And so it came to be the evening of the day. It had been a hot day. After several weeks of cold and wet weather the sun was welcome. That is, until late afternoon when it became so hot that I was beaten back into the house, all effort expired.
Out to to our Tamworth Pig Paddock. Max up and waiting for his evening meal. Tess down. 'Twas not good, you could see that, 'twas not good. Nothing we could do. Except that I gave her a scratch round her ear just to let her know I was standing by, and she responded by snortling. And that was that. Her journey now.
A midnight check and she was quiet, calm, and sleeping. Into the deep sleep she must have gone soon after that because I was up at five to see her, and she was no more in this life. Max was chatting away to her, telling her to get up but she was never going to do that ever again.
Off to tell Hubs. Cup of tea, then swing into action, that's what we did. Max separated from Tess, seduced away by a super duper bucket of food. Best not to have him anywhere near the scene of the Tess Recycling Project. He would have interfered. He is always irate when Hubs is nearby. Looks upon him as a possible challenger for Tess's affections. Anyways he was away in the other paddock, with the entrance between the two paddocks blocked by my kitchen table, that being the only large block of wood we had to hand.
Chains, rope, tractor. Hubs fretting. A big task this, the Tess Recycling Project. All I could do was stand about feeling useless. She was starting to redden. Chemical reactions starting to break down her body parts, the energy of the Universe at work. Needed to get a move on. Hubs into paddock. Rope around her back legs. Chain around her front legs. Back out of the paddock. Up onto tractor. Put lifting mechanism on. Up she came. Down again she plopped, the front chains having slipped. Expletives darted through the air as Hubs clambered back into the paddock. Chains repositioned. Up on tractor again. Up into the air Tessy came. Down the path she went, jiggling about a little bit as the tractor bounced over the furrows of the path.
A little distance away, the fire pit. It was not intended as a fire pit. It was originally a huge hole our builder made with his digging machine, into which rubble from the house was supposed to go, but it was never finished. Good job really. It has served up well, that fire pit.
Now the gathering of the wood. Masses of it. All our dry wood for next winter's fires. Not to worry. Needs must. Build the fire. Last year's sheep fleeces. Anything. Fire must burn hot hot hot.
Tessy put on log pile. Rolled off it. Yelled instructions from Hubs sent me scrambling up onto the seat of the tractor. Pulled a lever. Shooting upwards came the lifting arm of the tractor. Ah! Too enthusiastic! Nearly made Hubs fall over. He was in the firepit with Tess, trying to position her better. Lower the handle now. Did so. Too quick again. Hubs nearly sent into a sprawl with Tessy, who was starting to inflate a teensy weensy bit. Instructions yelled at me again. Up, I got the arm up, and gently this time.
Then I went and made a cup of tea whilst Hubs carried on with fetching wood. Fire lit. Flames dancing high. No smoke though, just a very cheerful fire. Did a visit to my neighbour over at the Chambre d'hote, to tell her to close her bedroom windows. Just in case an aroma pervaded the air during the burning of Tess.
And it came to me that Tess had been looking life-tired for some time. Hubs thought that we had caused her demise but I think not. Yes, the heat was fierce and she probably over heated. Pigs can't sweat the heat out of them, which is why they need a wallow: the mud cools them down. And yes, the wallow had dried out fast and was the driest it had ever been. But I think that Tess had had enough in life. She was sleeping for longer and longer, and had been declining in the effort to show interest in life. But it is only in hindsight that I recognise this.
My overwhelming feeling is that she is glad not to be here any more, and all I have is a sense of relief for her. I think the heat finished her off, but she was not in good health anyway when she arrived just under a year ago, this I now recognise. And bless her for contributing to one of our many learning curves here. This learning we shall take forward with us while her chemical constituents get recycled into the chemical banks of the Universe.
Did you know that we are all made from the same chemical bank? That bits of you could have been all sorts of things before your parents came together to make you? That DNA gives you the roadmap for the construction of you, but that the chemicals needed to build your physical structure comes from the same chemical bank which every single living being on Earth uses for its growth as well. And that the chemical bank is derived from the stars of the Universe. Stardust, then.
So fare thee well, Tessy. We did the best we could for you. You never gave us piglets, but then I don't think you were ever meant to. I think you came here to teach us about the gracefulness of nature which a female pig can have. Burn you well, and let your spirit fly high in the sky. RIP.