Magellan no pig in a poke

June 03, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

Some months ago, I got an e-mail from Katherine McCormick of Smithsburg asking if I wanted a pig.

In these days of uber-spam, I am no stranger to unusual pitches, but although I had been offered everything from home-equity lines to methods for increasing the size of my ears, I had never been given the opportunity to obtain a pig.

Katherine noted that this was unusual pig, and hence I suppose she calculated it was in need of an unusual owner. First, it was something of a runt, about half the size of a market porker. Second, it was a very self-confident and inquisitive fellow, with a taste for exploration. So her dad, Dave, gave him the name of Magellan.

Katherine is headed off to veterinary school at Purdue, so she needed to find a home for Magellan, and since I had - although I don't remember doing this - mentioned something about having some rather curious livestock, she reckoned he might be a good addition.


I wrote back and told her I had to ask Beth - although this was not entirely true. I can picture the average home, where the husband walks in the door with a red, grunting, 150-pound hog in tow and shouts, "Surprise!" In some cases, I can imagine that the wife's reaction would not be 100 percent positive.

It might be only a small exaggeration to say that Beth's reaction would be to tell the pig, "Hi handsome," and go to the kitchen to put on a pot of slop.

Needless to say, she enthusiastically agreed to the acquisition and I set about building a pig residence - which frankly, given my carpentry skills, looks as if it were designed by Picasso, although not as symmetrical - and wiring a fence.

Last Sunday, Katherine, her mom, Kendra, and Whitey made the delivery. We took a shine to Magellan instantly.

You might think such an animal would have something of an inferiority complex, what with all the filth-and-slob stereotypes hanging around its head, but Magellan is very comfortable with his pigness.

True to his name, he began to explore his new digs, rooted himself out a mud hole, ate some lunch, stuck his head entirely into his water bucket, and then curled up and went to sleep.

By this time, of course, the bouvier des Flandres named Opie was on about his fourth heart attack, leaping and hyperventilating on the other side of the fence. Magellan paid him no mind. The two have since become fast friends - Magellan appreciates Opie's attitude and Opie appreciates Magellan's fragrance.

Contrary to popular thought, the pig is not a dirty creature. There are only three parts of his paddock that are a filthy mess:

1. Where he eats.

2. Where he drinks.

3. Where he sleeps.

The rest of the lot is pristine. He is a likable creature and comes running whenever we pay him a visit. We sit in his lot and he nuzzles us all over with his muddy snout, nibbles our shoulders, grunts, slobbers and is truly sociable.

Even Hannah the bulldog, who is normally very suspicious of any new critter we happen to haul in, has become his pal.

Truth be told, the pig is much like a dog. Except, I told Opie, he doesn't chase cars, he doesn't stare off at the church on Sunday and bark at the Christians, he doesn't torture the UPS drivers and he doesn't go full freakout every time a Canada goose flies overhead.

We knew we were getting a pig; we did not know we were getting a role model.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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