Ginger the pig

Ginger and the year of the pig,  February 2019

I was going to a friends home to chant with people on a Sunday of Jan. 2019. Before I left we had the kindest man come and put up dividing walls up for our horse shelter in the lower pasture. My husband bid me farewell and he would take over the chores and hang out with our contractor friend. I was only gone about an hour and 1/2.

When I came home my husband told me that the contractor was looking for a home for his female Kune Kune Scottish pig, Ginger. My husband always wanted a pig and so he accepted to re-home Ginger. Surprise!

Well we have been reading up on diet and shelter and inclosed areas but never thought to read on behavior. The first three days was like going to a three day intense seminar. Ginger was very needy. She was squealing and trying to root out of her pen. So the second day we decided to let her out of her pen and she loved it. 16 acres to roam and graze.

She roamed the whole border of our fence line. Ginger even went over to our neighbors and walked right into their garage while our neighbor was working on their car. That was a shock for him, good thing we live in farm country. She came back and was in our tree garden and decided to stand there in a freeze position and not move. We tried everything to get her to move so we could get her back in her pen. After a few hours when it was starting to get dark she came on her own and walked right back into her pen. Ginger is smart and has a mind of her own.

The third day she started treating me differently. Pushing my legs and trying to go in between my legs, circling me like a shark. I started to get scared and realized that she was challenging me. So I thought now is a good time to call breeders and see what they have to say. My journey of herd behavior in pigs has begun. My husband and I want to give Ginger the best chance we can to give her a forever pet home here on our farm.

But pigs can become dominant over humans very fast if you don’t take on the roll yourself. The most helpful was from Best Friends Sanctuary, in Kanab, Utah. Julie Forbes  is a dog trainer and behaviorist and she has a pig. She told me about the method “move the pig” – which is a very controversial method, but if used correctly can help a lot.

Also Best Friends suggested to use the natural horsemanship method which is similar to “move the pig”. This is where you talk the animal species language and use a pressure and release method.

We all have bubbles around us that we use as a boundary for ourselves. It’s our space and if someone gets into our space our energy changes. We can get defensive, aggressive, and emotional anxiety; so we will either run away or push back to get the person out of our space. Horses do the same thing.

Here is the pig’s role and behavioral mind. They look at our feet to see where we are moving and they look at us as a pig in their herd, especially if they are alone, which Ginger is right now. So Ginger decided to take on the role of head Miss Piggy over me. Well that ain’t happening sister. Now I have learned that to reverse this role I carry a stick or broom that I just swing in a pendulum motion. I don’t ever hit Ginger or go after her with it. I use it as a boundary tool and if Ginger decides she wants to get into my space I keep swinging the stick until she gets in the way and gets tapped by it. So far she backes off and stands there. That is called moving away from pressure. I then I  reward her by inviting her into my space or just verbally praising her. Everyday she is getting better and better at this. So I am thankful it is working. Ginger is starting to settle into our life on the farm. I still think she is very lonely and they say pigs should have another pig companion. It would stop the dominance and there would be move peace, but right now it is a bit overwhelming to think of another pig.

Before Ginger came to the farm, it was quiet and peaceful but Ginger likes to talk a lot and chater all then time. If she is upset about something she will let you know and the neighbors too. There is a very bright side to this blog and that is that Ginger is “laugh”  therapy for my husband and I. We even find ourselves talking about her behavior and what she might be thinking. When we let Ginger out of her pen she likes to hang with us, lie in the sun or smell everything in sight. Ginger also loves her belly rubbed. Her biggest love is food! She brings brightness to the farm and people love to see her and take pictures with Ginger.

The most surprising thing is that she came when it turned the year of the pig. So we are taking that as a sign of strength, endurance and prosperity. Come visit Ginger at our beautiful Bermaga Farm in Montesano Wa.    

By the way Lulu our head sheep and Ginger and making friends.

Happy pig tails.

Joan Sorita

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