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Jan./Feb. 2013 – Wasn’t it a party?

23 market hogs, 400 lbs of apples, 4 bins of bread and 8 hours to whoop it up

We figure the market hogs broke out from their pen in the barn?sometime between midnight and 2 am. If it was any earlier they?would have been out in the yard by the time we came for morning?chores. The doors are sturdy but you can only expect so much from?mere board and plywood in the face of the infinite, relentless power?23 rampaging, 200lb+ market hogs.

Think of the best house party you ever took part in, like one?where you and your friends boiled up each spice from the cupboard in?a vat of red wine/vodka/Molson Canadian mix, then poured it over?pasta, just to see what it would taste like, and you get some idea of?what happened in the barn that night. Ten boxes of apples, totaling?over 400 lbs, spread all over the floor, eaten, thrown up and eaten?again, rolled in, trampled on. Boxes torn to shreds. A half full agbag?of soybean meal (for mixing feed), dragged around like it was?a Red Flyer wagon. Thirty bags of 23-18-18 fertilizer, opened and?spread out for inspection. Stack of 12 ft 2×6 lumber, flung around in?what looked like an attempt by creatures without thumbs to build a?catapult.

There’s more.

Two litres of mixed gas spilled on 40 lbs bread. Bread consumed.?Tools spread out, extra hoses for automatic waterers chewed through,?twine, from bedding hay and straw, spread everywhere.?I can only imagine that the pigs found in the twine a thrill similar?to that which young boys find in running around a house waving?their mother’s panty hose like a medieval banner.?In the way they party, pigs are very much like people. When?sheep party they break into the grain, eat too much, and die. But?pigs, like people, have guts and appetite for infinite excess.?On that morning when we opened the barn door and observed?the holy mess, I felt very much like the parent of a teenager who?hosted, and lost control of, a house party.

Most of the party pigs, bellies bloated with illicit feeds, had?retreated to their pen, where they were sleeping off the hangover.?But a few pigs had crashed where they partied—the equivalent of the?kids who pass out in the bathtub, or in the cupboard under the stairs.?We found them as we walked around, nudging them with our boots.

Too stuffed and groggy to be startled, they stumbled off to their pen,?grumbling as they went.?It occurred to me that the pig party, much like people parties,?had had its own career, or arc—from the jittery start when their pen?wall first gave way, to the romping elation at the discovery of their?freedom, to the baccalian frenzy of food and flesh and, finally, an?implied remorse that, despite their best efforts, the excess had to?come to an end.

I had to admit that I was not a little jealous.

We didn’t begrudge the clean up. In fact we used it as an?opportunity to get things tidied, as they had never been before.?The only pigs I really felt sorry for were the hogs that didn’t get?out of their pens. Traumatized at what they missed, they were even?quieter than their hung-over barn-mates. Pigs, like people, hate to?miss a party.