The Farm Report: Hogs 2, Humans 0

      100 Comments on The Farm Report: Hogs 2, Humans 0

I’ll explain the title of this post shortly.  First I want to catch up on the previous month, since I took the rest of the year off from blogging after my dad died on December 3rd.

I still don’t know what kind of infection I picked up three weeks ago.  Based on what I read online (plus a medical opinion from an R.N.), it was likely the flu or walking pneumonia.  Either way, it was a tough little bug.  I’m just now starting to feel normal.  Well, normal with a slight head cold.  I’m down to a cough and a wee bit of congestion at this point.

I had a fever when this thing first hit.  Then the fever went away.  Then it came back.  Then it went away again.  I ended up sleeping 12 hours or so per night, except for a couple of nights when I had insomnia and didn’t sleep at all.  As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, I’ve had occasional bouts of insomnia my entire adult life.

Unfortunately, one of my insomnia nights was the night before we were supposed to drive to Illinois for my dad’s memorial service.  I went to bed at 10:30, hoping to get eight hours of sleep before driving seven hours there and seven hours back.  Still awake at 1:00 AM, I took a dose of tryptophan, hoping that would do the trick.  I took another dose at 3:00 AM, still hoping it would do the trick.

By 5:00 AM, I knew I wasn’t going to sleep at all and we wouldn’t be making the drive.  I was running a fever again and dead on my feet.  Driving in that condition would be about as safe as driving after five scotches.  Chareva volunteered to do all the driving, but I nixed the idea.  If we made the trip, she’d be driving us home through the winding hills of Tennessee at 1:00 AM – four hours past her usual bedtime, after 14 hours behind the wheel.  I’d no doubt be passed out by then and wouldn’t be able to talk to her to help keep her awake.

Nope, not taking that risk.  Not in Christmas traffic with my girls asleep in the back seat.  So I had to call my mom and tell her we wouldn’t be there.  That sucked.

I wasn’t happy about being sick during my two weeks off from the programming job, but perhaps the timing was for the best.  I had the option of sleeping until noon and vegetating in front of the TV when my symptoms were at their worst.  Back in the day, of course, I would have gone to a doctor and nuked the bug with antibiotics.  Now that I’m all about maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, I chose to ride it out.  I went with sinus rinses, oil of oregano, vitamins C and D, colloidal silver, lots of sleep, and half-doses of ibuprofen to treat the headaches I was getting every day.

Chareva’s family arrived a few days before Christmas.  Her dad had some kind of infection similar to mine.  You could track either one of us through the house by the coughing.  Fortunately, none of the girls (including our niece) picked up the infection, so they were all bouncy and happy throughout the holiday week.

I wasn’t.  Well, I was reasonably happy, but nowhere close to bouncy.  When Chareva woke me on Christmas morning to tell me the girls were awake and it was time to grab the camera, I thought I’d died and gone to hell.  But I slammed down some coffee and took on my role as family videographer and DVD producer.

At the end of each year, I go through all the video footage and photos and put together a dozen or so videos that end up on a DVD.  It’s a big task, and I basically go face-down in it and don’t come up for air until it’s done – usually about a week’s worth of long days.  I made that commitment to myself right after Sara was born.  Friends of mine told me they’d been shooting video of their kids for years, but never done anything with the footage.  I didn’t see the point in collecting boxes of DV tapes and SD cards full of video footage no one will ever organize and watch, so I bought a copy of Adobe Premiere and taught myself video editing – knowledge that came in handy when I decided to make Fat Head.

Each of the videos I create in some way tells a story about the girls’ lives (and ours, of course) during that year.  Photos and video footage where there’s no clear or useful sound end up as music videos.  Now that the girls are older, they serve as my music consultants, picking songs they like for their videos – which is big help, because I’m an old man who doesn’t follow pop music, and I haven’t even heard of most of the songs they recommend.

Here’s one of this year’s videos:

For the past two years, the DVD has included a video to summarize the goings-on here on the farm.  Here’s the one I created for 2013:

And here’s this year’s farm video:

Which finally brings me back to the title of this post.

On December 29th, the girls were supposed to take the pigs for a weigh-in at the agriculture center – a requirement if they want to show the pigs at an upcoming 4-H event.  Chareva suggested we’d be wise to get the beasts into the trailer the night before, since she and the girls would have to leave early in the morning.

That led to the obvious question:  how do we get the pigs into the trailer?  They were wee piglets when we bought them, so I just picked them up and carried them.

They’re not piglets anymore.  They’re hogs.  If I could carry them now while they’re struggling to get loose, I’d deserve a tryout with the Titans.  So we decided to construct a chute of sorts by adding another fence outside their fenced-in yard, with the chute leading to the trailer.  In the video above, you can see Chareva’s sister Susan helping out by pounding in t-posts for the chute fence.

While she and Chareva were building the fence, I attached the trailer to the van and drove it up to the driveway, then backed it up to the gate at the end of the chute.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Just back the trailer up to the gate.  If you agree that it sounds simple, then you’ve never tried steering a trailer attached to a van while driving in reverse.  Here’s all you need to know:  the trailer will always roll in the opposite direction of where you want it to go.  You turn the wheel left, the trailer rolls to the right.  So you think to yourself, “Well, that means turn the wheel right to go left.”  Yes, that would make logical sense.  But now the trailer knows you want it to go left, so when you steer to the right, it rolls to the right.

