Yesterday Lucy and I drove a trailer two hours away, up past Malone, to pick up piglets. These again are Amish piglets, but this year we collected them from the house of the farmer middleman, instead of directly from the Amish.
The plan had been that we would pick up ten piglets: six for the school and four for us. I had easily sold all my pork from three pigs last year and thought I could sell one extra pig (two sides of pork) this year without trouble.
However there was a mix-up. The farmer was not there, only his children to take our checks. And there were fifteen piglets. I had no choice; the farmer had bought these piglets on commission for us.
We took all fifteen. (Double-click to enlarge.)
They were seriously cute. Nine of them were much smaller, obviously from a younger litter. From Lucy’s moaning raptures I knew which ones we’d be taking home. These younger piglets were so small I could carry two at a time to the trailer, under my arm like bags of sugar.
It appeared to me that all the males had been castrated with a knife the night before. Last year Mike (the school farmer) and I had been surprised to have uncastrated males. It hadn’t been a problem for me, as I raised two females and one male. But Mike had four males, and as they became adolescents the fighting had been aggressive. I surmised that the farmer had castrated these piglets after collecting them. The blood was still fresh.
“Poor little guys,” I said, loading them gently into the trailer.
I had Lucy call Mike from the truck as we drove home, to prepare him for a deluge of piglets. I told him I would take five piglets, rather than four, if he would take ten, rather than six. He agreed, slightly flabbergasted.
Lucy of course insisted that we take the runt, the smallest piglet, who also seemed weakest. He lay in my arms slackly, his long white eyelashes half-closed, his little belly looking pink and vulnerable.
“Choosing the weak and sick is poor farming,” I explained, but let it go. Sometimes it is nice to have children pressure you to follow your instincts and do the illogical thing.
“He licked my toe!” Lucy said passionately.
By suppertime our five were fed, watered, and the three boys’ sore bottoms treated with Blu-Kote germicidal wound dressing. When I left the barn the babies were sleeping in a cozy pile in the hay in the sheep stall.
Today Lucy and her friend Naomi are going to visit the piglets and give them names. And I will have to call the slaughterhouse and make sure I can ship two extra in the fall — and start to look around for more buyers of pork.