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24 hours in a piglet NICU

If you're reading this, it's likely you've seen the Facebook post dedicated to my husband for being awesome and letting me bring the 7 piglets home.


This is the behind the scenes story of all that is going on at the piglet NICU in the garage.


Sunday, September 5th, 1230.

I'd already decided the littles were coming home and Nick had acquiesced. Got to the farm, put on my boots, and headed up to the barn. Get to Ginger's pen and as she gets up, I see that she was lying on one of the babies. Pull the little one out see that she's still alive but having trouble. Grab a shoebox (a strangely useful tool for farrowing) and walk out to give her to Nick along with some milk replacer.

Dad joins me in the barn and we get the other 6 loaded up into a crate and into the truck. Turns out there was a small syringe and the little one has been taking milk replacer from that. She can walk but is not exactly steady.

Stop by The Barn Store and grab a bag of shavings, some betadine, and a packet of electrolytes. I have no idea when they last ate or how much they had.


1400

Mix up some milk replacer and set about trying to get some into everyone. I have a 20cc syringe that gets something into everyone, but it's not great. On the upside the wobbly girl (who I will forthwith call Wiggles) is a master at drinking from a baby bottle. She gets the most by far, but a lot of it still ends up on my pants and my shirt. Also grab two cake pans from my kitchen (that never get used) and turn them into piglet feeders. Assess everyone for anything that needs attention, clean up some faces but considering everything, they look pretty good.


1530

Run out for groceries cause I have to eat as well!


1630

Second batch of milk replacer. Get some into everyone but not a lot. Decide that I will have dedicated piglet feeding clothes that live on the chest freezer in the basement. Also thanking the heavens that I bought a commercial sink at an auction last year. #invaluable I set a timer on my phone for every 2 hours to check on them.



Also: the lords of the house (Ranger and Roxy - the cats) sense a disturbance in the force downstairs but neither of them is really sure what it is.



1930

Everyone seems pretty settled. Until they're not. Now I have to create higher walls for their pen in case they try to jump out. Find things in the garage including: a piece of plywood, a slatted bottom board from a beehive, a deep bee box, a box of tubing, the shavings, and a big bag of milk replacer.

And now we meet another one of the cast: Little Dude. Little Dude is tiny. When I was cleaning pens the other night I watched one of his siblings biting his head fighting for a station on mom. He has a fair number of bite marks and an umbilical hernia. Truthfully, I didn't think he'd live very long. But here he is still kicking. Little Dude waited till everyone laid down and then he wandered over to the pan and drank his fill.

I'm the proudest little foster mama!



Switch the alarm to every 3.5 hours subject to change based on how they're doing.


2200

Nighttime check #1. I chose to sleep on the couch so I wouldn't wake him up every time I got up. Wiggles is still getting bottle fed. Lots of milk replacer lands on my pants and shirt but she definitely eats.




Monday, September 6th 0230

Late night check, refill the pan, and give Wiggles a bottle.



0630 and 0930

Refill the feeder pan and everyone is suddenly hungry. Wiggles gets a bottle.

Text a friend about borrowing a puppy exercise pen to give the littles a bit more room.


1130

The garage is getting kinda smelly. Move Wiggles and Little Dude into a box and everyone else into a separate box. Drag crate out and dump contents onto the edge of the lawn.

Fresh shavings, new pan of milk, new bottle for Wiggles. Oh and she poops AND pees on me.

Shirt goes into the washing machine.

Pants... eh. They already smell like milk replacer and aren't going to get any cleaner. Toss them over a chair to dry out a bit.


1430

It's warm out. We turn the heat off in the garage and let the littles smell the outside (and the eventual rain) by opening the garage door. And, since I'm working on a project in the garage, they get fed whenever I go look at them. Schedule goes out the window.

Wiggles figures out how to eat from the pan but still prefers the bottle.

Slice up a slightly overripe banana and offer it to them as enrichment and food.



1700

Refill the pan and bring Wiggles outside. She's okay at walking on the grass, but much better on the downhill. She's only 7 days old so just hoping she gets stronger. Nick agrees that little pigs are pretty cute and we'll keep them here until they're strong enough to go back to the barn. #winning



1900

Walk down to check, open the door: No one moves. They can't be bothered with me. I see one ear shake and decide they're set for a bit.



2030

Still here, about 90 minutes till my next check. Glad I'm working from home tomorrow.


#WishMeLuck

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