The Great Hog Invasion
One of the big events in a small farm kid’s life was to go for a ride in the truck with Daddy. It made no never mind where he was going; it was a big deal to ride in the truck with Daddy.
Most of our neighbors in Norfolk County, Virginia were loyal Ford owners because the Ford Motor Company was one of the biggest employers. They were an assembly plant where parts were sent from all over America. They put them together and made a truck or car. I remember going with Daddy to get our new 1949-50 Ford F-1 pickup truck, a beautiful green half-ton truck. It was parked on a huge lot with rows and rows of trucks of every color, I can still remember the smell of our truck when Daddy opened the door that day.
At first we fit into that truck because we were only a family of five but when the fourth kid arrived Mom strongly suggested a station wagon. It was a yellow and white 1957 Ford. We kept the green truck because it was an essential part of our small hog farm operation. That little truck had many miles because it was driven daily to the Navy Base where Daddy worked. Sometimes it went seven days per week, because Daddy was in the Navy Reserves.
Saturday was a real special day for me, Daddy, and brother Doug to go places in that truck, mostly to tractor lots to daydream about a new red Farmall Cub tractor. In the summer we would go get bags of feed for the hogs or barrels of scraps from restaurants. Sometimes the restaurant scraps did not smell so good. Hogs loved it.
We only raised the Hampshire hogs. They were black with a white band around their chest that included their front legs. They were usually docile hogs and the sows (mama hogs) were very good to their piglets (babies). A litter of eight to twelve was normal for this breed. They were hardy and seldom lost any piglets.
Daddy fenced in about five acres of our woods where the big oak trees were in abundance. Hogs love to dig or root with their noses for acorns or tender roots. Hogs love to eat and will eat nearly anything, including meat.
Daddy put a radio in the green Ford so he could monitor the daily “Farm Market Report” everyday at noon. Many times we gathered a hasty load of market pigs and hauled them to the market because the market price was quite high that day.
On one such occasion we did not have any market pigs but Daddy did have one great big boar hog he really wanted to get rid of. The boar had sired hundreds of piglets but he had turned mean and ornery. He had developed a habit of just making a hole in the fence and walking out anytime he chose; naturally the other pigs followed.
To complicate matters he was feisty and it took Daddy and the four Harrison boys to put him back in. He would try to bite and would run over them. It took the crew several hours to wrestle him into the pickup truck.
Hogs are not easy to handle because “they do not have handles”. Most have two ears, and a cork screw tail but not this one; he had been in hog fights and lost his tail and one ear. Many of the hog farmers used something known as a “Hot Stick” to control unruly hogs but they were expensive. A touch to the nose and even the biggest, meanest hog was on his rump! Just a battery and a coil but it got their attention.
Daddy had sides made for his truck, five feet tall, oak wood bolted together with quarter inch carriage bolts, hog strong. Daddy drove across the scales to get the hog weighed, then stopped at the scale house to get his copy of the receipt, leaving me and Doug in the cab. Within minutes that huge hog decided to escape as he charged the truck cab, knocking out the back window allowing his head and front legs into the cab. Two little kids began yelling, I was yelling HOG, Doug was yelling DADDY!
The scale operator grabbed his rifle as Daddy and a group of men ran toward the truck to rescue two kids who were still yelling HOG and DADDY. One of the farmers used his “Hot Stick” on the nose of the big hog; he squealed and went into reverse. Faster than a streak of lightening that hog was right back where he came from and wondering what had bit him on the snout! The men unloaded the hog and we drove away without our back window.
Mama made a new rule, “NO MORE TRIPS TO THE HOG MARKET FOR THE KIDS” and that was just fine with me.