My farm dreams have always included a pig. In my idyllic fantasies, this pig was not for eating, but a faithful sidekick who would trundle along adorably beside me while I went about my farm chores. This pig would be the Arnold on my Green Acres.
Every so often I would stumble across ads for miniature pigs for sale. The prices were outrageous, and I was told by the Mr. there was no time/room for an animal that didn’t produce something of value. Drats.
And then it happened. One of our regular egg customers came by one evening and asked if we knew anybody who could take her year old pot bellied pig that they no longer had the time to take care of. I was so excited. Obviously I thought we would be the perfect fit. My husband? Not so much. We told her we would talk it over.
Days passed. I begged. I pleaded. I bribed. Finally, after some tough negotiations, we called say we would be happy to take in Brooklyn the pot bellied pig. When she arrived we were thrilled. She was adorable. She sat on command and gobbled up veggies. She was everything I dreamed of in a porcine companion. We gave her her own 10 x 12 stall in the barn complete with hay to tunnel in, all of her toys and blankets and her litter box. Life seemed fabulous.
The next day, I went into Brooklyn’s new area and gave her breakfast. After that, I tried a little petting… and she charged me. I immediately backed right up and exited the stall, shaken. I didn’t understand what I had done. I chalked it up to her being nervous in a new place. After all, by all accounts, she was a placid house pet.
After a few days she continued to charge me. And then, she managed to bite me. I was scared and hurt and upset. My farmer pride was hurt as I let this little porker bully me. I’m not used to having animals actively hate me. I messaged her previous owner and said I didn’t think this was going to work – Brooklyn obviously hated me and I couldn’t manage an animal I was now afraid of. She advised me it was normal behavior for pigs and she was testing me. She suggested I read the books she had given me on pig behavior. I agreed to stick it out.
I discovered I had made a serious mistake right out of the gate – I had backed down when she challenged me. The solution was to push back, and never give her any ground. And so the next time she charged me, I stood my ground. And she pulled off my shoe and just managed to avoid crushing my toes. I tried teaching her a new trick – as soon as I ran out of treats she went after me. I wore my barn boots to protect my feet and ankles. My good friend who had a pot bellied pig herself assured me this was typical “teenage” behavior.
Gradually, things have gotten slightly better. She hasn’t charged at me in some time, and when she’s distracted by food, I can give her a few pats. We are still far from being friends. I still go back and forth on whether she should really stay. I still day dream that someday she will be my boon companion. Or at least not want to bite me.