And what a litter arrived on Saturday!
The bets were on that Mary would produce double figures. Last time she had nine.
Wessex Saddlebacks used to be known for their big litters, but as numbers declined – along with their genetics, the litter sizes got smaller and smaller.
When the breed was at its most critical you’d be lucky to get four or five. But now, as the breed is nurtured, production is improving.
Mary had 13 piglets this time. We thought she’d finished after 12. I’d already put the afterbirth in the vegetable garden, but in a couple of hours time number 13 popped out.
Piglets literally come out running. Their eyes are wide open, and once they’ve got their umbilical cords untangled, and their birthing goo out of their mouths, they’re headed straight for a teat.
We’ve got two more sows expected to give birth in the next couple of days, what’s your bet?
Is there anyone in there?
While we’re talking babies, Victorian Wessex Saddleback breeder Fiona Chambers from Fernleigh Farms brought her pregnancy testing kit when she visited us earlier in the week.
You can actually hear the blood pumping through the uterus and the galloping hearts of the piglets.
A pig’s gestation is three months, three weeks, and three days. Wasn’t that well planned by nature?
A few of them needed a bit of help out of their shells, but they’re all fluffed up and growing madly now.
We can’t tell what colours they’ll be yet, so we’re going to keep them for a couple of months until their grown-up feathers grow, and pick out which ones we’re going to keep.
There’s good demand for coloured Indian Runners by backyard poultry keepers, and we’ve already got orders.
Apparently Indian Runners are good eating ducks too, but we won’t go there – yet.
To end a week full of piglets and ducklings, we had a herd of humans visit the farm. A group of local farmers, who mostly keep cattle and are interested in alternative farming, came to see what we’re doing.
There are so many closet pig fanciers around. I’m always amazed that when you mention you’ve got pigs to anyone, they’ll straight away say, “Oh I love pigs…we used to have one called…and she got turned in to…”.
The ham was a real hit with the farmers, with many saying they hadn’t tasted anything like it for a long time.
And that’s why we’re bringing the breed back.