Gilbert was our first piglet and our first male pig, and he changed our entire world. One morning in June 2021 I received a phone call from an unknown number; it was a woman who told me that she had caught a piglet, and wanted to know if we could take him.
The longer story was much more dramatic. Patty, who became Gilbert's rescuer, was told of a piglet who'd been running free in her neighborhood, having escaped from a nearby backyard butcher. Patty set off into the woods behind her house, caught a glimpse of Gilbert, and spent a week slowly luring him closer with pig feed, Doritos, and Cheezits. It took her the whole week to get him to walk into a crate, and the phone call I received happened the minute he stepped inside. Patty had the foresight to call the local ACO and convince the people from whom Gilbert had escaped to relinquish him to her.
Gilbert was around two months old when he came to Darrowby, and there has never been a cuter piglet in the entire world. His ears flopped over his eyes and into his food, and he would climb up on the gate of his quarantine pen every time he saw us coming, but he also learned, "Down," very quickly. He became the baby of the herd, and pigs who were never interested in socializing put up with his most outrageous antics. When Kavalier and Clay arrived, they created a little boy pig gang and roamed the pasture together. But when Petunia arrived, Gilbert became complete.
Petunia and Gilbert are kindred spirits. Having both saved their own lives by escaping slaughter, they have similar independent natures and whatever-it-takes attitudes. They sleep together every night at Hermia's side, and they spend the day roaming the pasture, darting busily from one place to the next. Their friendship is the most moving I've ever witnessed and is proof of the timeworn idea that we make our own families.