I hate feeding hogs. Hate.
I don’t know if it’s the actual event of feeding them that I dislike or the preparing to feed them. It happens after I get through milking cows. The preparing starts when I have to wash out the milking tanks and pumps and hoses of the milk parlor.
It also happens during that time I load milk up in a five-gallon bucket to feed heifers and where I fill three milk bottles to feed calves in a lot next to Billy Ray’s house. I don’t mind feeding the cows. It’s actually fun. But preparing to feed the hogs and actually feeding them is not fun.
Twenty dairy cows have ran through the parlor and they have been cleaned, milked, fed, and cleaned again. I start running water and chemicals and soap through the system that has taken the milk into its holding for tomorrow morning’s routine.
As water is filling a small twenty-gallon tank, I load up seven fifteen gallon pales into the back of the pick-up truck I used to own that was sold to Billy Ray. I miss that old truck. I spent my days in Starkville with it during my college years. It used to stay on pavement and concrete and some occasional backroads.
Its years are now on fields and dirt and pastures. ‘She’ is still pretty to me and sounds good even though the fields and pastures have worn her down. I put the water hose in the bottom of the first pale and turn the faucet on and walk away.
The system has been cleaned and all the seven pails have been filled with water. I’ve also loaded five bags of feed to give the hogs and I get in ‘my’ truck and head to the hog pins. I stumble and fight through cattle gaps that are chained and not hinged.
I make it to the pins and then my work starts. I grab a five-gallon bucket and sit it on the ground below the tailgate. I grab the heavy fifteen gallons pail and lean it over to fill the bucket. It fills and I stop pouring. I pick up the bucket and walk over to the hogs and pour water into a huge black rubber bowl. This process is repeated over and over.
This is the part I hate. I don’t mind ripping the bag of feed open with a pocket knife and feeding the hogs; that’s easy. It’s the water that makes me not like this. The water is too much to tackle for me, but it gets done. It’s been like this for five years…
I had a phone call from Billy Ray yesterday. He said Snuffy would be waiting on me to run a ditch trencher for a water line to be run to the hogs from the dairy main line valve.
I instantly am ready to help. I’ve been asking for this for a long time and they’ve somehow made it happen. They’ve brought in another good buddy to irrigate the water line and now my hopes are really high. I’m starting to think I might like feeding hogs.
There’s a three-foot deep line of ground dug and ran eight-hundred feet from the hog pin to dairy. JJ is cleaning and gluing pipe, Billy Ray and Snuffy are hooking up old line connections to the new water line and I’m doing what I’m told to do.
It’s running smoothly and I smile. Snuffy has done all the ditch work of digging and eventually covering. JJ has got all pipe connected and we are finally ready for the water. The water is turned on and a water hose points at the thirty something pigs in the pen staring at us. We hear air sucking and blowing and trying to bring water to its fall. Water starts flowing from the hose and pigs start sucking the clear good down.
I see Billy Ray smile and for a moment see him looked relaxed. He’s the hardest worker I know and will ever know. He’s got buddies that are hard workers as well and they’re damn good friends too.
I thank God for the good we have in our life. This farm was blessed with good friends and a good family. It’s got a perfect name. It’s got perfect friends. And tomorrow, for me, will be a perfect time to feed hogs.
Shane Brown is a HottyToddy.com contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Shane Brown, 2015.