Today Lindsay came over. She brought Lettuce from her garden that had gone bitter to feed to the pigs. While we all were in the pig pen watching them trot around, and munch on her goodies she said, “That little black guy doesn’t look like he’s grown”
‘I don’t think he has much, and he might not grow very well. He’s the runt, we think” I replied
“Oh, he does still seem small” she added as she rubbed his little face.
Now I wasn’t supposed to care about these pigs, but somewhere this one got me a bit. First off he’s tiny, and tiny pigs are cute, secondly he was shoved around, I never stepped in because animals have a certain order and I respect that, as the smallest he was last of the bunch, and thirdly we had to baby him a bit to keep him well. You can read more about Kyle playing nurseman to a piglet here. When Kyle was nurturing the little guy I was out of town. When I came back I paid him a bit more attention. I told Kyle that I didn’t want a pig that needed nurturing. I still have a level head about shooting and eating the others because I can see that they are healthy, happy, eating well, and rounding out. Having a pig not thrive and paying more attention to it means you get soft for him a bit. The truth is I care about all of them, it matters to me that they are well cared for, I don’t love them as pets though.
I went out to feed the pigs the leftovers from dinner tonight and only three were to be seen. I browsed the fields and saw the little black guy in the grass laying down, as I walked up he didn’t move. Placing my hand on him he was cold. Darn. Petra was with me so I told her the little black pig was dead, she said okay. I was worried that she was going to take it hard. Petra can be surprisingly mature, she’s a realist. Sometimes pigs die. I told her to go get Kyle, because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. The other pigs had started to nibble his ears and I didn’t want them to eat anymore of him in case he was sick.
Truthfully he likely died of a heart defect. Which is also why he wasn’t growing either. Petra was worried that some animal got through the fence and killed it. So we explained why we thought he died. She asked if other animals sometimes had things wrong with them inside, so we explained that even some people are born with weak hearts. We told her that our friends baby Emily was born with a weak heart, so she lives with Katie. If you give Petra the facts instead of some hazy fluffy kidsplanation she takes it in and accepts it.
All was good until we got back in the house and she asked what if Micah dies? I had a moment of AHHHH what do I say. We can’t just say ‘don’t worry he won’t’ because she already knows that sometimes babies just die even if they don’t have anything wrong. Thankfully it just flowed out of my mouth that Micah is healthy, he is alert, playful, not sleepy, eats well and that if he had a heart problem he would be sickly. Happy with that she went to bed.
I feel bad he died, but I honestly think he would have died anywhere, and that it had nothing to do with our brand of care. I think he had a good life here, he was feed more than just feed grain, he had a large grassy pen, two shelters, a mud wallow that was refreshed automatically 4 times a day by an automatic sprinkler, and fresh water at all times thanks to Kyle’s pressure valve waterer.
Down to three who seem to be thriving well. In November we’ll keep one female for piglets next year and butcher the other two. The way the big black one pushes me around I think I’ll have less issue seeing her go.
ETA: Maybe not a heart condition according to Ky’s blog.