Skunked

As I type, my husband is on the phone with a peacock guy…

When do you know you have an animal hoarding problem?

So we have officially added TWO mule foot hogs to the party here at Shalom farm. Wilbur and Charlotte are their names, of course. They are actually super cute and very friendly. I, for one, am slightly afraid of hogs/pigs. I have to be honest, never in my whole wide life (as my daughter likes to say) did I see myself being the proud owner of a pair of breeding pigs, but dang if life doesn’t just surprise the heck out of you, right?

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We’ve got them hold up in a pasture behind our house. No, you can’t smell or even see them from the house, which was absolutely one of my first questions. They are pasture raised, so we don’t even have to feed them. And although the guy said they do not like to get wet or muddy, the very first thing they did was get absolutely fully into the mud pit in the pasture. Hey, it was a hot day and they had just been traveling. Sometimes you just need a little mud bath. I’m not judging. I’m very excited to see how this pig/hog thing develops.

When the hogs arrived on the farm, we immediately lost one. Thomas backed the truck up to the gate and opened the gate and the trailer, and then walked around to the other side of the pasture to get the water going. He assumed that they would come out on their own accord. Well, he was right. When he returned to the truck, one was absolutely not in the truck, and did not appear to be in the pasture. I was in the house when my three year old came running in shouting, “Emergency! We lost a pig!”

I had to take a minute to decide just how mad I was going to be, before I headed out to the pasture. I mean, what was I going to do to assist in finding a 200 pound pig? And did we seriously lose a pig in absolutely record time? I’m already quite concerned that we’ve gotten ourselves in over our heads here- 16 chickens, 12 turkeys, 4 guinea hens, 2 pigs and one stray dog (and a partridge in a pear tree) later- and so to hear that we had already lost one of the pigs… it was disconcerting.

Once I made my way out to the pasture, my husband- cloaked in his very short, hog moving shorts- alerted me that the ‘missing’ hog was actually just blending in well in the tall grass in the pasture. Right where he was supposed to be. Thank you, Lord.

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The girl hog, Charlotte, was being investigated by my Golden Retriever and could have cared less. This is good. I was concerned about their temperament, but so far they are as docile as can possibly be. They don’t care if someone is in the pasture, if an animal is there… they’re just chillin’.

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After we got the hogs settled, and got the truck unstuck from the back pasture- thank God for 4 wheel drive- we lost Merit.

It was the scariest 7 minutes of my life.

He was there and then he just wasn’t. I was standing in the barn and I saw him running around to the far side of the pasture and I called him back. I saw him turn back and head my way before he was out of sight. I was expecting him to reappear in the barn about 30 second later, and he didn’t.

Merit is a wanderer. He’s easily distracted. And he really has been roaming the farm with his sister with fairly relaxed supervision over the past weeks, so I wasn’t instantly alarmed. However, after repeatedly calling his name, and him not responding, I had to go investigate.

He wasn’t there. He wasn’t on the other side of the barn. He wasn’t in the green house nearby. He wasn’t on the far side of the pasture. He was just nowhere.

Thomas and I were yelling. He might have been hiding. He was probably hiding. He does that. But I was basically threatening his life if he didn’t come out, and he wasn’t coming out. And then Thomas started running around, and that started to scare me because I could tell that he was scared. I mean, it was 30 seconds. MAYBE a minute. How far could he have gone? Also, which direction did he possibly go?

But then again, 30 seconds is a long time. It’s a lifetime, really…

I didn’t think someone took him. We were right there. Who could have come and taken him? But I did start to think that something bad had happened. Isn’t it crazy how fast your mind can go from everything is fine to everything is terrible. But isn’t that how these tragedies happen? Everything is fine, and then a life is changed forever.

Was that us?

The two thoughts that kept circling through my brain were 1) He has been bitten by a snake and he’s unconscious. I don’t think snake bites, even poisonous ones, render you unconscious immediately, but this is a detail that the panicked mind of a mother can’t reason out. 2) He’s found a well or a sink hole that no one knew existed and he’s fallen in and we’ll never find him.

I thought that.

Can you imagine?

My heart dropped because as soon as I thought it, I kind of knew it was true. As much as it seemed unlikely, I figured why not? That could happen. And if it could happen, it could happen to me…

Readers, Merit is fine.

