Sometimes, standing in the small wood that shields my house from the north, I whisper the word ‘Pigs!’ Within a second, bursting from the laurels, alert and obedient as no dog could be, comes a pair of Gloucester Old Spot gilts to nuzzle my hand. Or sometimes, if I am late with their afternoon bucket of scraps, they break out of their enclosure and hurtle across to bang their rumps against the kitchen door. As I contemplate these animals, my mind’s eye fills with placid agricultural visions. More and extensive areas of the woods are cleared of brambles and brush. My cow begins to produce milk and the pigs take the surplus, like a Denmark in miniature; or they are turned out when the corn is cut to glean the spilled grain; or when the orchard is up, they manure the trees and eat the insect-tainted fruit. In this beautiful and frictionless economy (in the old Xenophontic or Aristotelian sense of household rather than state management, which is, properly, political economy), the pig is the heart and soul, the wild card, the blockbuster, the Maxim gun. Indeed, to me a wood without pigs is like a ballroom without women.