Monday, June 14, 2010

Stump and Little Man Need Chicken Soup and Daytime TV

I was going to write a semi-triumphant post about the garden; about how I diagnosed a hungry nighttime enemy and how beer, glorious beer helped me to strike a strong blow in favor of squash leaves and bean leaves everywhere while racking up dozens of slimy bodies that I ruthlessly piled into a mass grave... but unfortunately my evening chores focused instead on a sick lady and a sick little man, and I have only pictures of them to post, so the garden will have to wait for another day (sigh).

First up is Stump.

This is Stump.

The way the piglets were until last week was this: there was the biggest and most beautiful, Spotbellied. There was Stump, whose tail was half gone and who has a thick coat of red fur, no spots and is kind of oddly shaped, but (as it so often goes) has the most personality. And there was Little, who had some spots and a nice shape, but was, you know, very little. Then all of a sudden Little was huge. And Spotbellied was huge. And Stump was not.

Hams! Actual thick, delicious hams, walking around!

Stump has no hams.

It was hard to tell if Stump had gotten smaller or if the other two had just taken off. I spent a lot of time watching them together, and it is true that when i dumped food out for them, Stump tired of gobbling quickly and would wander over to poke about at me, at the ground, at the water. None of this is particularly worrisome, just a sign that Stump is perhaps not the best grower.

Then I noticed some troubling poop. I hear that new parents talk a lot about their baby's poops (is this true? I have it from several sources.), and I think it must be evolution. Poop is full of information. I have been closely monitoring Stump's poop this week to get a handle on the situation, and so far, it is clear that there are no (unmicroscopic) worms involved, but there is sometimes certainly a lack of, shall we say, structure. I thus took it upon myself to clean out and hose down the entire indoor pig stall last night at 9 PM. The girls are now living outside round the clock (I figure more room, more air and more sunshine can only help the situation). I let Stump in for a special her-only feeding session in the evenings. She seems to prefer chicken feed to anything else these days.

It is also awesome to note, that even though the other two are MUCH larger than she is, she can still scare both of them off if she wants a minute at the feed when they are around. I don't know how she can manage, but she kicks ass.

Then, there is this guy:

Little Man.

His problem is not so big, I think. The chicks have been getting feathers, which looks like it must be uncomfortable or something [spoiler alert: I know nothing about chickens. But the way they fuss over their grown-up feathers reminds me of kids getting adult teeth, and it is awkward enough looking to seem slightly painful], and Little Man here seems to have pulled out a few big ones (or someone else still open), leaving an open wound on his wing. And, here's the crazy thing about chickens: all the other ones just want to peck at it. This I did not know (although I suspected), so I brought him up to the house to clean him up a bit, then dumped him back in the brooder, only to see several other chicks start pecking at his bloody bits. So now he is spending the night in a remote location (a/k/a the kitchen table), where he can hopefully mend up before being thrown back in with the horrible, cannibalistic chickens.

The Hospital Wing/Wing Hospital

The thing that keeps me from worrying in both cases is that Stump and Little Man are both still acting completely normally. They have energy, they have (at least some) appetite. I will be nervous when Stump decides not to come nuzzle at me, or not to somehow fight off the comparatively gigantic pigs at the food pile. Or when Little Man doesn't cheep and run around his little convalescent tub when I intrude to refill his water.

So for now we wait, we watch, we segregate a bit, and we be a little more gentle with these two. We'll see.


  1. Best wishes to the sick animals. Two things: (1) it's true what you say about poop. When we got Edgar, we talked a lot about his poop. He got sick often, and we would describe his poops as "sad" or "happy." We developed an extensive vocabulary regarding his bowels. It's not something we are particularly proud of, but I suspect that such behavior is extremely common, especially with human babies. (2) It's also true what you say about animals' activity levels as an indicator of their health. Even if the dog has a very sad, even tragic poop, if he is still acting like his usual feisty, energetic self, then there's nothing to worry about. It's when he only wants to sleep and has no interest in playing that we start to think he might be really sick. Your beasts will recover in no time, I'm sure. For now, though, that chicken's not winning any beauty pageants.

  2. Lately, I read lots of peer-reviewed articles about poop. I suspect it will soon be possible to diagnose lots of illnesses, including behavioral ones, by looking at poop.