Is Eight Too Many?

It’s always supper time!
It’s always supper time!

Eight little pigs live in a sizeable, weedy and muddy pen down the hill from my brother’s house. They arrived about six weeks ago and since have done very little but eat. That’s what pigs are meant to do, right? Pack on the pounds as they pound down the chow.

They also sleep, snortling companionably as they shove snouts into flanks, backs, and necks, this way and that. Even in slumber they are vocal creatures. These pigs are still young enough to play tag and chase-me-round-the-feeding-trough, squeaking and squealing as they do. Soon they will be too porky for such nonsense, preferring to loll back in the straggly grass or a muddy patch and doze until the next meal.

It’s a pig’s life
It’s a pig’s life

They also escape.

The youngsters aren’t so much hankering to break free; they just imagine the grass might be greener in the neighbor’s yard…or by the chicken coop…or down the road a piece.  When they were tiny, my brother’s neighbor called to say he had rounded up the critters and stowed them in a backyard dog kennel. Dick and Jill transported them home in a dog crate, a few at a time.

Not too long ago, Dick woke up early on a June morning to find a solo pig munching the grass on the far side of the house from the pen. He went to catch the porker but evidently frightened the little guy, who scurried back to the porcine enclosure lickety-split.

And let out a horrifying squeal that had no end.

He was caught, little cloven hoofs entangled in the plastic mesh fence of the electrified fence installed to keep wandering swine from, well, wandering. Didn’t work too well on the way out but sure packed a punch on the return trip. The screeching was loud, piercing, pitiful.

Even after the electricity was shut off, the piglet wouldn’t stop yelping and squirming, struggling as he was to be liberated. Finally, home again on the right side of the fence, the wailing became a whimper and then it stopped, supplanted by contented snorts. Time to eat!

My brother started his pig-raising venture with four porkies. Last year, he had six and this year eight. This group is by far the most adventurous and rambunctious. And Dick is wondering if eight is too many.

copyright © Mary Goodbody
photos copyright © Richard Goodbody