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Magellan the pig as adventurous as namesake

August 21, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

You might be surprised at the number of people who ask me what it's like to own a pet pig.

Actually, that number is zero, but this does not matter because I am going to tell you, regardless of the general public's apathy concerning the topic.

Magellan has been in the Little Farm by the Creek family for about three months now, so I have had the chance to form some opinions. So has he.

This is not some exotic, pot-bellied pig. He's just a plain old hog. He escaped the traditional hog fate because of his smaller stature and because the McCormick family from whence he came said - and maybe I should have "read between the lines" on this one before taking charge of him - that he had something of a "unique personality."

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Does chasing riding lawnmowers for sport constitute a unique personality? You tell me.

I said Magellan is small, but that's relative. I'd say he's about 200 pounds, and if he wants to go left there is nothing short of a front-end loader than can make him go right. I built him what I considered to be a rather substantial residence, but for amusement he moves it around his lot like a doll house.

Believe it or not, he's also fast and athletic. If he's not the smartest animal on the place, he's in the running. He loves people; he loves the other animals. He's always in a good mood. He sees us coming, he comes running, wagging his curly little tail like a dog.

In fact, Magellan blows away just about every stereotype you might have about pigdom. Now, if it just weren't for those dicey personal habits, which have caused me to enact a couple of hard-and-fast rules:

1. Never feed Magellan wearing light-colored clothing.

The animal loves to nuzzle, which is nice in a pet, unless it's plastered in a full half-inch of caked mud and dirt. He's also, where food is concerned, not a particularly patient pig. On the upside, he's a zucchini-eating machine. In this respect, he is a lot more courteous than are many friends and neighbors who lock their doors when they see you coming with an armload of the product.

2. Forget about "physical improvements" to a hog pen.

Any time I try to make a change in his surroundings he takes the ball and runs with it. This is problematic, considering that he is an animal who can pull nails with his teeth. I tried to shovel out a level spot for his water tub. He took this as a "starter kit" and in 20 minutes there was a moon-sized crater where a hydration unit had once resided.

It is, of course, no matter to him. Given the choice between drinking out of a clean tub and a mud hole, he'll take the mud hole. For him, water is not properly flavored unless it is the color of chocolate milk.

3. DO NOT get him wound up. He is an excitable pig, and when you mix a quagmire of mud and manure with 200 pounds of happy pork, the results are not pleasant.

It should be said that Beth does not follow this rule. When she's mowing the paddocks, she has a habit of calling out and egging on the ham. Magellan is just ecstatic over the attention and bounds around like an overinflated race horse. We have an electric wire around his pen, but he gets so excited that when they touch, he shocks the fence.

All this energy even makes Opie nervous. But Beth wants to put a harness and leash on Magellan and walk him around the farm. I say, good luck with that. If you see a pig sprinting through the county with a woman flying behind like a parasailer, you will know the experiment was a failure.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com.

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