Need To Know

“Come on you two birds, you need to know how to do this.” Dad was walking through the basement heading outside. We had been cutting firewood in the basement using an old two man handsaw on a homemade (Dad made) sawbuck. We finished cutting the log and headed outside with the curiosity quickening our steps. Dad was out in the garage getting an ax. We’d already learned how to chop through a tree using an ax. What was Dad talking about? I was maybe nine or ten, my older brother was two years older. We already knew everything, didn’t we? Dad headed out to the runway through the corn crib and gated up the north end. We were sent to get more gates.

Dad sent us down to lock up some first litter gilts in the huge chicken coop down the hill that Dad was using for a hog house. Then he came down and let them all out but one. We herded the one sow up into the alleyway of the crib and gated the south end. It was a lot easier than I thought, when Dad started us up the hill I thought he was crazy letting the critter out of the “hog house”. Once corralled in the crib Dad grabbed the ax and started walking the gilt around the alley. The ax was one of the single bladed type with a “hammer head” on the other side of the blade. Gradually the gilt excepted the new shadow and started to relax and eat some corn on the floor.

Dad stood there a minute letting it eat and then the hammer came down. Hard! He caught the critter clean between the eyes and down that hog went, it’s knees buckling. Before my brother and I could finish exchanging wide eyed glances he yanked the knife out of his pocket. After grabbing it’s snout and holding it’s head up, throat taut Dad’s face contorted into some kind of mad, maniacal expression as he plunged it into the stunned animals left side neck right below the ear. Then with a kind of grinding wiggling motion that knife went clean across to the other ear. The blood gushed. Dad released the snout and stood back straightening up. My brother and I exchanged another glance that relayed the thought, “You don’t fuck around with Dad!” We hung it up to bleed out and Dad started skinning off the hide.

By evening the hog had been gutted, sawed in half down the spine using a neighbor’s bone saw and carted into the basement for further processing. The fat was taken into town to be rendered into lard and the meat was cut up into the common cuts of pork on a long table we’d moved to the basement specifically for the project. Some was ground into sausage using a hand cranked grinder clamped to the edge of the table. We ate pork quite a lot after that. We learned some valuable lessons that winter, the most valuable being; Stay out of Dad’s reach. My older brother, who still to this day works in a pork processing plant, I claim was ruined for life.


Just in case you need to know.


Solvent Green

It’s hard to call it a dry lot when it rains every day. Now it’s a mud lot. Pity the cows of summer. I’ve been letting the herd out to graze during the mornings. They have started coming back into the lot to drink on their own. Two days ago the whole herd came in and all I had to do was shut the gate. Yesterday they congregated just outside the gate and a few came in to drink at a time. Some weren’t going to try it after being “caught” the day before by the gate. Once my oldest at home daughter and I ran the whole herd in they all drank heartily, since they were already caught. I’m running out of firm places in the yards to place the hay rings. I may have to move outside the yards into the loafing lane that we were running them down to drink in when we started this dry lot experience. I don’t know who will give up first, the rain or I.

The fence on the north farm is two thirds torn out. We would be pulling the rest of the “T” posts today had we not been rained out by 9:00 AM. With the rain came the chance to post this. It had been coming in the afternoons like the monsoons but today we are strait into the rain forest. Thank God for the new tile lines. They are running full time. Now if I can convince the absentee landlord to lay some tile on the five plus acres of his that amounts to nothing on these wet years. Even if it turns back dry like last year the damage is already done on those soaked and standing water acres. This spring when we laid the tile and I was saying to the contractors I’d be better able to point out where they needed to lay the line if it was still wet they said the stunted stalks and cobs would show them. Their the experts. The division of labor paying off Adam Smith style.

Speaking of the division of labor I’m still waiting on the truck to haul the corn out of the storage bins. I may have to divide that labor up into more than one trucking firm. If my older brother can’t get to it my other older brother has a son who started farming last year and he has bought his own truck. The boy went to college so his truck business card reads “Commodity Relocation Specialist”. Newspeak for trucker. College loans, where would we be without ’em. Oh that’s right, solvent. Out of the red and into the black. Making the green. Solvent green. Aka capital. Yes, that’s capital. Not loans. Debt is the opposite of capital. It leads to farmers working for the shit when it comes to hogs. I can remember when the shit was the by product and the farmers got the money for the hogs. Now they don’t even own the hogs. Some communist Chinese corporation does. The other white meat is now Red meat.

It’s still raining on the scarecrow.

See ya then see ya there …….