Friday, December 19, 2008

Meeting the Pigs

It was a crisp November afternoon when I met the pigs. Neil told me to come late afternoon, but before it started getting dark--around dinner time. Apparently pigs aren't altogether that exciting unless they're hungry. I arrived at 3, we had a nice cup of tea, then donned our rubber boots and went across the road to feed the pigs.
There were three hungry pigs, two girls and boy, waiting for us when we got there. They were so eager to be fed that they made it difficult for us to walk across the yard to where their food was kept. (I had heard of the strength of a pig's snout, but never before witnessed it first hand.) Feeding pigs takes more planning than I could have imagined. What pigs live for is grain. So, naturally, you cannot feed them the grain first or they won't eat anything else. First we gave them their veg. They were hungry enough to show some interest in it, but they won't really go for the veg if they think something better is coming. They were far more interested in the stale baguette being broken apart (by me) and soaked in expired soy milk. Nothing, though, compared with the gusto with which they took to the pellets of grain. With a can full of grain in his hand Neil was their A-number-one favorite person on the planet. They were snorting and carrying on and standing in the trough and pushing each other out of the way, even though there was plenty for everyone. These were happy pigs. Happy as pigs in... grain.
This is the story of the pigs as told to me by Pete, Neil and Jen's neighbor and the man on whose farm the pigs lived. Jen had a dream. Jen had a vision. Jen just saw pigs in the farm yard across the street. But there weren't any so she told Pete. Pete was dubious. He had had experience in keeping animals with other people. He had seen such enthusiasm before, but had also seen the shirking of chores, the distinct lack of enthusiasm when it came to actually caring for the animals once they arrived. He knew the difference between the dream of keeping animals and the reality. He said, "No." But the seed had been planted and soon enough P. started seeing pigs in his yard too. One afternoon he went across the street and told J. and N. that he was about to make their dreams come true. They had no idea what he was talking about. But soon enough it was clear that he meant that he was willing to let them keep pigs on his land as long as they fed them, watered them, cleaned up after them, cared for them. And they did. Dumpster diving for veg behind the co-op, rounding up stale bread and out of date milk/soy milk/kefir/whatever became regular activities for N. He did such a good job caring for the pigs and the pigs did such a good job turning over last year's garden that P. is not only going to share the garden with N. and J., he is already talking about next year's pigs.

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