Hamilton the Pig's Big Adventure


My struggle

So I’ve been writing a bit less than I wish I could these last few weeks. It’s not that I’ve been out gallivanting around town and hobnobbing with fancy folk in fancy places. It isn’t because I’ve been on vacation in Hawaii or catching up on much needed sleep. No, it’s for a much less romantic reason. My new temporary ward at the Gielow estates, Hamilton the potbelly pig, has been wreaking so much havoc throughout my little urban oasis.

Hamilton would escape on a daily basis from my chicken paddock and decimate all that I have strived to create. My lovely and pristine lawn looks like someone has broken the seventh seal and unleashed the apocalypse upon it. My vegetable garden? It now resembles the surface of the moon. Why, even the chicken paddock itself reminds me of the trenches in WWI.

I would repair his escape hole in the fencing and the next day, he would make a whole new and exciting hole on the other side. Every day went like this. I go to work at the museum, come home and chase all the chickens and the pig to round them back into their corral. Sasha would help as best she could and was usually on pig duty while I coaxed chickens in my Sunday fineries. Then a quick trip to home depot and I mend. And mend. And mend. Hell, last Wednesday the chicken coop itself looked like the leaning tower of Pisa when he decided to root under the support beams.

Then, as it turns out, I hear from Hamilton’s momma that her travel abroad may be extended beyond December and that she will be looking for a permanent home for our busy boy. It was then I realized that I should rip the band-aid off now and find him that lovely home while mine is still standing. She recommended that we check him into the spacious and luxurious resort over at Grazin Pig Acres up in Ramona, Ca.

Huzzah! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel at long last! So I IMMEDIATELY contacted Martin, the caretaker at the farm, to see if this was doable. I could tell from the first phone conversation, however, that he was really overbooked at his pig haven and he asked that I try a few other places first. He was so sympathetic and kind though, so I still had some hope growing in my heart.

All the other leads I had failed to bear fruit and with a heavy heart and the biggest puppy-dog-eyed humility I tried calling Martin again. As it turns out, Martin came here to visit my blog so he can see what Hamilton looked like. He ended up reading some of it and decided that he and I were kindred spirits. He gave in, ignoring his better judgment, and decided to take our hapless hero in!! So, in short, this blog saved my life.

That said, lets go for a little story time adventure with young Hamilton shall we? Great!

Hamilton’s Big Adventure!

Now, I drive a coupe. With really nice leather seats. So there was no way in hell I was putting a 100 lb. pig in the front seat like some kind of Geico commercial. I needed to call in the big guns in the form of my amazingly spectacular and super understanding girlfriend, Nury. She’s got a nice sized SUV that would do the trick perfectly. So long as I get myself a big ol’ tarp and bribe her with acai bowls and sweet kisses. Done!

While I was waiting for her to meet at my house, I looked at Sasha and thought, “jeez, she’s never been to a farm before.” I’d have my hands full with Hamilton, but how could I not take Sasha as well? So I asked her if she wanted to go to the country and, honest to god, this was her reaction…

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Sasha in farm mode

What a goofball huh. Well alright then, it was to be a family outing. Now, how do I get the Hammer into his tiny crate for the journey? By bribing him with food of course, his only currency. Here he is trapped in my clever trappings.

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Hamilton finally caged.

I’m not sure if you are one of the few people that has never seen Jurassic Park or not, but I can equate my whole experience with this pig to the velociraptors. I would be the hunter in this scenario. Hamilton did systematically test the fencing for weaknesses. He remembers…

I digress, as I often do. At least I didn’t take a break from post writing to go watch Jurassic Park again. Or did I? Anyways, we loaded up the truck and got ourselves on the road. A pig road trip!

Yeah, the smell was pretty intense. All I could do was apologize to Nury and soldier on. I put on some nice classical music to soothe our savage beast. It actually worked! He was quiet and peaceful the rest of the drive there. After a relatively short, but stinky, drive we finally made it to Grazin Pig Acres sanctuary! And not a moment too soon. Here is the first sighting of my sweet release from pig servitude.

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And what a sanctuary it is! You can kinda see Martin coming up the drive there in the distance. My hero Martin.  Before we took the tour of his oasis of swine, we quickly unloaded Hamilton to help keep his stress levels down as well as introduce him to his new digs. A huge improvement in both space as well as fortitude. Structurally speaking of course. Check this out!

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Hammy’s new digs. Sasha approved.

And just look at the master suite…

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Hamilton immediately took to his new space. He will also be getting an attractive lady to help keep him warm on those cold lonely nights;) But first, he had to meet his neighbors.

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Handsome right? Now that Hamilton was getting settled, Martin took us on the tour. I had no idea there were so many pigs here! They were everywhere. I can only guess as to how many are in Martins drove. I think that’s the collective noun for pigs. Flock doesn’t seem right. And murder is for crows…drove it is then.

All of the pigs get to come out and walk around the entire property. As Martin showed us around, he would open up various enclosures and we began having a bevy of cute pigs following us along. They were everywhere. There was one small girl in particular that had the sweetest demeanor I’ve ever seen. Here name is Betty.

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Sweet Betty

A bit long in the snout, but so adorable and gentle!

