Skip to main content

Special Delivery


Friendly Suburban-Dwelling friends and co-workers frequently ask me, so what's going on at the farm this time of year?

I know they are expecting to hear wonderful autumn-on-the-farm stories about harvesting corn, tapping maple trees, and selecting the perfect pumpkin from our own little patch.

Well, I respond, this time of year, we get a lot of semen in the mail. Seriously, my husband, who normally can't plan more than twenty minutes into the future, knows that now is the time to breed his pigs so they can be born in December, January, and February. This ensures they will be big enough for 4-H kids to buy in April for the county fair in August.

But back to the semen. In the mail. Actually, it usually ships overnight via UPS. Brings a whole new answer to the question What can Brown do for you?

Here's how it works... My husband has a sow (female pig) that is coming in heat, so he opens his boar catalog, selects her perfect mate, picks up the phone and orders two plastic bottles of his swimmers to be shipped overnight.

Yes, just like you have LL Bean and Lands End in your magazine rack, we have Cain's Super Sires and Swine Genetics International. The boars are selected based on their pedigrees and the goals for the litter, i.e. we need purebred pigs to take to the State Fair or this litter should be crossbred to produce pigs for kids to show at the county fair.

The semen arrives in a Styrofoam cooler (not frozen) inside a box. How does it get in the bottle? Look here.

I just want to make an environmental side note here that we DO reuse the Styrofoam coolers. In fact, when I was breastfeeding I would take the pig semen coolers with me on business trips. They worked GREAT to store and ship breast milk too. (Say ewwwww all you want, but I actually did this.)

Once the bottles arrive, my husband takes a long tube especially designed for this purpose, sticks it in the vulva of the pig and then squeezes the contents of the bottle until, if all goes well, the sow is bred.

You can imagine... no, you probably can't... that between talking on the phone almost daily about semen, keeping boxes of newly arrived semen in the kitchen (it's not on the table, at least), and all the breeding that goes on in the barn, our kids have picked up a few things along the way.

Our oldest has already had a bonding moment with his father when they picked out the "piglet daddy" for his new gilt. And our daughter has very innocently inquired about the equipment other men possess for this important task, asking her father while he was breeding a sow with his special plastic rod, does Uncle (his brother) have a breeder?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Happily Ever After

Last weekend, in a brief moment of remote control ownership, I tuned into basic cable and saw a very disturbing show called "Rich Bride, Poor Bride." I watched two episodes and didn't see what I would call a "poor" bride--although actually, after they blew their budgets, both brides probably did end up poor. One couple spent about $75,000. They talked her out of having live peacocks at the reception.

That makes me think about my own much simpler but very nice-for-Farmersville wedding over a decade ago. In many ways it was a disaster.

We were engaged for a year and a half; we had plenty of time to plan but fates conspired against us.

By the time we got to the week of the wedding, we had buried two people on the guest list and paid our respects to a distant uncle. One of the people we lost was my husband's grandfather who died Monday, we had visitation Wednesday, funeral Thursday, rehearsal dinner Friday, wedding Saturday. How his grandmother handled it is beyo…

I Know What you Did Last Summer

Good gravy (I have taken up saying this since Husband doesn't curse and I was the only one to blame for our household's junior potty mouths), it's Fall. And I still haven't shown you the before/during/after pictures of my kitchen update.
Before: greenish "marble" laminate counters with a yellowed fluorescent light cover--only one bulb working.
Carbon dating and a close examination of the many knife cuts evident on the laminate surface have led scientists to believe these counter tops date to the early Aquarius period or possibly late Happy Days epoch.
To save money on the almost airline-like add-ons involved in having a big box home improvement chain do this project, we removed the counter tops ourselves. I use the term ourselves very loosely, of course, in that Husband did it.
I thought we were well-prepared. Fortunately, they did not have a box on their billing slip for We Pulled out the Oven and OMGOMGOMG!! The workers even kindly looked away while I frantical…

Weekend Plans Cut Short

I haven't been at my current job long enough yet, apparently, because people still make the mistake of asking me what are you doing this weekend? I say that it is a mistake to ask me about my weekend plans because that question is supposed to be followed with an ordinary answer like going to see a movie or yardwork.
But when you ask me about my weekend plans, you're likely to get an answer like this: well, we'll be pretty busy getting ready for our pig auction. Husband has to give haircuts to 100+ pigs.
Yes, you read that right. Pigs get haircuts. Husband is grooming them for the pig auction (we call it a sale) that we are having on Saturday. In the market for a pig? Head over here.
Pigs have short, coarse hair that in days of old was used to make brushes (and maybe still today). Husband and other pig farmers clip the hair of the pigs shorter to make them look more appealing to potential buyers, who in this case are 4-H kids and parents looking for a hog to take to the count…