Everyone knows the famous tale of The Three Little Pigs but I’ve stumbled across a pair of pigs who are a real life example of pigs being heroes of the sustainability kind – and they’re totally oblivious to it!
Driving into the EcoVillage in Currumbin Valley is just like stepping into a fairy tale. There’s a kind of magic that engulfs your soul and I found myself trying to breathe all the goodness in and open my eyes wider to take it all in. I made my way to The Highlands and met with Paul, who with his wife Kylie operate Ground Grocer, a co-op modelled organic, chemical free fresh produce and whole foods store in the EcoVillage. It began as cold pressed juices and smoothies in a shed and has now become an organic purpose built shop. As Paul puts his work boots on I realised my heels were completely inappropriate!
Paul introduced me to his family’s miniature pigs, our heroes of the story – Annabelle, who was busy digging up soil in her huge pen, and Pumbaa, who was roaming around on their acreage having a glorious time disappearing under a large tarpaulin to dig. I have to admit it was love at first sight for me – just like a fairy tale. If Annabelle and Pumbaa could speak, I’m sure they’d modestly say as all true heroes do, “We’re happy pigs – not necessarily in mud as humans seem to assume but on a hot day we do love nothing more than a refreshingly cool, soothing roll around in mud. We eat grass, devour food, walk around looking for a good place to dig up the ground and we sleep. Food comas after eating a whole pumpkin are what we live for. We also enjoy going for walks with our humans and snuggling up with them while they stroke us! Nothing heroic in that.”
Researching solutions to clear grass on their land, Paul and Kylie discovered that their grass wasn’t suitable for alpacas and the goats they had borrowed on a trial basis ate… everything. Their youngest daughter Shakira was over the moon when the idea of miniature pigs was discussed. She promised to care for them like she was their own mother and pleaded with Paul and Kylie to let her have pet pigs. The deal was sealed and the vertical learning curve was began.
Since adopting Annabelle and Pumbaa, this beautiful and inspirational family has discovered that their two pigs are more than just extremely efficient grass clearers. Kylie, who joined us later explained, “Goats don’t give you a relationship or are as affectionate as pigs. They’re peaceful, affectionate, clever, sweet and delightful.” Very much like their owners.
As Annabelle was wondering around in her pen (which by the way is really clean – they toilet up one end and sleep at the other so I can no longer describe a mess as a pig sty!) Paul drew my attention to her hooves. Pigs have four toes on each hoof and she was aerating the soil by tip toeing around on her front two toes like a ballerina. This is what all pigs do. She looked so graceful and I fell a little more in love with her.
Paul enlightened me some more. “Annabelle and Pumbaa come to us when we call them by name. Annabelle follows Kylie everywhere and Pumbaa follows Annabelle. Annabelle is just over two years old and weighs about 60kgs. She was hand reared by her original owners and slept in the children’s beds! Pumbaa is more skittish and is about 8 months old and weighs about 40 – 50kgs.”
Paul and Kylie found that their pigs were ravenous eaters and at the same time, Kerry Shepherd, Currumbin RSL’s Sustainability Manager was looking for a solution to reduce our food waste costs. Kerry did a little match making and now Annabelle and Pumbaa are happily filling their bellies and dining on Currumbin RSL’s kitchen food scraps. Paul picks up a 100L bin two to three times per week with approximately 20kgs of food each time and the two little pigs devour the lot!
Annabelle and Pumbaa are not only reducing our food waste costs and Paul and Kylie’s food costs, they’re also clearing grass, fertilising, aerating and conditioning organic soil to be used on Paul and Kylie’s crops which will be sold at the Ground Grocer and being loving pets to their daughters – all while being allowed to be themselves. A pair of unassuming sustainability heroes.
At one stage while Paul, Kylie, Shakira and I were talking, Annabelle paused as her snout was mid-dig, closed her eyes and went to sleep in her favourite position – snout in the ground. They are such gentle creatures and I’m convinced they understand a lot more about what’s important in life than most humans realise.
As I was on my way out of The Highlands I couldn’t help but contemplate how I could be a better human after meeting this inspiring family when suddenly, a stunning mob of kangaroos bound across the road in front of me forcing me to slow down a little more.
And there was the moral of this story. Slow down. Open your eyes and heart and little wider. Think about the footprint you’re making and tip toe gracefully and gently on the planet while making it better place to live.
Story by Carmen Mudie