Last night was not so cold, but late in the night I got it into my head that Sheila, my big Hereford pig, needed a blanket – and you know how these thoughts are, after the initial thought, nothing will turn it away.. not even the promise of sleep.
You see, when I went out last evening, to turn the lights out in the barn and check Kupa (still holding his own), I could see that Sheila had spent a lot of evening time building her bed up high and tidy. She had actually taken mouthfuls of straw (how clever without hands) and plastered them across the gate to cut the draft. She had pulled all her straw in, clearing a good two feet of materials, dragging it into her sleeping area. Pulling it up and up, creating a wondrous bed. She must have spent ages on it while I sat inside in the warm – writing about the cold.
So my torch in hand I found an old sleeping bag that no-one wanted and took it back out to the barn.
Sheila barks when she talks. A low grunting woof. So when I laid the unzipped teal sleeping bag along her body and it drifted onto her head she barked loudly, I pulled it slightly so it came down to her shoulders, she barked a little softer, her body still down but her head rising, but still with a query in her voice. So, I pulled it down even more so it rested across her hips and settled over her belly. Good, Good, she breathed, little woof barks – the tiniest of pig sounds and laying her bead back down – she settled into her bed.( She pushes the straw a good foot deep – trace the elbow to your wrist – that deep – this is a real bed. Remember she is a good 500 pounds this pig – 226 kg (1/4 of a ton), she needs a deep mattress. When she settles, she really settles back down.)
Much later in the night, out of a sheer curiosity that would not allow a deep sleep, I rose and pulling my floor length forest green cotton dressing gown over my tiny pink nightie, I tiptoed out to the mudroom and put on my gumboots without socks, took the little blue plastic torch down from its hook, and followed by three dogs and two cats I crept through the kitchen with it’s shuttered night time what are you doing up light, out the door, across the red floored verandah it’s white posts shining in the moonlight, down the dreaded steps, out over the dying winter lawn and under the broken tree, past the debris of the ruined tree house, along the track under the elms and through the tiny twisted willows, maples, walnuts and oaks of the Fellowship Forest and back to the barn.
Walking on the pads of my feet like the dogs, my breath held in the cold, steam in my lungs, I stepped over the thresh-hold into the barn, shone the light over the gate and down to my dear piggie. My big fat pig. She was still tucked up, under the blanket. Snoring ever so gently. Warm.
I was not snoring, she said. Not raising her head. Her snorts full of mischief. You can tuck me in a bit more.
Grunt, she said. Grunt yourself, I answered. Tucking her in a bit more. My little Honey Suckle. And turning off my torch light I turned, clicking my fingers for the dogs to fall in, we made out way back to the house, silent and slender moon shadow ghosts, the cats flowing like muted flickering old time projector lights, across posts and along gates, following behind us, before us, under the trees, across the lawn, up the steps, through the door, down the hall and back to our own blankets.
It is early morning now. I will go out shortly and see if Sheila has slid out from under the blanket or simply ripped it up and eaten it. She is a pig after all. But all night I slept smiling, knowing that Sheila was warm under her blanket too.
Your friend on the farmy,
pss.. this is what happens if I do not heat the animal’s water.
have a lovely day