Pine Mountain Settlement School
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH
TAGS: pigs; shoats; pork; ham; “Sammy”; Evangeline Bishop; children’s literature; kindergarten teachers; Little School; Pine Mountain Settlement School; Harlan County, KY;
November 13, 1913
My Dear Friend:
The problem of a fence is confronting us now. Our kindergarten teacher who was here this summer was so diverted by our efforts to protect our garden, our crop and our grounds from the hogs that she wrote the enclosed account of the pig that interested her the most. Just how pronounced a pig’s personality is, you can guess from the fact that she even had to name them.
We are anxiously questioning just how long we must wait until “Sammy” and “his brothers ad his sisters and his aunts” are excluded from their paradise.
We need a mile of fencing for the part of our 234 acres that we must fence. We can get a discount of from a generous manufacturer of the best hog-proof fencing, but even so, counting the cost of locust posts gates and post holes dug on steep ground, we need $700 before we begin. If you can’t be a “flying figure in bluejeans yelling ‘Suey!, Suey!, can you be a substitute in the shape of some rods of woven wire, five foot fence?
enclosure: Story of “Sammy” by Evangeline Bishop
Just why Pine Mountain Settlement School should not benefit himself and family, as well as the humans of the community, was quite beyond Sammy’s comprehension.
Did he not possess cravings and unsatisfied longings for better things; did he not come to the close of each day hungry for the unattainable; and had he not heard that this School existed for the sole purpose of fulfilling needs?
The word “Settlement” but added charm, for to Sammy it gave visions of permanency ad far reaching satisfaction. Yes! It was certainly good to be alive, and a member of this community, and he firmly resolved to be on hand every day, rain or shine in a receptive mood, ready to embrace every opportunity. To be filled to the utmost was his great ambition.
He and his brothers and sisters and immediate forebear grunted the subject over pro and con i their rock house under the cliff. Mammy Pig wise in the ways of humans, flopped her ears in doubt.
“It may prove to be an excellent school, it may fill every unsatisfied gnawing, but, I have my doubts.”
“One and all I warn you to let them alone, for I have not only heard, but absolutely know, that humans eat little pigs.”
A tremor shot through the group, they glanced at one another with beady eyes, and uncurled their tails in horror.
Maternal advice did not cause Sammy loss of sleep, or deter him from making a personal investigation of the School.
The next morning, slipping quietly away, he trotted down the road, his tail curled tight in anticipation, and emitting grunts of keenest pleasure. With hope, confidence in himself and humanity at large, he made his way up the stepping stones toward a very large hole in the fence.
He was about to engter, when a voie rang out —
“Walter! Walter! shut the gate, there’s a pig coming in.”
“Ugh,” grunted Sammy, “That must mean me, but why shouldn’t I enter the Land of Promise, I’d like to know?” and determinedly he trotted on.
Suddenly he wheeled and flew dow the stpsm a flying figure i bluejeans after him, wildly waving its arms, throwing stones, and yelling, “Suey! Suey!” which interpreted by Sammy meant “Move on! Move on!”
“What highly excitable creatures humans are, ” thought Sammy as out of harm’s way he turned to view the “Land of Plenty.”
The hole in the fence had disappeared. “Guess I’ll reconnoiter,” thought Sammy. “Perhaps there’s another hole.”
Cautiously he worked his way along the fence, touching it here and there, hoping a large hole might somehow mysteriously appear. Perseverance usually succeeds, and so it proved in Sammy’s case, for under the fence he found a hole just large enough to squeeze thro[ugh]. Elated, but a little doubtful, he made his way around the house. Not a human in sight. Hope beat high. A bucket near the kitchen door wafted most tantalizing odors to Sammy’s nostrils. What could it be? He must find out what that pail contained.
In another moment it was over, and Sammy gorging himself with all possible speed, for at any moment a dreaded human might appear. Never had he found anything quit so palatable. A few bread crumbs, potato peeling, beet parings, apple cores odds and ends of various delicious things hastily thrown together. So busy was the beneficiary of the School that he failed to hear approaching footsteps, but did not fail to hear another voice rending the air wit h “Allafair! Allafair! here’s that pig again. he’s eating the chicken-feed up.”
Around the corner shot a vision in flaming red, going through wild gymnastics.
“This is too much, I’m done for,” thought Sammy, and turned and fled.
“I wonder if I can ever find that hole again.”
Up the hill and down again, around the hose, and back of the tent, flew the pursued Sammy, wondering if that human’s attention would never cease. It was simply awful! Horrors! another flying figure blotting the landscape shrieking ad passing through dreadful contortions. Stones and sticks rained through the air. With dreadful cunning Sammy’s every move was maneuvered. Before hims appeared the big hole he now knew to be a gate. He made for it with all speed, and shot through breathless but unharmed.
“Well! I never,” quoth Sammy. “I trust this will not occur often or I shall certainly lose flesh.”
He found a secluded spot, within hearing and paid strict attention. A voice explained —
“Well! Our troubles have begun. I expect we’ll be pestered all summer with those pigs.” Another voice chimed in —
“Everyone must be careful to keep the gate closed and the boys must look at the fence and fix any holes.”
“Oh dear! I do hope they won’t get into the garden and eat the tomatoes and corn up.”
