Galax-Carroll Regional Library Summer Reading Program participants got to be a little more than “pen pals” with Daisy II on July 6 in Hillsville. It was bit of a homecoming for Daisy (a seven-year old, male pot-bellied pig,) and Farmer Minor, who last visited with a “Pig Out on Reading” program in 2009.
“Daisy is the most famous pig in the world,” said Minor. He said pigs come in all sizes and told them about the pig “Big Bill,” who stood five-feet tall and nine-feet long, weighing in at 2,552 pounds. He explained smaller pigs like Daisy were originally raised for their fat.
Minor, who hails from Bristol, Connecticut, is a Virginia Tech alumni with a teaching degree. The two were accompanied by companion dogs “Lilly Pug” and “Dixie Cup.” He said he operated a family farm, working full time in the corporate world until retiring.
Library Youth Services Coordinator Sarah Largen views the program as a “pig me up” to encourage children to continue reading while on vacation, avoiding what educators refer to as the “summer slide” as young minds put in park have to play catch up at the beginning of the school year.
He told children how his wife (Mrs. Minor) was saddened after their children had grown and left the farm. She eventually prevailed on her quiet-loving husband to go with her and see some pot-bellied pigs. One of the litter of six was being rooted out by its siblings and this runt was adopted by the two.
The library programs began when a librarian asked Minor to bring Daisy (known locally through fundraiser activities) to show to the children. He said the two traveled for fourteen and a half years visiting schools, libraries and assisted living facilities for groups “two to one hundred and two.”
“The point is, generally for seniors it goes back to agriculture. They have a connection to this,” said Minor as he explained the range from pre-school to assisted living ceners. “Reading is still an important thing for them. It all ties together.”
Minor described Daisy as a “book pig” and said he has to read to him and the two pugs each night before they go to bed. He told them Daisy has a library of more than 1,000 pig-themed books, has 1,300 library cards, has been presented five keys to cities and is featured on a Compact Disc with a band. (He said the pugs also insist on pug-themed books, read to them at bed time.)
Noting pigs are naturally clean and only roll in mud to keep cool and ward off insects, Minor told the children “pigs are like people. Everyone is different. Just like us.” He told them he and his wife have a king-sized bed because Daisy (who sleeps with them) actually does stretch and push them to the edges of the bed, in essence “hogging” the bed. He said another problem is his hoofs are hard and sharp and he snores. (Although not as loudly as Lilly Pug or Mrs. Minor.)
Minor offered further proof of his assertion in the book “Little Flower,” by Gloria Rand and R.W. Alley, based on a true event. Minor said Little Flower’s popular trick was playing dead. When his owner, Miss Pearl, slipped and hurt herself the frightened pig played dead at the front door, the front steps and the front gate to no avail. He said the pig next played dead in the middle of the road, leading a driver, who stopped, back to the house where he called help for the injured woman.
Largen said the program is part of the Library’s “Read for the Win” effort this summer, emphasising “hogs and kisses” and pigging out on reading. The library hosts another summer reading program on July 22 featuring “The Balloon Lady.” The program will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Carroll Branch Library and at 1:30 p.m. at the Galax Branch Library. A pool party finale is set to be held from 10 a.m. to noon on July 29 at the Galax Recreation Center Outdoor Pool.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.