TITLE: Hogs on the Run
By Judy Doyle
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It has been several years since I said my “I do”s to my ever patient husband. But I confess there have been times that I’ve thought, “I don’t remember hearing that in the marriage vows. Yet it has been fifteen years since rings and vows were exchanged. In those years I’ve learned a new vocabulary. I know that a boar is a male hog, not just an uninteresting person; tiling is not just a square piece of ceramic that is placed on the floor or in the bathroom, but is a method of draining a field. But for the life of me, I don’t think I’ll ever get use to living on the farm.
You have to understand. I grew up in a town of more than 50,000 people and now I live on a farm nearly 15 miles from town. Now that’s culture shock! Never in my wildest dreams, maybe I should say nightmares, would I have imagined myself doing some of the things I’ve done.
I have never been, nor at this late date in my life expect to be, a “sophisticated lady.” I’m quite comfort in slacks or blue jeans and tennis shoes. I’m “Judy, Short and Plain,” or a tomboy. I enjoy football, baseball and basketball. But I thought I’d die when my husband asked me one day if I’d help him move the hogs from one field to another.
“Sure,” I answered. But I hadn’t the foggiest idea how that was going to be accomplished. I put on my tennis shoes, donned by windbreaker, and off I went to “drive” the hogs.
“Stand here.” Ron said as he handed me a small whip.
I thought, “Okay, I can do that.”
Then he added, “Don’t let the hogs get by.”
“But where are they suppose to go?” I asked, hoping the hogs knew and would instinctively go there. Ron didn’t hear me and I suppose it didn’t matter. I suspected the hogs would go wherever they want to go – which would be everywhere except where they were suppose to go. But no, I was wrong. The hogs went right to the field they were suppose to go to. Ron quickly closed the gate and fastened them in. He turned to me and said, “Thanks for your work!” And then he walked away. I hadn’t done anything except stand where he told to stand. I shrugged my shoulders and returned to the house. “Boy, if that’s all there is to ‘driving’ the hogs from one field to another, I can handle that job. Maybe living on the farm isn’t going to be so bad after.” I thought.
It was only a couple years later that I was returning home from a women’s meeting with our young son in the car. As I pulled into the lane, I immediately saw something was amiss. At least three big boars were out of the pen, roaming free. “This is not good,” I thought. No sweat, I’ll herd those boars back to the pen all by myself. WRONG! I chased those suckers around the barnyard, through the fields, and the waterway for more than 45 minutes. Realizing the futility of the task, I called my in-laws’ house confident that Ron, or at least his father, would be available to corral those stupid animals. WRONG AGAIN!
Now, I’m what some would say is a “determined woman,” and I was not going to let those stupid animals outwit me. It was a very cold day, I was out of shape, and I’m huffin’ and puffin’ to the point that I could have blown those hogs’ houses. Finally, I admitted defeat and called the neighbor. I was quite sure he was there. I’d seen him on my way home. He and his daughter’s boyfriend came to the rescue. Those stupid boars, who by the way were less than boring that day, had only been in the pen when my dear husband, Ron, arrived home. I don’t know if I wanted to hug him or shoot him. That’s not the only time the hogs escaped from their Alcatraz.
Our son, Tim, was in kindergarten and had really enjoyed “April Fool’s Day.” However, April Fool’s Day had come and gone. This particular evening was especially yucky. It was cold and damp. I was curled up on the sofa with a blanket wrapped around me. Tim announced,
“Mom, the hogs are out.”
Both Ron and I looked at each other and said in unison, “Yeah, right! April Fool’s.” We immediately returned to whatever we were doing.
But Tim was persistent. “The hogs are out.”
I think our patience was beginning to run thin. I replied,
“I know. April’s Fool’s come and gone. Time to give up on the gags.”
But Tim insisted the hogs were out. I reluctantly got up and looked out the window. Oh, the hogs were out! About thirty hogs were enjoying an evening on the lam. With instructions to stay inside, Tim watched his parents quickly don their work clothes, jackets and boots and tear out the backdoor. I don’t think anything can prepare a city girl for a night of chasing hog hellbent on enjoying their freedom.
Ron had just planted the field to the north. Want to guess where those hogs were? In the field to the north. It is beyond me how a 200-pound hog on four legs can run so fast in mud when with every step I took I sank two or three inches deep. Pulling my boots out of the mud like a great sucking sound.
“Call your Dad for help.” I shouted to Ron. Ron is what one could call a determined young man. We chased those hogs for several more minutes when I noticed Ron had disappeared. He returned to announced,
“Dad’s not home.” We pursued the hogs for several more minutes and then Ron admitted defeat.
“Keep the hogs out the yard!” He shouted as he climbed into the truck. “They’ll tear up the yard.” He tore up the road to the hired man’s house. As I was looking at the red lights of the truck disappear down the road, I thought,
“Right! Keep them out of the yard. I can’t even keep up with them, let alone keep them out of the yard.”
I was never so glad to see my husband pull up in his truck in my life. But the gladness was short lived as he jumped out of the truck and shouted, “I told you, keep the hogs out the yard.”
At that point I wanted to tell him they were his hogs and he’d better discipline a little better. Finally, we managed to corral those footloose and fancy-free critters and we returned to the warmth of our home. We were exhausted and feeling, not our oats, but our age. Tim looked at his worn-out parents and empathically announced,
“See, I told you the hogs were out!”
Life on the farm isn’t what I anticipated it would be; sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. There are days when I bored out of my mind, but I certainly don’t want to chase the hogs especially in the middle of winter or when the fields are wet, or . . . Life on the farm is an experience; a continuing experience that should never be forgotten.
Just remember: You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl. Take her town, even if you aren’t shopping for anything in particular. When she returns to the farm, it is usually with a renewed sense of family and rejuvenation.
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