Jolie Winter Farrowing

Jolie the Adoptive Sow

Above is my latest effort at beating out Hollywood in the cinema. In this movie Jolie’s demonstrating nesting behavior – something I’ve heard quite a few questions about. There are subtitles for those who don’t understand Gruntgorian or Onka. The movie is about Jolie who is a most excellent sow. It also stars one of her friends Goose who is a live-in companion and narrator for the documentary film. There are also guest appearances by other members of the herd.

Why is her name Jolie one might ask… It is very common for sows to co-nurse. Jolie took it further accepting many piglets from other mothers this winter when we had a clustering of farrowings that left us short of nesting space in the winter gardens. At one point she was nursing eighteen piglets.* Other than rearranging the furniture (hay) she’s been completely content with her brood – imagine if you had a dozen or more little ones scampering about your feet and always hungry! Thus Jolie got her name for adopting offspring from hither and yon like her actress namesake. Now she too is in the movies.

Above is a movie of her nesting and below is the transcript of the subtitles from the video. I have not tried to do a literal translation from Onka or Gruntorian but the text does convey the gist of the dialog. Fortunately we did have Goose to narrate because Jolie was talking with her mouth full most of the time and can be difficult to understand at times.

In addition to being so good with the piglets she’s also a very gentle and good natured sow with people. She literally lives outside our back door.

Opening Scene
[Big Pig & her piglets.]

Opening Credits:
[Jolie at den entrance in atrium garden.] – Vermont Pastured Pigs
Jolie is a an excellent sow.

Act I:
[Jolie nesting.]
She raises her own piglets plus a half dozen that she adopted from other mothers. Here Jolie is taking apart a hay bale. She gathers mouthfuls of the rowen and spreads it in her 7’x7′ nest within the atrium garden as Goose watches. Nesting is a strong instinctual behavior. Good pastured sows nest strongly. They place their bodies and the hay to protect their piglets. They create a bowl shaped nest that has walls keeping the new born piglets in the safe area as well as warm in the micro-climate of the nest.

Intermission: Stills
[Blackie & Petra belly to belly with piglets between them.]
[Mouse by a hay bale in spring with piglets.]
[Saddle nursing piglets out in the south field.]

Act II:
[Jolie nesting under Goose’s supervision.]
Warm Season pasture farrowing is the easy way where the sows simply go off to the margins of the fields and build their nests of grasses, sticks, stones, leaves or dirt. Nests are typically built in some sheltered area such as under brush, trees, banks and such. Four days to a week later they come back to the herd with a sound of piglets behind them.

Act III: Winter litters are more challenging. The best sows can handle all seasons. In cold weather we provide hay and wind protection in open sheds in garden paddocks through the deep winter snows.

Act IV: Still
[A sound of piglets in the main garden shed.]

Closing: Stills
[Archimedes, the herd sire and eldest boar.]
[Little Pig’s piglets on September mosses.]
Visit for more stories and pictures from the farm.

At the film’s premier opening we were fortunate to be able to interview Jolie with the assistance of her interpreter Goose.

Walter Jeffries: Has being in the movies changed you in any way?
Jolie: Grunt, grunt, grunt, snort.
Goose: She says, no, that she is still the same person she has always been, perhaps more glamorous and beautiful than ever, more abundant but still, she is Jolie, a simple woman.

WJ: You no longer look so skinny as you did in your appearances last year. Has being a mother helped you with your weight problems?
Jolie: Grunt!
Goose: She says she has never had any weight problems!

WJ: I’m so sorry. Perhaps I can rephrase that… Do you feel that you have grown?
Jolie: Grunt, grunt, uh, snort.
Goose: Yes, definitely. Caring for all of these wonderful little ones has helped me to grow myself, to find my center, to expand.

WJ: Are the rumors of marital strive between you and Basa true?
Jolie: Grunt.
Goose: No. Absolutely Not. I never want to see him again.

WJ: How do you feel about the upcoming awards ceremony?
Jolie: Grunt, grunt, grunt, grunt, uh, hu, grunt, snort.
Goose: She says she is pleased to be picked as a finalist but that it was not her alone but all the little people who scurry about her feet that make it all possible. And Goose. She couldn’t have done it without Goose.
Jolie: Grunt.
Goose: It’s true! Don’t deny it!
Jolie: Grunt.

