We kept 10 piglets from the last litters. I don’t name them, because they are going to be in someone’s freezer come spring, and I know that. I do try to keep somewhat of an emotional distance from the food animals, while at the same time treating them with love and respect. Pigs are smart and funny. Our have been trained to water themselves…it makes less mess if there isn’t a big container of water for them to wallow through in their pen. So, just like the horses and cows, we open the door to the pigpen every evening and they run down to the creek to drink. After quenching their thirst, they usually run around, rooting up the snow or chasing the sheep and geese. It looks like they do this just for the entertainment of watching the other critters run. Eventually, they file back into the building they live in. They know fresh food and a dry bed await them when we close them in for the night.
If the piglets could talk, I have no doubt they would tell me this is their favorite time of the day. The minute they hear me filling a bucket of water or opening the door to the hen house, they squeal and start pushing at the door. I think a pen of hungry dinosaurs would probably make less noise. When it is their turn, they rush out so quickly that I sometimes see one on top of another for a few steps, since none want to be the last one out. After the frantic racing is over, I watch the door some nights to shut it when all 10 are back inside. Lately I’ve offered them a cookie by standing very still next to the path with my arm outstreched. One taker one day led to much friendlier piggies. Last night, they were racing down to the creek when one stopped, turned around, walked up to me and just stared at me, head tilted to the side ever so slightly. I looked down at this piglet at my feet and realized that she was asking me for a cookie. I pulled one out, offered it to her, and she took it gently. Munching the cookie, she turned and scurried down to the water with her siblings. It was one of those times when you are certain you know exactly what another creature was thinking, without words. I also don’t believe she’d taken a cookie from my hand before, so it was a rather charming moment. She had seen the others get a snack and saw that they trusted me enough to eat from my hand, and that nothing bad happened to them. I know it sounds a little Disney-fied, but Dan happened to be filling a bucket of water and saw the whole thing. Even living on the farm his whole life, sometimes he sees the animals act in a way that is still surprising. This was one of those times. He agreed that there really was no explanation other than that the pig stopped, turned, and asked me in her wordless way for a cookie.