Through the Fence 2-15-10
February 16, 2010
There’s no better place than in a messy pig pen to have an epiphany – a sudden and profound insight. It was in such a place that the Prodigal Son had his revelation. He realized that he had ruined his life, squandered his inheritance and that he should go back home to his family. Feeding pigs is a dirty job, not one to be tackled in Sunday clothes. There is no amount of caution that can be taken to prevent porcine pollution. Wearing Teflon coveralls or a Haz-Mat suit might provide enough protection from a bustling herd of ravenous hogs – an idea that my teenage daughter Lucia had forgotten.
She had hurried outside the other evening to feed her show hogs without pausing to suit up properly. She was dressed in black and pink sweats, a T-shirt, pink and white striped rubber boots and a hot pink bandana – “pinked out” as she called it. She was filling the feeders for one of the last times. Livestock show season was upon us. Soon the pigs would be loaded onto a truck or taken to the local butcher. She was anticipating being done with that nasty task.
Due to recent heavy rains and the fact that the pigs loved to play with the metal nipple on their watering device, their pen was a flooded bog. That night Lucia had managed to go in and out of the gate several times without arousing the attention of the pigs. They were happily munching away at the other feeders, all but one – a large pink Yorkshire barrow. Five bags had already been dumped, and she was hauling out the last one. She ripped the string off the top and took a couple of steps into the gate. She must have stepped further out into the pen than she had on previous trips. When she did, her booted feet sank instantly into the stinky mire up to her knees as mud splattered the bag, her face and her hair. She was stuck.
Like any typical teenage girl, she is usually pretty rough on her younger brother, Landon, and is only really sweet to him when she needs something. He was putting out hay for the horses when he heard her squeal. “Bubby! Bubby! Help me! I’m stuck in the mud!” she cried. Dutifully, he ran to her aid, but paused when he saw her in such a hilarious predicament. He doubled over with laughter, and it was a couple of minutes before he could catch his breath enough to rescue her. She still had a death grip on that bag and held it above the surface of the poopy quagmire.
Landon took the bag of feed from her and held it long enough for her to climb out of the mud hole. He handed it back to her and walked away, still snickering. She grabbed onto a metal panel at her side with one hand and steadied herself. She took a careful step and slipped, slamming her cheek into the barn wall as she fell forward. She landed with a splat right down in the smelly ooze. As she did, a puff of pulverized corn whooshed up into the air and dusted her cheeks. Suddenly her pig noticed her on the ground with an open bag of pig chow. He trotted over to her, snuffling at her hair and trying to lick the tasty goodness off her cheek.
It dawned on her that she’d run out the door without putting on her coveralls. Filthy and frustrated, and ignoring the slimy goo that covered her, she clambered to her feet. Lucia shooed the hungry pig away, finished filling the feeder and stomped back to the house in a snit.
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My husband and kids know that the only thing that makes me madder than someone tracking mud and hay in the house is tracking in pig poop. Despite the chilly temperature, Lucia decided to strip down to her drawers before coming in. She didn’t make it through the door before our neighbor whizzed by in his truck and honked. Needless to say, she headed straight to the shower where the floral-scented soap and shampoo awaited.