Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Mom Thinks I Should Stop Blogging, Part 2

I have told you about the van and the damage the dogs/squirrel did to it.  If you recall, I found the destruction when I went out to the van in order to go to the store for some needles and syringes.  I was pretty sure our pigs had pneumonia.  I hear pneumonia is quite common in hogs.  Seems we've just been "lucky" that we haven't had any die from it in past years.

Signs our pigs had pneumonia:

1.  They haven't eaten their food for 2 days straight.
2.  They haven't shown interest in water for one day.
3.  They only got up when I made them get up.
4.  They were having trouble breathing.  It is not normal for me to see pig bellies moving in and out with each breath.
5.  Some coughing was heard.

Signs our pigs didn't have the same thing as last year's herd:

1.  No one had diarrhea.  (Including me.)
2.  There were no dead birds in their waterer.

Treatment of pig pneumonia includes giving shots of antibiotics into the neck of each pig. Fortunately, thanks to last year's herd, I know how to do that. Two of the pigs were sicker than the others, and I was afraid to wait until Bryan got home to give them the shots.  The longer I waited, the better chance one of them would die.  Since the pigs are only 35-50 pounds each, I decided not to wait and just do it on my own.

The hard way to administer a shot in each of 4 pig's necks:

Step 1:

Using a 100-ft rope, chase the sick pig around the pen and wear him out.  Occasionally toss the rope in an attempt to get it around the pig's neck.  You won't actually get him, but it's good practice for when he slows down.   It is likely you will get your rope completely tangled around one or both feet as you chase the pig.  This step will take up to 15 minutes, but it will seem like 15 days.
Step 2:

Once you have almost killed the pig from exhaustion, he will slow down enough for you to get the rope around his neck.  Hold on for dear life when he gets his second wind, because he will kick and squeal and wiggle and throw himself at you in an attempt to get loose.  This step should take up to 5 minutes.  Your arms may come out of their sockets between minute 2 and minute 4.
Step 3:

Eventually, the pig will wear himself out and stop fighting you.  It is at this point that you will despairingly realize that the syringe was left in a safe spot on the other side of the pen.  You will need to prod, poke, and drag the pig over there to retrieve the syringe.  (In case you can't tell, this is my "despairingly" look.)
Step 4:

Once you get to the syringe, straddle the pig, hold the rope with one hand, and stick the needle in the pig's neck with the other hand.  Your hand may be shaking from the exertion of catching the pig in the first place.  Don't worry if some of the medicine runs down his neck because you misjudged when to push the medicine in.
Step 5:  Repeat step 1 for each pig.

Step 6:

In the melee of trying to wear out/catch the pig, you may accidentally rope the pig's hind legs instead of its neck.  Go with it.  At least you have the pig, and holding it this way will make the dragging to the syringe easier.  Extra caution is needed, though, as the pig has a much better chance to whip around and bite you. 
Step 7:

Once you've drug him to the syringe, but before you pick up the syringe, you must get the rope around the pig's neck.  Use one hand to hold the rear end of the rope and slightly lift the pig's back legs off the ground.  With the other hand, get the rope around his neck.  It will probably take a few tries.  Hold tight while he bucks a bit more.  As soon as he is calm, let go of the rope holding the hind legs.  (All of the exertion may cause your hair to fall out, apparently.)

Step 8:  Repeat step 4.

Step 9:  Decide that the other pigs are not in such dire need of their shots.  Shaking and weak, head back to the house and collapse.


Two hours after this, on our way home from school, I told the kids that they were going to help me administer the shots to the other two pigs.

They were horrified until I told them they wouldn't have to actually give the shots.

Then they were simply terrified.

The easy way to administer a shot in a pig's neck:

Step 1:  Gather 4 kid helpers.

Step 2:  Explain to the helpers that there will be much noise and flailing and maybe some cursing.  They shouldn't be afraid, as the pig is not getting hurt.  I might be, but the pig won't be.

Step 3:  Before the pigs can get out of the barn, get a gate in the doorway to keep them in there.

Step 4:  Assign a job to each helper*.

1.  Gate holder:  He is to hold that gate nice and tight, as the pigs will likely charge the gate when I start the "lassoing".  Star got that job.
2.  Back-up gate holder:  It's a big gate, and pigs are strong.  Buttercup took this job, but only after trying to avoid the vicinity altogether.  She is a big wimp when it comes to needles.
3.  Sneaky onlooker: Turken was bummed he didn't get a job, but he stayed to watch.
4.  Shot assistant:  He is to stay out of the way and hold the syringes high in the air.  When I call for one, he needs to be quick and brave and bring it to me.  Giant volunteered for this one.
5.  Wrangler's assistant:  Help get the pigs cornered and roped.  He is also in charge of holding the rope around the hind legs while the shot is administered.  Phoenix got this one.
Step 5:  Catch the pig.  It's really not that hard when the space is limited and there is someone to help wrangle.

Step 6:  Administer the shot.  Piece of cake when someone is helping to hold the pig steady and another is handing you the syringe.

Step 7:  Repeat steps 5 and 6.

Step 8:  Step back and listen to the helpers.

Turken:  That was a lot of noise!
Buttercup:  I never opened my eyes the whole time.
Cuckoo:  (He had nothing to say, as he played the usual scaredy-cat and took off for the house before we even began gathering the pigs.)
Giant:  If you weren't struggling so much, that would have been funny.


