Has this ever happened to you? (Surprisingly, many of my experiences are now being introduced with exactly that interrogative.)
Just imagine it. The skies are grey, brooding, thunder rolling across above me. I climb the hill towards the barn. It’s the supper hour and after a quick check of the ducks and chickens, I’m on my way to the barn to feed the pigs. A thunder clap right above, cracking across the sky and I look up towards the barn and there, in the doorway of the chicken coop stands a rather large dog. (The chicken coop is under construction, so fear not intrepid poultry lovers, no chickens were harmed in the unfolding of this story.)
Not what I was expecting to see.
Harp, the playful if not slightly foolish farm dog, seems, as usual, oblivious to this very real threat and just trots along beside me, tongue wagging. She prefers chasing chipmunks, barking at robins, and chewing on her own tail. I make a decision. I don’t know this dog. I turn round and Harp follows; still completely clueless to the presence of this intruder – but my god, she’ll bark at the horses half a mile over in the neighbour’s field!
My heart races. Who is this strange dog? Why is she in the barn?
I get Harp in the house and grab the cudgel (yes, without my trusty shotgun – which I do not in fact yet own nor have a license for – I carry a cudgel!).
I’ll kill it, I thought, if its killed the pigs. My heart races. (Editors note: no pigs were harmed in this story. The pigs are big and the four of them, had they combined forces, would have kicked the crap out of that dog. The question is, would they have combined forces?) My killer instinct is heightened.
Turns out, after all that, she’s quite friendly. Maybe scared by the storm. No need for the cudgel. (Thank god) I check her tags but no address.
And it now appears as though I am her new best friend.
The pigs are crazy. Jumping all over each other at the door. Squealing…oh, you can’t imagine the squealing. Blood-curdling.
Usually I’m able to fend off their desperate attempts to escape and wander aimlessly in the barn for a few minutes before remembering that their just absolutely famished and that their food is back from where they had just escaped. Today was a different day. I open the door with a full food trough and out go two pigs! FUCK! And there’s a strange dog hanging around! My heart is racing. I think I might have a heart attack. Never, in my entire life, has this situation arisen! Nothing, in my entire life, has prepared me for this situation.
Put some food down and wait until the pigs get close and grab one! That’s a great plan.
Turns out, pigs are smarter than that. They can see my trap from a mile away.
I decide – after breathing and recovering from a small stroke – to attempt and herd them back towards the pig pen. Open the door…and in they went. As simple as that. I breathe. Dog standing there looking quite unconcerned.
Now the dog is sitting on the front stoop. And I’ve had a gin and tonic. Two actually. This sort of things never happened when I lived in the city.
Holy moly. Farming is fun.