While driving, I frequently pass a small pen for farm animals. Usually the pen is empty, but one day I saw it holding a large pig. I stopped and asked the farmer about the pig, and he told me that he was keeping the animal a little while before it went to slaughter. The pig, he added, was a male of the Tamworth breed.
I told my wife, Ellen, about the situation. Our farm sanctuary doesn’t have room for large pigs, but we wanted to save his life. So we asked the farmer if he would sell us the pig if we could find him a home.
The farmer, along with a friend who had helped him obtain the pig, agreed with our proposal. In fact, they would give us the pig almost free of charge—for only what they spent on his food. But because of prior arrangements, we needed to find the pig a home within two weeks.
Because the pig was a Tamworth, we called him Mr. T. We frequently visited Mr. T in his pen, and he was very friendly. Whenever he saw us coming, he hurried over to the fence for petting.
But phone calls to other sanctuaries came up empty. Two weeks went by, and we had to ask the pig’s owners for a week’s extension, which they granted.
More phone calls were also unsuccessful. We became very worried. Would we ever find Mr. T a home? Could we save his life?
Then we had a bit of good news. A pig sanctuary north of Syracuse, The Tusk and Bristle sanctuary, offered to foster Mr. T. But the sanctuary was in the process of closing and could only keep Mr. T for a short time. So we continued looking for a permanent home.
Still nothing came through. Ellen called The Tusk and Bristle owner, Carol, and told Carol that we were getting desperate. Carol replied, “Don’t worry; we will make sure Mr. T stays alive until you find something. Meanwhile, bring him up to us.” Carol’s response brought us enormous relief!
Our neighbor owns a horse transport firm, Morrissey’s Horse Pullmans, which drove Mr. T to The Tusk and Bristle farm. There, Mr. T was housed with a young female pig named Matilda. Matilda had come from a farmer who didn’t want her because she was, in his words, “too clingy.” She pestered him for so much attention that he couldn’t do his chores. At Tusk and Bristle, Matilda immediately became attached to Mr. T, and the two became close companions.
But the pressure to find Mr. T a permanent home remained. And now there was a complication. We didn’t want to separate Mr. T and Matilda. So we looked for a home that would take them both.
Finally, Ellen noticed that a family friend, a true animal lover, had emailed people a card with cute photos of pigs. Ellen wondered if he liked pigs so much that he’d want to help us. She called him, and he suggested we call the Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary in Maryland. He added that we should tell the sanctuary that he would donate funds toward the pigs’ care. The sanctuary responded positively and is now the home of two very happy pigs.
You have heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The rescue of Mr. T and his friend Matilda required help from so many people that we might say, “It takes a village to rescue two pigs.”
Bill Crain is cofounder, with his wife, Ellen, of Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Poughquag. Visit the farm’s website, Safehavenfarmsanctuary.org