Archive for November, 2012

I can’t stop thinking about what’s going to happen to the pigs. I will eat them, of course, in thick strips of bacon smothered in maple syrup. They will arrive back at our house in a pickup truck, a pile of frozen pieces marked with neon orange stickers that read, “Not For Sale.” Sausage patties of them will sizzle in our cast iron skillet. We will use a long, sharp knife to cut through one of their hams at Easter dinner. But before then, the pigs have to be killed. A man whose name I do not know will come to the farm and shoot them one at a time. When I mention this in casual conversations, it is as if I really believe in it: “Actually, I’m glad for the pigs that it will happen this way. I think it’s best for them,” followed by the statement that I don’t plan to be home that day.

Jacob tries to reassure me of the rationality of this process while we’re lying in bed at night and tears are welling in my eyes. “The others will know, when the first one goes, that something is up,” I worry.                                                                      “Katie, you can’t think of it that way. Their lives aren’t like our lives.”

When I wrangle myself up and over the half-wall into their pen, dropping down into the boiling sea of fatness, I have to brave the pushing and snorting and trampling, the smearing of muck-covered snouts across my boots and jeans. On more than one occasion I have been knocked off of my feet, their precious organic grain spewing into the dusty compost only to be ground out of sight by their high-heel hooves. If I can distract them, then jump in and rush to the trough before they arrive, someone’s mammoth hide will pin me in a wrestling hold against the barn wall. And as all of this is happening they are staring. Out of the corners of their beady, sad little eyes they are looking at me.

We tried to lift just one end of Mitt Romney a few days ago – Jacob on one leg, me on the other, just to see if we could get him off the ground. His face was buried in supper, and he seemed to notice us about as much as a dump truck would notice rolling over a grain of sand. As I firmed up my grip on the fat rolls and we attempted to lift, I got a blast of flatulence square in the face.

When Jacob was gone for a week in September, the pigs found their way through the fence five times. When I snuck out of town for twenty-four hours and Jacob’s dad came over to check in on everybody, I got a call reporting that, “the candidates were out again. Out by the pond. Yeah, they came running right back when I called.” Of course, like all of the animals on the farm, the pigs are trained to respond to the Keszey family whistle. If I’m lucky I need only to shake a little grain and whistle twice and they will follow back through their gate. “Whew,” they seem to say, “that was weird. Thanks.” Other times, I am far less interesting to them. If they have made their way out to the cows, they would rather socialize. If they have discovered a gold mine of chicken poop, they pretend they can’t hear me. If they would rather trot through the yard, take laps around the picnic table, and peek into our windows, I don’t have a chance.

“You should just take a sacrificial ham off of Mitt on Tuesday,” Matt says as he’s cooking dinner at the Bee’s Knees.

“They have another four weeks!”

“You never know, though. That could make the difference in the election.”

I am reaching up to the shelf for a Band-Aid and the tassels of my scarf are dangling too close to the pile of sausage Ben is processing. It is delicious, fresh sausage from the owners’ farm. Their pigs were slaughtered just a week ago, and we had a sample the next day. It was spicy and orange grease pooled on the plate. I thought, okay, this makes sense. You raise a pig, you get a healthy source of protein. This is how it is supposed to happen. Now, lying on the cutting board, the pile of meat is pink and raw. “This is what Mitt Romney is going to look like!” my mind is screaming. I turn, bandage my finger, and push through the swinging kitchen doors.

When the pigs are loose in the barn, they saunter into the chicken coop like four obtuse women clip-clopping into a parlor for afternoon tea. Their hooves on the bare barn floor, their butt cheeks bouncing with each step. In my mind, they wear lace-covered hats and clutch wrinkled leather purses to their bosoms. They saunter in with such entitlement, four beastly sisters bored with each other’s company and wanting to get the whole thing over with. “Ladies! We’re here. Give us some shortbread.” The poor startled chickens must be younger cousins, forever bullied and barged in upon.

Ron Paul has a perm. The other three have straight, wiry hair, but Ron’s coat is thick and wavy. The others are an orange-brown with an occasional spatter of black. Ron is so red he is almost mauve, and he is tinted white. He is the only one who hydrates mid-meal, and consequently is by far the smallest. I sometimes wonder if things would be different had he won the primary.

By December, we will no longer have pigs to feed morning and night. We will no longer spend seventy dollars a week on Morrison’s Organic Swine Grower. I will no longer have to brave jumping into the snake pit of fat. We will have a freezer overflowing with neatly packaged pieces of Mitt, Ron, Rick and Newt. I think I will miss seeing them out there rolling in the mud, smiling out of their contented eyes.

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