Loss Of Spring Litters

We are approaching the season when one of the chief topics of conversation among farmers will be the heavy annual loss of spring farrowed pigs. When hog prices are at profitable levels, as they have been during the past year, this loss becomes a serious matter for the breeders. The fact that some swine growers never lose a spring litter while some others never save one, is evidence that this loss is largely preventable.

In a small percentage of the cases failure may be  attributed to conditions over which the breeder has little control, but such causes are rare when compared with the numerous fatalities due to improper feeding methods.

Pretty Norma Dewar admires a Yorkshire piglet

The great lack of knowledge of the elementary principles of livestock feeding is the chief problem effecting [sic] the swine industry in P. E. Island today. Every farmer knows what constitutes a balanced fertiliser,. but very few understand what goes to make up a balanced ration. Every  farmer should know that a balanced ration must contain everything that the sow required to develop a litter of strong, vigorous pigs. It must contain sufficient minerals to build up the skeleton of the pigs. If these minerals are lacking, the litter may be born dead, deformed, or so lacking strength that they die immediately after birth. If they live for a time, rickets may be the results. A balanced ration must contain protein to build up muscle and blood in the unborn pigs. Any deficiency in this respect may result in oversized, flabby, weak pigs at farrowing time. In this province protein is usually the low constituent in our live stock ration. Skim milk or buttermilk are they only high protein feeds grown on our farms and used for pigs. All other common pig feeds are low in protein; potatoes and roots have only 1 per cent protein, oast, wheat and barley average about 9 to 10 per cent. In a balanced ration for sow carrying young or nursing a litter the ration should contain 15 to 20 percent protein. How can we make up such a ration if we use potatoes roots [sic]  and home grown grains without milk? Take potatoes and grain in equal parts and we have a ration with about 6 per cent protein or less. This is wide efficiency from the necessary minimum of 15 per cent. Yet we find hundreds of farmers feeding such an unbalanced ration. When disaster follows they call it bad luck.

The question naturally arises: what can be used to balance a hog ration if the farmer is short of milk? A number of high protein feeds may be recommended, such as fishmeal 60 to 70 percent protein; blood meal,  60 to 70 percent protein; blood and bone meal 50 to 60  per cent protein; tankage 40 to 60 percent protein, and perhaps oil cake, 35 to 40 percent protein. The last named should be used only when the others are not obtainable. If no milk is available and potatoes, roots and home grown grains are the bulk of the ration, at least one pound of any 60 per cent protein feed should be mixed with every nine pounds of grain, and three pounds with every bushel of potatoes or roots. Such a ration will be suitable for bred sow, sow nursing, and for growing pigs. Immediately before and after farrowing this ration should be adjusted as follows:

Col. F. I. Andrew (left) tattoos herd identification on ear of month old pig in 1958

About ten days before the date of farrowing begin to change the sow’s ration by replacing all other grain feeds with bran. About five days before farrowing the sow should be on a straight bran ration fed in slop form. From this time the ration should be gradually decreased until the sow is on half  rations the day before she furrows.  If the sow shows evidence of farrowing within 24 hours, she should  get nothing but plenty of warm water with a light sprinkling of bran. This warm drink should be  continued until the pigs are 24 hours old, when the bran ration should  be gradually increased to  bring the sow back to full feed on bran alone about five days after farrowing. Then the bran can be gradually replaced by stronger grain feeds if the sow has passed through the farrowing period in a normal condition. 

The main purpose of this system is to have the sow in a laxative condition and have her farrow on a stomach free from all strong, heat producing feeds. A full stomach, constipation and fever are the series of conditions which result in the loss of litters and quiet often dead sows.

It is false economy to feed any pig on an unbalanced ration even if the farmer must spend a few dollars for protein feeds. The price of one sucker pig will buy enough fishmeal, blood meal or tankage  to balance the sow’s ration during the greater part of the gestation period. This principle holds true in feedings pigs [sic] between weaning and  market age. Many cases of unthriftiness, lack of appetite, crippling, even death. may be traced to rations which are too low in protein and minerals. Indigestion is a very common result of low protein rations. Even if the pigs show no serious results from such improper feeding, the grower is wasting feed. Pigs fed unbalanced rations will usually take weeks. and in many cases, months longer to reach top market weights, whereas the addition of  afew pounds of high protein feed would save both time and feed.

