A Christmas Story

My wife and I have some animals wandering around the ranch.

We have two miniature donkeys, Scout and Brian, who sort of get along because they have to.

Our “flock” of sheep consists of five ewes we have not bred for several years so they are on automatic pilot – eat, chew, run to the gate for treats, try to get away from the sheep shearer.

And for our own, and the entire neighborhoods entertainment, we have four pygmy goats, Moxie, Gordon, Snyder, and that pain in the ass, Clyde – who needs to see himself in car rear view mirrors but will not look at one you hang in his stall. Go figure.

And out in the paddock we have two pigs, Maryellen, our sow, and the star of the show, Higgins, our boar. He is about 500-550 lbs, maybe more, which in boar terms is about the size of a large love seat or small sofa.

Maryellen and Higgins are currently “sleeping together” and we expect our usual batch of piglets in the spring.

Piglets are the cutest things on Earth when they are small enough to hold in one hand, except for the screaming like a jet engine part, so it is good they lose their “charm” at about 220 lbs or no one would know what bacon tasts like.

When you keep pigs for breeding they do get back some of their charm because they have personalities just like goats, which brings me to Higgins and his Christmas story yesterday.

I get day old bread from a Friehoffer store in Concord. Mixed in with that bread are bagels, English muffins, doughnuts, pita bread and a host of other goodies pigs, goats, sheep, and donkeys love (donkeys in moderation because they are subject to getting fat on next to nothing).

Higgins LOVES his bread and doughnuts, you can see it in his beady eyes when he is gulping, slurping and wolfing down buckets of them.

This summer I gave Higgins several sugar powdered lemon cakes, the kind with fruit topping baked in. Higgins ate them so fast his saliva couldn’t keep up. Lemon cake would fly around the room as he flapped his mouth like a great big gator on Swamp People. The neighbors would stop by and ask if I was going to give Higgins another treat so they could witness the feat again.

Higgins enters his 8’ x 12’ pig building through a door covered with a tractor trailer mud flap. When he comes in it is impressive. I have seen grown men dive for the exit and even people who have raised pigs show real concern. If Higgins thinks you have lemon cake, or for that matter, anything to eat he explodes onto the scene. Maryellen takes off.

Friday I got a truck load of stale bread and five Red Velvet cakes with a creamy icing were in the mix. I gave one to Higgins. It had a profound effect.

Higgins has a new addiction, Entenmann’s Red Velvet cake!!

Last night, after giving Higgins and Maryellen about five loaves of bread each, some English muffins, a small scoop of pig pellets and a pat on the head, I found the last red velvet cake.

Higgins was taking up a 10’ x 10’ stall in the barn and eating alone when I opened the box the red velvet cake came in. It must have made some very distinctive sound because Higgins froze in place, with his mouth half open – staring directly at me.

I looked back at Higgins, he looked at the box with his mouth still open. I said, “You want this?” Higgins didn’t move a muscle and still had his mouth open which is like looking into a hippo in mid yawn. I’ll bet he thought I might give it to the sheep, who were in the next stall.

That’s how pigs think.

Higgins doesn’t know the sheep don’t like pastry but are addicted to pumpernickel bread, but that’s another story.

So I opened the red velvet cake box, pulled the cake out of the aluminum pan, broke it into three big chunks and dropped them one by one into the still open mouth of Higgins. You could see each piece slowly slide into the fleshy oblivion that is behind Higgins’s tusks.

It was a very Merry Christmas for Higgins last night.