When I was just a girl, maybe ten years old, one spring evening my dad came home with three tiny pink piglets . We had known they were coming; we had spent the previous weekend renovating our old play house for them to live in. The playhouse, two stories with a rooftop deck and swing set, had to be essentially chopped in half with a chainsaw to house the little squirmers. As per the “Law of Ed”, wherein if one nail is good than two are better, ten being best, the thing had been built like a fortress. We put the modified house on sledges so we could drag it around with the tractor if they made too much of a mess of it. It turned out to be quite a nice setup for the piglets. They had an old pile of blankets in a corner and a nice window, with a ramp up to the door for their tiny legs. We named them sweet things like Daisy and Maisy and Sunshine. We loved them. They were so smart and cute and….pink!
My mother had protested the acquisition of three pigs, saying one pig would be plenty for a family of four. My father claimed at the time, and I still believe this even if it isn’t true, that pigs need to be in groups of three. He explained that one pig alone thinks it doesn’t exist and will not thrive. Two pigs together look at each other and, seeing one pig, think they are alone and will not thrive. With three, a pig can look at the other two and say to himself “that’s me, and I’m in good company”, and they happily go about the business of getting enormous.
And that is exactly what they do. The tiny pink wigglers who we carried around in our arms and fed with bottles of warm milk grew and grew. Their tiny pink mouths got teeth. And they learned how to use them. In just a few short months the baby pigs went from about 20 pounds to about 400. No lie. And in less time than that they became mean. Mean, mean, mean.
At 10, there was a short time when I was able to hold my own with the pigs, but after a time they could out run and out bite me, not to mention out number me. Of course I was the one in charge of feeding them. I can hear my father’s chuckle as he mutters something about “character building” . Well, those pigs got the best of me. They were kept in a large area fenced in with a low strand of electric wire. Pigs are very smart, but the one thing pigs can’t do is jump, so a wire about 18″ off the ground is enough to keep them in place. They ate just about anything; I think we fed them eggshells, along with any other kitchen scraps we threw away. It was all mixed in with a bucket of ground corn. Truly it was slop, and my job was to hop over the wire, run to the trough, dump in the slop, turn tail and make it back over the wire before they could try to knock me down and bite me. And if luck was with me, I’d clear the wire without getting a zap! At least that’s how I remember it. I hated the pigs!
Then one crisp fall afternoon I came home from school and heard a curious sound. It was a beeping sound coming from the back yard. Beep, Beep, Beep. It went on and on and on. Beep Beep Beep. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but it was driving me crazy. I wandered around the barn and the yard and the pond until I finally came to what was making that awful beeping sound. It was behind the pig house, a backhoe, driving in reverse. And the backhoe had a chain hanging from it’s scoop that was going down to a steaming 50 gallon bucket. As I watched, the scoop lifted, and out of the bucket came…. Daisy? Sunshine? I couldn’t tell. It was horrible. The sight of that huge porcine body suspended over the bucket was absolutely shocking to me, and I will forever associate the sound of a backhoe in reverse with death.
As much as I hated those evil pigs, and had prayed for their immediate demise, I was truly astonished and saddened to see on of them actually dead. I vowed never to consume even a mouthful of their flesh, even out of spite.
Until, of course, my father introduced me to thick cut home cured maple bacon. Then I got my revenge.
Tonight we are having Roast Pork Loin with Potatoes. The pork has been rubbed with a mixture of 1/2 cup agave, 3 tbs honey Dijon, 1 tbs thyme and 1 tbs black pepper. Rub the pork with half the mixture and roast for 1 hour at 300 F. Add 3 large cut potatoes dressed with salt, pepper and olive oil to the pan, flip the roast and rub with the rest of the mixture. Roast about another 45 minutes, or until the internal temp is about 150 F. Enjoy with a green salad, or steamed kale or spinach.