We have new born animals on the farm from February to late summer but we only have one pig. Dotty is a pure Gloucester Old Spot who visits her boyfriend just once a year. Commercial pigs will have up to 3 litters of piglets a year, but there is no way we would do that to Dotty, she is almost a pet to us. This year for the first time I have been charting Dotty’s last few weeks on facebook and twitter and have been delighted by the support from followers and holiday makers keen to wish her well.
A long night in labour
Dotty struggled on two weeks over due from the original dates we identified. I am sure in hindsight our dates were lacking in accuracy, anyway after several false starts by Wednesday last week I was in no doubt this was the real thing. All evening we watched and photographed. I even trekked out alone with a torch at 11.30 for a final check. A collision with the field shelter roof beam left me on my backside with a grunting Dotty, but no piglets.
12 Bouncing bonny piglets
Farmer Nick is our early riser and by 6.30am he had come back to the house to report 7 piglets. By the time I had come to and checked at 8am there were 12 and 4 still born. The younger children and I dealt with the messy business with the afterbirth and stillborns ahead of the feed run with the guests since Farmer Nick and the older children were already off to school by then. The children couldn’t have been happier helping the piglets find their way to their first milk and sneaking in a quick hold. For once I think they had a fair excuse for being 5 minutes late for school and for less than clean uniforms; we even forgot to practice our times tables on the way! Posting the news and first picture up on facebook I was overwhelmed with ‘likes’ and well wishes. Thank you to all who commented or liked!
This video is just adorable. I have watched it over and over, it is amazing how Dotty allows the piglets to run and sniff all around her face and then nudges them back towards her belly for milk.
All not well!
By Sunday morning we were beginning to worry. Correction, Nick was beginning to worry and left an early morning message with the local font of all knowledge on pigs. I was more than worried and rang the Sunday out of hours vet (a somewhat more expensive exercise!) Dotty had not eaten since giving birth, and really looked under the weather. I worried all the way around the feed run, Dotty lay quite still, ears flopped grunting quietly as the children and parents all came to admire her. I knew she should have been up and eating by day 2 and this was day 3 and the piglets didn’t appear any fatter than when they were born. One of the guests reported seeing Dotty out of her shelter earlier and straining hard for a poo to no avail and I feared that perhaps there was some after birth left behind and causing problems. I was willing on the vet to arrive and wondering, if the worst happened, could I hand raise 12 piglets?
The vet was excellent and Dotty was the perfect patient allowing all manner of poking up her backside to check everything out. After a cocktail of injections to help her milk flow, boost her system and ease the constipation Dotty was up on her feet and looking much better than she had for the last 12 hours. Thankfully there were no birthing leftovers and the Vet assured us she had delivered well. Nick still has 2 needles of potion to administer today but for now I am so much happier. After a long afternoon siesta Dotty and her piglets were looking much stronger. We take each day at a time here on the farm and just hope she builds her strength up a little more each day.
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“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Emma and our children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.