Tag Archives: Chores

Pigtales (F’14)

Greta F’14 describes her experiences on the pig chore for the first two weeks of the semester:

The piglets in May. They’re not this cute anymore, sadly.


Tell me about your favorite pig memory.

People sometimes would volunteer to come feed them with me and that was a good bonding experience. One time Ella went with me, and she was so excited to see the pigs. It was super cute, and she got to feed them. The mornings were not that fun: I had to get up really early, so it was mainly me on autopilot in a huge coat, freezing, and there was dew everywhere and I had to walk through this really tall grass to get to them. But when I fed them before dinner, it was nice walking past all the barns as the sun was setting, with the higher contrast of colors and longer shadows.


What was your most memorable pig experience?

It was the second or third day, so I was not super acquainted with the job or with Gwynne, who is the person to talk to not just if there’s a problem but if they need more food or whatever else. So I was really new at it. It was morning, and I got up early to feed them so I could shower afterwards (because they always get your legs really dirty), and when I got there, one was just outside of electric fence enclosure, digging up dirt, doing its thing. I didn’t know what to do, and I was alone, kind of internally freaking out. So I turned off electric fence and decided to try to wrangle the pig. I tried to get it to go back in for about 5 minutes, but it turns out that pig wrangling is difficult and actually not achievable alone. Then I did perimeter check, looking at the fence to see what the problem was, but nothing was wrong. There was no hole, nothing.


After I spent an hour trying to wrangle the pig back into its enclosure, I finally closed it into a cow pasture because that seemed like the best available option. Then I ran to the top of Garden Hill where the chickens were to see if maybe Gwynne was up there walking around. She wasn’t, but Ben was there, so I said, “Ben, a pig got out and I don’t know what to do,” and Ben said, “I don’t know what to do either,” and we stood there for a few minutes and tried to figure out a plan. Then I ran around campus for 15 minutes on a search for Gwynne, and couldn’t find her, so I went and had breakfast. (I fed all the other pigs first, by the way – I didn’t just abandon my job). Gwynne was nowhere to be found, but Marisa got a hold of Gwynne somehow, and she used her magical animal skills to wrangle the pig. Later I found out what happened: the water got too low in their tub, and if it’s too low, they get aggressive with it and they’ll tip it over. That’s what shorted the fence and allowed the pig to get out. You can’t let the water get below the halfway point.

So that was a very stressful situation and kind of my intro to the Mountain School. But it could have been much worse. For example, Lucy, who has the chore now, has been peed on by the pigs. See, the pigs are kind of stupid because if one does something, all the rest will do it. If one pig falls asleep, they all will; if one starts eating, the rest will start eating. If one pees, they all will, and they projectile-pee. Lucy got stuck in the crossfire today. She told me, “It was like a laser maze of swine urine!” The entire time I was feeding them my biggest fear was being peed-on.


How would you describe your connection with the pigs?

One the one hand, I like them a lot. They’re a lot like dogs: they want to be near you, they’re social, they don’t mind if you pet them… On the other hand, if you take a picture of them, their eyes look dead. I pretty sure that’s a sign that they’re vampires or something, isn’t it? I named all the pigs that I hate, and my favorite one too. My favorite is the brown runt; I named her Meredith. I appreciate her for being so chill and unique. I named the one that got out Wilbur, and coincidentally he’s Ella’s favorite, so I try not to hate him too much. Also these genders are completely arbitrary – I didn’t bother to check. There’s another one that looks a lot like Wilbur – they’re both intimidating and large with spots – so I named her Wilma, in case I get them confused. Then there’s Willa. She’s the one that bites.

I’ve been bitten twice, both times by Willa. The pigs are really into rubber and feet. When you go in, they try to nibble at your feet, which mostly turns into your getting really dirty because they’re rubbing their snouts on your legs. But sometimes they get really adventurous, and they bite you. I don’t really know what their end game is because I don’t think they’re carnivorous. I prefer to think of it as a love bite. It doesn’t hurt. I think they’re just curious

When “Meredith” was really young, the other piglets used to pick on her because she was so tiny. It was tragic. Apparently pigs and humans have very similar bullying tendencies.


What advice do you have for future pig-caretakers?

Mainly don’t let the water get too low. And don’t get peed on. You have to give yourself half an hour to feed the pigs because invariably it takes longer than you think and it takes a full ten minutes to get there and back, although of course right after I finished my rotation Gwynne decided to move them closer to central campus. I think she had a vendetta against me.


Describe your pig-experience as a haiku.

Constantly afraid:

They are faster than I am,

But we are still friends.



Thanks GZ for the interview. Photo credit to CM & DA.

