I know I promised a post on the mulefoot tasting but there's breaking news in Blanchardville. As I mentioned in last week's story, Hillspring Farm's two female pigs share a fenced paddock on a grassy pasture, but each has her own tin hutch. New mother Crystal lives in the "Crystal Palace," and Cherry is in the "Cherry Pit." Farmer Linda Derrickson reported early Sunday morning that Cherry was getting a little cranky, perhaps a sign of piglets on the way:
"I was nearby and saw one of the piglets come out and start wandering around--all on its own. Cherry was close by eating some 'house slop' that Crystal hadn't finished. I think the piglet mistook Cherry for her mother and it went right up to Cherry. Now Cherry seems more and more like she's ready to birth and getting a little cantankerous and she certainly didn't want any little piglet eating some of that slop. So she picked the piglet up in her mouth and flung it a few feet. Piglet started squealing like it had been mortally wounded and faster than you could blink, Crystal came roaring and snorting out of the Palace to the rescue. Cherry instantly realized she had done something wrong and did not want to meet the wrath of Crystal and so she made a hasty retreat for the Cherry Pit. All this happened in a matter of seconds and the piglet ran back into the Palace, squealing and making distress noises. Crystal went back inside and I waited for it all to calm down and then went in to check and make sure that there was no serious injury. I'm happy to report that all is well and the piglet seems none the worse for its frightening (and confusing?) experience.
"We are seeing a pattern in 'prefarrowing behavior.' Remember Crystal had a limp for a while before farrowing? The limp disappeared after she farrowed. Guess what? Cherry started limping today! And judging from the engorgement of her nipples, I think it will be soon. A farm visitor today commented that perhaps the weight and size of the babies starts restricting blood flow to the legs. This from a woman who had experienced this same 'side effect' toward the end of her pregnancies."
Then, less than 24 hours later later Linda wrote again:
"Cherry farrowed her piglets--we figure in the wee hours of this morning. They were already dry and suckling when Mark checked in with her about 9 AM. Guess how many? Yup ... FOUR! A little trauma with one. Will write more later. Crystal's brood is now running around and playing. They are like kittens -- chasing, jumping, biting, rolling, etc, and running around Crystal. It's a circus!"
eight four new mulefoots, folks; 16 more uncloven hooves. No pics yet but maybe Linda will send some.