I think everyone has a mental bucket list. In years past I checked things off my own like sky diving, backpacking around Europe and volunteering on an organic farm, but it took me until this year to complete one of my top entries: scratching a pig’s belly.
I don’t know exactly how or when this dream developed, but I’ve wanted to befriend a pig and scratch his or her belly for pretty much as long as I can remember.
I’m sure you’ve heard, as I did growing up, that pigs are some of the smartest animals on the planet, with their measured intelligence surpassing that of dogs and other domesticated friends. On the other hand, pigs are also seen as smelly, destructive and gruff.
Perhaps their contrasting reputation for both intelligence and filth is a part of what drew me to them, as they seemed so misunderstood and rough, yet loveable.
This past year while I was traveling in New Zealand, I fulfilled my dream during a visit to a new friend, in the Far North. This gentleman had given sanctuary to a couple of pigs in his macadamia nut orchard where they live their lives tubby and content. I prepared ahead of time for the visit by saving watermelon rinds and banana peels to offer as tokens of friendship… or, probably more accurately, bribes.
There were two pigs, Pigin and Millie. Millie was the elder (18+ years) and Pigin the younger (18+ months). Millie was dark, plump and the smaller of the two. Pigin on the other hand got her name because she took eating very seriously and had grown too fat to squeeze out through wires around the orchard. Thus, she was now Pig-in instead of Pig-out.