Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 11-19-12
The kids have been begging for a pet.
And you’ve resisted — so far.
You know who’d be walking a puppy at 7 a.m. Food bowls would go empty unless you filled them, water bowls would look like the Sahara, and you’re pretty sure that a litter box would be deemed “gross!” within a week.
Still, how can you resist a cute face? How can you resist falling in love with a fuzzy baby? You can’t, and neither could Matt Whyman. In his book “Oink: My Life with Mini-Pigs,” he squeals on his new pets.
Matt Whyman always knew that his wife wanted a big family. Her childhood “was not a happy one,” and she longed for what she never had. That didn’t necessarily mean offspring of the human kind, however.
Emma Whyman was happy with animals — lots of animals, which is why the Whymans moved to the English countryside. There, four children and two adults were joined by two cats, four rabbits, three hens and a large Canadian shepherd.
So when one of the cats met an untimely demise and the children were inconsolable, work-at-home Whyman knew a replacement pet was imminent and he realized who would assume responsibility for it. He tried to reason with his family, but it was no use — particularly when they spied two adorable porcine faces online.
The mini-pigs were “cute-o-rama.”
Roxi and Butch were no bigger than kittens; in fact, they arrived at the Whyman house in a cat carrier. Their size, though, belied their determination: the mini-pigs quickly took over Whyman’s office, his dog’s bed, the living room, the sofa and the kitchen. They were little thieves, and stole family possessions, too.
Eventually, with the help of a handyman friend who knew pigs, Whyman created an outdoor pen for his growing pets. He learned everything he could about being a “pig farmer,” including how to measure a boy pig’s, uh, potential.
He also learned that even though his porkers were petite, they could tear apart a yard, a garden, a henhouse, the neighbor’s orchard … and a marriage.
In the mood for a book that will make you squeal with a case of The Cutes? Then here’s what you do: take five parts “Marley,” shrink it by three-quarters, put it on cloven hooves and give it a curly tail. That’s what you get when you read “Oink.”
Author Matt Whyman gives his readers a breathless sense of chaos in this book. It starts almost immediately and becomes nearly slapstick as this definite city-boy learns to be a “farmer,” complete with certified papers. That’s good enough, but what surprised me was the truth that Whyman willingly shares: his pigs were often a big irritation and they caused real problems.
Still, don’t be fooled into thinking that this story ends badly. It doesn’t.
I believe farmers will find a lot to laugh about in this book, now in paperback. Animal lovers and pet parents will almost melt when they read it because, really, look at that cover for “Oink.” How can you resist it? ❖