We waited in absolute anticipation as the winter turned to spring. The prospects our farm brought us in the warm weather, long outweighed the winter. We.couldn’t.wait. We started tours the earliest we’d ever had…only possible due to our new location. It was every bit as wet and as gross as you can imagine. Luckily- the tour was built solely of a few long-term supporters, and we couldn’t have been more excited to show them our new kingdom. What a way to start the season! And a season is was, hundreds of guests! Every time a repeat visitor arrived, I silently celebrated our success. We must be doing something right, we MUST be making an impact. It took hours to rid my body of that adrenaline.. I often couldn’t sleep before my Sunday night shift at work.
Every season I am wonderfully delighted at the people I get the pleasure of meeting. I met people who made me cry, I met people who made me think, and I met people who made me more passionate than I thought possible. When you have the pleasure of meeting a child who loves pigs, is vegan or won’t ever eat pigs again, it allows me to actually see the ripple effect my pigs are causing. This season, people graciously donated money, time, and efforts to help us. In the summer, we were so incredibly grateful to receive a hook up that allowed us to use an outdoor hose. Something as simple as a hose, changed the logistics of our entire summer. We had donations of art work, to create the coolest sticker collection I could imagine, a beautiful pig yoga day, a successful day at the local veg fest, and an even more incredible fall pumpkin drive event. I am persistently humbled and blown away at the support we receive. Full disclosure, I am often a victim of very pronounced feelings of imposture syndrome, and my community is constantly picking me up and reminding me why I belong here.
In early April, we sent Charlotte to OVC for spay surgery. After a winter of challenges during her period cycle, this was a most anticipated event. She was our first resident to the farm and of course, our first ‘big’ pig. Post surgery, I had no idea what was in store. Obviously, I had HOPED and prayed (as much as an un- religious person can) that the spay surgery would adjust her attitude and from previous experience, I knew time would as well. However, in a lovely-witchy concoction of surgery, time, and preemptive pain medication.. I am proud to say, that she is The Queen of The Pearly Acre and The Queen of my heart.
Overlapping with Charlottes spay surgery was Fern’s grand entrance. While my relationship with Charlotte was primarily fear at this point, I was ready for a baby pig that could grow up with me at this farm. I got exactly what I wanted. Fern was a welcome energy that woke up the sleepy winter at the sanctuary and dusted off its cold shoulders. She played with my dogs, ran and galloped in joy, walked the trails with us.. sniffing, rooting and snacking as she went. She changed my whole world perspective in a way I didn’t think was possible. Fern’s rescue began from her gracefully disembarking a transport truck, bound to end her life. Well I’ll tell you, she kept that life, and she brought it to The Pearly Acre. My heart was torched alight by this energetic, wild, beautiful, happy pig.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, cuter and more challenging; came Nelly. Younger and more fragile then Fern, Nelly took up immediate residence in our basement. She was too young and small as well as recovering from winter exposure related issues; to be living outside. Covid was in full swing, and when I was lucky enough to get hit, I spent 10 days by the fire, cradling my baby pig and listening to Jack Johnson. As you can imagine, it was an absolute horror to return to work after my time in baby pig paradise. My phones camera folder quickly and swiftly filled with images of this beautiful baby, whom tragically outlived her brother Milo. Baby Nelly had no idea who was on the horizon, and neither did I.
On March 16th 2022, I took on the most emotionally and physically taxing rescue of my short experience thus far. He made entrance by ripping my heart to pieces and proceeding to test every bit of guts I have. I fell madly, deeply in love with a pig I didn’t know would make it another day, week or month. Jasper tested me, all of me. Chewed me up and spit me out. Let me know if I really had what it took to run a sanctuary. I cried for an endless week over this pig I barely knew. He took all my energy, money and spirit and I feared I may never get it back. Jasper taught me MOST of the things I know about advanced animal care. I was giving injections and medications left, right and centre. This was something I never, ever saw myself doing but financially it becomes necessity. Eventually, both him and I were used to our schedule and I granted myself the ability to relax. We weren’t out of the woods for a long time, but I allowed my walls to fall completely, and let this little pig even further into my heart. It wasn’t until I was prepping myself for his surgery that I realized I had fallen into this deep well of false pretences and had to very quickly remind myself that he was still a very unwell pig. Jasper has this wondrous ability to live his best life and it’s easy to forget that he is a very young victim of septic arthritis. Soon though, his clinical signs of life would match up with actual evidence. His surgery was beyond successful and showed us exactly what we needed to know. There’s a reason this pig is full of life.. it’s because he’s still got it.
What a year. Sanctuary life can be mundane, day-to-day, and with the switch of second to minute, minute to hour, hour to day… it can change drastically. It can send you on a whole new trajectory in time, to a different place where you learn a different lesson than you ever thought possible. Maybe that’s the wonder of working with animals. I am on my toes, but my heart is guarded, except my mind is open and my experience will override. Here’s to a year at our farm, the greatest exploration of my life.