Food & Swine

4 and gaining

I say this to myself all of the time:  “You know you are from Iowa when…” or “You know you are a farm family when…” well today I think both sayings are appropriate when the outline of my posts today are designed to let you know the status of our orphan piglets and will be followed up with a separate post of a recipe for ‘beignets’ I designed using leftover dough from my Prize Winning Dinner Roll recipe.  Pigs, food… such is life on the Iowa prairie.  At least I am not giving you the pig-update and then following it up with a killer pork butt recipe or bacon candy recipe.  Those are to come soon, but I can’t bear the thought of eating my 4 swine-children at the moment.  I am totally living in denial.

So, at the request of many, here is the added-on version of all of their health statuses at the moment.  I don’t expect much to change from here.  They are all looking like quite normal and healthy piglets.  Their meals consist of Standard Nutrition’s Headstart 1.0 which has been completely wonderful.  They transitioned from their half-human food meals (potato flakes, Jell-O, human infant formula) to the Headstart 1.0 pellet very easily.  Feeding time is really easy and I find that  they like to eat their pellets like a gruel with the water mixed in.  They’re graduating to a health level of being able to be on their own without their “Mama” (my husband) or me, or the kids.  When it is time for them to go, we’ll miss them, and that is an understatement.  My husband, on the other hand, won’t miss waking up at all hours of the night feeding them.  On to the updates!

The gilt: (only female)  The smartest, most voracious eater, is very snuggly and loves to put her front feet up on your hands when she eats.  She doesn’t thrash around too bad when she eats which is nice.  She pees on you every time she eats.  Awesome.  We love her.  *Update 1/9:  The gilt “Sunshine” as Halle calls her, remains the smartest, healthiest pig we have.  She is always hitting the feed when she should and has never scoured.  She’s round and ‘normal’ sized.  She’s very sweet and her nose is very cute.  She looks like she smiles when she sleeps.  Very steady and has a great outlook.  *Update 1/14: “Sunshine” remains the smartest, best looking pig from start to finish.  One of the larger boar pigs is passing her in size but she takes none of his antics.  She’s quite aggressive and doesn’t allow any of her 3 brothers the last head butt, nudge, ear bite etc.  She has no quit.

The ‘smart’ boar pig: This is one of the three boar pigs that takes a bottle.  He drains it incredibly fast and can really eat a lot.  He’s big and scrappy.  My husband likes him.  *Update 1/9: “Jackson” is the second best off of the bunch.  He and “Sunshine” are buddies and he takes her direction when she gets up to eat.  It is so cute, they do care for each other and they fight quite a bit too. *Update 1/14: “Jackson” has taken the lead in the size/weight department.  He is the fastest gobbler-of-feed I’ve ever seen.  I’ve noticed him choking a few times because he really gets aggressive when he eats.(It looks like a cat/hairball situation.) Serves him right I suppose, he’ll learn soon enough.  He tries to pick on his littermates and usually wins, unless his opposition is his only sister, then he backs off.  Chivalrousness doesn’t only exist in humans, I guess.

The ‘hammer head’:  Definitely not the brightest pig in the bunch, he is a super-squealer.  He is wiggly too and may be the pig who tried to bite my ear off.  Possibly the one I dropped on the floor (10-12 inch padded fall.)  He wiggles around if you aren’t pushing the syringe fast enough.  STRESSFUL pig. *Update 1/9:  “Wiggles” turns out this is the ‘fall-behind’ who looked as if we may lose but now is really making great strides in eating and energy.  Today he has eaten more than any of his siblings, he’s catching up.  *Update 1/14: Wiggles had a setback shortly after I wrote this post.  I caught him acting strange (think seizure) which turned out to be “streptococcus suis” or ‘strep’.  (Inflammation of the brain).  We gave him injections of penicillin and dexamethasone.  They worked and he made it.  He’s grown like a weed since and blends in with his siblings so much I have to really look carefully to see which pig he is. He’ll make it, barring any unforeseen terrible circumstances.  He gets the Most Improved Award.

The ‘other one’:  This pig just flat out wants the syringe. Feed. ME. NOOOOW.  A little pisser as well, this one has ups like Jordan and can get some serious sky when he hears his “Mama” coming.  His little head bobs up and down out of the tub when he’s jumping.  Quite funny for now until those little suckers can jump out and we’re chasing them all over the garage! *Update 1/9: “Hopper” is the 3rd best looking of the four.  He’s really come around in the last 48 hours.  He plays nice with “Wiggles” and just nudges him nicely and nibbles on his ear. He’s not the brightest but is holding his own and is getting bigger, closely rivaling the size of Jackson and Sunshine. *Update:  “Hopper” is growing well. His newest ‘thing’ that distinguishes him from his brothers and sister is that you can practically hear him in the house while he is eating in the garage!  He’s a very vocal eater. “Wiggles” isn’t into playing nice with “Hopper” anymore so they fight pretty handily.  There is nothing quite like breaking up a piglet-fight. They pretend to walk away from one another, but then, the second I disappear from their sight, I can hear them strike it up again!

Things are going well for these four.  We’re so glad to be ‘out of the woods’ with them and having them in good health.

Here are a few pictures.  The first one is their makeshift house, complete with slatted flooring, a nice heat lamp, a ceramic heater and our 60 degree garage.  They are livin’ it up.


Next pictures are of the little guys, mind you, they are pigs.  I could give them all a bath in our bathtub to try to impress you but they are happy with food slopped all over their heads and bodies.  If they didn’t fight so much at the dinner table I truly believe they would be much cleaner!  (They wouldn’t hold still for me, go figure!)  I missed the picture of “Jackson” up on his front legs balancing on the feeder.  (See that black square at the top, on that!)  Also, the toys in the pen are meant to be there so they will play with them and leave each other alone!  (Never happens.)


They still are pretty darn cute.  This is “Wiggles” the meekest, weakest little dude.  He is always curious of me.


Thanks for reading,


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  • Reply Shannon January 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    So glad they are doing well! I was wondering. Nice work!

  • Reply robin January 18, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    We have been checking in every day to see how things were going. So very happy to hear all is well and they are growing! So what is the next project?

    • Reply mikeandcristen January 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      It sounds like the next project will be taking our dog for ACL surgery and rehabilitating her! Oiy!

  • Reply robin January 21, 2014 at 1:45 am

    oh! poor baby. give her extra hugs and cuddles for us. We went to 4-H last night they were all so happy to hear your 4 little babies pulled through. some are going to follow your site now that they have it. Everyone says you all did a great job!

    • Reply mikeandcristen January 21, 2014 at 2:20 am

      Oh that’s so nice! We’ll be taking pictures of them tomorrow, they may be going to a big barn. *Tear. :(

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