Dry Stone Livestock Pound

This is the season of color and light. Sunbeams stream through disrobed forest canopy, illuminating leaf-confettied ground. At this time of year the great outdoors acts like a psychedelic on my mind. Bathed in the kaleidoscope colors of autumn, I believe wishes can come true.

Ever since the Dummerston town pound was recreated three years ago by 44, dry stone workshop participants, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of it being used to impound some real, live farm animals. Every year I’ve gone to the Columbus Day weekend, Apple Pie Festival, scanned the burgeoning crowds there at the centre and thought to myself, “this would be the perfect day to have some animals in the pound.” How much fun would that be, for young and old to look over the stone walls and spy a cow, or flock of sheep, just as they might have done alongside the original structure in 1796?

While visiting the Miller Farm a couple weeks ago to pick apples, Reade Miller showed me the pigs he was raising in the pasture next to the packing barn. Under the watchful eye of a 700-pound sow were a dozen energetic piglets. It dawned on me that these might be just the right animals to have in the town pound for a day. Reade was mostly agreeable to the idea of loaning out a pair of two-month-olds, although, knowing pigs as well as he does, he reserved his full enthusiasm for the project. I could see he was already ticking off in his mind all the things that could possibly go wrong with our plan to tractor the piglets across town, and back, and would probably have a few more to add to that list by Apple Pie Festival time. Still, I had full faith that it was going to happen.

I built a gate and installed it at the pound entrance yesterday. When I got to the festival grounds this morning there were already children waiting and asking when the pigs would arrive. An hour passed, and then another. No pigs. I was ready to give up on the dream when a Kubota with a tarped crate perched on its forks broke through the throng of people buying pies in front of the church. 1,200 fresh apple pies were sold in Dummerston Centre today; a fantastic fundraising achievement. 140 festival goers climbed the hill behind the church to watch two pigs turn up the earth with their snouts in the town pound; a fabulous fun-raising achievement.