“There’s a sort of pig in the barnyard,” I eventually told Angie, a rancher whose house is a couple of miles from ours. “We’re wondering if it’s yours.”
“Sounds like,” she said. “Could be. What’s it look like?”
“A pig, only shorter and dark gray with long black bristles all over it like a hairbrush and it limps.”
“That’s our pot belly,” Angie said.
“Do you want us to bring it back to you?”
“Nope. We were going to eat him, but he’s old and not worth anyone going out for.”
“So we can keep him?”
“If you waannnt.” The word spanned a chasm — disbelief on one side, ridicule on the other.
“What’s his name?”
Over the years, Angie has indicated, through a series of pauses, that I am an imbecile. I waited through one now. “Pig,” she said at last, raising her voice as she said it to indicate that there could not possibly be another name for this animal.
“What should we feed him?” I asked.
“Feed him? Feed him?” she laughed. “You don’t feed him anything. He just eats. He’s …a … pig.”
I bought pot bellied pig food at the feed store, fifty pound sacks of dry pellets that made him wheeze. When I squatted beside him to pat his shoulder, he skidded away.
I bedded a stall for Pig with straw. He snorted his way into it, plowed a circle with his snout and lay down. Bernie painted his portrait and hung it on the wall over his bed. Pig looked out his door at the horses opposite. The horses snorted.
Pig settled into a routine. Every morning he met me in the barnyard and ate the breakfast I served on the trash can lid. Then he shuffled to a low rubber tub Bern set out for him to drink from. Once he’d drunk, he tipped it over and soaked himself.
While the horses ate, he walked the barnyard in a big circle. At each feeder he lay down, chin on trotters, and waited for the horse to lower its nose to his. An hour or two later, barnyard visits complete, he ambled down the driveway and headed north along the mile of dirt road that runs beside our pastures. He visited the horses who lived in those pastures, turned around and arrived back in in the barnyard in time for supper.