Life in the slow Lane: 'Lonely Girl'

It's that time of year and four out of my five piggies are now gone.

That leaves me with one lonely girl, who faces the same fate as her siblings later this week. But for the moment, she's by herself for the first time in her life.

It hasn't been easy for her to make the transition to "only pig," and let me say that she's told me repeatedly just how awful it is. I know I haven't had that many pigs over these last years--the total being fifteen--but none of them were as verbal as this hog. This girl can grunt faster than an AK47 shoots. The minute she catches a glimpse of me coming toward her she starts a rapid fire "hunk-hunk-hunking." She continues making this low, grumbly noise the whole time we're together.

Although it sounds almost aggressive, it isn't. It can't be, not when she keeps on talking while I scratch her ears, her back, and eventually, her belly. She chatters away like this while we're walking across the field, while I'm feeding her, while she grazes in my garden, which I've allowed her to enter because there's still some beautiful grass in there. So far, she hasn't tried the chard or the kale.

She's just a prattling piggy, and now that she doesn't have any sisters left, she's perfectly willing to include me in the conversation. I think that's because neither the sheep nor the turkeys have any interest in joining her in conversation. She doesn't want to talk to the dogs. This full moon has been a rough one. The ditch is off and coyotes are circling the property, which means Bear has barked all night long for the last three nights. Apparently, Miss Pig-Manners is punishing them for disturbing her sleep.

Knowing she's lonely, I've done my best to comfort her in the time-honored fashion given to mothers. I feed her. It started with the leftover homemade yeast rolls from Thanksgiving. (I so don't need to be eating bread!) She's quite the dainty eater, refusing to bite the bread and instead waiting for me to break it into small pieces, which she nibbles carefully. There was one piece of pumpkin (well, actually hubbard squash) pie left, so I took it down to her. That won me a bit of quiet. She snuffled it for a moment, then ate in with delicate little bites that were carefully savored. I swear she puts my manners to shame.

On Saturday I won the treat lottery when I got my hands on a bag of "compost" from Natural Grocers in Sedona. What they call compost is the contents of the produce department's trash can and includes both trimmings and rejects. I came home with about 50 pounds of squash, apples, pears, one persimmon, lots of lettuce, celery, carrot tops, and tomatoes. Lonely Girl "hunk-hunked" between bites and battles with the sheep over the fruit.

Yes, each one of my ovine girls did their best to intimidate a 350 pound hog, but then we all know that sheep are the brightest bulbs in the pack. However, what they lack in brain power, they more than make up for in determination and a thick skull. I giggled as each one took a turn at lowering her head to headbutt the pig three times their size. I've said this before but it bears repeating. Dorper Sheep are meant to be raised to weight on nothing but grass, but no one ever asked them if that was their dietary preference. My sheep would much rather eat chicken food, pig food, fruit, lettuce, and roses. (Ack! They once again got up here and trimmed my roses for me!)

Competition aside, no one was left disappointed when all was said and done, and there was nothing left except the tomatoes. What does it say about us pasta sauce lovers that nothing here wants to eat tomatoes, not even the turkeys?

As for me, I'm going to miss the lonely girl once she's gone. It's sure going to be quiet around here without her.

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