Are you interested in OUTDOOR LORE?  Then you might find one of these articles handy:

Living with Poison Oak by Wade Truex

The Fine Art of Moonshining by Catherine Lugo

The Three Sisters Legacy: The Science Behind Companion Planting by Clare Brandt

Weather Lore and Superstitions by Sherrie Taylor

Dendrology Demystified - A Tree Tutorial by D. Glenn Miller

Ticks! by Neil Shelton 

Noxious Weeds - or Are They?  by Nicole H. Brauner

Lightning! by Chris Devaney

Winter Preparedness by Jan Cooke

Holy Days of the Farming Year by Barbara Bamberger Scott



The Sad Fate of Mr. Piggy by Barbara Bamberger Scott

continued from page one

In addition to near-poetic descriptions of the yearly pig execution, Jimmye Hillman tells of hunting wild boar, an activity described in this several-hundred year old ballad collected in the Appalachian Mountains by Cecil Sharpe: 

There is a wild boar in these woods

He’ll eat your meat, he’ll drink your blood


Old Bangum he drew his Bowie knife

He swore he'd take that wild boar's life


Old Bangum went to the old boar's den

And he saw the bones of a thousand men


That wild boar came in such a dash

He cut his way through oak and ash


They fought four hours in that day

Old Bangum took the boar's life away


Old Bangum, did you win or lose?

He swore by God he'd won his shoes.

Now let us pause for a word from the Loyal Opposition.  

In America, especially in the South, the consumption of pork has always been prevalent along rich and poor alike.  Diners feature fresh ham, salted ham, sausage patties and links, sausage and gravy, pork chops, pork loin, roasted pork, pig liver, sousemeat, chitlins and cracklins, pig’s feet pickled in brine... everything but the oink, as they say.  However, from the mid-1800s when they were first identified, until the end of the twentieth century, the well-named sutoxins such as trichinosis were also prevalent.  These nasty worms, carried in the flesh of mice and rats or even in the raw flesh of pigs themselves and consumed by the family porker, transfer happily to humans, causing muscular pains and very rarely, nerve damage and death.  This has been an argument for greater control of pigs, resulting in modern “factory farming” that then resulted in an outcry against mistreatment of animals, especially the intelligent kind like Mr. Piggy.  

It is well known that both the Christian Holy Bible and the Muslim Koran forbid the eating of pigs: 

From the Biblical book of Deuteronomy: “You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud. …the pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud.  You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.”

From the Koran: He has forbidden you carrion, blood, and the flesh of swine; also any flesh consecrated other than in the name of Allah.

Apparently, Someone was looking out for the proponents of these major religions by ordering them to avoid the flesh of animals that feed on other animals in general, and on dead animals in particular.  For some people, this provides a rational, not religious, reason to avoid pork despite the traditions surrounding its consumption (ham for Easter dinner being one local custom, and hog jowls and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day) and the zealous ad campaigns of the pork industry, piggishly scrabbling for their market share in a country gone mad with healthy living.

Another argument against eating pork is that, as my friends’ daughters innately understood, the pig is a smart creature.  Studies have shown that pigs have complex social lives, that sows sing to their piglets, that pigs dream (perhaps they dream of having wings!) and that pigs are not easily fooled.  Pigs can distinguish images on a screen.  All pigs are smarter than any dog.  Sorry, Fido.

However, the pig only excels as a pet when he or she is young.  I once met a man who was in a sad dilemma about his pot-bellied pig.  This animal was very intelligent, loved music and made an excellent companion.  But from an adorable baby he had grown and grown, and now weighed in at about 200 pounds, so that even as a “miniature” member of the Sus family, he was too much pig for one bachelor.  His food requirements were becoming an onerous burden, and no gentle pen would hold him.  I didn’t hear what happened to this potbellied Mr. Piggy but I suspect he was one of many such animals abandoned to the wild, where he would soon revert to feral habits.

For Jimmye’s family, religion was important; Sunday included the ritual of chasing up and feeding the feral hogs, and occasionally feeding the preacher, after church.  It’s not clear how roast pork sneaked back on to the Christian table, but where I live, good people eat plenty of pig meat, pig pickin’ is a weekend excuse for a party, and pork barbecue is just about synonymous with North Carolina.  However, some Christian sects like the Seventh Day Adventists do not chew but rather eschew the meat of the pig, citing a lower incidence of trichinosis in the bloodstreams of believers as evidence that they have made the right choice.

Hillman’s book would make thoughtful reading for any homesteader, as it describes not just the author’s encounters with pigs but a panorama of life in times of economic stress where the only industry, logging, had died out and people had to fend for themselves as best they could without much cash.  The parallels to America’s current situation are obvious.

My wish for Mr. Piggy is that he finds a way to let us know what other purposes he was made for, and so free himself from the bondage of the food chain.






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