I finally fooled the trailer by steering right, then left, then right, then left, then backwards and forwards and left and right again, until it could no longer discern my actual intentions.  To keep it fooled, I cussed loudly even when it was going in the correct direction.

With the trailer finally in position, it was time to run the hogs down our makeshift chute.  The girls have already attended a couple of 4-H workshops and were told the key to moving pigs is to nudge them along with a spindly little thing called a pig-whip.  The theory is that the 200-plus pound hog says to himself, “Geez, a nine-year old girl is tapping my thick, incredibly tough skin with a plastic stick.  I better go where she wants before I suffer a serious injury.”

That’s the theory.  In practice, the hog goes wherever the hell he wants to go – or more to the point, doesn’t go wherever the hell he doesn’t want to go.  As you can see in the video above, the hogs were happy to leave their pen and do a little exploring and rooting around.  But once they reached the narrow part of the chute, visions of ham and bacon danced in their hog-heads, and they decided to bolt back to their pen.

The four of us went into the pen and tried chasing them out by forming a human wedge and shooing them toward the gate.  The hogs muscled through the wedge, stepping on our feet and pushing through our legs.  At one point, I believe I heard the pink hog call me a “weak-ass little bee-atch.”

It had rained the previous two days, so their pen was all mud – or so I thought until the odor worked past my sinus congestion.  Then my nose informed me that my boots were sliding around in a mixture of mud and pig @#$%.  I barely kept my balance a couple of times by employing the helicopter-arms technique.  I figured I was perhaps one false move away from creating a slapstick scene my daughters would share with friends and relatives for years.  So when Chareva suggested we give up for the night and try again in the morning, I happily agreed – even though it meant I’d be waking up early instead of sleeping in late to fight the infection.

Chareva got online and read up on how to move ornery hogs.  She then explained that we needed to rig up something called a pig board.  Apparently while hogs have no qualms about pushing their way through a person’s legs, they’re scared @#$%less of large, flat objects and will run the other way.  That’s the theory, anyway.

The reality (as I found out early the next morning) is that a hog will shove its way past any damned thing it wants to if it believes there’s sausage factory somewhere in the other direction.  Perhaps the problem was that our (ahem) “pig board” was a small gate that’s been sitting on the property for 25 or 30 years.  The hogs could see right through it, and what they saw were human legs that had already proved incapable of blocking them during several previous attempts.  Their confidence wasn’t exactly shaken.

And so, over Sara’s protests, we declared our attempt to shoo the hogs into the trailer a colossal failure.  Man, was I glad I woke up early and dragged my stuffed head out of bed for that experience.  I got punked by hogs – twice in just over 12 hours.

In reviewing the colossal failure, we concluded that our biggest mistake was making the chute too wide near the pen – in other words, not sufficiently chute-like.  The hogs had too much room to run around us.  We’ll have to pull up the t-posts and create a chute that’s just wider than a real pig board – the kind hogs can’t see through.  They’re heavy, powerful animals, but I believe if Chareva and I were both pushing the pig board, we could convince a hog to keep moving.  That’s the theory, anyway.  The reality is yet to be determined.

After winning a blue ribbon (and some nice prize money) by showing one of her goats, Sara was disappointed she won’t be showing her hog at the 4-H event.  I’ll only be disappointed if the hogs don’t make for some tasty ham and bacon in the spring.

Belated Happy New Year to all of you, and again, thanks for all the kind words and good wishes while I took some time off.

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100 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Hogs 2, Humans 0

  1. Erica

    I’ve been watching the blog the past few days, waiting for this. I missed you! Glad you’re feeling better and sorry you had to go thru all that flu crap. However, I giggled my way thru this post and am so glad you’re back.

    Reply
  2. Granny Mumantoog

    Tom, I’m so sorry to hear about your father. I generally come over to read blog posts when people tweet about it so I hadn’t been here since before he passed. I went back and read the lovely letter you wrote. You’re so lucky to have had such a supportive father & luckier still that you knew it! It would have been nice if he’d been sprinkled at the golf course and I’m sure it was a great disappointment that you couldn’t be there for the service. I hope your mother is doing okay. She seemed like a cool lady in the Fat Head movie 🙂

    Anyway you still, somehow managed to make me laugh with your hog story! Hope you’ll be feeling much better soon. I was hit with a similar bug last Jan and it knocked me on my ass for a month! Once again, condolences to you and your family.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I appreciate that. The Older Brother commented that he and some of Dad’s friends were indeed going to sprinkle the ashes on Dad’s favorite golf course during a round.

      Reply
  3. Phil

    Tom, you definitely want some kind of solid pig board (aka hurdle) to move them along. It’s no joke, if they just see a solid wall they don’t try to go that way. A solid board is also easier to push them with. Often once one gets a foot on the trailer, they will realize it’s ok and hop right in.

    You should also check your chute & trailer setup. Is the trailer up off the ground? They may not see a way onto it and be freaking out. If the bottom of the trailer is at pig’s eye level it may look like a wall. Another trick to try is throwing a little feed in the trailer to motivate them. You could even do that, then wire the chute to the trailer and leave them alone for a few hours. They may find their way onto the trailer all by themselves and you can just close it behind them.

    Source: grew up on a pig farm, and Temple Grandin’s research

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I appreciate the tips. We’ll definitely find or build a real pig board before we try it again. The trailer is above their eye level, but we had a ramp ready. The pigs just never got that far. Not even close. I like the idea of letting them go for feed in the trailer.

