What does every 17-year-old girl dream of spending her Saturday nights doing? I guess I don’t know, but I don’t think weaning pigs would quite make the top 10 list. But in all honesty, with a view like this it wasn’t so bad. That was until the poo hit the fan, quite literally. Our farrowing house will hold 20 sows, or mama pigs, at a time, but in this farrowing season, late December-early March, we have around 50 sows farrowing. So once the litter is 4 weeks old or older and the piglets are relying on a starter feed, we move the piglets into our nursery and we move the sows back into the mud(emphasis on the mud) lots. Once the farrowing house has some openings we move the sows in that are scheduled to give birth, or farrow, next, in. The gestation cycle, or the time that the sow is pregnant with her piglets, is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days, or 114 days. By the time we had vaccinated all of the piglets and moved them to the nursery, the beautiful sun had set and it was cold. The next step, as I mentioned earlier is taking out the sows that already had their babies, and moving in the sows that were soon to give birth. My dad and I have been doing this for the past 10 years together so we have a pretty good system. We swing a gate shut outside of the lots and let the sows who are in the lots run with the sows that we just kicked out of the farrowing house. That way we can see all of the sows and slowly but surely sort out all of the sows that we need at one time. That, of course, is a lot easier when there is any light other than a dying flashlight. This particular time there was also one sow that would not leave the lot. Every time we had all of the sows heading out, this one would run back squirming between us and disrupting rest of the pack. We decided we would get rest of the sows out and then deal with this one. I forgot to mention something. The snow from the previous storm had just melted and it was extremely muddy. And by muddy I mean, there was probably a higher percent poop than actual dirt. So, we got all of the other sows out, and came back and found the trouble-maker. She was one of the ones we needed in the farrowing house. We started trying to get her out of the lot and were failing. I started running, and one foot after another, my boots stayed in the mud while my feet continued. Not for long though, because I soon was sliding, in the mud(that isn’t really mud), on my butt, without any shoes. I came to the conclusion in that moment, that in these situations we are given a choice. We can either laugh or we can cry. I looked into that starless sky and I knew that this was one of those situations that He wanted me to laugh. This is because I looked to find where the troubled sow was and she was walking out of the lot right where we wanted her. Here are the results:
Bottom line is I saw God twice that night. The breathtaking sunset was the first and most obvious. The second one is harder to find, but it teaches farmers a lesson time and time again. We are stewards of these animals, and it is our responsibilty to give our livestock the best life possible, even the really ornery ones.
* On a side note look how cute these guys were on their way to the nursery!