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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Midwifery in the Pig Pen

It is midnight I thought I should check on Babe, the sow, in her farrowing pen. I was counting on all to be well as I am tired and looking forward to going to bed. But alas NO! She has started to have her litter. One lone piglet so far. I will be having a restless night checking on her. Luckily our cold weather has let up. It is up to -3C and snowing a little. One of those quiet nights with snow flakes fallen. You feel embraced by Mother Nature. Should I hum "Silent Night". I will let that pass too soon for Christmas songs.

(click on photo to enlarge)

I let Babe outside earlier today to enjoy the snow and root around.

She has a well developed undercarriage, waiting to feed a litter of piglets.
She has been in the burdock. (not my favourite weed.) Those are the hitchhikers on her side.

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One of the kittens did not share my excitment. She was content to just lie in her bowl on top of the wood box by the cook stove. Damn! she is cute.

Meanwhile, back in the shed I am a little worried about Babe. She has had one piglet and is very slow at having any more. One could be sideways blocking the birth canal. I have already told June I may need her small hands to reach up into the birth canal and break up the piglet jam.
I don't think she wants to do it. Years ago my friend Gayle did it and the sow immediately had twelve piglets in a row popping out. What a sport my friend Gayle was. Such lady friends are hard to come by. ( you would think after a nine year courtship, I could have made up my mind about marriage!!!)

I will add to this post as things progress in the farrowing pen.
1:15 AM
I returned to the shed to find a second piglet, up dry and sucking. I guess their is no blockage . Perhaps, they will come in rapid succession now.
Back to the shed after a short time in the house trying to repair the heat lamp. Things are not good. One of the little piglets that seems on their way has be laid on and is dead. There is another piglet, a red one which is up and sucking Another piglet is laying at the back of the pig and is also dead. I guess it never took a breathe. As I watch another piglet popped out. Over the rail I go and pick it up, poke it a little. It takes a breathe or two and then stops. I slap it, compressions of the chest, blow on its face, stick my finger in it mouth. Nothing, it is dead.
I now have three dead one and two living. Not good. The beginning of a disaster?
3:15 AM
Back to the shed once gain. No change. No more piglets. I set up the heat lamp and try to get the two piglets to lay under it. They do for a while but prefer to lay against the mother's feet in the danger zone. The sow has once managed to get up and change sides to lie on this evening but it is a struggle so she seem content to lie on one side. The sow is not making any sounds like she is trying hard or in pain. These piglets should be popping out. There should be 10 or more to go.
4:00 AM
I just got back from the shed and figure their must be a blockage in the birth canal. Time to get ready for the arm up the birth canal trick. I heard June get up for a trip to the washroom so I went to see her and ask her if she is ready to push here small hand up the birth canal. She declined the invitation. Chicken!!!! And Babe is her pet pig. Well I guess it is my hand Babe gets.
5:00 AM
I just got back from the shed. I pushed my arm up the sows birth canal far enough that I passed my elbow. It was easier than I thought. My arm was covered with warm water and lots of dish soap. I could just feel the head of a piglet. The presentation seemed right. I will give the sow a little more time. I watched her for a while become coming to the house. If nothing happens. I will have to try again and push my arm in further and try to pull the first piglet a little. To get my arm in further I will have to take my shirt off. I wish it were not so cool.
It has been snowing lightly all night. There is about 6 inches of snow on the ground and the light wind blows the snow into my footprints in the snow between trips. I am surprised at this amount of snow. I checked the Weather Network and it seems their will be light snow all day today. "It's starting to look a lot like Christmas. . . . ."
7:00 AM
I just came in from the shed. Babe popped out one more piglet that doesn't look too strong. I brought it to the house to warm it up and get it up steady on it's feet. I don't think it has sucked yet. I was afraid the sow might lie on it.
Babe seems to be trying to push. I thought I would try to put my arm in the birth canal again snd try to puch it further. Unfortunately, Babe has moved to a position which is awkward for me to do what I have to. I had taken some more warm soapy water to the shed just in case. I will try later.
Babe tries to get up on her feet but cannot being too fat. I can't help her by myself. It would be could if she got up, moved about and lay down on the other side. This might place the piglets in the birth canal in a better position.
I could do with some sleep but I don't wamt to leave Babe alone for to long. It would be nice to have someone to watch Babe while napped. (Just a dream.)
8:15 AM
I was just lying on my bed with Heidi (head on my shoulder). Might have dozed off for 15 minutes or so. I made a quick trip to the shed to see what was happening. Nothing! Babe is still lying on the same side although she has slid ahead a bit. I think I can do the arm in the birth canal thing again and try to get my arm in farther. Babe has delivered only 6 piglets all night. A mature sow should deliver 12 or more. The last litter she had 17. She sure looks big enough so I figure she has an obstruction. If I cannot reach it I will try to get some help to get her on her feet which might help any piglets in the birth canal to shift position.
9:00 AM
I was just with the sow and I put my arm up her birth canal again as far as I could and felt nothing. I called the vet for some free advcie. I asked her if there is an area of the uterus beyond my reach. There is. So piglets could still be in the sow. We talked about some possibilities as to what is going on. I am going to pick up some injections of oxytocin (I think). This help the uterus to contract. I also called my neighbour to see if he csn help me role her over of get her on her feet. Apparently, she could be low on calcium or just tired. I was going to try and milk her for some milk for the little one I got in the house. I may do this before I go to the vets.
12:00 Noon
I am back from the vet and just finished giving the first shot of oxytocin (the hormone of love) to Babe. She is still lying on her side and the three little pigs are in a pile under the heat lamp. In two hours I will give Babe the second shot of oxytocin. I hope then she will feel real maternal and her uterus will contract more energenically. This mothering hormone I have had around the house before to use on my cows. I have been tempted to give it to one or two crabby lady friends at times (Tee Hee).
Time for a nap for me. . . .and Heidi, of course.
2:00 PM
I went to the shed to give Babe her second shot of oxytocin to discover more piglets. Sadly, three were dead. My total as of now is 10 live piglets and 6 dead ones. There many be one or two more to be born. This is not a good count but not a total disaster. If Babe can care for 10 or 11 piglets this will be good. There will be enough teats to go around. The injection of hormone seems to have worked really well.


