Friday, February 8, 2013

Watlzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda what a stir you created. I was struggling with my asthma after having that flu that settles in the chest. I was taking some medication but sleep was something I was not getting. In fact, last night was the first night in a week and a half that I didn't have to sleep straight up. Believe me if you haven't gotten to lay down in all that time, it is sure luxury. Anyway I had a steroid shot, a penicillin shot, a breathing treatment and more steroid pills, penicillin pills, and another type of inhaler. I went to the clinic first thing before chores Tuesday needing relief desperately. 

And since it is February, I'm going to the corrals a bit later in the morning when the temperatures are higher, the critters are stirring, and the water in the small 20 gallon containers will stay open for a while before freezing again. That meant in my weakened state I stared at a pig who looked like death warmed over. Just like I felt. Her flanks were sunk in to almost touching, She wouldn't drink despite having fresh water, she wouldn't eat, she had cramps big time that heaved in her sides and caused her to scrunch in pain.

I panicked, I was afraid I was going to loose her and called a friend to come and help me try and figure out what was going on. By the time she arrived Matilda had started to squeal, adding drama to the already tense situation. Was she impacted? My mind was racing. If so, how was I going to pour oil down her throat. A pig this size can do pretty much anything she wants especially in an open pen situation. That making an enema definitely out of the question.

This was not my Matilda that had for a week lived in her shed. I had to kneel and crawl inside to force her to stand to make sure she looked okay. Her shed has the front closed three-fourths for winter warmth. Inside this snug abode is a nice big pile of straw that she tunneled in to make a ravine just her body width. Going from a open shed with a dirt floor, she thinks she's come to the Taj Mahal. I even feed her a mixture each day of different grains and occasional scraps from the kitchen besides her feeder filled with corn. Plus, she gets all the alfalfa hay she can eat.  Indeed she is getting the first rate spa treatment. 
But despite this, here she was squealing, restlessly pacing the fence, sucked in and cramping. Then it dawned on my friend. "I wonder if she is in heat." Yup, sure enough, I stepped up to her, scratched her loins and she nearly purred with contentment. I slipped behind her and pushed against her back end. She locked up her hind quarters just like a sow does when she's in heat or estrus. We figure she had an extra strong cycle having had piglets not too many weeks before.

 We're hoping she was having an extra strong cycle because I've had several neighbors asking me what was wrong with our pig. I guess she squealed and squealed and squealed for hours. That's going to make us popular if that continues each month until she is sausage. NOT!

 Talking about cycling, well, these girls aren't any more but I'm a bit concerned, the doe in the center here isn't due until later in May and she is a coming yearling. That's February, March, April, and then most of May. How big will this belly get. She is even lopsided already some days with the uneven distribution of babies.

Daisy here is a very big girl for her age, as she is a few weeks older than this small doe next to her who I believe is also pregnant. She had better be. 

Look at Daisy on the far side next to Mercedes  who is six weeks younger and a good sized girl herself. Yes, Daisy is going to be a very big doe. One of her two triplet sisters is just across the way and much smaller.  But despite the fact she is so  large in stature, I'm still  concerned how big her tummy is already with months to go.

Kirk had a good point though, it is better if she has triplets than large twins. Ripp.... might be the result. I hate that. But breeding yearlings is what you do if you have a good feed program. The experts say that the increased hormones at this age really develops their dairy character. Besides you have a year less feed in them before they are producing milk and babies. I guarantee your does won't be smaller in size if fed right. People frequently comment about how big my girls are. No, I don't feed very much grain. Here they are getting a little whole oats so I can photograph.

For now, our buck, Touch, is rooming with the girls for warmth.  He's not hard to spot. He's the huge guy in the middle. The oldest doe being Meagan who is coming two. The otheres are all coming yearlings. It makes watering and feeding easier too. His shed is being taken up by Matilda. She will leave and he will move back. I don't want him in with the girls when they get large with pregnancy. But for now, he thinks he's pretty big stuff with so many girls even though part of the babies won't be his.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is anticipating spring and watching tummies trying to guess how many babies lurk inside. Some of you are probably already lambing and kidding. Without electricity, I prefer to wait until May. 

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