The Short Story of Mr. Singleton

If this were a children’s book, Mr. Singleton, the pig, would live happily ever after on the hillside outside my brother’s house. He would chow down on organic pig food, snuffle his way through the underbrush, nosh on scraps from the kitchen, and curl up at night in the small shed at the edge of his field.

It's a pig's life, for now
It’s a pig’s life, for now

Kids would love Mr. Singleton. He’d be a big fat hero. After all, he’s the pig that got away, escaped the fate of his four brothers and sisters when they were herded into a small trailer the other day and taken to Pennsylvania— say it softly, don’t let them hear! The state next to ours is where the “humane slaughterhouse” is — talk about an oxymoron.

My brother’s pigs, who quite contentedly spent the last six months on a large piece of land tucking into pig food, anything they could salvage from fields and woods, and bulking up on table scraps otherwise destined for the compost, were scheduled to go the way of all hogs a week ago. Unfortunately, when Greg-the-animal-hauler arrived my brother wasn’t home and there was no obvious way for Greg to load the porkers. So he came back the next week, in the pouring rain. This time, the mud and weather precluded the porcine roundup.

By now, Dick  had had enough. He enlisted the help of a neighbor with a trailer and together they loaded the piggys for the trip across the state line. But Mr. Singleton simply refused to be guided along the fence and up the narrow ramp. Like a greased pig, he slid out of  the hands that grabbed for him. With a decisive squeal, he headed for the hills, ducked into the underbrush and would not join his anxious brethren in the death vehicle. Did he know it was “time?” Did he sense that nothing good would come of this strange exercise?

Probably not. He just ran. Pigs don’t really engage in fight but apparently they are all about flight. And flee he did.

The pig that got away...
The pig that got away…

So, you might wonder, what is the fate of Mr. Singleton? I asked my brother that very question. “I’ll shoot him,” he said. “I am not going back to that place.”

The next day I asked with some trepidation if the deed had been done. “What?” Dick asked. “Have I shot him yet? I don’t even own a gun.”

For now Mr. Singleton is indeed roaming free, perhaps wondering where his litter mates are but most likely looking for his next meal. With enormous pleasure.

All pig photos by Richard Goodbody

But lest you get choked up with squishy sentiment: don’t. This pig will meet his fate. This is why he was raised. For meat. The six piglets my brother sheparded to maturity this year enjoyed a life far better than most animals, and if you are going to eat meat, we reason with world-weary logic, you better not be squeamish about reality. Of course one of the original litter died before his (her?) time, succumbing to a respiratory illness that affects pigs with some regularity. And so then there were five.

And now there is one.

Rock on Mr. Singleton. For a few more days, anyhow.