Oink, Oink!… by JoAnn

A pig with tears in its eyes crying.

I have always agreed that chores are very important for children. They are never too young to learn the importance of picking up after themselves and helping as a family member to take care of their home. I had chores as a kid, and I taught my own daughters to have daily chores as well.  

My three girls will tell you that they dreaded certain chores. One would say cleaning the bathroom, one cleaning the kitty litter box, and the other would say washing dishes. If someone asks what was the one chore I dreaded the most as a kid, one memory always comes to mind: Slopping(feeding) the hogs! 

Daddy made a pig pen that allowed keeping two hogs at a time. He would fatten these hogs until the time of year for them to be slaughtered for their meat. I didn’t realize all of that at a very young age and I’m happy that I didn’t.  

One day Mama said she needed my sister and I to slop the hogs. I had no idea what that meant, but my older sister seemed to, so I took her lead. I was always game for anything that would take us outside for a bit. Mama then hands my sister a bucket full of food scraps.  

Off we go, down the hill, just inside the edge of the woods where the pig pen was located. It looked like a cute little house. I was intrigued. Maybe we could pet the pigs who lived inside. Maybe they would be friendly like the “Three Little Pigs” storybook my sister had read to me.

Suddenly I hear this horrible sound. The closer we got to the pig pen, the louder and more frantic it became. Then I saw them. These weren’t cute little pink pigs. These monsters were HUGE! The closer we got with that bucket of scraps, the more aggressive those guys became. I thought for sure they were going to break through the walls of that cute little house and eat us both alive.   

I began to cry. I didn’t like those “hogs”. My sister quickly poured the scraps down the feeding shoot, and we ran as fast as we could back up the hill. I think Mama had to have been just a little entertained at our reaction to our new chore. But she didn’t want us to continue being afraid. So, she had Daddy take us the next time and explain things more thoroughly to help us overcome our fears.  

I won’t lie. I never became comfortable with the hog slopping. My sister and I did the chore as we were told and got much better at it. But one day the hogs were gone, that chore was done, and I was one happy camper.

I never questioned why we weren’t slopping the hogs anymore, or where they went.  I was just glad it was over.  Until I came home from school one cold Fall day, walked into the kitchen, and found quite a surprise.  Sitting on the edge of my mama’s cupboard, on a huge platter, was a HOG’S HEAD!  You can probably guess how I reacted.  Mama immediately began to try and explain why it was there in hopes of educating and calming me down.  She had to prepare it to use in sausage, to freeze, etc.  She kept trying to tell me this is where our food comes from, it’s all okay.  I remember clearly her explaining how she was going to cook the tongue and how tasty it would be.  Oh, the horror!  How could she have something so disgusting in our kitchen!  And, doing it on the Hoosier cabinet where she let me sift the flour for us to make biscuits together! Needless to say, it took me a while to forget about the hog’s head and stop asking questions.   

As I got older, I understood about the food chain and was okay with it, but I never seemed to have the stomach my mama did for being a farmer’s wife.  I never had the desire to raise my own chickens for eggs and then kill the birds to freeze for chicken dinners.  I never wanted to marry a man who would be raising livestock that would then fill our deep freezer.  I am surprised that I never became a Vegan after being so traumatized from what I witnessed as a child.  I think my love of eating something tasty, always won out.  And if I’m being honest, it still does 😊.