      Reply
  4. Erica

    I’ve been watching the blog the past few days, waiting for this. I missed you! Glad you’re feeling better and sorry you had to go thru all that flu crap. However, I giggled my way thru this post and am so glad you’re back.

    Reply
  5. Granny Mumantoog

    Tom, I’m so sorry to hear about your father. I generally come over to read blog posts when people tweet about it so I hadn’t been here since before he passed. I went back and read the lovely letter you wrote. You’re so lucky to have had such a supportive father & luckier still that you knew it! It would have been nice if he’d been sprinkled at the golf course and I’m sure it was a great disappointment that you couldn’t be there for the service. I hope your mother is doing okay. She seemed like a cool lady in the Fat Head movie 🙂

    Anyway you still, somehow managed to make me laugh with your hog story! Hope you’ll be feeling much better soon. I was hit with a similar bug last Jan and it knocked me on my ass for a month! Once again, condolences to you and your family.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I appreciate that. The Older Brother commented that he and some of Dad’s friends were indeed going to sprinkle the ashes on Dad’s favorite golf course during a round.

      Reply
  6. Phil

    Tom, you definitely want some kind of solid pig board (aka hurdle) to move them along. It’s no joke, if they just see a solid wall they don’t try to go that way. A solid board is also easier to push them with. Often once one gets a foot on the trailer, they will realize it’s ok and hop right in.

    You should also check your chute & trailer setup. Is the trailer up off the ground? They may not see a way onto it and be freaking out. If the bottom of the trailer is at pig’s eye level it may look like a wall. Another trick to try is throwing a little feed in the trailer to motivate them. You could even do that, then wire the chute to the trailer and leave them alone for a few hours. They may find their way onto the trailer all by themselves and you can just close it behind them.

    Source: grew up on a pig farm, and Temple Grandin’s research

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I appreciate the tips. We’ll definitely find or build a real pig board before we try it again. The trailer is above their eye level, but we had a ramp ready. The pigs just never got that far. Not even close. I like the idea of letting them go for feed in the trailer.

      Reply
      1. Jim Butler

        For decades I was a huge fan of duct tape.
        and THEN…I discovered Gorilla Tape.
        and I’ve never looked back 🙂

        I think you could probably build an entire house with it.

        Jim

        Reply
      1. Jim Butler

        For decades I was a huge fan of duct tape.
        and THEN…I discovered Gorilla Tape.
        and I’ve never looked back 🙂

        I think you could probably build an entire house with it.

        Jim

        Reply
  7. Galina L.

    I am having exactly that type of flu or infection as you are having since the middle of December, first seasonal illness in 7 years. I guess I weakened my immunity by eating macarone cookies in a French restaurant. I normally don’t eat sweets and may get very sensitive to a sugar. I am still not complitely back to norm – the current infection is something super nasty.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I’ve heard the same thing from lots of people. Whatever’s going around, it manages to infect people who don’t normally get colds or the flu.

      Reply
  8. mrfreddy

    There’s a bar/restaurant right on the beach in Costa Rica (near Tamarindo) named Lola’s, that has a ginormous pig named Lolita as it’s mascot. The pig is HUGE. The size of a small horse, if that horse was morbidly obese with stunted legs. Anyway, I watched Lolita’s handlers adroitly move her where they wanted with just a boogie board and small surfboard. They succesfully distracted her from killing a dog that had been pestering her and then moved her right past where I was sitting (in mild terror) towards her pen. It probably helped of course that she didnt mind going back there so much.

    So, my advice: run down to your local surf shop and pick up a couple of boogie boards!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Not a bad idea, but there’s a shortage of surf shops here in the hill country of Tennessee.

      Reply
  9. The Older Brother

    Make two boards. Have the trailer backed up to an open corner of the pen. That corner of the pen forms two sides of a square. Use the boards to move them towards the corner, with the boards then becoming the other two corners of the square. Then you start pivoting the boards to close the square smaller and smaller until the only place to go is thru the pen gate into the trailer.

    Watched a couple of people who knew what they were doing make it look easy using two cow panels with the last cow we took to the knackers. The cow was adamantly against going while we were trying to herd it without the cow panels, which included two times jumping over a five foot fence (breaking a top board each time.

    Turns out (again, from the person who knew what he was doing and came to our rescue) a distraught cow will stick its nose over the top of a fence. They’re checking. If they can get their nose over it, that means they can jump over it. There’s nothing quite as terrifying as watching a half-ton animal vault a shoulder-high fence while you’re very close to the line it wants to take for its high jump! Lesson learned. Fairly cheaply that time.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Yeesh, that would put a scare into a person.

      All good advice, but the trailer won’t make it up the hill, at least not while being pulled by the van.

      Reply
  10. Boundless

    re: … occasional bouts of insomnia my entire adult life.

    Since a quick search didn’t get any hits on your domain, look into the blue light at night problem (melatonin suppression initiated at the recently rediscovered intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells {ipRGCs}).

    Quick solution: wear effective blue blocking eyewear at dusk, or 2 hours before bed. Make sure it blocks both central vision and peripheral. Honeywell UVEX brand can be had for under $10/pair at Amazon (we’re using S1933X and S0360X).

    Easily worth a try before you even contemplate trying to control all your light emitters, and yes, that includes using the f.lux app (for many reasons).

