The beauty of piglets came back to us this week. After a changing of the guard in the winter of 2013 and a year of raising three beautiful breeding gilts (young female pigs) from the Whalen’s Green Mountain Heritage Farm in Chelsea, Ramona Quimby was the first to deliver a beautiful litter of piglets.
She delivered like so many pigs do, in the quiet wee small hours of Friday morning. We knew Thursday night that she was close, but her she was so calm and hungry that we didn’t think it would be that night. Mari awoke just before 4 am and went to check on her. Finding her calm, with at least 6 piglets nursing (best count she could get by headlamp) and the rain loud on the metal roof of her shelter, she left her be until dawn not wanting to startle her as with the rain she’d have a hard time hearing the piglets squeals.
When a sow farrows, it is always a mixture of joy, awe and worry. Unlike goat kids, piglets are so tiny and generally a little less capable when they are first born, especially in comparison to their mama. 3-4 lb piglets with a 400+ lb sow, barely the size of her snout. So the worries of getting stepped on or accidentally rolled on are notable.
But Ramona and the Rains (her piglets) have performed with stellar care. Ramona behaving like a seasoned sow instead of a first time gilt. I am always amazed at how deliberate, slow and gently a sow can lower herself back to the ground next to her piglets. And these piglets have engaged their best instincts as well, sticking close together, burying themselves in the straw, listening to Ramona’s grunted directions and steering clear of her notable hooves.
They are their own joy committee as they explore their surroundings, already digging their snouts into the dirt to explore and just generally adorable.
It is often like this on the farm. Saying goodbyes followed soon by welcoming the new and young, keeping us all in touch with the full range of emotions and the full circle of life.