Ten little pigs (little once upon a time) with ten little beds and each one with their names posted above their little bedroom inside a trailer home.
It sounds like something from a child’s fairytale book, but is, in actuality, very real. The trailer is known as Piggy Villa and is the home base for Tri-County Pot-Bellied Pig Club.
“They each have a bed with blankets and pillows, decorations, maybe some pictures or trophies that the pig had earned through the years,” said Kim Miller, Fleetwood resident and club member.
There is also information provided on each pig with details of being rescued from bad situations including abuse and neglect. People who go through this trailer learn about the pigs’ personalities, characteristics, and plight.
“People get these pigs when they’re little and think they’re going to stay little. There is no such thing as a micro-mini pig,” said Miller. “A pot-bellied pig is a mini-pig compared to an 800 pound farm pig. A pot-bellied pig’s average weight is probably around 100 pounds. I’ve known 300 pound ones and I’ve known 50 pound ones and their life expectancy is 15 to 20 years.”
Miller went from three rescued pigs in 2013 to 16 [rescued pigs] of which eight are up for adoption. One she plans to keep has really touched her heart when she thinks of where he came from and how he was kept in a ground cellar for two and a half years.
“I plan on taking him out this summer; he’s not quite ready yet,” said Miller. “He’s a special pig to me.”
Miller rehabilitates her adoptees and trains them to put on performances for events in addition to the events the club travels to with Piggy Villa.
“They’re supposedly top four in the intelligence lines along with chimpanzee and dolphins,” said Miller.
Adorned in apparel and pearls, her first pig, Puddin’ Pie, was crowned Mrs. Pet Pig of the year in 2009. That was the beginning of Miller’s, Pigs and Pearls. Shortly after getting Puddin’, Miller took on a foster piglet she named Maycie May. Maycie loved performing and would sit patiently in a red wagon at events where all she had to do was dress up and look cute. It was Maycie who eventually replaced the Olivet Boys and Girls Club Kiss-A-Pig, Hatfield. Hatfield was ready to retire after 16 years of having helped the club raise funds for kid’s activities. The Olivet Boys & Girls Club has been providing safe, supervised activities for kids of Berks County since 1898.
“Two years ago, Maycie did 23 events in 12 weeks, but that was just with Kiss-A-Pig,” said Miller.
Miller said some of her pigs, including Maycie, have bobbed for apples at bowling lanes, performed tricks, demonstrated agility at carnivals, and even played toy musical instruments.
“Puddin’ knows her colors—that’s how smart she is. She knows which horn to blow by their color,” said Miller. “We may take several pigs to an event, but Maycie’s the main character for that. She helped raise over $290,000 last year for the Olivet Club.
Miller had to teach Maycie to flip a coin for calling which soccer team would kick off first. She was even presented a gold award as Best Coin Tosser. She also modeled with a model for the Kutztown campaign, Keepin’ it Kutztown. Maycie has gone to golf tournaments, Reading Royals games, on to the field at Phillies games for the first pitch, carnivals, malls, and even photo shoots with her pigture ending up on four billboards for the contestants’ fund raisers in the Kiss-A-Pig event.
“The top three [contestants] that raise the most money get to kiss her at Crowne Plaza after the 12 weeks are up,” said Miller. “It’s called the Steak and Burger Dinner. They give the kids steak and they give the adults a cheeseburger. It’s to support the Olivet Boys and Girls Club. It’s like $150 a ticket and they have about 600 people there.”
Miller said Maycie went in a limo and wore a gown her first year. Miller had even painted Maycie’s nails. This will be Maycie’s fourth year as the official Kiss-A-Pig.
Some of the events Miller gets paid to do helps offset the cost of her pot-bellied pig rescue work including vet bills, transportation for people’s pigs needing to go to the vet and to help support the ones she adopted and uses as educational animals.
Miller said some of the events she takes her pigs to are by word-of-mouth and a lot of it is club oriented.
Piggy Villa is hauled to events with members bringing their pet pot-bellied pigs to occupy the bedrooms and/or put on a performance. According to the club’s website, the mission of the Tri-County Pot-Bellied Pig Club is to protect, promote, and educate pet pig owners and the public about pot-bellied pigs by attending and participating in local events. The club also supports sanctuaries and individuals who need help with health concerns as well as behavioral and logistical needs.
Miller said pigs are relatively affordable when compared to a dog. They eat three-quarters of a cup of feed twice a day with an apple or carrot or banana for a mid-day treat. During the summer when they are able to graze, Miller cuts back a little on the feed. She also said that Pot-bellied pigs get annual vaccines just like a dog.
Although Miller and her husband, Hoppy, own KMK Garage and Towing, Fleetwood, Miller has added one more venture to her budding Pigs and Pearls. She is now the owner of Puddin’ Heartland 1ST, LLC, named after her very first pot-bellied pig, Puddin’ Pie. Miller is able to provide for the needs of pig owners from feed to supplies to gifts to even medical supplies.
For information on adopting a pig or if you need pig supplies, contact Kim Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Miller said to check your zoning first to determine if you would be allowed to have a pig.
For information about upcoming Piggy Villa events, go to http://www.olivebranchwv.org/info/display?PageID=6222.