Really?!

“Really?!” I said, my head tilted up to the gorgeous blue sky on Thursday morning. I was limping again, having tweaked a tendon even though I don’t recall stepping wrong. I was standing near the pig shelter. Stretched out in front of me was my favorite piggy girl, the one who showed belly every time I got close. She was on her side, looking miserable and making pitiful little grunts.

The previous day this big girl hadn’t joined the usual feeding frenzy and had instead waited before she got up. Rather than following her sisters into the pasture, she went to lay in the sun near the pond. When she hadn’t moved by noon I got worried. I tested for a temperature. She didn’t have one. Just in case, I shoved some elderberry goop down her throat, which she definitely didn’t appreciate. After that, I stood back and watched, not liking the fact that she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink during the day.

It was almost dark before she got up to return to the shelter. That’s when I saw the limp. I breathed in relief, now sure I knew what had happened. One of her sisters had swung a massive head (they’re at about 300 pounds now) and hit her in the shoulder.

Although that explained her limp, it didn’t explain her lack of appetite. If there’s one thing pigs do no matter what, it’s eat. Sure that all she needed was some encouragement and an easy meal, I stuck a bowl under her nose the next morning. She turned her head to the side. By 10:00 AM she hadn’t left the shelter or touched her food. That’s when I knew I had no choice. She was suffering and that’s something I don’t allow.

However, that didn’t stop me from addressing the Powers That Be with my not-so-rhetorical question. It hadn’t been enough to lose a cow and a calf on Tuesday? Now, ready it or not, I had to say good-bye to another of my animals.

Farming is always about managing death, not life. I’ve known that from very early on in my life here on the farm. And although the piggy girls were always intended to fill a freezer, albeit after a very nice life spent grazing grass under a warm Arizona sun, it was still a “straw” moment.

Come December I’ll be down to five sheep, Tom, one turkey hen to be his mate, and that hen’s sole surviving son. The New Year is always a good time to reassess. I’ll keep you posted.
 

Sadness

Saturday evening, June gave me the spotted heifer I wanted so much. My first inkling that all was not going to go well was when I saw Little Iris’s hooves appear. Usually, calf hooves are aligned, hoof to hoof, knee to knee. Iris’s first hoof appeared by itself, and her second hoof appeared near the… Continue Reading

Another disappointing week

So here I am, another week older and I still don’t have a new calf (or milk) and I haven’t finished that #$%^@ book! That said, the book is much closer to being finished than it was a week ago because I finally figured out whodunit. (Praise be! I had myself completely fooled.) June is… Continue Reading

Nothing ever changes here

You can probably guess what that means. Yep. The book’s not done and the cow is still pregnant. Okay, I’ll admit that we’re both WAY closer to producing something. I’m thrilled that I have finally resolved who the murderer is. Boy, was I fooled! I put off writing this post for as long as I could in… Continue Reading

Pig update

I’d so like to tell you that June delivered her calf. I can’t! I swear, she’s doing this just to make me crazy. Actually, the only reason I’m not crazy is because I know there really is a calf and that calf was alive and well a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping that means… Continue Reading

Still Waiting!

Sigh. There’s no calf yet, at least not outside of June’s body. All the signs are there. Her tail’s loose as are the muscles around the birth canal. Her pin bones are low, her bag is filling up, and every day there are gooey strands wrapped around her tail. That cow! I swear she’s doing… Continue Reading

In the Waiting Room

I’ve waited to the last minute to post this, hoping I could report that the big event has happened. A calf is born! That’s right, after three years, here I am again, pacing like an expectant farmer in the waiting room set aside for those who own pregnant cows. June is ready to drop her… Continue Reading

Arachne

For those who don’t know the story, there was once a beautiful and talented weaver in ancient Greece named Arachne. She was so talented that the goddess Athena, also a weaver, challenged her to a weave-off.  They both made four pieces. Athena’s pieces all extolled the wonders and goodness of the Greek pantheon, while those… Continue Reading

Toadly

The other day I sadly swept a small, dead, completely desiccated toad out of my basement. I love my toads. I love them despite the fact they make the weirdest sound of all the creatures on the farm. Wait, I take that back. I have a blue heron who has begun spending the night on… Continue Reading

Morning Chores

First, an update on that epic battle of mine. IPM (integrated pest management) came through! The lacewings and ladybugs, along with more than a few spiders, have disheartened the ants. Although the cucumber looks pretty tatty, it has set on three new cukes. Victory is mine! Now, back to your regularly scheduled program. This morning,… Continue Reading