With a little foresight this coming spring the usual loss of litters can be avoided. 

– Loss Of Spring Litters, The Charlottetown Guardian, February 27th, 1936.

Source: islandnewspapers.ca

Parting With The Farm Animals

Another fat hog went to market this morning; provision was made for pork for the home barrel and plans were laid — and sad I was to hear them! — to sell Kelly the cow. With her disposal, in one of the Springs months all of our old friends will have gone from the stable and a new generation we shall meet then at the milking. There is usually a warm spot in a farmwife’s heart for a favorite cow, though it may be only a memory. One hears them speak of it. There is a certain to be mention of an “old Brindle — as wise as any human” and linked with a past “i brought her from home with me.” There would be, of course a “Spotty she whom small lads learned to milk, a tiny pail- held between knees while seated on the edge of a milking stool, head against broad patient flank, Small hands tugging desperately when “this milk doesn’t seem to want to come.!”

1912 milking a cow by a fence Prince Edward Island

There would be “the jersey” small and dainty. She was the one that grew older along with you and the youngsters. Indeed by this they could “race you” at the milking and tears ran down your cheeks —and theirs the morning she was sold. “A good thing she went in a truck” you said, the parting was not so difficult and were you glad when the machine was gone out of sight beyond the hill through the vacancy in the stable was there for many days to come. So down the years one becomes attached to the likable dumb creatures that for the time are as familiar as the sun at morning. The Kelly cow with a crumpled and missing horn is the one of our milking herd whose fate was determined this morning.

Jamie was among those of his kin who hauled feed for some of the stock from trucks at the corner-store today. In the glory of this March afternoon, when it semed [sic] as if “all things that love the sun” were out of doors. Delightful then the day had become with brilliant sunlight and the wind moving in the branches of the old spruces in the orchard with soft breath and it full of honeyed promises. Icicles dripped and snow that had clung to nooks of roofs disappeared. At morning, Jamie had tried a new undertaking. He hitched Mutt, his faithful; companion and friend to his small hand-sled Not without considerable effort, I am led to believe , and drawn to it doubtless by the fact that on the opposite slope two neighbor lads were about the from meadow with “Biddy.” She is a versatile creature. She ceases playing with her young masters each Spring, long enough to present them with an adorable litter and is also evidently more reconciled to the feel of harness than is Mutt. ‘unless I led him” Jamie explained “he just sat there!”

Ice-hauling, which work of late, years seems to go hand in hand with the seasonal hooking or quilting indoors, commenced today. Though neither James nor I could place the spot in stream or pond from whence the loads of it we saw winding out along a field, had been harvested. Other hauling as well there was in today’s sunshine: grits to the mill and, heralding the return of the Spring sawing at the mill, first loads of lumber came then. A blue Jay called joyously from the orchard; a lone wild duck flew down to the river; Karolyn began to make a quilt and jeanie in moments of leisure continued knitting a sweater for grand-daughter, who made this the last port o’ call on her day’s outing. Mr. B. was off to town to visit the sick and small boys cleared a skating space on Kristy’s Pond.

Shipping cattle out of Charlottetown Harbour Prince Edward Island heading to Newfoundland

This evening in a ceremony which ended beautifully for those most concerned, the kitchen pump, idle of late, was set back in place after certain repairs had been made to the cylinder. And in spite of fears and conjectures that perhaps the never-failing stream had disappeared for “we dropped a pebble down and herald no sound” the machine works perfectly. There were moments of suspense after it was in place and we gathered round to see what would happen. Jmes pumping vigorously had that expression which shows no expectation of success. It was Jamie who heard sounds of rising water. He looked up at me and nodded and smiled. ‘She’s caught!’ he said “there’ll be no more bringing the hose from the other pump into this kitchen now! This method as always had proved most enetertatinign to Jmaie and me…

“Listen, Ellen!” James draws my attention to a weather forecast then adds since I have failed to hear it “snow tomorrow!” Well, we,all of us… young and older have had this lovely day

-Ellen’s Diary, March 9, 1943

Source: Islandnewspapers.ca

James And Ellen May Go Someday To Ireland!