As of this posting, the pigs are doing much better.  All 4 have been up and walking around on their own, and all 4 have been seen eating and drinking.

We really should be giving each of them another shot to make sure the bug is killed completely, but I am unable to do so, no matter how many helpers I have.

We'll save that story for Part 3 of our horribly awful, unbelievable day.

*I know some of you are wondering why I didn't assign one child to be the photographer.  I would have had Turken do it, but with his broken collar bone, he's down to one arm.  He can't take photos.  Buttercup never opened her eyes, so she couldn't take photos.  I needed all of the big boys to actually help, so no photographer.

Have a lovely day!


  1. My sweet friend - this is old, old, closer-to-the-beginning-of-last-century advice, but I feel it will work.

    Before you try to catch said piggies to administer drops, don't give them food for half a day, and then give them BEER. Like, quite a lot of it. A pint each should do because they're little. They'll go nice and dozy and dopey and you should be able to handle them MUCH easier.

    I hope you get to rest A LOT before all your spoons run out *hugs*

    1. having lived in Los Angeles, this method also works on roaches... but you only need a capful or two... drink the rest youre gonna need it!

    2. While I appreciate the suggestion, it wouldn't work in this case. The pigs hadn't eaten anything for two days, and they hadn't had anything to drink for about a day. They weren't interested in ingesting anything.

      I'm getting quite a bit of rest. Way more than I want to. You'll see...

    3. Oh, and Zoe...Wish I would have known this when we were living in married student housing during law school!

    4. More than you want to? This does not sound good. Why do I hear *DOOM SONG* playing? Ut-ohhhh :/

  2. You really shouldn't be in charge of this at all. Bwahahahahahahaha. I love the drawings, but I'm thinking there were way more steps than you've listed here.

    I'm glad the pigs are feeling better.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Clearly. :)
      There are a few, but my hand was getting tired.

      You and me both.

  3. Replies
    1. I don't even recognize myself anymore. :)

      Oh, they most certainly do!

  4. well, Im just happy to see that your hair grew back by the afternoon's attempt.

  5. Ohhh, the poor piggies were COUGHING? That's just so sad!

    I'm glad to see by your drawings that THIS time, you weren't wearing a dress when you wrangled the pigs for shots :)

    Love your hair in Step 4.

    1. Yup. Coughing. The hard breathing and coughing were awful to watch.


      Thanks. I worked hard on it.

  6. I'm amazed that you attempted all of that; so happy to hear they are doing well..hopefully you are too. Like I said before hopefully the rest of the week will ease up a bit. Hang in there! Marisa

    1. I didn't have much of a choice if the pigs were going to survive. No one else was going to do it.
      Easing up is a relative term. :) For some of us it is.

  7. I think you need a cruise to a tropical island...STAT.

  8. On one hand, your story makes me truly miss the farm, on the other hand, it makes me, um, not miss it at all?? You are such a champ, Christine!! I hope you NEVER stop blogging. I always get a healthy dose of inspiration and humor whenever I am here, and as a country girl (at heart for now since we're still waiting on a location!), I feel right at home. P.S. I'm doing a motherhood post link up tomorrow and would LOVE for you to share one of your faves from the archives. It can be on ANYTHING related to motherhood past or present, so I hope you'll share your goodies with us!!

    1. Aw, Susan, I hope you never stop commenting. You're very good at it. :) There are parts of this life that I would miss terribly if we were to move. Others, not so much. I completely understand you.
      I just linked up. It was hard to pick a favorite post!

  9. Hurray for helpers, and hurray that the pigs are doing better now! Did I ever tell you about the time that my sister had to give her (goat) kid a shot? My dad was the wrangler for her, and he really took one for the team, because my sister put the needle completely through the goat's leg, and administered that shot into my dad! On the bright side, he now has an immunity to some particular goat disease. :-)

    1. That story is hilarious! It was even a story I said, "Mom, listen to this!" (She was the only adult in the house when I read this.)
      Your poor dad. The poor goat. And I can't imagine your sister felt real good about it either.
      I'll be laughing about this comment all day.

  10. I don't even know what to say, but this isn't it: your drawings are getting much better. :)

    I am glad that they seem to be better...but I am mostly concerned about why you can't give them a second shot...

  11. Wow, when you got to the kids helping I wondering how in the WORLD you managed to do it by yourself. Love the drawings! And I laughed out loud at Cuckoo abandoning the scene of the crime.

    1. I still can't believe I did the first two by myself. It couldn't have happened if they were much bigger.

      Cuckoo always leaves at the first sign of trouble when it comes to the animals. He is not a good wing man. :) Did you see the video of the day a pig got loose last year? It will give you an idea.

  12. I'm glad the pigs are on the mend.
    As I'm reading the beginning, I'm thinking, with ALL THOSE farmhands, errr, CHILDREN you have, why on Earth did you attempt this by yourself? Then I read the rest. Lesson learned??

  13. Slowly getting caught up.

    OMG...haven't laughed so much in a long time. Probably since last year's pig drama. Tee hee. I have to say I'd be either like Buttercup or trying to outrun Cuckoo back to the house. Your drawings are the icing on the cake. :D

  14. That is insane! The pictures/drawings are priceless and since you probably didn't really lose your hair, the drawing was much better than a photo would have been for Step 7! Glad the pigs are on the mend...can't wait to see what happens next!


Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you're thinking!