Breakfast at Georgia's
She's no Babe, but beneath that rough exterior lies a lovable pig


Georgia, the pot-bellied pig, poses for the camera in her yard on Durango’s west side on Monday./Photo by Todd Newcomer.

This is the routine: I squat eye level with the pig outside of her split-rail fence, pushing broccoli peelings through the spaces between splintered boards. Georgia pulls on the vegetable scraps from her side of the fence, and with a motion that involves gums, lips, frothy saliva and a few weathered teeth, the broccoli stalk systematically begins to disappear. In pure mastication nirvana, her mouth hangs open like a hatch door. I lean forward to study her face, and her breath hits me like a grassy meadow.

Georgia is a pig of the pot-bellied variety. She’s not pink and white with a soft, squishy belly. She’s a big, bristly, black hog with industrial strength nipples that hang from her chest like a mother’s badge of pride. In winter, her wiry hair stands up in a bouffant around her head in a style nostalgically reminiscent of Elvis. And here’s the kicker: She lives in town, near Needham Elementary School, amongst blazing street lights and traffic crossing guards. And though there are numerous animals in the neighborhood – cats prowling fence lines, dogs barking from back yards and even deer and bear who leave sign in her dirt alleyway – Georgia seems sorely out of place.

It was summer when I first discovered Georgia lounging in the hard pan of a drought year. She stood as I cautiously approached, heaving her girth up off the dirt and letting it settle on four delicate legs, anchored to the ground by her fanciful hooves.

It wasn’t long before my husband, who spent his first five years on a farm, started saving vegetable scraps in a mason jar in the fridge. “For the pig,” he explained, an act that held great significance in my mind as a portent of future child nurturing. And so, once a week, mason jar full of carrot tops, culled kale leaves and the peelings of broccoli stalks, we’d set out to feed the pig.

It is Georgia’s snout that fascinates me most. It seems all her senses are distilled into this muddy proboscis, flexing and relaxing as it constantly nudges the air in front of her. Her dark soulful eyes are tiny pebbles nestled in folds of tough skin, peering out above colonies of dirt barnacles lodged onto her snout. The snout inhales slimy spinach leaves, and when I run out of food she throws her weight up against the fence in protest.

Georgia, who is now 6, was adopted by a Durango resident for $1 at the Sale Barn in Aztec two years ago./Photo by Todd Newcomer.

The summer we met Georgia, we continued to fill the mason jars with scraps, sneaking up to her fence via dirt alleyway and feeding her surreptitiously. One summer evening we brought our friend Ben down to observe the neighborhood oddity. With overflowing mason jar in hand, we came upon a backyard barbeque at Georgia’s house. We had to come clean.

Georgia has history; her known story can be traced back two years ago, when her guardian Lynette bought her at the Sale Barn in Aztec and saved her from being put down. The bidding began at $1 and ended at $1, with Georgia riding home in Lynette’s horse trailer to Lynette’s mother’s house in town. Lynette, her husband, Kyle, and her mom, Loretta, have occupied the house while in the slender backyard roams Georgia. For months, Lynette rubbed healing oil into the pig’s then-hairless skin and took her on walks in the neighborhood. The city allows this on the distinction that Georgia is a pet, rather than livestock. However, this pet isn’t quite like the family golden retriever.

“She’s ornery,” Lynette warned us. “She’ll charge you.”

“I don’t go into the backyard,” Loretta corroborated, “she tried to take my hand off once.”

It was all perfectly believable coming from this mud crusted mass of snout and backside with soulful eyes; both sweet hearted and dangerous.

We continued to feed her, always from behind the fence. This all went well until the Thanksgiving Day Debacle. Festivities began early with David mixing Bloody Marys at noon. The ubiquitous mason jar was full, so a party of four set out to give Georgia the Thanksgiving meal she deserved. Chris noticed that Georgia’s water was frozen solid in her bowl, and despite discouragement from the others, he jumped the fence. Georgia placidly ate while Chris liberated her water, not seeming to notice the 6-foot, 180-pound man in her yard. Task complete, this would have been a fine time to exit the hog trough, but curiosity got the better of him. Chris asked: “I wonder if pigs are like dogs. If you touch ’em while they’re eating will they go after you?” Chris, a rural Southern boy with plenty of years’ experience around animals, had been well warned about Georgiaaggressive ways. Whether he was bolstered by the Bloody Marys or the audience on the other side of the fence (one member was rumored to have said, “I’d love to see you get chased by that pig – it’d make my day”) is all speculation. Chris leaned forward and gave Georgia a pat on her generous rear. In a fury of stubbly blackness, the hog turned and latched her teeth onto Chris’s left leg, breaking through his working-man’s overalls to delicate human skin beneath. When all was said and done, Georgia had left a 6-inch gash.

Pot-bellied pigs had a wave of popularity in the ’90s that ended with thousands of neglected and abandoned animals. Cute and tiny as infants, pigs would grow up to destroy people’s houses and often become aggressive. Like dogs, pigs have a complex social structure and need a lot of attention and affection. When they aren’t properly socialized and exercised, they can become territorial and mean. The average lifespan for a pot-bellied pig is 12 to18 years (Georgia is 6), and they are considered the fourth-most intelligent animal, after humans, primates and dolphins.

Photo by Todd Newcomer

These winter days, I see Georgia in the mornings mostly, en route to work. It’s 9 a.m. when I stand in the frozen shadow of Loretta’s ranch style house, a bag of broccoli stalk peelings in hand. Georgia is slow to rise, and for a moment, I stand at the fence shaking my bag of scraps like a tambourine, whistling with all my might to project my voice to the dog igloo in which she sleeps at the far end of the yard. Suddenly something snaps in her pig brain, and she is up and snorting. It seems to boil down to: Food. Over there. Mine. She shimmies out of her igloo and comes running toward me, sniffing and spitting hot air like a geyser through that mud-covered opening in her face.

Lately I find Georgia waiting for me by the fence, and a feeling of pride in our growing friendship makes me all the more dedicated to

our morning time together. “Feed Pig” has entered my to-do lists, and our household broccoli consumption has increased while offerings for our compost pile steadily shrinks. As Georgia nibbles on cabbage cores, I resist the urge to scratch her bristled bouffant, reminding myself that all good relationships have some boundaries.









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