Makin’ Bacon: Part 3: Livestock On Social Media

I was regretting my decision to expand my homestead activities by ordering up piglets. I was no more prepared to care for a pig than I would be for a rhinocerous. Meanwhile Mrs. Curmudgeon fired up the time sink of doom otherwise known as Facebook. Up popped an image of a litter of pigs.

I paused. “Um, what’s with the critters on Facebook?”

“They’re our pigs.” Mrs. Curmudgeon smiled; clicking through several photos. She was still chatting on the phone with the Foxinator.

“Pigs…” I muttered. I was suddenly feeling very obsolete.

“Oh the little spotted one is extra cute.” She declared. I can’t deny that ‘cute’ is a valued contributor to the decision making process. The cute one got put on our list. The next one was apparently not cute and therefore skipped. Loser!

I can roll with this. No man should complain about a pig being ‘cute’ if he can emote that a 1950′s Buick tailfin is ‘sexy’.

Cute is fine, it’s the concept of livestock on Facebook that bothered me. I’ve got an attitude about Facebook. Facebook (in my humble opinion) is as desirable as lite beer, socialist university professors, hashtag weenies, or resurgent measles. All are undeniable facts of life in the early 21st century. Humanity could have avoided any of them given greater collective wisdom. Facebook will someday fade. Like leeches in medicine and Tab soda, it will someday seem weird and tasteless. I may be the only person on earth with this theory. This doesn’t make me wrong.

Facebook also short circuits time honored traditional social limits to gossip and busybodying. Before Facebook, someone who was going to get all up in my business had to show some damn dedication. For one thing they had to actually be present to act inappropriately on a local scale. Kooks and lurkers in past decades would have to leer at a window or stalk around parking lots. Activities which underscore the unseemly nature of their interest and can be stopped (at least in my experience) with a crooked smile and a few words. “I’m a forgiving man so I’m going to give you give you three steps before I…” See? Stalking in the old days could be handled “manually”. This is why older generations, no less nosy than the current, at least pretended to keep to themselves. As for sharing information, gossip with the nearest bored housewife was excruciatingly inefficient. Every tidbit and detail came at the price of boring stories about grandkids and gout. Who has time for that? Before Facebook, someone wanting to pay too much attention to me had to get their hands dirty, live near me, waste lots of time, and risk getting their teeth kicked in. Facebook ruined that. How am I to shout “get off my lawn” on Facebook?

Why would a pig be on Facebook?

“Pigs…” I stuttered, “Do not employ social media.”

“Look for yourself.”

I looked. Livestock. On Facebook. Livestock on Facebook can’t be good.

There was the Foxinator, holding a tiny critter. Less than a day old. Smiling for the camera. Both of them. Piglets, apparently, can smile.

“Is that…” I groped for the term. “…is that a ‘selfie’?” (Before Obama went to a funeral in South Africa I didn’t know the word “selfie”. I wish I could unlearn that bit of knowledge.)

I heard Foxinator laughing on the phone. Mrs. Curmudgeon agreed. Men are idiots.

I have reservations over any pig that’s been an Internet star. Call me a dinosaur or a moron but it is not good that livestock be on social media. Not good at all.

I’m just sayin’.

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Makin’ Bacon: Part 2

Last winter, as it always does, tried to kill us all. The weather broke just before I did. When I could take no more and the snowblower was dead and the pony trailer was on flats and the woodpile was almost consumed and I had a serious desire to set fire to my snowshoes, spring slouched into our lives. It arrived like a slacker teenager; late and hungover and with no good excuse for the dent in the family sedan.

I looked out the window at the melting snow and sighed. My dog looked out the same window and sighed too. Good dog.

Mrs. Curmudgeon was happily chatting about female things which happen on a different wavelength than I hear. On the other other end of the line was her good friend the Foxinator.

