When Rog and Vic moved to the Westville farm in 2007, they had 8 horses that came with them. Most of the 8 were acquired because they needed a safe place to call home, and a few were acquired after a dear friend rescued them (that blog will come next). Over the years, their love of animals continued to grow…and so did their herd. At one point, they had 13 horses (3 were friends that boarded at the farm) and the rest all came with their own back stories. I moved to the farm in 2015 when we started Blue Moon Vintage Market, with the idea that I would move to Southwest Michigan where the market was for a few years.
As fate would have it, I decided to stay at the farm longer than expected so that I could help with the animals and Rog could graciously watch my two animals (at the time my St Bernard, Birdie, and my ancient Persian cat, Peas, who I still have to this day) when Vic and I traveled for the market. As we continued to collect broken animals to add to our mix, one of my favorite true rescue stories happened unexpectedly in December of 2019. It was a sub-zero morning at the farm in December of 2019 and the night before we had sent Rog and his brother to Tennessee to be with family during a very difficult time. Vic and I had just finished doing our morning chores, cleaning the barns, feeding the crew and getting their stalls ready to bring them back in since it was 4 below zero. Our beloved old farm dog, Elsa, was out there braving the cold to help make sure nothing was out of the ordinary.
This is a job she is very proud of and she doesn’t miss a day or anything out of sorts. We had been outside for a few hours and we were cold and hungry so we finished up and started heading to the house. As we got to the back door, we heard Elsa down the hill by the smaller barn and she was giving us her bark that meant something was not right. As we looked down the hill in her direction, we saw a little black potbelly pig a few feet behind her. We had seen this pig and a white little pig in our community for about 7 months prior to this and just assumed someone had either let them go in the area or they were free roaming but had a warm place to go at night. So…..we got a bowl of food and headed down the hill. Luckily we had one open stall available in the 3 stall barn which was close to this little black pig so we decided to coax her into the stall with the bowl of food. We could see that she was struggling, she was shivering and appeared to be underweight so we got to work right away. Within about 20 minutes we had her in a warm clean stall with fresh straw, fresh water and a bowl of food. Of course, I took a picture of her in the stall and sent a text to Rog (remember he is out of town, which rarely happens) and I said “look what just happened”. His reply was “I’ve been gone 12 hours and you got a pig?? That did NOT just happen.” I reassured him we did not plan this but I’m not totally convinced he believed me. We decided we would let her rest awhile and we were going to head back to the house to de-thaw and get some breakfast. We thanked Elsa for a job well done, and the 3 of us went back to the house.
As we got to the back door (again), we noticed a few of the horses in our north pasture were running and bucking like they do when something is off. So we turned and looked and noticed the little white pig making her way across the field and heading towards the woods. We knew she would never survive on her own in the woods, with the sub-zero temps and the nearby coyotes. So we grabbed another bowl of food, got in the golf cart and made our way to her. This little pig, however, was not as easy to coax to a warm barn as her friend was. Instead of working with us, she ran full speed into the woods. So….Vic and I calmly went into the woods, each going a different direction, so we could get around her and coax her out of the woods with a bowl of food. Now we are about 800 feet away from the barn we want to get her in so this was not an easy task. After about 2 and a half hours of setting the bowl down, backing up several feet and letting her come to get a few bites, then repeating this over and over, we finally made our way to the barn and tucked her into a separate stall so she could rest, warm up and get some food and water. We decided to keep the two separate for a little while just to give them time to settle in before reuniting them. We didn’t know anything about their past so we didn’t want to just put them into one stall together and leave.
There was a small tack room with sliding doors between the two stalls that they were in so we shut the sliding doors and decided to go warm up before coming back down to check on them. Of course, before leaving for the house, I sent another text to Rog, this time with the little skinny white pig’s picture and his reply was “you’ve got to me kidding me?!” I again tried to reassure him that this was not planned and it was in fact, a true rescue mission. At this point, we were both freezing, hungry and completely exhausted. We went to the house to finally get something to eat and warm up before going down to check on our new friends. We made our way back to the barn within about an hour and when we opened the door to where the white pig was…..to our surprise, she was gone! We stood there dumbfounded trying to figure out where she could have gone. “Do pigs really fly?” Vic asked…..”do they actually climb walls” I wondered out loud. We had a good laugh, still perplexed, then all of a sudden we heard two pigs snorting together, as if they were laughing at us. We went through the tack room and there they were….the dynamic pair. Snuggled up together in their fresh straw, with full bellies and what appeared to be smiles on their faces. The white pig had figured out that the sliding doors to the tack room weren’t secure in the tracks and could easily be pushed out from the bottom, which allowed her to escape her new digs and join her best friend. We laughed and laughed realizing these two were not about to be separated.
We asked around the area to see if anyone knew anything about them since we had seen them over the last several months just wandering around. We found out that someone in the area, in fact, had let them go to fend for themselves and at that moment, we realized we had just added two potbellies to our random mix of animals. We decided to name them Thelma and Louise, for obvious reasons, and they are still with us today. They have two locations on the farm, a winter home in the red barn to keep them warm during the colder months, and the summer home which consists of a house to shelter them from the sun and rain, a mud puddle and a fresh water trough that they share with the A-holes (the ungrateful geese we have, which is another story). Louise (the black pig) is older and starting to struggle to get around but we will do what we can to keep her comfortable for as long as we can. She is the friendlier of the two, which is not saying much as they are both very skiddish, even now.
Thelma, the white pig, is no longer underweight. In fact, she could afford to shed some winter weight but she is a foodie and loves her meals. For anyone wondering how the story ends when Rog got home from his trip, he adjusted nicely and helps us move them from their winter to summer home, and even helps when it’s time to trim their feet. Luckily this is only a few times a year but we make sure to notify the neighboring counties the day of as the volume of their screams can be heard for miles. They are true drama queens and the trimming is no different than getting a manicure. We like to think Thelma and Louise are happy and grateful for their forever home….they just have a funny way of showing it. For more information about our 501c3 non-profit organization Elsa's Acres, go to www.elsasacres.com.