    This may become the hot health topic of 2015, as gut biome was last year. And the threat is growing, because the incandescent (Edison) bulbs being legislated-away were relatively benign at the blue end of their spectral power distribution (SPD). CFLs are not benign, and the vast majority of LEDs are not (Cree soft whites are OK, as are some Philips, with the Hue line being very interesting).

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Interesting you mention that. Apparently ophthalmologists are all over that blue-light issue nowadays. When I got new lenses for my glasses a couple of months ago, the doc suggested adding a new blue-blocking option, since I work as a programmer and spend a lot of time staring at a screen. I took that option.

      Reply
  11. Galina L.

    I am having exactly that type of flu or infection as you are having since the middle of December, first seasonal illness in 7 years. I guess I weakened my immunity by eating macarone cookies in a French restaurant. I normally don’t eat sweets and may get very sensitive to a sugar. I am still not complitely back to norm – the current infection is something super nasty.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’ve heard the same thing from lots of people. Whatever’s going around, it manages to infect people who don’t normally get colds or the flu.

      Reply
  12. mrfreddy

    There’s a bar/restaurant right on the beach in Costa Rica (near Tamarindo) named Lola’s, that has a ginormous pig named Lolita as it’s mascot. The pig is HUGE. The size of a small horse, if that horse was morbidly obese with stunted legs. Anyway, I watched Lolita’s handlers adroitly move her where they wanted with just a boogie board and small surfboard. They succesfully distracted her from killing a dog that had been pestering her and then moved her right past where I was sitting (in mild terror) towards her pen. It probably helped of course that she didnt mind going back there so much.

    So, my advice: run down to your local surf shop and pick up a couple of boogie boards!

    Reply
  13. The Older Brother

    Make two boards. Have the trailer backed up to an open corner of the pen. That corner of the pen forms two sides of a square. Use the boards to move them towards the corner, with the boards then becoming the other two corners of the square. Then you start pivoting the boards to close the square smaller and smaller until the only place to go is thru the pen gate into the trailer.

    Watched a couple of people who knew what they were doing make it look easy using two cow panels with the last cow we took to the knackers. The cow was adamantly against going while we were trying to herd it without the cow panels, which included two times jumping over a five foot fence (breaking a top board each time.

    Turns out (again, from the person who knew what he was doing and came to our rescue) a distraught cow will stick its nose over the top of a fence. They’re checking. If they can get their nose over it, that means they can jump over it. There’s nothing quite as terrifying as watching a half-ton animal vault a shoulder-high fence while you’re very close to the line it wants to take for its high jump! Lesson learned. Fairly cheaply that time.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yeesh, that would put a scare into a person.

      All good advice, but the trailer won’t make it up the hill, at least not while being pulled by the van.

      Reply
  14. Boundless

    re: … occasional bouts of insomnia my entire adult life.

    Since a quick search didn’t get any hits on your domain, look into the blue light at night problem (melatonin suppression initiated at the recently rediscovered intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells {ipRGCs}).

    Quick solution: wear effective blue blocking eyewear at dusk, or 2 hours before bed. Make sure it blocks both central vision and peripheral. Honeywell UVEX brand can be had for under $10/pair at Amazon (we’re using S1933X and S0360X).

    Easily worth a try before you even contemplate trying to control all your light emitters, and yes, that includes using the f.lux app (for many reasons).

    This may become the hot health topic of 2015, as gut biome was last year. And the threat is growing, because the incandescent (Edison) bulbs being legislated-away were relatively benign at the blue end of their spectral power distribution (SPD). CFLs are not benign, and the vast majority of LEDs are not (Cree soft whites are OK, as are some Philips, with the Hue line being very interesting).

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Interesting you mention that. Apparently ophthalmologists are all over that blue-light issue nowadays. When I got new lenses for my glasses a couple of months ago, the doc suggested adding a new blue-blocking option, since I work as a programmer and spend a lot of time staring at a screen. I took that option.

      Reply
      1. Boundless

        There are actually two separate blue light issues:
        1. the “blue light hazard” of retinal damage from certain blues
        2. the “blue light at night” problem of melatonin suppression

        Problem 1 is an issue for older people, and yes, wearing BBs during screen work is probably wise.

        Everyone needs to work on #2.

        Just as display technology is getting to the point where it can have impressive color gamut (adobe RGB, rec709, DCI.P3, soon BT.2020), that turns out to come with some real hazards. Even for critical color workers (photography, cinema), I’d suggest blocking blue most of the time.

        For displays, this is inherent in attempting to mimic arbitrary spectral colors using tristimulus (3 color mixing) techniques, due to the way humans perceive colors. Using higher frequency blue emitters covers more color space, but generates less response, so requires higher power, oops. A quad-color (or more) approach would help, but you won’t find it at CES this year, or in any year soon, alas.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          So do my blue-blocking glasses address #2 as well?

          The ophthalmologist told me people in his profession are concerned about kids spending all day staring at their iPhones, computers, pads, etc. They don’t know what kind of damage the constant exposure will cause over the years.

          Reply
          1. Boundless

            re: So do my blue-blocking glasses address #2 as well?

            If they are obviously amber tinted, they might.

            If not, they still might be effective, in conjunction with f.lux, in reducing the blue light leakage from typical LCD screens. LCD, with CCFL or LED backlight, has terrible black level. An LCD “off” pixel or pel is never fully off, and the typical white light backlight unit (abbreviated BLU for some extra irony) is usually at full brightness at all times, and usually has a nasty peak in the blue range right at the wavelengths we need to avoid.

