Posted 10-02-2003 at 05:14:45
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Jennifer Lopez is a red duroc sow. The history behind her name is that there for awhile, I seemed to be hearing a lot about how Jennifer Lopez the singer, was very picky about her environment, everything in her work trailer had to be white, special kind of bottled water, no this, no that, everything just so or she couldn't function. Then along came this red sow who literally stood in the corner of her pen and didn't sleep or eat until we got it set up to suit her. Hence the name.
The most remarkable thing about this sow is that she somehow manages to have her head buried furthest and longest in any available food source and as a result she has grown massive. One of her hams alone could feed a small village in Africa. If I had to estimate her weight I would put it at about six hundred pounds. There's enough fat on her to fry every french fry in town twice. She is the epitome of pig. Greedy and gluttonous. Why'd we let her get so big? You get her head out of the feeder. Go ahead. I tried once, with the hot shot. Zap. She merely turned around and gazed at me. A hot shot? You must be joking. I laugh at that. Ha ha ha.
I was watching a special on lions on t.v. last night. A full grown, healthy, male lion weighs in at 450 pounds. So? Granted he has claws and teeth. J-Lo has hooves and teeth and she can hurt you as bad as any silly old lion if she wants to. She could kill you if she wanted to. Don't think that thought is not uppermost in my mind every time I happen to encounter her in the pasture.
"H..hi...J-Lo...gooood girl." While I make a big old circle around her.
Not that she has ever given me any reason to think she would do such a thing. In fact for the most part she seems mild mannered and fairly sweet. So what's prompting the fear? She's supposed to be pregnant. Under all those layers of fat, there should be ten or twelve wriggling little piglets waiting to be born, and the only time I have every seen J-Lo lose her cool, was when she had a passle of babies at her feet.
Dealing mostly with Yorkshires who, as a rule, have very mild dispositions even with babies, J-Lo is an enigma. She gave birth to ten babies the first year we had her and not only did she chase Fred around and ultimately over the fence when he went in to check on said babies, but she proceeded to kill all but four of them before they were a week old. I saw her slip her nose under one that appeared to be pestering her to nurse, and fling it with all her might against the side of the pen. She stepped on them, she laid on them, she bit them, she half ate one of them, and if we went in and tried to rescue them she went after us. Jennifer Lopez is the porcine equivalent to 'Mommy Dearest'. If she will act that way towards her own offspring there is nothing to make me believe that she wouldn't knock me down and disembowel me given half a chance.
We were hoping that putting her on pasture would solve this bad mommy behavior, we were told that she may be reacting to being in a pen by killing her babies in a warped attempt to protect them, that she may view them as being 'trapped', as she was on pasture before we got her. Who knows.
Anyway, it is now my duty to check on her twice a day to see if there is any action on the south end. Check for impending signs of labor. Her milk bag filling, swelling, lethargy, so on. As quick as she is to hit the feeder, she manages to stay hidden the rest of the time so I end up walking from one end of the pasture to the other looking for something that resembles a breathing red mountain half hidden behind a tree or palmetto or shed, never knowing until I find her if she has accomplished the deed or not. So basically I could walk up on her at any time and find her already finished with birthing and ready to kill me for having the audacity to put myself in the same vicinity as her at this sensitive time.
Every day that passes the fear grows. I try little psychological tricks with myself to help stay calm, but whistling, or humming, or pretending that the hot shot I carry, will actually do any good, doesn't help. Yesterday afternoon, when I was doing my afternoon check, I found her lying out behind one of the sheds.
She had dug a hole (incidentally I hope) big enough to bury me in, and had managed to cram her impressive girth down into it in an effort to stay cool. This was a good sign, not only because she seemed to be 'nest-building' but because it takes her awhile to get out of a hole like this, just picture a male bull elephant trying to get to his feet from a horizontal position and you'll get it. There's a lot of rocking involved.
I took a deep breath and let it out, then I started talking to her to let her know I was there. No sense in startling her. She heard my voice and grunted low and let out a little sigh as if to say, 'oh, it's just you, I know you'. I had to squash a reaction of tenderness and remind myself not to let my guard down. She gave me no indication that she might move in reaction to my presence and I was reassured. I even bent down and scratched her behind her ear, which prompted another long low sigh. Awww....
That's when it happened, and any thoughts I had of relaxing around her flew right out of my head forever and for always.
The pasture dogs always follow me on my J-Lo missions as they tend to get lots of good attention at those times, and yesterday was no exception. In fact I encourage them to go with me. I have a half notion that they might come in handy if this sow knocked me down and tried to kill me, but that's probably just another one of those little psychological tricks I play on myself. Sugar seated herself at J-Lo’s head, gazing up at me with that ‘can’t you pet me instead, huh?’ look that she is famous for, and I grinned at her. About that time Girl seated herself basically on top of Sugar. This is not unusual. They lay and sit on each other all the time. So imagine my surprise when Sugar began to growl low in her throat. She had decided to take offense. In reaction to this, Girl growled back and the next thing I knew they were engaged in a fight to the death practically on top of J-Lo’s head.
Naturally this alarmed J-Lo. She was lying there with her belly exposed, a vulnerable position to any animal. Under her massive floppy ear flap I saw one big brown eye pop open with a definite ‘huh?’ look in it. The next thing I knew she was squealing., and when J-Lo squeals the ground shakes. Then the rocking started, and, dang it, there were a lot less rocks needed than I anticipated so needless to say by the time she managed to get to her feet I had covered a half acre, only hitting the ground in the high spots, clambered over the fence, coming in contact with the hot wire twice in my haste to escape and it wasn’t til after I was on the other side that realized that I had bitten my tongue either while bouncing across the pasture, or in reaction to the volts of electricity coursing through my veins.
I looked back at what I was sure was going to be a scene of carnage, to find J-Lo wobbling on her feet and yawning, and the two dogs now rolling about playfully wrestling at her feet. Five or ten minutes later when I caught my breath I started to giggle. I wish I had had a stop watch and the presence of mind to set it when I made my hundred yard dash. I think I would have been delighted with my time.