Once upon a bright october Saturday, we moved pigs. Not that this was anything notable since we’d been doing it all summer. All summer the pigs snuffled their way from one pasture to the next. Surely they could snuffle their way down a short hill and around a corner.
Husband, Wife and Hired Hand held a consultation and as it was decided to try this method, Husband and Hired Hand left the house to try their luck while Wife tackled the dishes.
Not 10 minutes later, Wife’s phone rings and Husband pleadingly asks for help, ending with the encouraging words “it’s a bit of a rodeo out here.” Wife twirled a slow circle in her kitchen, in one glance encompassing the counter of dirty dishes, the next counter of clean dishes, the floor carpeted with crumbs, Small Son aimlessly sorting through the crumbs. Her list of need-to-do’s dangled in her head - wash windows, sweep and wash floor, prepare food, rustle up something out of nothing for supper…There was company coming the next day. Kissing her list goodbye, she picked up Small Son, hoping his desire to witness a pig chase would outweigh his need for a nap.
Not seeing anyone or anything in the barn, she continued on down the short hill, Small Son in her arms. Pleasantly she thought to herself, Maybe she would soon be back in the house and at her list. The thought had no sooner flitted through her mind than she noticed Husband’s black hat bobbing up the hill and sure enough, there in front of him, moving at tremendous proportions considering the length of leg, hoofed a brown pig.
No matter, I’ll just head it off here, help out Husband and send it back down to the bottom. It was a great idea, because, while it could have produced desired results, it certainly did not. Hired Hand at the bottom of the hill feebly waved his jacket at the incoming pig. Promptly scared off, it headed to the far left, 2 feet too far to the left, and veered into the pasture. Wife groaned inwardly but not too deep of a groan. It surely couldn’t be that hard could it?
Apparently it could. Husband, Hired Hand and Wife all had their turn, multiple times, to run up the previously short hill. It appeared to lengthen with time.
Again and again the pigs got in close. Again and again they broke away. Not always up the short hill though; that would be too boring. No, they also took their turn galloping through the pasture field. Leaving Wife standing close to the gate, Small Son still on her hip, Husband and Hired Hand attempted the Battle of the Pork. They got close; they held their breath; they whispered; they cajoled; they begged -
Wife was left behind, helplessly bent over in laughter as Husband and Hired Hand sprinted around the pasture in heavy work shoes, after the delinquent pigs. Small Son sat on the grass, tasting anything his hands touched. Finally Husband and Hired Hand, puffing slightly, minus jackets and sweaters, abandoned the pigs to their own musings for awhile and came up to the gate. Another conference was held. This is not working, was Husband’s verdict. Things were rearranged, the truck moved to add a wall on the far side of the gate. Hired Hand stacked up some buckets to close off an opening. Confident that should do it, they waited for Husband to bring the pigs down the short hill again. Then they were down, Hired Hand flapped his jacket 0.5 seconds too soon, the pigs shied away and disappeared into the other pasture field.
Husband said, this is really not working. He disappeared back up the hill and this time reappeared with the tractor, some gates and some pallets that stood up on their own as walls.
Wife’s sister said, Should we come down? Is it working? Now with the troops shored up, the pallets up to make an enclosure, the tractor and truck strategically placed - well, it was sure to work, right? Small Son had by now been in and out of the truck numerous times as the wails outweighed his laughter.
Once again, Hired Hand and Husband cajoled, herded, guided, begging and pleading - not on their knees quite because they didn’t run well on their knees - and four pigs were up by the fence once more. 6 feet more, one small corner to turn and they’d be in their pen.
Frankly, it was easier to piece the puzzle together afterward from the scattered pieces than to watch the show with one’s eyes. When it was all done, pallets littered the grass, Sister’s broom handle had proved insufficient, both Small Daughters were perched on the tractor and Husband summed it up, “Pigs scattered in four directions”
Now it was Wife’s turn to mutter, This is not working. But a phone call yielded no back up and since the pigs were once again scattered, well the phone wasn't going to be doing any chasing. Hired Hand went after Pig 1, Wife went after another, Pig 3 and 4 nosed and plowed their way through the pasture field.
Repeat for the next hour. Small Son took to sucking the ball hitch on the end of the trailer, Small Daughters quarreled over who should sit where, rain drizzled on and off. Pigs, with Samsonian strength and willpower, ran through the skids, carrying them along amid grunts and squeals.
Finally Husband said, Enough is enough. Let’s get them back up to the barn and load them onto the trailer and drive them down.
Hired Hand left with a friend, but since they all felt cheerful with the pigs nearly in their hands, they proceeded with backing the trailer into the barn. Since the pigs had no where to go but forward, this became a small matter. Wondering why they hadn’t tried that method first, Husband proceeded to drive the trailer down the short hill to the pig pen. Wife headed for the house with Small Son and Small Daughters, who by now were declaring cold and mutiny. Wife entered the house with the List still in her head. With Small Son touring the floor and Small Daughters engrossed in play, Wife began busily working. There was afterall company coming the next day.
Her phone rang. Husband said, you won’t believe this but the pigs are out again. Wife didn’t bother crying - since when did tears bring pigs back in? But she did wonder, did they really want bacon? Were they sure pork chops were that good?
Nevertheless, as they were already the talk of the neighbourhood with their animals they couldn’t seem to keep in, Wife trundled off down the hill again, in search of the still delinquent pigs. This time it was only 2 that were out and they had decided to search out the next pasture.
In the drizzling rain and intermittent sunshine, Wife trotted to the far end of the field, as the pigs had obviously thought they were going for a leisurely evening stroll. Two thin wires separated them from their companions.
As Husband and Wife neared the back end of the field, the sun broke through the rain clouds and right on top of the back of Pig One appeared a vibrant chunk of rainbow. Wife was beyond profound thoughts. Oh wow, she said, No pot of gold for us at the end of the rainbow; just a chunky dirty brown pig. Do I even like bacon anymore?
Words become boring to finish the tale of the pigs. More of the same. More of round and round. More of tightening the walls, closing up the spaces, running like the wind.
Hired Hand #2 joined the scene. Go slower, he said. They’re feeling cornered and think the only way is back. Husband and Wife thought they had been in their lowest gear, after all, they were in their 3rd hour of chasing pigs. But they slowed their steps to match Hired Hand #2 and found they had been practically galloping before. Hired Hand #2 moved slightly faster than reverse, pausing often for long breaks of standing still. Eventually the pigs got tired of moving so slowly and suddenly, of their own volition, joined their fellows in their pen.
Wife had no words left, just a long long hill to trundle back up to the house and the waiting list. Let company come, she muttered to herself. Who cares if the corners aren’t all licked. And thank goodness, we’re not having ham tomorrow. I’ve seen one too many running hams this afternoon.
Husband and Wife’s sleep was sweet that night and apparently so were the pigs. They haven’t been out since.