If I Were A Pig, I Would Have Been Eaten Along Time Ago
Sometimes the cruel reality of farm life is too much for me. I was meant to live on more of an animal sanctuary than a farm. What really gets to me is the paradox between the animals and the farmer. Just when I think I may lose it or break down and cry Jordan says or does something that is so innocently honest and matter of fact I just have to laugh.
We have a Large Black Hog named Sugar. Sugar came to us as a little pig with a Hereford, Delilah. Where Delilah was bossy, aggressive, and intimidating, Sugar was passive, docile, and affectionate. I spent a week protecting Sugar from Delilah when they first came to us. I felt like we had a bond and we were friends. However, like many friendships, when given the choice between love and friendship, Sugar chose love. After a year or so, enter Boris. Boris was my idea and it was my desire to have Eric raise Large Black Hogs…I have a lot of really good ideas for things Eric should do…he fails to see my charm at times. Large Blacks are an endangered heritage breed that are renowned for being gentle, docile, and wonderful on pasture. Also, the fact that they are so ugly they are cute really adds to their charm. Enter Boris, he was my Christmas gift…I know, the romance is boundless. Once Sugar met Boris with his big floppy ears, his huge tusks, and his boorish behavior, she was smitten. She no longer came trotting over when I entered the barn. She no longer cared for belly scratches or ear rubs. It was all Boris, Boris, Boris.
Boris is not a one-woman man, oh no, he takes love where it is offered. So, the Herefords all had Boris babies and we waited and waited and waited for Sugar to have her little Large Black babies, however we would continue to wait and wait and wait. Month after month, we thought this will be it, this month she will become pregnant. Sugar is a bit of a mystery. Where the other girls are very aggressive, vocal, and irate when they are cycling, Sugar is always status quo. We simply see no signs of any change in her what so ever. We waited over a year and finally, Jordan came in from the pasture and said Sugar was dripping milk and carrying around hay in her mouth. My Bibbed Wonder was like an expectant father trying to get her into a stall, calming her down, helping her nest. Pigs, like birds, build a large high walled nest out of sticks, grass, and hay. It is fascinating to watch and wonderful to have the opportunity to observe.
On a side note, I am grateful my bibbed wearing buddy shares my passion for allowing creatures to just live the happy, natural life they were meant to live. Most farms now impose farrowing crates and the mamas don’t have an opportunity to do what they do best, be good mamas. Also, sadly, many of the natural instincts and abilities have been bred out of the modern breeds. That is why I feel so strongly about heritage, endangered breeds. This is one of my ideas with which The Bibbed Wonder agrees.
Sugar our gentle, docile girl suddenly became 500 pounds of angry, nervous energy. She chased Eric out of the stall and at that point, neither Jordan nor I made any attempt to go in. When the girls give birth, it is a family affair. We are all out in the barn, waiting quietly with towels, iodine, and our emergency birthing kit, aiding the mamas and helping the babies begin life. It is a wonderful, stressful and rewarding event. It was an event Sugar wanted no part of. Jordan and I actually went back to the house to try to help her calm down. Eric was finally able to go in with her and help the babies but it was a precarious night.
Sugar had five babies. Five babies are a very small litter for a very large pig. Sadly, not one of the babies lived past a week. We have no idea what happened. She was an attentive mom, she produced adequate milk, and she was very careful with her movements. The babies just didn’t make it. Sugar was a different pig after the babies. She was grumpy, irritable and obstinate. Eric was away for the day and I was in charge of letting Sugar out for her daily exercise and restroom break. Another interesting fact, pigs are very clean animals. They prefer to go outside to relieve themselves rather than do so in the barn. They are very intelligent indeed. However, Sugar wanted no part of going outside. She didn’t want to get up, she didn’t want to go out, and she didn’t want to be bothered by me. I went into the stall and pressed my knees against her back side to try to urge her out. Once she was on her feet, I had to walk in front of her to open the gate. As I walked in front of her, she tried to bite the back of my leg. Eric always told me to kick them in the snout if this ever happened because the snout is very sensitive and it will inhibit further behaviors. I kicked backwards missing her snout by feet and then she tried to bite me again. I took the hint, got out of the stall, locked the gate and did not make her go outside. That is when I knew my love affair with Sugar was over. That incident happened over a year ago and we have not made up. However, I do not wish her any ill will.
Sugar has not become pregnant since. Our dreams of big, floppy eared Large Black babies are just a dream. Now, my bibbed wearing buddy is the money man of this circus. He is the one who figures out our bottom line. As you can imagine, keeping a 500-600-pound animal in feed is not cheap. Factor in that she does not produce babies and is somewhat unpleasant and the future is not looking good for Miss Sugar. She has gotten a pass for the last year or so because Boris loves her. However, love isn’t enough to survive.
The Bibbed Wonder is mulling over what he is going to do. Truth be told, I don’t think he is excited about sending Sugar to market. He is talking about putting her on a strict diet for a few months to see if that doesn’t help her with her reproductive issues. If that doesn’t help, he feels he has no other option than to send her to the butcher. We were discussing this the other night and I was protesting her diet and the butcher. I was almost in tears over this grumpy, cantankerous pig who ditched me for Boris when The Bean chimed in. When The Bean adds to our discussions, it is always interesting and sometimes insightful. Eric asked my why I was getting so emotional over Sugar? After all, she tried to eat me, wants nothing to do with me, and is cantankerous at best. The Bean responded with, “Sugar and Mommy are a lot alike. Mommy doesn’t like diets; she can’t have babies and she is usually grumpy after 6. If mommy were a pig, we would have eaten her.” I wanted to be insulted and mad, I really did. However, as usual, The Bean speaks the truth no matter how offensive it is and in such a way that one just has to laugh. This of course led to a full-blown discussion about how I could only be turned into to sausage because I am old, tough, and filled with anger that will taint my flavor. The Bibbed Wonder always, always has to take things to the next offensive level.
As for The Bean, she is correct. If I were a pig, I would have been eaten along time ago. As for Sugar, her future is in great peril and she balances on a precarious precipice. I suppose, time will tell and things will happen the way they are meant to happen. I know I will not be eating Sugar sausage. I have issues eating those I know on a personal level. As for The Bibbed Wonder, his endless barrage of sausage jokes got him put in time out for a bit. Thankfully, he has found new, irritating things with which to torment me.
As always dear reader, continue to stay safe, stay smart, be happy you are not a farm animal, and of course wash your hands.