Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's Always Something

"Well, Jane, it just goes to show you: It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another."
--Gilda Radner as Roseanne Rosannadanna

Gilda could have been talking about the Timmins family in the last few days. It sure seems like a lot of things have decided to pile on us at once.

The first "one thing" happened Wednesday afternoon. Barb called me at school because she had received a call from the school nurse telling her that Jordan had been in her office for the last hour, and was suffering from a mysterious pain on her right side. When I picked her up, the nurse said she thought Jordan may have strained something in her rib cage. A trip to the Mercy East Medical Center gave us a much different and entirely unexpected diagnosis: Jordan has shingles. By the time we filled a prescription for Valtrex and Tylenol with codeine at the Target pharmacy, Jordan reported that she felt like someone was "stabbing me in the side with a bayonet." 

I stayed home with her the following morning, then went  to school because Barb would be home during the afternoon. After school, one of our sows was in labor with our first litter of pigs of the year. After giving her a shot of oxytocin, I ended up pulling the first pig. He was huge, far bigger than a normal-sized piglet and too large for the sow's cervix. He was also the last pig she would deliver. She managed to move the second pig up the birth canal far enough that I could easily reach into her and get my fingers around the pig's head. Unfortunately, the head is the only part of it I could I could move past the cervix, as its shoulders prevented me from moving it any further. After working on it for close to five hours, trying every idea that Barb, my dad and I could think of, the sow and I were both exhausted. We decided to let her rest, hope that somehow she managed to deliver the pig by morning, and if she didn't, call the vet to see what he could do.

Friday morning arrived with the pig still lodged inside of the sow, and Doc Hormann didn't have any better luck with it than I did. He gave us two options: deliver the pigs by C-section, or let the sow re-absorb the pigs that were still inside of her. He recommended the latter. The sow never got very big during her pregnancy, and she didn't appear to have enough pigs in her to warrant the expense and risk of surgery. We took his recommendation, so for the first time since the Timmins farm started farrowing pigs over 30 years ago, we have a pig who is an only child. The sow is getting 20 cc's of antibiotics a day for the next five days in hopes of fighting any sickness caused by the now dead fetuses inside of her and any infections she may get from our unsuccessful efforts to get the second pig out.

It was a crazy couple of days, but things are starting to calm down, as they always do. Jordan is still hurting from the shingles, and the sow is still hurting from her trauma. However, the second litter came this morning (although I'm not sure if one pig can be correctly called a litter, so maybe this morning's pigs are the first). This sow has 12 strong, healthy pigs nursing on her, and we're feeling much better about the swine business. Now if we can get Jordan through the shingles, all will be well with the world, at least until our next Roseanne Rosannadanna experience.


  1. So sorry your first litter didn't do well. It's always a bit scary when the babies start coming. Hopefully, that will be the only bad experience of the year. I was surprised when my son had shingles at about the age of two--it's something I had always thought of as an old person's illness, but it is simple chicken pox virus coming back. Pretty weird. Hope your next week is a better one.


  2. I can't imagine dealing with a 2 year-old with shingles. It's a pretty wicked little virus. Thank God for codeine.

    Things are already going better with the pigs. I just got in from the barn after our second litter of the day. Brett's best gilt finished with 9 amazing-looking pigs. It was a rough start, but I think we're going to end up having a pretty strong farrowing season.