Monday, June 5, 2017
A Week Without Trump
When I submitted my column last week to the Editor, I lamented how jaded I was writing about Trump's inexplicable behavior week after week. He suggested I write another story about my chickens when I was growing up. I have pondered on that, after all, there is no shortage of Trump scandals this week and that story needs to be told. I finally decided to get Trump off my brain and leave for my vacation in a better mood. However, instead of writing about chickens, I'm going to write about my hogs and pigs.
I'VE WRITTEN before about being the caboose of my eight siblings. It was like being an only child in some ways. We lived in a remote rural area in Southeast Georgia in the pine forests and I had to create my own recreation and entertainment. Most weeks, the only person I saw was the mailman. He always gave me a piece of Dentyne gum. I wasn't ungrateful, but I sure wish he liked Juicy Fruit gum. Dentyne burned my mouth and didn't hold it's flavor.
HOGS AND PIGS are much more entertaining than chickens. Chickens are only good for playing hide and seek. Free range chickens can make nests anywhere. The only way to find the nest is to lie in wait and listen for the “cackle” indicating they have just laid an egg and they are trying to locate the flock. You have to be fast to head in the general direction of the “cackle” and then search. Some times you find the nest or some times it takes days of listening and looking. In any event, you have little personal interaction with the chickens.
AH, BUT HOGS...they appreciate being scratched with a stick or given snacks. We had a huge china berry tree in our back yard. The hogs would show up like clockwork each day to take their afternoon siesta in the cool, loose dirt in the shade of the tree. And that's where you would find me; right there, playing with them. Sometimes I would lay my head on the soft stomach of a sow and take a nap with them. As for hogs being entertaining, the funniest sight is when you rub hot cayenne pepper in their snout. They place their snout in the dirt and plow up the yard as fast as a tractor. But the absolute funniest sight is when you rub cayenne pepper in their butt area. They sit up on their rear, front two legs drawn up and in, and use their hind legs to scoot across the ground at warp speed. If you ever try this, I suggest you wear Depends.
MY ATTACHMENT to pigs could possibly be explained by this event. When I was five years old, my Daddy made a trade of his expert mechanical work for a FIVE footed pregnant sow. Yes, that's right—a hog with five feet. One day, my Daddy slipped in the house and whispered for me to come with him and said, “Don't tell your Mama.” When we arrived at the hog lot, the sow was writhing in pain. My Daddy said, “The pigs are stuck in her and my hand is too big to pull them out. If we don't hurry, she will die.” He then explained what I had to do. On that day, I delivered five pigs from a five-footed hog. At that moment, I felt the emotion “proud.” My daddy cautioned me again, “Don't tell Mama.” You see, my Mama was protective of me about such adult things. Arriving home, it took only about two minutes before I blurted out my proud accomplishment.
I TENDED to my special pigs every day, and even though they had a special place in my heart, I knew we would eat them one day. That's the way it was. That was survival and I didn't question it. And those were good porkchops!
ONE DAY the hogs wandered off. I tracked them down the sandy dirt road until their tracks left the road where they obviously went into the woods. I went back home and got a corncob from the crib and used my handle-less axe head to chop off corn. I dropped the corn along the road, reasoning that the hogs would eat the corn trail home. Pretty clever, huh? Sure enough, they returned home and I assumed they ate the corn. The next day, the county motor grader scrapped the road. A few weeks later, my Daddy came home from work and said, “I just can't figure out why corn is growing down the side of the road.” He was very perplexed and kept wondering out loud about it. I thought it was in my best interest to keep quiet about the corn trail because Daddy was very strict about wasting the feed for the animals.
WE LEFT that sandhill when I was ten years old and moved to civilization. It was like moving to a new world. I never looked back, but I know those years had a profound effect on who I am today. I do not like solitude and I love being with, and interacting with people. I apologize to the pigs about the cayenne pepper. Please, no emails from animal rights activists.
AS I WRITE this, we are with our family on top of a mountain, in a cabin, in the Great Smokies in Western Carolina. The three teenagers were mortified to learn there is no television, no internet/WiFi, and no cell phone signal. Within an hour of arrival, their parents went to the closest Walmart and bought a flat screen smart TV, a DVR player, and lots of movies. As for George and I, we were happy as “pigs in slop” when we realized we could listen to XM Radio in our car.