Food & Drink

Dead sow leaves 14 babies to bottle feed

Saturday night, Ellie, Levi, and I were in the kitchen cooking supper together when the phone rang.

It was my neighbor Carl asking if I had any tips on bottle feeding baby pigs...

One of his two sows had given birth to 14 pigs and then died soon after. I told Carl I would come by the next morning.

When I got there, they had 14 piglets in a huge cattle watering trough and had been bottle feeding them every 3 hours though out the night.

We went to look at the dead sow, she was about 500 lbs and swelling up in the heat. Carl said he called Shane, Jill's husband to see if he could bring his small backhoe over and bury it but Shane said he did not know if he had time. I told Carl I would go get my dad's four-wheel drive tractor with the big bucket on the front end loader and we would see what we could do.

I was just getting on my dad's tractor when Carl called and said Shane would be there in about 30 minutes with his backhoe.

Shane raises high-quality horse hay, mostly alfalfa. He had been up all night with a relative at the hospital, came home Sunday morning and went straight to raking hay because he was going to bale it Sunday night (Baling alfalfa at night when there is dew on it produces a better quality bale). Then he loaded up his backhoe and came over to Carl's.

I thought I had been working long hours 7 days a week but was humbled after being exposed to the weekend both Carl and Shane endured. The kicker was this: About 6 p.m. Sunday evening, there was a knock on the door. It was Carl's wife Leah with a piping hot apple pie she had made with their own home-canned apples to thank me for my help, which was not much.

Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield;