Clint’s Chronicles on the Funny Farm
Allow me, if you will, to begin with a bit of foreign language for you…Sus scrofa domesticus – A Vicious Beast! (If you don’t know Latin, translate as PIG!).
Shortly before moving to Harrell Hill I received a telephone call from my buddy Doug. He described a ‘situation’ in which he was leading his pod of hogs, or is it a herd? Maybe a wad, who cares — it was a platoon of hogs. It seems they had wriggled out of their pen and run amok among the cattle. Neither cow nor pig enjoyed the whimsical frolicking! So Doug set out to save the day…his specialty in my opinion.
He took a bucket of pig food pellets, or whatever it’s called, to lure los puercos (that’s Spanish for pigs) down from the feed barn. As Doug was marching merrily along with de porcs (that’s French for pigs) the daddy piggy – aka “Boris” – insisted on a snout full of pig pellets. Now Boris was a rather substantial creature who tipped the scale at 700+ pounds. So, had it been me, I would gladly have surrendered to Boris’ extortion tactics…but not Farmer Doug; after all, you must show the animal who is in charge, right? So when my pal did not acquiesce to Sir Boris’ demands, that monstrous hog chomped a rather sizable chunk of Sir Doug’s backside!
For reasons only the Lord knows, Doug had called to tell me he’d wanted me there to help him move these cannibalistic maiale (that’s Italian for pigs). Have you noticed my desire to teach you various linguistic skills! Whatever! I pondered why ‘my friend’ would subject me to such peril. But, as has happened many times over our quarter-century long friendship, Doug simply chuckled and said he looked forward to my arrival at the farm.
Fast forward 4 months, now it’s July 2010; Doug and Barbara ask if I will “watch the farm” while they go visit one of their children. On the outside I exuded confidence and proclaimed that I would be honored to be “in charge” of Harrell Hill Farms if even for one day. However, deep down in the pit of my soul I was filled with terror and anticipation of what happens if ____________ happens? Heck, I don’t know what I’m even doing here much less how to handle a genuine farm crisis.
The morning began like most every summer morning in the mountains, cool breezes, the flutter of hummingbirds and butterflies. I went to church, praised God and visited my friends there. I felt that adrenaline rush of knowing that I had the farm to myself…a genuine Farmer Clint. After church I returned to the farmhouse relieved that the day was nearly done, Doug and Barbara would soon be home and I had averted disaster. I reclined on the sofa and drifted asleep.
Sometime later I was awakened by squeals and grunts the likes of which were unfamiliar to my city-slicker brain. Rubbing my eyes I peeked out the window — when what to my wondering eyes should appear, pigs were everywhere. Digging, rooting, voracious varken (that’s Dutch for pigs) were devouring Barbara’s herb garden and flower bulbs. Oh no, it was “The Nightmare on Byrd Road!”
Quickly, tentatively, I charged into the front yard and tried to reason with the schwein (that’s German for pigs) of the error of their ways. They continued to gnaw at the beautiful floral beds as if I were not present. I grabbed a tobacco stick, swung it with authority, bellowed in my best Farmer Clint voice…all the while praying, “Lord, please don’t let these pigs eat me”.
Miracle of miracles, a mere tap of the pole and that sweet piggy family ceased its demolition and looked at me. My confidence blossomed as one-by-one hog, sow, piglets fell into line and followed me down Byrd Road. At last I was a genuine badge carrying pig farmer. (Importantly, when I first sprang out the door to halt the carnage I had filled my pockets with tomatoes for insurance. I figured that if it ‘went bad’ I could hold them off with treats, imagining a slow death but at least they would have eaten something before turning on me!)
The relaxed stroll – Farmer Clint and his pig friends — proceeded incident-free for nearly 300 yards, the sweet scent of honeysuckle wafting on a soft summer breeze (I think it was honeysuckle, perhaps it was kudzu…how was I supposed to know – I’m new to this. But the air was clear and fragrant!) I thought to myself, “Doug will be so proud of me for corralling these critters. At last I accomplished something on my own…NO PIG LEFT BEHIND, that’s my motto. And, for once, Doug did not have to rescue me!”
Suddenly, without warning, the fat-back brigade sprinted in every direction. I was stunned, baffled, befuddled; my confidence and swagger gave way to fear, confusion and doubt. I knew this was Showtime and quickly bounded in pursuit…swinging my tobacco stick, speaking in a Darth Vader voice, chasing the slippery bacon bits toward the Aunt Mae barn.
Ya know what? I managed to corner all but one of the little rascals and ‘drove’ them into the pen like a pro (okay, they sort of went in by themselves but I was present). But one little piggy, this little piggy,…he was outa heah! He wriggled his pork chop self through the cabbage patch, pausing long enough to destroy a few of the choice tender heads; bolted through the thick Christmas tree field, where I followed and was scratched, bruised, fell on my face and nearly broke my leg. We were heading toward the meadow for a Farmer Clint vs. Porker faceoff!
As I exited the Christmas trees the speedy piggy stopped…sniffed the air, pawed the earth, and made that guttural sound from deep in his belly (and, by the way, pigs do not say OINK OINK but something far more threatening). In a flash he spun on his piggy hoofs and glared into my eyes (I later observed that one of the bait tomatoes had fallen from my pocket and somehow the little ham noticed!) Fifty yards into the briar/pig weed/Christmas tree maze I looked over my shoulder and observed the monster finishing the red tomato fruit.
His snack now history, the Son of Boris opined that perhaps Farmer Clint had more ripe tomatoes in his pockets and decided to investigate further. Scampering at the speed of light he charged, I ran like the wind. (Okay, with a fused right ankle I sort of hobbled along but at least I was in the lead).
Pigweed scarred my groin, groundhog caverns nearly severed my ankles, briars mauled my Farmer Clint face, and it was a race against certain death. I would not succumb to a man-eating piglet!
Huffing, puffing I was near cardiac arrest when it came to me…empty your pockets; give it up, all of it, and be saved! Slowing to a mere trot I strategically dropped the delicious morsels in my wake. The ferocious pork loin slid to a stop and inhaled my offerings. This pig was truly famished, leaving no evidence of the banquet. And then, THEN, after completing the feast he approached slowly – I bristled for battle, tobacco stick at the ready. I poised to strike my very best blow as he joyfully skipped around me, making a path toward the barn. It seems my satiated little ham-hock was now interested only in reuniting with his family. Cautiously I advanced in front of him, opened the gate, and gingerly coaxed him into the pen. Smiling up at me it was if he was saying, “This was my destination all along.”
It was over…ended…terminado…finis. Pigs in place, Farmer Clint in charge. King of the farm!
Predictably Doug and Barbara arrived home late afternoon. “Well, Pollard, how did everything go?” Doug asked. Filled with pride, my swagger intact, I replied, “No problem, Doug. I’ve got this thing well in hand. Running Harrell Hill Farms is a piece of cake.”
Secretly, of course, I knew that once again the Lord had saved my bacon on the Funny Farm!