Sooie was a friendly pig, at least we called her a pig, even though she must have weighed close to 300 pounds. We fed her grain, sometimes weeds, and housed her in a nice, roomy electric fenced pen with a soothing, cooling mud hole.
The children didn’t really look upon Sooie as pork chops, sausages and bacon, but that’s what she was. Groceries on the hoof.
Of course, it helped that the children weren’t as attached to Sooie as they were to the yard dogs and house cats, but to save everyone’s sensitivities, we never referred to hog-killing time around Sooie herself.
Things were going very well, Sooie was gaining appropriate poundage and we were anticipating sugar-cured hams and real hickory smoked, vinegar and hot sauce-based barbecue, when it happened.
The Blizzard of ’73. One February morning we awoke to a wonderland of snow, and ice, and icicles, and the children went wild. Strangely enough, the lights stayed on. Guess the icy pine branches didn’t hang low enough on our power lines to hurt anything.
We all pulled on our clothes and went to investigate. Snow up to the porch! Snow filling the front ditch! Snow everywhere! Pine branches cracking and snapping from the ice made a strange, exotic musical concert. We had a grand day, no work, not much inconvenience, just fun, fun, fun. Snowballs! Snow cream!
Until we began to hear grunt, snort, grunt, snort, coming from around the side of the house. Sooie’s pen had filled with snow, covering the electric wire completely up and shorting out the circuit. She just up and walked out, probably wondering where breakfast was.
Being quite weighty by now, she promptly sunk down in the fluffy white stuff, and began creating a tunnel-like path as she plowed forward.
You really can’t afford to lose 300 pounds of prime pork, so Paul headed out the back door to construct a make-shift pen out of rough boards, and the kids and I headed out the front door to head her off before she went exploring too far.
Me in my knee-high leather boots, all-weather coat and driving gloves, and my similarly-clad children offering moral support and high-pitched yells – Sooooie, pig, pig, pig! – we did our best to corral our adventuresome, freedom-loving hog.
The kids confronted her with wild calisthenics from up ahead, and me and my bulky winter garb tried to block her escape from the rear. All we needed was a few more minutes, and Paul would finish hammering nails and begin shoveling a path directly into the new accommodations.
But Sooie’d had a taste of liberty, even if coated in snow and ice, and she wanted no part of a pen. She spied those peculiar shenanigans in front of her, turned her body around somehow, and suddenly I was facing one determined sow, snout to snout.
Alas, I wasn’t much of a match. She stepped right on my leather-shod foot, flattened me right into the side of the snow bank, and waddled on by me at full speed ahead.
Watching her ears flapping in the breeze, I decided at that moment that maybe poultry was healthier than pork. The children decided it was even more fun watching mama hobble after the wayward porker than to help round her up. As they contributed their yells and antics from a safe distance, I limped my way to the back stoop and observed as Paul finally intersected her path with a new one of his own.
By the end of the day, Sooie was tired out, maybe a few pounds lighter from her unaccustomed exercise, and happily munching corn in a dry, sheltered corner of the storage shed. As I soaked my swollen, black and blue foot in a bucket of hot water and Epsom salts, I was thinking, how much is pork per pound these days?