The calm of Rock HQ this morning was in complete contrast to last nights adventures. In the time it took to fetch a bucket of water to Kayleigh, walk back to the water trough and refill the bucket ready for morning, Iggle who had just munched through her late evening rations before quaffing down a couple of litres of ice cold spring water dropped on the straw a massively large but exceptionally dead boar piglet.
My beautiful and oh so patient wife was quicker off the mark than I was and she got to the pregnant porkers side first perched on the magic blue bucket (the one with allure) wearing wicket keepers gloves ready for piglet number two, which if anything like Mangalitza piglet births are expelled at high velocity. I, being totally practical and knowing the torch would fade to black within ten minutes abused Hazel and got her up the slope and into the Corral OK where here lights set the stage for the main show.
We waited. And waited. And then some.
Half an hour had passed, Iggle was pushing, not very well, but trying and achieving nothing. Not sure if the James Herriot books actually covered pig midwifery but assuming it had to be pretty much like sheep but with sharper teeth and less wool I put a tentative hand inside Iggles bits. A head, jaw, sharp pointy teeth, another large piglet, she pushed and I pulled and out popped an equally big piglet, not nearly so dead, a girl, but she soon gave up any attempt to stay around and be future sausages. Things were not looking great and then got a whole lot worse when piglet the third started coming out arse end first. No real problem, Google how to be birth partner to a saw and it will tell you that 40% of piglets come out rear end first and that only 1% of sows require help. Knowing full well which statistic now lay heaving at our knees we clung on to the hope that Iggle would keep calm and carry on. No such luck. Minutes became hours, she walked around, squatted, played on the big inflatable ball, we offered her a curry, all to no avail. I rather rudely copped a feel around inside and could not move piglet, I knew the theory, get the legs facing back but after half an hour of furtling around the three of us, me, Iggle and potential offspring made no progress. After an hour and a half the vet was called. Paul who was disappointed to miss the birth of Kobe the calf now had an opportunity to make up for it by helping Iggle. By the time he got here piglet had been stuck for two hours and Iggle was falling asleep. Under the headlights he set about trying to free the piglet. Hope was fading, the likelihood was that this and any remaining offspring would be still born. Fifteen minutes and a lot of grunting, not all from the pig, Paul told us he had got one leg forward, another five and the second leg, time slowed as he matched a heave to Iggles push and another large piglet joined us. It lay on the floor with the three of us watching for vital signs. It sneezed, coughed, rolled around and sprang to its feet. Not what any of us was expecting (its now called Gloria, as in I will survive) but it lifted the mood and pretty soon three more sows, all born head first, were clambering around the sty demanding breakfast.
His work done Paul had a quick look at Kobe, complimented Rock HQ on its fertility and left. I stayed in the pen until 3am as Iggle refused to sleep, being a bit sore she was still thinking that she had other piglets to come. We knew different. Finally she gave in, not before squishing a piglet but as I was there all was well.
Today the lack of sleep caught up with us all, Iggle has managed not to crush any piglets and they are a healthy happy bunch.
Thankfully the threat of rain all day was an ideal excuse not to concrete, instead we spent time playing with little t, trying to work out how to get Hazel back off the Corral OK, watching piglets and stroking the calf. There are too many time wasting opportunities here now.