Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Good Good Pig (copy)

It was a crisp winter day when they brought Christopher Hogwood home. Weighting seven pounds, he was the runt of the litter and he was sick. “His breathing was wet and noisy. His eyes were runny, and so was his other end.” The couple was unsure he would live through the night.

Runts are dangerous to have in a litter. They make a noise unlike the other piglets—Nynh! Nynh! Nynh!—and if in the wild will attract predators. The mother may bite a runt and tear him in half to stop the cacophony, but sometimes they accidently choose the wrong sibling. Another method used to silence the noise is to stomp the runt, but again other healthy piglets might get in the way.

In this farrow Chris was the odd piglet out. His mother possessed ten teats but only eight were in working order. Chris was unlucky number nine. To protect this litter Chris would have to die, but the farmer thought him too cute to kill. He was rather good-looking as pigs go with “enormous ears and black and white spots, and a black patch over one eye like Spuds McKenzie, the bull terrier in the beer commercial.”

Instead they sequestered Chris and watched as he went from one disease to another, but still clung to life. “The wormer didn’t do a thing for him,” the farmer told the family who agreed to take the sick piggy. “He probably had a touch of every disease in the barn—he had worms, he had erysipelas, he had rhinopneumonitis—and yet he wouldn’t die.”

It was with great hope, Howard and Sy, laid Chris in his makeshift sty in the barn that night. He was safe. With Sy being a vegetarian and Howard Jewish, the pig was sure to live a long life unlike his farrow. A pig’s average life span is six months. Exactly, the length of time it takes for a pig to gain 250 lbs and become perfect eating material.

“That first night, we couldn’t picture him growing much bigger than the shoe box in which we carried his shivering, emaciated form,” said Sy.

To everyone’s delight, Chris stood on wobbly hooves the next morning, and again the next day until he reached the staggering weight of 750 pounds. This is the story of The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery which proves to be a massive good read.