Thursday, February 4, 2016

Love and Loss: Farming with Animals

This past weekend we said a teary goodbye to our matriarch sow, Vera. After complications during farrowing it was clear that she would not be able to be bred again, but we hoped for some recovery, so she could care for her last batch of piglets and live out her last days comfortably. Sadly, this was not the case and we did what we had to do. We gave her her few last treats, hugs and thanked her for her time with us. She was an amazing lady.

Vera at the orchard. 2015
She was one of our first breeding sows and had been with us for two years; we expected to have her for many more. While loss is part of having animals, this loss was felt a bit more deeply. John and Vera had a special bond, he could always read her so well and she really did like him best.

Vera and her brand new piglets. 2016
She raised her piglets to ten days old, giving everything she had to provide them with the best start they could have in this world. At about nine or ten days they can start digesting feed. Now they are drinking milk replacer and we are slowly introducing feed. Her memory lives on in these little nuggets.

Vera gave us memories, three litters of beautiful piglets and she added to our experience and taught us new skills. The best way we can honor her memory is by not letting her go to waste. So, we had our first on-farm butcher experience, as we processed her meat for our personal use. 

We move forward with this loss felt deeply, with more experience under our belts as farmers and humans and an ever-deepening respect for life.

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