Learning about life from the pigs
It’s interesting to drive around the country and happen upon a herd of pigs being raised the way we all used to do it – on a farm with outdoor pig yards and a hog building next to them. As a former hog producer, I never thought I’d consider it a jewel among treasures to stumble upon an old-fashioned hog farm.
How well I remember those days – farrowing time and all those nursing piglets, turning sows out to feed, grinding load upon load of feed, water line and fence repairs, fixing outdoor waterers in sub-freezing temperatures, power washing the farrowing house, chasing hogs that got out, hog dust, children riding pigs backwards, and hog loading escapades that are famous for the farm wife coming “this close” to ditching the sorting panel and going to the house.
And I haven’t even alluded to the aroma that precedes and follows any hog farmer, his boots, his clothing and the mud room of his house, nor the odiferous laundry piles that await.
But for as much as hogs appear to be among the least appreciated of the livestock species, I find that they can teach us so many things about life, just by being pigs. First:
– Housecleaning is optional. Who better than a pig can teach us that a clean house is overrated? They just live their lives-knowing their home is a pig sty; but in their defense, they do tend to keep at least one part of their home clean and dry for company.
– Enjoy this life. Maybe it’s because a hog’s life is much shorter than ours, but they know how to live it fully. They take advantage of any chance to soak up the sun, they enjoy a good run through the sprinkler and a long drink on a hot day, and they never turn down a chance for a refreshing mud bath when the opportunity presents itself.
It really is the simple things.
- Have patience. They know if you’re going to do the work of having one offspring, you may as well have several. With all those nursing piglets climbing all over and competing for a meal, they just lie there and know it’s going to be awhile. Our world needs the patience of pigs.
– Glam it up when you can. Hogs were far ahead of their time when it came to style, knowing nose rings were cool long before we did. They also know that when they go out to strut their stuff-even if it’s just their back side-a little swagger and a little curl never hurts.
– Dig deeper. Hogs are always rooting around trying to find whatever treasures lie beneath the surface. There is wisdom in that for us, and on many levels. There is always more to see, know and experience.
– Go your own way. No hog worth its weight ever willingly ran through an open gate unless it was to escape the pen. The world may call us to go in a certain direction, but we owe it to ourselves to escape that thinking and go our own way.
– Be bold. Sometimes that hog is going to get through the gate no matter who is guarding it. Sometimes you just have to decide to make a run for it … because there may be wonderful things waiting for us on the other side if we just have the courage to go and see.
– Bristle up and make yourself heard. The squeal of a hungry or agitated hog can be deafening. When you have something to say, squeal until someone listens to you.
– Always huddle together. Hogs can be found lying almost on top of each other at the end of the day, no matter what the day as brought. As hog producers-and people-we need to stick together, learn from them how to let things go and love on those who are important to us … before they, or we, are gone.
– Face your destiny with courage. I do wonder sometimes what hogs think when they step into a loading chute, unsure of what’s ahead. But eventually they step into the trailer and leave this life behind them. When our time comes, we could follow their example and step into the next life with no regrets-not clinging to this life, but embracing the one that’s ahead.
Finally, you know you might have what everyone wants, but remember the breakfast mantra of the pig and the chicken “All give some, and some give all.” Though they have to give all for our delicious breakfasts and dinners, remember that all good things come at a price.
We should always remember the cost.
Karen Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and www.karenschwaller.com.
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