During high school I performed heavy chores on a large (9,000 acre) cattle ranch. One year I fed horses, another year I milked cows, but sophomore year I fed pigs. Our crew was called, naturally, “the pig feeders”. It was fascinating and disagreeable only when the gas of rotting food scraps became overwhelming on warm days in late spring. It was like a late 60s version of “Oklahoma”, which is saying something. . .
Later in life I pondered the matter of those kitchen scraps—why didn’t the pig herd have its own feed? The horses, dairy and range cattle, poultry and lambs all had special meals. Not the pigs. They ate surplus food from the ranch, local schools and communities, literally scraped off the plates. It would sit in old metal oil drums for a day or two and “cheese up”, as we called it—longer if we had visitors. The heavy barrels would accumulate ominously on a cement pad outside the kitchen door, where they’d stew in the sun. Pig slop is the name, stinking is the game. However, the pigs were crazy for it.
Being youngsters, we’d occasionally have crew fights with the milkers and horse feeders. Outnumbered, we were still a potent force, since we had the ultimate weapons, being these indescribably hideous chunks of semi-solid slop, and a profoundly detached attitude.
“. . . the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.”
There were only 3 of us and 10 or so milkers and 8 or so horse feeders, but, wisely, they usually picked on each other, the milkers using old curds and you-know-what, and the horse guys using rocks and you-know-what. We were aliens. “Provoke us at your peril”, was our unspoken message. No one could even eat with us on workdays, for good reason. However, soon the tension became unbearable for the others, and they came at us one day. We won our only fight against the combined, massive force of the other crews, including the gonzo upperclassmen trash-haulers. After a brief and colorful skirmish, they scattered before us.