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.