            Keep in mind, however, that I’m only a few URLs, and one book (Hansler) ahead of you on this topic (plus decades working in the computer workstation industry and having some grasp of the technology issues).

            re: … concerned about kids … iPhones, computers, pads, etc.

            Are you sure you want to go there?
            Well, as a parent I guess you need to.

            I see multiple problems here, and blue light is only #2:
            1. cancer
            2. circadian disruption (including blue light)
            3. distraction

            Cancer
            IARC classifies cell phone radiation as a Group 2B possible carcinogen. A lot of money wants for there to be no problem with wireless tech. You can imagine the lobbying and watering-down on that determination. Wiki has a whole article on:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_radiation_and_health

            Minding the contrarians probably matters here. Mercola is lately on the warpath on cellphones and cancer:
            http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/06/cell-phone-use-brain-cancer-risk.aspx

            The industry posture seems to be that the radiation is not high enough to be ionizing, but this is likely colored by an assumption that the somatic theory of cancer is correct (which I consider unlikely). If the metabolic (Warburg/Seyfried) theory is closer to correct, which requires only mitochondrial damage, then the thermal effects become a concern.

            I’ve personally always been skeptical about cell phone safety. I sat out the first generation, and use the newer stuff cautiously.

            Avoid holding a phone to your head. Use a bluetooth headset with phone away from body (as I do), or use a shielded corded headset (that is not also an antenna for the phone). Clamp a toroid on the cable at the phone end if you’re not sure. Switch off the BT when not in use.

            BT only needs to transmit over a few meters. Cellphones need to transmit over kilometers. BT xmit power is at least 100 times lower than cell. The transmissions from the cell towers, of course, we can’t do much about, other than, as Jack Kruse suggests, change our zip code. Tin foil hats may come back into style (and they probably don’t work, either).

            Wearable tech (watches, headsets) with cell transceivers? I’m avoiding them until we see what happens to the early adopter volunteers. Ditto for extended wear of gadgets with mere bluetooth transceivers that are on all the time.

            And oh by the way, the blue light thing is not just a circadian issue. Hansler reports, with cites, that blind women have half the breast cancer rate of sighted women. Hmmm.

            Circadian
            No phones under pillows, or even in the bedroom perhaps, due to RF.

            Sufficiently bright light at night (even blue-blocked) can mess up melatonin.

            F.lux might damp the blue from an OLED screen, but does less for LCD screens, and nothing for the intense blue indicator LED on the bezel.

            Even if the above matters are controlled, waking up 37 times a night to respond to urgent FaceBook babble will turn your kid into a metabolic wreck.

            Distraction
            We may yearn for the day when kids had the lingering contemplative attention span of an MTV video.

            Reply
            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              If there is a cancer threat from cell phones, I’ll be unaffected. I only carry my cell phone when I leave town because I think cell phones are a scourge. As I once explained on my other (currently dormant) blog:
              ———————-
              According to my analysis, at least 60 percent of all modern phone conversations are boring, pointless, moronic or embarrassing — although the talker who should be embarrassed rarely is. Yes, there were boring, pointless, moronic, embarrassing phone conversations before cell phones, but

              1. There weren’t as many, because calling outside your own city was expensive.
              2. You could only engage in a boring, pointless, moronic, embarrassing phone conversation in a relatively private place … your home, your hotel room, the nearest phone booth, etc.

              Now you can have a boring, pointless, moronic, embarrassing conversation in a restaurant, on a train, at a ball game, on a park bench, in the grocery store, in a movie theater, or on an airplane the very second it touches down. Millions of people do — usually two feet away from me, and usually while talking to someone who is apparently hearing impaired. The more common cell phones have become, the more people seem to be talking on the phone simply because they can … or because it’s less mentally taxing than staring off into space. So while trying to read a book in an airport, I get to listen to deep conversations such as:

              “Hi. Nothing, what’re you doing? Cool. Yeah? No, I missed that one. Huh? Oh, it’s like nine o’ clock here. Yeah. Are you going to work soon? Cool. What color shoes are you wearing? Yeah, those are nice. Huh? I can’t understand you; are you eating breakfast? Yeah? No, I can’t; they’re bad for my hemorrhoids.”
              ——————-
              I do wonder what kind of attention spans today’s kids will have as adults. Fortunately, while my girls like their Kindles, they also become engrossed in non-technical activities. Sara will read a book for hours on end. Alana will spend all day on an art project. And of course, they have farm chores on weekends.

  15. Linda

    Hi Tom,

    Just like others that have checked every day since your father passed away, I have too. It is so nice to see you back! I’ve really missed you!

    Just a comment about cell phones. I have a Trac Fone which my sister-in-law tells me is an old person’s phone. Well, so be it. I pretty much have always hated all phones, but I must have some sort of phone with my very elderly father’s health, so that’s it. I dumped AT&T because it seemed every month something on the bill went up and I wasn’t using the damn thing! Now, I choose who has my phone number and I choose who I talk to! Phones are a scrouge as far as I’m concerned, but, I guess an evil necessity. I just buy the minutes I need to make the NECESSARY calls and no, I don’t talk about shoe colors or anything else like that!

