I think I'm on a roll here.
Yesterday I told you about all the great Made-In-Utah products you could buy for Christmas presents this year, thus saving the local economy from the ravages of the recession that is sweeping the rest of the country.With the ink not dry on that fab piece of journalism, along comes Roberta Moeller and Squeaky.
Squeaky, suggests Moeller, is the answer to your problem of buying a gift for that special person on your list who has everything. Or maybe two of everything. Squeaky is a show-stopping, top-this, eat-your-heart-out-Pet-Rock kind of gift.
The recipient might have her for Christmas dinner (just kidding; she's much too expensive for ham-on-rye) but I promise that the giftee won't be exchanging Squeaky at ZCMI or Nordstrom on Dec. 26.
Squeaky, as you already know from looking at the photo, is a pig. But no ordinary pig. She's a Vietnamese potbellied pig and, as breeding stock, she or one of her sisters will set buyers back $1,000 to $3,000. If you have no desire to own and raise piglets, males go for less, around $500.
Why on earth, you are now asking yourself, would you want to buy a pig, potbellied or otherwise? Good question. According to Moeller, who breeds them at her Pine Creek Ranch in Swan Valley, Idaho, potbellies make great household pets for anyone looking for a little change of pace from your average dog or cat.
They are cleaner than dogs, she says, and they don't shed. They can be box trained and are very intelligent, fourth down in the brainpower pecking order: humans, apes, dolphins and then pigs. (I can't verify this intelligence stuff. but it seems to me I did hear on Johnny Carson that pigs are smarter than they look.)
Potbellies may be a little high strung, though. Squeaky couldn't stop shaking and emitting a high-pitched squeal during much of her time in the Deseret News offices. But Moeller assured me she wasn't usually so nervous. "She's done two radio interviews already today," explained Suzanne Sullivan, who accompanied Moeller.
Moeller said potbellies grow to about the size of a medium dog, around 40 pounds, and eat a diet of left-over vegetables or dry dog food - no garbage or mud rolling. A litter can be as large as a dozen, but 8-10 is the norm. Gestation is "three months, three weeks and three days," said Moeller, adding that "They make great pets but it's also a good business."
Incidentally, Squeaky has blue eyes, which Moeller assures me is rare. White, however, is the preferred body color and she is currently breeding to "lighten up" her stock.
As a consumer service, Moeller cautions against buying a pig in a poke; that is, an animal priced too cheap. It may mean, she said, that the piglet is actually the offspring of a potbelly and a regular pig, meaning it could grow up to be a 300-pound porker instead of the cuddly little porcine puppy you expected.
If you want more information, you can contact Pine Creek Ranch at 359-0532 (Salt Lake number) or 208-483-2795 in Idaho or write Pine Creek Ranch Box 43, Swan Valley, ID 83449.