“Three in one, one in three”— The Trinity… so signifies the green shamrock worn proudly by “the part of me that’s Irish” this blessed St. Patrick’s Day.

We have anticipated happily its coming. “By St. Patrick’s Day” we said with some longing when the fall hushed the crickets’ tunings and turned the cattle down the summer – path to continued stabling And in mind we pictured the break of the spring tide along the farmlands. We could fancy then [sic] as we looked off over the silent fields, the burst of music we should hear. No funeral march then, but an elfin movement, a light melody full of the blythe [sic] laughter of the tricking streamlets that ever at Alderlea, steal down from the rise of slope above us bearing off Winter to the millstream and river below. St Patrick’s Day invariably brings us, as now, those among opening bars, the eager happy prelude to the Spring Song we enjoy.

St. Patrick’s Day play, 17 March 1894. The traditional St. Patrick’s Day play was an annual event sponsored by the Benevolent Irish Society.

Its coming too, brings us choice glimpses of that Emerald Isle we think we have come to know better of late, since the lady of the manse at the corner, born and reared there as was her husband the minster of the “Old Kirk” has told us something of its rare beauty and charm…

Some day, who knows? We may come there to visit with James, to see that countryside where Irish folk declare “A bit of Heaven lies,” with its gold green sod, its misty mountains, its “lakes and fells.”

And he will see first the ponies, the cattle and pigs (“Isn’t that a handsomeone, Ellen.” he will say) and the sheep. And it will come to mind that maybe the forbears of those were of a flock the boy Patrick tended so carefully, when as a slave of the marauding King Niall, and only the age of Jamie, he was brought a captive to Erin’s shores. Born, historians are nat [sic] sure where— maybe in Britain or France they say— when the centuries were young, he was destined to become one of the greatest of missionaries. 

A group of Irishmen on parade St.Patrick’s Day in Souris Prince Edward Island

Called in a dream later to return from other lands to which the years had taken hime, to, Ireland, he heeded the voice that had begged him to “come and walk with us a before.

So great was his gift and zeal, it is said he made converts wherever he went, and before he died the whole Island was won to Christianity. He taught the doctrine if the Trinity by plucking a shamrock an pointing to the three perfect lobes growing from the one stem.

Rosa Mulholland, whose pen must have been dipped in Irish magic, so characteristically sweet sad the verses are, wrote: I wear a shamrock in my heart Three in one, one in three— Truth and love and faith, Tears and pain and death, O sweet the shamrock is to me!

Lay me in my hollow bed, Grow the shamrocks over me. Three in one, one in three Faith and hope and charity, Peace and rest and silence be With me where you lay my head: O, dear the shamrocks are to me”

– Ellen’s Diary, March 17th 2021

Source: Islandnewspapers.ca

Where have the farmers gone? Read this article

With James’ help at times— for was it not he who rocked him so fondly to sleep? We enjoyed a spell of baby-sitting today taking over the care of “Wee Alex” when the rest of the family in the house across the lane must take a trip to town this afternoon. This outing was mainly to meet Granddaughter’s appointment at the dentist’s, though it had its other interesting incidentals besides.

There was, perhaps to be the most important item of all, a pair of sturdy white boots brought home to replaie [sic] those scuffed and worn by the active lad who before long will be making first steps. He creeps smartly, and can now easily draw himself up beside chairs and couches. He can also get himself into awkward places from which a quick rescue must be made!

However perhaps to Mack, a man-size shovel was the most engaging souvenir of the trip, a clean shining thing to be of much assistance to him clearing away any March snow from the verandahs and yardpaths about. Or above all else, contributing as we see it no small share to the wellbeing of farm and family, though in roundabout ways, were not the sacks of “store feed” for the animals, the truck carried home to lane’s end of most moment? Or maybe back of those, we smiled weighing everything, were the farmers’ uniforms of blue denim — the overalls, [illegible] most important items of all?

James in the armchair, stock now bedded for the night, clears his throat, as ignal [sic] that he is about to share with us some pleasing article in the farmpaper he reads. 

