This Farm Animal Sanctuary Is Also a Hotel — and Its Resident Pig Is a World-famous Artist

A lot of hotels have bacon in their breakfast buffets. However Farm Sanctuary SA, a shop hotel in South Africa’s agrarian winelands, does not serve bacon; it saves pigs from becoming bacon. It’s home to the world’s only oinker artist.

” Pig-cassoooooooo!” sings Joanne Lefson in a spirited, high-pitched voice when she slides open the doors to the huge wood barn that functions as the hotel’s lobby. At the sound of her name, Pigcasso, a 1,500-pound sow asleep in a pile of straw, gradually comes to life.
She understands it’s time for two things: apples and art. “You can provide anybody a paintbrush, and they’ll know what to do with it,” Lefson, Farm Sanctuary SA’s creator, informs me as we follow Pigcasso, who clearly understands where she’s going, out the barn doors to her studio. “But there’s only one pig in the world you can provide a paintbrush to that will know what to do with it.”
Pigcasso the pig and his painting at Farm Sanctuary SA
Obviously, Pigcasso, whose paintings sell for thousands of dollars to buyers all over the world, wasn’t born with a silver brush in her mouth. In 2016 she was predestined to be somebody’s dinner. At the 11th hour, Lefson, an enthusiastic animal rights activist, rescued Pigcasso from a slaughterhouse. At the time, Lefson was developing Farm Sanctuary SA, and her brand-new rescue was intent on damaging whatever laying around in the process.

” I observed that the only thing she didn’t devour were the paintbrushes,” states Lefson. With the assistance of apples– which she utilizes as a reward– she taught the naughty little pig how to hold a brush in her mouth and use paint to a canvas. Calling the aiming artist Pigcasso was a no-brainer. Lefson, a former professional golf enthusiast now in her 50s, has actually been “saving” animals ever since she was a kid. She even wrote a book, “Ahound the World,” which narrates her journeys to lots of countries with Oscar, a Mr. Congeniality award-winning pooch she saved from the pound.
My room at Farm Sanctuary SA is the stone chapel cottage ($ 100 per night). It’s covered in photos of the late Oscar: cheezing for the camera with monks in Thailand, meeting with Maasai warriors in Kenya, and positioning in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Meanwhile the barn, which in addition to the hotel’s lobby houses rescued pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens, is plastered with Pigcasso paintings and articles about the world’s only painting pig. A laminated letter from Jane Goodall, who has among Pigcasso’s paintings, reads, “I was so delighted when I heard about your painting pig. And the videos are great. Is it OK if I use one in my lectures?”
The barn is also where the hotel’s cooking area is. Farm Sanctuary SA only serves vegetarian food– its objective is to “motivate a more compassionate and sustainable world”– and since it’s an open design, I can see a little lamb weaving its method in between the chef’s legs. A couple in their 20s from Austria is staying in the master suite (from $125 per night), accessible by means of the spiral staircase leading to the barn’s loft.

Farm Sanctuary SA, which functions as a sanctuary for farm animals initially and a hotel for people 2nd, has 13 spaces, all distinct in their design and spread throughout the home. The 5 most recent spaces are in the recently brought back 19th-century manor house. Guests can likewise schedule repurposed shipping containers that Lefson converted into industrial-chic small homes.
Despite the fact that it’s a working farm with animals, Farm Sanctuary SA is within strolling distance of downtown Franschhoek, a picturesque South African neighborhood about 90 minutes east of Cape Town with a population of 1,000.
I ask the Austrian couple how they discovered about Farm Sanctuary SA. “We already understood about Pigcasso,” says the female.

Pigcasso, who has actually been included on Saturday Night Live, the BBC, and CNN, just among others, is rather of a celebrity in Europe. She’s especially popular amongst art collectors.

While the Austrian couple initially simply prepared on seeing Pigcasso, while on site they choose to commission a painting. While it’s typically a private experience between the visitors, Pigcasso, and Lefson, the couple is happy to let me observe.

I view as Lefson dips the paintbrush in the color of the couple’s choosing before handing it to Pigcasso. The pig takes it in her mouth and makes a beeline for the canvas. She can paint lines, dots, and circles, and she indications every piece with her snout. After just 30 minutes, Pigcasso has actually painted three canvases for the couple, who get to pick their preferred to take home. After almost an hour of analyzing each canvas, they select a red, white, and blue number they name “The Peeps.”

I’m astonished: Pigcasso’s work truly does look like the work of Pablo Picasso. There’s even a game in the barn where you need to decide if the paintings on display screen were done by Picasso or Pigcasso. I get half of them wrong. I wish I could blame it on all the red wine I’ve been consuming– the Franschhoek Valley has lots of vineyards, and Pigcasso even has her own line of wine– but it’s only 11 a.m. I’m as sober as the little lamb is intoxicated on milk. In truth, I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Now that the painting session is over, I’m going to strike up Farm Sanctuary SA’s kitchen area. I’m not exactly sure what they’re serving at this hour, but I understand one thing: it’s not ham and eggs.

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