For those of you who have followed the big fabulous life of Babette, here’s another chapter. Although I sometimes wonder why her life has become the source of pleasure for so many, once I turn on the news, I realize why.
There are reasons why people shouldn’t be tempted to buy sweet little piglets, even when they are tiny enough to wear a sock as a sweater and stand on one’s back. (Why we let her stand on us, I don’t know, because now she cannot understand why she doesn’t fit in our laps.) Sadly, like many of us over this miserable winter, Babs has grown large. Quite large. Neither one of us made an enemy of carbs this season. We drowned our sorrows over the cold in Girl Scout cookies and other assorted snack foods. She’s a big girl with big appetites and those who know me know I have trouble with the word “no” and even more trouble with that hateful buzzword, “moderation”. If giving a pig a Hershey’s kiss and some cheese ravioli is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I’ve tried. Believe me. I am helpless when she bats her long eyelashes at me and oinks that lovable oink. We’re about equally matched in size now and no force on earth can keep her from my cabinets. She can now nudge the refrigerator across the kitchen.
Using her heart shaped pink nose, she has systematically plowed up three acres of grass and pulled out every expensive perennial, some over 25 years old. I had a beautiful peony, of the most delicate ballerina pink, that was planted by the original owner of my house years ago. It must have been delicious. If only I had planned to go into farming, she’d have been a great employee hired to plow. But, the time of aeration and seeding arrives soon and I’d rather not look like the white trash we are rapidly becoming, and so I am being forced to introduce her to the barnyard.
Babette is not popular there. At the house, she was the undisputed queen. Once she won the dogs over by showing them how to get into the cabinets, she reined supreme. At the barn, she is hated universally. Our large, old, rescue pig, Orson, has twice tried to kill her. Orson has not been seen standing up in three years. His eyes are mashed shut because he is so fat. His tusks curl up in an evil smile. He is rendered invisible because of the constant array of chickens using him for a warm perch. I have hardly even seen him eat, yet something must fuel all that bulk. He is really just a lump in the corner of the barn, noiseless and forgotten. When I am in the barn, he has always just pretended I wasn’t there. Upon the arrival of Babs, he heaved himself up and came at her like a stealth missile. He then came after me, just for being her friend. My genius old sheep, Clementine, who literally walks on only two legs, has also arisen and bitten her repeatedly while Babette cries and wonders how she dropped into this nightmare.
One of Babette’s tricks is turning around to get a treat. Usually, I have to ask her several times while she blinks and looks at me as if to say, “Really? Why waste the energy? You know you’re going to give it to me anyway.”. When she saw I was leaving, she commenced to spinning like a top to get my attention. Walking away from her squealing for me was worse than leaving Cricket on her first day of preschool.
At the end of the day, I went down and brought her back to the house to sleep in her bed. She ran into the house and straight for The Goose. Then, using the special noise heretofore used only with me, she began to tell him what I can only guess was, “Do you know what that @$%^& did to me today? She took me to Hell! She lifted me OFF THE GROUND (shudder) and then, she left me there, with no chocolate, no treats, with a bunch of ANIMALS! (another shudder)” The Goose, sucker that he is, then lay down on the floor and proceeded to tell her how awful I am and how she doesn’t belong down there, princess that she is.
That pig is smart. She flirted and shamelessly threw herself at him all night, rolling over to expose a giant swollen underbelly so fecund and obscene that I felt embarrassed and looked away. When he sat in a chair, she tried to climb up into his lap.
When he left the room, she launched herself up on the sofa with me and tried to look interested in what I was watching. She pretended to bite my foot and then pulled back and chuckled to make herself seem funny and endearing. She struck several fetching poses accompanied with sighs so mournful one would think someone has uttered “bacon”. She politely moved away from the dogs‘ bowls when I asked her to, and when I said “bedtime”, she marched purposely towards her crate, pausing only to root me lovingly.
I know what she’s doing. I have raised two kids. I know “being on best behavior” when I see it.
Still, I can’t keep her from destroying our yard and I can’t let her stay out when we travel and even The Goose won’t let her go to the lake with us, despite my deep desire to see her in a life jacket, thus, she is moving in with the animals.
It’s not forever. I’m working hard to overcome separation and guilt. I’ve only walked down to see her four times today. I just took her two doughnuts and some celery (she is on a diet, after all). She can still come in and sleep at night. She will always be welcome come out and chase balls with the dogs. I am already envisioning a small barn addition, painted a buttercream yellow, with window boxes, a cushy paisley pillow and, perhaps, a bench for me. Just because one lives in a barn doesn’t mean one has to live like an animal, you know.