The Foxinator is also our pig supplier. Is that the right term? Pig supplier? I’d prefer “bacon pusher” but that’s just me. Frankly I wasn’t sure buying pigs was a wise idea. Maybe she’d forget last summer when I’d promised to buy piglets?

“Oh that’s awesome!” Mrs. Curmudgeon was saying.

I had other concerns. Should I get a beer? My dog seemed to think so. Good dog.

With no warning at all, Mrs. Curmudgeon hit me with the question. “Foxinator wants to know how many piglets you want.”

Shit! I was still on the hook. What had I gotten myself into?

I’m not sure of the protocol with pigs. All I knew is that little critters would arrive weaned from their mom. I was vague on the details. I expected them to be somewhere in size between a football and a laundry basket, information beyond that unknown. Eventually, and hopefully well before deer season, I would haul them to a nice man with a white apron who would turn them into bacon. Because bacon is the right and true path.

Like all farming, buying young critters is a gamble. How many did I really want? I’m a busy man. How much work is a stupid pig? Probably too much.

On the other hand the news said something about a swine illness. It might affect our tactical bacon supply. Dare I jump on it and hope for soaring prices? (A practice alternatively called “adaptation” or “gouging” depending on your political tendencies and proximity to the free shit army.)

Also bacon.

Piglets aren’t cheap. They take time and they eat like teenagers. Each additional pig is doubling down on labor and feed. For what? Is it really a horrible fate to buy bacon at the store? How much does feed cost? My fence would need a serious upgrade. Oh the complexity that bacon greed creates in the hearts of men!

We only need one pig for the freezer. Maybe just one would be wise? That would be enough to dip my toe in the water without working too hard.

“Foxinator says you should have at least two. They get greedy over food and will eat faster because they’re in competition.”

Damn it! So much for raising just enough for the family. How hard would it be to sell a second one? When I sell meatbirds (chickens) people stampede to shove money in my pocket and bitch when I can’t raise more. Bacon should be even easier. Should I say “fuck it” and buy a dozen? Is it possible to have too much bacon?

In a flurry of arbitrary random numbers I tried to focus on getting just two pigs. I couldn’t hold the idea in my head.

Greed took over. What about the swine illness? Would that mean spiking prices and the horror of bacon shortages? Would profiting from a bacon shortage be evil? Did I care? I’m not Google. Besides, Google really is evil and I’m just talking about raising pork. Raising bacon; wouldn’t that make me a hero?

Mrs. Curmudgeon eyed my suspiciously. She’s not quite as on board with this stuff as I am.

This brought me back to reality. Perhaps too many pigs would foment disharmony? There’s a line somewhere. Eventually I’d need to leave on a trip. Feed duty for too many squealing jerks might cause Mrs. Curmudgeon to rethink the free spirited and handsome stud she married. Would she pine for the lifestyle afforded by men who don’t worship bacon? Best not to risk it. Three seemed safe; the optimum balance between my desire for all the bacon and the limited labor I can put to the task.

“Three.” I said with more confidence than I felt.

Mrs. Curmudgeon, without hesitation, repeated it to Foxinator. The die was cast.

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Makin’ Bacon: Part 1 – The Pusher

Last summer I met my bacon at the fair. I didn’t raise it. I just bought it. I was particularly impressed to see my bacon happily frolicking in a pen marked with a blue ribbon. (See: Bacon: My Happy Moment)

It was mine! All that bacon. Mine, mine, mine! When you’ve got a pig ready for the butcher you’re a bacon king. Also, my bacon was raised by an earnest 4H kid instead of a stinky corporate feedlot. I hung around the booth gloating over the improbable fact that I had all the bacon a man could want! It was going to my head.

This is when a kindly soul would talk me out of whatever scheme was bubbling around my head. The Foxinator did nothing of the sort. Seeing me in a bacon induced moment of weakness, she struck!

You could raise your own pig.” She smiled, well aware she’d scored a direct hit on the combination of greed and bacon frenzy seething through my brain.