    Your “Hogs 2- Humans 1” reminded me of when my parents had a farm and my poor brother was required to move my father’s hogs here and there. The poor boy was always a mass of bruises and he was always hunting one that had gotten loose. I did get a few giggles out of your story, especially your language. My father’s hogs caused my brother to teach me some very, very colorful language! LOL!

    Do take care of yourself and your family. You undoubtedly had/still have the flu.

    Reply
  16. Gerard150

    I have heard Valerian Root works wonders for insomnia. It’s available at Walmart in pill form. You have to kind of experiment on how many pills work for you. Take too many and you’ll wake up with a hangover like sensation.

    Reply
      1. Galina L.

        In my native Russia Valerian root is THE #1 calming remedy , and many people with a sleep problem swear by it.

        Reply
  17. Linda

    Hi Tom,

    Just like others that have checked every day since your father passed away, I have too. It is so nice to see you back! I’ve really missed you!

    Just a comment about cell phones. I have a Trac Fone which my sister-in-law tells me is an old person’s phone. Well, so be it. I pretty much have always hated all phones, but I must have some sort of phone with my very elderly father’s health, so that’s it. I dumped AT&T because it seemed every month something on the bill went up and I wasn’t using the damn thing! Now, I choose who has my phone number and I choose who I talk to! Phones are a scrouge as far as I’m concerned, but, I guess an evil necessity. I just buy the minutes I need to make the NECESSARY calls and no, I don’t talk about shoe colors or anything else like that!

    Your “Hogs 2- Humans 1” reminded me of when my parents had a farm and my poor brother was required to move my father’s hogs here and there. The poor boy was always a mass of bruises and he was always hunting one that had gotten loose. I did get a few giggles out of your story, especially your language. My father’s hogs caused my brother to teach me some very, very colorful language! LOL!

    Do take care of yourself and your family. You undoubtedly had/still have the flu.

    Reply
  18. Gerard150

    I have heard Valerian Root works wonders for insomnia. It’s available at Walmart in pill form. You have to kind of experiment on how many pills work for you. Take too many and you’ll wake up with a hangover like sensation.

    Reply
      1. Galina L.

        In my native Russia Valerian root is THE #1 calming remedy , and many people with a sleep problem swear by it.

        Reply
  19. Angie

    Having grown up on hog farms and worked at two of them, I can tell you a solid board for each person trying to move hogs is an absolute necessity. If they can see through it, they figure there’s a way out. If it’s solid, they seem to think “Oops, there’s a wall there, better run the other way.”

    As mentioned above, if the trailer’s floor is raised, try using a ramp of some kind. If the hogs can just run up, they’ll go easier — if they have to jump up and into a trailer, they’ll stop dead and try to turn around on you.

    You’re also much better off with just two people doing the herding. The more people you have, the more seams the pigs can find in your defenses.

    Cussing doesn’t really make the hogs behave, but it does make the handlers feel a little better.

    And be sure to have a good, stiff drink handy for after you get them in the trailer. You’ll probably need it. 😉

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Yup, solid pig boards next time. They could see right through that gate we used, which was likely part of the problem.

      Reply
  20. Angie

    Having grown up on hog farms and worked at two of them, I can tell you a solid board for each person trying to move hogs is an absolute necessity. If they can see through it, they figure there’s a way out. If it’s solid, they seem to think “Oops, there’s a wall there, better run the other way.”

    As mentioned above, if the trailer’s floor is raised, try using a ramp of some kind. If the hogs can just run up, they’ll go easier — if they have to jump up and into a trailer, they’ll stop dead and try to turn around on you.

    You’re also much better off with just two people doing the herding. The more people you have, the more seams the pigs can find in your defenses.

    Cussing doesn’t really make the hogs behave, but it does make the handlers feel a little better.

    And be sure to have a good, stiff drink handy for after you get them in the trailer. You’ll probably need it. 😉

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yup, solid pig boards next time. They could see right through that gate we used, which was likely part of the problem.

      Reply
  21. Kerstin

    Good morning!

    I agree with everyone else: glad to hear you’re back, and very sorry your father died and you were so sick. I had a small bug when I went to Germany earlier this year that then came back with a vengeance when I came back. For what it’s worth, I took then, and friends fighting the current flu/stomach bug took over Christmas, a homeopathic product called “Boiron Oscillococcinum for Flu-like Symptoms” …take it at the first sign of illness, and it really works.

    In the meantime, I hope all goes well and you’re staying warm during this cold spell.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      It’s 10 degrees in Franklin and we’ve the wood-burning stove going for the last day and a half. That thing cranks out the heat.

      Reply
      1. Boundless

        re: It’s 10 degrees in Franklin …

        Same here in KS.
        Just where is that Global Hot Air when you really need it?

        Reply
  22. Kathy in Texas

    One more sleep remedy is Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement that is mixed with a little hot water and taken 20-30 minutes before bed. As with most magnesium, it can cause diarrhea if you take too much. Start with just 1/2 to 1 tsp until you know how you will react. It also helps (for me at least) with restless leg syndrome. I buy it on Amazon.

    So glad you’re back – I’ve really missed you.

    Reply
  23. Kerstin

    Good morning!

    I agree with everyone else: glad to hear you’re back, and very sorry your father died and you were so sick. I had a small bug when I went to Germany earlier this year that then came back with a vengeance when I came back. For what it’s worth, I took then, and friends fighting the current flu/stomach bug took over Christmas, a homeopathic product called “Boiron Oscillococcinum for Flu-like Symptoms” …take it at the first sign of illness, and it really works.

