Hogs are graceful in the way they run up and down steep ravines with only a two-pointed hooves to balance their massive bodies. Yet, they can also be found unrecognizable while wallowing in self-made waterholes. They are gentle, yet powerful and sweet, but also destructive. A picture tells a thousand words, and this one tells a story.
Yes, this is the picture I took when I arrived to the butchering facility and checked on the hog before I went in to fill out my “livestock drop-off” paperwork. Except that, I had NO LIVESTOCK to drop off! I could blame it on a thousand reasons, but here are the top 5:
- I should have reinforced the crate with 2x4s across the sides.
- When I was driving, I didn’t check the passenger side rear view mirror often enough.
- My co-pilot and son, PeterXavier, fell asleep on the drive, exhausted from a day of pig wrangling.
- I was driving too slow.
- I am being punished by the corporate gods for raising free-spirited, pasture roaming, all natural pork.
At any rate, I had no hog. She was about 250lbs that just vanished into thin air. She was our Christmas ham, our sausage and gravy breakfast on the weekends, our pull pork BBQ sandwiches, and the list goes on. Then, to think we were splitting her with another family and they too had lost out on all those wonderful meals and family gatherings centered around a delicious free-roaming and pasture raised hog.
What happens next?
We called the sheriff’s department on the off-chance that someone would call it into Animal Control. They were very friendly and helpful, even suggesting we post our lost hog on the local Lost and Found Pets page on Facebook! Then we drove the same route back to the house scanning for a slow-moving black and white mass on the side of the road or rooting up a McMansion’s perfectly manicured lawn (praying for the latter).
Finally, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we may never see her again. We said a few peayers to St Anthony and headed to the ball field for PeterXavier’s game. We were sitting on a picnic bench waiting for the baseball game to start when my wife got the call from the sheriff’s department. A farmer had our hog in his barn! Our call in to Animal Control had paid off.
I headed home to repair and reinforce the crate, before heading off to retrieve my livestock. I also picked up my teenaged son, for some personal reinforcements!
When I got to his house, you can imagine my gratitude and excitment. We backed the trailer to pen in the barn and loaded her up. He said a neighbor from a few houses down the road had called him to say that a large pig was eating her flowers, digging up the lawn, and making a mess of the landscaping (I teach my hogs well). He walked her down to his place via the road, got her into the barn, then called it into the Sheriff’s office.
As it turned out, the processing facility had another drop-off time the next morning and I could still bring her in for processing. I have no idea how I got so lucky. This time, the crate was reinforced with added 2×4 boards, I made sure PeterXavier was looking out his side view mirror the entire drive, and not taking any naps on the way. It worked!
We got her dropped off at 7am and she had a live weight of 254lbs. When I pick up the meat, I’ll be sure to stop by the generous rescue farmer’s house and give him a share of the bounty!