Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Our farm is fenced for cattle. The corral ...

Our farm is fenced for cattle. The corral was not hog-tight, but when neighbors gave our children a bred gilt we added temporary barricades, a roof shelter and straw for bedding. “Porky Pig Vemer Gerard,” they named her. One Sunday morning Porky’s sanctuary was empty!

Chub found where she had overturned the clumps of straw in her makeshift shelter and rooted her way out under the good wire fence. Perhaps this cozy spot was no fit place for her to have her first babies? Rain in the night obscured her tracks, so Chub walked over to the stalk field before breakfast but reported, “There’s no sign that Porky Pig has been there.”

After church and lunch, Walt, Nancy and I joined the search, and we spread out searching in the woods east of the house. I warned the kids that Porky was probably not the usual tame pet she had once been and that they should stay back if they found her. Finally, the four of us met and talked about motherhood and brute instinct. Resting on a downed tree trunk we debated, “If you were a mother-to-be pig, where would you find better shelter and more privacy for delivering those first babies?”

“Looks like we’ll have to let her starve until she comes up for food and water,” Chub said, and we started walking back to the house. Suddenly Chub nodded sideways and said, in a hushed voice, “She’s over here!” Our mild-tempered Porky Pig Vemer Gerard, motionless, snarled at us as she cuddled seven pink, sleeping babies. Instinctively, she had made a cozy bed under a cedar tree’s low branches; fallen cedar needles insulated her brood from the cold, muddy ground. I wonder if she knew the day before that they were inside of her?

She eyeballed us as unwanted strangers, and we stood back. “Christmas Tree -- that’s your new name,” Nancy shouted. I shushed her and Chub said, “We’ll have to put a ring in her nose so she’ll stay where we want her to stay.” We put her and the seven babies in the lot the following weekend.

One afternoon when we returned from work, there was Christmas Tree, turning sod upside down with her snoot. She had undoubtedly spent the day ruining part of the expensive new alfalfa field to get grubs and other earthy goodies. We chased her back into the lot and drove stakes to block her escape route. “You’ll get rings in your nose, Sunday,” Chub said.

On Saturday, he made a loop in the end of a long piece of No. 9 wire, hunted up the pincers and the sharp copper pieces to clamp in her nose.

Early the next morning, Nancy and Walt hung on the board fence to watch the show. Chub and I finally trapped Christmas Tree in the corner of the lot and pressed our bodies against hers, holding her motionless against the fence. When Chub slipped the wire loop over her snout, all hell broke loose!

Christmas Tree screamed bloody murder, her seven squealing porkers scattered in every direction. Nancy cried, and Walt couldn’t look. Pincers. Ring. Snap. One ring in. Then another and another. We released her, and instantly it was quiet!

Ringing the hog was harder on Chub, the kids and the seven porkers than it was on Christmas Tree. As for me, I’m a mother, and mothers accept what has to be done. I’ve never known why Sunday morning is the time for castrating, clipping eye teeth and ringing hogs’ noses but Dad did these things on Sunday morning, too, and Mom never questioned it. Why should I?

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