    In the meantime, I hope all goes well and you’re staying warm during this cold spell.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      It’s 10 degrees in Franklin and we’ve the wood-burning stove going for the last day and a half. That thing cranks out the heat.

      Reply
      1. Boundless

        re: It’s 10 degrees in Franklin …

        Same here in KS.
        Just where is that Global Hot Air when you really need it?

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          You can find all the hot air you need coming from the UN’s panels on global warming … er, “climate change” now that they’ve had to admit we haven’t had any warming since the 1990s.

          Reply
  24. Kathy in Texas

    One more sleep remedy is Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement that is mixed with a little hot water and taken 20-30 minutes before bed. As with most magnesium, it can cause diarrhea if you take too much. Start with just 1/2 to 1 tsp until you know how you will react. It also helps (for me at least) with restless leg syndrome. I buy it on Amazon.

    So glad you’re back – I’ve really missed you.

    Reply
  25. Chris

    Don’t know how big your trailer is, but here is my trailer driving tip

    Uncouple from car. Manually push into position. Attach back to car.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I doubt I can pull it across our rocky, hilly land, but I might give it a shot next time I need to position it on the flat driveway.

      Reply
  26. Chris

    Don’t know how big your trailer is, but here is my trailer driving tip

    Uncouple from car. Manually push into position. Attach back to car.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I doubt I can pull it across our rocky, hilly land, but I might give it a shot next time I need to position it on the flat driveway.

      Reply
  27. Susan

    Tom,
    I was sorry to hear that your father passed away.
    I swear that we had the same flu/respiratory virus. All of my six kids and my hubby came down with it 10 days before we were supposed to move 1200 miles from South Florida to Dallas, Tx. We made the move about a week ago and are just now all feeling better. Nothing like driving a 1 ton van loaded to the gills with kids and stuff while following a giant moving truck and sneezing one’s head off or coughing up both lungs. I’m just glad that we made it safely.

    On a separate note, I love reading about your adventures with the animals. My dad raised various pigs over the years and I always took a stick of firewood with me into the pen to fend off the over enthusiastic pigs. They knew my coming meant food and weren’t too careful what they bit. My dad said that the pigs weren’t malicious biters, they just wanted a “taste”. Eventually they all tasted good to me. 🙂

    Reply
  28. Susan

    Tom,
    I was sorry to hear that your father passed away.
    I swear that we had the same flu/respiratory virus. All of my six kids and my hubby came down with it 10 days before we were supposed to move 1200 miles from South Florida to Dallas, Tx. We made the move about a week ago and are just now all feeling better. Nothing like driving a 1 ton van loaded to the gills with kids and stuff while following a giant moving truck and sneezing one’s head off or coughing up both lungs. I’m just glad that we made it safely.

    On a separate note, I love reading about your adventures with the animals. My dad raised various pigs over the years and I always took a stick of firewood with me into the pen to fend off the over enthusiastic pigs. They knew my coming meant food and weren’t too careful what they bit. My dad said that the pigs weren’t malicious biters, they just wanted a “taste”. Eventually they all tasted good to me. 🙂

    Reply
  29. Bob Parker

    Tom,
    Bad luck about your illness. My response to similar symptoms is to take a glass of the juice of the common lime or lemon depending on availability. Use enough juice to taste quite sour when diluted with a glass full of water. I add a small amount of honey and sometimes crush a clove or so of garlic into it. Suppresses the runny nose and cough for about 6 hours at a time so just repeat as needed. Sure Vitamin C is part of it but there is something else there too which is not available from any other citrus fruit that I’ve tried. However there is no harm done adding fresh orange juice in place of the water.

    Though I’ve carefully avoided doctors for ordinary illnesses for decades now, at age 76 I have in the last 2 years experienced episodes of incontinence. Just aging or so I thought. I have been for some time enhancing my gut biome using yoghurt as well as fermented vegetables. Neither helped. Then I discovered Miso, a fermented soy bean paste. I buy only product that has been made in Japan so no Glyphosate and whatever other nasties Monsanto has engineered into the soy bean.

    No incontinence now and also some kind of facial rash, Rosacae? I don’t know or care. It’s almost completely gone now.

    I am very careful not to overheat the Miso because I want the bugs not just the flavor, though I like that too.

    Reply
  30. Bob Parker

    Tom,
    Bad luck about your illness. My response to similar symptoms is to take a glass of the juice of the common lime or lemon depending on availability. Use enough juice to taste quite sour when diluted with a glass full of water. I add a small amount of honey and sometimes crush a clove or so of garlic into it. Suppresses the runny nose and cough for about 6 hours at a time so just repeat as needed. Sure Vitamin C is part of it but there is something else there too which is not available from any other citrus fruit that I’ve tried. However there is no harm done adding fresh orange juice in place of the water.

    Though I’ve carefully avoided doctors for ordinary illnesses for decades now, at age 76 I have in the last 2 years experienced episodes of incontinence. Just aging or so I thought. I have been for some time enhancing my gut biome using yoghurt as well as fermented vegetables. Neither helped. Then I discovered Miso, a fermented soy bean paste. I buy only product that has been made in Japan so no Glyphosate and whatever other nasties Monsanto has engineered into the soy bean.