I dunno’, that looks like a lot of work.” I looked around for Mrs. Curmudgeon. It’s her job to talk me out of such things. Where was she?

It’s easy.” She waved at the ribbon, awarded to the 4H kid who did most of the actual work. “Even a kid can do it.”

I’ve met her kid, on a bad day her kid is more responsible than 80% of the adult population. Nor am I going to say which side of the 80% threshold I happen to fall on. I wasn’t going for it.

Nah, you’ve gotta’ keep ‘em all winter. It’s hard enough keeping the chicken waterer thawed. Forget it.” Ha! I was safe. I’d turned down the stupid idea du’ jour. Mrs. Curmudgeon would be so pleased.

Oh you don’t have to do that. I’ll have piglets for sale in the spring.” The Foxinator, who can talk me into damn near anything, was on a roll. The mark had been identified. Me and my greed for bacon. I was in deep water.

Pigs are a hassle?” I mumbled weakly.

I was doomed. My words lacked conviction. Even I didn’t believe them.

Aren’t they cute?” She pointed to a nearby litter of piglets which, as a display at the fair, were cleaned and washed and brushed and looked nothing like the average farm pig laying in it’s own shit. They were positively cuddly. Aside from cats (which are evil) I like just about any critter. I’m tragically prone to that ‘aw’ moment when I see a baby critter.

Awwww… they are cute.” Damn! I’d said that aloud.

Nothing could save me now.

Ten minutes later Mrs. Curmudgeon arrived. The boat had sailed. I’d agreed to purchase an unknown quantity of piglets the following spring at an “as yet to be determined” price.

The Foxinator couldn’t help giggling while I explained it to Mrs. Curmudgeon. Mrs. Curmudgeon had left me unattended in this, the barn furthest from the tractor displays, thinking this was safe territory. So I’d gone and bought livestock. There is no denying the power of bacon.

Then I ate a turkey leg; wrapped in bacon.

A.C.

P.S. I don’t hate all cats. A small percentage of them are neither retarded nor evil. I’ve had two cats I really liked and several I didn’t loathe. You might say a cat with the right personality is just as cranky as me and therefore we get along. Of course dogs are superior, everyone knows that.

 

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Pivot To Bacon

I was glaring through clouds of mosquitoes at the ravaged mess that was my field. It was depressing. I’d worked hard. I’d given it an honest effort.

It was an agricultural face plant.

I’d created a big fat ugly multi-acre monument to the inherent stupidity of hippie homesteader bullshit and a giant neon “before” picture in a hypothetical advertisement for expensive modern tractors and Roundup. The weeds had overtaken the corn, the potatoes, and the deer plot. Damn!

In my defense, I’d made several “urgent” trips in the last few weeks and had no time whatsoever to maintain my field. I’d barely had time to eat and sleep.

You simply can’t do anything about a farm in the middle of nowhere when they’re in an airport in Denver getting violated by the TSA. (By the way, to the faceless TSA agent from Denver, did you like it when I cut one during the pat down? Priceless. I worked hard on the timing and was rather proud of myself. Yo quiero Taco bell baby! Here’s a hint, when random strangers can fart in your face and they wish to you will find greater pride in another line of work.)

At any rate, I’d wasted my time (and dignity) farting on TSA agents instead of maintaining my cornfield. How depressing.

Mrs. Curmudgeon always knows what to say to distract me from the woes of the world and cheer me up. “Here’s a six pack and I’m naked”. We’ll OK it wasn’t that. Instead she said “write about the pigs, that’s working out.”

So stay tuned for the story of how I will have all the bacon.

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Corn Vs Wood

Corn lost!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my adventures plowing a field with equipment that was um…  let’s just say there was some learning involved and a bit of adaptation applied to decrepit machinery. In the end I got the job done, barely. With no small amount of drama the field got plowed, seeds got shoved in the ground, etc… Germination ensued. I was a happy camper.

