Pig shit and wet, greasy straw were piled high,"" this book begins, but don't be put off: what may be a fictional first--a woman as pig farmer--distinguishes a promising first novel. Judith Pierce is the prickly loner whose girlhood as the only child of a Canadian pig farmer has prepared her for this new, urgent business venture. Retreating from several disheartening years at a city office job, she has severed ties abruptly, icily (this via scattered flashbacks), to satisfy some blurry debt to her recently deceased father. Judith mood-swings easily from present to past--city times and Daddy times--managing competently among the slightly menacing breeding sows, awkwardly at the three-bachelor neighboring farm (where she is, briefly, ""our genuine farmerette""), and miserably in town: she takes the bait after some piggy-smell remarks and starts a barroom brawl. But Jim down the road, curious and then loyal, outlasts her aloof receptions and Judith eventually runs a finger along her own serrated edges. She's more mysteriously interesting than appealing, but the situation, especially the pig farming, holds up throughout.