Farm Life

Farm Life

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Another Squealing Good Time On The Farm

      I looked forward to meeting my girlfriends for coffee one particular evening, but I also had an appointment to take our pigs to the slaughter house. What is a farmgirl to do? I finally decided to do this in my good clothes so that I would be all ready to head over to meet my friends and not be late. I set my Muck Boots aside along with my torn up work jeans. I grabbed a clean shirt, changed into some non-holey jeans, and pulled my good boots on. "It shouldn't be a problem." I thought. "What could go wrong?" Unfortunately, the pigs must have known this and had devised extravagant plans of their own. I was driving the horse trailer with my dad as a passenger since his eyesight has him restricted from driving right now. Little Cowboy and Wild Boy sat in the back seat excited to be tagging along. Off we went with the pigs all loaded and eating oats in a comfy bed of hay. I headed to our destination using back roads so that I could drive slowly and safely. After turning onto a dirt road I glanced out my side mirror to see a pig snout peeking out the tiny window. I also noticed cars backed up behind me. I slowed down for a four-way and continued on, still checking my mirrors for anything amiss. As we approached the slaughter house, I ran to direct my dad as he expertly backed the trailer into the narrow path to the gate. As I rounded the back of the trailer I noticed that the top part of the door was swinging open. I was not too alarmed as I had to stretch to even see over the back door that was still locked tight. As I peered into the trailer I saw no pigs. I ran to the front door yelling, "there are NO pigs in there! NO PIGS!!" My dad looked at me with a wild look that was mixed with disbelief. "What?!" he questioned. I ran to the rear of the trailer once more hoping that I had missed the pigs somehow, but still NO PIGS!! Panic and shock washed over me as I heard the butcher walk up behind me. "You missing some pigs?" he asked as I stood with my mouth still agape. A veterinarian had been following me and had witnessed the great pig escape and assumed we were headed to the butcher. He called informing them of the mishap and which way the runaways were headed.................... Four miles back where I had slowed for the four-way my Little Cowboy spotted the smaller pig in the woods. We parked along the roadside and started calling, "pig, pig, pig, pig......" The pig answered with grunts and started heading our way, but this was just to tease us. He had bigger plans than a trip to his final destination. I stopped a truck as it came closer to our adventure. The man got out and immediately pitched in swamping into the water in his sneakers to catch the pig that decided to flee the scene. An hour later my dad and the kind stranger emerged from the frigid water with Little Cowboy close behind. I slowed traffic as they encouraged the pig to enter the dry warm horse trailer. We thanked the good Samaritan and he was on his way to warm up his feet at his nearby residence. Now the hunt was on for a second escapee. We turned the trailer around and went back to the location where we had spied our first wandering pig. I listened quietly and could hear the second pig answering our recent captive. As we called, he exited the woods as a kind lady stopped to offer her assistance. We danced round and round the large pig trying to carefully push him towards joining his buddy in the trailer. He ventured into the frigid water and trying not to lose him I jumped ahead soaking my good boots. My trusty Muck Boots would have been appreciated at this point! As we worked, another helper arrived on scene. He cautiously lent a hand as we tried to corral the beast. Then, amidst all the commotion, our first pig squeezed out of his prison and high- tailed it down the road. I was sure we were doomed now! How could we ever catch them both!?!? We decided roping them was the only way to go. The tall man got a heavy rope around the large pig's neck as my dad held tight to the pig's hind leg taking kicks to the chest. Pig squealing ensued. Loud pig squealing. The kind of squealing that makes neighbors believe you are killing something. I held the rope tight and pulled the pig towards the open door as he fought with all his pig strength. His head whipped from side to side flinging me back and forth. The tall man behind me held on but did not wish to get closer to the animal which was now attempting to bite. All of this played out in the middle of the road as traffic started to back up. Wide eyes watched the display as I tried to stay clear of the barking pig's razor sharp teeth. Finally, at the entrance to the trailer, I got behind the pig and pushed with all my might. Mud smeared up my arms and my go-to-town jeans were suddenly brown with pig smell. "Thanks, pig. My friends will love smelling me across the table tonight." I thought as I gave him one last push. He jumped forward with wild grunts and lunged fiercely at my dad who quickly hitched him and retreated. With the larger of the two animals contained we reasoned that the hardest part was over. Hahahaha. We approached the smaller of the two and dad quickly reached for a hind leg. He received a whipping in return. As my dad took a beating by the renegade pig I wrapped the rope securely around his neck. A ferocious fight ensued. The pink pig violently flung itself from side to side with shrill squealing that was sure to cause severe hearing loss in all that held tight for the wild ride. As we approached the open door the swine flung itself to the ground in an unwilling stance. He gnashed his teeth at me and the tall man backed up a few steps. The squealing continued at an ear-piercing decibel. Flipping the pig over and pushing with all my might was done with the last bit of fight that I had in me. With the pigs reunited we slammed the doors and secured them. We then rechecked the secured doors. We thanked the kind strangers that had taken part in the ordeal, dumped the water from our boots, and then checked the doors again before taking the pigs to their destination. Their final destination. Fortunately, when I see them again it will be with a side of mashed potatoes.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

March in Maine

      I love God's creation. He has made spectacular and wondrous things. I love that here in Maine we have four distinct seasons and I am partial to autumn with its crisp air and falling leaves. I love having a fresh beautiful snowfall for Christmas and the winter activities it brings. Mid summer heat is not my favorite, but I love that it makes my flowers grow and brings outdoor adventures to remember. Late spring is filled with new life. Babies are being born and flowers blooming. Birds chirp their approval of their warming environment. It's all good.... except for March. I hate March. March is a month in which God teaches me to be thankful for the other months. March here in Maine is windy, cold, muddy, wet, and miserable. There are days when the sun shines brightly and you think it is mild until you are chased back inside by a biting wind that threatens to take the end of your nose to frost bite. Just recently we had the coldest day of this winter. Near 40 below with the wind chill. On occasion, a beautiful day pops up with 40 plus degree temperatures and sun that warms you through. This, of course, is only a tease, for the next day you are harshly jerked back to reality with sub- zero temperatures and wind that brings tears to your frozen eyeballs. My muck boots work overtime during this dreaded month. Mud season in Maine is no joke. You wonder where that much mud could possibly come from. You have to keep an eye on small children and pets as they may possibly be consumed by an endless pit of brown goo that could suck them in. The next day it is frozen solid and you are tripping over your footprints from the previous day. They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It's all lion here. The lamb is hiding in the barn beneath a cover of warm sweet hay. I feel lazy in March. All I want to do is hibernate. A spot in front of a blazing fire is ideal as I sip a cup of piping hot tea and listen to a pot of hot soup simmering on the stove. Spring seems to be an unreachable dream and impatience for all things gardening weighs heavily on my mind. The sweetness of maple syrup boiling is the only reason not to completely banish the month, and my only hope is in the greenhouse. Sprouts of green and the trapped heat from the sun, mixed with the fresh smell of the soil remind me of what I hope is soon to come. My desire is to dig in the dirt and plant my seeds. I'm ready to hear peepers and the birds joined in a chorus of happiness. I wish to open the cabin door wide and invite the warmth of a gentle spring breeze, but right now I'm in the middle of March. I continue to dress for the arctic as we prepare for a snowfall tonight and I'll be tucking myself away next to the fire. Wake me when this is over.