    No incontinence now and also some kind of facial rash, Rosacae? I don’t know or care. It’s almost completely gone now.

    I am very careful not to overheat the Miso because I want the bugs not just the flavor, though I like that too.

    Reply
  31. Jim Butler

    Well…what an ordeal.
    Here’s my $.02 worth…

    I’ve no experience with pigs, but a friend of mine years ago struggled for a good 1/2 day trying to get his pig into the truck to go to the butcher. He called the guy up the next morning and said Hey…really sorry, but I can’t get this damned pig into the truck to bring him over.
    Butcher said don’t worry, I’ll be over in about an hour.
    Butcher came over, put the ramp up to the back of the pickup, just exactly the same way Vic had it the day before. Walked over to the pen, grabbed the pig by the ear, and just walked up the ramp into the back of the truck with the pig. Vic said it was the damnedest thing he’d ever seen, and didn’t recall ever feeling quite as foolish as he did at that moment.

    As for backing a trailer, two things. 1) Realize that the SHORTER the trailer, the more difficult it is to back (this fact is for your ego, when you wonder how those truck drivers EVER back up a 53′ trailer) and 2) Put your hand on the bottom of your steering wheel. Then move your hand whichever way you want the trailer to go. Go very slowly, and don’t be afraid to stop and pull forward a bit. Short trailers are wicked hahd to back up and take some practice, but put that hand on the bottom of the wheel, and just slowly push your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go, and it’ll work every time.

    Jim

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I’ll try that tip for steering, but reserve the right to cuss loudly to keep the trailer fooled.

      As for grabbing a pig’s ear … I’ll have to work up the courage to try that one.

      Reply
  32. Jim Butler

    Well…what an ordeal.
    Here’s my $.02 worth…

    I’ve no experience with pigs, but a friend of mine years ago struggled for a good 1/2 day trying to get his pig into the truck to go to the butcher. He called the guy up the next morning and said Hey…really sorry, but I can’t get this damned pig into the truck to bring him over.
    Butcher said don’t worry, I’ll be over in about an hour.
    Butcher came over, put the ramp up to the back of the pickup, just exactly the same way Vic had it the day before. Walked over to the pen, grabbed the pig by the ear, and just walked up the ramp into the back of the truck with the pig. Vic said it was the damnedest thing he’d ever seen, and didn’t recall ever feeling quite as foolish as he did at that moment.

    As for backing a trailer, two things. 1) Realize that the SHORTER the trailer, the more difficult it is to back (this fact is for your ego, when you wonder how those truck drivers EVER back up a 53′ trailer) and 2) Put your hand on the bottom of your steering wheel. Then move your hand whichever way you want the trailer to go. Go very slowly, and don’t be afraid to stop and pull forward a bit. Short trailers are wicked hahd to back up and take some practice, but put that hand on the bottom of the wheel, and just slowly push your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go, and it’ll work every time.

    Jim

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’ll try that tip for steering, but reserve the right to cuss loudly to keep the trailer fooled.

      As for grabbing a pig’s ear … I’ll have to work up the courage to try that one.

      Reply
  33. Elle

    I’m just now getting over a proper case of pneumonia (not walking pneumonia) – antibiotics have been a lifesaver. (Or at least kept me out of the hospital). I’ll gladly take having to repopulate my gut flora over not being able to oxygenate my blood.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Sometimes antibiotics are still the best solution. I’m glad we don’t live in the era when families when have six kids and two or three of them would live to see adulthood.

      Reply
  34. Elle

    I’m just now getting over a proper case of pneumonia (not walking pneumonia) – antibiotics have been a lifesaver. (Or at least kept me out of the hospital). I’ll gladly take having to repopulate my gut flora over not being able to oxygenate my blood.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Sometimes antibiotics are still the best solution. I’m glad we don’t live in the era when families when have six kids and two or three of them would live to see adulthood.

      Reply
  35. mariellen

    About a thousand years ago, when I was 21 and running the pig operation alone while my father was dying of cancer, I needed to get 40 pigs into a butcher’s truck. I used pig psychology. I didn’t feed them their morning corn, and then that evening I threw some corn inside the barn. When the pigs were all in the barn, I shut the gate til the truck arrived and placed itself in front of the gate, and the butcher installed the chute. I threw a little more corn onto the ramp, and the rest of their corn-allotment in the bed of the truck. I opened the gate to the chute and the butcher and I sat down on the corn crib steps. Pigs calmly and systematically ate their way up the ramp and into the truck. Butcher closed up the truck and put away the ramp. He drove off with 40 pigs. Transaction completed. It was a hot August day, and neither the butcher nor I raised a sweat.

    Reply
  36. mariellen

    About a thousand years ago, when I was 21 and running the pig operation alone while my father was dying of cancer, I needed to get 40 pigs into a butcher’s truck. I used pig psychology. I didn’t feed them their morning corn, and then that evening I threw some corn inside the barn. When the pigs were all in the barn, I shut the gate til the truck arrived and placed itself in front of the gate, and the butcher installed the chute. I threw a little more corn onto the ramp, and the rest of their corn-allotment in the bed of the truck. I opened the gate to the chute and the butcher and I sat down on the corn crib steps. Pigs calmly and systematically ate their way up the ramp and into the truck. Butcher closed up the truck and put away the ramp. He drove off with 40 pigs. Transaction completed. It was a hot August day, and neither the butcher nor I raised a sweat.

    Reply

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