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Piggy Love: Tales of My Dad

February 11, 2019

Another Way for week of February 8, 2019

Piggy Love: Tales of My Dad

Dad, holding a baby pig for Michelle, center, and Tanya, right, to pet.

My father would have celebrated his 102 birthday this week. He died in 2006. I ran across a treasured photo of Dad recently, where he was showing one of his darling piglets to my two oldest daughters. (Our third wasn’t born yet.) My younger child is hanging back from the piggy while the oldest one is reaching out with the look that she and my husband always get on their faces while petting a beloved cat. It’s a mixture of adoration (their love for the cat) and soothing relaxation (which the cat gives back to them, at least if the cat is in a petting mood). I wonder if anyone else sees that kind of love-look on the faces of the deep pet adorers in their family?

Dad was a farmer and over the years raised and tended beef cows, milk cows, pigs, sheep, goats (well, one goat, that’s enough), a pony or two, geese, chickens, and turkeys. Of this list, the pigs were his favorite: beloved I might say, and my mother would agree. She was never jealous of another woman but sometimes she’d complain about all the time Dad would spend in the barn with his mama pigs when they were farrowing—giving birth to baby pigs. Of course he was there to help in the rare instance that he was required—mainly to keep a heavy mama pig from accidentally rolling on or squashing one of her new little ones. And oh my goodness, the cuteness factor: they were delightful. In my mind I can see/hear them squealing and looking a bit bewildered while “rutching” (or in real German, “rutschen”) around under the heat lamps for a nipple. Piggies are adorable until they grow up and started loving mud and garbage.

I raised one mama pig until I sold her at auction when my family moved to Florida. Raising a pig was mainly under Dad’s watchful eye but if I fed and took care of her, he would let me have the money from her sale. Originally the idea was that I would have piggies to profit from but we moved before that happened, I think. So he taught me the business end too, subtracting an amount for the feed that was invested raising her. I would never have been found cuddling piggies in their pen however, as my sister could occasionally be found doing. My statement about that: she did so to escape other chores in the house—a standing joke in our family with a certain amount of truth.

I inherited one of Dad’s “piggy paraphernalia” gifts.

Dad’s love for his pigs resulted in all things “piggy” being given to him for every gift-giving occasion: Christmas, Father’s Day, birthday. There were kitchen towels, potholders, figurines, hats, posters, piggy banks (of course), all decorated with delightful pudgy pigs. I googled “what do you call people who collect pig paraphernalia” and of course I found a “Happy Pig Collectors Club.” Lest you think this is just a lowbrow American thing, I found an event in Quebec called Festival du Cochon (French for pig). Now, cochon can also refer to a dirty old man or slut, and my parents were neither! Dad may have come in filthy from cleaning the hog pen or smelly from tending new litters of piggies, but he was always an honorable and dedicated father and husband.

Dad’s love for living things certainly extended to all of us children, grandchildren and great grands. Especially after he had to retire from farming for health reasons, he built endless toys and kid entertainment: playhouses, elevated “treehouses,” doll houses, play barns, playfences, and dollhouse furniture. He also built wooden decorative tulips for the yard, trellises, and more. He needed to stay busy.

Still missing Dad, but I will say, I’m glad no one showers me (or Mom) with piggy paraphernalia for every gift giving occasion!

The dedication he had for his animals—and even more for his family—is something to savor and appreciate, realizing the love he gave to us all provided the foundation we needed to become solid citizens and persons of faith.

 

What memories does this bring to mind?

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Do you like animals? Favorites?

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After I posted this, my mother reminded me she raised baby pigs too, when we lived in north Florida and Daddy was helping run a mobile home factory. But she could never get them fat enough to sell well at auction! 

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And I thank my Facebook friends who responded to my inquiry about spellings for  “rutching” (or in real German, “rutschen”) 

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Comment here or send stories to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

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2 Comments
  1. No wonder you turned out right: farm-raised with a piggy-loving dad. I like the photos, especially the one with the suggestion about eating out. 🙂

    • You didn’t add that take a little bit of pig, a little bit of egg, and you have a yummy breakfast. Yes, I think I’ll campaign for a closed kitchen as my only Valentine Day treat this year since bigger treats are on the horizon.

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