Robyn Scherer: From the Edge of the Ring 3-4-13
At the end of January, all of my Boer show kids and my show pigs had been born. I ended up with a total of 14 goat kids, and 10 piglets. All of the babies are still doing well, and are getting bigger and bigger by the day.
The show pigs were weaned at four weeks, and never missed a beat transitioning to solid food from their mother’s milk. This can be a stressful time, and sometimes piglets don’t change feed as easily and lose weight. Thankfully, nearly everything with this litter has been simple and easy, and this was no exception.
Shortly before the piglets were weaned, we made the move from Fort Collins to Kiowa, Colo. We had the opportunity to purchase a place that will help me to grow my livestock business, and it was an opportunity that we decided to take.
It was hard to move all the babies on their moms, but was a challenge that we conquered with the help of some good friends who live close to where we moved.
Once we got the animals unloaded, we had just one small predicament. The place that we purchased does not yet have a barn, and the run-in shed that we built does not keep kids and young piglets as warm as I want.
The decision was made to put them in the garage, where they could be protected from the wind, snow and cold. I’m sure that many people would scoff at the idea of having livestock in their garage, but to me it came down to animal welfare, and protecting the animals that I knew could not protect themselves.
After building pens using our dog kennel panels and bedding them with straw, we unloaded the does and their kids, and the piglets into their new home.
The last week I’ve been even more grateful that we decided to keep the babies in the garage, because we’ve had over a foot of snow, and howling wind that left several snow drifts deeper than 4-feet.
On these days it’s even more important that I check the animals several times a day, to make sure they have food, water and shelter and that they are warm. Cold animals are more susceptible to getting sick, and then the cold is even more difficult for them to handle.
Chores are never easy in bad weather, but they must be done. It is the responsibility of a livestock owner to take care of her animals every day, in good weather and in bad. That is one responsibility that I take very seriously, as do most producers.
However, sometimes even though you give the best care that you can, some animals still struggle. This was the case for my old pot belly, Bjorn. He’s a pig that I’ve had for many, many years, and was reaching his elder years. He had been sick for several months, but no treatment can cure old age.
On one of those bitter cold mornings when I went to check one everyone, I found him eternally asleep in his bed of straw, taken during the night by Old Man Winter. It’s never easy to lose one, especially after many years together.
A simple burial was not easy due to the cold, but it was what he deserved. He had always been a fighter, but the bitter cold, old age and failing health was just too much for him to overcome.
Each time in my life when I lose an animal, it reminds me of how grateful I am for the time I got to spend with them. Each day is truly a gift, and one that I focus on cherishing.
At the end of this month, I will begin prepping for new life through my dairy goats. My alpine doe and my LaMancha doe are due the very beginning of April, and I’m exciting to be moving into the dairy goat portion of the kidding season. This will continue through June, when my Nigerian Dwarf doe will be due.
This spring will also bring the construction of our new barn, which will be an exciting time for my family. I will finally have all the facilities I’ve always dreamed of, and will be able to expand and develop my operation the way I’ve always planned.
It’s an exciting future! ❖
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