and their children (Agador, Alexander, Arthur, Armand, Coochie Coo and Little C)
M'Goo and Penelope came from South Florida in the fall of 1997. They had come through a complicated series of agencies to get to their new home. From a 12 foot by 12 foot concrete pen, where they spent 5 long months in the Florida sun to the Wildlife Care Center where arrangements were made to move them, along with four other pigs that were already at the facility. After all the blood testing and health papers were complete, they were loaded into a van and driven non-stop 17 hours by volunteers of one of the agencies involved.
As they began to unload I was in for a shock. Instead of 3 spayed females and 3 neutered males, there were 2 spayed females and 2 neutered males (the 4 from the Wildlife Care Center) and one very pregnant sow (Penelope) and one very smug little boar (M'Goo).
Needless to say I was not happy. At that time I had about 19 open females on the place, all too willing to meet the new guy. We immediately caught M'Goo and put him back into the van and took him to the vet for neutering.
In a few days he came back with a slightly less swaggering demeanor. After a week he was allowed back into the group and he and Penelope resumed their "married life" as a bonded pair. On Thanksgiving Day Penelope gave birth to 6 little ones. Two girls, Coochie Coo and Little C and four boys, Agador, Armand, Arthur and Alexander. M'Goo stayed close by as she nursed them for the first few days. By the time they were a week old he was taking on some of the parenting duties. From that time on he has cared for the youngsters like a good father, teaching them and guarding them and taking them on adventures to the southern most field and into the pond. He and Penelope still sleep together with their children all in touching range.
They have had the advantage of growing up with their family instead of being torn away when they are just a few weeks old. And I have had the joy of seeing it. They are a tight family group, spending most of their time together. They sleep together and travel together.
M'Goo and his mate Penelope (above)
Coochie Coo is the friendliest of the group, always coming up to me and raising her chin so I can scratch under it. She is a sweet child who has never known anything but freedom and peace.
Coochie Coo and brother Agador
Agador is shy and looks the most like Coo. Both have the long dense coat of their mother and her winsome smile.
Armand is the leader of the siblings, the strong silent John Wayne type. Where he goes his brothers follow. But not his sister. Alexander is a bit ditzy. Arthur is quiet and very reserved.
Alexander(L) and Arthur (center) And Armand (R)
These boys are all 12 years old and just now needing their FIRST tusk trim!!
Little C was very different from the rest, both in appearance and in her manner. Round and shy, she stayed away from her siblings as much as with them . When she was 5 months old she ran headlong into something that jammed two vertebrae. I found her in the barn unable to move. I feared she would never walk again and that euthanasia might be the only kindness I could do for her. But my vet said "give her time, keep her quiet, who knows?" He put her on cortisone and we waited and watched and hoped. In a week she was pulling herself along. In 2 weeks she took a few steps. In 2 months she was running and rejoined the herd. Always a bit apart from the rest, she died at the age of 5 with congenital heart disease.
When we moved here in 2004 the kids were 7 years old. At first they stayed close to their parents, then in a couple of years they moved, as a group, to the main herd. M'Goo and Penelope remained in the Hill herd. (The gates are open in summer to allow commingling and relocation as desired. ) This winter Penelope went into an assisted living area. She is still with lifetime friends, and across the wall from her lifetime mate. In the spring she can go back in with his herd or he can move in with her.
Watching this family over the years has been a great learning experience. From the day the piglets were born M'Goo has guarded them and taken on his share of raising and educating them.. On the night after they were born, a very cold Thanksgiving , he made a nest outside her stall rather than go inside with her where it was warm , and with an air of fatherhood, settled into it , to watch over his family.