As far back as I can remember, my parents had cats and dogs in and around our home.
I loved my cats and dogs and remember I was about five years old when my father brought home a beautiful (mixed) Alsatian puppy and gave her to me. I instantly fell in love with her. She was the most loyal dog and protected me as best as she could.
My father was a farmer and in addition to planting crops, he raised pigs.
My husband also built a huge pen and raised pigs as well, even while involved in other things. You see, the philosophy of many Jamaicans, who live outside the capital and major towns, is that you should have at least one animal like a pig, goat, hens to lay eggs, and a cow if you can afford it.
At the same time, these animals are generally not raised as pets. They’re either kept to increase the livestock or are raised and then sold to a butcher.
Then there are the farmers who make animal husbandry a business.
In 2015 when my husband and I returned to Jamaica he immediately repaired the pigpen and invested in pigs again. I was encouraged to dip my toes into this and I agreed as long as I did not have to take care of them other than make sure they have water.
In general, pigs don’t take a lot of care – clean their pen, feed them, give them water, have a place they can wash themselves, and they’re happy.
I discovered something else. They like when you talk with them. And on hot days I enjoyed going down and gently hosing them down. They loved it! Of course, if I said this to the average pig owner, they’d think I was crazy!
Molly and Mary
I promptly named my two pig sisters, Molly and Mary. My husband warned me against this because he pointed out that I’d become too attached and they were for commercial purposes.
He was right! Months later when Molly was sold to a butcher, the custom is to give the seller first choice to buy a portion of the meat. I wanted no part of that. I could not eat Molly’s meat.
Mary, on the other hand, was being kept as a breeder. The day before I left on a trip back to the United States, I went down to say bye to Mary…and the other pigs. Yes, I did. J
My husband hoped Mary was pregnant but the ‘experts’ said she was not. I looked at her, and her eyes seemed sad. They looked dull. It was as if I heard her say, “Help me. I don’t feel well.” Tears welled up in my eyes and I said, “What’s wrong, Mary? You don’t feel well? What can I do?” She was a lovely ‘pink’ pig, very clean as my husband kept their environment really clean and she hadn’t wallowed in her trough yet. I scratched her back gently for a few minutes and she just stood there as if it soothed her a bit.
I reported to my husband that I believed she was pregnant but was not feeling well. Perhaps she needed to be seen by a vet. None of the ‘experts’ believed me. What would I know about judging that she was pregnant?
A week after I arrived in the U.S. my husband called to tell me that Mary had given birth to a stillborn piglet and one was alive but did not look well. Did I say, “I told you so?” It’s possible but I’ll take the 5th.
The Three Girls
Then there were ‘the girls.’ These three were sisters and in their own pen. Now it was time for them to be ‘serviced’ by a boar (a male pig). He was brought in and I could tell he was just not in their class. These girls were ladies and he was just a PIG – greedy and obnoxious. They did not like him and complained to me every time I went to see them.
It finally came to a head one day, about 7 days after he’d been in the pen with them. As I approached the pen, the three of them banded together, side by side and started raising a ruckus as they saw me, moving their heads from side to side as they grunted their displeasure. It was so funny because they stuck to each other forming a barrier against him, as he tried to get between them.
As I write this, I remember laughing so hard because there was no question that they were asking me to get him out of the pen. They did not like him and did not want him there. Of course, I promised them I’d do my best.
I pleaded their case to my husband and he was kind enough to have the owner remove the boar. The girls’ peace was restored.
I love animals, even the not so clean ones. Would I want to raise them myself? Not at all, but enjoy connecting with them. Many behave very intelligently, and they do this by the instinct that our Creator placed in them. They cannot speak, but if we take the time to listen we can often hear what they say. I was the Pig Whisperer.