Saturday, August 18, 2012

These little piggies just keep trying to go home

Time for the latest animals-behaving-badly roundup. The saga of those naughty western Mass farm animals just will not end.

As our reader will recall, when we last left the wild domestic animals of one Mr. Cosimo Ferrante, a judge had ordered that he remove them from Goshen, where they were running loose and destroying the neighbors' property. Frank Ryan's lively report in the Gazette brings us up to date.

Apparently the prodigal porkers have absorbed our ethos of "question authority," for they were back this month, to the frustration of neighbors and chagrin of Ferrante. David Richardson said, "This has gone on long enough and I have had it." "I will be 75 in a couple of weeks. I like to go out in my yard without worrying if I am going to step in a rut or a hole and fall down." He threatened to take matters into his own hands, warning Ferrante that he would send him both a bill for the landscaping and a pile of carcasses: "After three or four years of this, I told him the next time his animals are on my property, they will be shot and he will be picking them up in a truck." Joel Carr, whose property had been damaged by runaway cattle, said "Its just crazy. No matter what we do, we just can't seem to get rid of this guy and his animals."

Ferrante, for his part, was by turns despairing and angry. He said that bears had entered his property, scaring the pigs, who had fled.
"Honestly, I am an emotional wreck over all of this," Ferrante said. "I can't seem to get a break. Things happen, and I try to make it right, but people here won't even talk to me anymore. I am not a bad guy, and I am really trying to work things out, but I get met with this kind of hostility."
Ferrante and the farmers whose property he had been renting are due in court on Monday, but something tells me that may not be the end of the story.

Meanwhile, in a Connecticut restaurant, a venerable lobster earned his freedom thanks to a spontaneous act of mercy. The 17-pound, 80-year old creature known as Larry was about to meet his maker when Don MacKenzie outbid the prospective diner:
"This lobster has seen World War I, World War II, seen the landing on the moon and the Red Sox win the World Series, he's made it this far in life," MacKenzie told the local paper. "He deserves to live." 
Something about the timeline doesn't add up (World War I ended in 1918), but the man's heart is in the right place. The report went on to explain that Larry would be returned to a part of the sea in which he would be safe from renewed capture.

As it turns out, even animals in "old Europe" yearn for freedom. An intrepid trio, like the pigs of Goshen, made their escape without human assistance, but in a sequence of events that sounds as if it came from an action film. "Fox and Boar Aid in Captive Kangaroos' Brazen Escape," read the headline. Three kangaroos broke out of a German zoo thanks to a most unlikely series of coincidences:
According to Michael Hoffmann, deputy head of the Hochwildschutzpark Hunsrück park, the kangaroos managed to escape their confines by crawling through a hole an unwitting fox had dug at the base of the fenced-in enclosure. With that hurdle passed, the brazen trio caught another lucky break in their hop towards freedom -- finding a hole in the park's exterior wall, left behind by a wild boar, that was big enough for the kangaroos to pass.
Things are tougher in Tajikistan, where, we learn: "Donkeys Banned From Tajik President's Sight." There's a lot you get away with when you are a dictator. Here in Amherst, where the wheels of our representative political system turn a lot more slowly, a step like that would take years of committees, consultants, and hearings. Although we did manage to legalize backyard chickens in 2011, we've been arguing for months about how to handle the question of dogs in recreation areas.

But at least we're relatively safe. Some of our neighbors to the south in the Mid-Atlantic hesitate to venture outdoors at all for fear of turkeys, who are said to "terrify" humans, "harassing even attacking folks in one New Jersey town."

By contrast, the turkeys in my yard are always peaceful; even camera-shy.

Yet another reason to be glad we live in western Massachusetts rather than New Jersey.

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Pig picture from from The Child's First Reader, by Salem Town, L.L.D. [1848] (Buffalo: Phinney & Co., 1858).

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