Two Tales from the Barnyard

by Charles Troob

Thin Pig

Algernon was the pick of the litter, frisky and lithe, but even as an infant piglet he spent little time at his mother’s teat.   Later, as his siblings gathered around the swill buckets, he went hunting for heirloom grains–teff, quinoa, farro–and leafy greens. When Anastasia the sow fretted, Algy said to her, “Mom, I’m not scrawny, I’m svelte.”  He grew pink and lean.

A Department of Agriculture rep came to inspect the farm.  “Is that really a pig?” he asked.  “He looks like a seal with a snout and four trotters.”  When the farmer told him about Algernon’s finicky eating habits, the rep roared with laughter and sent a text to the White House nutrition initiative.

Algernon was sent on a series of inspirational visits to junior high schools.  A camera team gave him a screen test, and within a week Algy made a video with Miss Piggy, “Kisses sweeter than swine,” which went viral.  Simon Cowell assembled a new group, Portion Control:  Algernon was the lead, backed by a whippet and a ferret.  They were booked for Royal Albert Hall in Summer 2017.

Meanwhile, in between public appearances, Algernon went from farm to farm to tell other pigs that they would live longer if they kept the pounds off.  Anastasia warned him not to be reckless, but he was on a crusade.  One day an angry meatpacker fired an AK-47 at him and it was all over.   His soul ascended to hog heaven.  His carcass was donated to the Harvard School of Public Health.  His hide was tanned and made into a replica of the Deflategate football, and is now in the Smithsonian.

MORAL:  IF YOU MARCH TO A DIFFERENT DRUMMER, EXPECT TO GO OUT IN A FLOURISH OF TRUMPETS

Why the Chicken Crossed the Road—Twice

At the age of six months, a plump little pullet, I proudly extruded my first eggs.  Hours later they were gone from my nest.  I asked old Henny Penny what had happened.  She snickered, “Hey, birdbrain, didn’t you know?  We’re industrial producers, not moms.”

I was devastated to learn the facts of chicken life. Still, I wanted to save my gene pool from the frying pan.  For that, there was no time like the present.  I ran to the far corner of the barnyard and squeezed through the fence.

With the farm behind my tail, I was facing a dusty road.  On its other side I saw tall grass and arching purple flowers.  Butterflies danced over the waving stalks.  A bright future beckoned.  I strutted across the ruts and gravel, and slithered into the meadow.  The air was suffused with heavenly scents, not chicken shit.

I was in paradise–until snack time.  It took forever to dig up a worm.  There was nothing to drink.  And soon I would have to build my own nest.  It dawned on me that this escape business needed a bit of planning.  I crossed the road a second time and headed for home.

Before I could say ”E-I-E-I-O” a cock with gorgeous amber feathers was on top of me.  We fluffed around for a while.  “Who are you,” I said, “and why haven’t I seen you before?”

“I just got here,” he replied.  “Farmer Francine brought me in as a change agent.  My name is Pecker.”

I couldn’t get enough of that big guy.  He sure changed me.  Dreams of a different life flew right out of my head.  As for motherhood–I’m having too much fun to sit and brood.

MORAL:  A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES STARTS WITH A SINGLE STEP, AND ENDS AT LUNCHTIME.

 

These were written for the IRP Writing Workshop study group.  One week’s assignment was to write a fable:  ”Thin Pig” was the result.  Another week posed the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”