Friday, January 1, 2021

I Got The Farming Blues

Maybe my brother-in-law, Tim, can write me a blues song about how I'm feeling today. It's been a challenging past week and a half. Raising livestock for the past 11 years has generally been pretty easy, or at least, not frustrating enough to make me quit, though I do have a pretty short memory. More weeks like this past one might make me consider it though. I guess I'll begin with Rory. My last blog posting was about having her artificially inseminated. The vet came out and ultrasounded her and she's not pregnant. This was just a small disappointment, since I knew that AI is only 30 to 50% effective. Also, we have so much else going on here I'm not sure I really need a cow in milk anytime soon. At least that's what I tell myself. That same day we had to deal with something much tougher. Our beautiful, gentle goat, Butter, has been having terrible joint pain for the past year and it was getting too hard to watch her struggle, so when the vet was done checking Rory, he very gently helped us say goodbye to her. It took me two days to get out of that funk and realize that it was a relief not to have to see her in pain anymore. Butter was 6 1/2. About 4 days ago James and I returned from a walk to find feathers - lots of them - along the side of the driveway. We followed them until we found a dead hen under a bush. We've had a very large hawk hanging around and I'm sure that's what killed her. Adam had just left with Maia about 45 minutes earlier, so the hawk waited for Maia to be gone to strike. I don't know if hawks are afraid of dogs or not, but I assume they're pretty smart. I hope today was the last of our bad luck. I've been waiting for our pig, Gretchen, to have her first litter. I had her due date written down as the 28th. Her udder was just beginning to show then so I figured she had another 3 weeks to wait, though her backside was giving me different information than her udder. I have less experience with pigs farrowing than goats kidding, so I never totally trust my instincts. This morning I went out to feed, and Gretchen met me at the fence with all the other pigs. Her udder looked pretty much the same. I entered the gate to feed the dogs and saw a dead piglet nearby. It was cold and rainy here today so this piglet didn't stand a chance without its mom nearby. I went in search of others. Mayday led me to another one far across the field. I don't know if Gretchen just dropped it there and went on, or if the dogs carried it there. A little while later Mayday showed me another one that had been in the straw in the run-in shelter. There were no live piglets. I checked Gretchen and she did have milk, but not a lot. She acted perfectly normal and showed no signs that she'd been in labor recently. I thought I still felt babies in her, but couldn't be sure. I gave her a shot to help her pass any dead babies, if there were still more in there. When I last checked on her late this afternoon she was still rooting up the ground and behaving like all the other pigs. Not a great way to start the new year. Tomorrow is a new day, it's supposed to be warm. I'm going to reset my frame of mind, look forward to the new year and hope for brighter days.