Deirdre Sheehy, a farmer at Greensgrow Farms in Kensington, knew something was wrong with Milkshake the pig as soon as she saw him on Monday morning.
"Usually he's very lively, comes out to greet me, grunting and yelling every morning," Sheehy said on Wednesday. "It was very worrying on Monday morning, the state he was in, he was vomiting, shaking. … It was really scary to see him like that, we all have a strong emotional connection with him because he's such a character, he's such a huge part of our family and our identity."
Sheehy brought Milkshake to Mt. Laurel Animal Hospital that day for treatment, but the hospital, which typically only treats smaller pets, contacted Sheehy around midnight to say that 250-pound Milkshake would need more specialized veterinary care. So she had to pick up the pig, who had been vomiting for nearly 24 hours, and drive him in the rain to PennVet's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square.
Luckily, Milkshake, who was put on a strict diet of fluids at the center – which isn't easy since pigs have so much fat and such thick skin – now appears to be stable, Sheehy said.
"I knew it was bad when they said he was not eating, he wouldn't even eat an apple. His favorite thing is apples," she said. "I got a call this morning they said he's eating again. … All we know is that he ingested something that did not make his insides happy. That seems to be it, because it seems to have passed through."
While Milkshake will remain for another day under observation at the Bolton Center, the veterinary bills are stacking up, so Sheehy created a GoFundme to help cover the expense of caring for a pig known as a beloved friend to children living near Greensgrow in Kensington.
"He's sort of a mascot and one of our animal family, an ambassador to the community," said Bryn Ashburn. "It's not every day that city kids get to visit with farm animals."
Aged about 7, Milkshake was adopted and brought to Greensgrow in a cat carrier in 2011.
Besides meeting with visitors near Greensgrow Milkshake is known for living in the greenhouse and greeting CSA participants picking up farm shares, is typically allowed to roam free as long as the food's locked up. In warm weather, staff has been known to make him mud puddles to enjoy.
If he has a speedy recovery, he might be getting back to those activities soon. He was released from medical care Wednesday afternoon and transported home to be kept under close observation.
"The outpouring of support from our community, and vets and people are calling in to express support, has been really great," Sheehy said. "He's got a lot of best friends here."