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Keep the Animals Warm

Unknown            Television newscasters have given suggestions to endure the frigid temperatures we’ve had this month.  If you don’t have to get out, don’t.  If you do, travel safely.  Bring your pets in.  Keep your animals warm.  When I hear that last one, I think of a night that my parents told my older brother, who was 15, and me the same thing.

The animals were newborn piglets, born during a late winter snowstorm. When the temperature fell below freezing, my brother, Roger, and Dad were concerned that these tiny animals might not survive in the barn.

Before Mom and Dad left our home one Saturday night to play cards with friends, Dad said, “Now, check on those pigs. If one or two aren’t close to their mother, bring them to the house so they won’t die. You know where the bottles.  I’ll check the others at the barn when we get home.”  We’d brought pigs to the house before.  And a colt and calf, too, and bottle-fed them – that’s what farm families did.  So Roger and I knew that Dad meant that we should put the piglets in a newspaper lined cardboard box and bring them to the enclosed back porch.

As Dad backed the car out of the driveway, Roger and I ran out the back door toward the barn.  We put all ten piglets in a box and carried them to the house.  Those newborns snuggled against each other.  I sat on the concrete floor to watch them and I got cold.  A small room heater heated the back porch and it wasn’t nearly as warm as the rest of the house that was heated by a coal-burning furnace.  “Let’s take the pigs in the living room,” I said.  Roger reminded me of Mom’s rule:  No animals in the house.  I probably begged and whined, as only a ten-year-old little sister can, and Roger agreed.  We’d let the pigs get really warm for just a little while and then take them to the back porch before Mom and Dad got home.

To protect the living room hardwood floor, we covered it with old towels and set the box in the middle of the living room.  Those little hairless animals were cute.  Eyes closed.  Soft and cuddly.  They were my dolls and I wrapped them in tiny blankets.  Roger and I fed them milk from bottles, and then they curled up in a pile and went to sleep.

Roger watched television and I watched the pigs and we both fell asleep.  He slept in Dad’s recliner and I, on the floor.  That’s where our parents found us when they got home.  The pigs, Roger, and I were all sound asleep.   And, of course, those ten little pigs had wet through the newspaper and cardboard and towels.  When Dad moved the box and towels, there was a big dark spot on the wood floor.  It was wet and the varnish had completely dissolved.  Not only had Roger and I broken Mom’s rule, but also we were responsible for ruining the floor.

Our punishment?  We helped refinish the floor and we never ever complained the many times for years afterward when we waxed that floor with Johnson’s paste wax.  And the piglets?  They all survived because Roger and I brought the animals in and kept them warm.



2 Responses

  1. Sweet


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