Ironwood Pig Sanctuary Facilities
The most important consideration at the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary is the health and safety of our almost 600 resident pigs. We go to great lengths to give our pigs the medications and medical care that they need. Each morning we give out over 300 peanut butter sandwiches containing their medications and supplements for the day. We also make around 100 special meals and "milk" shakes for our geriatric pigs and sick pigs in order to encourage them to eat, put on weight for a thin pig, or give them the supplements they need for their daily living. In the morning after feeding we have medical rounds for pigs with temporary conditions and medical rounds in the evening for those that are on medications twice a day.
However, the most important thing, particularly during the summer is WATER! Many of our pigs would not survive a day without water for drinking and cooling during our hot weather in summer. We spend many hours during the day and hire extra help for the summer in order to make sure all our pigs have fresh water for drinking and wading pools and wallows for cooling off during a hot day. During the summer we use 7,000 gallons of water a day for all the pools and wallows scattered over our 15 acres of pigs.
All this water comes from three main sources. We have a well on site where we pump 2,000 gallons of water a day. This is sufficient for the cooler winter months but is not adequate for the hot summer months. Since we use 7,000 gallons of water a day in the summer we need to supplement our well with multiple trips into the nearby town of Red Rock with our two water trucks. We are able to get 4,000 gallons during each trip. Over a week we need to make about 9 trips. Each trip takes almost two hours with driving, loading, and unloading. We usually do this on two days a week and for the days we don't get water we use water in our storage tanks.
These storage tanks are critical in two important ways. First, they supply us with extra water without having to go into town every day for water. It is much more efficient to set up the water meter on the Red Rock fire hydrant once or at most twice a week for the weekly run of over 35,000 gallons. Second, and more importantly, the tanks hold an emergency reserve just in case we are not able to get water for some reason. Our previous water tank capacity was about 53,000 gallons. This is only a ten-day reserve and only a six-day reserve if we havenít been into town lately to get water.
There are many things that could go wrong to interfere with providing all the water that we need particularly in the hot summer months that could put our pigs at risk. Our well pump could fail. This could take up to two weeks or more to repair and would require us to make four extra trips into town per week with the water trucks. If one of the water trucks broke down this would be a greater burden on the remaining truck.
With the uncertain situation in the Middle East there may be a fuel crisis resulting in not being able to get diesel fuel for our water trucks. We have a full 500-gallon diesel fuel tank at the sanctuary. This would provide the fuel we would need during a fuel crisis.
We could also have a power outage that might last a day or more, depending upon the cause, where we could not pump water through the miles of piping to the hundreds of hose bibs and automatic waterers watering our pigs. We are remote from Tucson, so major repairs to the power grid might not come as quickly as they would in town when more people are affected. We have a 30,000 watt generator that we used originally before the sanctuary received power almost three years ago. We run this generator once a month for an hour or so to make sure it is still serviceable. In a power outage we would be able to use it to power the pressure pump to supply water to all our fields.
In Arizona we are subjected to what is called the Monsoon Season where we can receive localized brief major storms during the summer that can drop inches of water in an hour or less. These storms can make the 4 miles of dirt roads to the sanctuary impassable. We have had storms in the past where some of the roads were not passable for a week. A longer time is surely possible if one of the exceptional storms hits our area.
We are on our own out here in the remote area of the Arizona desert and need to provide for ourselves. Considering all the reasons that we might not have enough water, we have purchased an additional 65,000-gallon used water tank that has been installed. This tank has been filled and is ready for any emergency. This tank plus the other tanks at the sanctuary should be able to supply at least three weeks of water and a lot more with conservation assuming that we were not able to get water any other way.
This has been a large effort over the years to make sure that our pigs are safe. Our sweet pigs have no idea what goes on behind the scenes for their welfare and safety.---Ben