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Front Page » April 19, 2005 » Opinion » The six year pig war of Carbon County continues on and on...
Published 3,474 days ago

The six year pig war of Carbon County continues on and on and on


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By RICHARD SHAW
General manager

There are some animal activists that say you should never assign human qualities to animals, because they are, after all, animals. Some in fact feel that by placing human traits on natures creatures we are actually degrading them. Humans do have a dark side to them and placing those attributes on them may be unfair. But sometimes their disposition and even their intelligence sure has gotten the best of me. They can be conniving, back stabbing and sometimes downright dirty. I for one know this is true, because at the present time I am fighting a war with an animal, one that outsmarts me at every turn.

His name is Twirley and he is a pig.

Twirley, and his brother Whirley, came to us when my wife and I were into trying to rescue every creature in existence that was not wanted, shunned or just plain on the loose. Through a friend of ours some people contacted us and told us they had these two potbelly pigs that they just didn't want anymore. So, being people with free barn space and an open heart for cute pig faces, we took up the challenge of going to get these two small renegades.

When we went to pick them up I thought it would be a simple thing. The people who owned them said they were friendly and we thought we could herd them right into the back of my wife's 1986 Nissan Stanza wagon we had been given by a renter who could not pay her rent on a house we owned. She had offered us either nothing or the old gray van in trade for the back charges. Nothing seemed out of the question so we took the van. But that is an extended story for another time.

Anyway the trials of picking up Whirley and Twirley from the peoples home should have clued me into the future with these two swine. First we tried to catch them by hand. Afterall, I thought, they are just dumb creatures and we are certainly superior with our vast intellect, and of course, as a backup, a fence that kept them from getting away.

That didn't work. I had always heard about greased pig catching contests, but after the experience of chasing them around their owners sty I had to wonder why anyone would bother to grease these wiggling and screaming creatures. I couldn't catch and hold them even with their naturally hard and bristly hides.

But worse, as I climbed through the muck into a three foot high pig house their owner had constructed out of old pallets and rotten fiberboard, where I finally thought I had them trapped, they crashed through the stout structures back wall and ran out an open gate as my wife and the owner tried to nab them. They couldn't hold onto them either. We then had to put on a neighborhood dragnet to find the two escapees and finally we were able to pin them into the back of the Stanza and shut the tailgate. The minute I did that, I had to wonder how I would now unload them once I got them home.

Pigs smell bad when they are in an open corral. But when you get them in a closed up van with no air conditioning on a summers day, it becomes more unbearable, even when you are only traveling three miles.

As we drove home holding our heads out the window my wife and I yelled at each other over the top of the van trying to figure out a way to get the two out of the car and into the sty we had built for them. Meanwhile they ran back and forth from one side of the van to the other and as they did so the seemingly light weight creatures rocked the frame of the vehicle. It was a delightful trip in every way possible.

We had pictured in our minds that we could just put food out in an old pan and they would gently jump out of the vehicle and pass easily into the enclosure. But once we arrived we found they didn't want to get out at all. After what had gone on that morning I didn't want to pick them up and I considered parking the van behind the barn, putting a fence up around it and then just letting them use the van as their permanent pig house from then on. But my wife would have none of that. She had become attached to the van and wanted it back. At the time I thought that was rather selfish of her, considering what we had been through to catch them in the first place.

So instead I backed the van right up to the gate of the sty and low and behold within a couple of hours they did get out and start to wander around it's lavish grounds. Things didn't seem too bad at that point. But that was just the calm before a swine squall.

That all occured in the summer of 1999 and the two little guys are still with us. Added to their number were two other pigs, Balogne and Salami. But I ended up keeping the two pair separated because of unusual goings on between them which can't be discussed in a family newspaper. Segregation was the order of the day.

So the battle of the pigs that began six years ago has never ended. Anyone who has ever watched the old World War II movie "The Great Escape" can see a similarity to what has been going on during the ensuing years at the Shaw Stalag for Swine. In that movie the propensity and duty of certain prisoners to escape from German prisoner of war camps became an obsession. Those who were in the camp in the movie had escaped and been recaptured many times, and that is why they were all put in one place. Whirley would have fit right into that group.

Of course I can't think like a pig, although my wife discusses the fact frequently that I act like one around the house. It is my feeling that he spends all day just trying to find ways to make me nuts. I spend my precious time trying to earn money to feed him and the other assorted creatures on my place, while he explores the weaknesses and frailaties of the home I have provided him. And the entire escape thing has gotten worse in the last two months.

It began in February when he used his snout to pry up the chain link in one place and then got into the barn. He found a bin where I keep cat food, tipped it over and devoured a brand new 40 lb. sack of the stuff. He actually pulled the bin out into the open and must have really enjoyed himself as he chawed it down in front of the other pigs that watched through the fence. In my mind I could just hear him going "Nah Nah Nah" to them.

That experience must have been so rewarding that he has literally gotten out of the sty every day since. He lifts up the fence in one place, I drive a new stake in the ground where he got out. He pushes through a small hole, I weave more wire through it. He even learned how to open the gate this last week, so I had to change the way we secured that.

The result of these escapes has been the loss of another bag of cat food, a large cooler full of granny smith apples that I had been feeding to the horse ( he devoured those all in one afternoon and could hardly walk afterwards), and numerous pounds of grain as he finds new ways to tip over the barrel I store it in. He also spreads garbage up and down the lane by my garage and now he has started coming up to our house and has been attempting to get in the cat and dog food bins that we have for our inside animals.

To add insult to injury, he actually greets whoever shows up home from work first by walking right up to our cars, grinning and wagging his tail. He doesn't even run from us any anymore. He just wanders back down to the sty as we let him in through the gate and then he watches as we repair the fence where he got out, probably planning his next move.

I know people will think I am nuts, but I look in those deep set eyes and it's like looking into the pupils of a professional poker player. The escape thing has become a game to him that I have to agree to play, and like when I play Monopoly, I always lose.

My son says that someday it will end because I will out live the pig.

However, the way things have been going, I definitely have my doubts about that.


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April 19, 2005
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