Kathy Ronfeldt’s love of animals isn’t restricted to a single breed, but her love for pigs has somehow evolved into her opening an animal rescue for potbellied pigs, who in her eyes have individual personalities as unique as the breed.
Ronfeldt was raised on a pig farm in Crawford County and started out raising a few feeder pigs for food on her property near La Farge. In this case though, small only refers to the feeder pigs, not the boars or sows she owns. If pigs could fly a couple of her favorites, Mr. Pig and Peaches would never get off the ground. Mr. Pig weighs in at a whopping 1400 pounds and Peaches has already surpassed 700 pounds.
Remarkably, Mr. Pig was the sole survivor and runt of a litter and is now possibly one of the biggest Hereford pigs tipping the scales anywhere in the state. The huge boar pig was allowed to roam freely and was not raised on concrete, allowing his legs to remain remarkably strong. He’s currently twice the size of most pigs when they go to market.
Mr. Pig sleeps in a own small cattle trailer giving him room to sprawl out. He gets annoyed easily by the family geese, one of which thinks she is also a pig. The goose loves to annoy Mr. Pig and when he’s had enough he just grabs the goose by the neck and holds her there for a few minutes until she’s learned her lesson to leave him alone — that is until the next day when she comes back for more.
Ronfeldt refers to her hamp pig, Peaches, as her baby. When Peaches weighed less than 40 pounds she loved to curl up and sleep on Ronfeldt’s lap, but that’s not an option today since she tips the scale at 700 pounds. Peaches loves to eat food right out of Ronfeldt’s hand, something she said for safety sake she would not recommend anyone else do. Before exiting the pen, Ronfeldt gave Peaches a few friendly strokes and a big old bear hug — or should I say pig hug.
“Peaches has personality plus. She’s a people pig and I just love her,” Ronfeldt said.
Ronfeldt’s next adventure in “pig heaven” started when her daughter, Reva Lu, wanted a potbelly pig for a pet.
“What daughter dearest wants, she gets,” Ronfeldt said and before she knew it home came “Mama” the Ronfeldt’s first potbellied pig.
Soon after bringing her home the roost expanded when Mama had babies. Sadly, the new mother pig didn’t have a mothering instinct and turned into a “Mean Mama” forcing Ronfeldt to remove her from the mix.
Mama’s offspring included Belinda, who quickly became her Reva Lu’s best friend and is still a loving part of the family today. Ronfeldt also raised Cooper who was just two inches in size when he was born. Today, Cooper is two years old and weighs 180 pounds. He’s the house pet and king of the castle — which is also where he preferred to stay during the interview.
Caring for rescued potbellies has made Ronfeldt happy as a pig in clover. The unique personalities of potbellies led to a new venture that has Ronfeldt in pig heaven.
“Kathy’s Potbelly Pig Rescue” has only been operational for two months, but she already has rescued 11 potbelly pigs that people no longer wanted in their lives.
Ronfeldt stressed the fact that people really need to think before they invest in a potbelly pig as a pet. “They are so cute when they are little, but they grow up and before you know it that 10 pound piggy weighs 100 pound sand still growing,” Ronfeldt said.
Several of Ronfeldt’s potbelly pig rescues include:
“ Pumba has personality plus. She loves to roam the property and root in the dirt. Ronfeldt received Pumba from a family after the mother potbelly became jealous of Pumba forcing the family to give her away.
“ Big Bertha arrived over weight and has actually lost a few pounds under Ronfeldt’s care. When a potbelly pig is overweight rolls of fat cover its eyes making it difficult for the pig to see. Bertha is legally blind and can only see five inches in front of her, but that doesn’t stop her from making her way around the property by bouncing off things in her path including people if they don’t move out of her way.
“ BooBoo is a favorite of many visitors who stop by to visit. She was attacked by a pit bull at her previous home who ripped off her ears. Being earless doesn’t seem to bother BooBoo though and if you rub her belly she might just befriend you for life.
“ Petunia was abused by her previous owners. She avoided human contact when she arrived, but today she is as happy as a pig in muck.
“ Razor, a boar pig, is one of the smallest potbelly pigs she has rescued. The family who originally invested in Razor as a pet, but had second thoughts and feared he might turn mean over time. In reality Ronfeldt said, Razor’s just has a curious nature and likes to be where the action is.
“ Lulu’s is a sad story. She is paralyzed on the lower side of her body after being hit to many times on her spine. Today, Lulu is completely content living under Ronfeldt’s front porch steps. Lulu allows her fellow farm animals to occasionally visit her, but typically just likes being left alone.
Ronfeldt, who is partially disabled following a shoulder injury, finds comfort in taking care of animals including not only her pigs and potbellies, but the families three dogs, a flock of geese and chickens, her daughter’s rabbits and even a miniature pony who someone abandoned at their property.
Hoping to give her rescue potbellies a happier life, with more freedom to roam, has led Ronfeldt and her significant other, Jesse Owens, to look for a new home. The couple recently purchased 15 acres of land near Viola and is in the process of relocating the new rescue business.
“The new property has pasture space and is a perfect setting for the potbellies to live out the rest of their lives,” Kathy said. “I’m not in this for money, I’m doing it because the need is there and I love animals.”
Potbelly pigs have a life span of 20-30 years and really do “eat like a pig”. Ronfeldt said potbellies love to eat garden waste, something she is hoping people might send her way if they have extra as they head into harvest. Anyone with scraps or garden waste they want to dispose can contact Ronfeldt at (608) 625-2083. You can also contact Ronfeldt if you have a potbelly pig in need of a new home.