Things are really coming together, and the countdown is on!
We have a closing date of February 14. I can’t think of a better Valentine’s Day present than to be in our new house.
The latest progress: the air conditioning system, carpet, appliances, and fencing.
The AC isn’t too pretty, especially without the grass around it, but it is a necessity. It’s hard to imagine needing it right now, with the brutal “winter” we’ve had in Houston (yes, all you Northerners can laugh. I know we are winter wimps).
Guys were installing the side fencing as took these photos yesterday.
The back fence will be shorter and wrought iron, to give us a view of our bayou and woods. Once this brutal “winter” ends and the trees leaf out, we won’t be able to see the houses on the other side of the bayou.
My favorite girl, aka The Little Chef, was uber excited about the ovens, and in her excitement she didn’t realize that the blue color comes from the plastic shield covering the stainless steel. She thought we were getting blue ovens! That’s her, on the left, reflected in the ovens. She has already claimed this spot of the kitchen and will spend many hours baking up deliciousness.
Come on, February 14th! We can’t wait!
It’s rodeo time again. The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is a big deal. It’s been going on since 1932, and in those years the rodeo has raised more than $330 million for agricultural scholarships, research, and educational programs. It’s the largest livestock show in the world, and my fair city is the epicenter for all things rodeo. For 3 weeks every spring, people come from all over this great state and from farther afield to compete in all kinds of events. From bareback riding to calf roping to showing prized animals to producing works of art, the rodeo has it all. Then there’s the carnival, with rides and the most inventive fried foods ever conceived.
the highest set of swings in the world,
Read about our trip to the rodeo last year here, in which I feared for my life on one of these carnival rides.
We took special interest in the pigs, of course. This one has similar coloring to our little piggie, but thankfully is a different breed. If Piper ever got this big, we’d be in trouble.
How could we resist that snout??
Watching these giant pigs walking to and from the show ring was fascinating. Although they barely glanced at each other as they passed, I kept expecting them to turn and sniff each other, and maybe even scuffle, the way dogs might.
Their handlers kept them on the right path by tapping them with a thin stick. We must get one of those for our wayward piggie.
This pig needed to step on the scale before going to the show ring, but she wasn’t too happy about it. It took two guys to get her into the pen that holds the scale.
Lots of babies are born at the rodeo each year. This little lamb made his entrance into the big wide world and was on display soon after.
Two litters of piglets were on display, as well. The Little Rascals were born last month and were running and playing. Their next-door neighbors, the Baconators, were a couple of weeks behind them but catching up fast.
There’s a phenomenon in our house called The Pig Flop, in which Piper enjoys the petting so much that she literally flops on the floor all at once, in one smooth movement. My favorite girl attempted to get a Pig Flop from each piggie in the petting zoo.
Of course she succeeded. She is the Pig Whisperer, after all.
We wondered if our little piggie would smell her rodeo relatives on us when we got home. It’s perhaps more likely that she smelled the deep-fried Snickers on Macy’s breath!
Not sure what that’s all about, but it was memorable.
“If I can’t wear my boots, I ain’t goin” sums up the rodeo experience quite nicely. Lucky for her, boots are most welcome at the rodeo!
Yes, it’s National Pig Day, and at our house, that’s reason to celebrate. What’s it all about, you ask? It’s about sweet piggies like ours.
Created in 1972 by sisters Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave, this day gives us an excuse to party and, according to the holiday founders “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals.” Hear, hear!
Our entry into the world of all things pigs started about 10 years ago, when my favorite girl could barely walk & talk. Bypassing the usual little-girl favorite animals of kittens and horses, she fell in love with pigs. It wasn’t long before she started asking for a pig, and every time she brought up this seemingly crazy subject, we’d tell her sorry, baby, but people don’t have pigs as pets. Problem solved, right?
Not so much.
Once my favorite girl realized she could look things up on the Internet, probably in 1st grade, she discovered that why yes, people certainly do have pigs as pets, and fine pets they are.
We were in very big trouble.
Every year, my favorite girl would have a pet pig at the top of her wish list for Christmas. When the blessed holiday came and went without a piggie under the tree, she began asking for a pet pig for her birthday. We put her off as long as we could, but knew that eventually, we would have a pet pig. When she made this list
we knew the deal was done.
My girl did her research (again), contacting local breeders via email with her list of preferences and inquiring as to whether they had a pig that met her criteria (her words, for real). She wanted a female, preferably black & white (in the pig world, this is called a tuxedo pig). She set her sights on this little beauty
and it was all over.
but quickly warmed up once she realized we were the keepers of the cherry tomatoes. That remains one of her most favorite foods, followed closely by wasabi peas. Yes, you read that right: our pig LOVES wasabi peas. She will be sleeping the sleep of the piggie dead, dreaming piggie dreams and snoring in her piggie way but will bolt upright the second she hears the can of wasabi peas being shaken.
Grass is delicious!
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.