Florists live in hog heaven

Published 9:45 pm Thursday, October 29, 2009

There was a considerable amount of smooching going on at Helena Middle School Oct. 13.

Lily, the pot-bellied pig, fetchingly adorned with a magenta bow, was the recipient of said kissing, allowing herself to be embraced by coach Robert George and teachers Malerie Huguley and Kimberly Romano.

Phillip Levine and Will Yuille, of Helena Florist, brought their pet to the HMS pep rally at the suggestion of sixth-grader, Jessica Barr. The event raised $400 for the school.

Levine and Yuille happen to have two pot-bellied pigs making a home in their garage.

“We acquired Lily at the age of six weeks from a family who owned a cat that was trying to kill her,” said Levine. “She was only about four pounds then and we took her tailgating to all the University of Alabama home games last fall. She was very personable and a hit with all our friends.”

This fall, Lily weighed in around 150 pounds, so she had to remain at home and watch the games on TV. She no longer gets her toenails painted red, either.

“Pot-bellied pigs are very intelligent comparable to a third-grader,” Levine said. “Their personality is much like that of a cat. Lily learned to sit within about two hours of my teaching her. She is very persuadable with strawberry candies.”

The average lifespan for these pets is about 20 years.

Also enjoying the paths and mud holes on their 32 acres is Winston. Winston is a 2–year–old boar and weighs about 300 pounds. Unfortunately, he just went through his terrible twos and became aggressive.

“Winston is smart enough to know that he is part of our family, but not smart enough to know he is a pig. He was trying to establish his role in the chain of command around here,” Levine said.

“I had to put on long sleeves and gloves and wrestle him –– flip him a few times so he would understand who is boss,” Levine explains. “And he is still simply mean, even though he received the same amount of piglet love as Lily.”

The two pigs have their own pig-door for exiting the garage. They are fed deer corn automatically by a deer feeder three times each day.

Helena Florist, which has been at its present location on Shelby County 58 since 2004, has an entrance foyer decorated in ‘nouveau barnyard,’ Levine said.

“We are privileged to work in a small town where we can work watching the squirrels and our dogs and pigs,” Levine said.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at