Many Montanans find they have to be diverse in their means of income, and my family is no exception. By nature, these are a tough, rugged, and strong people, just like the landscape that surrounds them. You have to be flexible or the winds of this existence can break even the most resilient of individuals. I am a southern girl, and while we possess a steel of our own, I am learning that the nature of this life is a "horse of a different color"!
My husband, Seth, fancies himself a part time pig farmer. He raises a small herd of them. As I write this, I am not even sure if swine are even in herds or if there is some other name by which a group of them are called. So, if you are a swine aficionado, please forgive these blunderings, as I do not find myself well versed in swine speak. Seth has been wearing the hat of painter, and dry-waller this week on an out of town job. As usual, the nightly call came to remind us of tasks normally his job to perform here on the farm. I find I will do many things, when he is out of town, that are outside my comfort zone (and believe me there are a lot of things about this life that are outside of that zone), but tonight THE line was drawn when asked to trudge up to the barn. The task to be completed not only had me gasping in horror but indignant with embarrassment.
I took a moment to picture myself...with my new stylish red hair-do, bundled like the boy from "The Christmas Story"...my feet swimming in my husband's rubber boots, which are way too big (one cannot wear stilettos or even normal shoes in the pig pen) to accomplish the desired task of checking to see if Miss Olivia is lactating. Yes...you read that correctly. Apparently one checks these things out when a sow is facing the impending delivery of sweet little piglets. Who knew?
I immediately and adamantly refused. Seth went on to explain to me the importance of this task, the seriousness and gravity of her situation. Miss Olivia could go into labor within 12 hours of milk being present. I could only laugh hysterically as he described in detail how one would check for lactation in a pig. Again, with this vivid imagination of mine (yes, it is my understanding that I was a precocious child), I pictured myself climbing under a three hundred pound piggy in mud and other unfriendly stuff, grasping a hold of....well you get the picture! Not happening...NO WAY ...No how! In all seriousness, I did not want the paper to read that my death came under a sow! My last breaths were not going to be checking for lactation of a pig and being crushed in the cold mud in the process. No matter how friendly Miss Olivia was reported to be, I would never risk that sort of humiliation; knowing my luck I wouldn't die but have some part of me broken or permanently maimed and have the story repeated of how it came to pass. Though amused with my resistance and excuses, Seth persisted in his insistence.
My first question, once I dried my tears of shock and hysteria, was to inquire as to why he had not called his mother first, only to discover that EVEN she had declined! This very capable woman, who the very first time he took me home as his girlfriend, I might add, was hiking up the hill with a gun strapped to her side in order to put some poor sick animal out of its misery ( I remember my thought being "I hope I never get sick here"), EVEN she had refused the task of checking for lactation. My husband then had the audacity to tell me it was just like milking a cow or a goat...whoa... like that was sure to change my mind given my vast milking experience of zero!
So, I did what all good women do...I delegated the chore to our seventeen year old son (knowing that he can move much quicker than I if he needed to avoid any potential maiming...although Seth assured me it was not a danger), and laughed even more hysterically as the task was repeated to him and watched as incredulous expressions crossed his face. All is well on the farm tonight. No pigs are lactating (God must be smiling on me), Miss Olivia is safely incubating her babies, but the events have driven me here...to write...to share...and to hopefully add a little humor to your world.