When April comes around at school, it usually means we start to see cute little art projects of baby animals, flowers or buds, and stick figure pictures with a huge sun in the background and green grass. You know spring has sprung. This past week, the first graders got to meet a real pig or piglet when Farmer Nelson stopped by. At that time of the day, I happened to be with my first grade friends, so I brought my camera along.
Farmer Nelson comes twice a year. Once in the fall with a turkey and then again in the spring with a little piglet. This little pigs name is Perfect. He did lots of grunting in his cage before coming out to see the kids. We were all curious as to how big he was. He sounded much larger than this little 26 day old pig. Farmer Nelson told us that when he gets to be one year old, he can weigh about 400 pounds! Yikes, that is huge!
He told us many facts about pigs and one in particular that I didn’t know. Did you know that pigs love to swim and are good swimmers? I had no idea and I’ve never seen a picture of a pig in water…only in the mud. He told us about their hooves and that there are four hoofed toes on each foot, or trotter, with the two larger central toes bearing most of the weight, but the outer two also being used in soft ground. This helps them in the water as well as the mud, so that they don’t sink.
The snout is used to dig into the soil to find food, and is a very acute sense organ. We found this out when Farmer Nelson put Perfect down to run around the room. His nose never came up! I’m sure our carpet is not very clean when kids eat in there. ha~ Pigs have a well-developed sense of smell and use is made of this in Europe where they are trained to locate underground truffles. Hmm, maybe someone ate truffles at school.
The behavior of domestic pigs is more like that of dogs and humans, rather than cattle or sheep. Domestic pigs seek out the company of each other and often huddle to maintain physical contact, although they do not naturally form large herds. If conditions permit, domesticated pigs feed continuously for many hours and then sleep for many hours. Pigs are omnivores and are highly versatile in their feeding behavior. They can survive well by scavenging on the same types of foods that humans and dogs can live on. In the wild, they are foraging animals, primarily eating leaves, grasses, roots, fruits and flowers. Domestic pigs are intelligent and can be trained to perform numerous tasks and tricks.
The domestic pig is mostly used for its meat, pork. Other food products made from pigs include pork sausage (casings made from the intestines), bacon, ham, and pork scratching, (cracklings or rinds). The head of a pig can be used to make a preserved jelly called head cheese. Ew, that just sounds gross, but people enjoy it.
Let’s get back to my cute first graders…
They had such a good time watching Perfect do such silly things and grunting every now and then. We had him in the PAC, which has steps, as you can see. The kids all cheered when he walked up to the next level and was deciding whether or not he could make it. A couple flops at first, then up he went. We all clapped and laughed. Going down wasn’t easy either…those are big steps to a piglet!
Once Perfect mastered the stairs, I think he felt a little more at ease with his environment. He started exploring all these strange people that have circled around him. He went right up to one of the teachers and surprised us all when he jumped into a little boys lap. That was hilarious!
At the end of the presentation, the kids got to pet Perfect. There were so many giggles and smiles in the room. So cute to see their faces light up around a sweet little animal.
I hope we get an update on Perfect in a year from now. I’m curious as to how large he will become living at Farmer Nelson’s place.