Now we “officially” had a farm – livestock makes a farm, right? Okay, so seriously, we had a long way to go to be a viable farm but, at least, these two goats were experiencing a better life already. Slowly, but surely, we added a few more goats, two horrendously abused donkeys and a shetland pony and the farm kept growing.
After a time of fostering the donkeys and shetland, we were able to re-home them. The donkeys were kept together (thank goodness) and were moved to a 95-acre cattle ranch to patrol the pastures. They found their purpose and became happy, well-adjusted donkeys living the farm life. The shetland was re-homed to a place where a lady shetland was living and they settled into “happily-married” shetland bliss, raising their babies.
One afternoon, our neighbor called with a strange question… “did you get a pig?” I laughed and said, “no, we haven’t gotten a pig.” He said, well, there’s a pig at my house and I thought it might be yours. I laughed again and said, nope, not my pig.
The next day, as I was heading to the barn to feed everyone, on the outside of the pasture next to the fence was – you guessed it – a pig. I got an extra bowl of feed from the barn and brought it to him. Then, I began calling neighbors to see if anyone was missing a pig. Following an afternoon of phone calls, I found where the pig lived. The man was out of town and wouldn’t be back for a couple more days so, the lady asked, “can the pig stay there until we can come and get him”?
Well, of course he can. So, began a few days of bringing food to the pig who had created a nest, as close to the pasture fence as he could make it, and settled in. You could tell he was fascinated with the goats and livestock guardian dogs as he would walk around the fence line as the dogs and goats moved around.
The Saturday arrived for the neighbors to come pick up their pig. We went out early to feed the animals and the pig was gone. We assumed the owners had arrived early and taken him home. Imagine our surprise when we got to the barn to find the pig inside the barn, curled up in a nest, laying with the two dogs. He had broken IN to the pasture. We’ve experienced several break outs but had never seen a break in before.
The neighbors arrived, three strapping men, who proceeded to chase the pig all over the pasture. The only thing missing from the comedy was grease on the pig. After about an hour of chasing, and never catching, the pig, the neighbors said they were heading back to get a trap and would return so they could capture him.
About an hour later, the one man returned to our front porch, rang the bell and said that he and his wife had talked about it and that the pig looked happy here so could he just stay? What is one more mouth in the scheme of farm life so, yes, we said he could stay. And that’s how we were adopted by a pig.
Of course, being new to farm life, I did not know anything about pigs. I got all the background I could from the previous owners, did a little investigating on my own and learned quite a bit about our newest addition.
He had started life as a cute, little potbellied pig, living in someone’s house until he started growing, and growing, and they turned him loose. He then took up in a lady’s garage in a subdivision where he lived for a while until the HOA filed against her and forced her to get rid of him. After that, his past is a bit sketchy but, suffice it to say is, by the time he made it to us, he had a severe fear – bordering on sheer terror – of men in general.
Still not an expert on pigs, imagine my surprise the next Summer when he started to lose all his hair. I was worried that I was doing something wrong but, after more research, it is just a shedding of the Winter coat to get them through the Summer months. The shedding was not the biggest shock, though. When his hair came out, I could see his skin and his body was covered in scars. What kind of life had this poor pig had from those early days of being the cute little house potbelly to being this 250-pound pig forced to fend for himself?
Farm life is NOT for the faint of heart. The circle-of-life is something you must experience all too often when you are rescuing animals. But I can find comfort in being able to give animals a loving home, a carefree life, food and safe shelter for the rest of their days on this earth.
“Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds…” - Proverbs 27:23