Journal entry: Chores (F’14)

Mountain School students keep journals as part of their English class. Every week they write a minimum of three pages about whatever they want and hand in the journal to their teacher. At the end of each week, the teacher reads aloud a selection of anonymous passages from the journals in class. Many students say that “journal reading days” are one of their favorite memories of the academic program.

The following is a journal entry from a Fall ’14 student.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

11:01 am @ my desk

I just took a break from history homework to complete my bathroom-cleaning chore. As I crouched on the floor, sweeping my hand across it with the blackening sponge, I realized that my chore is instilling in me the Mountain School mission statement: to “learn to know a place and take care of it” (Student & Parent Handbook, 3). The place I’m referring to specifically is the bathroom. I’ve had the opportunity to explore all corners of the bathroom – so I know its physical make-up. I’ve also had to restock numerous rolls of toilet paper and paper towels, so I know the behaviors of the bathroom. In addition to developing the knowledge of what it is and how it works, I’ve begun to take pride in its upkeep. As the vase of flowers wilted (the flowers that had welcomed us on our first day here), I developed a minor amount of shame because I had not found the time to pick fresh ones. But now, thank goodness, the yellowed water has been dumped, new flowers snipped from their stalks, and all is well in my dear bathroom!


Student Interviews: Chores (F’13)

Behold the mighty chore-board. Every two weeks, students look for their name to discover their destiny: feeding the pigs? Conard bathroom? Eggs? English room? Whether they love it or hate it, students do their chores to keep the school clean and running. Here are their responses when asked what was your favorite or most memorable chore?

AZh: News! I got to present every day and read the news, which I wish I had time to do. I had a hate/love relationship with feeding the pigs…

CS: Floater. You’re like Jack’s manservant – you do whatever he has lined up. I liked it because it was something different every day.

MC: Cooks’ crew was my favorite. I love being in the kitchen. It’s an excuse to do dish crew every day. I get to talk to the chefs and find out more about them. It has a lot of responsibility and I like having responsibility. My favorite moment was that time I had a water fight with Luke in the kitchen (and then we cleaned it up).

JNew: Cleaning the dorm bathroom because I got to wake up at 7:45 in the morning.

KNL: I really want to be on Cooks’ crew. My favorite so far was barn sheep. I love sheep, pretty self explanatory. I fed them twice a day, and then I spent a little time there in the barn. It was pretty relaxing.

JR: Blackboards! A) I was really good at it, B) I never forgot it, and it was really simple so I never forgot little pieces of it. Thomas’ Tea Tray was terrible – what I understood was “keep it clean” but I was also supposed to fill it, stack it, and do dishes at random times. I never knew what I was supposed to be doing.

JNeu: Laying hens were my least favorite. I don’t like birds, at all. They were so needy and disgusting, and inconvenient. It was awful.

AH: I loved library. I got to move everyone’s stuff off the tables. I’m the victim of my stuff being moved, so I liked being in charge and having the power. That way my stuff didn’t get moved.

JB: Windows! It’s soothing and kind of fun.

LS: Cook’s crew. I liked the high pressure. I liked writing juice labels and making announcements on Pam’s behalf. And I liked the free work periods.

MM: Gathering eggs was my favorite. It was a good way to see the farm animals. And you directly know what you’re providing for the kitchen and students. I really liked that aspect of it.

KL: Shut down [turning off all the lights on campus at night] was my favorite. It gave me an excuse to be late to dorm meeting, that was the first thing. Also Marieta would do it with me and that was really fun. I would always get scared – it was a good rush of adrenaline. I hate the dark and I hate the unknown, but it was scary in a fun way.

PR: I really loved doing the news. It forced me to be at Morning Meeting on time. It kept me updated on current events, and it was something to put my trademark on. Something like checking fences or floater, I couldn’t put my trademark on. It also helped my public speaking skills.

CT: Miles bathroom because I love the smell of cleaning products. And I love cleaning toilets. No, actually because I could wake up at 7:50 every day.

CC: I’m going to go with shut down. One time I totally freaked out Julia in the harvest kitchen while I was doing shut down.

WP: The worst was recycling because I realized a week and a half in that I was doing it wrong. I’d been putting it all into the giant dumpster, but it’s supposed to go in the carriage shed.

MAD: Cooks’ crew because I liked working with the other dish crews. But Marilyn hates me…

TP: The eggs were my favorite. The chickens are very feisty, but you learn to love them. They protect their eggs while sitting on them.

KG: Feeding the turkeys was fun. It was nice to be up on Garden Hill in the morning and to watch the sunrise. They peck at your hands when you hold the hose. And they make that weird cackling noise – it’s creepy but you get used to it.

I wonder if you’ll leave the Mountain School more motivated to do chores at home…?