Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Untold Tale: The Handywoman, the pig, and the hot summer's day

Between March 2007, when I ended my relationship with an animal shelter for whom I frequently wrote (on their blog and in a weekly newspaper column) , and January 2008 when I started my own blog, I fulfilled my creative needs by sharing my animal-related exploits in emails to my sister and my friends Ellen and Janice. These stories sometimes centred on my own animals and foster animals, and sometimes on my experience in a new volunteer position, helping out with the pigs at Hearts on Noses sanctuary. I thought those stories were lost forever when my old computer developed a floating curser and became inoperable. This week, however, the phoenix rose and with the aid of a new external hard drive I was suddenly able to retrieve almost all of them.

So, from time to time, I am going to share these untold tales. For the most part, they will be presented just as I wrote them at that time, though I am in the process of selecting and revising many for future publication as short stories. All stories, as with all content on this blog, are copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.

Here is one of those stories. It took place at Hearts on Noses Sanctuary, where Janice, the owner, had asked me to help build a pen for the newly arrived seven month old farm pig, Roscoe.


The handywoman, the pig, and the hot summer's day

Roscoe, the farm pig, watched as I came toward his pen armed with a hammer, a bucket of nails, and some yummy red watermelon. I said good morning, fed him his treat, and told him I'd be finishing off his enclosure today, tacking down the wire more securely to the fence rails encircling his pen.

And so I got to work. I put the bucket on top of a tall post by the gate and started hammering. I had shown Roscoe the bucket of nails so he would know that it didn't contain anything interesting to eat, but Roscoe is a seven month old piggy whose cognitive skills are still developing and whose curiosity is like that of the proverbial cat. As I banged the first nail into place, Roscoe stood up on his hind legs, front feet on the top of the gate, and nudged at the bucket with his snout……over it went, nails everywhere.


I carefully picked up each and every nail, ever mindful of Janice's cautions about leaving nothing on the ground that could hurt the piggies' feet, and berating myself for leaving the bucket where he could reach it. I put the bucket on the roof of his house, pocketed a handful of nails, and began again.

But Rascally Roscoe had seen my hand go into the bucket and was convinced that hand held something yummy. So as I attempted to hammer in nails, I repeatedly found a pink piggy shoving his adorable mud-covered snout into the hand holding the nail - and invariably trying to take the whole hand into his even muddier slobbery mouth. Place nail, shove piggy snout away, hit nail, shove piggy snout away, recover hand from mouth, hit nail, shove piggy snout away….and on it went. When I put the hammer down to pick up some more nails, he decided its wooden handle might make a good tasty treat - or at least he thought a bit of slobber might make the task more interesting to watch.

I tried to distract him with off-key singing about sunshine and piggies and friendship and bluebirds and other cheerful feel-good songs. I gave him branches from the nearby hazelnut trees. I tried to splash him with water from his pool. He responded by nudging me with a muddy mouth, trying to knock my glasses off with his energetic branch-waving, and sloshing through the muddy water before again checking out what goody I might have dragged from my pocket and now be trying to fasten to the fencepost. I was his Very Best Friend for the morning, and he stuck to me like we were joined at the hip. But I didn't really mind - he was good company, didn't criticize my singing, and kept me smiling at his antics.

And then he got just a wee bit too personal and pushy. I remember, years ago, taking an anthropology course in which I learned about an African tribe whose custom was to urinate on another's foot as a form of greeting - the welcoming exchange of warm body fluids. Roscoe had obviously taken the same course because.…well….....he didn't exactly urinate ON me, but right next to me so it sprayed and splattered all over my runners. Okay, I was fixing the fence in his potty corner, but couldn't he have just held it a few minutes longer?

I sternly asked him to back away while I finished, and he generously gave me an extra three inches of working space. I knelt down to nail the bottom rail when all of a sudden - WHUMP!!!! - one set of piggy paws squarely planted on my upper back, and one two-hundred pound piggy coming in much too close and personal to my …ahem….backside. Roscoe was trying to mount me! And since I'm all of five foot one and weigh -- well, lets just say I weigh less than a two hundred pound seven month old farm pig -- I was knocked off balance and went SPLAT right into the mix of piggy pee and poop freshly deposited there. I jumped up, roared "NO" at him and shoved him away.

