Monday, December 03, 2007

Eye of the Beholder

For a year, every time I ate a piece of bacon or a slice of ham I wondered if it was ‘him’.

A few years back, Char and I were in Nebraska visiting Cliff and Marilyn. One morning over breakfast Cliff said, “Well, Ralph I don’t know what you want to do today. You can stay here and help Char and Marilyn make a thousand mints for the wedding. You can go with me to haul feeder pigs. Or you can do something on your own.” There wasn’t a choice. I made mints before and I had done things on my own before but I had never hauled feeder pigs. I grabbed my camera ready for a new experience.

While the semi trailer was being loaded, Cliff told me that feeder pigs weigh about thirty pounds and are raised in confinement pens. While in confinement pens, they rarely see the light of day. Because of that, they are afraid of sunlight. They’ll run to the end of a shadow and stop, not wanting to go into the sunlight.

After the semi was loaded, Cliff drove to the auction house in Columbus. Having never drove a semi I was amazed at Cliff’s ability to maneuver through traffic. But, I was extremely impressed how he backed up to the shoot where the pigs were to be unloaded.

Cliff wasn’t happy with the shoot leading to the ramp. The design of the shoot left a gap between the trailer and the ramp. Cliff remarked, “Before we are done a pig will squeeze through that gap”.

Cliff went into the semi and started herding out the pigs. A guy from the auction house stood on a ledge next to the ramp, with an electrical prod in his hand. At the end of the ramp, there was sunlight and the pigs stopped and started stacking up, at times, they were four deep. Soon the only noise you heard was the sound of squealing pigs as the guy on the ledge poked them with the prod, trying to keep the ramp clear.

I was taking pictures when it happened just like Cliff said. Upon leaving the trailer, one pig managed to squeeze between the truck and the shoot. He went tumbling to the ground. Then another and another, soon four or five little feeder pigs were running around, always staying in the shade.

I put my camera on the ground and asked the guy on the ledge if I should try to catch them. Saying he would get them, he handed me the prod and told me to keep the ramp clear.

The pigs were already stacking up at the end of the ramp. Taking the prod and as gently as possible I touched a pig. That pig turned around and gave me a “what was that” look. Then I noticed the button on the bottom of the prod. I poked the pig again and pushed the button, giving him a mild electrical jolt. Squealing he jumped off the ramp into the sunlight.

Keeping the ramp clear sounds easy, but it’s not. Soon, I was swearing at the pigs but had mastered the prod.

The truck was empty and the ramp was clear. I turned to get my camera just in time to watch one of the loose feeder pigs back away from the sunlight. He was backing up towards my camera. Afraid he was going to step on it I hopped of the ledge, but not in time. He had backed up to my camera and crapped all over it! Now, is where mastering the prod paid off. I jabbed that pig in the rear and laid on the button like never before. The pig squealed and jumped high into the air. It turned and was facing me. I raised the prod high in the air while yelling, “You want some more of this you @#$ %^&* pig?”

That’s when I saw Cliff standing at the rear of the semi trailer watching me, chuckling. “That @#$%^ pig deserved it. He crapped all over my camera,” I said. I knew I didn’t have to defend my actions, Cliff hates feeder pigs.

I was dripping with sweat and covered with pig crap but even so as gingerly as possible, I retrieved my camera from the still steaming pile. Holding the camera away from me, I went into the auction house and cleaned it the best I could.

Walking outside, still holding the camera at arms length, I again told Cliff, “That @#$%^ pig crapped on my camera.” Finally, Cliff’s laughter slowed to a chuckle and he was able to say, "You know Ralph, a little Febreze will take that smell away.”

I’ve cleaned that camera. I sprayed it numerous times with Febreze, but I still can’t bring myself to look through the lens.


Blogger Mushy said...

That was thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious. Thanks. I needed that.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Cheyenne said...

Eww...I'd have a new camera by now. Funny story by the way. I never knew that about feeder pigs.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

That's just like a I remember it happening Ralph, I loved it. Thanks for the review.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

Ralph, we kept two pigs for a friend. The friend didn't know much about pigs but my husband did. When the fellow came to claim his livestock he said he could load them so my husband and I waited and watched. It was the absolute funniest thing I had ever seen. The pig owner was a huge, bearded fellow who went by the name of Bear. You would think he could do anything. Well, he could not load pigs into a truck. After a while he finally asked my husband for help and Ron walked over and loaded the pigs quite easily. LOL

Thanks for adding me to your blog links. I am honored!

3:57 AM  
Anonymous Sorso said...

Hilarious !
Great Post !

7:44 AM  
Blogger Janell said...

My husband and I worked with pigs for several years. This hilarious story gives me an idea for a post. Now aren't you glad you are a forest ranger and not a swineherd?

8:53 AM  
Blogger possum said...

Once again I am reminded why I am a vegetarian! Those poor babies!
And I can't think of anything that smells worse than pig ****. I definitely would have to get a new camera.
Next time, go for the mints.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Your post reminds me of when I see those poor little piggies headed to market.
I can't bear to become a vegetarian because I like ham to well. And Vienna Sausage. But I always say something about what I should do.

Adi knocked my camera off the shelf (it was charging) and now it won't flash. Febreze won't do a thing for my flash.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Well, why don't you go ahead and look through the lens. Point it at a sunset or a beautiful snowscape. That'll take your mind off the "pile."

But I wouldn't press the button, if I was you. You never know what might squirt out.

This was a good post.

4:59 PM  
Blogger 1 plus twins said...

oh my god!!! at first i was feeling so so bad for those pigs, never seeing sunlight, afraid of light, getting electricuted etc etc. but then picturing you in my mind with the prod high in the air swearing and the camera with shit all over ha ha that brought me to tears!! that is too damn funny!!

6:41 PM  
Blogger Janell said...

Possum; it's not the pigs that stink, it's the manure.

8:08 AM  
Blogger nora said...

I honestly could not breathe by the end of this post.
Of course, with the story line of Cliff, Ralph, a semi trailer, confinement hogs and an electric prod you knew that hilarity would ensue.

It is an especially stressful day at work; I didn’t get a chance to eat at noon with Dad and the rest of the volunteers so I grabbed some cheese and a roll. I gave myself a 5 minute break at my desk to read blogs. I choose the right one to read. I almost can’t remember what I was so upset about.

I think I’ll have a BLT for dinner.

Thanks, IBFOR

11:26 AM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Hitonious to the max!!!
I'd never want to touch that camera again!!!
Funny and awful story at the same time.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hi Ralph, just stopped by to say thanks for the visit to holtieshouse when this post caught my eye... now Ralph I don't like to be the one who draws this to your (and others) attention, but, seems to me that people who associate with a certain Cliff Morrow seem very often to find themselves (or their belongings) in the proverbial s**t, choose your company carefully my friend.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Jerry said...

I'm still laughing.

Words of advice: Never trust a pig.

1:31 PM  

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