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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jul 29, 2010

Good stories deserve to be repeated. This one you may remember from a few years ago, but I may be trying to flatter myself that my weekly missives are as great as to be unforgettable.

I do not know why this event has returned to my thoughts, but it has been on my mind. Let us get to the point of repeating this soon to be twice told tale.

When I was about 12 or 13 years of age, my dad told me one evening after supper that he had a job for me. A hog had crawled underneath the length of the cattle bunk and was stuck there. He needed me to crawl the approximately 80 feet and attach a rope to the hog’s leg so he could pull it out.

This was before the days of pseudorabies when hogs and cattle were kept in the same lot. My dad fed his cattle with an automated system suspended over the concrete feed bunk.

The feed bunk, when viewed from the end resembled the letter H. The hog crawled in the west end and had made it nearly to the east end some 80 feet away.

This was a close to market weight hog so he was valuable and leaving him trapped under the bunk was not an option. In addition to the value of the 200-pound hog, leaving him there to die would be cruel and smelly once he began to rot.

One more detail needs to be added to complete this scene. It had been raining and since the bunk had about 18 inches of clearance, I had to crawl on my stomach through the inch or so of mixed cow manure, hog manure and rain. It was a lot of brown slop.

I looked at my dad and thought he was kidding. Maybe I was wishing he was kidding. He was not kidding. This had to be done and since I weighed 130 pounds with a 30-inch waist (remember, this was a very long time ago), I was the chosen one.

I dressed in an old pair of jeans and sweatshirt that could be thrown away at the end of the assignment. We walked down to the end of the bunk and my dad handed me the rope. I knew what to do next.

I got down on my stomach and, with a lantern in one hand and a rope in the other, I started to crawl. Those first few seconds were an adjustment as I felt my front side become soaked. After that, it was just a matter of putting one arm and elbow ahead of the other and pulling myself along.

Once I had adjusted to my surroundings, it was only time until I reached the stuck hog. I fastened the rope around his back leg and made sure it was a good knot. I did not want to have to do this second time.

With the hog ready to be pulled out, I had to crawl backwards to get out myself. There was no room to turn around. Once again, in a matter of minutes, I was back where I had started my journey standing next to my dad.

The hog was pulled backwards, the rope untied, and the hog disappeared into the feedlot, probably for a long drink and a hearty meal at the self-feeder. I have every reason to believe he made it to market.

I disposed of my wet smelly clothing in the laundry room and headed for the bathtub. Both the clothing and I cleaned up nicely with no bad effects.

Is there a lesson to this story? Well, of course, there is.

You may have your own conclusion, but here is mine. There are times in life when we have to do various jobs, jobs that have to be done, disagreeable or not.

So the next time you are faced with a job that you wish you did not have to do, remember that boy who about 50 years ago got down on his stomach and crawled through a sloppy mix of wet hog and cow manure to tie a rope around the leg of a stuck pig.

Fifty years later, it is a story that can be told with a smile. If your disagreeable job goes as well, I hope there is a day when you can tell your story with a smile.

But that does not mean I want to do it again. Besides, this time there would have to be a rope to pull me out as, like the hog, I have reached market weight.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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