Pig in a poke

There are still plenty of lessons to be learned at Seven Trees. This week’s homework from the school of life is : never buy a pig in a poke.

That saying is used, with slight variations, in many countries. In medieval hard times, pigs were scarce and cats were common, so unscrupulous people would put a cat in a leather or burlap sack, called a poke, and sell it as a weaner pig. No doubt with instructions not to open it until the hapless buyer was at home. Which is also where the expression “the cat is out of the bag” came from.

Now it has come to be a caution against buying something that you can’t thoroughly inspect before purchase. And while we felt we had ‘inspected’ Link, we were still too inexperienced to make the best judgement call following that inspection.

Link has something called ‘malabsorption’ which can be congenital, and can be aggravated by a harsh weaning process. The lining of the small intestine doesn’t switch from mothers’ milk to pig chow smoothly, but a conscientious breeder will take steps to mitigate any problems. And sometimes a pig is just born unable to make the change. Pigs are very similar to humans, physiologically, and like more & more people have gluten intolerance and other digestive issues, pigs do too.

In any case, Link isn’t doing well, and we’ll most likely end up putting him down so he doesn’t suffer any more. He’s been to the vet, and is getting the best care we can give him, but he still isn’t digesting food. His brother, Patty, on the other hand is a robust little monster, and doesn’t seem to miss Link much.

We’re also getting ready for our trek to the Small Farm Journal auction in Madras, OR next week. On our way south, we’ll be stopping in Thorp to interview a pony mare that is the closest match to Gemini we’ve seen yet. If we like her, we’ll put down a deposit and pick her up later in April. We’re hoping to score some nice team harness, not to mention a cart/wagon/carriage that two spiffy black ponies can pull with pride.


8 thoughts on “Pig in a poke”

  1. Sorry to hear about “Link”, especially for probably now lonely Patty. It would be interesting to know if this is a “one off” from the breeder, or if they are aware of the issue and just don’t care. Another experience learned that I had never heard about before.
    Nice to end your post on a good note, the mare sure looks so similar, it seems a match destined to happen – is the white on the back leg just a ghost in the picture or do they both have white socks on opposite hind legs?

    1. The picture of Gemini is reversed, so they actually have a white sock on the same side. And they both have a white mark on their foreheads.

      Some pig-savvy people online have said that the malabsorption problem can sometimes not show up until later in the pig’s development, so maybe the breeder wasn’t aware it was going to be an issue. We emailed them about the problem and hopefully will hear back soon.

      1. If the breeder offered you a brother or sister of Patty’s as warranty exchange for free, would you go for it? That, in my mind, would be the correct way to go…

  2. We let them know last night what all happened via an email and will see what happens. Link died last night. R.I.P. little black piggy.

  3. Sorry, little Link. I’m glad robust Patty is still doing well.

    That little mare looks like she’d be a great match! I hope the pony/wagon/harness trip is a great success!

  4. And much harness was had by all. Thank you K!

    Still miss our Link, poor poor piggy 8 (

    Come by and see harness as well as new trailer soon. We should have mare home sometime around 04/28 Weds.

    Gemini has no idea what is in store LOL

    1. Fancy trailer! Very beautiful color, too. 🙂 We stopped by to try to say hello to Patty today, but couldn’t see the little oink. Maybe soon. Glad you found a harness! Any luck on a new cart, or was that not high on the list?

      Is the new mare the one you posted? Great! You two will be traveling in serious style!

  5. Most of the vehicles at the auction were 1. huge 2. rickety antiques or 3. thousands of dollars.

    But we’ll need to train Misty on her own first, so we have time to save up for the right vehicle.
    We scored a set of fancy team harness and a single driving harness of really good quality. All for $700

    The trailer was a bonus craigslist find Saturday morning. We’ve been shopping forever and this one is really solid and a great size for ponies.


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