Winter with the pigs
This is our first winter with the pigs. We moved to this property in Southwest Michigan in March 2018, and one of the main reasons for our move here was so that we could take in some "farm" animals. The pigs came to live with us in May. Now it is January 2019... we prepared well for newbie pig cartakers, with the wonderful help, support and resources from other seasoned piggy sanctuaries. We ran electrical out to the barn, which was quite costly and we weren't sure if it would be needed, but it was worth it to be sure that if we needed to plug in an electrical heat panel in the winter, we could.
The pigs live in this horse barn that you see in these photos... The outer barn itself is just a shell- an uninsulated wind block and a roof to keep the snow and rain out. Inside is a smaller insulated little house of compressed bales of hay with it's own roof (also insulated with more hay.) We call this the "hut." The hut inside the barn is meant to collect and retain their heat, keep them as warm & cozy as possible, and definitely keep them dry and out of the wind with double protection (hut and barn.) While we did run electrical power out to the barn, ideally, we want the pigs to live as naturally as possible, while staying comfortable and safe. It is hard to imagine them being "comfortable" when it gets down to negative temperatures outside overnight, but they do seem quite comfortable and miraculously at ease in this cold when they come out of their hut for very short periods of time. Inside the hut within the walls of the compressed bales is about 4 feet of straw, some blankets.
The pigs still go outside to go potty; the barn door is always open. They go in the outdoor portion of their enclosure to the bathroom spot. They are extremely tidy animals, only using a particular area for that purpose. Whether it's negative temperatures, raining or hailing, they don't go potty inside their house. Such loves.
Overall, the pigs are doing really well. We still haven't felt the need to use an electrical heating panel. We judge their well being based on their behavior, their reaction to us when we go check on them to take them treats & meals... we monitor their food & water intake, stay on top of their vitamins & veggies, take more treats out than usual to keep their bodies digesting and processing food (this helps keep them warmer.) We assess the color of their hooves, tails, ear tips... we make note of the feel of their skin. We notice whether tails wag at treat time and if they didn't, we'd be concerned. It's become clear that they spend about 23.5 hours in the hut, fully covered by the straw. As in- FULLY covered. This amazes me. In the fall, when it started getting "cold" (HA!) they would partially cover up beneath straw and I thought that it was so cute and smart. In retrospect, they only covered up about 30%. Now... Most of their life, they are 100% burrowed under the straw! There is no ear tip, no tail, not a hair that is above the straw. They burrow under it, bodies touching each other, each one completely unseen above straw. When they come out for a snack, their spirits are good. They use the bathroom, get some water, say hello and promptly huddle back up.
We are so grateful to be learning from them and hope to have a barn fundraiser this spring and erect a larger (& insulated!) barn for more animals! In the mean time, we continue to get to know, and learn with and from Moana, Mowgli & Big Carlos. We are grateful for your support & kindness towards them.
You can help support the piggies and our growing sanctuary by donating here:
And please follow along on ig: Dominion Sanctuary or facebook: Dominion Sanctuary MI