I was upstairs putting laundry away one summer afternoon when I heard a loud commotion in the backyard. I heard my husband Steve, our son Aaron and the neighbor Bud yelling and our dog Kelly barking like crazy. I ran to look out of the window fully expecting to see some type of catastrophe, but what I saw was a pig running up the middle of our driveway. The pig was being chased by Kelly who was barking, while Steve and Aaron were yelling at Kelly to get her to give up the chase. Our neighbor Bud who heard the commotion, was running from his yard into ours yelling and waving his arms in the air to keep the pig out of his yard. Kelly, a German Shepherd, did not give up the chase, and herded the pig right into our vacant sheep shed with Steve, Aaron and Bud bringing up the rear as if it were some kind of weird parade. Once Kelly had the pig inside of the sheep shed Steve called her and when she went to him, he shut the gate, confining the pig in the shed.
Within minutes, my backyard was full of people. In addition to our neighbor Bud, our other neighbors, Jack, Terry and Deiner, had all gathered outside of the fence and were staring at the pig and wondering where it came from, who it belonged to and how it got there. Such chatter only lasts a few minutes though when you’re looking at a live pig that has randomly appeared in a neighborhood that has an annual pig roast. As the chatter switched to wondering how the pig got there to cooking him up for the annual pig roast, Steve said, “Now, wait a minute. We don’t know whose pig this is, we can’t just go ahead and eat it. Give me some time to see if I can find out whose pig it is. But even if I can’t find the owner, we need to give this pig at least six weeks of good nutrition and care. We don’t know where he came from, what he was fed, if he was given medications. If we can’t find the owner and you want to have a pig roast that’s fine, but you all want to have a healthy pig for that roast and right now, we don’t know anything about this pig.” After the neighbors agreed that they did in fact want a healthy pig to kill the matter appeared settled.
Steve’s first stop to try to locate the pig’s owner was to the nearby farms but none of them admitted to missing a pig. Because we had to feed the pig, Steve went to the local feed mill and purchased pig feed and spoke to the owner there about this pig that showed up. The feed mill owner took Steve’s information and agreed to pass it on if anyone mentioned missing a pig. But no one ever did come forward to claim the pig.
So we had a pig living in our backyard and although I didn’t really have a clue how to spend time with a pig, our son, Aaron, did. One afternoon when looking for Aaron, I found him in the
sheep pig shed, sitting next to the pig feeding him apples. “Isn’t he a great pig, Mom? He’s so nice. I named him Lucky.”
“Why did you name him Lucky?” I asked.
“Because he showed up here and he gets to live here now. Isn’t that lucky?”
Oh no. My son was attached to the neighborhood pig roast. This wasn’t going to end well.
“Aaron, you do know that we can’t keep Lucky, right? In a few weeks he will have to go to the butcher.”
“I know Mom,” he said, “but until then, I can pet him and keep him happy. He’s a nice pig.”
And so it was. For several weeks Aaron took care of Lucky, he fed him, he watered him, he pet him until it was time for Lucky to go to the butcher. Steve had already checked with the butcher and state law required that the pig arrive alive at the butcher shop. But since the butcher wouldn’t come and get the pig, we had to take the pig to the butcher. Of course, when it came time to load the pig onto the truck, none of the neighbors who wanted to roast Lucky were home, so Steve asked me to help him load Lucky into the back of the truck.
Steve created a ramp out of boards for Lucky to walk up and into the bed of the truck. But pigs aren’t about cooperation. Steve put a rope around Lucky’s neck and tried to get him to walk up the ramp. Lucky wouldn’t budge. Steve pulled one way, Lucky pulled the other and it was a draw, the pig didn’t move. After several minutes of pulling, Lucky got angry with being pulled and he quickly whipped around and tried to bite Steve. Steve jumped out of his way and did not get bit, but I was terrified as Lucky was now one angry pig and began trying to bite the both of us. Pig teeth are big and nasty and look like they can do a lot of damage. At that point, Steve and I gave up. Time to go to Plan B.
Plan B consisted of Steve asking one of his co-workers, a man named Randy, to come over and help him catch the pig and get it to the butcher. Randy recently had a pig roast himself using a pig he had raised so he had experience catching a pig and getting into a truck bed.
The next day when I got home from work, Lucky was gone. Steve explained that when he got to work and asked Randy for help loading the pig, Randy readily agreed to help. Steve said he told Randy how he tried to get Lucky to walk up the plank into the truck bed and Randy said, “Well, that’s your problem. You don’t pull a pig. You push a pig.”
“You push a pig?” I asked.
“Yep,” Steve said, “Randy and I put down the plank to the truck bed like I did, but then we got a big piece of plywood. Randy got behind Lucky with the plywood and started walking. As the plywood hit Lucky in the butt, he started walking forward and Randy walked him right up the plank. Easy.”
“I can’t believe it. He didn’t try to bite you?”
“Nope. Walked right up the plank into the truck and I did the same thing with the plywood at the butcher’s and he walked right off the truck too.”
A few hours later the butcher called. He told Steve that he had butchered Lucky but that his meat would not be any good because Lucky was a male pig whose testicles had not descended. The butcher explained that male pigs must be castrated or their meat smells foul and tastes funny, a phenomenon known as “boar taint”. Because of boar taint, the butcher explained, the only pigs used for meat are castrated males or females. The butcher, who knew how Lucky came to live with us, also said that he suspected that because his testicles had not descended, when he was younger the farmer may have assumed Lucky was a female pig but as he got older, he realized, when it was too late, that he was a male and was not good for meat or breeding. The butcher suspected, crazy as it sounds, that someone purposely dropped off Lucky in our area or let him loose because he had no value to their farm.
Although the neighbors were disappointed that there would be no pig roast that year, we all learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes the thing that appears lucky, is not. Sometimes its just a pig in disguise.
You don’t push a pig, you pull a pig.
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