Gracie, the sweet baby who started it all.
We were a pretty normal family - a husband, wife and kids. We had normal jobs and did normal people things.
We lived in a normal neighborhood with a decent sized backyard with a few pet pigs of our own. I got a message about the very first pig that needed to be rescued, and so I went. I told my husband I was going to the store, LOL. That little pig instantly became part of our family and we named him Picasso. He is now a big handsome boy!!!
Then another and another and yet another messaged about pigs needing homes.
There was one little girl that touched my heart more than any other. She was a tiny 3 pounds at 6 months old from having been starved to keep her small. You could see her bones and spine. She was so malnourished and pitiful but she was still so beautiful. I can't even remember what she had been named when first I picked her up but I named her Gracie. She had my whole heart from day one. I was determined to turn her health and life around. She was doing so good, gaining weight and doing normal piggy things as any pig should.
One Sunday afternoon, it was a very pretty day. I was cleaning house and my husband was in the backyard. I took Gracie outside and put her in a little mobile puppy pen we had. She loved it and was enjoying it so much. I would check on her every time I walked past the back door. The last time I checked, I noticed she wasn't acting right. I yelled for my husband to get her and we brought her inside. I could quickly see that she was having seizures so I called the vet and left a message and then headed that way. It was a 45 minute drive, a very long 45 minute drive, that day. She seized here and there on the way and she died in my arms a few minutes from the vet.
I couldn't believe it. "WHY?" is all I could say. She was doing so good. She was so happy. Why did this have to happen? My heart broke into a million pieces that day. I cried every single day for weeks. To this day I still don't know why. We had a necropsy done and had her cremated. I still have her ashes on my mantle and her little hoof prints on a clay heart that my husband made for me. The necropsy came back as "unknown cause". That was the worst part for me, not knowing. Was it something I had done... or didn't do? I still wonder.
After that, I received even more calls and messages about pigs needing homes. I knew that we had to do something and that the something we had to do was to move. We couldn't have all of those pigs in a neighborhood backyard. So that is what we did. A few months later we moved an hour away from our families. The kids had to change schools and I had to find a new job. I had lived in my grandmother's house for over 10 years and knew I would miss it but knew I had to do this. I knew we would all adapt just fine and we have.
We moved onto 7 acres of land in Lebanon, TN that was so quiet and peaceful (other than the occasional pig squealing fest at feeding time... I am sure the few neighbors we had loved us, ha ha!).
That little frail pig that I loved so dearly and lost way too soon is what started all of this.
This is all for Gracie.
We went from 70 to over a hundred pigs and had to move to a bigger area once again. We settled in Macon County, TN on just under 30 acres, where the rescue has been located since. We now have hundreds of pigs of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes. They all have different personalities and are unique in their own way. They have all come from various places for various reasons and we pulled numerous pigs from different animal controls and shelters. Many came from personal homes in which they could no longer remain for different reasons. One was found just wandering for a month, nearly getting hit by cars, before we heard about him. We tried several times and finally after a week or so were able to catch him and bring him to safety. One female we picked up had broken hips from previous mistreatment and had 4 stillborn piglets here, but we have had pregnant females give successful birth here as well.
We love and care for each pig, from the first day we get them, as though they have always been here. Most have adapted very well though some are still skittish after being here for so long. Some are the sweetest pigs you will ever meet and a couple are downright mean. But they are all safe and loved, and that is what matters... even when they bite us. Even the farm pigs we rescued, which had been out of the norm for us, we love just the same as the "little" ones. We spay and neuter nearly all of our pigs so they don't have to be separated anymore. The cost, time and work of having so many of them is overwhelming but I wouldn't change it for anything.