Bart was our mixed breed billy goat. He was magnificent, especially in his own mind. He'd never been disbudded as a buckling, and his horns were allowed to grow. Year by year they added inches to his physical prowess. As he grew tall, stately, bearded, and shaggy, his horns lengthened and curled to a majestic three-foot span. Bart ruled the farm with those horns.
Bart had one friend on the farm, Misha our barely trained, more of a lawn ornament gelding. I use the term "friend" lightly, because in the farm animal kingdom, there are not so much friends as there are partners in crime. They team up for a time in order to gang up on a common enemy. On our farm, that common enemy and sideshow curiosity was a trio of lowly pigs.
I liked the pigs, liked them better than the horses or goats actually. Horses intimidate me, and goats, while very personable in nature, are just plain obstinate. Whoever coined the term pig-headed, clearly never owned a goat. It's also quite understandable to me why God said He'd separate the redeemed from the un-redeemed like sheep and goats. Sheep may be stupid and in need of a shepherd, but goats can be downright bad and unmanageable. I say this with deep affection for my cloven hoofed, nanny friends.
And of course... Bart. When he minded his manners, I could admire him. When he wasn't peeing on himself to impress the nannies, when he wasn't stinking up the hundred acre wood during rut, when he wasn't tangling his horns in my clean line of laundry (for which I tried to twist his head off, but he only lifted me up and laughed), or he wasn't chasing unsuspecting children (though I admit I found it humorous when I saw him trotting after two terrified teenagers on the road), Bart was statuesque and very friendly. But he bored easily, and that always led to misbehavior.
Bart and Misha joined forces over one long winter. Do you ever wonder what it must be like to be an animal in a pen or pasture, just standing out there, wiling away the dreary, cold months? For this pair, the season caused them to form an unusual bond while pig-watching. Near the barn, within the confine of the larger pasture, stood the pig building, a faded, once-white structure about eight feet wide by ten feet long, with one open window facing east. Bart and Misha peered through that window like it was a television screen that played The Three Pigs all day long. They never missed an episode. Standing side by side, their heads poking in the window, they stared... and stared... and stared... for HOURS. For days even, as a pile of manure grew taller and taller under their feet until, had they not been too large, they might have stepped right through the window into the pig room.
They may have been too dumb to try climbing in; nevertheless, I believe they were plotting. They'd never heard the actual story of The Three Pigs, so they didn't know the value of huffing and puffing, yet I'm sure they stood there discussing murderous plans, breathing threats and terrors on my poor pigs.
How do I know this? Well, summer came. We'd moved our three pigs from their housing to a lovely little pasture of their own where they could browse roots and bugs and enjoy the cool shade. But Bart and Misha and even the cows had not forgotten them. In fact, sometimes the cows stood staring over the fence, just as Misha and Bart had done in front of that window. The goat and horse had spread their pig bigotry to the cattle!
Then the day came, a glorious Independence Day, when farm hell broke loose. We had over one hundred people at our house celebrating the holiday and our nation's freedom. Everyone was enjoying a giant picnic, water fights, hay rides, Ultimate disc... an altogether terrific Midwestern July 4th party, when the first screaming squeal assailed the ears of our guests. Unfortunately, one pig got a little overly zealous in his rooting around, and he'd managed to find his own misguided freedom by nudging under the fence and into the other pasture.
Every farmer in our crowd ran down the hill to the barnyard where the blood curdling cries of our desperate pig raked the air, and the cows and Misha, with rolling white eyeballs, stamped and stomped and mooed and jumped and did everything in their power to kill him. Having done his part to promote the war months before, Bart was stand-offish, like Pontius Pilate.
We chased off the murderous horde and rescued our poor, poor pig that lay suffering a broken hip. With care, we transported him back to his kin and did our best to provide comfort. Some farmers might have put him down, but we decided on a wait-and-see tactic. Meanwhile, we also needed to console a few humans. What a show!
After that, we never put pigs in that pig house again. Bart learned other forms of entertainment like slamming his head repeatedly into a pine tree, and Misha's allegiance switched to hanging out with the cows. The pig? He lived. In fact, but for a slight limp, he mostly had a full recovery. He put on some more pounds, and after a few months, we couldn't taste the difference. :)
Images courtesy of Clipart Panda