I am a city girl. Not really a city girl, so much as a town girl, but suffice it to say that the closest I have ever come to an actual, live pig is the cartoon version of Charlotte’s Web. I read that book as a youngster, and when I had young kids, I read it to them and we watched the movie. Pigs are cute, pink and cuddly. At least that was my impression until last Saturday.
I have heard that pigs are smarter than dogs. I don’t want to debate the relative intelligence of my dogs, but I don’t think they are the smartest pets I’ve ever owned. So I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the pigs turn out to be smarter than the dogs. But I digress.
Saturday morning, the kids and I arrived early, along with nearly 90 other eager 4-H participants. Some of the pigs lay in a heap, trying to keep warm after their long journey from Texas. Others rooted around in the hay, and some played. I thought they were playing, until someone pointed out that one little piggy was an aggressive jerk who was attacking the others.
My good friend told me to dress “appropriately”. Whatever that is supposed to mean. I had on cute Capri pants, sandals and a Uinta County sweatshirt. It was my pig-picking outfit. She looked at me with a snicker. “That’s what you wore?” She had on boots, long pants and several thick shirts. When the pig picking began, I understood that I was not dressed appropriately.
First, the kids climbed into the pen when their name was selected. Yuck. Muddy. If I climbed in there, my sandals would definitely get ruined. Then, once the child picked out his project pig, a parent would scoop the pig up and haul it away. I nearly jumped out of my skin, when the first pig was selected. The dad strode to the animal and lifted it from behind, carrying it firmly in front of him.
The pig did not let out a gentle oink, as I was expecting. It screamed. I am not exaggerating. The pig was screaming all the way to the trailer. I stood astonished, wondering if he had accidentally pinched it or something. Nope. The next pig, and the next one, and every one after that screamed. It was actually bloodcurdling. I have never heard a bloodcurdling scream until Saturday. And then I got to hear it 90 times.
One of my kids selected a pig that turned out not to be properly castrated.
“That boar will be mounting those other pigs soon,” a wise friend informed me (we were buying nine pigs as a group). “If it were younger, I could castrate it now, but you can’t show a boar at fair, so you’ll either need to call a vet or put the pig back and pick another one.”
Of course, my child had picked out the one pig that had escaped castration. Unfortunately, she had to wait until the very end, to select from the remaining pigs. The other eight in our group decided to take the trailer and head to the farm, while Lexi and I waited for the end of the sale. My friend offered to head back with the trailer, once the other pigs had been unloaded.
I told her I’d call if we needed her to come back. We waited around as every pig was selected except “Mr. Boar” and two other pigs. One was the largest pig in the arena. The other was a tiny pig with a sway back. Lexi hemmed and hawed, and finally decided on the larger one. My son hefted it up, and it let out the customary scream. My son stood holding the pig, looking at me quizzically.
“What am I supposed to do with this thing?” Oh. Right. I had forgotten to call my friend back.
Sudden inspiration struck. “Put it in the back of the Subaru,” I suggested. After all, it’s only a short drive from the fairgrounds to the farm. Less than five minutes. How much trouble can a pig be in five minutes?
I was about to find out. The pig did not like the car ride. One hundred and fifteen pounds of pig snorted in the back of the car. Fortunately, once my son released him, Spidey (as we affectionately named him) stopped squealing. He started grunting and rooting. And peeing and pooing. The kids in the back seat were screaming. “The pig is peeing. Oh gross. Now he’s pooping. Oh gross. Now he’s eating my braid.”
Chaos ensued as Spider Pig tried to climb over the seat, his hooves now covered in fresh pig poo. He nosed the girls on the back of the neck, trying to eat their hair. The kids screamed. The pig squealed. I drove like a maniac to minimize the damage.
Five minutes can seem like a very long time when you are hauling a leaking pig. It leaked everywhere.
Pigs can’t jump. Once we reached the farm, I backed up through the gate, into the pig pen and lifted the hatch. “Okay, Spider Pig, jump out.”
The pig just stood there. He did not jump out. I waited. Spider Pig waited. We had a stare down, while I tried to coax him out of the car. He stood there and relieved himself one more time, before I finally got my son to lift him out.
As I pulled out of the pigpen and into the driveway, I wondered if the smell would follow me home.
Driving a pig around in my car was not the best idea I ever had. What I now have is a giant pig named Spider Pig and a peculiar odor whenever I get in the car. When asked why I would drive a pig in my car, I can only tell you that it seemed like a good idea at the time. But I can assure you, I have learned my lesson: I will never drive another pig home.