A Visit to an Ojai Pig Sanctuary

by Suza Francina on February 13, 2008

My daughter Monica meets Wilbur…
For a larger view: View image
More images after the jump!

Pigs are curious and insightful animals thought to have intelligence beyond that of an average 3-year-old human child. They are smarter than dogs and every bit as friendly, loyal, and affectionate. Scientists and scholars who have studied pigs say that pigs are the smartest animals, outside of primates (and pigs even outclassed some primate species in some intellectual areas).
When in their natural surroundings, not on factory farms, they are social, playful, protective animals who bond with each other, make beds, relax in the sun, and cool off in the mud. When I see how pigs are treated on factory farms and hear about how they go insane from boredom and lack of stimulation, I just want to weep with sorrow. Of all the atrocities man inflicts on animals, the modern-day practice of placing pigs and other animals in confinement from birth to death, is among the worst. http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/video.asp?video=pigs&Player=wm
Knowing this, I find visiting places where animals are well-cared for hopeful and enjoyable.
My young nephew, Beau Vermeer, from Holland, while visiting Ojai, meets a friendly pot-bellied pig.
This is the one I’d like to take home! She looks like my old pig Rosie, who has gone to Pig Heaven…
Beau’s mother,Shirley, makes friends with the pigs.
Story and more photos to come….
Photo Credit: Marcel Vermeer and Shirley Vermeer

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El Anonimo February 13, 2008 at 7:41 am

I think Tyler is the ultimate arbitrer, but it just doesn’t “feel right” to me for you to use the ojaipost as a “testing ground”.
Don’t u think you “should” have your own site for that?

Suza February 13, 2008 at 8:02 am

Hi El Anonimo,
I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. I am simply learning how to post photographs. That’s all I meant by test.
I do have my own web site, several blogs and am in fact on thousands of web sites. The Ojai Post is where mainly wanted to share my Ojai Life.
It will be fixed very soon!
PS Did you see my response to your yoga comments a few days ago?

Suza February 13, 2008 at 8:05 am

PPS El Anonimo, Did you view the image? Hope it showed up on your lap top so far far far away…

Lisa Snider February 13, 2008 at 8:06 am

Cute picture Suza! Where was it taken?
P.S. Whenever I post something here, it usually takes me 3 tries before I get it right!

Suza February 13, 2008 at 8:16 am

Thanks Lisa, I feel much better now! (That El Anonymo hurt my feelings!!) This photo and all the ones to come (hopefully this morning) were taken at a friend’s house in Meiners Oaks. She has many different kinds of pigs, as the photo captions will explain.

Brian February 13, 2008 at 8:28 am

What happens to the pigs when they get really old? Do they have a medical plan? Are they able to have sex? What about if they get medical complications is there a Vet that can treat them?

Suza February 13, 2008 at 8:42 am

Hi Brian,
Good questions! When pigs get really old, they go to pig heaven. These pigs are spayed and neutored, but some have mates. And yes, there is a wonderful Vet who comes to treat them if they need medical care.

Brian February 13, 2008 at 9:21 am

What is it like in pig heaven? If they are bad do they go to pig hell?

Lisa Snider February 13, 2008 at 9:27 am

Jeeze Brian, why so snarky?

meiners oaky February 13, 2008 at 9:37 am

seems like a few rude grouches are posting here today.
I love the photos of the pigs!
Thanks for the posting Suza.

dvorah February 13, 2008 at 9:39 am

I have so wanted to get one of those darling little pigs? When I lived in Iowa, I saw a truck go by with hundreds of little pig noses poking out of holes in the truck – it was heartbreaking – I know they wanted me to get them out of there!!!!! They are the sweetest and kindess animals – completely adorable. Plese post a phone number and an address and so I can adopt a pot belly! ps. do they have small ones????

Brian snarky February 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

Are there any government grants to support these pig sanctuaries?

Suza February 13, 2008 at 9:48 am

Hi Brian,
There are no bad piggies, only bad people! We have already created pig hell. It’s called factory farming, where pigs are stacked and stored in crates so small they cannot even turn around, but that’s another story!
Soon as I finish uploading the rest of the photos, I will tell you more about these pigs…I had a pet pig for thirteen-years, (adopted from this same sanctuary). I assure you pigs are as smart–or smarter–than dogs. And very clean too!

Brian February 13, 2008 at 9:49 am

You city people are something else !

Anonymous February 13, 2008 at 9:55 am

Brian, you are something else. Too bad you’re not as smart or as sweet as the pigs.

Suza February 13, 2008 at 9:57 am

Whoa Brian! Ha! Ha!
If there wasn’t so much government pork, there’d be plenty of grants for the piggies!

LTOR February 13, 2008 at 10:05 am

Of course, a warning should go out to those unaware that many types of these potbellies (small and cute when young) grow up to be enormous!! As a result, many adoptive parents are soon unable to care for them – which is, I assume, where these sanctuaries come in. PLEASE do all of the research necessary BEFORE you take in one of these “little” cuties!

Anonymous February 13, 2008 at 10:06 am

This is true, pigs are extremely smart. They also happen to very delicious. Mmmm….bacon….

Suza February 13, 2008 at 10:41 am

To Dvorah and anyone else who would like to adopt a pig, there are many wonderful pigs in various stages of growth in need of a good home. The Ojai Valley News classified section usually has a listing under Pot Bellied Pig Rescue (or similar wording). I will check on the number or email me at sfrancina@aol.com.
LTOR is absolutely right. The majority of the pigs in these rescue places come from owners who were not prepared to care for full grown pigs for their entire lifespan (up to ten-fifteen years.) Adopting a pig is similar to adopting any other pet. There is a home and yard check, etc.,

Suza February 13, 2008 at 11:08 am

Here’s one for Anonymous #18:
Happy Pigs Make Yummy Pork

Babe February 13, 2008 at 11:17 am

Dear Humans,
We pigs have a secret life too.
Here’s a good article about The Hidden Lives of Pigs!

