Saturday, August 8, 2009

Beautiful Gifts

The piglets are doing well; myself and my "crew" are beyond exhausted. The last few days have been happy, sad, exciting and exhausting all at once, but worth every second.

Our piglet count is down to eight. Two of the "c-section" babies grew very weak, went off milk, and never recovered. If memory serves me correctly, I believe that they were the last two pulled out, and even though Dan and Dr. George worked at lightning speed to save them, the two piglets may have been deprived of oxygen in their final moments before their birth. (There is a term for it, and I am falling asleep typing this and can't think straight, so if anyone wants to chime in with a quick vocab lesson, it would be greatly appreciated!)

The piglets are currently being bottle fed every two hours with goat's milk. We are running low in supply and have powered milk replacer ready if need be, but are currently looking for another supplier. If anyone knows a goat milk supplier in the vicinity of Derry, NH, please let me know!

Dan spent the second half of the night with the piglets last night so I could get some sleep. It was cute to walk in and see one piglet in each of his arms sucking on bottles, and two fast asleep on his lap.

I think the lack of sleep has finally gotten to him though... Dan used to build custom furniture for a living and decided to put his brainpower and creativity to work last night. He constructed what I refer to as the "Nanny". This thing is basically a wooden bottle holder that somewhat resembles the shape of a pig. It is braced on each end and has two long boxes on either side of it, both with five holes cut out of the bottoms. We warm the milk bottles up, place the bottles into the slots, the nipples pop out the bottoms, and presto! Just like that, the little piggies can nurse at their leisure! So far only half of them have figured out what this contraption does. The others we have to hold while they feed.

Miranda, Nicole and Lucy have slept over the past few days here and are absolutely wonderful helpers. They quickly learned how to prepare the milk, warm the bottles and bottle feed squirmy, squealing piglets. Camelia and Lilly, two of my younger students and their mom Liz stopped by today to help out as well.

The piglets are as follows:
Alex - a black piglet with a small white band around his back and white front legs. He was the first born.
Bertha - a redhaired lady who is a spitting image of her mom! She does NOT like to be held while being bottle fed. She squeals like a... well, pig.
Charlie - a black piglet with a wide white band across her back and white front legs. (Yes, "Charlie" is a she. The name stuck before we realized our mistake...) She is by far the most annoying of the group! She is pushy and loud, squeals at a pitch that makes your ears ring, and the biggest of the bunch.
Duke - a black piglet with a narrow white band across his back and white front legs. He also has a cute white spot on the end of his little snout. He was delivered by myself (let me tell you, that was an experience I will never forget...)
Edwin - a solid black piglet who is the smartest and was the first to figure out how to use the"Nanny". He is an easy keeper and pretty social.
Ferdinand (aka Boo-boo) - a solid black piglet who is the runt of the litter. He was born with a small scrape on the inside of his front left leg, hence the nickname "Boo Boo". He is tiny, built awkwardly and resembles a very miniature elephant...
Grace - a beautiful red haired girl. She falls asleep nursing and could sleep through a war. She pounds drinks back like you read about - we may need to sign her up for AA... Or as Miranda says, MA.
Hilda - our only "pinto" piglet! She is light red with white and sounds like a duck quacking.

Here is a picture of the first piglet born snuggling to keep warm, and the last one we have of Charlotte, content and happy being a mom, if only for a short time...

Although her loss tears me up, Charlotte gave us eight final beautiful gifts...


  1. that last photo is heartbreaking, I couldn't imagine going though life and death at such a fast rate as that! You are an amazing person.

  2. Charlotte's eight little orphans are certainly lucky to have such devoted caregivers! Keep up the good work! I wonder if any of your other animals will step in as surrogate "nannies" once the piglets are a little older.

    P.S. I believe "hypoxia" is the scientific/medical term for oxygen deprivation.

  3. lilly hannah says, " I miss Charlotte already but the piglets are the cutest things EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  5. So sorry about Charlotte. Didn't expect that. Had pigs on the farm growing up and never had that happen! Poor Charlotte--she didn't even get to raise her piglets!