Day Writing: Loading butcher hogs
January 19, 2017
It was dusk. My husband Charles and I had been married for only a few weeks, and I was on the phone with my mother when all of a sudden I heard a horrible man scream come from the yard. Not quite a, "completely severed limb," scream; more of a, "gaping wound," or, "smashed arm, am stuck," scream.
My first thought was that I had no idea where he kept the first aid supplies I would surely need. My mother's bathroom would put some small-town clinics to shame. I quickly hung up the phone and raced toward the horse trailer where he was loading butcher hogs, hoping for the best.
I rounded the corner of the trailer just in the time to see him lose his grip on a 300 pound Yorkshire barrow's back leg. He let out another yell and leaped over the fence just as the barrow sprang from under the trailer like a ninja track star, deftly dodged my raging husband, and hurtled through the yard. As a non-hog person, I was impressed. Charles was not, and he bellowed that was the third time the hog had gotten away, and that I needed to "fix something up," as he gestured toward a random 2×10 board and generator that were laying nearby.
Off he went in pursuit, and upon catching up with said barrow, he began verbally berating it. "I hate you! Take that. How stupid can you be?" and a slew of additional, more colorful comments faded into the growing darkness.
The occasional WHAP could also be heard when he attempted to turn the pig. I later learned one cannot do more than very lightly smack a hog as it will bruise the meat. Only the nose and head are fair game for an encouraging enough tap to cause a change in direction, and they're both rock hard and difficult to connect with. Somewhere along the way a pig worked hard on that one.
As I listened I did manage to wedge the board between the generator and alleyway, creating a bluff at best. Eventually the cursing, name calling and tongue lashing began to gain volume as the pair made their way back to the corral and trailer. Just as they came into view, I heard my husband say, "Don't you think – GASP – that you're – WHEEZE – way too fat – PANT – to be doing stuff like this?!"
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And that is when my giggles turned to full blown laughing, out loud. The hog apparently agreed, as he came down the alley and hopped right in the trailer as though he went for rides in it daily. My husband just stood there, eyeing me in a combination of bewilderment and anger, trying to catch his air. It was his first time encountering the Hamilton mentality that if you weren't losing a lot of blood, a bad situation is hilarious when you are not the one directly involved.
Since that day we have had many butcher hog loading adventures together, and have laughed at each other more than once. But, I will never forget the night I learned a great deal about both loading hogs and what that particular task will do to my husband's temper. I still chuckle at the memory.
Neither husband nor hog were harmed in any way during this exchange.
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