by CJ Mouser
I thought I heard thunder, and considering how dry it’s been around here lately, I actually got excited. It was late evening, all the chores were done, the feeding complete, the sun a large orange ball on the western horizon. That really calm time of evening, when the pigs graze quietly or root about to find a place to claim for the night, and the goats come up to the fence line to bed down where the house is in sight and the dogs are close by in case there’s a predator in the night.
I noticed Hannah, one of the larger Yorkshire sows, stretched out on her side, lying out in the middle of the pasture. The sight wasn’t that unusual, but I eyed her for a minute just to make sure nothing was amiss. Her tail twitched.
“Oh, you’re all right.” I muttered to myself.
Just as I turned to walk back into the house I saw Gracie. Same story. Laid out like a pig rug in the middle of the pasture.
“What in the world?”
One of the pasture dogs wandered past and sat down practically on Gracie’s head and she didn’t move an inch. I was starting to become mildly alarmed. What was this, some type of swine coma? I got to looking and found that there was a trail of sows littering the ground all the way back to the boar pens, and suddenly I got it.
My husband was home. Looked for his truck, yep there it was, looked for my husband, yep there he was, bent over one of the girls rubbing her belly.
This is his way of relaxing, walking the pig pasture, spending time with the animals. Some of them can just see him coming and they will fall over like they’ve been shot. I think I found the source of the sound that I’d mistaken as thunder. It was pigs falling down willy-nilly all over the place.
I’d forgotten what it was like to have a bunch of sows all bred and blossoming. Those itchy stretchy bellies just begging to be scratched. I’ve seen him lay them out for twenty minutes or better with just a few sure strokes of his hand. He makes more friends that way.
The little gilts, next year’s breeders, stood at a distance, their ears twitching, up to their bellies in the thick green grass, clearly wondering about the bodies scattered all over the place. They don’t know about the itchy stretchy bellies yet, but their day will come and they too will learn the magic of the man who tends them, and more importantly, tends to them.