October 2, 2016
I decided to step away from all the business of launching The River of Cattle and write this blog to go in the “From the Pig Barn” section of my website. Fall and spring always bring back memories of the fun trips we took with the kids to shop for just the “right” pig.
I grew up in the city and had never been around hogs. The only thing I knew was that we got bacon, ham, and sausage from pigs. If you had told me I would come to love being around hogs, I’d have encouraged you to see a psychiatrist. Hogs were supposed to be dirty and smelly. I was in for a surprise.
My first experience with pigs was when Rachel was in the fourth grade. She was in 4-H, and her daddy decided she needed to show a pig at the Grimes County Fair. So, early one spring off we went shopping. We came home with two blue butts, which is a cross between a Yorkshire and a Hampshire. They are white with gray or bluish spots on the hindquarters. Even thought she could only show one pig, we always got an extra just in case there was a disaster of some kind.
I remember it was a wet year, and we had quite a large and deep mud puddle caused by the runoff through the culvert under our road to the house. The kids would take the pigs out of the ramshackle open sided barn we had at the time and walk them across the pasture. It didn’t take long for the pigs to find the mud puddle/lake and jump in.
From that day on, when Rachel or Vincent opened the hog barn door those two pigs took off at a run leaving the kids behind and raced across the pasture. With a flying leap, they would launch themselves into the air and land with a belly-flop in the middle of the puddle sending droplets of muddy water flying everywhere. I don’t know who squealed the loudest, the pigs or Rachel and Vincent when they finally caught up with their charges. Those pigs had a great time splashing around, ducking under the water, and blowing bubbles. Finally, after repeated tries, the kids would extract their charges from the water and drive them back to the barn for a bath and supper.
It was a busy spring with all of us learning how to care for these intelligent loveable animals. Fortunately, my husband, Don, was an old hand at dealing with livestock and show animals. We measured just the right amount of feed. We washed and groomed each animal, just to have them flop right back in the dirt when we finished. We shoveled dirty hay and assorted other materials out of their pens and spread fresh hay for them to root around and roll in.
Finally, show time arrived. Rachel had listened well to her daddy’s instructions and did a good job showing her pig, for a first timer. She won Reserve Champion. That was a great start and led to many wonderful years of good times spent in the hog barn.