Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Favors from Calvins

Yesterday, our friend, Tommy, arranged for us to borrow a 1-horse trailer from his friend, Calvin, a short man with a cowboy hat and a pipe.  Even compared to me, he was short -- kind, generous, and short.

This morning at 8, Tommy appeared to direct the show, him not one to let a friend's trailer out of sight with another friend. Borrowers, remember that advice, especially if you, like Tommy, have a heart operation scheduled the next day. It's no time to let a friend multiply your stress. 

We coaxed Velma in with whole corn, spreading it in a line to the front of the trailer, like Hansel and Gretel. She seemed suspicious, focusing on the feed near the entrance, then backing home to the paddock. The pull of hunger was too much. Soon she was stretching inside, hind feet on the ground. Tommy held the door ready to slam when she lifted the left leg up, then finally the right. BAM! She was in. We tightened three straps on the door and centered the "FARM VEHICLE" sign. 

I aimed the pickup down the road, smiling about how things had gone, but still nervous about the trailer, which may have looked normal when my grandfather only had one horsepower. Karen and Tommy, with Bennie (a goat), followed in our stationwagon.

About 3 miles later, as we approached Glasgow, I felt the trailer shake as if its hitch might be slipping off. It shimmied and quaked and my cellphone rang. "Pull over!" said Karen, "She's trying to jump out." They'd been watching Velma's snout push out the bottom of the door, and then she'd levitated herself onto the door, which was a half door, the upper half open to the sky. Smart pig, she knew why birds need daylight.

So much for easy. We gathered round the bouncing trailer and wailing, snorting pig, who seemed determined to make us regret our informal U-Haul arrangement. I tried to hold the door shut and daylight out, while sing-songing Velma and feeling like Peter. Her last day was supposed to be gentle. 

Karen returned home for lumber, drill, screws, saws, and whatever struck her fancy. She came back with a couple pallets and a bunch of wood. We set to work rehabbing the trailer so Velma couldn't get close to the door, and blocked as much daylight as possible. We were finally on the road again about 10. 

Perhaps I should mention that through all of this Bennie rested sweetly in the stationwagon. Who's smarter, the goat or the pig?

We wound our way through one switchback after another to the abattoir in Naola. Of course, we had to unscrew our rehab work before Velma could find the way to her pen of last resort. Meanwhile, Karen went inside, filled out the paperwork, and chose how we wanted our darling babies returned. The butcher's wife shared some tears and before long we were on our way home. 

Having done this once, moving Roxie was a piece of cake. We carried her 2 miles down the road to another Calvin, who had agreed to introduce his boar to Roxie. We're hoping she enjoys her vacation and comes home pregnant in a week or two or three.

We completely dismantled our work on the trailer, removed all the screws and nails, and cleaned it up so the next horse doesn't smell pigs and short Calvin might let Tommy borrower the trailer again, not for pigs. Six hours after we started, we found lunch at home.

"So you're real farmers, now?" says Virginia.

No, but we're learning.


  1. You tell this story so much better than I. Thanks. I still wish you could have seen Velma. I'm sure you wish I could have felt the truck shake when she was jumping too. I love you.

  2. Interesting to hear two sides to the story. They both sound scary. Glad all worked out in the end.