He had grabbed Tom’s phone, and because he knows he’s not supposed to have it, he ran back into the house and crawled into his bed to hide and play on it. He didn’t answer my calls in the house, because he thought he’d get in trouble.

He didn’t fall in a well.

And the brown recluses are not here to kill me.

Fear is a beast. It’s powerful. It’s fast. It grips you, and once it has you, it’s dang near impossible to get out or past it. You just can’t reason or think. It’s just too big.

Or is it?

You are bigger. He is bigger. Together, you’re the biggest.

Brene Brown- the leading expert in vulnerability and a dang cool chick- calls it foreboding joy.

“Our actual experiences of joy—those intense feelings of deep spiritual connection and pleasure—seize us in a very vulnerable way,” Brown writes. “When something good happens, our immediate thought is that we’d better not let ourselves truly feel it, because if we really love something we could lose it. So we shut down our ability to completely enjoy so that we can also shut down our capacity for feeling loss.”

Man, is this true! This has been me! It’s like I can’t truly settle into this blessing because something bad COULD happen!

Just when we were settling into our farm, and feeling at home, fear rears it’s ugly head AGAIN, and joy is taken. It’s as if the enemy can just sense us relaxing just a touch. Just when we’re starting to get used to something, or just when we’re- heaven forbid- feeling happy, the joy is robed by fear.

To protect us?

What kind of a life is that?

Anyway, I don’t mean to be off on such a tangent, I’m just fascinated with the way the brain works, how we respond as humans, how we immediately jump to the worst case. The perspective here can be discussed for hours.

I just wanted you Readers to think on that for a bit. Do you do this? How can you start to control this type of fear?

Back on the ranch, our friend Lucy- the darling stray dog- is no longer so darling. Remember how I said she was in heat? Well, I didn’t realize then that there are stages of heat. The first is bleeding. So yes, it was pretty dang annoying to have this dog I don’t know bleeding all over my life. That was just the first thing. But I’m a girl, so I get it.

But stage two is skunk. I’m sorry, that’s the only way I can describe it. We’re finishing up putting the kids to bed the night before last and all the sudden we smell a skunk out the window. And of course our first thought is that our dogs have been skunked. After the last two days, honestly, I think that would have been preferred.

Lucy has skunked our farm.

EVERYTHING smells. She smells- like SO bad. My dogs smell because they are suddenly ABSOLUTELY obsessed with her! This smell is sending them into a freaking tizzy and it’s the most annoying and gross and strange and awkward thing ever. And because they keep following her around, they have had bath after bath after bath trying to get the smell off THEM. And now the back porch smells because that’s where they’ve been sleeping because THEY smell so bad.

And last night, I walked out to find Harper and Lucy stuck together. Not doing it. Post doing it. Only, they had somehow gotten stuck.

I remember watching a National Geographic years ago where wolves would literally be killed by other animals after mating because they get stuck together by the privates for like hours afterwards. And one wolf would try to drag the other one away, because as you can imagine, it’s not the best position to try to escape together. Try running from a T-rex doing a three legged race!

Well, that’s real. And it happened. In my yard. And I have to tell you, I totally felt like I had walked in on my teenager and his girlfriend. I was so embarrassed and so disturbed. I know these things are natural, and my dog is fixed so no cause for alarm there, but dang was it just… something.

I came in and told Thomas that he needed to go handle it. He basically laughed at me. What did I expect him to do exactly? I just couldn’t handle the idea that they were just stuck together by the privates out there. I was so grossed out. Like so much. I had to message my go to gal, Jackie- the vet tech- and confirm that they would, in fact, live to hump another day. She suggested cold water. I couldn’t even go back out there to see it again. I was scarred.

This morning, there is this weird vibe between me and Lucy. It’s as if I now see how she’s a bad influence. She’s no longer the sweet, innocent little girl that I thought she was. She really is Loosey. GROSS!!! And she’s dating my first born boy! I do NOT want to become a mother of teenagers. Lord, help me!

So basically, there is just never a dull moment down here on the farm. We are just learning oh so very much each day down here. It’s mostly hilarious, slightly scary, but always exactly what we’re supposed to be learning.

When you can have faith in the journey, you know that you’re on your way to greatness. After all, life isn’t a destination, it’s just one big adventure. And we’re doing it up right!

Oh, and we had to shave the dogs- ticks man!

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