Boar’s Head Revisited

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.”
                                                                        –Mark Twain 

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. 

 

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 8:40 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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14 Responses to “Boar’s Head Revisited”

  1. Francine Patterson said:

    Pigs are wonderful animals. As a child, we always raised pigs on our small family farm for meat. One year my brother and I became very close to a young pig we named Rosie. She became a pet and even wandered in the house and rustled around my mom’s feet as she washed dishes. The bread drawer that was on the bottom of a bank of drawers, was left open one day. Rosie found it and enjoyed the bread and we found evidence all over the kitchen. On another occasion Rosie came in with red liquid all over her face! My mother was so alarmed and worried that she had gotten into some old barbed-wire or my dad’s tools. Well…she had just gotten into the garden and helped herself to the freshly ripened beets that were ready to be picked! Rosie was a very sweet pig and I know that even though my folks said that they gave her away when I was in school, I know what happened. I just refused to eat bacon or anything else pig-related for a few years after that. I will always remember our dear little Rosie. I don’t remember Rosie ever smelling bad. I think it was just the slop she always ate, that gave her a bad rap!

  2. E. Edminister-Fiocca said:

    Dear George,
    Just can’t get enough of your writing!!!!!
    Old friend from Brooks Brothers, Chicagoland.
    Current member of Garden Club of America, Akron Garden Club and Stan Hywet Flower Arrangers.
    Best to you always. Thanks for saving Heronswood.
    We are all fortunate to have a business owner with heart! Elaine

  3. Diane said:

    I am making a book of your blogs so Jan, Buck and Chris can read them…they will love it..

  4. and people question my choice of over 20 years to not eat meat!!!

    ook

  5. As kids we used to invade a local potato cellar which was very dark, dank, and cool in the midsummer to arm ourselves with rotten potatoes and shoot our enemies in the dark using sling shots made out inner tube strips. We would have been able to give you a good run for your money! Only a few thins on earth smell worse than a great big rotten potato.

  6. scott trees said:

    George,

    Very funny! I laughed out loud. I can see you doing all of this. You’re a great descriptive writer. Thanks for telling us your stories.

    Scott

  7. Mary said:

    Great story. Made me really smile. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but in rural Alaska with a honey bucket (literally a 5 gallon bucket) in the corner and burn barrels that sat all winter and got dug out of the snow and ice in the spring for a trip to the dump. I looked forward to going with my Dad as he and I were the only ones interested. Dad and I were Dumpster Divers Extrodinaire — pack rats to the uninitiated. LOL. And every other year we reroffed the cesspool. Another job Dad and I shared. Thanks for bringing back memories.

  8. bfish said:

    More of these memories, please — this was very entertaining. Did you ever figure out why the pig herd didn’t have its own feed?

  9. Cathryn said:

    I clicked on the word “crazy” and read your old blog and was so pleased to find someone else who enjoys the essence of skunk. Since I was a kid there has been something about that aroma that is so earthy and natural that I treasure the moments when I am driving down the highway and am hit with that smell, or I step outside in the morning and there it is. I wouldn’t want a perfume or soap with the scent, but I do love that skunky smell!

  10. gooddog said:

    Today this would not be considered ‘normal’ and boys would be given ADHD drugs to keep them calm. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  11. LazarusL said:

    Surely this story could not in any way be construed as relating to politics. As everyone knows, nothing could be sweeter than the fragrance of fresh lawmaking in the morning.
    ;-)

  12. nancy said:

    Great blogs–always enjoy them.
    But I don’t get the reference to Oklahoma in this latest one, “Boar’s Head.”
    “A 60s version of Oklahoma?”
    Am I dense? Obviously it’s the musical, but that’s about corn and peaches and buggies (“surry with the fringe”?) with lots of dancing. I don’t recall any pigs.
    Can someone explain?

  13. Carol said:

    All my berry fights while picking strawberries pale after your story. They were messy and did leave wonderful big sloppy blobs on your shirt but they smelled delightful even after an afternoon in the sun! I, like you, have always wondered by pigs don’t have a special feed. I am happy to tell you that pigs in Oregon are being fed a special diet of hazelnuts so they will make exceptional proscioutto later.

  14. Chynna said:

    I can’t hear anything over the sound of how awesome this arcitle is.

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