by CJ Mouser
I tried so hard to ignore it. I knew Fred couldn’t hear it; he was way in the front of the house. It was about 7:30 p.m., dark already, and the pasture dogs were going nuts. That is never a good thing. They only alert when it’s bad news. Somebody had to go check.
I stepped out on the back porch and listened. It sounded like Armageddon — big hogs squealing and raging, sheet metal banging. I went back inside and broke the news to Fred.
“We have trouble in the boar pasture.”
I had just congratulated myself on managing to get through the whole afternoon clean. No dust, no mud. I took an early shower, put on a housedress, and was ready for bed. The last thing I wanted to do was walk all the way back to the boar pasture and deal with a ‘situation.’ I slipped on Fred’s Georgia mud boots (which are only three sizes too big), he was in boxers, shirtless, and wearing a pair of hastily donned sneakers. I grabbed the spotlight, and Fred grabbed the hotshot. We were as prepared as we were prepared to get, until we saw what was up.
I could tell by the sounds as we walked out there that it was not going to be an easy fix. I was right. We had left a gilt in with Bear so he could breed her, and somehow Hercules broke out of his own pen and in with them. Bear is a Hampshire boar in the neighborhood of 550 pounds. Hercules is a red Duroc, and he tips the scales at just a wee bit heavier.
The gilt had taken her share of abuse and wanted out of the pen in the worst way. She was fairly cut up, and Bear and Herc looked like they’d been through a blender. A water line was damaged, so water was gushing out of the broken pipe and flooding Bear’s pen.
The first order of business was to calm the dogs, praise them for alerting us, and send them on their way. Fred found the emergency shutoff valve and turned the water off. The minute we got the gate open the gilt raced out. But separating the big boys was another matter. Every time one of them moved, the other reacted, and they tied up again. They went up on their hind legs like dogs, locking forelegs, heads thrashing back and forth, cutters flashing. Due to their height, easily six feet reared up like that, they couldn’t stay up long, but even a few seconds did major damage. They both have armor on their shoulders (a heavy thickening of the skin that is as hard as saddle leather) but their necks were streaked with gashes and smeared with blood.
“They’re gonna kill each other, and there’s nothing we can do but stand here and watch!” I yelled over the screaming of the hogs.
“The heck we will!” Fred yelled back. “We have to do something!”
I held the gate to Bear’s pen open and Fred walked the perimeter, trying to prod Hercules through the gate. I found, much to my dismay, that I was standing in an ant pile, and every time I bent down to brush away ants I came into contact with the hitchhiker weeds that surround Bear’s pen. So, before long my hair was full of the little burrs. Needless to say, with the pen flooded the way it was, it took about thirty seconds before I was soaked to the skin. Water splashed onto my legs and ran down into the oversized boots and before long my every step made a hearty ‘squish’ sound.
Hercules was the intruder, and while it seemed that he was running out of steam, he was reluctant to leave. Operating in the glow of the tractor headlights, and armed only with a ten foot length of 3/4 inch PVC pipe, Fred finally coaxed Herc out of Bear’s pen and back into his own. By nine p.m. we were back in the house. One glance in the mirror and my worst fears were realized. I was hideous. I was streaked with mud, had welts from the ants coming up all over my legs, and my hair was arranged in unnatural ways by the hitchhiker burrs. I sighed and climbed back into the shower.
I went out the next morning and fixed the broken plumbing that was destroyed in the melee. Hercules was up and walking around, but he looked like he was walking on four wooden legs. Bear was curled up in a knot in a mud puddle, but he was breathing. He opened one eye and grunted at me when I called his name. I think they were both feeling the results of the battle, and I suspected that it would be a good while before either of them was up to any more mischief.
In a boar hog’s world, there is only one master, and both Bear and Herc are under the impression that they are the king. Given the opportunity, they will seek to prove it over and over again until one comes out on top. Since I am fond of both the big lugs, it is in my heart to do my utmost to keep them separated at all costs. I can happily live with two “Hog Kings”… but unfortunately, they can’t.