When I started sanctuary tours from my one acre property almost 3 years ago, people would often ask about my expansion plans. I always told people I wanted to be able to rescue ‘big’ pigs. I had no idea when this would happen, in fact I often tried not to think about it as it felt so out of reach, and I wanted to focus on what I had rather than what I didn’t.
Fast forward a very very short amount of time and suddenly my dreams are coming true. In November when we purchased our new property, Charlotte’s post for adoption came through my newsfeed. I often get asked how I ‘find’ all these pigs. What people don’t understand is that when you are ‘out there’ and ‘available’ for pigs…They find you, trust me.. they find you. There’s no avoiding it. None the less: Charlotte floated through my social media. I made the appropriate contacts to find out some info about her and agreed to take her on the condition she needed to stay in a temporary home until I moved to the farm. No big deal, right? Skip to a month later when I am consumed by stress and time lines trying to get fencing up and to beat the cold weather for charlotte’s transport here. Charlotte didn’t come from a few hours away, she came from Quebec! She had an approx 10 hour transport.
On the day of her arrival I was in denial that I’d wake up the following day to big pig in my yard. What would she be like? Would she like me? She’ll probably be terrified. Will she like her new barn? Find the pen space suitable? Will she run right through the fencing? What if she gets up in the middle of the night and just vacates the premises? Because, let me be clear… these big pigs, they stay in a pen to be courteous, as a favor to humans- these animals can plow through anything. I had my friends from Foster Farm animal sanctuary and Promisedland animal sanctuary scheduled to arrive at my house for around midnight when she was to arrive (unfortunately midnight was the only time our gracious transporter could make the drop happen) keep in mind; with a midnight drop time, that means it’s dark, obviously. Dropping a scared, stressed out, very large pig in the middle of the night comes with it’s own set of problems/solutions. When I tell you nothing went as planned.. I mean, absolutely nothing. Beginning with arrival time.. midnight was generous. Due to loading problems in Quebec, Charlotte did not arrive until 2am. My stress and anxiety hit the roof. The anticipation was beyond words. I set my alarm and went to bed.
I woke up to a series of messages exchanged in a group chat between our driver, Shawn and Phil our liaison who helped with charlotte’s adoption. The conversation briefly described a problem that occurred on route which included a 500lbs pig launching herself out of the built-in pen within the trailer. My stomach was in my throat. Did I just adopt an Olympic athlete pig? I kept reminding myself that pigs are rarely themselves when they are stressed. They will do outrageous/ out of character things in response to a stressful situation. There weren’t too many other details, as I would find them out later.
Charlotte arrived around 2am. I saw the lights coming up the drive way and my heart pounded away. I had NO previous experience with big pigs. I hadn’t even met one until last year when I became friends with the Fosters at Foster Farm, and this fact was starting to weigh down on me, what if I can’t do this? Shawn dropped his trailer and opened the back door. Inside, at the back of the trailer sat this beautiful, HUGE, pink, terrified pig with big floppy ears. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The plan from there was to use lots of lighting; (we had our truck parked in the pen with high beams on) and lead her towards the barn where I hoped she’d go right bed after her travels. Wrong, again. Charlotte had other plans, and her plan was not to move. She was shivering from adrenaline wearing off, so I covered her with a few bales of straw and tucked her in for the night. Shawn left his trailer and the next day I would be alone to get this terrified pig off the trailer. The next morning I brought her breakfast, which she was happy to have, then laid back down. At 11am I went back out with a second breakfast. After eating that up, she decided it was time. I hadn’t seen her full body until now. She is a site to see. Charlotte walked off the trailer and started exploring. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I could not believe she was here.
It is not just amazing that Charlotte had the opportunity to live. She also represents an accomplishment in my life. For the rest of my life she will always be my first ‘big’ and my first rescue to the new farm. It is an absolute honour to spend the next half of her life with her. I’m so grateful she’s here.