When my parents settled in the rural Northwest, they failed to do a rainfall analysis. I grew up in the scrub-oak rock-farm high-desert conservative part of a state outsiders think is wet and liberal. When I was born, my parents were quasi-sharecroppers on a small farm. Uncounted orphan lambs died in my lap next to the woodstove. (Lambs wait until you fall asleep to die. Six-year-old me woke up with a lot of dead lambs. You can use this as Exhibit A in my trial.)
We left the farm when I was eight and my sister was five.
Our new not-a-farm was 2.5 acres on which we kept a dozen or so chickens for the coyotes to eat. We didn’t keep animals for slaughter and crops weren’t a source of income, so it wasn’t a real farm. It was just where we lived.
When you grow up in a place where every backyard has at least a goat, eventually you will belong to a 4-H club. You will purchase a baby animal, memorize the names of its parts on a poorly drawn diagram, and eventually drag it down to the County Fair to show off whatever about it people enjoy.
With a gerbil named Horse, a cat named Palomino, a chicken named Pony, a hamster named… okay, the hamster was named Money (Exhibit B at my trial)… anyway, it was inevitable that my 4-H project would be a horse. My sister decided on pigs.
Now, every farmer knows you don’t name food animals. It just gets you attached. So of course the first thing you have to do when you get a 4-H pig is give it a name. And it has to be a real name, not “bacon” or “porkchop.” My sister, drawing on our Polish heritage and wisdom beyond her years, chose “świnia.”
Many people (city-bred vegetarians, mostly) will tell you that pigs are as smart as dogs. Maybe so, but all that intelligence is used for one thing and one thing alone: hating you. Pigs hate you. Pigs express this hate by shitting and escaping.
On pigshit: Pigshit is slippery, sticky, pervasive, and has an indescribable smell. The Bog of Eternal Stench got nothin’ on pigshit. Your baby after a beet-and-asparagusplosion ain’t even close. It’s been 20 years and my parents’ yard still smells like pigshit on a warm day.
On escape: Pigs can burrow. Pigs can climb. Pigs are not impressed by your puny “electric fence.” Pigs, despite being “trained” by your little sister, do not respond to commands. Instead of using a leash, to move a pig you “tap its hindquarters lightly with your crook.” Or you can scream and beat its ass with a fencepost. The pig won’t pay much attention either way. The only way to ACTUALLY move an unwilling pig is to piss it off so much that it tries to chase you down or (recommended) to put a bag over its head and, as it tries to back out of the bag, beat its ass with a fencepost until it’s pointed the right direction.
Finally, the County Fair came and our experiment in pig husbandry was over. Pigs at Fair are driven around by confused children while local stores bid on the meat. Then the children weep as their carefully-named pets are taken away for slaughter. This teaches them some sort of life lesson, or is possibly Exhibit C. Świnia was purchased by Food-4-Less.
And that’s why for three months I spent my allowance money on Food-4-Less bacon. (Exhibit D)