By: Kirstie Pike, CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel
Life on our world is weird. It just is. I am not talking weird in the sense that neighbors call to report strange odors or reclusive habits (although we have had a number of calls to the local dispatch office due to rogue buffaloes, but that is a story for another day). I mean weird in the sense that things occur in daily life that make us pause, scratch our heads, and say, “Do we need to tell the kids not to repeat this at school?”. Despite the fact that I feel compelled to constantly assure people that we are not products of intermarriage from generations past, I cannot help but look at our life without stifling a maniacal giggle. Yesterday was no exception.
It’s pig season. I don’t mean hog season. I mean pig season. Our kids are very much into 4-H and have raised market hogs since they were eight years old. It is a way of life around here from March through July. They have become competitive and compulsive about their pigs and how they want to raise them and finish them. In fact, I was recently informed that “it was time to split the barrow from the gilts and change the feed”. Huh…who knew? The pigs are a big deal. I think I am beginning to understand the sacred cow philosophy in India. However, these hogs will end up on the dinner plate. No exceptions.
So,the hogs got out. I do not mean they escaped their pens and were milling about happily. They were out and not to be found. Apparently, this was a result of some supreme procine planning. These suckers not only escaped their pens and the weather port. They traveled down the road, around the cattleguard and found themselves frolicking side by side with the buffaloes in the fields ¼ mile from the house. For those wondering, pigs are non-migratory. I don’t really need to say more. They typically opt to stay close and root up my yard or wallow in the irrigation ditch. It is unusual to find these wily critters this far away from home.
Upon closer inspection, only two of the three had made it to the field. The third was missing in action. Two pigs were rounded up (a process that vaguely resembles herding cats) and led back home. Should you have no previous pig-herding experience, here is how it goes: the herder walks behind said pigs with a pig stick, prodding and guiding as the pigs willfully move…wherever they want, that is. This can be a very slow and tedious process. The only comforting thoughts at moments like this are nestled in the knowledge that each of these beasts would eventually end up at market. It is sort of pork karma.
It then became time to launch a ranch wide search and rescue effort for pig number three. After some extensive searching, the gilt was located…far, far away in another pasture. Efforts were made to begin the death march back to the house. However, this pig was having nothing to do with these efforts. Nothing. Mind over matter…pig over person…call it what you will. She was not moving. She was exhausted and stressed.
At this point, my husband went somewhat catatonic. This state of mind is typically indicative of one of two things; (1) an amazing act of brilliance or (2) an amazing act of desperation. The course of the events that followed could be attributed to either brilliance, desperation or both. I suppose the point is moot, but it does make one pause. Once this occurs, he has had enough. There is no negotiation, whether he is dealing with pigs, cattle, great danes, his wife or his children. A solution, whatever it may be, was eminent.
With a backhoe.
Now, for those of you who live on ranches, you know the backhoe is typically reserved for carcass removal in these instances. Desperation or brilliance? Within minutes, he had the pig handled, wrestled into the bucket of the backhoe, levitated above ground and en route to the pens. Apparently, there was no more pig negotiation. (Rest assured, when he is done negotiating with the kids, they are not packed up in a backhoe bucket and transplanted…not yet anyway) Said pig was lowered to the ground and herded into the pens where she too went rather catatonic. Good news! Madame Pig is doing great and is as happy as a clam. Assuming that clams are fairly content by nature.
Whether this was ranching ingenuity or brilliant desperation…problem solved. Even if it was rather unconventional.
This little piggy should have stayed home.