You all might remember that a while back we tried to get our sweet piggy Curly pregnant so we could raise some little piglets on the farm. Well, it did not go well, to put it lightly and we decided we needed to be happy with other alternative options for piggies. We decided it would be best to pass Mercy, our other female piggy, onto a new home and try finding a little Kunekune piglet to buy.
I ended up finding a farm two hours from our house that was selling Kunekune piglets! It looked like they were taking such good care of the piggies they had which made me happy to see. They sent us a picture of the Mama sow nursing her little ones on a luxurious pillow in a bed of fresh hay. So cute! To be sure it was a good fit the girls and I drove the 4 hours to pay them a visit. We knew right away after the sweet little one, who we named Eliza, fell asleep in my arms. We arranged to pick Eliza up from the farm when she was planned to be weaned at 4 weeks old. This landed on the day before Christmas Eve! A Christmas piglet!! We had actually planned to get Curly pregnant in time for her to give birth at Christmas time so it worked out perfectly that we were getting Eliza then.
Since I knew the date we were picking up Eliza it was now my job to arrange for someone to buy Mercy prior to that date. We didn’t feel Mercy would have welcomed Eliza and I felt it would be dangerous to put little Eliza in with Mercy. Mercy also had some digestion issues that made it so she didn’t always go poo in the right places. Another reason for Mercy to go before Eliza came. I didn’t feel like we should be putting a new little piglet into an unsanitary situation. I found a home for Mercy and arranged a sell date for one week prior to Eliza’s pickup. I figured this gave me some wiggle room if anything went wonky yet didn’t leave Curly alone for too long. Well, the person who was supposed to come pick Mercy up didn’t show, rescheduled, and didn’t show again. This happened 3 times before it was time to pick up little Eliza. Now I was in a panic!! We were on our way to pick up Eliza and still had two adult pigs!! Where on earth were we going to put Eliza??
The answer to that question was in our house! Haha, that was plan H if you’re wondering. Our hunch was correct that Mercy was aggressive toward Eliza. We brought Eliza down to the barn in my arms to introduce her to Curly and Mercy. Curly was a little curious but overall didn’t pay her much attention. Mercy, however, lunged at her with an open mouth. They may have eventually got along but that was enough for me to say absolutely ‘no’ to Eliza going into the barn until Mercy was gone.
My sister and her husband were scheduled to arrive the day following so we were really trying hard to make a plan and put it into action. We tried so many things but one that was a particularly big flop was trying to keep her in our sunroom. Since it was only the first day we got her she wasn’t litter box trained yet which meant we didn’t want to give her full reign of the sunroom. We brought our cool pool/duck brooder/water trough down the hill and into the sunroom and figured she could stay in there overnight while we figured out something more permanent the next day. Eliza DID NOT like that! She seemed to like it okay with us there, rooting around in the hay we put in it but as soon as we left, oh my! That girl would pounce straight up and jump out the top. The edges are about 3′ high and she pounced out of it like a little grasshopper! We tried putting chickenwire on the top held down with boards. It was the same thing all over again though only this time she would bop her little head on the boards. It was really sad so we immediately took her out. She didn’t want to be left alone.
The is when the linoleum floored foyer became the temporary pig pen. We blocked the living room off with a table set on it’s side, very guest worthy appearance I know. The table was green though so at least we were festive for Christmas! 🙂 There is a doorway into the pantry and another to upstairs so we kept those closed. The other entrance to the kitchen we blocked off with a baby gate which was purchased for this purpose. Justin of course customized it so it wouldn’t damage the walls or kick-boards. We set up a little eating area on a rubber car mat using a cookie tray. We used some bowls but they often got dumped. For the first couple nights, we cranked the heat in the downstairs bathroom and had her sleep in a large dog kennel lined with hay. Soon after I made her a little snuggle sack out of fleece so she would be cozy for her daytime naps, though for the first week or two all her naps were in our arms. That girl could take a good long 3 hour nap! We left the kennel with straw open in the foyer in case she wanted to sleep in it but she soon found that her fleece snuggle sack padded with carpet cushions was way more comfortable.
The first 2 days we had her she wasn’t eating or drinking much and seemed to be trying to nurse from us. We were offering her the food that the previous owner had been giving her as well as little treats here and there but she really wasn’t interested. We have seen piggies go down hill fast so it really worried us. Also, the sweet little thing was only 7 lbs so not eating for even one day was a big deal. We researched and found a fairly good blend of things to give Eliza to supplement nursing as best we could. We gave her a mixture of whole milk, half and half and egg. Eliza preferred the milk in a bowl rather than a bottle as we first tried but she was consuming it which made us very hopeful! We fed her as much as she wanted which was a time consuming job. Soon I started putting a little pig feed into the warm milk mixture to make it the consistency of liquidy porridge. She didn’t like it at first but she after a few weeks she warmed up to the taste.
Eliza was quick to learn how to use the litter-box. We used the method of waiting until she found the spot she liked and transferring her droppings into the litter-box. Pigs have great noses and take cues from what they smell. If they smell that a certain place has been used as a bathroom in the past, they will continue to go in that place. All the more reason for being absolutely sure we cleaned up after her. She had 3 accidents throughout her time in the house but all were really our fault. It was when we were giving her full reign of the house and she couldn’t find her way back to the litter-box. Nothing major. Pigs are so neat and clean!! They get a bad rap for those things but I can tell you from experience, ducks in the house is a MUCH bigger, stinkier and messier problem.
While all this cute Eliza stuff was going on inside I was still trying to line up a buyer for Mercy. I ended up finding a great place for her. A guy bought a 50 acre piece of land for the purpose of raising and breeding pigs. The pigs would roam free in the hills and not be destined to a dinner plate. When the guy showed up to transport Mercy to his farm it was apparent he loved pigs. We got a chuckle when he told us he was going to try carrying Mercy into his trailer! Hahaha, it was pretty entertaining. It obviously didn’t work but it was funny to watch. We ended up very slowly urging her into the trailer with treats, smarts and encouragement. That sweet Mercy was going to a good home.
Eventually about a month after we bought Eliza we had her sleep in the barn with Curly. Curly was weary of Eliza still though we had been taking her down to the barn for day trips to visit. It was because of this that we built Eliza her own little safe space in the barn complete with fresh hay, a new and improved large sleeping sack and a heat-lamp. We made the door small enough that only Eliza could fit through. We also made a safe eating nook for Eliza outside so she had a space to go and eat that was all her own.
While Eliza was living in our house we made sure that little sweetie learned some manners. She sits and waits before receiving her food and anytime you ask her to, comes when she is called and walks on her leash very nicely. It’s pretty fun having such a porcine wonder.
Now, 3 months later Curly and Eliza are best buddies with Curly allowing Eliza to eat right out of her own bowl which is a really big deal. Sweet Eliza still sleeps in her sleep sack every night and it warms my heart.
Now in the morning I am met with two sweet little snouts in the air waiting for some scratches, songs and their breakfast. So cute! As our oldest has found, it’s harder to reach to pet our little Eliza from inside the barn.