Pigs in the Garden

Pigs in the Garden

This was posted on another now defunct blog, so I’m re-posting to my blog.

Here in Northern Michigan most gardeners are familiar with the many pests and predators that invade gardens. The list includes deer, opossum, raccoon, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, porcupine, skunk, cats and dogs, and yes, turkey. Add to that numerous insects and birds, and you have an onslaught of nature ready and willing to eat fruit and flower, peck seeds out of the ground and peel bark off young saplings. Many of us have even had an occasional bear tearing apart bird feeders and harvesting blueberry crops. (Yes, I have.) It is a gardening disappointment and frustration, yet often a thrilling glimpse of nature.

Since man first set aside land for plant production, the boundary for the war of the crops was set. Garden battle plans passed from old gardener to young by word of mouth until Gutenberg invented the press. Since then, tomes have been written on the subject. Even with all today’s accumulated knowledge, chemical and technological deterrents, there are no victories, only continuing battles.

You can plant only the deer or rabbit resistant plants, but what if your gardener’s soul cries for Hosta, otherwise known as deer candy? You can net your small fruits and mentally prepare yourself for when some beautiful songbird you fed all winter dies snagged in its mesh. Animal persistence diminishes fear, fences weather and break, chemicals wear away, and technology fails. And just about the time you think you have won the war with one adversary, another invades your sacred ground and a new fight begins.

This said, there are certain bragging rights that come with each wild visitor: the most, the rarest, the best war story. Nothing, however, had prepared me for pigs.

Several autumns ago, when most plants had already died back and dropped leaves covered everything, two pigs wandered into my garden, and never having been close to pigs, I wandered into the garden, too. They were about thirty inches tall, a naked, peachy color with ears flopping over their wary eyes. It was clear the way they stayed close together they were friends and not interested in making new ones. They avoided me. Old stories on the viciousness of wild pigs haunted the fringe of my thoughts, but neither of these two bore tusks, so I thought myself safe.

After seeing them in action, the thrill quickly wore off. I’d heard about rooting pigs, but never seen them in action. Those cute little snouts can dig deep and fast, pulling up whatever tasty porcine delicacies they come across. For a brief few minutes I envisioned a freezer full of bacon and pork chops. Good sense said these strays belonged to a neighbor, and I chased them around, shooing them away from favorite plant locations.  Bill spoke with the owners at the small local grocery store, and when he asked if anyone had lost pigs, a voice was heard down one of the aisles, “We did!” How about that for luck? The owner came and fetched his escapees.

Actually, he led them away with a bucket of feed. After digesting my garden, I didn’t think they could be that hungry, but I guess that’s why they call them pigs. The owner asked us to the pig roast, but after meeting the guests of honor face to face, I didn’t think I could eat them. On the bright side are the story rights: a hosta, twelve bucks, two wild ginger, seven fifty each; pig tales–priceless.