Why I’m Doing This

Why I’m Doing This

There have been some developments since my post on New Year’s Day. About six months ago I reached out to Peace Ridge Sanctuary, a farm animal sanctuary in Brooks, Maine, that gives, according to their mission statement, “permanent sanctuary to abused and neglected animals, with a particular focus on farmed animals”. Though my pigs don’t fit that description, I had called Peace Ridge to talk possibilities. For twelve pigs, possibilities were pretty narrow. My conversation with the woman from Peace Ridge brought one important thing into focus as I searched for a path that didn’t involve death:  Saving a pig is a costly commitment of time and money spanning a decade or more. Multiply that by twelve. On the day I called, for example, the founder of Peace Ridge was busy transporting an old pig to Tufts Veterinary Hospital for treatment. (Apparently, there are few vets willing to tackle the health needs of large, older pigs, and, as a result, Tufts is the place to go.)  Care of this caliber and thoughtfulness isn’t cheap. Now, however, I have half as many pigs.  So I reached out again to discuss what’s possible.

This time around I wanted to know specific information about the cost of care for pigs over time. Also, I suggested that, if housing were an issue, I could provide, at the very least, the labor involved with building a shelter. I intended to make an offer that would be difficult to disregard.  Peace Ridge, after all, is in the business of rescuing animals in distress, and they already care for 20 pigs. Their pig barn is full. Financial resources may be in short supply, but distressed farm animals are not, and I understood that my six happy pigs may not be their highest priority.  But I got their attention, and now the ball appears to be in my court.

Here are the numbers: Monthly feed and care costs amount to $30 for small pigs such as mine. That amounts to $2160 for a year of care for my six pigs. American Guinea hogs live for 10-15 years. So let’s say their lifetime cost of care would run about $26,000.  Peace Ridge estimates the cost in materials for housing at around $10,000.   That’s a lot of money to save a half dozen animals most people associate with applesauce and eggs.  Why, then?  It’s a legitimate question in need of an answer.  I’ll give it a shot.

After Mona I learned my lesson and stopped giving out names.   There’s one with an ear tipped in white.  Another who’s vocally loud.  One ignores me altogether and another who is the first, every time, to seek my attention; if I sit down in the hay, legs out, she will stick her snout in my face and look me directly in the eye.  Or, more frequently, she’ll drape her dense body over my legs and close her eyes as though she were settling in for a nap.  My dog, Ruby, does the same exact thing.  So, yes, I have what most people would consider an unusual relationship with a group of pigs normally considered only for their value as food.  I enjoy them as pigs, not pork.

If I’ve written anything over the last seven months, it’s a defense of pigs as animals that don’t deserve their lot in life.  Domestication has been a devil’s bargain.  Reproductive success has come with a heavy, unacceptable price.  Pigs in this equation are powerless.  We, the farmers and consumers, are in complete control.   My decision to save six pigs has one thing in common with my decision to slaughter the others.  It is a complete acceptance of responsibility.  I have identified a wrong, and I intend to do something about it.  There’s a simplicity in that mission statement that’s hard to come by in a world awash in seemingly intractable problems.   Why am I saving my pigs?  Because I can.

On to fundraising.


2 Replies to “Why I’m Doing This”

  1. I was afraid to open the link to the Yard Pig post….but it turns out it has made a good start to the day. Go, Mona and friends!

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