Life on the farm

I currently have a mini pig curled up on my lap. So clearly I’m not getting anything done today.

We adopted a Juliana mini pig in February, which prompted exclamations of delight from some and confused expressions from most. Not a lot of people understood why bacon lovers like us would want the pre-cooked version running around our house, rooting in our garden, and peeing on our carpet. (To be fair, no one likes potty-training.)

Jerod was pretty reluctant at first. I’ve been the one enamored with mini pigs for a few years, and nothing put a smile on my face like a teacup pig fresh from Google Images. (Teacup pigs are a myth, by the way. More on that later.) So with a little convincing and a LOT of saving (mini pigs aren’t cheap), I was finally able to get Sir Pompey Moofus the Third (Moo, for short). We went through a private breeder, who was amazing to work with and provided a lot of my base knowledge on how to raise and keep a pig.

Since Moo is more than 6 months old now, and people have loved following his progress on Instagram, I figured I’d write a behind-the-scenes blog post about what it’s like to own a mini pig. Overall, the experience is pretty awesome — I’d give it two thumbs up. But there’s also a LOT of hard work involved, more than I expected at first.

Julianas are the smallest (healthy) breed of pig. I throw “healthy” in there because mini pigs cannot and should not remain teeny tiny teacup size. The only way pigs are kept that small is if they are undernourished starved. That’s animal abuse and that is NOT OK. That being said, Julianas can vary in size. Right now, Moo is 25 pounds. He is going to grow for 2.5 more years. So in theory, he’s going to be a big boy. Which is why my breeder strongly recommended that we live in a house with a fenced yard before bringing Moo home. Pigs are big and need space, even when they are babies.

Apartment living is not ideal for pigs or pig owners. Not only because of the space issue, but because pigs are loud. Like, REALLY loud. When Moo is mad, he sounds like an angry baby crossed with a smoke alarm. Pigs can scream at 115 decibels. To put that in perspective: the sound of a jet engine is around 113 decibels. It’s funny for about the first 2 minutes, but when Moo is screaming an hour after I put him to bed and I can’t sleep, it gets old really fast.

Fortunately, Moo has acclimated to home life, but it took him a couple months to even begin to trust me. Pigs tend to primarily attach to one person in its family, so in our situation, I became Moo’s Person. But in the beginning, Moo wouldn’t let me pick him up. I got peed and pooped on. He was skittish and ran around the house screaming bloody pork murder when it was time to go to bed. Pigs are used to being hunted in the wild, so their automatic instinct is to run for dear life when a giant reaches down to pick them up (I guess that would be my automatic response, too, come to think of it). It’s VERY discouraging to try to bond with an animal that doesn’t trust you. But once Moo got into the rhythm of our routine and realized that he was safe, he became more affectionate and interactive.

Pig affection = pain. That is the 100% unsensored truth. In order for Moo to climb into my lap, he uses his hooves (obviously). Which are SHARP. Way different than the soft pads of a dog or a cat. And when he wants to snuggle, he roots his snout into whatever body part is closest to his face, which is usually my bicep or my ribs. Pigs use their snouts to dig things up and push dirt around, so that part of their body is very strong. Having a snout dug into your ribs is not a pleasant feeling, but the upside is that I know he’s trying to say, “I love you, now pay attention and scratch my belly.” I’ve come to deal with the discomfort of being trodden upon in exchange for the bonding time with Moo. Although, once he’s on my lap, I’m pretty committed to staying in one spot for a while. Did I mention he’s 25 pounds with spikes for feet? He gets what he wants.

Moo is incredibly smart. But he’s also crazy stubborn. This makes him extremely hard to train, but consistent training is so worth the effort because he won’t forget what he’s learned. He chooses to understand the commands “No!”, “Outside,” “Bed,” and “Come” about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time he is playing dumb. The only words he understands 100% of the time are his name and “Good boy!” (because it’s usually accompanied with a treat). It’s equally fantastic and infuriating to own the fourth-smartest animal in the world (behind dolphins, chimps, and elephants).