Then, because God has a sense of humor, my schedule went from hectic to harried, and then far worse. Eventually the dial went all the way to hypersonic and even sleep suffered. I found myself 1,800 miles from home and far too busy to think about abandoned corn seedlings Upon my return they were still there… and so were weeds. Lots of weeds. Every farmer’s field for miles around had rows of corn without weeds, I had rows of corn with weeds. Roundup? Lesson learned.

No worries, I’d just man up and get out there with a hoe. So of course it rained.  A lot. Repeatedly. Not a little rain here and there but hour after hour, day after day. It rained Seattle style. I hate Seattle style! Meanwhile, the mosquitoes (which are usually bad but manageable) had run amok. Repeated rains, absent winds, and cool weather had handed them their desired niche on a silver platter. Just walking to the mailbox became an endurance contest. Unless of course, it was raining, which it was doing every moment the mosquitoes weren’t in attack formation. The dog got bit up pretty bad and so did I. Everyone else wisely stayed indoors. Anyone who went camping in those weeks probably switched to a new and less maddening hobby, like cliff diving or heroin.

One day I decided to get weird and weed the field in the rain. (I reasoned that mosquitoes can’t fly in a downpour.) That very morning the phone rang with another work trip and I had to hit the road pronto. I can’t say I was unhappy to avoid the wet and mud.

This weekend the weather cleared. Well it mostly cleared, there was an epic thunderstorm that blew down a tree in my back yard but that was overnight (and I needed the firewood anyway). The mosquitoes were still bad but at least the ground dried out.

Over my morning coffee I had to make a choice. I looked at the field. I looked at my log pile (which needs to be bucked and split and stacked before it becomes a woodpile). No man can do two things. I sipped coffee and pondered the proper path.

A dozen ears of corn costs about $4.  A cord of split and delivered wood costs about $150. You do the math.

The bugs are still pretty hairy. In a fit of cleverness I rigged an extension cord and a big industrial fan I keep for occasions like this. I blasted air at my woodsplitter and if I stood just so, the mosquitoes couldn’t handle the buffeting. (Even with Deet and the fan I still got fairly chewed up.)

Now the day is done and I’ve racked up a small but appreciated “win” in the race against winter (which seems distant but is never far from time’s horizon). I’d burned every last stick of wood so this is a big deal. I’ll need to buck and split much more but you climb a mountain a step at a time.

Even as I’m pleased with my start on the woodpile I’m disappointed with the corn. I just haven’t had the time to do better. Seems like I learn this lesson every year. Damn!

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Your Secrets Aren’t Safe

I have found a literary masterpiece which will ring true to most men. Click to Front Porch Republic, you’ll be glad you did.

Some quotes to whet your appetite:

In the beginning:

“…there’s much work to do—and five secrets to keep from the Chief Eye-Roller.”

And the story begins:

“…ever since as a young boy I saw a few license plates hanging in the machine shed on my grandfather’s farm I have longed for an out-building to hang license plates in. Now I have one, and like Henry the 8th I will have no opposition. Until…”

Which leads to:

“So much for secret number five. The fourth is worse. It’s the day prior, and we’re in the car. I hand her the mail and notice, I think, a letter from an attorney’s office….”

And then:

“‘Uh-huh. And when were you going to tell me about this? Your secrets aren’t safe with you, you know’. (So much for secret number four.) ‘Right after telling you about running over the phone line with the lawn mower.’”

Which leads to:

“Probably some pasty-faced Barney Fife, first day on the job, patrolling church parking lots…”

And ends with:

“…if I would have let the mechanics do the job, it would have cost me five times that. So I’m flush. I’m a millionaire. I could buy my kids ice cream and the Clippers.”

If that doesn’t pique your interest nothing will. Read the story to fill in the blanks.

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Independence Day

The Constitution Of The United States

The Declaration Of Independence

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