Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Y'all still trying to catch them pigs?

            Ever since I moved to Georgia from Chicago three years ago, I've occasionally found myself in the middle of what my husband and I call a "Georgia experience." These are incidents that would never occur up north, like when you go to a restaurant and you have to order three different things before the server finally tells you that they actually have that item in the kitchen. Or when you go to a flea market and find it filled with morbidly obese men wearing overalls without shirts who are selling ducks and piglets in cages. Or out of curiosity you go into something called a 99 cent grocery store and discover that the groceries are so cheap because they all expired at least two years ago. How is that even legal? The store has a permanent location with a sign. Up north, the store with a shelf full of expired Children's Tylenol would have been shut down before the paint on their misspelled sign was dry. On the other hand, I guess there's something relaxed about this approach to life. But, still, expired drugs?
            My favorite recent "Georgia experience" happened last week. My friend Melissa moved down here from Michigan two years ago, and like me, she's fascinated by the cultural differences. She used to live in the city up north, but when she and her mom came down here, they bought a place that came with a few acres. They love it out there and even got a few goats to keep them company. Then one morning last week, they woke up to discover two pigs running around the yard freaking out the goats. They weren't big pigs; nowhere near full grown. They were cute and hungry. Melissa's mom fed them.
Pebbles the Goat versus Trespasser the Pig. Thanks to Melissa for the photo.

            They started a neighborhood search for where the pigs might have come from, but no luck. They called the county sheriff, but he said his office couldn't do anything about pigs. He did warn them to get rid of the pigs, though, because they can reach 800 pounds (seriously?), and by then they're completely unmanageable. They called animal control, but they won't come out to deal with any animals. You have to catch them and bring them to the office. Again, seriously? Up north, catching stray animals is the purpose of animal control. But apparently, the Georgia approach is to let the beasts run free until they either run away or get hit by a car.
            Finally, Melissa's mom found a "pig lady" who agreed to come over and collect the pigs for a friend of hers. Melissa called me, too, in hopes of having an extra set of hands to help catch the pigs. Why she thought I'd be any use is anyone's guess. Maybe she had already asked her competent friends, and they all said no. Seeing as I'm completely clueless, I jumped into my pig-catching boots and drove on over.
            You know the expression "slippery as a greased pig"? Turns out, they don't have to be greased to be slippery. Technically, I don't know if they were slippery or not because they wouldn't let any of us lay a finger on them. They were especially good at dashing under thorn bushes (where did all these thorn bushes come from?) just as we were closing in.
            The pig lady told us, "Grab 'em by the back legs so they don't bite you."
            I said, "I can't. I'm from Chicago."
            She looked at me like I had three heads.
            When it became evident that we weren't getting our hands on the pigs, the pig lady announced we needed a tranquilizer gun. That would slow them down, and she could get them in her truck. Sadly, no one had a tranq gun. That's when the pig lady called animal control and asked to borrow theirs. I heard the animal control lady on the other end of the phone say, "Y'all still trying to catch them pigs?" Like it was the most normal thing in the world.
            The animal control lady wouldn't lend us the county tranq gun, and as we know, they certainly wouldn't come out to deal with an animal problem. So the pig lady told Melissa and me to go to a nearby cow farm and ask to borrow gun. Strangely, the way she said it made it sound like a reasonable plan.
            Melissa and I followed the pig lady's directions and ended up at three different farms in what we thought was the right general vicinity. One farm had a dog that became Cujo when Melissa went in search of the farmer. Another had a cat who came out to greet us, but there was no farmer in sight. And then there was this cow who practically had a thought bubble over her head that read, "You two Yankees are idiots." It was when the cows knew we were being stupid that Melissa and I gave up and went home. No one had been willing to help with our pig problem.
            So the pigs are still there. They disappeared for a couple days, and we had hope that maybe they had gone home. But then they showed up again, dirty and hungry and wilder than before. I wonder if the pigs realize they're living a "Georgia experience"?

 EPILOGUE: The pigs found a new home today! A local man (we'll call him the goat guy) and his wife have something of a menagerie on their 10 acres, and they wanted the pigs as pets. He brought a butterfly net and a dog crate to collect them. Not surprisingly, when the goat guy showed up, the first thing he did was ask Melissa if she had a tranquilizer gun. (Now she knows what she's asking Santa for this Christmas.) Sadly I couldn't be there today, but Melissa tells a tale of grown adults running around for three hours trying to trap two little pigs. By the time everyone was filthy and exhausted, the pigs were in their crate and on their way to a new home. Melissa and her mom were left with the challenge of coaxing their goats off the pile of hay bales where they took refuge from the scary little pigs. Probably they're not coming down until they see Melissa pulling her new tranquilizer gun out of the car. It's the hot fashion accessory for well-dressed women in Georgia.

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