owena's

It’s the heat of high summer on my neck, and buzzing, seething sounds. Snuffling, grunting, scratching sounds. Smells too. This pig is much bigger than I thought, and hairier – I think of pigs as pink and rubbery, not being a country person – and now, here I am, squeezing through the gate. The huge sow waddles up to me on her little dainty feet, eyes completely hidden by drooping ears. A bristly wetness on my bare leg, tickling, as she investigates the intruder. Not really interested, though, it’s so hot. She roots around in the weeds for a it, then retires into the shade of her sty, flops down. Carla has already eaten the cap off Emily’s tube of paint, and she’s got a bright green mouth now.

Owena has invited some friends down to her small-holding to draw the animals – she’s an artist herself. We regularly buy excellent meat from her, courtesy of her animals, and now I get to draw them first. So, after a brief talk about how to approach them, I take my sketchbook and decide, initially, which end of the pig to start with. Though they don’t stand still for you – pigs are constantly moving, shifting, flopping, turning.

We move into the rams’ field. We’ve been told not to run away from them – we have to sidle, really. What’s this not-running-away business? Aren’t they sheep with balls? Well, no. They walk purposefully towards you, four of them, in a line, as if they’re going to walk through/over you. We try to look calm and confident, and they walk right up and push you a little (but not actually butting).  But it’s too hot, and they go and stand under the shade of the thorn bushes. I draw them for a while (great horns!) then sidle away. Carefully. I’m in no hurry.

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