Sunday, March 20, 2005

porcine antics

My Granny was a frail woman even before she got old. Tough but slight in build. As a younger woman, she had kept chickens. She and Papa had squeaked through the Great Depression and in a rural area one way to keep fed was to have chickens. They really don't require much care and when you are hungry you can go kill one, stew it up and there you are. Post Depression, she had continued to keep the birds. I can understand why.

First, food. Secondly, they can be absolutely beautiful. My wife and I kept several different varieties of chickens and they can be staggeringly pretty. The pictures don't really do them justice. Thirdly, they are fun to watch. It is interesting to watch them work through their social trials. The birds were important to Granny. Papa kept pigs for food as well. Hogs can be predatory animals and will eat anything they can. Chickens included. Hogs are also industrious escapers. It is difficult, short of concrete flooring and welded steel, to keep a hog in a pen. So they had a hog that had escaped and was taking advantage of the relatively free range fowl. Quite frequently this hog would kill a chicken and devour it. Hogs in general are large animals. At least 150 lbs. sometimes on the order or 200-300 lbs. Imagine trying to pull a 150 lb. person off a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. Imagine that person had no compunction against biting you or stomping on you with a cloven hoof. So chickens were being eaten and Granny was getting more and more furious. The morning of the summer day in question the hog had jumped a chicken right in front of Granny. So the anger was a blinding screen pervading all my Granny did that day. My Granny was an imminently peaceful woman. As full of grace as I would have imagined Christ.

Today, however, was money changing at the temple day. As the hog rounded the corner, in full view of 4 of her daughters, she picked up a rock and threw it at the hog. When I was a child I threw a rock at a friend. As it left my hand I had the worst feeling come over me. Not that I had thrown a rock at my friend but I calculated the trajectory of the rock and my rapidly retreating friend and determined that, indeed, the two would intersect and that I was going to be in serious trouble. It was a Bad Feeling. I wonder, did Granny go through the same calculus for a solution of Triumphant Feeling? She hit the hog right between the eyes and down it went. Stone dead, literally. Killing a hog was something that was generally done in the winter. The cold cut down on the flies and other insects. But this summer day they had a hog killing and dressing. You can't let that kind of meat go to waste.

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