Innocently enough, my daughter and I were driving to Middlebury College to have a tour while we were vacationing on Lake Champlain a couple of years ago. I almost went off the road when I saw the painted sign “piglets for sale.” “Get that phone number!” I excitedly commanded Sarah Jane. In less than two minutes she’d dialed the number and we were making arrangements to visit the farm. It was exactly on our way home and we had no trouble finding it. The little guy pictured below was a splendid tour guide and we attempted to get a word in edge-wise with his parents to talk pigs. We arranged for two to go south with us at the conclusion of our vacation and that is the story of how we got our Yorkshire piggies.
We decided on two little boars and popped them in a dog crate for the ride back to Shaftsbury. My three kids could not agree on their names so they were Root Root and Gub Gub, or Root Root and Hometeam, depending on who you asked.
They got on very well with most of the other animals. The sheep were scared silly of them and they helped to desensitize Lunah, our Arabian mare, who had a deep fear of pigs. We really enjoyed their aptitude, their pig-onalities, their adorable faces and physiques, but as they grew, they outgrew their habitats. We’d tried them in the sheep pasture until they’d rooted and tunneled any turf that was there into a half-acre wallow. They were great in my overgrown garden and of course the manure was a bonus. But at some point they started escaping, regularly, and it became increasingly difficult to keep them. There was even the day that some visiting tourists from Texas were walking down our road and ran into them…fortunately a neighbor that was also out walking and knew them was able to lure them back to our farm with acorns. They trotted after she and her baby stroller while she dropped acorns every few feet.
I learned that I love pigs. My good friend Martha told me of two pigs, Ollie & Sweetpea, at the farm that she occasionally sits at. They have had a wedding, a divorce, and a wedding again. I thought this was really silly when I’d first heard the story, but now I fully understand how a farm could entertain such pig-tales.
We had made plans for our two to be freezer-pigs and in the end, they were. (It was how I convinced my husband that we could/should raise them.) I love that we are localvores and it doesn’t bother me that we “name” our food. But after my season with them, I will never raise pigs for consumption again. I was not just attached to them like I am to all of our critters, but Root Root and Gub Gub could’ve swapped out for my pups. I really respected that pigs are highly intelligent and they had bonded to me in the same way that my house pets do. Lastly, I don’t have the means to keep them because of their nature to root/uproot everywhere and I will not simply pen-raise them to keep them from escaping. They loved, loved, loved the earth and watching them wallow in their cool mudholes could push all of my cares away, as well as theirs.
So this dear couple had a wonderful stay with us until they became Christmas hams. Of course they were delicious. And of course it is too late to change anything, but I have learned that if I wanted to raise pigs again, it would have to be as pets only. This little guy, Hamlet, who lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts, is just my cup of tea:
- And This Little Piggy…. (dyingbraincells.wordpress.com)