In a Sow’s Ear 9-6-10
Reminiscing through files of old columns, I found some that were pre-Fence Post. Like the one about the importance of knees when engaged in country-type activities. For instance, making a reluctant ewe accept her newborn lamb: You, the mama sheep, and her fresh offspring are jammed together inside a 4-by-4 jug. Baby is willing; mama is not, so your knees must be employed as vise-grips to hold the ewe still while her baby finds a faucet.
When bottle feeding multiple bum lambs at once, your can grip a pair of suck bottles – stacked one above the other – twixt your knee bones. This leaves your hands free to hold a third bottle for a third bum and possibly a forth if you’re ambidextrous. Beware of being jostled off balance. In most circles, a lamb-milk bath is not considered a beauty treatment.
Your knees become essential components the day you are tapped as partner to little Lacyann in the 4-H greased Pig-In-A-Poke Contest. You act as hazer while Lacyann’s job is to grab the oily little porker and stuff it into a gunny-sack “poke.”
The action starts inside the Fairgrounds rodeo arena with adult people forming a tight circle to keep the piglets within chaseable bounds. Five pairs of kids (with good knees) plus you and Lacyann make up the half dozen teams standing behind a chalked line. At a signal, 10 or 12 tallow-smeared piglets explode from wire cages like popcorn from a hot skillet. Human chasers and hazers commence a roundup.
Mayhem ensues. Youngsters leap on slippery squealing swinelets. Round and round, back and forth go the kids, the pigs and you. By the third round, your breathing is coming in raspy gulps, your legs tremble. Figuring a collapsed hazer would be useless, you stand still and watch as Lucyann and her chosen porker zig and zag. Porky halts in the center of the ring. Lucyann achieves lift-off, sails through the air in a wide-armed, spread-eagled leap and lands blanket-style on top of the piglet.
Fighting to get her sack-poke at the ready, she makes the mistake of lifting her torso upward. Piggy squirts to freedom like a ping-pong ball from an air gun. The speeding-bullet piglet races straight at you.
“Stop him! Stop him,” screams Lucyann.
You spread your feet in a wide stance. Porky dives between your legs. You C-clamp your knees around the piglet and together you crash to earth. Turf grinds into your face. You eat a mouthful – not your choice of gourmet food.
Lying on your side, you death-clamp your knees on Piggy who emits squeals piercing enough to alert a politician. The moment lasts for what seems like hours, but you cling on.
You feel a jerk as Lucyann yanks the swinelet from between your vise-gripping knee-bones and manages to jam him into her gunny sack.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” sputters Lucyann, then turns to race toward the judge’s stand.
“No problem,” you mutter, spitting dirt. “It’s all in the knees.”
As mentioned, this column was dredged up from one penned even before I became a member of the Fence Post family. Nowadays my knees are shot – one replaced, the other not reliable. My fine-swine activity deals mainly with ham at Thanksgiving.