It’s still February but things are changing – our friends with greenhouses are starting seeds, a couple days in the high 30s hastened our maple trees tapping, and we are looking around the corner to piglets and then lambs being born. February and March are often sited as the cruelest months. They get your hopes up for warmth, snowmelt and flowers and then dump two feet of snow and a wind chill of minus 20.
gilt – a young female pig who has not yet produced a litter
farrowing – the act of a pig producing a litter
piggy – a technical term referring to the body changes associated with the last stages of pig gestation.
The animals seem ready for spring. As the temperatures flirt with 40 degrees they begin to get frisky, smelling the grass not yet growing under the snow. We have been watching our gilts closely for signs that they are beginning to go into labor. Crescent, Gibbous, and Luna have been looking piggy for a couple weeks and we have just crossed the earliest possible date for their farrowing. It’s our first round of farrowing (previously we have been buying piglets that are 6 weeks old) and we are anxious that it all goes well. Pigs are amazing and prolific animals. They can have 14 piglets and farrow twice a year. While it’s not likely, our three ladies could produce an amazing 96 piglets this year. We are hoping for mid-sized litters of 8-10 healthy piglets or a total of 50-60. We are planning to raise to slaughter 20 piglets from each farrowing and sell the rest to other farmers and homesteaders for them to raise.
About a month after farrowing lambing will start – by then we will be deep into mud season.
Gabe and Hayley