Farm Horizons, May 1997

The adventures of Arnold the Pig

By ANDREA VARGO

Beware of husbands bearing pigs.

Well, husbands with suspicious bulges under their jackets should be questioned carefully before allowing them in the house.

It was so easy to understand why he did it, and I got sucked right into the whole mess.

Here was my husband, Ron, standing in the kitchen with this newborn pig.

"The neighbor's sow had 17 babies in her litter, and he was going to hit this runt over the head with a hammer," said Ron.

This little red pig looked at me with such trusting brown eyes and the longest lashes.

You know what I said. You also know what I should have said.

So, Arnold, the pig, became a part of our wintertime household for about a month.

We weren't farmers. There was no barn. Arnold (a girl pig) slept in a plastic lined playpen and went outside to potty with the housedogs several times a day.

Bath or no bath, a pig still has a pig odor. I was not happy, but she was.

Soon, the weather broke, and I moved Arnold to a dog house with a large miniature poodle for company.

Most of the time they got along, but when Arnold was frisky, the poodle would come flying out of the dog house.

As the days warmed, she slept on the back porch with the housedogs and the German shepherd.

One day, our three boys were playing in the woods, and Arnold and all the dogs were with them.

A children's encyclopedia salesman stopped to give his pitch, when all the animals came running to see the visitor.

He said, "What kind of dog is that red one?"

I told him if he couldn't tell a pig from a dog, how could I be sure he knew anything about encyclopedias? I didn't buy any.

About the end of May, Arnold was digging up the garden as fast as it could be planted.

Ron made a nice big pen and house for her. She should have been happy as a pig in a puddle.

She cried.

When Ron came home from work, he had to climb in her pen and play with her. It looked rather funny. He wore a shirt and tie to play with his pig.

He scratched her behind the ears and whacked her on the side. She would do those stiff, funny little pig bounces around the pen.

If he didn't greet her right away, she would stand her 60 pounds up on the side of the pen and whine.

All that time, he told us we would butcher her in the fall. Right!

At that point, my oldest son swore off pork for life, and the other two said we could eat her ourselves. We couldn't.

The livestock hauler came to pick her up one sunny fall day. He got out of the truck with this electric cattle prod in his hand, and I went ballistic.

"Don't you dare touch my pig with that thing," I screamed.

He said that one pig doesn't herd worth a darn.

I got a dog leash and led my 230 pound baby up the ramp. I felt like such a traitor.

The check was for about $111 after shipping and yard fees, so we lost a lot of money. We did have some good memories, but no pork chops.

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