Dogs look up to us,
cats look down on us,
Pigs is equal!
Jimmy Docherty last night finished his farm animal series on the television with a look at pigs. They really are quite noble animals - highly intelligent (to variable degree, as with humans) and very sociable (ditto). George Orwell recognised this by making them top of the chain in Animal Farm.
We don't have pigs here on the farm. There was a day when every farmer kept a 'house pig' which he raised, fattened and then killed for the table. Many country folk did the same. I well remember our family pigs from my childhood.
We once had a lovely old sow Large Black. Each morning, before going off to work, my father would mix up her mash feed. During the day all vegetable scraps - including potato peelings - would be kept and boiled up in a bucket on the copper. That would constitute here evening feed. Every time we passed the pig sty we would give her titbits - an apple, a biscuit - she would come to the door and call when she heard us coming. She was the family's cossetted pet.
Until, that is, the day she was walked the 100 yards to the butcher's yard to be killed. The next time we saw her she would be strung up on a wooden tripod in the garden. Then my mother and my two aunts would spend a couple of days doing what they always called 'getting the pig out of the way.' This involved cutting up the joints (no freezers in those days), salting the legs of ham and the flitches of bacon, stuffing the chine, making sausages, chopping up meat for the pork pies and then making up twenty or so 'parcels' of the bits and pieces (always called pigs' fry) to take round to all the neighbours. At the time I thought it was a yearly event full of excitement.
Now I am sure that any meat from a family pet pig would turn to sawdust in my mouth! Much as a I love a rasher of bacon for my breakfast and a ham sandwich for my tea, I presfer that they come from some unknown, unloved piggy source.
But yes, looking at those pigs last night, it is easy to see why they are 'equal'.
Such knowing, intelligent eyes; such response once Jimmy learned to speak piggy language.
As for the ryhme, above, well there is no doubt about it - our cats do look down on us from a superior position. If they want milk (or preferably cream if you have it, please) then as I walk up the farm yard they will do their best to trip me up.
They don't just ask, they demand. And when their food is put down they will either deign to eat if or turn their noses up and go and catch a baby rabbit just to show me that they can quite easily look after themselves and that they only choose to eat what I give them.
As for dogs - well, as far as Tess is concerned the Farmer is her world. I might have bought her, I might feed her, she is ostensibly my dog. But who has the best, most exciting walks, who goes round the fields several times a day, who enjoys a rough and tumble in the evenings? There is no contest - that she looks up to the farmer as her world I have no doubt. Poor old muggins is just here to open the tin of dog food.