In Memory Of Ms. Fergy

 

Dear Friends: On Tuesday, September 30, 2008, Ms. Fergy went to The Bridge.

 

Many of you met and knew our big, beautiful, gentle red-headed Duroc. She was a wonderful pig and a dear friend. Two years ago Ms. Fergy developed a small abscess on her left front hoof.  It was aggressively treated with injectable antibiotics and subsequently disappeared.  About a month later it reappeared with a vengeance, involving her entire hoof and leg. A trip to UT showed that one of the bones in her foot had become infected.  Surgery was performed and a temporary artificial hoof claw was made for her by Dr. Van Amstel in the first-ever surgery of this type on a farm pig. After a long recovery period, Ms. Fergy went on to live a normal, active life with her herd mates.  Her bad foot grew huge, but she developed strong leg muscles to deal with her "club foot" and it certainly never slowed her down. In August of 2008, Ms. Fergy started rapidly losing weight.

 

In spite of being fed all her favorite foods two and three times a day, her weight loss continued.  At the end of September she finally quite eating and told us that she was ready to leave us.  We gave her several days to say goodbye to her herd mates, especially the older pigs she loved and slept with - Piglet, Caesar and LJ. On Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Fergy slowly made her way up from her favorite spot down by the big pond to her barn stall. 

At 5:00 p.m. the vet allowed me the privilege of injecting Fergy, allowing her to leave us peacefully, quietly, and without fear.  We buried Fergy up on the hill in the back pasture next to Theodore and Little Petal. In the interest of helping other pigs in the future, we removed Ms. Fergy's bad hoof and leg and transported it to UT so Dr. Van Amstel could learn all that he could about the results of his ground breaking surgery.  He has told me that, in spite of its large size, her bad hoof was all a giant callous and that the surgery had been completely successful.   

Interestingly, within the week, Baby Pig ended up going to UT for the same surgery for an infected hoof.  However, the infection was too advanced and, in spite of the galant efforts of the UT staff, she was euthanized while still there.  What we have learned from Ms. Fergy and Baby Pig will help with future similar cases. 

As the circle of life continues, we received three precocious young farm pigs from UT on the Sunday before Ms. Fergy died.  The three girls, now named Phoebe, Prudence and Piper, were research pigs who were spared their trip to the slaughterhouse thanks to the love and caring of Dr. Sarel Van Amstel and his staff.  As they were born on a factory farm and spent their first year of life in a concrete indoor stall, it was a pure joy to watch these three girls experience sunshine and fresh air for the first time.  Watching them step on knee-high grass and taste sweet clover and acorns for the first time has been a pleasure beyond words.  Today they are muddy, sunburned and stiff and sore from cavorting all over the woods and pastures.  But they are alive and happy...living life as pigs were meant to live.

Ms. Fergy and Baby Pig will be deeply missed by all of us here at The Preserve, humans and pigs alike.  They were both truly gentle giants.  We were fortunate to have known them and privileged to be able to share our life with them for the years they were with us.  Our prayers go with them as they join a host of wonderful pigs who have gone before them.  Hopefully, I will join them all when my race is run and my time comes.....Rich