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This painting by my uncle, Bill Iles, hangs at Cochon’s in New Orleans.
The Happiest Pigs in Rapides Parish
I did a double-take from the window of my truck. Something scampered behind a pile of trash. It was too big for a rat and smaller than a dog.
I was backing out of the Rapides Parish Landfill, having just unloaded a truck-load of shingles. A tree fell on our house and the last of the roof repairs was finally finished. In the city of Alexandria, the homeowner is responsible for disposal of construction debris. So I’d dutifully brought my load to the dump, or as they nicely call it “the sanitary landfill.”
I was glad I had my work boots with me. The off-loading area was ankle-deep in muck and the mixture of odors wasn’t sanitary. It smelled like a dump.
I kept watching the pile of trash and soon saw a piglet emerge, happily munching on something that I didn’t want to know. For some reason, it really tickled me. I got out of the truck to snap a photo but the pig was camera-shy and ran back behind the pile of trash.
Not far away I saw several other piglets, probably about six weeks old, with a sow. Following their mother’s lead, they were using their snouts to unearth morsels among the trash.
When I stopped at the scale house to pay my fee, I asked the Amanda, the scaler. “What’s with the pigs?”
She scowled. “They belong to our neighbors. We can’t keep them out.”
I laughed. “Ma’am, they haven’t made the fence that can keep pigs away from a feast like this.”
I grew up with woods hogs and they cannot be stopped at rooting wherever they please. “The only thing that’ll keep them out is a 12 gauge shotgun,” I said.
She didn’t share my humor on the situation. She shrugged. “We’ve tried everything. Called the sheriff’s department. They weren’t any help.”
I couldn’t quite envision many deputies who’d chase a pig in a landfill.
I also thought about the owner of the pigs. They didn’t need to slop their hogs. Their hogs had a five acre gold mine to dig in.
I love my bacon but don’t believe I’ll eat it with those neighbors, and I hope they don’t supply the pork for Cochon’s of New Orleans or any of the boudin markets I frequent.
Probably if we knew all of the things pigs eat, we’d have less of an appetite for pork. Maybe the Jews and Muslims are onto something.
I laughed all of the way back to town thinking about the piglets. A big hog is just plain ugly, but a piglet is kind of cute. All day I enjoyed telling about the pigs, describing them running among the long line of arriving garbage trucks. In spite of every human effort to remove them, they were enjoying the time of their lives.
The happiest pigs in Rapides Parish.
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