarded with 6 strong, healthy babies from 3 does. One had triplets and one had a single, huge baby who weighed in at 10.5 lbs. They are a few days old now. They aren’t quite steady enough to play king of the hill yet, but Joe built them a little bridge to climb on and jump off. They’ll be fun to watch in a couple of days.
And there’s always chicks. Actually we’ve been doing batches about once a month through the winter, but the group that came this week marked the beginning of our spring start-up. We’ve got 400 chicks in the brooder, which is more than before. We’ll also start getting them more often now. Jim, as baby representative of the humans here, got his first introduction to the fluffy bundles. He thought the little yellow ball was cute and laughed at it until it climbed his shoulder and stuck its little beak in his ear. That wasn’t funny. Neither was mama goat–though he was fascinated by the kid goats.
So, spring must be getting closer. Gotta go through the seed catalogs yet–the garden’s just around the corner!