In just a few days Aunt Agatha is due to farrow. After some military planning she was brought into the barn, and settled quickly to the deep straw, regular supplies of pea pods and frequent rubs. She shivers ecstatically under energetic fingers. When she lies down I can see the piglets move in her wonderfully large belly, and her rear teats are huge, the ones towards the front slowly filling with milk.
This evening I hung the heat lamp over the creep area and she came to investigate. She can't reach it, but she has sniffed and taken its scent into her memory bank. I turned it on to see how she would react, but after some minor curiosity she simply scratched her sides and arse against the creep bars and lay down once more. I've turned off the lamp, but I'm hoping that when the piglets come, she won't now be unnerved by the glowing red beacon.
The piglets probably don't need the heat lamp at this time of year but I want to make sure that they are attracted to the creep area and can retreat if they feel their mother flopping to the ground; inadvertent killing of small young piglets by huge ponderous mothers is not so much frequent as an expected part of every birth - no doubt that's why they can have so many in a litter.
I am all eager anticipation and nervousness, but for now we two commune, sharing oinks and snorts like a pair of biddies at bingo.