Passion for piggies

Anita Jacobson

photo courtesy of anita jacobson

Anita Jacobson's Durham farm is home home to a 70-pound turtle, two cattle dogs and several alpacas. But it's when visitors are invited to take a seat on the ground in the pig pen that the real fun begins. Slowly but steadily, the friendly creatures make their way over, moist snouts pulsating. Jacobson started the operation, California Mini Pigs, five years ago. Today, it's home to some 50 pigs—including the cleverly named Miranda Hambert, Reba Porkintyre and Jimmy Dean—that she raises for adoption and education. Jacobson founded a mini-pig breeders' co-op, which has grown to represent 73 breeders from across the country over the past 11 months. Pig playdates can be arranged by appointment, and Jacobson estimates she and the pigs welcome 200 to 300 visitors a year. Anyone interested in an interactive session in the pig pen can schedule one for a special occasion, for up to four people, for $25 an hour. Jacobson can be reached at 514-3249. You can find California Mini Pigs on Facebook, as well as

How did you get into the pig business?

After running Bright Beginnings childhood center for 21 years, I quit the corporate world. Everyone said to follow my passion, and it will happen. Now I have a job I don't have to get dressed up for. I love fashion—don't get me wrong—but this is my daily attire (pointing to tank top and shorts, smeared with mud). We have a birthing room … it's 24 hours a day. I have some baby pigs right now that are just 48 hours old.

What should people know about the pigs?

They're sweet animals that come in all different shapes and sizes. People can be so misguided about them. They make great pets, because some people are allergic to cats and dogs. And, they don't bark all night. They've helped veterans with post-traumatic stress [disorder]. Pigs gravitate to people with disabilities, especially children. They're pretty intuitive. People have to come interact if they want to understand these animals. They're changing lives.

What are misconceptions about pigs?

Even though they're born as these tiny little piglets, they're going to grow, usually to the size of a beagle—that's comparable. They're also cuddly. They like to sit on the couch and watch TV with you. Pigs need mud, not to be treated as purses. They're born anemic, and mud provides sunscreen, and bug protection. Pigs need dirt. Remember that, if you want a picture-perfect house pet. They will tear up your yard, so don't let them go into your perfect rose garden. They're like a 2-year-old child you'll have for the next 15 years. Only one out of every four or five groups that come here to adopt a pig ends up doing it. We want them to go to good homes, forever homes they can have after the fad is over.