As the heavy winter rains swelled the creek that meandered through the sanctuary, the running water brought in sticks from nearby farms. The pigs spent hours collecting them and building little hiding places where they could play games and tell stories.
One morning after a particularly heavy rain, Stella got up at the crack of dawn and sprinted out to the creek. “Wow! Look at all the new sticks! We can each build our own little house out of them!
The other pigs heard Stella’s excitement and ran out of the barn, oinking and yawning all the way. Poor Lester the rooster almost got trampled as he was perched on a rock bellowing out his morning crows.
Stella simply could not control her excitement, and almost out of breath she yelled, “Let’s all chip in and create a huge pile of sticks. We can share them!”
As the events coordinator of the sanctuary, Lester crowed with joy, because he loved new projects. And he especially loved projects that helped the pigs learn how to share and be kind toward one another.
In his excitement, Lester flew over the commotion and ungracefully landed on a big rock in the creek so he could address the herd. “What a great idea, Stella! Our share pile will be here,” as he pointed his wing toward an open area under the big oak tree. “Today, we’ll create a big pile of sticks, and tomorrow, we’ll each go off and build our houses. Then we’ll have a contest to see who builds the best house. Stella, you and I will be the judges!”
And with a loud screech, Lester flapped his wings, and the contest was officially started. “Good luck, pigs!”
The pigs spent that first day gathering sticks and adding them to the share pile under the oak tree. Lester assisted by organizing the sticks and flying the smaller ones to the top of the pile.
Bright and early the next morning, the pigs picked out their spots, and started collecting their bundles of sticks from the share pile to build their houses. Stella built her house next to the creek, because she loved wading her hooves in the water. Lucy built her house way off in the corner of the woods so she could nap in private. And Gertie built her house right in the middle of the play area because she wanted to have guests and host parties.
As the sun set, Lester hopped on his perch and officially ended the contest. “Time is up, pigs!! Congratulations on all your hard work! We will judge your houses in the morning. Let’s all eat a nice dinner and get plenty of rest!”
The next morning, Lester hopped down from his perch, yawned, and looked into woods to focus his sleepy eyes. As the rising sun was just starting to lighten the trees, he suddenly saw movement by the creek. Fearing a predator, he screeched a warning crow to wake the pigs, and everyone ran out to investigate.
Lester and the pigs soon discovered the reason for the movement. It was Pedro, secretly working on his house. Obviously, he had been working all night, because his house was taller and wider than any of the other houses. It even had a front porch and windows!
Lester demanded an explanation. “Pedro, what are you doing? We finished building our houses last night so we could judge them this morning. You didn't follow the rules! This isn’t fair to the other pigs!”
Pedro whined back, “Well, I’m sorry, Lester, but the creek brought in more sticks last night, and I had to grab them before the other pigs saw them.”
Lester became very sad because he knew Pedro had not fully recovered from his life of fending for himself and stealing food and shelter. This was the only life Pedro knew for many years before coming to the sanctuary. Lester was angry, but he also felt compassion and knew that he could use this opportunity to teach an important lesson.
Just about the time the pigs had gathered around to see what was going on, a strong wind whipped through the sanctuary and blew the side off Pedro’s tall house. Pedro grabbed as many flying sticks as he could, but he finally gave up and started to cry.
Lester slowing turned and looked at the other pigs, who were just standing by the creek, mouths wide open. not knowing how to react. But Lester's look said it all.
Without oinking a word, the pigs started rebuilding Pedro’s house - one stick at a time. They even moved their own houses over to Pedro’s house to form one huge house big enough for all the pigs to share. It was a stick mansion!
With big smiles, Lester and Stella announced Pedro the winner of the contest and officially gave that fabulous structure of sticks the name "Pedro's House." And Pedro cried with joy, because he knew his days of stealing were over for good.