RIP, Pig Number Six
One of the six piglets we picked up on Memorial Day weekend died on Friday, wheezing through his final hours somewhere in the large, fenced thicket he and five others call home this summer. He probably had pneumonia; clearly he was in respiratory distress from the raspy sound of his breathing.
My brother and his wife, Jill, found him after many hours of searching. The day before, my sister and nephew joined the search, trudging through the undergrowth looking for the ailing porcine, fearing he was a goner because they could no longer hear his labored breathing. No one found him that day. When Dick and Jill discovered him the next day, he was long gone and so Dick and our friend Tom carried him down the hill, away from the other pigs, and buried him deep enough to keep roaming critters from unearthing him.
Rest in peace, Pig Number Six.
I call this guy Pig Number Six because my brother doesn’t name his pigs. Once you name them, they can take on real or imagined personalities and let’s face it, it’s a lot harder to send your pet to the slaughterhouse than it is a nameless farm animal. Which is tough enough.
The other pigs are doing well. Evidently, pneumonia is not uncommon among pigs this age, known as growers, but there is no reason to think they will succumb as their brother did. These six porkers (now five) live in pretty optimal conditions for pigs, and so the chances of the others getting sick is pretty low. Were they crowded into small spaces without good ventilation and adequate clean water and food, it might be another story.
Instead, these pigs exist in a kind of pig heaven, albeit one without the benefit of eternity. They live in a large field, have shelter, plenty of clean water, and besides kitchen scraps and a nearly unending supply of roots, leaves, and grass, they are fed organic pig food.
It will be fall in a month, the days will shorten and cool off, and the pigs will pack on the pounds that will seal their fate. Last year, Dick waited a little too long to send his pigs to their doom but circumstances prevented more expediency. This year, when they weigh in at 250 pounds or so, off they will go.
In the meantime, they have mud for wallowing, dust of rolling, grass for lazing, sunshine for lolling, and plenty of food for gobbling. Sadly, they are missing one of their original number.
RIP, Pig Number Six
NOTE: These photos were taken by my brother about a month ago. Clearly they are far, far better than any I could snap. As is only to be expected.
copyright © Mary Goodbody