Here Piggy

I looked up javelina today.  On my first day in Arizona, javelinas came up in conversation twice, first with Pat, the auto broker, and then with Charlie, my neighbor.   I had never heard of one before and had to ask what a javelina is.

“It’s a wild pig and they can be aggressive.  Pat told me.

There were about twenty of them around the creek the other day rooting around for the pecans.  Said Charlie.  Not to worry, though, the pecans are over now so there’s nothing much for them here right now.”

Twenty!  Suddenly I wondered if my coming to Aravaipa was such a good idea after all.  I heard nothing about wild pigs the first time I was here.  I knew there would be snakes and scorpions.  I knew there would be bighorn sheep and jumping cholla.  I knew there would be the occasional bobcat or two.  But aggressive roving wild pigs?  I had not counted on pigs and the city slicker suddenly felt a little wary.  I figured I better learn as much as I could about them so I would know how to avoid them.

 According to Wikipedia, a javelina is a peccary or a wild pig.    They average about two feet in height…at least some of them do…at least I hope the ones around here do.  Because there are some that get bigger, but I won’t think about that.  Javelinas migrated from South America, hence their melodic Latin name.  But that’s as pretty as they get.  No roly-poly porkers, javelinas are bristly and tough with quick legs, long snouts and muscular bodies.  They like to travel in herds.  They do travel in herds so if you see one javelina there will be more to follow. 

Wikipedia gave me all the scientific information, but what I really needed to know was what to do if you encounter one (or two or three).  Fortunately I found another website with the skinny on javelina etiquette.  Do not approach them (they are territorial), walk quickly away (they have poor eyesight so best to get out of their vision range), and make loud noises, like banging pots and pans.    They don’t like loud noises, well for that matter neither do I.  And never, NEVER feed a javelina because that will make them more aggressive.   Gardens in javelina country require good fences.

Snakes are no issue.   I can be careful where I step.   And I’m not foolish enough to stick my hand into unseen places where a scorpion might reside.  Bobcats and bighorn sheep are shy so I will be lucky to see one.  Coyotes are around and I will keep Kitty inside.  But the javelina issue was something new.  I wanted to wander around Tuesday night, but would there be wild pigs lying in wait for me at the creek?  I sat inside near the sliding door with the light on while writing.   A moth flew up to the window and I worried, would the light attract javelinas too?  Charlie told me in no uncertain terms not to leave any garbage outside.   Those little piggy eyes may be poor but those snouts are good for sniffing and smelling.   Could those javelinas smell food cooking inside?  I closed the patio door and the blinds.  Best not to take chances.   I looked over at the ranch house.   I needed to go to the big house the next morning to use the phone.  It’s about a quarter or maybe a third of a mile away.   Right through the pecan trees. 

Tuesday night was quiet with not a javelina in sight.   Wednesday morning, no piggies.  It was time for the city slicker to get over it.  I strapped on my boots (actually walking shoes) and headed out the door.  Ravens flew overhead, smaller birds chirped and I ran into some neighbors riding horses.  That was the extent of my animal encounters.  I walked to the ranch house.  After I made my calls, I walked the labyrinth then took a stroll down by the creek – through the pecan trees.  I checked the fencing around the soon-to-be garden area.  It looked good and sturdy.  I worked outside for a bit, then decided to test out my new camera and hiked around taking photos.   I was outside so much today that my cheeks and nose turned pink.  I refused to let some potential close encounter of the porky kind keep me from enjoying the beauty of this place.

After all my foolish worrying I want to see one now.   I want to see what all the javelina fuss is about.  I want to catch a glimpse of a herd.   The orange trees look ready to drop their fruit soon.  My pots and pans are ready.   Bring ‘em on.

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