Charlotte the Not So Pretty Pig

by Cedar & Sage Farm | Nov 05, 2017 | Farm Life

Here is the story of how a seemingly normal family adopted pigs into their lives. The characters in the story by no surprise, are us. And no, I don’t think we are actually crazy and believe it or not, we have no regrets.

 

It all started the day my true country girl cousin called me and asked if we could do her a favor and take (i.e., adopt) her potbelly pig, Charlotte. My initial thought was whoa, a pig, meh I don’t know. But, I knew that she would do just about anything for me, and it wasn’t like we didn’t have space.

 

So I asked her some questions about what they need and how to take care of her. She said, “Oh she eats everything, just throw her your leftovers and as long as she has some shelter, she is good.” My follow up question was, “is she cute?” to which she blatantly lied and said, “as a button.” This I will get back at her for, as this is not a pretty creature.

 

So, I began my typical regime of obsessive research and learned that they shouldn’t just eat whatever and that they are very social creatures. I called some local sanctuaries and read forums about what to feed them, and we created a pig-size door in one of the stalls so she could gain access on her own to the outside paddock.

 

Next, we all packed into the truck and made the trek to pick her up. By this point, we were kind of getting excited. I had read how social they are and smart they are and how some people even keep them in their houses. And the pictures of these pigs online were pretty cute. Yah, no one posts the ugly, crazy looking potbellies that only a mother could love (or apparently me).

 

When we arrived and went out to the barn to meet Charlotte I’m not going to lie… I didn’t know whether to be afraid or to cry that this thing was coming home with us. But, my cousin went over to her and started scratching her side and she melted into the attention. Andrew and his lack of filter immediately threw out “she’s not cute, she’s f’n ugly.” My cousin looked deeply hurt but retaliated with some equivalent comment about Andrew’s looks.

 

So, we herded, trapped and loaded this really fat and really not happy pig into the back of the trailer. She made screaming noises that I didn’t know were possible. Whoever decided to lie to children and say that pigs “oink” has not met a real pig!

 

When we got her home, we settled her into her new stall. We had a straw nest waiting for her and she seemed to take to that right away. Over the first few days, I was a little nervous to touch her. She didn’t seem really inviting, and she was filthy.

But as I got to know her I was sensing that she was actually quite sweet. She loved attention as long it didn’t come across as trapping her. So, I committed to saving and salvaging this pig!

 

We had a friend and her kids come over who had volunteered at a petting zoo that had potbellies, and we attempted to wash the four years of filth off of her (it should be noted that I do not believe that she was intentionally neglected at her previous home, it was more of a lack of knowledge about the specific breed and a way of just being a farmer having a pig). It took a long time chasing her around the barn getting a scrub in here and a wipe down there. But, when we were done we could see Charlotte a whole lot better. This is not to say she became any cuter, but she was cleaner.

My next commitment was to put Charlotte on the ‘Biggest Loser Pig Diet.’ She was so fat that her forehead had grown over her eyes. To the point where one of Andrew’s other first utterings when we first met her was “does it have eyes?” So, each day I would feed Charlotte no more than two cups a day of food specifically for potbelly pigs and leftover veggies. And I would get her to run laps up and down the barn for hay treats. She quickly learned to come and follow the sound of my voice.

Over the next few weeks, we were seeing her come out of her shell. She was starting to be able to walk better and was listening and responding to new commands. I taught her to only go to the bathroom outside and not in her stall, and she now came all the time when I called her. She really was smart, and I was beginning to realize, lonely. We couldn’t be out at the barn 24/7, and she missed us dearly when we were gone. She had previously lived with another pig, so this was her first time alone.

So, we decided that she needed a friend. When I had been researching about this breed before her arrival, I learned about how many people, after buying one of these pigs, would quickly discover that they are pretty big for a house pet and not legal in most cities. So, unfortunately, there were an abundant amount of rescues to choose from.

 

We found an amazing Non-profit organization called FARRM (Farm Animal Rescue & Rehoming Movement) and there we found Spike. Spike had been previously loved and was in much better physical shape than Charlotte. We couldn’t wait to get him home so Charlotte could have a friend.

We were warned that it was going to be about two weeks of violent fighting, but then they would be inseparable. And it was brutal, but it did pass, and now the two of them are rarely apart. Charlotte has lost about half of her size and is unfortunately totally blind, but Spike makes sure to have her back.

 

Spike likes to wander and come up to the house to visit from time to time. We don’t let him roam the property for too long at a time as Charlotte is not so good at not being confined and misses him when he goes on his adventures. But, we make sure to make the most of when he shows up on the doorstep.

While I never thought we would have pigs I am so glad that we happened into these two as they are what triggered our research and ultimate purchase of our KuneKune Pigs. We adore all of the animals that reside here and these two misfits are no different.

Meet Ashleigh

I have somehow been blessed beyond measure; I am married to a wonderful guy who shares in the great joy of raising our three amazing children. We recently picked up and left the city to follow our hearts, with the intention for a more simple and natural lifestyle. Both my husband and I are native Calgarians who have always been awed with the wonder of looking out at the Rocky Mountains. For us, transplanting into the foothills just made sense and we couldn’t wait to get here. It wasn’t until I was removed from the hurry of the city; that I was able to settle into my purpose and accept and celebrate the things that make me happy. Combining my love for bringing life into a neglected space, and filling it with a marriage of old and new, has enabled me to take on the challenge of rebirthing this 1980’s farmhouse. Being able to do this from home, while tackling the daily chores of caring for our farm animals is pure bliss and sits comfortably in my heart. I am chomping at the bit (along with our horses…) to continue to watch the evolution of our space take shape… And I can’t wait to fill this home with love, memories and the smell of Sunday dinners for years to come. I believe that the greatest gift in life is family, and I have been placed amongst a beautiful tribe (my late grandfather’s endearing term for our extended family). I yearn to give my children and their friends a place to melt away from the hustle; in a comfortable and pretty space, which I hope can be a refuge from a complicated and sometimes messy world. Although this move and new direction was not written down in my master plan (and I am a list and plan girl through and through), I am thrilled that the happenings which brought us here have unraveled just the way they did. I have dedicated this year to being grateful for our many gifts while also accepting my limitations with grace and courage. In addition to my home and family, I love camping, iced tea, Volkswagens and a good book… in no particular order. I hope you can find inspiration, relatability or even just a good laugh by following my blog posts as I figure out just what will unfold next.