Closing the car door, I realised I was giving off a fairly strong smell of pig. It's not a bad smell, but it is fairly distinctive; earthy with an overtone of muddy straw. Fortunately Vicki was probably similarly aromatic. Anyway, she didn't seem to mind, and after all it was she who had organised our trip to Edgar's Mission and a spot of pig cuddling.
Not only cuddlesome pigs, but a gorgeous dog called Ruby who was sent to be shot because she was a failure as a farm dog, hopeless at herding stock, and far keener to interact with humans.
Do you feel a bit of a theme developing here? Last week Gem/Jem, now Ruby. Though the first would be my childhood's black Labrador Tessa, the gun dog who wouldn't retrieve, whose days were at one point similarly numbered.
When we were at Port Arthur we saw a woman wearing an Edgar's Mission t-shirt. Vicki had already suggested a visit, and it was a great way to spend our last day together. We drove there, Vicki at the wheel, me with her new satnav in my hands. At Lancefield we stopped and Vicki shopped, then into a café to have breakfast. It was the best coffee I have had since arriving in Australia, but in the event, we had to change our food order to take-away so we would arrive chez Edgar at the appointed hour.
Edgar's Mission rescues farm animals. There are cows, sheep, rabbits, goats, guinea pigs, some cats, Ruby, a horse or two and, of course, the pigs. Their motto, though that might not be the right word, is If we could live happy and healthy lives without hurting others…why wouldn't we? So no surprise that they embrace veganism and promote understanding of animals' needs.
I have always understood that dogs, omnivores like ourselves, can survive on a vegetarian or vegan diet, but not cats, carnivores whose bodies are designed for meat consumption. However, the cats at Edgar's are obviously healthy, so I asked about their diet. The reply was VeganPet, an Australian brand which I don't think is available in the UK. It has given me pause for thought, and when I get home, I shall check it out. For a long time I have avoided pet food for first Cat, now for MasterB, that has not been endorsed by PETA. My loved and adored pets eating food from animals whose lives have been misery from start to end has always seemed a contradiction.
Throughout the tour Ruby interacted with everyone in the group, and mixed happily with the other animals. The thought that she could have been shot is horrific. Such a great dog.
The reason my jeans smelled so strongly of pig by the end of our visit was, though it seems boastful to say so, that I was a bit of a hit with one of the resident porkers who rubbed himself enthusiastically against my legs and then, as Vicki and I scratched him and rubbed his sides, tilted over for an extensive tummy rub. If you're unimpressed, let me tell you that Kyle, who showed us around, said that particular pig never rolls over for tummy rubs.
One sheep was reduced to state of eyes-closed bliss by another visitor massaging her back. The goats, hens, sheep and cows recognised a visiting group as a source of food and gave us a good welcome. Just before we left it began to rain, then hail. We took shelter in the pig barn, then headed over to the shop to spend money in a good cause.
So the last bits of my pre-Sydney packing are delayed while porcine aromas are washed from my clothes, because, although I don't think it's a bad smell, it belongs more to the country than the city.