Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 5-9-11 |

Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 5-9-11

The legendary black baseball player, Satchel Paige once said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” His career spanned five decades, and he pitched three shut-out innings in a row when he was 60. Paul Harvey, the well-known radio broadcaster, who worked up until his death at 91, signed a 20 year contract when he was 85. Rush Limbaugh’s grandfather practiced law until his death at 101.

That fountain of eternal youth flows freely through my father’s family. His father, my grandfather preached for 70 years and died on a Sunday morning right before he turned 94. The total disregard for age is a hallmark of my brother, Bob, who passed 70 a while ago. In the last few years, he’s landed in the hospital twice after being thrown from a bucking horse. He’s shot several elk with his bow and arrow, after hiking up a New Mexico mountainside. He’s guided several white tail hunts for his friend, Gus, who’s a mere 97. Bob says he’s retired, but still goes to work at the hospital after getting up at 5 a.m. to exercise. Up until a year ago, he could outrun my teenagers in a 100 yard sprint.

So it was no surprise when he called to report his latest feat the other night. He’d discovered a bunch of wild hogs and piglets in his cotton field. When they saw him, they scattered and disappeared through the maze of trails they’d created. He knew that if he’d seen a few hogs, there were lots more.

Feral hogs are a huge problem in Texas. Numbering more than 2 million, they cost the state millions of dollars each year. A sow can have dozens of piglets each year. With that kind of reproduction, it’s hard to make a dent in their population. It’s impossible to eradicate wild hogs, but they can be managed by hunting or capture. My brother didn’t want hogs tearing up his crops and fences, preying on native wildlife, or bringing in new diseases and parasites. So he started devising a plan to get rid of them.

Most men his age would have hired some 20-year-old guys to handle this daunting task, but not my brother. Why pay someone to do a job that he could do himself? He started baiting the area and put out a rugged wire trap designed especially for wild hogs. In a couple of days, he caught two pigs each weighing about 50 pounds. One of the pigs was already dead from dehydration. The easy solution would have been to shoot the other pig and reset the trap, but Bob’s never been a fan of easy solutions. Besides, he’d already promised several of his buddies a pig to butcher for their family’s freezer.

He hitched a trailer to his truck and brought his glamorous wife along for assistance and moral support. They backed up to the edge of the cotton field. They hoisted the heavy trap up on its end and flopped it over. Again and again they flipped it end over end down a well worn trail. The live pig squealed hysterically as it tumbled around its dead companion. Bob’s wife tried to be cheerful as she helped heave the unwieldy load with her sprained wrist in a brace. But I bet she asked herself, as she has many times during the last 50 years, “Was this what I signed up for when I married a doctor?”

After an hour of heaving, sweating, squealing and muffled cursing, they finally got the trap in the trailer. They unloaded the disgruntled and thirsty survivor into a horse stall. Bob pulled a water hose into the stall and sprayed water into the pig’s mouth for several minutes. It was such a fine specimen that he decided to fatten it up on beer and corn and butcher it himself.

There was no time for rest and relief, though. They’d only subtracted two pigs out of the countless horde. It will be an ongoing project. I guess no matter how old he is, my brother Bob will always be determined to meet hard challenges. If there’s not any at hand, he’ll go find one – like he just did.

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