Pumpkins for Piggies

Thanksgiving has come and gone. November is a fading memory. Our gourd patio decor and squash centerpieces are replaced by Christmas trees and holiday garlands. Wondering what to do with left over pumpkins that decorated your house in the fall? Perhaps you will be willing to donate your live Christmas tree after the holiday?

Well, Pumpkins for Pigs offers a great way to clean house FOR GOOD. This national network of local farms and animal sanctuaries will take an assortment of food products that can be fed to pigs and other farm animals (or products that help provide for their comfort, like Christmas trees and straw). The network is tied together via the web site pumpkinsforpigs.org.  

There are several locations throughout Delaware including five near the coastal vicinity. Salty Birds and Swine is located on Reynolds Road in Milton, The Hen’s Den is on Lewes-Georgetown Highway in Lewes, Agrestic Acres is in Ellendale, Cedar Creek Farms is just north of Slaughter Beach on the east side of Coastal Highway near Milford, and Wall 2 Wall Farms is close by in Lincoln, just south of Milford. The Pumpkins for Pigs web site specifies what products each location will accept, and some will do a pick for you. For example, Agrestic Acres Farm owners in Ellendale say they will pick up and they also accept pumpkins that have been carved, unlike some of the others.  

Most locations accept some combination of pumpkins, gourds, fruits, vegetables, hay, straw and Christmas trees.  

Dawn Smith and her husband Ralph are the proprietors of Salty Birds and Swine. She characterizes the operation as a “hobby farm.” Dawn and Ralph inherited the property from Ralph’s mother when she passed away in 2018. They have expanded each year. They raise pigs, but also chickens and ducks.  

Dawn’s first pig, Noodles, a Yorkshire mix, came from her daughter. Per Smith, Noodles now weighs around 600 pounds! Eunice and Miss Maple are a New Zealand breed called Kuna Kuna, but her piggy-pride is Gilbert, the apple of Dawn’s eye. “He’s really handsome and he knows it,” she says. Gilbert is about three years old and weighs about 500 pounds.  

Besides pumpkins, her piggies love salads and scrambled eggs, but they will eat pretty much anything that is listed on the Delaware page on the Pumpkins for Pigs website.  

Dawn’s pigs live in a comfortable “mini” pig home (a shed) that is filled with straw. They are protected by a solar-powered fence that keeps them contained in a rather large partially wooded area.  

Kristen Williams and her husband Charles run Cedar Creek Farms. They typically only have pigs in the spring and summer because they raise them for commercial purposes. But their long-horned Scottish Highland cows, Bethany and Jack, love to eat pumpkins. So does LB, their black cow (that stands for Little Beauty). Plus, the cows seem to love the cheese puffs that Kristen feeds to them from a plastic container. The farm is also home to goats and geese.  

The Williams family is new to the Pumpkins for Pigs network. They have been involved for about a year but have run their farm for about five years. Kristen grew up in the area just north of Slaughter Beach, with her parents and grandparents still living nearby.    

If Cedar Creek seems a little off the beaten path, a visit there could also include a stop at the Prime Hook Wildlife Preserve, only a few minutes south and east of Coastal Highway. The farm itself encompasses Ft. Saulsbury that was active in both World Wars. It is known in Delaware as “the Forgotten Fort”. So make it a day–making your leftover décor do some good while you explore our beautiful landscape! 

Check each listing on the Pumpkins for Pigs web site for drop off instructions.  

By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  

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