WJ: Do you have plans for any films this summer?
Jolie: Grunt, grunt.
Goose: No, she plans to take the summer off and vacation in the south, to go to the paddocks and work on her tan. This filming schedule has been grueling. She wants some time to rest, relax and get off in to the bush country. To find nature and herself again.

WJ: Well there we have it folks, straight from the Goose’s mouth.

Outdoors: 17°F/12°F Sunny
Farm House: 59°F/48°F
Tiny Cottage: 57°F/52°F

*Jolie weaned a total of 23 piglets in this nursing period, at one point having 18 piglets on her. It was a shifting group.

About Walter Jeffries

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13 Responses to Jolie Winter Farrowing

  1. paulina says:

    That is way way way to funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh. You owe me a keyboard and another cup of coffee!

  2. JL says:

    Thx for this. I had red about pigs doing this. I wood be wanting to see more if you have. I am astonished at your snow. The pigs do well? No barn?


  3. Excellent post Walter! Jolie is a very useful sow to have. Have there been other sows in your herd that have adopted as well as she has? The nesting behavior is a wonder. We had a pregnant gilt build a huge mounded nest this winter in our greenhouse and she farrowed 10 healthy piglets. The nest was about 3ft high and 6ft in diameter. In the summer we have put out some round bales on pasture and the sows use that as nesting material. Great video! Keep spreading the good word!


  4. Alecto says:

    Well, seriously, I can’t wait to show this to the kids. Here’s what happened. We were in Waitsfield doing our grocery shopping at a store called Sweet Pea and there in the meat section were Walter’s Pigs. I was beside myself (the kids minding the store thought I was nuts). I looked at my girls and husband and said, ‘now you can actually thank the pig by looking up his photo on Walter’s site and at least pretending one of those pics is this ground pork.’ Whoever he was he made exceptional porkballs and we are all thankful to have had the opportunity to buy and eat locally (Connecticut is still kind of tough).

  5. Paulina, sorry about the keyboard.

    JL, yes, pigs do fine in the snow. Their coats thicken up in winter and they snuggle down in the hay to sleep. Protection form wet and wind are the two big issues.

    Mark, While all of them are good about adopting and co-nursing Jolie is in the upper percentile as a mother and for other characteristics. There are many in our herd like her. I’m gradually increasing the percent, shifting our herd point. I select hard for the traits that work and that is an article in and of itself. Glad to hear your farrowings are going well. I’m still looking into the greenhouse. The open greenhouses we’ve tried were some of the best housing we’ve had.

    Alecto, Cool! Glad to help you and your kids make that connection to dinner.



  6. Charlotte says:

    I want pigs! And a goose (although I’ve been suspicious of geese ever since one charged me as a very small child on my grandmother’s farm). Sigh. Until my ship comes in and I can afford to move out of town, I’ll just have to settle for your movies Walter …

  7. Mellifera says:

    I spent about 45 seconds being worried about geese too… our friend had a peach orchard and we wanted to go get some, but they had geese in there to eat up windfalls and they didn’t like to be encroached upon.

    Turns out geese understand what it means when you’re holding a 2×4 juuuust fine… : D

  8. karl says:

    “a sound of piglets” i have never heard that collective noun.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh that was soooo funny!!!!

  10. Volar says:

    I’ve been visiting your blog for a long while now and I always find gems in your new posts. I think it is cool how you name your pigs after famous people. I take it this pig is named after actress Angela Jolie who has so many kids from things you have said. Is Petra after Petra N or Petra V?

    • Angela was named after Angela Jolie as your guessed, who has appeared in many movies. Both Angela and Angela are very adoptive which is why I named her after the actress. Sadly our Angela just died this week after giving birth to a litter of nine piglets. Angela’s death was very unexpected. She gave birth on a hot day and the stress gave her seizures which she never recovered from.

      Petra Pig is named after her equally well endowed namesake Petra Verkaik who appeared in the movie Love Potion #9. Our Petra had more tits and bagged up like Holstein – a desirable trait in a big sow who nursed sow many piglets. Petra Pig passed on this spring at a ripe old age.[1,2]

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