Behind Blue Eyes: Little Piggies
Updated: Feb 24
I stood in line with my cup. It was a special day. Silas told me that I would never want to save the pigs’ lives again after I tried the pea soup. I closed my eyes. I loved the pigs. They were smart, and they knew me. Mamma said that it was possible that they knew me and only a little. Every single mornin’ on my way out to the barn she warned me about gettin’ attached.
How could I not get attached? I was there when most of them were born. There was nothin’ as nice as a piglet. It was the closest I could get to havin’ a dog. I always wanted a dog. When I grew up, I would get one. I’d be a Farm boss, and I would have my dog with me all the time. When no one was lookin’, and until I got caught, I liked to run in the pen with all the piglets. Sometimes the mother pig charged me, or I took a spille and got covered with mud. Those angry dots sure came around and visited Mamma when that happened. “You could get yourself hurt or worse if that sow trampled you,” she said. “She wouldn’t hurt me,” I said. “She knows that I’m friends with her piglets.” “You are not their friends. And, remember, don’t look them in the eye, Samuel,” Mamma said. “Then you will not cry when they are killed and brought to the table.” I always looked them in the eye. I decided that while we had the chance, we would get to know each other. Besides, they had blue eyes. How could I not look at them? Every time I walked by the pen, they squealed. They called out to me. ~Samuel J. Hodgdon II - Summer 1878 ~ County Farm
I come from a long line of farmers, and I'm a farmer myself. For many years, my children and I raised laying hens and goats. We won't talk about the bunnies, not now.
I clearly understand Samuel's perspective. Once, not too long ago, I was talked into raising a few pigs. The piglets were adorable. I was tearful when we picked them up. It felt like a puppy experience. I wasn't emotionally prepared for their cuteness.
Off we went, into the land of promises. The first one being that I would not make eye contact with them. This is nearly impossible on so many levels. For one, I did feed and water them. I also worked in nearby gardens and fields. They were happier than most to see me. How do you ignore such profound loyalty? I tried to think of ways to be disgusted or annoyed with them. It simply did not happen.
I have a habit of singing when I work, which became a sort of calling to them. So, I had to entertain the idea of being ungracious to my audience. They were so generous with their adoration. Disliking them wasn't working out.
There was a dance between us. I found it nearly impossible to ignore them. I noticed right away that they had blue eyes. Who would have known? Certainly not me. I was not anything remotely close to being a pig farmer, not to mention, I rarely eat meat. Did I write that? So, as you can tell, raising piglets was not a great fit for me.
I will say that I do honor the experience. I have a level of respect for pigs that I would not have acquired had they not come into my life. I also learned about their behavior. They're brilliant, I mean, they have been known to play simple video games better than some humans.
Had I purposely bonded with them rather than try to avoid them, we would have become great friends. Yes, yes, I know. They had a good life, much better than the ones raised in farm factories. But they still trusted humans, and they ended up, well you know... pork chops and bacon. Any tolerance that I did have for meat went by the wayside. It's a personal choice. I do not judge others.
This way of being can be challenging for farmers. Other than the pigs, it has been a long time since I have had farm animals. My farming consists of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and wildcraft.
I am fortunate for my rich childhood experiences. The farm scenes in my novels happened to me in one way or another. I reach back into my memories. Samuel is a character that I have enjoyed developing. His childlike innocence, woven with wisdom gained from his surroundings and circumstances, is refreshing.
Mj Pettengill, Author
Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series
The Angels' Lament: Book Two
(Samuel's Story: Book Three) Coming Soon