We got about eight inches of snow the other night. Sometime around 2:15 a.m., I heard the awful sound of howling wind mixed with what could only have been sleet. Like the chatter of a Tommy gun in a WWII firefight, it seemed to go on forever, audibly threatening to peck through the roof of the house before sunrise.
I’m not sure when I finally fell back to sleep, but when it was time to get up to check on the animals, I really couldn’t get to them fast enough. Trudging through the snow, I got the pigs and goats fed and watered while Dave snowblew (snowblowed?) a path from the garage to the chicken coop, around to the rabbit hutch, down to the goats and pigs, and back over to the driveway.
Despite our best preparatory efforts, a couple of the animals’ shelters appeared to have been compromised by the intensity of the storm. The Hay Bale Fortress for the barn cats was covered in a thick dusting of snow and there is no way they spent the night there. We saw them later on, so we know they were savvy, but fixing their digs took a little bit of time.
The chickens were fine and even the pigs seemed absolutely unfazed by all the snow. The latter are the only creatures on the farm who have to hang out naked all the time, and they just don’t seem to give it a moment’s thought. They came out looking for food and fresh water, just like any other morning. They seemed to think the snow was just a new layer of cold, white earth to root under… and so they treated it accordingly.
The goat shed seemed WAY better than I’d expected. We’d loaded them up with straw, so they were actually quite dry and well-protected. Despite this, I found Ramyu pressed firmly into a corner with his horns against a wall, like he was trying to hide from the already-passed storm. Dot seemed fine, but all three of us snuggled for awhile. I explained to Ramyu that I, too, had been really scared during the storm and that it was over and he should just come eat some breakfast. The mention of food, coupled with a good side rub, seemed to do the trick and he perked right back up.
Last stop was Cookie the bunny. Cookie lives in a palace of sorts built off of the end of our hoop house. She is not a meat rabbit; she will not be bred for making meat rabbits; she is simply a pet. We built a hutch for her out of an old cabinet to which we affixed walls made of pallets. We topped the set-up with old windows and some metal roofing and surrounded the entire ordeal with some low fencing. The interesting thing about this situation is that Cookie has dug herself an elaborate system of burrows underneath and around the hutch, but she has never ventured outside of it. Obviously, she could leave at any time. We’ve always been fascinated at her apparent ability to recognize that she’s got it made, what with all the food, water, and protection, and that leaving would be foolish. Equally as amazing is that none of the barn cats has ever jumped her low fence to eat her, which they could do in a blink. There’s some kind of Greater Animal Intelligence at work here and I’m not going to question it.
Cookie’s entire palace was covered in the same thick dusting of snow that the cats endured. Her straw was white with snow and her food and water were buried under at least an inch of the stuff. Once that was all fixed, it was time to relax and enjoy some coffee.
It was a sledding, hot cocoa, t.v. football, knitting, making chicken soup kind of day. There was no more snow and no more wind, so it seemed a good idea to get the dogs out for some exercise and check on everyone else. The chickens were stereotypically bizarre, many having trapped themselves in spots that they couldn’t get out of due to the high snow. In the morning, I had actually watched a little gang of four or five run-fly over some deep snow to get to the underside of the house deck (a favorite hangout spot). It was now several hours later and this troupe of super-geniuses were trapped like shipwrecked sailors on their tiny frozen, mid-ocean island.
They weren’t the only ones.
Dave actually took the snowblower back out to create paths for the chickens who had trapped themselves in various parts of the farm. By the time he was done, our yard looked like the garden in The Shining, but not quite as terrifying.
Right about this time, I thought the pigs might like some composted veggies and that Ramyu and Dot might be ready to leave their enclosure to find some pine to munch. I opened the goat gate wide and waited, but the depth of the snow proved too daunting and they stayed put. After some treats and a perfunctory snuggle, I left them to do whatever it is goats do.
I grabbed the compost bucket and headed over to the pigs. And that’s when I saw it.
If you’ve never seen a male pig’s phallus, you may count yourself among those more fortunate than I. And mind you, until today, I thought I HAD seen many pig peters. Y’know, those innocuous looking soft triangles about one-third of the way along their underbelly. That, however, is merely the pig’s porker in its uninspired state. When inspired, the thing takes on a whole new aspect… and not one I recommend seeking out.
I thought there was something really, really wrong with the pig and several thoughts shot rapid-fire through my mind:
“We are set to finish a pig next Sunday, I guess this one will have to be the one.”
“What IS that thing?!??!!”
“Why doesn’t the pig seemed bothered by that THING?!??!!”
“Oh, shit. That’s Squeak, our boar. We can’t shoot him.”
“Oh my god, that’s his PENIS!”
“Is it SUPPOSED to look like that?”
And at that moment, as if on cue, it shriveled away and was gone. Back to the unassuming little soft triangle I had known, and now, much preferred.
Despite the trauma of the event, I did manage to remember that I’d come there to feed them the compost we bring up each week from our Brooklyn restaurant. These pigs have it good (especially Squeak, apparently), and I felt that with all the snow, they could probably use a little boost to their roughage for the day.
I popped the top on the first bucket only to find the tightly-packed vegetables frozen into an unmoving bucket-shaped lump. Same with the second one. I stepped over the electric wire with the first bucket and, trying to bang it on the ground to get the vegetables out, inadvertently bonked one of the pigs right on the snout with the bucket lip.
Pigs are a bit more aggressive, especially when it comes to food, than goats are, so a side rub or a nose nuzzle wasn’t going to get me out of this one. Instead, I got quickly out of the pen, retrieved the hose, and used hot water to loosen it all up. This made them happy.
But not TOO happy… if you know what I mean.