Pearls to Swine

Pig farming is not easy.  I didn’t have a Hell of a lot of choice in the matter, and let’s leave it at that.  This is going to be a short story because I did not pig farm long and I did not like pig farming.  It stinks.

In this operation there were three distinct sub-operations: the nursery, the middle pig farm, and big pig farm.  I worked on the big pig farm.  My job was to walk the pig yard every morning and visit every pig shed and make sure every single pig got to its feet and started moving.  I guess pigs can literally sleep themselves to death if you let them lie around long enough.  You have to get those porkers porking.  My other job was feeding those pigs, which was more difficult than you might think.  The farmer only had one arm as he had blown the other off in a hunting accident.  How he drove a stick shift with only a left hand, I could never figure out, but he did. He had this huge boiler in this old stone building and he would collect the garbage from local schools and restaurants and make us dump that garbage in that boiler to cook up for his hogs.  The slop had to reach 240 degrees for ten minutes before we could send it down the troth.  So, we had to load this stinky garbage into his huge boiler and keep that boiler stoked with the firewood piled up outside.

The garbage arrived in halved fifty gallon drums which had handles and took two idiots to transport to the boiler.  I never actually counted how many half cans of garbage I lifted and dumped a day.  That would be too depressing.  But that boiler was the size of three large refrigerators laid end to end, and we filled it up twice a day.

Of course, I would not be telling this tale if there was not some kind of entertainment value included, and there is.

There is an old saying: you give the hardest job to the laziest guy and he will find the easiest way to do it.  And that is exactly what happened.  We found the absolute easiest way to dump those cans and heat that boiler and that freed up time to amuse ourselves in a counter-productive manner.  Now, there is one other aspect of this job I failed to mention and it involves forks.  Pigs cannot digest forks, and as there were forks occasionally in the garbage we cooked it was our job to dig them out and collect them in this barrel.  The Pig Farmer planned on saving enough for a scrap sale.  Idle hands led to fork throwing contests the likes of which only a teenage boy or college student can imagine.

At first we threw at a log, and would collect our errant throws fastidiously.  But then, it got good to us and we started cleaning up only before the garbage truck and the Pig Farmer arrived.  And then one day we just said fuck that shit and stopped cleaning up altogether.  The Pig Farmer saw it immediately and jumped right into our shit.  He made us pick up all those forks and put them back in the barrel, and load that barrel onto the truck where it stayed from then on.  Asshole.

Don looked like an inflated Ron Jeremy.  Dude weighed about four hundred pounds.  He liked riding the pigs because it saved him from walking.  One day a pig did not like Don riding on him and turned around and bit Don’s leg.  Don, of course, went stupid mad but even he couldn’t out run a hog.  He gave up after about seven steps and picked up a rock which he threw wide and low.

I did not know a thing about animals when I took this job, but it was either pig farming or tractor tire changing and that sounded even worse.  I wasn’t exactly planning on making a career of pig farming.  The very first thing I learned about pigs, other than the obvious, is that they are smart—maybe even smarter than dogs.  I also learned a 400 pound bore can clear a six foot fence in one bound.  I learned that if a pig does not want to do something, you are not going to make them.

But, when I learned pigs are naturally curious, I couldn’t resist playing mind games with the pigs.  The pigs won.  They had already been fed and were just browsing around the pig pen socializing and sniffing each other’s butts.  I crept along the fence line until I reached the chute we used to load and unload pigs.  I crawled under the chute and then and along the fence and stopped.  I tapped the fence post lightly and at least one pig took notice.  The feed troth was between us so my scent was invisible I guess.  Anyway, I crawled back up to the chute and tapped every fence post along the way.  Don had raised the chute door and I crawled up the chute still tapping fence posts lightly.  It worked like a dream.  One by one those pigs followed the sound up the fence line and into the chute.  I slipped out on the other side and strolled over to Don to admire my work.  It was cool.

After about five minutes the pigs worked their way back out of the chute and out into the pen, and all was normal.   That is when Pig Farmer arrived with the livestock truck to pick a load for slaughter.  After backing the truck up to the upper end of the chute, he jumped out and started ordering us all around.  We jumped into the pig pen to herd those pigs into the chute and Pig Farmer was pissed because for some strange reason those pigs were refusing to go into that chute.  I guess they were holding a grudge because I had tricked them earlier.  I knew this, and Don knew this but the Pig Farmer didn’t know shit.   This is also when I learned pigs can jump a six foot fence because several actually did.  Pig Farmer cussed and said he’d never seen such a thing before.  He gave us the stink eye but didn’t exactly accuse us.

It took us a couple hours and some serious bumps and bruises, but we finally managed to herd seven of them monsters into the livestock truck and get them and Pig Farmer the fuck out of there.

I visited the nursery one time and learned a sow will eat a piglet like a pork chop.  They have to keep the sow’s head in a cage so they can’t reach the little piglets scurrying around to her teats.  That totally grossed me out so I left and never went in that barn again.  I asked Don what happened to the burnt building by the barn.  Don said Pig Farmer had built a still and it exploded.  He still hadn’t told the insurance company.

One day, just to fuck with Pig Farmer’s head, we cut all the grass around the stone building and fed it to the pigs.  Then we white-washed a bunch of rocks and lined the driveway with them.  Don had brought in clothing and dressed up a few of them hogs.  I wish we would have thought of make-up, but we didn’t.  Our favorite pig, Arnold, was out of the pen bathing in a tub we made out of an old tarp and some used tires.  Don was feeding him dandelions one at a time.

We did not expect to be fired for this, but that is exactly what happened. I guess that old Pig Farmer thought we might be getting a bit too friendly with his hogs.  The old adage is never name something you are going to eventually slaughter, and we did a lot more than name them stupid pigs.  Oh well, Don and I left to cast our pearls elsewhere and held no grudge.