This past Sunday I did something I have never done before. Make that THREE things I have never done before.
- I visited an animal sanctuary
- I volunteered at an animal sanctuary
- I fed, talked to, and loved on so many pigs!
It was a pretty great day. The sanctuary I’m referring to is Hog Haven Farm. It’s not that far of a drive from where we live so that’s a plus. I first heard of them from one of my awesome Facebook followers. After looking them up I learned that they just opened this summer. I immediately started following them. Then, I started harassing the founder/director, Erin Brinkley-Burgardt, about volunteering. I’m so happy she said yes so that I could cross off a couple things on my “To Do Before I die” list.
Not long before I asked to volunteer they welcomed a new resident on the farm. Back in August, a pig fell out of a trailer near Fort Collins and made a run for it down the highway. He made quite a spectacle and it was all over the news that day. The owner obviously didn’t care of his loss because no one claimed this 600-pound lovable guy. Soon the people that were holding on to him reached out to Hog Haven to see if they wouldn’t mind taking him in. Being the awesome people they are, Hog Haven said, “Yes!” They appropriately named him Lucky. He is getting nicely settled in and his face is full of gratitude.
We spent a good amount of time with Lucky. I tried to feed him some kale that I brought as Erin told me what a picky pig he is. Apparently, there are very few things this pig will eat. So far he has expensive taste as he won’t touch pig food. He nibbled on the kale a little bit, but he soon decided he would rather have his belly rubbed. We obliged.
Hog Haven is home to 20 pigs, 2 miniature donkeys, and a few dogs. As Erin introduced me to all of them she told me their names. I only remember 5 out of them all. Hopefully I will get to spend more time with them in the future to remember them all. I got a few pictures of some of them.
While I was there, Erin opened up to me about her disbelief at how quickly the sanctuary has taken off. Her and her husband didn’t expect things to really get going until about year five. It’s only been a year since they began this journey. Now with the publicity of taking Lucky in it’s only going to get bigger. They’re even getting welcomed attention from Animal Planet. Unfortunately, they have had to recently turn down a few pigs looking for a home because they just don’t have the space for many of the larger breed pigs.
One of the favorite things I learned while there is that they have therapy pigs that they take to schools and nursing homes. How cool is that?! These pigs are the sweetest and they love to snuggle so I can see how that works. They have quite a few resident pigs and a couple pigs up for adoption. One of their resident pigs, Milo (the last picture above), is disabled and super sweet. He has difficulty walking since his two front legs are shorter than his back legs. It doesn’t stop him one bit.
Erin happily answered all of my questions while I was there. I was very interested in how things were run, how to take care of the pigs, how they got started, and who she was. I wanted to volunteer for a few different reasons. The main reason being I really wanted to and I see it as part of my duty being vegan. The other reason is that papa tummy and I have discussed potentially starting a pig sanctuary of our own later in our life so I wanted to know the business side of it. Yet another reason is I’m trying to get a business started right now and I wanted to get to know them before deciding to donate part of my profits to them.
This is big, you guys! This is the first time I’ve had an idea that I’m really trying hard to make sure it happens. This is just a stepping stone in the path I am trying to lay for myself. I know what my end goal is. Now I just need to figure out how to get there. I will keep you guys updated as I would love to have everyone’s support.
In the meantime, head over to Hog Haven’s website and donate to them by purchasing some merchandise or sponsoring one of their adorable pigs. Before leaving, Erin told me they are raising money to build a barn on their property and they are in the market for a horse trailer so they can travel with Lucky when they need to. They need your help! Go show them the same amount of love they give all their piggies.
P.s. I’ve also been told, “People can also donate towels and blankets for the piggies to snuggle in, or donate building materials (2x4s, plywood, roofing material, screw/nails etc.) or exterior paint we can use to build more huts for the piggies.”