One day out of the blue my Daddy called with a very serious question: “Do you want to buy a hog?”
“Do you want to buy a hog?”
“What kind of hog?”
“A big Duroc sow that’s gonna have pigs in a few days. I’m up here in Miss at Glenn Cotton’s place and his boy is fixin’ to go off up to Miss State to college and he needs to sell her.”
“How much is he asking for her?”
“Can you haul her home today?”
“No, I come up here to run my dogs with these fellas, I got my dog box on my truck I can’t haul that big old sow in a dog crate with my dogs. If you want her I’ll pay the boy and we can come up here next week and haul her home.”
“Go ahead and pay for her and that’s what we’ll do. I give you your money next week.”
And that is how the story of Grunt began.
Me and Daddy went up there and loaded this old sow named May and brought her home and sure enough in a week or so she had as fine a litter of Duroc pigs as you ever saw. They were just as fat and shiny and pretty as a litter of pigs could be. But before they were born is another whole story.
Donnie and Karen, our kids, were like 6 and 4 years old and were very interested in this whole idea of this big sow having pigs. So as happens in cases like this there was some explaining for the grownups to do to these little folks as to just how this whole process worked. To our surprise it turned out we had done a pretty good job of explaining because after that the kids would go down to the little hog barn we had built and check on May. Three of four times a day they would troop off to see if they could be the first ones to see the pigs when they finally came. And every day three or four times a day the report was made in loud voices, “No pigs yet.” Until finally one day all out of breathe the report came in not so loud, but excited voices, “Pigs, pigs, May got some pigs!”
Now understand I said hog barn just now but the little shed that May had her pigs in was by no stretch of the imagination a barn. But I had made an attempt to build a farrowing crate out of some scrap lumber and it worked all right but was soon not big enough to hold all the pigs and May so she and her litter had free run of a pen that we kept cleaned and put hay in it for bedding.
Well, as luck would have it one day May stepped on a little gilt and near about cut one of its front legs off. When we found it naturally we brought it to the house to doctor as best we could. We cleaned it up and put Neosporin on the cut and wrapped it in gauze and put the pig in a cardboard box in our bedroom. Betty bottled fed that pig until it was old enough to eat oatmeal and dog food soaked in hot water. And when it would suck that bottle it would make a grunting noise so the name Grunt was a natural choice.
The people that claim to know these things say that if an animals is taken away from its own kind it will not know how to be, as in this case, a pig. Grunt became one of us. She played with the kids and would sleep in her box until she heard someone come in the house then she would rare up on the side of the box and turn it over and come check out what was going on. I don’t remember Grunt making a big mess in the house or tearing up any furniture but after her leg healed up and she began to really get too big for the house she had to be put back with the other pigs.
Even with our best efforts her leg healed crooked and weak and it was evident that she would never be a brood sow so when she started to be more crippled by the day it was time for her to be sold. There was never any doubt that Grunt would not die of old age. After all she was a hog and to be useful hogs become pork. But it was never in our thoughts to butcher Grunt ourselves, so when the next load of pigs went to the sale Grunt was among them.
You know the old people always said to not name any animal that you intend to eat and after Grunt it made a lot of sense. Grunt came along at a good time, the kids learned a lot from the experience and Betty proved again what we all knew, that she was a real Mother. I just tried to stay out of the way and be the tough guy but when Grunt was gone I missed her as much as it is possible to miss a pig.
And after all these years Neosporin is still called pig medicine at our house.