Friday, April 26, 2013

South Pork Ranch Labor and Delivery

In the midst of raw milk issues, sick grandsons (much better) spring rains flooding much of the plains, daily farm life trudges forward.

Our Red Wattle Hog, Mrs. Dalloway, full Sister to Clarissa for your Virginia Woolf fans, had her  second litter today. Labor was slow, over a few hours but we rarely interfere with the farrowing of our Red Wattle Sows unless absolutely required. Instinct, time and mother nature are usually far better midwives than mere humans.

Due to the very wet and cool conditions we did move her inside the barn three days ago. Generally they get a big section of a private pasture with a nice 3 sided shed and lots of bedding. But the ground is so wet and we were having trouble keeping her dry so she was transferred to higher level of care.

No idea if her HMO will cover it nor do we care.

Cool thing about Mrs. Dalloway was her nesting skills. I have never seen such a perfectly oval shaped nest. With equal sized borders all the way around babies are protected from cold breezes while mama is able to retain her own body heat.

She looked like some Queen sow with her moat of straw and hay.

I could only compare it to the millions of confinement hogs raised all over our country where sows deliver on rubber mats over concrete so to allow feces and urine to drain beneath. Mother pigs has minimal room to move, to turn, to nurse. Piglets are separated from mammas with metal bars which barely allow them access to nipples for nursing. Warmth is provided by artificial light and heat lamps.

Mrs. Dalloway was surrounded by soft grasses , natural light through the barn window, a few curious chickens who floated in and out of the labor suite, and finally by the warmth and snuggles of her babies.

Yes, this may sound overly romanticized for a farmer who in the end does indeed eat pork. But I firmly believe just because they do serve our dietary needs in the end there is no need for them to be stressed, uncomfortable and /or in pain while they are here with us sharing this earth.


  1. I thought those metal pig crates had been banned. Lucky are the pigs who reside at South Pork.

  2. Those metal crates look horrendous. I feel the same way about my chickens--they deserve a natural and comfortable life. Did the pig build that mound of hay herself?

  3. So very well said. I agree whole heartedly that we are obliged to show compassion and respect to our animals. Mrs. Dalloway is a most magnificent nest builder!

  4. I wish your blog could be shown to everyone who dares to call themselves "farmers" when their hogs are kept in "Confinement".

    My father's farming methods produced quality pork which I ate with relish. Now the pork from the confinement systems with all the added chemicals is awful. I gag at the smell of it cooking.

  5. Mrs. Dalloway is indeed a great nest builder. love the soft and sweet little babies!

  6. I wish a pic of Mrs. Dalloway & piglets then a pic of the *shudder* other poor pigs/piglets would be posted over every meat counter in America!

    And, really? You didn't check her HMO (Ham Mothering Org.) coverage? *heh*

  7. Wonderful! I was already going there in my mind thinking of the multitude of sows that farrow in confinement crates when I scrolled down and saw that you'd beat me to it. The comparison is striking! What a lucky pig Mrs. Dalloway is, and I'm sure her offspring will taste much better because of how they are born and live their lives. Not to mention, they'll be PIGS! How fun for a pig to actually get to be a pig--snuggle, root, wallow and all the things pigs love to do.

  8. Maybe we should have Mrs Galloway fly North and give our sows a lesson in next building! Our chickens too, for that matter! Really nice picture.