I know, I know–I’ve been seriously neglectful of this little blog. I’ve been busy. The days are just packed. It’s bad. I feel guilty. Yadda yadda.
To assuage my blogger guilt, you might think I’d craft a meticulous, witty, and informative post about something, anything.
I hit the ground running this morning and got the kiddies off to school, fed the animals, pounded out a good workout, grabbed some groceries in the rain, unpacked said groceries, horked down a Greek yogurt with blueberries & raspberries, threw some chicken breasts in the oven to bake before they take a dip into chicken noodle soup, and now I’m heading to my tennis drill. And it’s not even noon.
Sooooooo, in lieu of a meticulous, witty, and informative post, you get this: enjoy!
10 years ago today, Macy exploded into this world.
She’s been making a splash every day since.
When we brought her home from the hospital, in her little car seat, we had no idea what kind of fun, wildness, and hilarity would ensue. Her personality was right there from the very beginning, ready to wow us and cause us to scratch our heads at the idea that someone so small could have that much verve.
Such creativity is hard to contain. Starting school was rough for this girl. She was not a happy camper at preschool open house.
I am 100 percent sure Macy was behind the bubble explosion and that she convinced Payton to come along for the wild ride.
With a love of animals as big as Texas, our girl never met a creature she didn’t adore.
Macy, as you celebrate the wonderful world of double digits, I have a few things I wish for you:
May your creativity always rule as you live your life out loud.
May you always take it to the limit. Push the envelope. Go your own way. March to your own beat. While this trait of yours drove me nearly to madness in your early days, I trust that it will serve you well as you navigate life’s twisty, turny path. Be yourself — no matter what.
May your acute fashion sense always lead you to put your best foot forward.
May your life be long and sweet and full of all your favorite things.
May you always sparkle!
Make a wish, sweet girl!
In the 2 weeks since Piper has joined our family, I’ve fielded a lot of questions about the piggie lifestyle. Here I will attempt to answer them, but keep in mind I’m no expert and am learning as I go.
WHERE DID YOU GET HER? Macy did her research and looked at hundreds of piggies online. Her favorite was this little girl, from Jensen Farms (click here to go to their website, but be forewarned: there are a few typos and usage mistakes, so if you’re the kind of person who is bugged by that, peace be with you. I’m still trying to figure out a way to edit their stuff without coming across as a weirdo/know-it-all/grammar stalker).
HOW MUCH DID SHE COST? That’s kinda personal, but suffice to say that the price goes up in direct proportion to how big the pig will be when full-grown. In other words, be very wary of a breeding selling “mini” pigs for $200. Compare the price of a piggie to the price of a purebred dog or cat and it doesn’t seem so outrageous. Plus, with a lifespan of up to 20 years, you’re gonna get your money’s worth.
HOW BIG WILL SHE GET? This little piggie is estimated to be between 15 and 20 lbs when full-grown. The best way to tell how big a piggie will be is to look at the parents’ weights. Piper’s dad is 12 lbs and her mom is 20 lbs at 3 years old. Female breeder pigs (piggie mamas) are kept heavier than non-breeding females, though, so keep that in mind. A breeder can’t ensure a piggie’s final size, so beware of any such claims. Like all mammals, piggies’ growth is dependent upon food and exercise. Feed her a lot, she’s gonna grow. Exercise her a lot, she won’t get too fat. The age-old, simple equation of calories in vs. calories out applies. Be careful, though, because they are good eaters and are quite appreciative of treats & snacks, so combine that with their all-around adorableness and it’s hard to resist feeding them as much as they want. Tammy, if you’re reading this: no more cookies for Piper!!