At 2:58 a.m., Blogger Gattina said...

OMG you are getting father again ?? Reading your post I ask myself now if I would be able to help, and I think I could do it I can't let an animal suffer. I just do what has to be done and faint later, lol !

At 7:50 a.m., Blogger Peggy said...

I too have been up watching a dwarf goat and praying I don't have to reach inside her as she is so tiny. I wish I could be there to help with Babe. I have done the pig thing many times on our dairy farm. Hope the rest of the litter came quickly and you get some rest. Tell your housemate the rules are if you live on a farm you do whatever is needed or move back to town. LOL

At 8:16 a.m., Blogger possum said...

OH Philip, I do wish we lived closer - I would gladly help you! AT least take turns sitting with Babe and keeping the babies safe.
One of my favorite TV shows was (and is on again on PBS) All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot? It seemed it was always freezing cold when he had to peel off his shirt and stick his arm up somewhere! But, come to think of it - I don't remember him ever treating a pig!!!!!
Working at the wildlife Rehab center, I never had to help with the birthing process - but I got plenty of day old babies. My habit was to stick them in my pocket as I went about my other duties. That way I didn't forget them! Of course, "my" baby was PITA, the possum...
BY the way, your kitten is soooooooo adorable.
Will be waiting for more news!

At 10:16 a.m., Blogger KGMom said...

Goodness, us city folk don't realize how difficult life is on the almost-farm.
Awaiting update news on Babe, piglets, Heidi, kitten and you.

At 11:08 a.m., Blogger Janet said...

Oh poor mama pig and the babies. And poor you, staying up all night. I hope Mama and the rest of the babies will be OK.
The kitten picture is too precious.
If I were closer I would have helped, too. I hate seeing animals suffer.

At 11:42 a.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Tough night on all concerned. I really hope it gets sorted soon. Best of luck.

At 5:40 a.m., Blogger Old Wom Tigley said...

Hi Philip..
I was hung on every word. I can only imagine the tiredness and worry you must have felt... it most certainly is very hard life you have at times.
I have enhjoyed catching up hereand I'' be back again soon my friend.


At 4:03 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make sure you get some shut-eye tonight!
The cat is cute but reading about the pig had me on the edge of my seat!
oh and message for June...
Good on you girl! There is no way any of my digits would be finding their way up any canal! ;o)
Hope all is well now Philip...busy times ahead?

At 3:39 p.m., Blogger amelia said...

You should have called, I would have come!!! Seriously!!! I wouldn't care what time of day or night! I could have at least gone to the vet for you!!!!!!

My hubby would have been happy to help too!

I do hope Babe stays well and the poor little piglets are OK..


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