Pigtales (F’14)

Greta F’14 describes her experiences on the pig chore for the first two weeks of the semester:

The piglets in May. They’re not this cute anymore, sadly.


Tell me about your favorite pig memory.

People sometimes would volunteer to come feed them with me and that was a good bonding experience. One time Ella went with me, and she was so excited to see the pigs. It was super cute, and she got to feed them. The mornings were not that fun: I had to get up really early, so it was mainly me on autopilot in a huge coat, freezing, and there was dew everywhere and I had to walk through this really tall grass to get to them. But when I fed them before dinner, it was nice walking past all the barns as the sun was setting, with the higher contrast of colors and longer shadows.


What was your most memorable pig experience?

It was the second or third day, so I was not super acquainted with the job or with Gwynne, who is the person to talk to not just if there’s a problem but if they need more food or whatever else. So I was really new at it. It was morning, and I got up early to feed them so I could shower afterwards (because they always get your legs really dirty), and when I got there, one was just outside of electric fence enclosure, digging up dirt, doing its thing. I didn’t know what to do, and I was alone, kind of internally freaking out. So I turned off electric fence and decided to try to wrangle the pig. I tried to get it to go back in for about 5 minutes, but it turns out that pig wrangling is difficult and actually not achievable alone. Then I did perimeter check, looking at the fence to see what the problem was, but nothing was wrong. There was no hole, nothing.


After I spent an hour trying to wrangle the pig back into its enclosure, I finally closed it into a cow pasture because that seemed like the best available option. Then I ran to the top of Garden Hill where the chickens were to see if maybe Gwynne was up there walking around. She wasn’t, but Ben was there, so I said, “Ben, a pig got out and I don’t know what to do,” and Ben said, “I don’t know what to do either,” and we stood there for a few minutes and tried to figure out a plan. Then I ran around campus for 15 minutes on a search for Gwynne, and couldn’t find her, so I went and had breakfast. (I fed all the other pigs first, by the way – I didn’t just abandon my job). Gwynne was nowhere to be found, but Marisa got a hold of Gwynne somehow, and she used her magical animal skills to wrangle the pig. Later I found out what happened: the water got too low in their tub, and if it’s too low, they get aggressive with it and they’ll tip it over. That’s what shorted the fence and allowed the pig to get out. You can’t let the water get below the halfway point.

So that was a very stressful situation and kind of my intro to the Mountain School. But it could have been much worse. For example, Lucy, who has the chore now, has been peed on by the pigs. See, the pigs are kind of stupid because if one does something, all the rest will do it. If one pig falls asleep, they all will; if one starts eating, the rest will start eating. If one pees, they all will, and they projectile-pee. Lucy got stuck in the crossfire today. She told me, “It was like a laser maze of swine urine!” The entire time I was feeding them my biggest fear was being peed-on.


How would you describe your connection with the pigs?

One the one hand, I like them a lot. They’re a lot like dogs: they want to be near you, they’re social, they don’t mind if you pet them… On the other hand, if you take a picture of them, their eyes look dead. I pretty sure that’s a sign that they’re vampires or something, isn’t it? I named all the pigs that I hate, and my favorite one too. My favorite is the brown runt; I named her Meredith. I appreciate her for being so chill and unique. I named the one that got out Wilbur, and coincidentally he’s Ella’s favorite, so I try not to hate him too much. Also these genders are completely arbitrary – I didn’t bother to check. There’s another one that looks a lot like Wilbur – they’re both intimidating and large with spots – so I named her Wilma, in case I get them confused. Then there’s Willa. She’s the one that bites.

I’ve been bitten twice, both times by Willa. The pigs are really into rubber and feet. When you go in, they try to nibble at your feet, which mostly turns into your getting really dirty because they’re rubbing their snouts on your legs. But sometimes they get really adventurous, and they bite you. I don’t really know what their end game is because I don’t think they’re carnivorous. I prefer to think of it as a love bite. It doesn’t hurt. I think they’re just curious

When “Meredith” was really young, the other piglets used to pick on her because she was so tiny. It was tragic. Apparently pigs and humans have very similar bullying tendencies.


What advice do you have for future pig-caretakers?

Mainly don’t let the water get too low. And don’t get peed on. You have to give yourself half an hour to feed the pigs because invariably it takes longer than you think and it takes a full ten minutes to get there and back, although of course right after I finished my rotation Gwynne decided to move them closer to central campus. I think she had a vendetta against me.


Describe your pig-experience as a haiku.

Constantly afraid:

They are faster than I am,

But we are still friends.



Thanks GZ for the interview. Photo credit to CM & DA.


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