WHAT DOES SHE EAT? Pretty much anything. We bought pot-bellied pig food in a 25-lb bag at a feed store. Prices are comparable to dog food. I’ve never had a cat, so I can’t speak to how pig chow compares to cat food price wise.This one is by Manna Pro, and Purina makes one too. Check the nutrition label, though; the first bag we bought is for fattening up pigs to go to market. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. The pig chow has the right nutritional formula for her, but she also gets half a Flintstone’s vitamin every day. We have to chop it up and hide it in her food, but she’s worth it. For the pig chow, she gets 1/4 cup twice a day, along with whatever vegetable scraps we have around. Ok, the truth is, she gets a custom-blended tossed salad on top of her pig chow. When I’m making salad for lunch or dinner, I’ll throw the yucky parts of the lettuce, the stems of the spinach leaves, and the tops of tomatoes in a tupperware and save it for Piper’s bowl. She likes all three of the abovementioned veggies, plus carrots and cucumber. She doesn’t seem to like bell peppers or celery, but I’m guessing she would eat them if not offered her faves alongside. She loves strawberries and blackberries, and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen her eat an apple. I have videos of her eating but can’t figure out how to upload them. Stay tuned.
WHERE DOES SHE DO HER BUSINESS? In the backyard, like a dog, or in a litter box, like a cat. She seems to prefer the backyard but doesn’t like to go out in the cold (luckily she lives in Texas!). Whether outside or in the litter box, she is very focused and takes care of business as soon as her feet hit the grass or the pine shavings. If you do use a litter box for a piggie, don’t use kitty litter or any kind of pelleted litter because they can confuse it with their pig chow and get sick. No one wants to see a backed-up piggie.
DOES SHE GET ALONG WITH OTHER ANIMALS? Yep. Our researched indicated that piggies get along well with any animal. Our dogs, and our doggie BFFs, were divided into two camps regarding Piper: the “couldn’t care less” camp, and the “I want to investigate/prove my dominance” camp. She’s a bit leery of the dogs but I expect they’ll become good friends in time.
DOES SHE PLAY WITH TOYS? Piper has several dog toys, and an activity box. The box is an under-the-bed plastic storage container full of wiffle balls and tennis balls. We hide a handful of grape tomatoes in amongst the balls and she pushes the balls around to find the food. Piggies love a sandbox to root around in, and the “hide the tomatoes” game would work in a sandbox as well. Breeders advise giving piggies a section of yard to explore. So far she hasn’t shown any desire to dig, but she likes to push the dirt around with her snout.
DOES SHE DO TRICKS? Piggies are very smart and can learn lots of tricks. Piper is learning to give kisses on command, and she picks up new things easily. She learned to use the litter box in a day. We videotaped her finding tomatoes in her activity box, and while Macy was watching the video, Piper heard us saying “find it!” on the video and promptly jumped in the box to start looking. I’m hoping to train her to do the laundry and load the dishwasher.
DOES SHE NEED VACCINES? Nope, just a dewormer. She will need to be spayed before she’s 6 months old.
DOES SHE SHED? STINK? Neither. Piggies have hair, not fur, so they don’t shed or have dander, which means they’re great for people with allergies. She doesn’t stink, either, which is more than I can say for the two dogs in our house. Our breeder said her pigs get a bath once a year, if that. Piggies’ skin is a little dry, so Piper gets a slathering of baby lotion once a week. She also needs sunscreen if she’s outside (don’t we all?).
IS SHE FILTHY? Not unless someone is eating tzatziki nearby, in which case she tries to dive into the container and cover her body with the tasty dip. Her snout gets a little dirty after she roots in the yard or if she has a particularly juicy blackberry, but a quick swipe with a baby wipe or paper towel fixes her right up.
HOW EASY IS IT TO INCORPORATE A PIGGIE INTO YOUR LIFE? Very. She follows us around the house like a dog and loves to sit and nap in our laps. She can be left in her crate, or to roam Macy’s room, when we’re gone, and piggies like to go for walks on a leash. We’re working on the leash training, but so far she’s been easier to train in every area than the dogs. She was pretty needy the first day or so, but she’d been separated from her mama, had flown on a plane, gone for a long car ride, and thrown into a strange environment. I would have cried, too.
