Unlike most occupations which have a time to start and a time to finish, work on the farm has no end. There is always work that needs doing, especially in spring with seeding is around the corner and with pigs farrowing and cows calving, the days get filled to the maximum.
Back in March, the thermometer said minus 38 C, a little chilly to be outside. Even chillier if you are very pregnant and about to give birth. We use no farrowing crates, heated barns, heat lamps, etc. The birthing process is left up to the sow and her instinct. We provide her with a eight by eight foot insulated house with a door of carpet, an insulated floor and most importantly, lots of good quality, organic straw. Although we’re very curious and love seeing newborn pigs, we dare not open the doors to peek inside. Two reasons: we don’t want to let in the cold temperatures and the disturbed sow could injure her piglets by getting up too quick.
As the month progressed and the warmer weather returned the babies started exploring outside of the houses. Considering the extreme temperatures an average of almost seven piglets per sow was really good. Toques off to those sows. And the piglets? Hardy, healthy and happy. They call that northern vigour.
Near Grande Prairie on Lake Saskatoon there is the annual “Swan Festival” which welcomes the return of the mighty Trumpeter Swan, the largest migrating waterfowl in the world. On the radio they mentioned there was a “chance” to even see the swans on the lake. I could hear the swans calling as the radio was playing. How lucky we are with five beaver ponds within a mile of the farm. The swans fly over several times a day.
I’ve seen foxes in the neighbourhood but I had never saw one on our farm until just the other day. It was first light when I went to check the cows. When I climbed a small hill I was surprised to see the unsuspecting fox on the other side with his head in a mouse hole. I froze, watching him as he was digging and pouncing. I managed to sneak really close wondering if this animal would be one to break my record of never having to shoot a predator. With over a thousand chickens about to hatch and then turkeys after that, the flavour of mice might lose its appeal.