Roscoe looked appropriately contrite and wandered off to his blanket, where he lay down with a sigh and watched me with a "woe is me, I'm just a little piggy, please don't be mad at me" expression. I finished the section of fence and then moved outside the pen to work on the opposite side.

Almost done!

At that point Roscoe decided it was safe to approach me again and as I tried to nail the wire to one side of the fence, piggy snout pushed the wire outward from the other side. I finished the job despite his assistance and my last image of him as I headed down the driveway was his muddy little snout carefully checking my work, ready to nose his way through any section I might have overlooked. After all, I was his new love interest, and he was determined to follow me anywhere.

Hey, wait! Come back! Don't leave me! I wuv you!

Roscoe, my sexual orientation is my own private business, but I assure you it does NOT extend to piggies!!! I will love you as a friend, but that is all you will ever be to me. I'm sorry, my boy, but cast your affections elsewhere … to the big pink piggy named Rose in the pen next to you. Better yet, get over it.

And now I better figure out how I’m going to explain the bruises on my back to my doctor at my upcoming appointment. I suppose I could say I was assaulted by an amorous male chauvinist pig. Yes, that will do ..... and it's the truth.

(c) 2007 JFB


The photos included in this story were taken the day the pen was built - when Roscoe was just seven months old. To emphasize how quickly and how big these pigs grow, I'm adding two more photos. The first was sent to Janice by Roscoe's previous home - Roscoe as a little wee baby:

Baby Roscoe

And here is Roscoe today, full grown:

Roscoe and Janice at the sanctuary


georgia little pea said...

o lord, this sounds like a very interesting post but i will have to come back to read it!

i'm here to tell you that i've finally, FINALLY written a post on the award. i do hope some of the few people who read my blog come over, because i'm sure they'll enjoy your stories as much as I do :)

have a great weekend! xox

georgia little pea said...

i just screamed when i saw that last picture. THAT IS ONE BIG PIG!

one can only be grateful that he mounted [ahem] you as a teenager :p

Jean said...

Thanks Georgia LP - hopefully some of my readers have headed your way and are enjoying your blog too!

As for Roscoe's adult size - we rarely see full grown farm pigs as they are usually slaughtered for human consumption when they are still babies. It is often a shock to visitors to see just how big a grown farm pig can be - and how much personality they have!

EvenSong said...

Looks like a sweet BIG piggie!
But what's with the smiley face on the second picture? face covered with poo?

Jean said...

EvenSong, I don't like my face plastered on the internet for people to steal and do who-knows-what with, so I blocked it out. You'll notice I very rarely show people's faces on my blog - and then only with permission. It's just one of my little quirks. One of many.

Caroline said...

what a nice memory lane to go down, we really enjoyed it!
You have shared your heart with so many fortunate animals, no wonder Roscoe was that interested, lol.

Wonderful post!

Black Jack's Carol said...

I'm glad "the phoenix rose" Jean. That was a well-written and hilarious story. Great pictures of Roscoe, too. Thanks for another very entertaining post.

Janice Gillett said...

I enjoyed reading that too Jean and we did really good as far as pen work goes as i have since hired guys who can't hold a candle to what we did that day . And i can tell you this , your gate held up a ton better then any of these I paid big money for here.

Roscoe is HUGE and yet child like in so many ways. He likes to be close to me and will go rooting off on his own only to race back to me in 15 minutes or so to tell me all about where he was . He must touch me as he stands close to me and brushes me with his big self . And then off he goes again.

Dom said...

my goodness that is a big pig!!! Love what I see of your blog so far. I'm gonna add you :)

Hunde Haus said...

Sooo glad you're hard drive pulled through as you are a talented writer and I look forward to hearing more of your tails, or tales!

Mounted by a pig....eek!