Sammy had had excitement enough for one day, so wended his way slowly home to the rock house, under the cliff, there to consult further with his family and plan his summer’s campaign. If there was benefit to be derived from that school, he would get it.
The next day he unselfishly invited two of his brothers to accompany him. They arrived just in time to see a human in blue cross the road with a dish in her hand, and to hear,
“Bertha, where are you going??”
“I’m going to fee the chickens” replied the blue human, and proceeded on her way.
“Chicken-feed,” mused Sammy. “Ugh! that’s what I ate yesterday and found good.” Aloud he said —
“Watch that human fellows, and see what she does with that chicken feed.”
Quietly they watched her pass through a gate, and disappear around the corner of a building. Then began a hurried running to and fro along the fence, in quest of a hole.
“Ugh! Ugh! Eureka! Eureka!” called Sammy. This way fellows to the chicken-feed,” and in another moment the feed was disappearing with surprising rapidity, but not in the direction intended.
” I thoroughly approve of this School, for the benefits it bestows are, —- ” Sammy’s remarks were cut short, for another shrieking human in a blue skirt and flapping collar, bore down upon the trio. They scattered, and fled in confusion.
“Well! ” quoth Sammy from a safe retreat, “I am both surprised and horrified at the actions of these humans. had heard they possessed calm, and were dignified. I have also heard that they sometimes go crazy. I wonder if that is what the trouble is. It does seem strange that just the sight of e should throw them all into convulsions?”
“Perhaps there is something wrong with me.” Carefully he looked himself over, and found to his entire satisfaction his tail properly curled, and himself a fair looking specimen of razor back pighood Therefore no blame could attach to him because of those queer human antics.
Day after day, week in and week out, he visited the School accepting of its benefits as the occasion presented itself.
Day after day, week in and week out, the same wild commotion resulted among the humans.
He overheard someone say the back yard needed cleaning up. He concluded here was a chance to return good for evil, found an entrance, and went to work, beginning on a basket of apples. For his efforts he received a stone, and a hurried “Suey! — Suey!” with emphasis.
He brought his whole family down and strove to put the chicken yard in order even here the ungrateful humans interfered. Nothing daunted he retired to the barn ad invited his brothers to help him clean out the mules’ feed boxes, and so save them the trouble. But even in that remote spot peace was not to be found.
Go where he would, do what he could, the situation was spoiled by the sudden appearance of a wild and exclamatory human.
One day he bethought himself of the remarks he had heard earlier in the season, of a garden and tomatoes, corn, etc.
He would investigate immediately.
He consulted his mother. She knew where said garden was, but warned him to let well enough alone, but perseverance being Sammy’s strongest characteristic it fairly pushed him into that garden.
It is wholly unnecessary to linger long upon the consternation and sorrow created among the humans; the havoc wrought by Sammy and his immediate relatives, or his own personal inner satisfaction, at this his latest venture.
Could he have heard the sadness and longing in the vices of the humans, whose sole vegetable diet for weeks had consisted of string beans or beheld their woebegone countenance as they contemplated the work of his mouth, and thought upon the cool, green vegetables that had disappeared into the stomachs of his family, Sammy might have been struck with contrition for the havoc of his summer’s campaign.
As iut was the garden was far from the School proper and only occasionally did a peculiar human wander through, and Sammy was happy.
All good things come to an end sometime, and one sad day Sammy heard that a brand new wire fence that pigs could neither get over, through nor under was wanted.
A consultation of the Pig family resulted. Sammy’s only comment was
“Well This certainly has been a strenuous summer for me and from a pig’s standpoint I question the wisdom of that School. Personally I do not care to come into close contact with those humans and certainly hope I have caused them fully as much trouble this summer as they have caused me.”
Turning over on his side he went to sleep to dream of a fenceless garden, filled with every known vegetable, rich pans of chicken-feed here and there, and whole boxes of mule feed just waiting for him, and best of all this pigs’ paradise utterly devoid of humans.Dear Friend Letters: Evangeline Bishop
By the 1930’s and 40’s the Kentucky regulations controlling the free-roaming movement of livestock had been addressed and there were laws that prohibited allowing free-ranging.
The laws governing stray animals and trespass are spelled out in the State’s Fence Laws, State of Kentucky These laws went into effect in 1942
If the owner or bailee of livestock has a lawful fence, and his or her livestock break through or over the fence and upon the premises of another which are not enclosed by a lawful fence, he or she shall not be responsible for the first trespass, but shall be liable for all subsequent trespasses.
Effective: June 29, 2017
Terms Used In Kentucky Statutes 256.090
- Lawful fence: means : (a) A strong and sound fence, four (4) feet high, so close that cattle cannot creep through, made of rails, or plank, or wire and plank, or iron, or hedge, or stone or brick. See Kentucky Statutes 256.010
- livestock: means cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, alpacas, llamas, buffaloes, or any other animals of the bovine, ovine, porcine, caprine, equine, or camelid species. See Kentucky Statutes 256.010
- Owner: when applied to any animal, means any person having a property interest in such animal. See Kentucky Statutes 446.010
History: Amended 2017 Ky. Acts ch. 129, sec. 25, effective June 29, 2017. — Recodified 1942 Ky. Acts ch. 208, sec. 1, effective October 1, 1942, from Ky. Stat. sec. 1788.