Mark, Mary and their two daughters live next door. Over the years the family has built up a menagerie of animals to share their piece of Yukon forest. There are chickens and turkeys, some of which we were pleased to add to our freezer last fall. There is "horse" who regularly steps up onto the deck of the house in the evening to watch television over the shoulders of the family, two dogs, a couple of goats and Joseph Xavier, the Vietnamese pig. Heavily jowled, charcoal grey, and short legged, JX patrols the property fence line, keeping his keen, beady eye on the activities of the suspicious neighbours. Except in deepest winter when the snow makes his patrols both difficult and unnecessary, he has a routine more rigorous than anything Home Land Security operates. A couple of weeks ago the carpentry crew working on our house stopped all their work to watch JX makes his first patrol of the spring. He swiveled his large head and scowled at them briefly before continuing his languid pace along the wire.
Yesterday, JX mounted an external operation slipping past the fence and disappearing down the road. Mark and the girls headed off to find him, eventually tracking him down at the school about two kilometres away. Joy saw them on the way home from the shops and suggested I go out and help. I figured a mounted rider might be helpful in case JX made a run for it - forgetting the short legs. By the time I made it out to the road I saw JX coming around the corner. Mark had a switch in each hand to aid in pig navigation and beside and behind him, covering the whole roadway, was a neighbourhood group running and shouting encouragement on the great pig drive. There were the two girls, several other small children, a mother with babe in arms, a teen driving an old green van and another woman pushing a wheel barrow - a scene straight out of a fairy tale. At the gate JX paused briefly, surveyed his followers and, with as much decorum as a stately highly regarded pig can muster, led the multitude into the yard for juice and and a snack.
We all feel safer now.