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We could not let National Pig Day go by without writing about our favorite pig, Charlotte!

Charlotte has quite the story of arriving at our farm. My dad actually found her running down the road near their house. My girls instantly snatched her up and took her in as one of their own.

For the longest time Charlotte thought she was a dog, as she had free range of our yard and followed the dogs and kids around. She pretty much went wherever Ellie went. She even went on our nightly walks with us!

At the time our yard was dug up because we were prepping for a patio. People would drive in and look at us like we were crazy because we had a pig wandering around. Charlotte even got to meet people from all over the world when we took her to see Ragbrai on the corner near our home!

As she got bigger and our patio got finished we quickly began to realize that she was no longer going to be able to have free range of the farm. She was quite the "cultivator." 🙂 So... we made her a nice pen outside where she could play in the mud and get under shelter so she was out of the elements.

Fast forward to Charlotte getting a little older and we found "Walter" and Charlotte and Walter got married (according to Ellie.) When she had her first litter of piglets she was pretty grumpy (can you blame her) she had never been through labor and had no idea why she was hurting. It was a little hard for the girls to understand because typically you pat her back and she flops over and lays so you can scratch her belly. First time mom stuff-she didn't want anyone near her or her babies. I am pretty sure she probably would have put signs on her pen that asked everyone that entered to wash their hands to prevent spreading illness to her babies or if she were like me when I was a first time mom keep the kid covered up in the grocery store and pretend like shes sleeping so no one tries to touch the baby. Yep, she was pretty crazy with that first litter.

She was much calmer with her second litter of piglets and wasn't nearly as grumpy. You know like the second child thing; first one you are unsure of how things will go, you don't really want anyone in the room to see what's going on, by the second you are like sure those 7 student doctors can come in and check things out as long as they bring ice chips and smile. That was pretty much Charlotte on this second go round.

Now that her piglets have been weaned she is back living with her roommate, Walter. So... in about 4 months we should have piglets again. Actually, the gestation period for a pig is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. Now you can't say you have never learned anything from my blog. 😉 I am sure by this round of piglets, Charlotte will be ok with us being around and I am positive she won't have many pictures or even have a little piggy book for this third litter, and she would probably be glad for us to take all of them for a sleep over so she could get a full nights sleep, you know the third child thing.

Do you have any fun pig stories? Are you celebrating National Pig Day? Ever found an animal and took it in to give it a home?

Happy National Pig Day from the Gravel Road-

Jen

2

One of the most exciting things that happened on the gravel road over the holiday break was "Charolette the Wonder Pig" gave birth to twelve piglets.

It was really quite an incredible day. We knew that she was getting very close because when we checked her for milk she was producing and just by watching her actions she was growing more and more uncomfortable. She was building her nest by taking all of the shavings from the edge of her pen and piling them up in the center; this is a really cool process if you haven't witnessed it. This was her second litter of piglets and it was obvious this time that she knew what was going on (during her first labor her normal tempermant was gone and she was GRUMPY) this time she was uncomfortable, but not as angry with us.

I'll be honest, since I was on winter break from work, I spent most of the morning with Charolette since I new she was in labor. The first piglet arrived at 10:00 AM and quickly tried to find some lunch. The next piglet arrived at 10:45 AM and was also healthy as could be. Then NOTHING for hours! I was so worried about her. I "farm girled up" and put a plastic sleeve on and "sleeved" her. I found nothing, no little teeth trying to bite me, no piglet stuck in her pelvis, and no stillborn piglet waiting to be delivered. I couldn't believe it, why in the world would she only have two piglets? I watched her for quite some time after that and at 3:00 PM finally decided to go in and shower since I had spent all day in a pig pen.

After showering I remembered that I hadn't slid her water pan back into her pen (she kept spilling it while nesting). At 3:40 PM I ran back outside to water her and to my shock there was a huge piglet trying to nurse that hadn't been there 40 minutes ago and surely was not in the birth canal when I had reached in to check her. I was absolutely flabbergasted!

Later that evening we had a Christmas celebration to go to and when we left, Charolette was comfortable and had two live pigs at that time (she had laid on one). My husband left the celebration early and called me from home...

"Jen, guess how many live piglets we have now?" My response was hesitant as I had hoped she hadn't laid on anymore. In fact, I don't even think I responded before he shouted the number NINE! I was shocked! The girls and I rushed home to find all of the babies munching and filling their tummies with milk. We left Char resting comfortably at 10:00 PM and when my husband got up the next morning for chores, she had delivered three more piglets! First, I can't believe she labored for that long with no complications. Second, I can't believe they were all born alive. Third, it was probably one of the best winter breaks we have had for quite sometime. I am not sure the number of times I had to tell the girls to put their mud boots on to play in the pig pen (rather than wearing their good shoes), I lost track of the number of times I swept the kitchen because they drug wood shavings in on their clothes, and we are still succeeding in our goal of teaching our girls about life (and death) on the farm and the responsibilities that come with raising animals.

As of today, the piglets are a little over two weeks old. We have 8 survivors that are growing like crazy and a momma sow that is starting to get a little annoyed with all of her kids wanting her full attention (I totally think animal mommas and human mommas may go through the same emotions from time to time.)

Have you ever heard of a pig going through that long of a labor? Comment below with your favorite color from this litter, there are many to choose from!

From The Gravel Road-

Jen

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