One morning in the early Spring we went out to feed the stock and found that Gertrude, the big red brood sow, had given birth to eleven little pigs during the night. All but two had been smothered. Hogs often smother their newborn pigs—not intentionally, but just because they don’t have the gumption to get up and off them—no matter how much they squeal.
Fearing the remaining two would meet the same fate, we brought them to the house and prepared the “Nursery Box” in which to keep them, putting in a layer of clean straw, and covering them with pieces of clean, soft old blankets.
I heated the iron “sad irons”-(the ones I gave you, Kay) – and wrapped them in pieces of the blanket and put them in the box with the piglets to keep them warm.
We didn’t have electricity on the Six Mile Ranch, so we bought these sad irons for me to iron the clothes with.
We were afraid to use hot water bags to keep the little pigs warm for fear they might chew into them and so get burned by the hot water.
Kazan and Scotty were fascinated by these little squealing pigs, of course, they had never seen anything like them, and they were far different from “Little One” and “Lambkins” that had occupied the Nursery Box before.
They stared at them with a comical “I see them but I don’t believe it” expression on their faces, turning their heads from one side to the other to study them.
Scotty climbed into the box to try to comfort them as he had comforted Lambkins, but they were hungry, and nibbled his feet, so he quickly climbed out again. He whimpered in sympathy when they squealed, but Kazan just stared at them in utter amazement and disbelief.
For the first two weeks the little pigs had to be fed every two hours, day and night. I worked out a system. I put their nights milk in a thermos jug to keep it warm for their night feedings. I put one warm iron at a time in their box, keeping the other iron on the iron cookstove, so it was warm for the next two-hour feeding. By adding a stick of stovewood to the fire every two hours, there were enough coals to keep the iron warm, so I alternated the irons at each feeding.
Kazan and Scotty never failed to come to the kitchen to watch the feeding process Kazan would come bounding into the kitchen—he was always wide awake at night, but Scotty would come stumbling in, blinking in the lamp light, half asleep, but not wanting to miss watching the feeding of the strange little creatures.
One little pig was a silvery white and the other one wasa golden red, so I named them “Silver” and “Gold.”
Often when they were playing, Kazan and Scotty would stop suddenly and race to the Nursery Box to look in, apparently to reassure themselves those little animals really were there.
When they were older we took them to the barn and kept them in a walled stall until they were large enough to return to the pen with the other young pigs. Of course, Hanse the Cat wasn’t’ in this part of the barn—he would surely have left home had we put them in “his” area of the barn.