Farm Life

Ups and Downs

Farming can be quite the roller coaster ride at times.  Just when you think you have everything figured out you are thrown for a loop.  In farming you are always studying and learning.  When we made the move from Wisconsin we had much to learn about this area.  As much as a person reads and talks to others you really don't learn much until you have to deal with things yourself.  Have you ever heard of the saying, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."? Well, every farmer has their tool box of tricks that they use for their success.  Every farmers tool box is a little different.  Just like the saying, there are many different ways to come to the same success in the end. Now you're probably wondering what I am rambling about.  In Wisconsin we had our tool box of tricks for raising some great hogs and weaning off big litters.  Of course we had to go through a learning curve first to acquire our tool box of tricks for success.  When we moved to Kansas we had a good basic knowledge of hogs that could be applied to any situation but we had to come up with a completely different tool box of tricks to have success with our hogs at this particular farm with this particular climate.  The first year was a bit bumpy and we suffered some losses.  We have learned a lot in the last year and a half and thought we had things pretty well figured out.  Last Wednesday we had one of those loops thrown at us that I mentioned above.  One of my Hereford sows was due to farrow.  We got her in a pen by herself in the shed.  Loaded the pen down with lots of fresh straw.  We did everything we have done in the past and have had good success with.  Farrowing time came in the late evening.  Mark had gone to Missouri for the day so I had to do all the chores by myself that day.  At 10:00 PM I checked on the sow and there were 3 squealing piglets at her udder.  I could tell more were on the way.  It was 60 degrees outside.  The air was calm.  The weather was good for farrowing.  I was feeling great about the situation so I went to bed because I was pretty tired.  I had no worries going to bed and couldn't wait to see my new litter of piglets in the morning.  Morning came and I dressed up for choring.  I walked out the door and it was absolutely frigid outside.  Everything was frozen solid.  Not at all like what the weather was like when I went to bed. I went to check on the sow and all I saw was 1 dead piglet.  No wriggling mass of cute red piglets!  I went to milk cows and hoped that maybe the sow had stuffed her piglets under the straw.  No such luck.  The entire litter was a loss.  I'm just devastated and sickened by this.  As a farmer I have so much invested in my animals.  Of course there is the monetary investment, this is how I feed my family.  Bigger yet is the investment of my heart and soul.  The pride that I have of a job well done and some beautiful healthy animals to show for it.  So it's time to re-evaluate and learn from the situation and hope that I have the tools to do a better job next time.