Megan Hoffman : Good Fences : fiction : June 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Having recently purchased an old farmhouse in rural Georgia allows for all kinds of inspiration. Some wonderful and some horrific. This story is one such instance.

Good Fences

Phone calls that come early in the morning are never good news. “Your daughter is in jail.” “Your bees are in the back room.” Those calls come first thing in the morning. It’s never, “Your child’s lunch is so well prepared and healthy I had to call and thank you for being a parent.” So when the phone rang at 8AM I panicked. “Your pigs are loose. Again.” Click. That’s all she had to say.

I was in the midst of sipping my coffee on my front porch looking out at the peace of the pasture. Everything is calm and happy, but quiet. I breathed a sigh of relief. 6 days without incident. I can do this. I can actually…wait it’s too quiet. Where are the animals? Cue phone buzzing. Cue husband screaming, “The f*$king animals are out!” Our animals are famous for escaping. Not sure if it is because we have goats and pigs or if it’s just because we are miserable farmers.

I like to think it’s the fencing. Let’s blame all the fencing. There’s electric fencing. There’s corrugated metal fencing. There is rusted barbed wire fencing that has been there since 1925. We’ve got it all. None of it works. My husband has given up on the fencing. He says it’s my responsibility now. So this morning after our early morning call, I drop the kids at school and head off in my J.Crew romper to mend some fences. I figure it will be a quick task. Hence the J.Crew romper. You’ve heard about my pigs. My pigs are hungry and determined. They take after me. I assume I will gather various farm scraps and re purpose them into a fence. Let’s make this farm sustainable! Is that what sustainable means? I don’t know, but I figure can man handle those scraps into a fence. The pigs watched smugly as I pieced together hardware cloth, partially rotten barn wood, and some interesting bent nails I found in the brown recluse shed and managed to nail together a very threatening looking tetanus ridden fence. Problem solved. I stepped back to admire my work. ZigPig waddled up to the fence, bent his little pink snout down and rooted my fence to pieces. Then he looked and me and meandered, that little shit meandered, into my neighbor’s yard. The ladies followed behind. Smug little bitches.

Okay. The romper was coming off. I put my boots on and went where every farmer goes to solve their problems. Tractor Supply. I threw fence posts and electric wire in my cart and built one of my brilliant plans. I worked in the hot sun for hours. putting up the posts, threading the wire. My pigs mocked my from my neighbors yard. Until I came out with the compost bucket, they always come running for their compost. I made my final adjustment, I had done it. I looked at my work. I did it on my own. I was a farmer. I was protecting and containing my herd. I pushed the electric fence button. You can guess what’s next. I failed. The fence was not hot. But I tried. The pigs are scared shitless of that wire. But they are smart little shits. And they will test it. But probably not today. So at least for this moment, I am not a total failure. And that is a success.