Sunday, January 16, 2011

Working in the PNU

That would be Pig Neonatal Unit, the PNU. A specialized care unit for premature piglets who due to no fault of their own end up out in the cold. I blame myself and Keith blames himself and the pigs have moved on to other things

Our Red Wattle Lacey was showing a little udder. Keith suggested we move her into our maternity pasture. It was late Thursday night , we'd been gone all day in Chicago and evening chores still had to be done. I told him I was sure she'd be fine until morning. I was wrong. She farrowed and the next am Keith found 4 dead babies and one barely alive all alone. He mother outside the hutch reading the recent "Agri-News" issue, seemingly no longer involved with her babes. Keith scooped up the last survivor and brought her inside.

As a rule, our farm motto is "live and let die" meaning that animals that do not make it past day one or two are usually meant to die. They are weak or malformed and saving them is generally not best. But, we are humans and piglets are sooooo cute. So in she came , and she was named by granddaughter Allana. Big mistake. "Princess" started to grow on us.

She was cold, so she got a warm bath, umbilical care and some eyes drops. (From the bath, I accidentally got some water in her eyes)

After that we fed her first with a syringe and then by evening she was doing so well she was drinking from a baby bottle. Within 12 hours of birth she was scooting well across the kitchen floor and climbing out her basket. We mover her highness to a bigger both. Her last feeding was at midnight. When I woke the next morning she had taken a turn for the worse. I suspected some internal injuries due to a cut on her side that may have come from being stepped on.

I prepared the family for the worse, and the grand kids said goodbye. Well Allana said goodbye. Wes, age 3 wanted to know if he could have more pudding. Hey ! We all deal with grief in our way. Soon after, the little swine passed on. Allana asked many questions about what would happen to her body and we talked a little about decomposing and going back to the land via our compost pile. She asked if we could lay the piglet out on top of my short bookcase. I asked  why,  thinking she just wasn't ready to say goodbye yet. Her answer..."I want to see the body fall apart "

Hmmm. Future Coroner maybe ?


  1. Oh that is so like my oldest grand daughter, where as the middle chid would be sobbing her heart out. I've conducted many an ICU unit for piglets of our friends. Don't know that any of them were premature. But our friend, Mike knew that he just had to get me to take one look at a piglet that was doing well and home it came. My husbands just as bad. He'd say, I'm sure you can do something for it dear. I've saveed all but one and those runts and dieing piglets have grown to end up filling our freezers. Several, Mikes asked if I'd consider trading for another so he could take them to the show ring.

  2. Hey I resemble the coroner remark...hahaha