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A Pig's Tale

Posted 4/22/2011 10:57am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

A week ago when Roy checked on the sow who was due to farrow he discovered she had given birth to a good-sized litter and all but one were dead.   It was a devastating blow.  Last winter this same sow had a small litter in bitterly cold conditions and when they all died over the course of a week, we blamed our inexperience and the cold, and had her re-bred.   She is a sow who seems especially sweet to us humans, but as it turns out, she neglects her young.   We left the single piglet with her mom and hoped for the best, but when she stepped on the little gilt and seemed oblivious to her squeals, she sealed her fate and we became the foster parents of a tiny, spunky, loud-mouthed Ebony, and we love her.

Piglets crave body heat and need warmth so Ebony likes to snuggle, if fact, she insists on it, emphatically!  While she gets passed around the open arms here at home, none of us has the luxury or patience to hold her constantly, so we keep a warm water bottle in her kitty-carrier to substitute for a warm body.   When she is hungry or feels cold, she rattles her cage door and grunts and squeals. ( I was tempted to tell the tele-marketer that called the other day to ignore the racket, it was just a salesperson who wanted out of his shackles, but I just let them wonder.)   When I open the door to let her out, it's like a bullet being shot from a gun.  She dashes out, squealing, shoveling her snout into your ankles, while her dainty little feet click around your legs.   She is fierce for a two-pound, six-inch tall troll. But after being fed and let out to pee, (yes, pigs don't like to go to the bathroom where they sleep so after she drinks we take her outside and she pees almost immediately) she calms down and likes to be held, close.   All baby animals are loveable, but of all the bottle babies we've raised, we never had one that seemed to want our affection as much as Ebony.   Nor have the other bottle babies been so comical.   That's what I really love about pigs.  They are confident animals and seem to assume that all their grunting and squealing should make perfect sense and when we humans are confused, its because we are ignorant, thank you very much.   Ebony is certainly all pig.   She doesn't cower, she explores, she demands, and when she wants to cuddle, darn it, you better get ready because she is headed for that warm space in the crook of your neck.   And when she settles in,  you'll find it is so nice to have her there. 

See "Spring Bottle Babies..." for more photos of Ebony.