I have been wanting a pig on the place ever since I found myself with two milk cows. Even though the calves do the milking for me most of the time, I milk a couple of times a week to get milk for our own use. I like the cream in my coffee and on our oatmeal, but we don't use all that much milk. It doesn't take much for our morning cereal and what little baking I do, and it breaks my heart to pour perfectly good milk down the drain, knowing how much a pig would love it.
I had been watching Craigslist for weeks, hoping to buy a pig at a reasonable price. Cliff was less than enthused about this, since he is the guy that has to figure out how to make pens out of what we have on hand, provide housing, and actually transport the animal to our place. To his relief, I wasn't finding any pigs close to home, and I didn't want to spend a lot of gas money running up and down the roads for small pig. That "one small" part was another point of disagreement: Cliff felt that if we were going to get a pig, we ought to get two of them. Two pigs just do better, he says, than one by itself. I only wanted one because the amount of extra milk I would have wouldn't go far with more; it will make a big difference in the diet of one pig, especially while he's small. I didn't want to be buying any more expensive pig feed than necessary. Oh, and if you only have one pig, he makes a better pet.
"Oh yeah, that's what we need," my husband grumbled. "A pet pig."
As a butcher, Cliff learned that there's nothing more aggravating than a pet pig: They aren't scared, so you can't make them go anywhere; they're impossible to load when it's time to take them to slaughter.
When he finally decided I wasn't going to shut up about a pig, he suggested that we stop looking at Craigslist ads and go buy a pig from the local farmer we've purchased from before. "We might have to pay more," he said, "but we won't be running up and down the road spending more on gas that we would have to spend on a pig."
He had a point. Besides, we know the local guy has good, healthy pigs. Score one for Cliff.
I called, and the guy, as always, had pigs available. I explained to him that I had extra milk, and wanted a pig around to make good use of it. "The smaller the pig, the better," I said.
A dollar a pound can make for an expensive porker, but not so much when you are buying an eighteen-pound baby. We loaded up a dog carrier in the back of the pickup and went to get our pig. We chose a male.
"Oh, isn't he pretty?" I said to Cliff as the farmer carried our baby out of the barn. I think I saw the guy try to hide a smile. Maybe he isn't used to having his pigs called "pretty".
I told the grandson's soon-to-be wife to pick a name for him, and she chose "Stanley".
Temperatures were in the 90's when we brought him home. Instead of staying in the shade of his house (a calf hutch), he insisted in stretching out in the sun. Did you know pigs can sunburn? Since nothing I could do would get him to the shade, I put sunblock on him.
And you know, pigs don't take the heat very well. They really like a mud wallow, but since he had none, I bought him a cheap wading pool like the one we have for the little girl I babysit.
Since then, Cliff has fashioned a shade over part of his pen using tarp and tie-down straps.
When you have one pig by himself, he becomes a pet very quickly. If I climb into Stanley's pen, he already comes over to me begging for a belly-scratch. He has started rooting, tearing up the turf in his pen, so we'll have to put a ring in his nose or he will root his way out of the pen and end up at the neighbors, working on their flowerbeds or something. We still have some pig-rings from 30 years ago, so no purchase will be required.