During our tour Sasha decided to have a tour of her own. She ran around everywhere and would occasionally zip past us to make sure she wasn’t in trouble or we weren’t leaving her behind. Not that she would mind, this place is truly a haven for all animals! Here she is getting to know the donkey Jack.

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Mind those back legs Sasha! He’ll kick you into next week. Even Nury got into the mix.

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Jack was a sweet ass. That didn’t sound right…but he is. Every so often he would make his presence known with the well known braying sound. It was hilarious and way louder than you would think. Martin also has two goats and a sheep in another enclosure. The big goat is Joker, and she was also really sweet and friendly.

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 And check out this giant beast of a pig. I had no idea that potbellies can get this massive. Martin thinks he’s mixed with something else. Here’s Pumbaa napping after breakfast. Good lord he’s huge!

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Martin decided that he is better viewed out in the open so he grabbed some animal crackers to coax him out. And then the beast immerged in his full glory.

 Now that’s a pig of stature. Here are some of the other animals and sights we saw on our tour. Martin even took the time to design and build some cool old western town buildings. His plan was to have the theme go throughout the property but then he began to get overwhelmed with pigs and now he has so much other work to do.

I should mention now that Grazin Pig Acres can always use support from kind folk such as you. The kind and noble work that Martin and his wife are doing there is so moving. The only thing bigger than their hearts are the pigs appetites and the need for support. Martin could have easily turned me away and maybe he should have. He already has so many animals to care for. He didn’t turn me away though. He decided that he would help out our little friend Hamilton regardless of how many heads he’s already caring for. Would you do the same? One of the things he mentioned to me is that, while he loves his website, it only seems to serve as a way for more people to find a place to dump their pigs instead of leaving donations or sponsoring one of these fine animals. And despite many claims from owners of their return to get their pigs back, not a single one ever has. Nury and I were so moved by how happy and carefree all these animals are and how well cared for they are. This place truly is a heaven for these pigs and you can see it in their personalities and their warmth. People buy potbellied pigs when they are young and cute and tiny and then realize after how big they get and how much of a force of nature they are. Breeders like to slap the name “teacup” or “micro” in front to try to persuade people that they won’t have a huge handful in a year or two. This is not the case, there is no breed of pig that will always be small. Some pigs get big and others stay relatively small, but all of them need special care and a wide birth. I learned this the hard way and so did my garden. I loved Hamilton’s personality and I adored how cute and special he is, but he was beyond what my urban farm could handle. Please keep this in mind when pig shopping. I have a relatively large lot and still couldn’t handle him. In the end, he was smarter than I am. Please take the time to visit Grazin Pig Acres website and make a donation through Paypal or sponsor one of these amazing animals!

After our tour, we went back to see how Hamilton was doing in his new digs and to say our goodbyes. We found him in a good place and Martin thought it would behoove young Hamilton to get a little water action in. Here he is in his ful glory and splendor!

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Sasha felt that she wasn’t quite dirty enough to get into Nury’s truck and decided to join him in a bit of a mud bath.

I haven’t seen Hamilton this happy since he decided to attack my waterfall. He definitely is a water pig! You can see in his eyes how excited he is and how happy he’ll be in his new home. Check this video out too.

It truly warms my heart to see him in such good hands. He and I had quite the adventure over the last month and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have had him visit my little urban farm. I now know what it’s like to have a pig and I won’t soon forget my little rump shaker. Luckily Ramona is only about 40 minutes away from me and I can go visit him often. If you ever find yourself in San Diego, I recommend you add this to your tour! Organizations like Grazin Pig Acres animal rescue and sanctuary are truly heroes. These animals are counting on us. We are their caretakers and without noble folks like Martin and his family, these animals would be lost. Or even worse, food.

Now, my little yard seems a bit quieter and more lonely. I can now return to tending to my critters and my thirsty garden but who will help me turn the compost like Hamilton did? He was a composting master and got my pile up into the 180 range with all his digging. I learned a great deal about my limitations this last month. I also learned that despite all of these struggles, I still deeply love and care for this little beast. He is truly a force of nature. One that will be missed.

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0 Replies to “Hamilton the Pig's Big Adventure”

  1. What an amazing story! Never really thought about the existence of such a habitat for pigs. Thanks for making this adventure come alive! There is a quote that says that attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure. You are an exemplary model for having the most caring attitude ever!

    1. Thanks a lot! I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a sanctuary for everything out there. All it takes is one person to love a certain creature and BAM, they start taking them in. As for attitude, you really do have to step back and realize that you have absolutely no control over nature. You can nudge it one way or another, but in the end it’s not really up to you. Once you relinquish the need for control, everything else falls into place. Especially yourself.

  2. That’s pretty hamtastic. Hamilton’s a lucky little guy. I wonder if Sasha misses her porky buddy.

    Are random people allowed to visit the pig farm?

    1. I think Sasha is doing fine. She always looked at Hammy like he was from another world. Didn’t know what to make of him. As for visitors, I’m sure if you called ahead Martin would love to have you. He was very accommodating!

  3. Well done, Jim & Nury!! A win-win-win, with a dash of wistfulness at the end. This blog just gets better and better. Glad your little bull has exited the botanical china shop, so to speak. This is a great cautionary tale and public service announcement for all ambitious urban homesteaders… proceed with caution with the porcine element! It is powerful indeed.

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