This is the sweetened condensed version of life with a mini pig. I’m certain I am forgetting a bunch of answers to FAQs I’ve received since February. Let me know if you have questions about mini pigs and I’ll answer them in an upcoming post!

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Old lady at heart

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

(Titus 2:1-8 ESV, emphasis mine)

There’s something to be said about multi-generational community. Older men guiding younger men. Older women encouraging younger women. For some reason this seems to have been lost on today’s society … older people are seen as “past their prime” and “out of touch,” whereas younger people are “self-absorbed” and “ignorant.” Selfies get more attention than multi-generational portraits celebrating decades of family. Veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving their country find themselves fighting a new war against awful health care (if they have health care at all), while my generation complains that the minimum wage is too low (Washington state has the highest minimum wage in the country, so we really shouldn’t be complaining here).

I speak in generalities, of course. There are more scenarios than just these two extremes. But I’m seeing a trend of disregard between older and younger generations. Which shouldn’t be the case. Yes, there is something to be said about peer groups and having support from people in or around your age, but if you don’t expand your community horizons, you’re missing out on some serious wisdom and guidance.

I went to a women’s retreat with my church last weekend. I was not looking forward to it, so much so that I Googled “how to survive women’s retreat” (Google tried to autofill my search with “how to survive women’s prison”, which I thought was hilarious).

I don’t enjoy women’s retreats for a few reasons:

  1. It feels like a popularity contest. (Do I really need to explain myself here?)
  2. I’m wary of spiritual highs.
  3. I’m afraid to be vulnerable with someone in a concentrated environment, then go back to “normal life” and realize that they weren’t really sincere about getting to know me (this could be dubbed “retreat syndrome” or “short-term missions trip syndrome”).
  4. Large groups of women make me anxious. Heck, large groups make me anxious.

The only people I knew going into this retreat were my age or younger (I’m fairly new to the church). The majority of the women there were at least 15 years older than me. I spent the first few hours quelling a panic attack next to a serene river surrounded by Northwest pine trees (at least the setting for my panic attack was nice, right?). I called my sister in Antigua (thank goodness for wifi and smartphones) and she prayed that God would give me peace and show me why I was meant to be there.

Within an hour, I was having a conversation with two women in two different stages of life: a young mom and an experienced mom. I don’t have kids, so I guess my stage of life is “27.” I was so surprised when I realized more than an hour had passed. I hadn’t even noticed. Because I was enjoying myself.

I talked to the gals in my age group maybe twice, and and both times it was in passing. They were busy doing their own thing, which is fine. But what I came to realize over the course of the weekend is that I didn’t need to be with them to feel included. I was loving hanging out with the older women (and when I say older, I mean older than me, so don’t get offended, OK?). I befriended the cabin next to mine, which was occupied by a stitching group of retired women. My most meaningful conversations were with women who were, at the very least, 15 years older than me. They checked on me all weekend: “How was your afternoon?” “Are you doing OK?” “Come sit with us!” “Did you sleep well?” And the kicker was it was 100% sincere.

I think I’m an older lady trapped in a 27-year-old’s body. I don’t feel the need to laugh and be loud and fill the silence all the time. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention. I love having fun, yes, but I also loving sitting and listening. Learning from other women’s experiences. Being open to encouragement and teaching. Simply living in the moment has gotten old.

This is not a criticism of outgoing personalities or younger women. If laughter is your second language (or your primary language, depending on the day) and you are an extrovert who thrives on being immersed in activity, I envy you. But don’t be afraid to be your awesome self outside your comfort zone. Befriend someone who isn’t in your normal social circle. That’s what made the retreat less horrible for me: I threw myself into the unknown, anxiety and all. And I came out OK.


I still cried for half an hour with my husband when I got home. I was emotionally worn out from battling the “am I good enough” and “do I fit in” and FOMO (fear of missing out) feelings, plus the spiritual growth God had put me through. But I’m glad I connected with the older women who reached out to me. Who graciously looked over the walls I put up and loved me anyway. That’s the example I want to follow.

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