|Buster & Alfie, two adoptable pigs at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm|
|Buster & Alfie staring at pumpkins being readied for dinner|
When Buster first arrived at Nevins Farm over a year ago, he was a little fellow, only a few months old. We loved dressing him up in holiday outfits, taught him to walk with a harness and leash, and smuggled him treats on more than one occasion. We knew that he would grow quickly (he's a Hampshire pig), so it was important that he learned how to behave around humans at an early age before he was too large.
And boy has he grown! In our minds, he has been the "baby" for quite a while, but it really became evident that he had grown when we took in another Hampshire piglet in August-what a size difference! Alfie was only a few months old and not much larger than a small dog, but he had 'big pig' attitude. Alfie had been saved from slaughter by wellmeaning people, but his lack of manners and the fact that he would grow to be several hundred pounds soon convinced the family that living in a house was not the right environment.
Our hope back then was to ultimately have Alfie and Buster as roommates. But an experience trying to introduce Buster to two other lady pigs made us delay an introduction until Alfie grew a bit more. During our failed attempt at an introduction to Becca and Penny, a quiet pair of senior pigs, Buster became pretty physical in asserting his rank. With that experience fresh in mind, the delayed introduction seemed warranted.
So Buster and Alfie lived several pens apart this fall, where they could see each other from a distance but not interact. During this time Alfie had another pig buddy, a pot-bellied pig named Dexter, so was learning the concept of sharing. Buster lived solo, but got used to seeing another pig.
Eventually, they moved into pens next to each other. They learned to share a shed that was safely divided, each with their own comfy straw bed, without much posturing or snorting. And finally, this week was the introduction. Armed with shovels and brooms and ready to break up a fight if needed, the staff allowed Buster and Alfie to share a pen for some rooting around time. Aside from a few snorts and squeals, there was little excitement. The pair was much more interested in the delicious pumpkins strewn about. So for a few days, they have enjoyed their pasture together during the day, and return to their separate areas in the shed at night. Tonight will be the big test, where we allow them to share the space together.
We think it will be successful, and will hopefully provide them with some much needed companionship. We've been monitoring them closely, and it seems that Alfie is learning a few manners from Buster, who has been surprisingly tolerant of Alfie's 'big pig' attitude. And who knows? Just maybe we'll find a wonderful home for a pair of young pigs to go home together!