DO PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE CRAZY FOR HAVING A PIG IN THE HOUSE? Perhaps. But who cares? Actually, the general response to her has been overwhelmingly positive. She’s cute, neat, non-stinky, well-behaved, and loving. What’s crazy about that? Some homeowners associations and city ordinances prevent piggies, so check into that if you’re thinking of getting one. If you really, really want one and your area prohibits it, remember the old “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” rule. But you didn’t hear that from me!
HOW DO PIGGIES COMMUNICATE? They make a variety of different sounds: up to 20 different sounds, in fact, from grunting and snorting to woofing and crying. Check out this excerpt from a breeders’ “Piggie Manual:”
Whining- well, that is pretty straight forward–they want food, someone made them mad, or is messing with them.
“Ahhhh ahhhh ahhh”– is a familial greeting. It means they see you as family.
“oink, oink, reeeeeee”- means they are searching for someone or something and they are a bit nervous.
“Woof”- it sounds like a bark. This has two meanings. Excited in a good way, they will bark and run and play. If they say it in a higher pitch it means DANGER and they will run away.
“Ooof” (while blowing air) – usually means annoyed, but can mean nervousness
“Rarararaa grumble grumble”- means I AM NOT moving off the couch!
Teeth grinding- can be confusing, it can mean they are teething and have discomfort, in pain, and some do it for contentment
Continuous oinking- I call this “echo location”- they are just oinking to see if someone is around,
Screaming- this means they are mad because they are hungry, confined, or can’t find you.
Grunts- they have soooo many of these…. Most are happy grunts, they have different sounding ones
that come with belly rubs, when you get the “right spot”, petting, happy I am eating food grunts, etc.
Piper makes a “chuff chuff” sound when we pick her up; piggies don’t like to have their feet off the ground, so the transition from standing to being picked up and getting settled in one’s arms elicits the chuffing. There’s the “I need to potty” grunt that has a different intensity. She makes another specific grunt when she’s following us and trying to catch up. If she’s unhappy, say if someone is eating and not offering her a taste, she will give a little screech. She sighs and sneezes, which is just about the cutest thing ever. She also wags her tail like a dog when we say her name, when she’s eating, or if she’s just plain happy. Then there’s the “piggie flop” she does when she’s being scritched in the exact right spot: we’ll be scratching away and all the sudden she flops over onto her side. Whump! Piggie down!
ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES TO OWNING A PIGGIE? We’ve tried really hard to think of one. Not that our family is a piggie brain trust or anything, but even after a lot of thought and careful consideration, the only thing I can come up with is that her pee stinks.
It was a most excellent Christmas at our house this year. So good that I’ve been rather busy doing all things festive and haven’t blogged in several days. I have a good reason, though, for my lack of blogs. A very good reason.
Meet Piper, the teacup pig.
Starting to understand, huh?
Here’s the thing: we need another animal in this house like we need a hole in the head. But Macy’s BFF is moving to Corpus Christi in the next couple of months, and my girl needed a distraction from the heartbreak that is losing your best friend because of a job relocation. My BFF moved to Dallas when I was a kid, and I’m still not over it.
Plus, my girl has loved pigs her entire life.
All 9 years of it.
When most little girls were enamored with horses or kittens, my girl was attracted to piggies. She’s always thought the swine is fine. We have every piggie gadget on the market: flashlights, key chains, tiny frying pans, magnets, bookmarks, sink stoppers, ink pens, Pez dispensers, spatulas, egg timers, egg cups, mugs…the list goes on. If there’s a pig-related product out there, my girl has it. People who know and love her see a pig-themed item and buy it for her.
This girl has always loved pigs.
She’s wanted a teacup pig as long as I can remember. We always said, someday.
