Those who believe pigs don't have feelings have never met Velma.
Last Friday she began to show all the signs that it was time for her babies to be born. She removed all the grass Phil had put in the stall for her and began pulling weeds to make her nest. She was very neat about it. She'd pull them with her snout, shake of the dirt and slowly waddle into the barn to carefully arrange her birthing bed. This went on all day and was still going on at 10 pm when Phil checked on her before bed.
The next morning Phil couldn't find her. She wasn't in the stall and the tomatoes he'd left for her hadn't been touched. Harley, our Lab, kept looking out into the north pasture by the barn, so Phil went in search of Velma. He found her - and 9 squirming, nursing babies - tucked into a hollow she'd made in the weeds. We're not sure why she decided to have them outside. Maybe she got tired, maybe the barn was too hot, maybe the urge to deliver caught her out there.
After the Market closed that day, storm clouds began to brew on the horizon. Phil and I decided we'd better get Velma and her babies into the barn before the bottom dropped out of the sky. When we went into the pasture, Phil found that she had moved her babies to a spot a little higher on the hill. Then we discovered why. She'd had 12 babies, but 3 had either been born dead or died shortly after birth. This is not unusual in pigs, especially with big litters. By now the lightening was getting close, so Phil began gathering up living babies and putting them in a bucket. Velma was very patient and before long he had all but one in the bucket. Off to the barn he went with Velma trotting along behind. I thought I'd be helpful and gather up the last baby. Big mistake. Baby squealed, Mom reacted, and before I knew what happened, Velma was headed straight at me, letting me know that she was very angry. I put the baby down just as she rammed me in the gut. She didn't hurt me - she could have - but I took it as a warning and moved away.
As the storm built and got closer, we tried everything to get Velma into the barn. I picked up one of the babies, thinking that when it squealed, she'd head for the barn. Instead, she'd go to the place where she'd had them. Phil got the lone baby into the bucket and safely into the barn, but Velma insisted on going back to the birthing area. Thinking maybe she didn't want to leave the dead babies, he got a hoe and began covering them up. Velma helped with her bulldozer snout. When they were covered, her tail and her head drooped and she turned her face into the weeds. We realized then that she thought all her babies were dead.
Phil got the feed bucket and slowly got Velma to follow it toward the barn. When they were just a little ways off, one of the babies squealed. Phil said that if a pig can dance, Velma did! Her tail curled up, her eyes lit up and she and 9 cute little babies had a glorious reunion! Then the rains came. I am pleased to report that the nine little ones are doing very well and that Velma is being a wonderful mother again. This is her second litter.
Posted by Phil and Sandy @ 09:13 AM CST