We asked some of our followers how it came to be that they added a pig to their family and we will be featuring these stories as guest bloggers. This is Erica's story about Herman, the pig that changed her life. Let me add, this is one amazing family. Although they knew nothing about pigs when they got Herman Julian, they vowed to learn about the care of pigs. Herman is one of the lucky ones that bypassed his first birthday and stayed in his home. Bypassed his second and third birthday and stayed in his home. Erica is also a "don't bottle feed piglet" advocate and shares her terrifying story when others are suggesting that it's ok to get a 2 week old pig. Thank you for all you do Erica!
I wanted a pig since I was a young kid. I collected EVERYTHING pig oriented. 30 years later I heard a pet store, about an hour from me, had them. I HAD to go see them. Upon entering the store I saw 4 of them in a gated enclosure. They all seemed bigger than I imagined they would be. I was under the false understanding, like most, that these pigs would stay small. I decided that I would have to think things over and come back. I knew I still wanted one, but it made me realize I needed to learn a lot more about them.
After my friend and I left the store we stopped for gas. On entering the store a young man was holding the tiniest little pig. I thought this was a sign. I went and talked to him for a while, and held the baby in my arms. I fell in love! He told me the story of his pig. There was a local "zoo" that had them for sale. He told me that most of them passed away due to malnutrition and the mother not taking care of them. He gave me directions to this "zoo" and my friend and I were on our way.
As we pulled up to the place, I was horrified. It was a dilapidated barn with the roof caving in, and an old farmhouse. We proceeded with caution. Right away I saw him! Just him... in a small rabbit cage turned upside down. No food, no water. Only the ground underneath him. I proceeded to get him out. I had to! My friend told me to stop, and he'd look for the person who ran the place. There were cats and chickens everywhere roaming around. My friend proceeded to the farmhouse porch, when a large coonhound ran at him barking and showing his teeth. It almost seemed like a nightmare. All of a sudden an old man came from the house. He called his dog off and came to talk with us. He told me the story of Herman and his brothers and sisters. Only Herm and 2 of his sisters made it. He told me Herm was 6 weeks old and ready to go. He walked us around the horrifying zoo. Animals everywhere, from huge tortoises to coatimundi. They all looked so sad. Small cages. I tried to hide my tears. The man saw and explained to me that he was getting older, and the zoo was getting harder. His kids used to help, but all moved away. He wanted to give up the zoo business, so he was selling what he had left. He asked if we wanted to take a ride on his tractor to see the rest of the animals. I had to decline. There was no way I could see any more animals in that condition. We discussed Herman and how much he cost. I explained that I did not have cash, and the man made a deal with me. He said I could take him for the night. If I wasn't satisfied, I could return him the next day. If I decided to keep him, I could bring him $50 the next day.
I already knew I was keeping him no matter what, but agreed that I would do that. The first night... well actually month was HELL. He would scream all night. He didn't eat. I thought it was because he was scared, and I planned to do research the next day. When we returned the next day to give the man the payment I decided to wait in the car with Herman. I couldn't stand to see anymore of the zoo. When my friend returned he told me the man was very gracious that we returned to give him money. He said he assumed we wouldn't. He also let me know that Herman was in fact 2 weeks old, and not 6 like the man told us the day before! I started my research the moment I got home. My first lesson was learning Herm shouldn't have even left his mom. He wouldn't eat. For a whole week, Herm wouldn't eat! I tried everything, even a bottle. Which now learning from our pig group could have been his death sentence. He was so small, and would just lay in his bed, or mine and scream constantly. It finally came the time where I thought he wasn't going to make it. I knew I had to do something. I made a combination of baby rice cereal and goats milk. It was like Herman already knew that it would be delicious. He jumped up and gobbled it up! It made me so happy!!!
It has been heaven and hell with Herman, but I love him. He is my family. We have gone through so much together, and I wouldn't trade him for anything. I wish I would have known all that I know now; so he would have had a better start. I am just happy he made it through. About a month ago I drove past that old zoo. It still looks like hell, but I don't see as many of the animals as he had before. I hope he retired from that career! I'm just happy that he brought Herman and me together.
Written by: Erica Kaufman
Our names are Brittany Sawyer and Nicole Cox and we are pig parents, pig advocates and also the authors of the "Dear Pig Whisperer" blog. Follow our blog that will feature topics to help you become the best pig parent you can be...along with some other fun things. We will also feature guest bloggers from time to time who want to share their life experience or knowledge with anyone who is interested in learning.