Farm Life

Pudding’s Litter & A Dead Piglet’s Second Chance

Update on 3/23/16: This guy is selling in a sale this weekend. My daughter is somewhat devastated but she knows we can’t keep them all. If you are looking for a Spot barrow, we have one for you. And a gift. Lots of gifts. She wants to make sure he has a good home. You get the pig, and gifts.
And a pie if you want. Or two.
Afterall, he has a great story and claims internet fame.

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Original Post:
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Pudding the Spot, has pigged.

The back story: From the time my daughter understood different breeds of pigs and was able to talk, she has asked for a “Spot”. So, for several years we have looked and looked, and have come up empty on purchasing one for her. Birthdays passed, Christmases tumbled by, Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day, you name it: no matter the giving occasion (or any random day) our daughter begged for a Spot.

She wanted a litter of little spotted babies. Something completely different than we have ever had on our farm.

On my birthday this year we found… “Pudding”. Yes, we let our kids name their pigs. Food is a trend for naming pigs here, which I am okay with.
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Pudding had her babies on Saturday, and it was everything we’d ever hoped for, and then some. But for every wonderful moment, there were just as many uncomfortable moments.

It all started with a text message from my husband, who was in the barn at the time. You see, Pudding decided to start having her babies as the kids and I were getting ready to leave for my daughter’s evening basketball game. I was on watch earlier in the day, but she decided to wait.

Pudding got her first pig pushed to the exit, and the piglet’s rear legs were presenting (meaning he was backwards) and he was clearly upside down.  My husband was able to get this pig out, but he was… as the text I got from my husband said:

“Dead.”

Or at least he thought so. He thought enough to let me know that this piglet was dead, but all the while (for several minutes) was giving this piglet our on-farm version of piglet-CPR and stimulating him to try to get him to take one breath.  One. damn. breath.

And he did.

I received another message 4 minutes later saying: “Get out here now. Took a breath.”

See, he needed us to come out so we could take over for him to keep little piglet excited about breathing and staying alive. He was concerned that the next pigs to be born would be coming right away and would need tending to as well. But if this guy didn’t have constant attention, he would die. There was no questioning that.
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So we quickly got dressed and we ran. Through the icy snowy yard, over the stubble in the field. My 4 year old, my 7 year old, and myself. It was slick, and icy, but we ran. We all fell one time each. But we ran.

It sounds futile, I know. But every pig we raise means something to me and my family. Every piglet is an opportunity to feed a family, be a show animal to a young kid or simply an opportunity to teach my kids not to give up.  As silly as it sounds, it was a shot at redemption after losing a little pig last week that the kids tried to keep alive.
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Parenting through the ups and downs of farming, is made easier if you can balance the lows with plenty of highs.
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When we reached the door to the barn, we stripped our big coats off and ran inside to see what the status of this little pig was. We reached the door and walked in, my husband was sitting in a lawn chair with the pig wrapped in a towel while working him over to keep him awake and breathing. All I can say is, this little pig’s condition was not good at this point. He was trying to breathe, but things were not clicking at all. He clearly had been stressed out. He was exhausted and wanted to shut his eyes, and forget to breathe.

Not on my watch.
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I scooped him up out of my husband’s hands. He was lifeless but I could faintly feel his heart beat and his chest expanding. His tone was horrible. His color, worse. For the next 1/2 an hour, I sat with that little pig. I rubbed up and down his spine and scratched him to keep him awake. The kids each took turns helping me keep this little guy alive. I unzipped my hoodie and put him inside, to warm him up more. Though the barn was a steady 70 degrees, he was chilly. I cupped my hand over my mouth and blew hot air on his body, my sweatshirt keeping the heat inside. I stood by the heater and let hot air blow on us. With the help of my kids, we kept working him over, and by the end of the half an hour, his tone and color was getting closer to normal and he was actually snorting at us and starting to try to wiggle away. Then he pooped on me. Oh, and peed. A lot.

Good boy.
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Once this piglet was in a good place, we had to run back to the house and change for the basketball game.
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We made it to the game, with little time to spare, even if we did smell like pigs a little.
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It was quite an interesting game. My daughter had 10 points, and the other team’s coach got a technical foul and was sentenced to remain seated for the remainder of the game (I think he got T’d up in the second quarter). Yes, a technical foul for bad mouthing a well respected referee at a 7 & 8 year old basketball game.

Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

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*Special Note: The piglet in question will carry the name “Danimal” after the husband of one of my favorite people in life, who is battling a disease that no one should have to. Keep an eye out for these guys to do great things. (Yes, the pig, and the human.)

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5 Comments

  • Reply Marla aka Crazy Mom January 12, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    I love this story and can’t wait to read the follow-up stories. 🙂

  • Reply Robin January 12, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Cristen, this is such a heartwarming post. What great lessons in love for the kids that day! (Well, maybe not so loving about the coaching, but a lesson there too.) Let’s hope for great things for your friend and the piglet : )

  • Reply Ceil Slings January 12, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    I love his name Danimal!!!! Maybe the Glitter girls can visit him the next time they are in Iowa!!!!!

  • Reply John and Jane January 13, 2016 at 3:25 am

    You guys are awesome. Someday I will tell you about our attempt to raise pigs many years ago and how hard I tried to keep a litter alive that the mother was eating!

  • Reply Beth Ann January 13, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Never give up! You are teaching your children AND the rest of us by your example and I love your story today. You, my friend, are amazing and I love to read your inspiring posts. As for the coach–shame on him. Gee whiz. The exact opposite of setting a good example and teaching by example. Thanks for putting a huge smile on my face this morning!

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