Fundraiser for an urban farm icon

Greensgrow calls on community for support covering Milkshake’s medical costs

Milkshake brings all the fun to the farm: Milkshake enjoys some sun in his pen prior to his recent illness. PHOTO: GREENSGROW FARMS

By Melissa Komar

One of the icons at Greensgrow Farms needs some help bringing home the bacon for medical bills.

Milkshake, the Kensington farm’s 6½-year-old Yorkshire, pot-bellied pig, fell ill on Monday and needed immediate medical attention.

Deirdre Sheehy, head farmer at Greensgrow, knew something was wrong when he didn’t come out to greet her as usual.

“I came in Monday morning and the first thing I do is feed the animals. He’s usually out and about running around in his pen,” she said. “And I didn’t see him and when I tried calling to him in his hut, he didn’t come out. And so, I went inside and I found him lying on his side and he had been vomiting. And, he was shaking. It was pretty scary.”

Sheehy immediately called several area veterinarian hospitals to find medical treatment for Milkshake and quickly found out the situation would be complicated.

“No one could actually come out to us and we were tasked with getting a 250-pound pig on a truck and transporting him to New Jersey,” she said. “We ended up using a forklift.”

Sheehy took Milkshake to Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, a facility that doesn’t normally see pigs as patients, but “they went above and beyond.”

After discovering Milkshake had ingested something he wasn’t supposed to, which was causing the gastrointestinal irritation, the hospital recommended transferring him to a facility that could better care for his condition.

Sheehy transported Milkshake to New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, where he remained for a day and a half before returning to his home, sweet, home on Wednesday night.

Preparing for the final trip, Sheehy and two staff members swaddled him and hoisted him and the crate onto her pick-up truck — without any heavy machinery.

“You don’t know what you can do until some person or some pig you care about needs help,” she said, laughing.

Although he’s much improved, Milkshake is receiving medication three times daily.

And, the verdict is still out on the final cost for all his care.

Sheehy created a GoFundMe to cover his medical costs on Tuesday, with a goal of $5,000.

“We reached out to the best vets to provide him with the best care and they were incredible and we’re happy to support them,” she said, “But, it is expensive, so we need the community’s support. We’re a nonprofit, so we really don’t have funds for emergency vet visits.”

While Milkshake’s emergency vet visits prompted the fundraiser, there had been talks among staff of creating one prior to this week.

“We had two sick chickens thrown over our fence this week, too,” Sheehy said. “We’re not an animal sanctuary, but we are a space for animals, so we have to care for them. We’re a farm.”

And, what’s a farm without a pig?

Executive director Ryan Kuck picked up the pig for former executive director Mary Seton Corboy after she had seen a Craigslist ad for a mini pig, but as the months passed, it become clear Milkshake was no little pig.

And as he grew, so did the community’s love for him, according to Sheehy.

“He provides a sense of wonder,” she said. “There are kids in this community who get to grow up in Philly and walk by and see a pig. He’s a character. He’s a friend. And, he’s an ambassador for the farm. He brings people in and he’s a symbol of what we do at Greensgrow.”

Donations for Milkshake’s medical costs can be made at www.gofundme.com/savemilkshake. Joe’s Steaks, 1 W. Girard Ave., will host Milkshakes for Milkshake on Monday, April 16, with 100 percent of proceeds of all milkshakes sold going to Milkshake’s medical costs.