Mouse and Piglets Enjoying the Warm Winter Sun
Piglet fix: Image should be taken in small frequent does. May cause euphoria. Caution, do not view while eating chocolate or operating heavy machinery. May be consumed by small children without harm. Caution: side effects include a burning desire to move to the country and farm. If cuteness toxicity is detected in subject then expose the patient to ten minutes of our “Huge Hog” antidote.
As we worked on the roof in the south field yesterday we got to watch the sows with their piglets playing and snoozing in the sun. These two sows had farrowed in the north shed of the south field greenhouse earlier last month.
North Shed of South Field Greenhouse
The hog panel fencing is not to keep the sows in but to keep other pigs out from their luxury quarters and unlimited food supply. During the warm months sows go off to the distant edges of the pastures to farrow, that is birth, their litters of piglets in private. This protects the little newborns when they are most vulnerable. A few days to a week later the sow comes trotting back with piglets in tow.
In the winter this does not work. The snows are deep. The winds are bitter. The leaves are gone from the brush. The sows don’t want to leave the comfort of the communal nests and other pigs crowd too close. If a sow farrows in the group areas of the winter paddocks then piglets get crushed. The solution is we provide private farrowing areas with earthen dens, sheds, greenhouses and such where the sows can have some privacy and shelter yet still benefit from being outdoors. This is the purpose of the south field greenhouse, the south end shed and other winter spaces like that. In the past these areas were all temporary, built each fall for the winter. Now we’re starting to have more semi-permanent and permanent structures that get used for farrowing in the winter and then the rich soil is used for growing in the warm months.
These spaces let us give the sows privacy and restrict the rest of the herds from being able to access the nesting areas yet the sows can still go into the winter paddocks. In the morning we simply open the hog panels while doing chores and let the sows out so they can get to water and whey. They socialize with their herds, keep up with mates, check out the boars and get checked out in turn. Then we let them back in so they can nurse the piglets. Eventually we’ll wean these piglets but with cold winter weather I put that off as long as possible. This works far better for us than early weaning and heat lamps since sows are far better at taking care of piglets.
Outdoors: 25째F/19째F Partially Sunny, Light snow 1″
Tiny Cottage: 60째F/56째F