Reminded of summer and fall days over half a century ago by the present warm fall weather, I'm moved to share--though, reckon I should tell this?--my recollections of a little red pig and an electric fence.
Twice during our married life my husband and I kept hogs, and both times we began with young shoats who were just past weaning stage.
The first time, we were living out in the country, renting a farm house and adjacent acreage. The pigs were to help out with the food budget, as were the laying hens and the large vegetable garden. We were in our mid-20s, plenty of energy.
Being a substation electrician, my husband naturally chose to surround half a wooded acre with electric fencing. Besides the corn and supplement we were feeding, the pigs had the fallen acorns and hickory nuts, and, of course, a watering trough.
All went well with the three little pink pigs, but that little red pig persisted in jumping the fence. The shock he got when his little back legs hit the wire did not deter him from trying again, once we had caught him and put him back with his brothers. The hickory nuts were simply bound to be more delicious on the other side, I guess he was thinking, and he was wandering farther and farther.
By the time of his last jump he was too fast to catch and was rapidly making for the crest of the ridge. My husband had just come in from bird hunting. He raised the shotgun and peppered that little pig's behind.
Pigs are smart. Reddy immediately turned around, high-tailed it home, and jumped back into the enclosure, squealing all the way. I was quite shocked to see my husband shoot him, but he really was a farm-raised boy and knew that the small shot at that distance would not do the little pig much damage.
So, along with his brothers the little red pig lived out his allotted time. They were duly slaughtered, and the hams and shoulders were salt-cured in the country manner for 12 months. We took one of the hams to my parents' home the following Christmas, and my mother served slices of it for breakfast, with fried eggs, biscuits, red-eye gravy, sliced tomatoes, and peach preserves.
My father—farm-raised himself, a big man with a hearty appetite—had a whole slice on his plate. As he cut into it, three tiny little birdshot rolled out towards his eggs. "Son," he said, "this hog's been shot."
By happenstance, we were having one of the little red pig's hams for that Christmas breakfast.
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