VERNON COUNTY - These days I look like I’m driving a veggie- and fruit-mobile. If I were to get pulled over and have my car searched, it would appear I’d robbed the produce department of a grocery store or raided a neighbor's garden. Today, there’s a box of early yellow apples, a bag full of overgrown green and yellow zucchinis that could be used as bats (using an apple as a ball), and a bunch of prickly, funny-shaped cucumbers.
Friends, neighbors, and clients generously share their garden rejects with me nearly every day at this time of the year. Often when I come home after a day of work, a bag of green beans will be hanging on my fire number sign. Soon tomatoes will be showing up. Some of them will be yellow with rot setting in, others misshapen with insect holes gouged out of them, and occasionally there’ll be one that I’ll set aside and cut up for my own salad.
Thanks to all these fine vegetables and fruits, Louisa, my pet pig with congestive heart failure, is looking sleeker than ever! She stopped getting corn mash and grain months ago, when the vet told me those products were used to fatten pigs up for slaughter, something that will never happen to my lucky Louisa. The day after he told me Louisa was too fat for a friendly pig, I started her on a diet of two spoonfuls of nonfat plain yogurt, a cut-up banana or two, and lots of water with a few drops of olive oil.
But now that it’s garden season, she’s enjoying a variety of community bounty that is contributing to her feeling spunky and looking sleek.
Louisa’s coat used to be dull and her hair was patchy in places from not feeling well. I started rubbing her plump body with coconut oil. Now when the sun shines her coat glistens. She smells like a beach in Cancun, and much to my distress (Louisa’s too), the goats have sometimes nibbled on her.
One hot day, after greasing Louisa up, I left for work. It was so warm, it occurred to me that with all that oil and heat on her Louisa might be bakin’! I finished work quickly and made it home in record time, only to find her lounging on her side, half in and half out of her pink pool. Sleek or not, there isn’t a wading pool large enough to hold all of her.
I yelled from the driveway, “Hello, Louisa!” She grunted her unique greeting and seemed perfectly fine. She wasn’t in any hurry to push herself up and exit the pool, until she saw me holding a couple of apples. Nonetheless, I’m more careful about slathering her in coconut oil on hot days.
Louisa spends her days chomping on hay or picking out her favorite blades of grass. On the weekends, if it’s in the 80s or higher, she enjoys bobbing in her pool for cut-up zucchinis. She puts half her face in the water, maneuvers her tiny mouth around a veggie, and pulls it up to gobble it down quicker than I can cut up more and throw them in.
I like to quip that “there’s always something to do in the country,” and Louisa seems to love silly games. Lately, I’ve been hiding her apples all over her pen, from one corner to the next, behind the tree stumps that the goats like to jump on, and in the corner of the doghouse whose door has been enlarged twice to accommodate Louisa's body. That last apple I have to place just inside the doghouse door because once again she’s outgrown the opening and it can’t be made any bigger without the whole thing caving in!
Soon the fresh veggies and fruit bestowed upon Louisa will end. But by then, Louisa will be doing her pumpkin happy dance! My car will become the pumpkin-mobile, as I pick up pumpkins from friends’ front porches, along the curbside, and even from the ground next to dumpsters. If Louisa gets lucky again, we may even find pumpkins in my pasture, from the volunteer patch, compliments of Louisa herself!