My girl did her research. She looked online for weeks to find photos of teacup pigs for sale. She emailed breeders and called farmers to see if there was a pig that matched her criteria, just in case we said yes to the pig. She made a list of all the reasons she wanted a teacup pig. I admire her thoroughness and tenacity, but we really need to work on her spelling.
You would think that deciding whether to add a teacup pig to an existing menagerie would be the hardest part of this equation. But you would be wrong. This time last week I was embarking upon the hardest part of the equation. It should have been quite simple, but it turned out to be a big ol’ mess.
See, the piggie my girl wanted was in Ohio. The breeder has a farm there and a farm in a small town about 75 miles from Houston. The piggie was going to fly from Ohio to Houston, and the breeder would pick her up then meet me to hand her over. Simple, right?
Not so much.
I was at the assigned meeting place on time and ready to take possession of the pig. I had a blanket, a beach towel, and Macy’s bathrobe, so the piggie could get used to her smell. The breeder had a drained phone battery and no sense of direction. None. Not even a teeny bit.
She texted me to say the plane was a little late but that she’d be at our appointed meeting place 30 minutes late, and that her phone was dying. She’d told me that she was driving a black Ram truck. I waited somewhat patiently in the Long John Silver’s parking lot next to the pawn shop and the Parrot Cove lounge with my bud Christy. Who knew that pawn shop was such a happening place 3 days before Christmas? A steady stream of cars, including 5 black Ram trucks, turned into the parking lot, only to head straight to the pawn shop. Not one of those trucks has a teacup pig in it. Two and a half hours later, the breeder finally called. She had no idea where she was and even less idea how to find me.
Long story short, our simple exchange took 5 and a half hours to conduct. Once we finally found each other and exchanged the pig, we had an hour’s drive to get her home. Poor little piggie had been yanked away from her mama and siblings, put on a plane, driven around in a truck with a directionally-challenged driver, then dropped into another car for another long car ride. Poor little piggie.
The stress of the exchange was quickly snuffed by two bottles of champagne shared round with great friends who turned out to meet the new addition. And the look on Macy’s face when I walked into the house with that little black & white bundle in my arms was priceless. At first she thought the pig was a stuffed animal and that I was “pranking her.” Once she realized that it was not only the real deal but also the pig she wanted most, she was overjoyed.
The champagne drained and the friends departed, it was time to put the little piggie to bed. Her first night was a breeze and she slept soundly. The next day was a bit chaotic, though, with a trip to the feed store to buy piggie supplies as well as all the last-minute Christmas preparations, baking, and wrapping. Out of all the research Macy did on teacup pigs, it never clicked with me that it’s rather like having a baby in the house at first. Piper was needy, hungry, scared, and poopy. Several times a day. Thankfully the little zookeeper cared for Piper while I made the Christmas magic happen, and before the end of the second day, Piper had learned how to use the litter box. She’s a smart little piggie.
Details: she’s half micro-mini and half Juliana. We haven’t weighed her but I’d say she’s 3 or 4 pounds now, with an estimated full-grown weight of 15 to 20 pounds. She eats hog chow (dry pellets) and fresh fruit and vegetables. She’s eaten apple wedges, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and uncooked oatmeal. That’s a way more varied diet than that of the 12-year-old boy who lives at my house. Cherry tomatoes are her absolute favorite, and she’s not shy about demolishing an entire bowl. Seeds squirting, juice flying: she’s a happy piggie when she has tomatoes.
Piggies get along with all animals, and will walk on a leash like a dog. They love to snuggle and be part of “the pack” and be involved with the family. Our little piggie makes lots of different noises, from grunts and snuffles to sighs and chirps. She comes when we call her, and follows us around the house. She’s not the least bit shy about jumping right into our laps, and this morning when Macy was taking a bath, Piper jumped right into the tub! Teacup piggies don’t need baths, but they do need a little baby lotion once a week. Their skin gets dry from being inside. They don’t stink or shed (which is more than I can say for our dogs), they will use the bathroom outside, and they don’t need vaccinations.