First of all, I realize we live in the mountains with God’s critters. Love catching sights of the deer, turkey, bear, coyotes, turtles. But then, there are the hogs! Razorback hogs!
As of three weeks ago, I now know how destructive feral hogs can be. They came out of the mountains at night to our little happy valley, and they feasted on grubs in our yard. They must think we have a fine restaurant.
The week before Mother’s Day, we had rain, silver bars of rain.
Ground was soft, and numerous hogs came, rooting their way through our yard. I mean they really went through it. Too many. Too many.
A bad feeling hit me. Hit me like a band of thieves had come through my window and had stolen something I prized. Maybe the word I struggle for is “violation.”
I was numb and lived in a daze for one full day.
Twenty years ago, I was a mental health counselor. I know I must deal with this. That was my thinking. I did not want to get stuck in shock or go into denial and do avoidance.
Incredibly unreal. So, the way I made this destruction real to myself was by walking around in the yard and looking at upturned rocks, flowers, plants. Hogs uproot grass and anything else to get grubs. They want what they want! Their favorite places in our yard seem to be under the willow and two maples. Probably easy diggings after all the rains.
My husband saw the tragedy as a problem to be fixed. Not me. I was not ready for problem-solving, not yet. I have to feel it, first.
“It’s a big herd,” said my husband.
Hours passed. Days passed. I moved through my shock, anger, bargaining, sadness. Slowly. Yes, it was a big herd, a big problem, so it deserved big grief. I mourned for my yard. What helped me was to talk about it to anyone who’d give me an ear. Then, I was exhausted with talking.
It was real. My thinking slightly altered. However, I still wanted hogs gone.
I get it. They had come for the grubs. Yum! They didn’t even notice how they’d exposed bulbs and laid iris flags in the mud. They didn’t care about the rutted yard.
The soft ground and puddles must have delighted them like a watery bed. They probably got a tummy full, then hurried back to the deep woods and hills, finding a good place to sleep it off.
Anger came and went. Sadness inside me, lessening but still in me.
The men of the valley have been problem-solving with cameras, guns, and cage traps. I’m grateful. Presently, 11 hogs down. Who knows how many to go before hogs retreat, giving up the luscious grubs.
I pray they will withdraw into the hills from where they came.
The last two, trapped this morning under the willow, were given away to a man who happily prepares the meat for his table.
Hogs. They seem to come in waves, leaving in their wake destruction.
It’d be nice if they’d just wave a white flag and surrender, as in a battle. Just give it up. They won’t. They will either move on or be captured or shot.
When captured, they charge, though they are trapped. You can feel the hate they have for being caged. They are full of fight.
Why do I think of war? Maybe because the price of war is death.
We have fertile soil in the valley. Finally, I see that after the mower runs over the ground again and again and it rains once more, the grass will return and the ground will flatten. In time, it will recover, as everything else in God’s hand will recover.
You may think I am too attached to a pretty yard. I have had that same thought.
I was a Master Gardener once upon one time. Those of us who love flowers and trees and call them by name do get attached, a little like people with dogs and cats. They become dear to us.
I have talked and talked about the razorback hogs; now I am writing about the enemy. Writing helps me to think it through, to see it from another point of view, to heal from it. Writing. Yes, praying and writing are my lifeboats, my ways of coping and grieving the hard things that happen in this world. I pray and write for deep relief. I do whatever works for me. Far better than fretting or letting it fester.
It’s Memorial Day weekend.
I am aware my story here does not begin to compare to the man holding up a fellow soldier and marching into battle. But today, I understand there are many battles inside of us, outside of us.
I choose to stand for what I believe in. We fly the American flag.
Stay safe and God’s love to you,
Photo of the grounds, the morning after the destruction. Mid-May 2019.