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Tacoma, Washington, United States

Monday, June 20, 2016

This Little Piggy Did Not Go to Market

Ol’ Pup was my buddy, but he is not the only animal I remember from those days.  I recall that one time one of our sows had a big litter of piglets and there was one little runt that was not going to survive—the sow had more piglets than she had teats and the little guy was not going to make it.

Dad told me that I could have the runt, but I would have to raise it myself.  I jumped at the chance because pigs were a “money crop.”  Our brooder house did not have any chicks in it at the time so I made a box for my little pig in there.  I fed him from a bottle for a while, then when he could drink by himself, I started giving him clabbered milk because I had good luck raising Pup on that.

It all went well for a while.  I would hand feed that little pig twice a day and he started to grow.  I figured that when we got to a couple of hundred pounds I could take him to market and sell him for, what to me, would be a lot of money.  When that little pig was only eight inches long and weighed maybe two and a half pounds, my mother was amused when I was the one that rushed to the mailbox the day “Capper’s Weekly” [a weekly farm publication] that came and the first thing I turned to was the produce prices so I could check what hogs were bringing.

As it happened more than once in my lifetime, I counted my chickens before they were hatched.  After about four weeks of my tender loving care and that clabbered milk diet, that little pig got diarrhea and I found him stiff as a board one morning.  So much for my becoming a pork tycoon.

Richard and I had an even more memorable animal at one time.  Someone—I think maybe our cousin Harold Frieze—gave us a billy goat kid.  I guess he might have been a runt or an orphan as he ws just a little guy when we got hi, tottering around on spindly legs.  We bottle fed him and, inevitably, we named him “Billy.”

Billy was a lot more successful than the little pig.  He grew in a hurry, eating almost anything he ran across, and almost before we knew it he was a rambunctious full sized goat and growing horns.  He was the most agile creature I had ever seen.  When he got his growth he could go over any fence as if it were not there.  When we went to Bona, Billy would follow us down the road.

Dad finally decreed that we had to build a pen that would keep that billy goat in.  Richard and I went to work.  We cut long persimmon poles and build a pen about six feet high using two courses of chicken wire fencing.  It did not work.  Billy could not jump it because the pen was too small for him to get a running start, but he sure could climb over it.  He was one danged nuisance.  When he started to grow horns—and I guess get horny, too—he like to butt anything in sight.  Mother would be out in the back yard hanging out the wash and ol’ Billy would get her from behind, ker-thump!

That goat did provide some moments of amusement.  He developed a taste for tobacco.  Dave would often give the goat the butt of a cigarette, still lit.  Billy would gobble it up and blow smoke out his nostrils at it went down. [Okay, that’s rather horrifying.] 

Billy was a nice goat as goats go, but he really did not have any redeeming features other than eating cigarette butts.  He stunk just like a goat and, after having hi butt her one too many times, Mother laid down the law—“that goat has got to go!”  Our cousin Harold (who may have given us the kid to start with) was running a farm for Fred Hulston at the big white house south of us and had some goats so we have Billy to him.