Wilbur February 13, 2008 at 11:40 am

Hi Babe,
Most humans do not realize how we pigs endure lives of horror and misery on factory farms. Suza is right. This is Pig Hell! I think if people watched the movie, “Meet Your Meat,” they wouldn’t eat us. I cried when I saw thousands of pigs stored in tiny metal crates so small they cannot move or even turn around!
I am one of the lucky pigs that gets to breathe fresh air and relax in the sun.
The pigs in this film are not so lucky!

Anonymous February 13, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Thanks Suza — very interesting article. Thought you might be interested in this:
Apple Stuffed Pork Chops
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 cups chopped apples
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 (1 1/4 inch) thick pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large skillet saute onion in butter or margarine until tender. Remove from heat. Add the bread crumbs, apples, celery, parsley and salt. Mix all together. Cut a large pocket in the side of each pork chop; season inside and out with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon apple mixture loosely into pockets.
In skillet, heat oil to medium high and brown chops on both sides. Place browned chops in an ungreased 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 30 minutes longer or until juices run clear.

LTOR February 13, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Alas, there’s no accounting for taste.

just a friend February 13, 2008 at 12:45 pm

with suza’s permission, i will share these reflections composed upon the death of her dear sweet pot-bellied pig Rosie, The Great Being…..
The Last Days of Rosie
She gamboled like a rabbit in her youth –
Ambled around to the front yard
To feast on fresh-fallen locquats.
She sniffed out the rice and flax-seed
In the yoga eye-bags like a dog,
And scaled the shelves like a cat to consume them.
But in the end she was pig, all pig, only pig –
Rosie the Great Being.
All that was left in the end was her appetite,
And the great mound of her body.
Rooosie! Rooosie! Suza would call
In a high, sing-song voice.
Rosie would reply with that deep guttoral grunt:
Yes, I am here, feed me.
In the end her massive corpulence
Superceded her ability to walk.
She could not even turn upright
Without assistance.
But the mighty river of her appetite
Flowed on unabated.
A night without her bowl
Of warm alfalfa mush
Was intolerable.
She could not rest without it.
And so Rosie’s appetite
Finally created a body too great to sustain.
In her last hours, Suza sat by her
And hand-fed her grapes, and watermelon, and strawberries
And these last hours lasted three days.
And so we had time to reflect on Rosie
And her indomitable appetite –
That river of continuity
That linked all the days of her life…….
And we realized
That all of her days were her last days…
As are all of ours.
It took three men to lift Rosie
Into her final resting place.

Anonymous February 13, 2008 at 12:51 pm

This is a joke right?

Wilbur February 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Dear Anonymous #23,
You must have left me that recipy for “Apple Stuffed Pork Chops” while I was posting the beginning of the story. I ate pork chops for years, so I understand how you feel.
To be honest, when I started posting these photographs I did not have in mind to include anything about eating pigs here. But one thing led to another.
What all Earthlings want in this world is to be understood. I understand how delicious meat is and that there are circumstances where meat eating may be essential to health and survival. But that is different from torturing animals.
Have you ever been to a country where they eat dogs and cats?
Have you seen the videos and photographs of farms where they raise dogs and cats for meat?
Have you seen the cages in markets and in the kitchens of restaurants where dogs and cats are tied together and packed tightly in cages, waiting to be slaughtered?
There are cultures that think boiling, skinning or pounding animals while they are still alive makes them more nutritious and delicious. If you lived in one of those cultures would you be eating Apple Stuffed Dog Chops?

Suza February 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm

The above post was by Suza, not Wilbur.
This is what happens when there are too many pigs in the house!

shangrilalife February 13, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Thanks for clearing that up Suza. I thought Wilbur was some cannabalistic porcin ranter.

KAYLA CAPPER February 13, 2008 at 8:15 pm

I’ve adopted many pigs from Marty Fast in Ojai, and they are wonderful and smart creatures. Adopt or foster one- you won’t be sorry!

kathy February 13, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Is this a place one can actually visit? I would love to visit these sweet creatures who remind me so much of giant pugs.

Suza February 14, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Hi Kathy, you can arrange to visit the pigs by calling 646-8349. If you have any questions, feel free to email me direct at sfrancina@aol.com.
Everytime I visit this place I am amazed! When I have time, I’ll post more photographs…

kathy February 14, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Great! I will give them a ring tomorrow. I must snuffle some pig.

shirley Vermeer February 16, 2008 at 2:42 pm

dear Suza, thanks again for the nic visit at the farm. Greetings from holland.

Suza February 16, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Greetings from Ojai Shirley!
I will post “The Pig and the Tortoise,” and photo captions next week!

Suza February 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Hi Kathy,
I hope you got a chance to snuffle the pigs!
I noticed this ad is back in the OVN, under FREE
Potbellied Pigs
Available to safe & permanent homes.
Spayed, neutered, health guaranteed. 646-8349

Lizza February 20, 2008 at 2:15 am

Never argue with dumb people. It’s a waste of time. Especially those too cowardly to post their names and instead do it anonymously or make up a fake name. Rejoice in the knowledge that the truth is on your side — you are right and they are wrong. Period.

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