From Our Farm to Your Table

A Baby Dies on The Farm

Thu, 2018-05-17 12:21 -- Carole Soule
Slugger with her siblings at three-weeks-old

I held her close. Her heart-beat was strong but fast. Her rasping breath was sucking air in then pushing out as she fought for life. She was dying because of a mistake I made; one I could not reverse. She might have died anyway…but my decision ensured it. 

Two days earlier, I fed this little piggy a new formula which was too rich for her fragile system. The other five piglets dealt well with the new feed, but this piglet went into shock with extreme diarrhea. As she shivered in my arms, I finally called the vet who suggested feeding her Pedialyte, a hydration liquid for human babies. After just a few syringes she recovered, falling asleep in my arms. I put her in a sling and walked around like a pregnant lady with the baby pig slung on my belly. 

To keep her calm and encourage her to rest, I held her close at night, sleeping with her curled in my arms.  Always restless and struggling to breathe, she tilted her head and rested it in my hand.  In this position, her breathing eased, and she stayed calm.  Holding her close, I breathed slowly to help her relax and sleep. Twenty-four hours later she was much-improved and well on the way to a full recovery when I made my biggest mistake. I needed to do farm chores, so I put her in the bathtub with a towel and bathmat to give her solid footing. Two hours later Bruce found her flopping around in the tub. The towel had slipped away and in her efforts to stand she must have had many seizures. Before she ran around the floor, but now she could not stand. She had no balance. 

Sleep is a wonder-cure for piglets. Although it helped her in the beginning, this time it didn't work. I carried her in the baby sling, and she slept for a while but when she woke the seizures started. As I sat with her on that second day, tears streamed down my face; I knew I had to do what was right for her. She was fighting for each breath and having regular seizures. She was only a piglet but what a fighter. Close to death at least three times, each time she fought back; but this time I knew it was time I let her go. The last forty-eight hours had been more than any piglet should have endured. 

As she sat in my lap, her raspy breath and spasming legs told me she would not make it. I kept giving her liquids and made her comfortable but saying good-bye to this little fighter was hard, and I'll never forget her heroic fight. 

Slugger Sleeps (black pig in the middle) with her Siblings

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