Monday, July 02, 2007

3 little pigs

If the recent care of my 3 guinea pigs is any indicator of what kind of mother I will turn out to be, I should probably not be allowed to procreate.

For those of you who don't know, I have a history of occasionally acquiring pets on impulse. Usually these are rodents. Pastor Mom and KelBel will certainly remember the days of Lloyd, the pet rat I had in college. Then there was the rabbit I had in grad school for about 2 days before he chewed all the buttons off my remote control and I returned him to the pet store with the excuse that my [non-existent] boyfriend was allergic (I don't think they bought it but they took the rabbit back anyway). I bought a guinea pig named Wilson who died of diarrhea. Then came 2 more rats, which had unfortunately been reared as snake food, not pets, so they weren't very friendly. I had to handle them with leather gloves on.

2 or 3 years ago, I decided I wanted another guinea pig. (At this point, mind you, we already had a dog and 2 cats in the house). So I brought the pig home and started doing all the research I could about guinea pigs. When I found out that they are social animals in the wild and that they are not happy being alone, well I just had to go out and adopt another one, and since the one I wanted was up for adoption with his brother, I couldn't possibly go and separate them, and then there were 3.

I promised J that if he would let me have the pigs, I would be in charge of their care. The first few months I was the ideal pig momma, letting the boys out to play on the floor encircled in a miniature fence and not letting the cages get *too* disgusting. Well, things have gotten a little out of hand. The other day I looked in the cages and thought, oh, did J put little fake palm trees in there for the pigs? Only, when I looked closer, they weren't little fake palm trees. They were mushrooms. Because I hadn't cleaned the cages in like 3 weeks and I guess that's the secret of a successful mushroom farm. Now mind you, my pigs are very healthy (miraculously) and I am not a terrible person, I just got a little behind. I would be beside myself if my negligence ever caused real harm to those animals.

So anyway, yesterday I went to give those cages the most thorough cleaning they've had in months. I thought, hey, it's nice outside, I'll bring the cages outside and let the boys have some time in the grass under their cage tops while I hose down the bases. So, I struggled with both cages down the stairs (they are big cages because, obviously, only the best will do for my pigs!), and headed outside. The 2 pigs in the bigger cage were a little freaked from the bouncing and tilting trip down the stairs. But I went ahead with my plan, which was to put the pigs in the cardboard box that normally serves as a temporary cage while I'm cleaning theirs out, only long enough to remove the wire top from their cage, place it on the grass, and put the pigs back into this great new little pen where they'd be free to eat clover and frolick. Well, the frolicking began a little sooner than I'd anticipated, because those nervous pigs spent about 2 seconds in the cardboard box before jumping right out of it and sprinting in opposite directions. Did I mention that we live in the woods with the wild animals and that we have no fence?

One pig sprinted into the small stretch of trees and bushes that separates our house from the neighbor's; the other sprinted into the ground cover growing around our red maple tree. I went after the one in the woods first, and did he ever give chase! I ran straight through, hunched over and probably yelling, only to emerge on the other side in plain view of our neighbor and the work crew that was doing work in his yard. "Sorry, my guinea pigs are running away!" He laughed, thankfully keeping his dog from running over to help me in my search. I finally managed to peg pig #1 to the ground and snatch him up. I headed back to my yard certain that pig 2 was gone for good, but luckily he had only gotten about a foot into the ground cover and then froze with fear. I was able to pounce on him pretty quickly.

I left the pigs outside in the grass while their cage bottoms dried. The one pig who actually behaved himself enjoyed eating clover and frolicking. The other 2 sat huddled in the corner in fear. I hope they learned their lesson, that living in a cage with mushrooms growing in it sure beats running around as potential hawk food.


Anonymous said...

That was a fun read... I could only imagine you rushing through the bush, yelling!


Mary Beth said...

I would never have imagined that guinea pigs could sprint. That's too funny.

Jay said...

What a great story!
Next time, you should draw pictures to go along with it.

Jay said...

p.s. I may never recover from learning what goes into a "successful" mushroom farm!

Kat E said...

Jay--that's why I don't eat mushrooms ;) (well, truthfully it's because I just don't like them, but knowing their optimal growth conditions doesn't help their case any!)

Lever said...

Do Guinea Cows exist? They'd be cool... little miniature cows... loads of 'em running round the garden/woods...