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  • Writer's pictureTodd Stevens

Down on the Farm

When I was growing up, we raised all types on the small farm where we lived. We had dairy cows, beef cows, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, horses, and pigs. We kept the pigs in a big rectangular pen southwest of our barn. Usually we had a couple for our own family and occasionally we raised some for other people. My dad was pretty clever when it came to feeding the hogs. He worked in the Lochsa drainage in northern Idaho, and back then it was a narrow, serpentine and slick road. Almost every year some poor trucker would dump a load of grain over somewhere along Lolo pass, and we’d always head up to it with a bunch of screens for cleaning the grain and a pile of empty gunny sacks. We would screen out as much as our truck could haul, and then store it in the barn. Dad had an old hand crank grinder and he would grind a bucket of that grain and then pour any old milk, whey and water over it to soften it up before feeding the hogs. The other thing he’d do was hit every supermarket dumpster and bring home a big load of spoiled food once or twice a week. Because of his ingenuity our hog feed was almost free.

Pigs can be meaner than hell, and we were very wary of them, actually it was more than that, we were afraid. One of them somehow got out of the pen one day and us kids were nervous to try and get it back in. It was summertime and we’d had a long rainy spell, so the grass was tall and velvet green, and the barnyard was black and sloppy. That hog walked around to the shady north side of the barn and laid down in the mud. Mom told me to make sure he didn’t run off, so I sat on a block of wood and watched him. Flys buzzed around his head and even while he laid there sound asleep his ears flipped back and forth like mini radar dishes shooing them away. His little pink corkscrew tail did the same. So I sat there and watched him and waited for dad. Finally he got home, and I could hear the back door of the house shut, followed by the squeaky barnyard door opening and then closing, and finally he came around and saw the pig. “Why didn’t you herd him back in?” I was a little scared of the pig, but I didn’t tell dad that. “Mom told me just to watch him…so I did.” It was actually the truth. Dad gave me a little irritated shake of the head, then sighed and went over to grab the pig, which was maybe 150 lbs or so. He was just going to buck him over into the pen like a bale of hay. Right when he bent over to grab him that sleeping hog was suddenly not asleep anymore. He rolled half way to his feet with a loud squeal as dad reached for him, and then tried to take off. The only problem was that he was trying to get going in hoof deep pig shit, so his feet and legs moved in a running motion, but he stayed right in place. It was like a scene out of Scooby Doo when they wound up before taking off. When he did this, his feet caught little golf ball size gobs of black pig shit, and one of those gobs shot right straight into dad’s open mouth like a basketball through a hoop. Dad stopped what he was doing and spit & spat and gagged it out of his mouth. He finally went in and rinsed his mouth before coming back out and getting the pig in. After this incident, Dad was even MORE angry that I hadn’t gotten the pig in. ReplyForward

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