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By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

You can take the girl off the farm, but you’ll never get the farm out of the girl.

You’ll never take away the memories of chasing cattle out of the garden, walking the bean fields or raking hay.

You can take away the desire, for sure, but you’ll never get rid of the memories.

On a warming spring day when the breeze is still cool but the sun is bright, when water in the ditch shows royal blue against new lime-green grass, that’s when I wonder what someone from the streets of New York would think if she magically appeared on a dusty gravel road in the middle of Webster County. Shoot, in the middle of any county.

I’d bet against anything that fear would start to boil deep down in her stomach until her heart pumped fast and her hands shook. That’s when you’ve got to wonder how the wide open spaces in the heart of America’s heartland could scare anyone.

That may be one of my favorite phrases – the heart of America’s heartland.

That says it all.

We’re in the middle of life for the entire country. Fields of corn and soybeans, pens of beef cattle, herds of sheep.

We’ll forget the pigs. Pigs stink. I apologize to all those who raise pigs for saying pigs stink, but all those who raise pigs know pigs stink. No amount of lime or pen cleaning can change that fact.

Some processed sausage actually tastes like pigs smell. Few people can understand that, but it’s true. How can a person swallow something that smells like a nasty sow in the corner pen?

I used to like pigs. I rode the big duroc sow through weeds taller than I was. I imagine it made quite a picture – at least Dad reacted to it. But I never rode her again, so maybe it didn’t make that great picture I envisioned.

Baby pigs actually are cute little critters, but the mommie pig makes no bones about hating everyone in sight when her babies squeal. Of all animals a farmer could raise, there could be none less suited to farmland fun. The movie “Babe” notwithstanding, you just can’t have fun with a pig.

Our pigs never talked to our sheep. Our cats may have, but only to say “thank you for letting me use your wool blanket last night.” But our pigs never did.

I swear, though, they talked to me. A deep guttural grunt, followed by rolling eyes and a quick, little straight-legged run at the gate where I stood. At me.

Oink, oink doesn’t mean “Hi, how are you?” It means stand back, human, we’re coming through.

Pigs don’t shy away when you wave your hands, so there’s no scaring them back inside the pen. The gate goes down and wham, bam, they’re gone. And not as a herd, you understand, but as spiders in the wind – crisscrossing paths in every direction, a wild glint in their eyes that means they’re going for the gold. And the gold, it seems, is anything you most want to keep them out of.

Cows grazing in the garden can be swooshed away gently at a fast walk or easy lope. Pigs, on the other hand, know only one gear. Go. Go fast. Go now. Do not look back. Do not slow down.

I hate pigs. Maybe the pigs that make the sausage that tastes like pigs smell aren’t so bad, after all.

And maybe you could take the farm out of the girl if she had to be around pigs too often.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Mickelson is the lifestyles reporter for the Messenger in Fort Dodge. In 2006 she received master columnist honors from the Iowa Newspaper Association. Contact her at (515) 573-2141 or by e-mail at smickelson@messengernews.net.

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