This year, Mother’s Day was such a lovely day… and filled with beautiful images and a restful contented day! I started out visiting with my little pony man, Cody, who I must say is looking more and more handsome as he sheds off his wooly winter coat and is the trim beautiful little stallion I adore! So handsome. He needs his bi-annual bath soon, and a little tail and mane conditioning, but I say he’s rather the handsome man, don’t you think?
But the best surprise was when Maggie came running up to the house… baby pigs had been born!!! Yes, Miss Ebony had her babies! Oh my gosh! We were so surprised… we thought she had another week or two to go but I guess she was ready and had them sometime in the early morning!
Ebony loves Maggie and I know Maggie loves Ebony. They are buddies for sure. Most breeds of hogs you do not want to get in the middle of her and her piglets, but American Guinea Hogs are so different. They have the best temperament and are gentle and loving. Especially with their caregivers. Ebony does not mind Maggie at all being in with her newborns. Of course, we are very careful and don’t want to push the limits with her. But she was fine with Maggie checking out the litter and making sure all were okay.
What was truly amazing… is that she had a litter of ALL BOYS!!! Her first litter was ALL GIRLS…. and now, all boys. She had six little boy piglets. Just like her six little girls. However, two of the boys in this litter were very very tiny and not doing as well. And unfortunately, the next day they were gone. But she had four super healthy little boys left and they are doing fantastically! It’s hard to discuss loss in farming… we’ve come to understand that things just happen. There isn’t much you can do and often it’s a very quick end. When we checked the litter originally, even Maggie knew that two of them were not thriving. They were runts and just didn’t seem to be as strong. We made the decision to leave them with their mom and littermates as that really is their best chance. They need that initial nursing of collostrum and they are safest with their momma. Ebony is a good mother. She seems to care and worry over her little ones. But hogs are not exactly the most nurturing of creatures and in the end, it’s hard to know exactly was the reason of their passing, but you can’t really worry it to death in your mind. We dread any of our animals passing, but when you start to have a homestead with many little critters, the odds are, you are going to experience some loss. One of our ewes had a stillborn lamb two weeks early this year and that was heartbreaking. Hard to know… was it her condition, was it the harsh harsh winter, was it an injury, or was something just wrong. Even with a necropsy, there are still unknown elements in the equation.
It’s best to move on, and nurture the ones you have. In a way, I’m not sure that putting a ton of effort and resources in a runt animal are the best things to do with animal husbandry. Sure, it’s very possible to keep just about anything alive these days, but is that really the best thing? Especially with our special hogs… we really are dedicated to helping to reestablish this endangered breed of heritage hogs. These little boys are going to become future herd sires… unrelated blood lines are so important in our area, and I want them to be the very strongest and healthiest of their breed to help continue on and improve the hogs. Weak and unhealthy animals do not help that cause. The breed club is very strong about culling for the very best of representatives of the breed! In a way, I have to believe that nature had a hand in helping out that cause.
Oh, little piggies are so adorable. Within hours they are running around, acting like little minature adults. They are wandering about, in and out of the house, checking out new things and experiences. Their two sisters, Cheyanne and Shawnee were very interested in their new siblings… sniffing and licking and just sort of pestering over them.
American Guinea Hogs are also unique, in that, they are very good at coparenting their litters. Onyx seemed very pleased with his first litter of boys. He was interested and patient with them. I think this father and son picture shows it all. They are so cute together. He has moved on and is visiting another farm nearby right now, helping to add a little genetic diversity to another group of AGHs… giving Ebony a little time to bond with her new litter and enjoy a rest from his advances. Hogs can have two litters a year easily if left to naturally control their families. We intend to let nature run it’s course, but it’s nice to give her a six week or so break while Onyx is out handling other females in need of his studly services. Once he returns, he will be in quarantine for 3 weeks just to be sure he doesn’t unwillingly bring anything home. Just normal operating procedure with a special endangered breed of animal.
We are so excited to have this new litter on the ground… they are going to be named after Ohio cities! We have a Akron, Sandusky, Parma and Warren…. if you haven’t noticed… we like to group name litters and year babies around here. All our registered American Guinea Hogs have American group names. Our first were Native Americans, and now Ohio Cities. The sheep are all Lord of the Rings names. And the goats are going to be candy names. (Jelly Bean started it all by being born nearly on Easter…) It’s kind of fun this way and we know when the various animals were born by the group name. Works for us! Some folks use the letters of the alphabet, each year being a different letter but we thought that means there are a lot of A B and C names out there! We just thought it would be fun to be a little different!
All the sheep are finally enjoying the weed patch… they are doing a pretty good job of keeping the weeds down to a low roar… of course, last year’s weeds are still there and we have a plan to get in there and make it all lovely, soon!
It’s so nice to see them out and enjoying their own pasture!
And of course, it’s so nice to see Moon Shadow getting his new spring coat in place as well! He is still a little shaggy, but getting better and better with each day. We curry comb them both almost every day and it’s like a little mountain of pony hair comes out! Funny thing, is that the mountain will be gone in a few hours as all sorts of little birds rush in and grab hair for their nests! I’m pretty sure there are some sweet little white nests here and there on the homestead from Mr. Shadow’s contribution!!!
Such a lovely Mother’s Day… and my dear daughters made a lovely dinner for us as well. Just loving the beautiful spring weather and how green and beautiful it is here on our little dear homestead farm!