Last Sunday the kids and I spent a few hours at Mac Brown's farm out on Shining Mill Road. If you've never visited him there, you should.
Though the spectacular view impressed us, and the pleasant breeze caressed us, those will not abide in our memories as long as Noah the pig.
We met Noah when, after hearing Mac's voice, he came grunting and snorting up the hill. The friendly pork belly nuzzled nostril mucous onto my giggling kids' shorts.
"Why does he only have three legs," asked my daughter, fascinated with her ability to count.
Mac chuckled and gave my child a rough rub on her blond head. "That's a good question," he said, "and a story, to boot.
Right after I brought Noah home from the swine auction, and had begun fattening him for the slaughter, he busted out of my fencing; and dern if it didn't make me hotter than a penny on the blacktop in August. Pork ribs for dinner rose to the top of my mind like cream on the cows' milk.
Then that pig got the leg of my pants in his mouth and pulled and whined like he was tryin' to tell me somethin'.
My granddaughter had gone down near the train tracks to play and got her foot caught underneath a railroad tie. That crazy sausage saved her life, because I got there just in time to pull her free before the train came by."
"Did Noah lose his leg to the train?" asked my ten year old.
By now the children had formed a semicircle around Mr. Brown, listening while plucking blades of grass and feeding them to their portly pal.
"No, little man, he got through that close call intact. But I'll tell you another fine thing that hog did.
On a hot night last summer I woke to hear that bacon barge squealin' like his Mama bit his back for steppin' in the slop bucket. I got out of bed and grabbed my gun, fully prepared to put myself out of that pig's misery.
When I stepped out on the front porch to take aim, an orange blaze startled me out of my intent to save the butcher the trouble. That barn over yonder was on fire and my prize winnin' mule couldn't get out, and Noah, though he tried, couldn't get in.
I owe the saving of my barn and mule to him."
"Wow, he must have lost his leg in the fire. I bet that sure made you sad," said my eight year old.
"Oh, you've got it all wrong there, son.
I pruned my fruit trees in that grove there three Saturdays ago. With my chain saw revving and sawdust flying, I didn't take note of the hornet nest hanging from the branch I'd lit into. Thank the good Lord the other-white-meat darted past at the same time the branch hit the dirt.
A thousand bees chased him all the way to the river. I discovered that pigs can fly when he leapt right off the side of the river bank."
"He lost his leg flying," my six-year old questioned, his tone of voice resonating with disbelief over pigs with wings.
"Alright Mac, tell us what happened to Noah's leg," I demanded. The rest of his audience chimed in enthusiastically.
"Well," said Mac, kicking the ground with the tip of his boot and getting a far away, misty look in his eyes, "when you got a pig that good [pause to stem a sniffle], you only eat him a little bit at a time."