Okay, I'll admit it, I am NOT a big fan of winter to begin with. I don't like being cold, I don't like winds that shred through you like icky cold knives, and I absolutely HATE having to spend more time bundling up to take care of the outdoor farm animals than it takes to care for them. (fortunately I have Bill, and he doesn't hate cold weather nearly as much as I do. He does almost all the animal care in winter) Despite how much I generally don't like this time of the year, none of these things (with the possible exception of having to unhook and drain the hose to the horse tank every time we need to use it!) compares to how much I hate being a hedgehog breeder in the wintertime. This year we had a rather spectacular disaster. We have had so many interested customers who we have talked with and been pleased to sell to during the REST of the year, that I knew we were likely to have major interest around the holidays.
So I got carried away. Just a little. Okay, maybe a lot. I bred 17 girls over three rounds, including some one night stands with a friend's stud when he visited. Yes, you read that right. SEVENTEEN moms. I know winter success rates aren't nearly as good as spring and summer, but I was still expecting a small ooodle of babies most likely.
Of these girls I bred, three are older proven moms and heading towards retiring, one has never taken and is about on her last try, one had killed a previous litter and was on her last shot, eight were first time moms, (I wouldn't normally breed so many first timers this time of year, but with higher demand this year a lot of my proven girls are having a break between litters right now), and four were proven moms.
Of these girls I was fairly sure nine had taken and were pregnant. one of the older ones, the one with bad luck as a mom previously, three of the four proven moms, and four of the first timers.
So I pulled all of these, and a few others who I wasn't entirely sure of.
The one older girl had five and killed four. One male was left. Of course.
The one with bad luck previously delivered an unknown number and left me carnage. She will soon be looking for a good pet home, as she is obviously not cut out to be a mother, but would make a good pet.
Two of the proven moms had me convinced they took but never delivered babies that I saw or gave any evidence of having destroyed babies. The other one had three and destroyed them all.
Of the four first timers, two girls had babies, a litter of two and a litter of six. None of them survived past 48 hours.
So, lets review the math. Seventeen girls gave us the POTENTIAL of 17 to seventy some babies. However, anyone who has bred hedgehogs for long knows that not all of them will take, and not all will raise babies, so I was thinking more around 30.
Actual babies born? Twenty would be my best guess.
Surviving babies? ONE
ONE ONE ONE ONE ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(insert mental image of writer hopping up and down stomping her feet)
And with that brief nod to Douglas Adams, king of the absurd, which this most recent round most certainly qualifies as, I am going to go sulk some more