More Animal Consequences, or how to explain having ten babies by accident (514)

by Max Akroyd

Sunday morning had a surprise in store. Well, ten little suprises in fact.



As I gave the mini-pigs their breakfast I became of aware of a many-headed presence in the back of their barn. I hardly dared to look fearing a rat invasion, or something. The truth of the situation could rank as the greatest surprise of my life.

Even for a novice smallholder I accept it’s difficult to find a reasonable excuse for not knowing this was about to happen. All I can say is that my mini-pigs are round, wild boar-like creatures at any time. And, if you think pregnancy is impossible, it’s amazing how you can explain away the frankly, and in retrospect, bloody obvious signs. 

And I did think pregnancy was an impossibility: their only known encounter with a male pig was a sojourn with a couple of ten week old pot-bellies. I assumed fertility in boars couldn’t happen until after at least four months. After finally getting my disbelieving head off the table, I googled the subject and discovered those naughty pot-bellied boys can  “get it on” (sorry about the technical terminology, but I’m an expert suddenly) from nine weeks old. Nine weeks old!  

For the last twenty four hours I’ve been playing the role of proud substitute father rather well: running around like a headless chicken with loads of straw and anxiety, while mum calmly builds up the nest and tends to her young, with the help of her sister. I know having another sow present breaks The Rules, but the sight of the two sisters forming a circle of warmth around the suckling piglets is something I can’t bear to break up. Aunty is acting like the perfect sage femme so far, and without any specialist equipment to help keep the piglets alive, I’m reliant on nature’s gifts. The piglets have picked the coldest week to arrive, and I fear for them constantly, but they’ve made it through two nights, so fingers crossed!

Finally, a checklist: worried, yes. Embarrassed, very. Happy: delighted! Right, I’m off to get more straw…