Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Oreo the Gilt
Last summer we let our kids pilfer the replacement gilt pen, and select one to show at county fair. Our son chose a half-sister to the gilt he showed the year before – the guy knows what he likes in pigs.
Our daughter immediately zoned in on the single Hampshire appearing gilt (black with a white belt), claimed her, named her Oreo, and beat her brother at fair.
The gilt then lined up to be bred for 2023 show pigs. On January 28, Oreo ripped the pad halfway off the front of her crate, shoved her head as far under it as she could, and proceeded to have 16 pigs in two hours.
If you follow me on social media, I originally said 17 pigs – apparently, I cannot count little, black pigs very well, and once you have told a five-year girl how many piglets she has, that is it. So, sixteen….seventeen… either way it was a success.
I don’t think we have ever had a gilt farrow that many pigs alive. That part was picture perfect. I also give Oreo extra credit points for starting at 9 a.m.
My daughter floated. Absolutely floated as things played out. I was close behind her. When everyone had been born, and Oreo proved to be calm and collected in motherhood, my daughter got to gather each piglet up, inspect it, snuggle it, and exclaim how wonderful it was. I enjoyed taking this all in as I took a deep breath – farrowing your kid’s gilt is a lot of responsibility.
When the initial excitement was over, I looked up Oreo’s pedigree. Come to find out, her mother was one of two blue butt sisters I kept way back as a newlywed. I was trying to get a couple sows in production that would add color to our show pigs, but still raise high quality meat hogs the rest of the year. We rarely name sows, but Oreo’s mom was named Wrinkle, as someone had bit one of her ears, causing it to shrivel and wrinkle up.
Wrinkle and her sister did a great job for us. I have spent a good part of the last four years trying to raise a suitable replacement for when they were gone, without much luck. Oreo is the result of AI’ing Wrinkle for her very last litter, with replacement gilts in mind.
It worked. And it makes me incredibly happy that my daughter picked one of two gilts we kept from that final litter, and she has become an early success in her role as a sow.
These are the things that make it so wonderful to do what we do. The look on my daughter’s face as she watched the number of pigs grow and grow was priceless. And thank God for an exceptionally calm Hampshire gilt, who allowed her owner to be up close and personal for most of the experience. That in and of itself is a blessing.
Three weeks from now, it will be my son’s turn. While he regularly reminds his sister that he is old hat at this farrowing business at the ripe old age of seven, his excitement is already palpable.
Get your kids involved in your lifestyle. It’s hard, but it also has its moments that are more fun than you can legally have almost any other way.