...and this little pig went to market and this little pig stayed home
churchill was the first animal to move into the farm. he moved in a month before we did. he was so small and scared but those eyes. those hazel eyes got me right from the start. we stuck with him as he acquainted himself with the electric fence for the first time. as we stood back and marvelled at our electric fence masterpiece, we flicked the switch and watched as he backed his manhood straight into the very electrified fence and then shot clear through the other end of the fence. it took us an hour to get him back in. and then repeated the whole thing the next day multiple times. but we stuck with him.
we stuck with him when those boy parts quadrupaled into the size of melons & we breifly considered devising a makeshift protective & supportive bra for those bad boys as the girls became extra fascinated with them and we thought his manhood to precious to risk. we stuck with him when he decided to have pig party and rip out all the feed buckets, waterers and the entire barn wall as well as the gate too many times to count and often in -40 degree weather.
but my affection for him grew as i would drive past our field to find churchill sprawled out in his glory while my mom, distracted from her fencing work, gave him a big belly scratch. or how he and major the 17h horse became best friends, often following each other around the field and found snoozing in the long bits of grass side by side. i have always had a soft spot for this pig. but not today.
the time had come. he had done his job on the farm and a decision needed to be made. the freezer or the market? uncastrated pigs often produce funky meat (and i secretly couldn't bare the thought of our farm sweetheart meeting an untimely end as a hotdog) so we sold him as breeding stock. and as per his size, we included delivery, confident that my sweet, darling of a pig surely wouldn't be a problem.
we borrowed a box crate from a neighbour to load in the back of our trailer, just barely big enough. the neighbour had advised us, with a certain devious chuckle, to spend the extra time thinking out the process of getting him into the metal box without getting him too excited because if he escaped we would never get him back. we took his advice, and carefully prepared a comfy, straw filled crate with loads of favourite foods to entice him into the small space and made a makeshift but strong maze of chutes to feed him into the box, hopefully without incident.
our first job was to separate him from the girls, who had made a colossal sized lake of poo-mud all around the gate, so thick that i sunk helplessly to the top of my boots upon entering. after several unsuccessful attempts at keeping the other three keen and affection girls away from me and the gate and getting churchill through the gate, my mom, always up for an adventure, jumped in to help. i transformed into a ninja giving warning kicks constantly into the air to keep the girls away (worse than kickboxing bootcamp!) while she enticed him through the gate with a bucket of treats. we slammed the pen gate behind him and quickly began securing it with binder twine so the other three rambunctious pigs would stay contained now anxiously separated from there lover. churchill took advantage of our split second distraction and casually ploughed through opposite gate, over a bag of feed and into an aligning pen which happened to house a delicate duck sitting on a nest full of eggs set to hatch any day now as well as a wide open door to the wild, blue yander. i may have sworn. loudly. we both jumped into the other pen to both slam the escape door and simultaneously distract him from eating the precious mama duck right off her nest. mom quickly grabbed an open dish of duck food while speaking sweetly in high tones of loveliness & calm to cox him back through the gate. he loved her sweet talking so much he followed her right onto the ramp and almost into the box until he changed his mind. i shut the barn door, unintentionally locking my mom onto the very small ramp with churchill who suddenly realized he didn't like this plan. he tried to back through the door, which i was holding shut with every ounce of strength i had left, after ninja kicking for 15 minutes straight. he threw our side chutes with ease while steve frantically tried to secure them down. in a brave move of solidarity, i jumped the door and joined her on the very small ramp. we calmly scratched his back & sung sweet songs of his greatness which seem to make him more upset. in the most courageous, swift move i have ever had the privilege of witnessing, my mom, grabbed him by the tail and "wheelbarrowed" him right into the crate, not at all afraid of the consequences that could ensue cranking a pigs tail that high. we barricaded the crate door by laying our lives across it until we could secure the bolt and then stuffed three solid bales of hay between the back of the trailer and the back of the crate, just in case. we laugh-cried with relief. we had done it. we had done the impossible. moving a 400lb+ pig willfully into a small metal box.
we drew straws for who was going to have to drive him an hour and a half away to his forever home. i lost but i begged mom to go with me just incase. i quickly ran back to the house to grab my phone to text the expectant owners that we were on our way as steve pulled the trailer up to the top of the farm gate. i no sooner pressed send when i heard the van beeping frantically. i opened the back door and out of my mouth came a sound only steve can imitate, as my eyes beheld the scene before me. steve was running for his life to shut the main farm gate and churchill had charged through the side of the metal crate and was now at large and unhappy & offended about our suggestion that we were no longer his home, sweet, home. he had a little wander here and there until he followed us like a little puppy into a nearby barn where we safely barricaded him in until the inevitable morning when we would rinse and repeat the entire charade. well... hopefully not the entire charade.
i shook from the tip of my head to the top of my toe once i realized we were moments away from a highway disaster. i have no idea how we're going to get him back into any trailer of any sort or how i could ever again confidently transport my pig with superhero strength and talents down any road, non-the-less and hour and half into unknown terrain. but let's leave that to tomorrow.
i will never, ever again... until tomorrow.