“Hear this, Ellen” he says “The heading asks ‘Where Have The Farmers Gone?… Science did a shameful thing, it forced the farmer to become an agriculturist’…

It goes on to say: ‘There used to be farmers, men who worked the soil, raised stock and children, accumulated debts and blamed the government. It is time to shed a tear for the vanishing race.’

Picking potatoes on Charlie Townshend’s farm in 1946.Prince Edward Island

“ ‘Today it seems, we have agriculturist, agronomists, country squires and land economists — indeed everything but farmers. Some farms are beginning to look like scientific laboratories, others like sprawling machinery depots, It is all in the name of progress… The march of science has changed the way of rural life.’ ”

“I cant read it all to you, Ellen” James offers. “You’ll have to read it for yourself — it’s real interesting” he nods. “It ends like this: “ ‘Yes, there was a day when a strong man dedicated to the soil and his animals, and unafraidi [sic] of hard work could become a farmer. Today you are almost second rate unless you graduated from an accredited agricultural college. And worst of all your farm has to have electric lights, running water, a flush toilet and television or you are not progressive.’

Cultivating Potatoes on Lewis Farm.Earl Blanchard on tractor George Lewis on Cultivator at Freetown area of Prince Edward Island

‘Some farmers are not only living but beginning to look like the gray flannelled suburbanite who catches the 7.45 every morning. Well, why don’t they go whole hog and move into the city? I say there should be a place left in this big country of ours where a man can still wear overalls and chew tobacco!’ “

James looked over his paper when he finished the reading. “And isn’t it the truth, Ellen”.  he chuckled.

And March, the minx, continues to bring farm-folks her quiet or wind-blown gray days.

– Ellen’s Diary, March 14th, 1958

Source: Islandnewspapers.ca

“We’ll Hear The Robins Soon,” Says Good James

No winter? Not actually. Only the odd cheerless day we had, to have us recalling scenes from the snowy winters past and gone, well pleased with that now passing. And today, another in the March spell of weather which has given a continuation of days quietly beclouded and dampish.

Softly gray they have been as the feathers of remembered geese of a farm, that about this time of year would hide in low strawy nests, treasures of eggs for the children to find — to lift carefully and exclaim over the size, and ever regard them in the light of pure magic.

Softly gray — from the sky above  to the mist – wreathed hills it touched, and the slopes below listened to the wind patiently for a hint of news of first footsteps of spring… that was today.

Jeanie, mistress of the house across the lane, carrying an offering of shell to the fowls in the poultry-house, paused, catching a new voice among the sounds of the morning. She smiled and drew our attention to a dark “passel” of the blackbird family perched on the ridgepole of a piggery.

“And I thought for a moment it was a robin” she commented. “We’ll be hearing them shortly, I’m thinking, if this mild weather continues”, James said. “And its too early yet to have the spring – breakup. Think of the long spell of mud we would have!”

It has already commenced. The little truck has been a homeess [sic] vehicle of late. Now left in the shelter of woodlands at lane’s end again momentarily settled down, just by the hilltop, and it may be before long it will be as Rob’s is at present, set down a mile off by the highway, there to go on any excursions of farm or family it may be called upon to take.

Now the millstream in the valley runs in increased flow, and [illegible]. And along the old mill-road, where in days that are, and likely will be no more, grits passed, and this time of year, logs [illegible] the sawing, we found on a recent stroll with Mack, sprays of pussy willows in fetching springbloom.


“Can you believe it!” he smiled stooping there in the snow to feel the satin of the slivery cat kiss Against a young cheek, “I guess” he nodded “that does it: there goes the winter!” he said.

Now our house-ferns send up bare but graceful green shoots and nothing the growth we fell to wondering today, how the spring flowering bulbs of last Autumn’s planting are faring under the snow. And we made promise that notwithstanding such duties as may come to us, we would make time “ to pick more buttercups” this summer.

We would as in young springs search out again a rare bed of trailing arbutus, and up woodsy trails find first violets and trilliums and the other shy blossoming and sweet that we love.

A gray day of March this? Yes, but from dawn to candle-light and beyond into these stilly night-hours, one only pleasant and good.

– Ellen’s Diary, March 19th, 1958.

Source: islandnewspapers.ca