Sophie is the remaining matriarch of our herd of pigs. Last year, Dharma and Dolly, her good friends, died and she was the only female, along with the six boys: Lodo, Cromwell, Stubby, Louie, Oliver and Zach.
Sophie is a very friendly pig, although her informational in-take form (she came from a sanctuary out west that closed) said she was shy with people. Not anymore. She’ll let you pet her as long as you want. Call her name in the barn when everyone is sleeping and she sits up with one of her deep, Sophie grunts—”I’m over here!”
One of our long-time volunteers swears she speaks with a Scottish accent.
About a year ago, four new rescued piglets were introduced to the herd.
They’ve done what piglets do: sleep in a pile, run like crazy and spin in circles out in the yard, nose around in dirt. The older pigs let them run over them, be first to the gate at feeding time and generally share in the barn and the straw beds.
A few weeks ago, we started the first ‘pig checks’ that the piglets had ever had. Pig checks are a systematic way to check hooves, give any shots that need giving, cut tusks if needed and overall see if there are any lumps or bumps or anything that requires treatment.
Pinky, one of the piglets, was the first to get checked. The staff got her into the isolation pen and tethered her. Tethering is done with a rope that goes in the pig’s mouth and under their chin.
No pig likes it, but there’s no other way to restrain them that they like any better. Think of being at the dentist’s office, but being able to say how you really feel.
Pinky freaked out.
Pigs are natural drama queens. When they don’t like something, they scream. As in SCREAM.
Pinky was screaming. All of the other pigs got up and were grunting, upset.
Sophie was beside herself. She marched all over the barn, she cut her nose on the wire trying to open the gate where Pinky was. She grunted and grunted.
Staff was done with Pinky in about three minutes of tethering and let her out into the yard.
Sophie pushed her way into the iso pen, circling around and around, looking up at us, grunting, looking for Pinky.
Over and over, we told her Pinky was okay. We gave Sophie a loaf of French bread that she carried in her mouth as she circled the pen, still grunting.
Pig checks were over for the day.
Pinky came back into the barn and everyone started to calm down.
The piglets aren’t hers, but Sophie decided they were. She’s the mom.
When one of her babies is upset, she does something about it. That’s what moms do.
Whether she says that with a Scottish accent or not, who knows?