By Mary Carton
Growing up in the country as the first child without any neighbors nearby, you tend to make friends with the farm animals. I guess to this day animals like me. Dixie the filly next door has a fit if I don’t stop and pet her while I’m mowing the lower 40. Patches and Dixie have had a love/hate relationship since the filly was born and running around the pasture kicking up her heels.
One of my friends was “Pig.” He was a Yorkshire orphan, and Mom raised him on the bottle keeping him in a box on the back screen porch. In our old house, which was built during the 1840s when outhouses were the norm, part of the back porch was made into a bathroom. It was the only one for eight members of my family. In order to get to the bathroom, you had to go out on the screen porch. In the winter time you had to make a mad dash out to it and even a madder dash back inside the house after taking a bath in a cold cast-iron tub. The only heat was a small space heater that sat on the back of the toilet tank. Needless to say it didn’t do a great job heating up that ole cast-iron bottom.
Pig after a while got to thinking that Mom was his mom and whenever she tried to sneak out to the bathroom he would start squealing, wanting his bottle. No matter how hard she tried to sneak out in the darkness, he would grunt and then start crying for his bottle.
Soon, but not soon enough for Mom, he got too large for the box and was delegated out to the yard with the other critters. Once in the yard, he was my buddy. Back then there wasn’t a fence to keep all the animals out of the backyard. Pig would come to the door each morning grunting for me. Mom would tell me that my buddy was calling. Off we would go with my arm around his neck to a clump of shade trees. If Shep our farm collie wasn’t helping down at the milk barn, he would join us.
I would put a baler twine halter around Pig and sit on him talking to him and Shep while we enjoyed the shade. Every once in a while Pig would grunt an answer to my question, especially when I would tell him giddy up.
One day Pig was sound asleep, and I must have kicked him a little too hard when I yelled giddy up and startled him. He jumped up running around the yard with me still riding him screaming, “Mom help,” at the top of my lungs and scaring him more. The more I screamed, the faster he ran. Mother was eight months pregnant with my brother Joe at the time. It must have been a sight, me riding Pig screaming with a pregnant Mom in hot pursuit. Mom said he slowed down long enough for her to grab me off him when she called him. The moral of the story is let sleeping pigs lie.
As in the case with most farm animals, when Pig got old enough, Dad took him off while Mom and I were at town and made pork chops out of my beloved Pig. We got home and Pig was nowhere to be found. When Mom found out where he was, she called the slaughter house, but it was too late. Until Pig was gone, neither of us would eat any of him. Mom would cry while she cooked him for Dad and my uncle. Over the next decades, Dad would tell Mom and us children not to make a pet out of a pig or calf, which he was raising for eating, but we wouldn’t listen. With each pet the story would be repeated.
While on friends, last week I had a couple of days with the high temperatures in the mid 20s and overnight in the signal digits. I wanted to get photographs of the frozen falls at Wilson Dam and didn’t want to go by myself as the road to it would be icy and if something happened, I wouldn’t be found for a while. Linda, Jackie, Brian and Louisa were all game. We froze, but all got some great shots. I want to make a trip to Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, a local Nature Conservancy site thanks to Jim and Faye Lacefield, sometime to get the waterfall during a hard cold spell. I’ll have to get some warmer gloves on. Having Raynaud’s it doesn’t take long for your fingers to start hurting.
I need to start my Cherokee Purple tomato seeds, but in the mad cleanup getting ready for my sunroom unveiling, I’ve misplaced my seeds. I found some from 2008 and went ahead and put five or six seeds per container. Maybe I’ll get lucky and a few will come up. In the meantime, I’ve been searching in all of my hiding places.
Spring is getting close.