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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pigs in (Our) Space


Pigs have provided an interesting subtext to politics in our valley. A few years ago, our neighbor Davey started rearing pigs along with his herd of cattle. Just a few, about six. Davey's north-side neighbors, who wanted to turn their barn into a wedding/special events center, complained about the smell to the state Department of Agriculture. The ag folk dismissed the complaint.

Fast forward a couple of years. After Davey's north-side neighbors lost their agricultural tax exemption, they started laying in livestock - chickens, Highland cattle, and, most recently, Tamworth pigs. A bit of irony in all that.

This morning, while looking out the kitchen window, I saw some strange shapes ambling up our driveway. As they got closer, I recognized their sleek, reddish shapes for what they were - the Tamworth pigs on a jailbreak. Absolutely fearless, they made straight for our recycling bins next to the garage. We have four bins, one each for plastic, cans, newspaper, and mixed paper. The pigs butted, turned over, and rolled on them all. The Rubbermaid Roughneck bins held up well. Only the mixed paper bin opened, and the Tamworths took full advantage the opportunity, rooting through the paper, tearing it up, and scattering it across the front yard.

I called the owner, seemingly waking her, asking if she was missing some pigs. She apologized, and said she'd be right over to get them.

Bored with the paper, the pigs migrated under a barbed wire fence into our lower cattle pasture. After a few minutes, the owner showed up with her Kubota tractor, two grain pails in the tractor bucket. She commented that they were getting too adventurous, crawled through the barbed wire gate and gave her pig call. They came a runnin'. They headed right for her tractor, and she spilled a bit of grain on the ground to get the pigs' attention, and then climbed back up into the driver's seat and led them home through our front gate and back out to the county road. Darn cute pigs!

We live in a rural area, governed by the concept of open range. You come to expect free-range cattle, not free-range pigs. Always something new.

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