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By Jack McCall

I have always thought that hogs have gotten a bad rap over the centuries. In Biblical times, the children of Israel were forbidden to eat pork. Oftentimes any reference to a hog is used as a putdown. The rebellious generation of the 1960’s referred to law enforcement officers as “pigs.” Sometimes when a child is guilty of poor table manners or someone over indulges in eating they are described as “acting like a pig.” Groups of individuals known for unsavory behavior are often described as “swine.”

Many a mother has chastised a son or daughter for having a cluttered room by saying, “this place looks like a pig sty.”

Submitted photo

When the younger son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son hit rock bottom, “he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat.” It wasn’t enough to lose all his money and all his friends. Rock bottom for this Jewish boy was to be among the pigs, eating with pigs and smelling like a pig.

I will admit, having grown up on a farm where hogs were prevalent, that hogs are loud, messy, hardheaded, and uncooperative; and yes, they smelled to high heaven.

If hogs are in the area, you know. You usually smell them before you see them.

If you get hog smell on you, it’s on you. You can’t wear it off and it is hard to wash it off.

When I was in high school, I was often called upon by my grandfather, D.T. McCall, to haul his pigs to the feeder pig sale as I was on my way to school.

Now there is no way to load feeder pigs without coming away from the barn smelling like a pig pen. I tried coveralls, overshoes, Lysol, Hi-Karate and English Leather. You name it, I tried it.

Nothing gave me complete peace of mind. I spent the rest of the day going to class in fear that someone would say, “Hey, you smell like a pig!”

A friend of mine who lives in another county used to go straight from his hog farm to his local bank. He would stroll into the bank wearing his knee-high, black gum boots laden in fresh hog manure. After a minute or two every head in the bank would be turned in his direction. Of course, no one said anything to him. He could have bought the bank. He was wearing the smell of money.

Many of my readers will remember when hogs were referred to as “the mortgage lifters.” In the last century, the income from raising hogs paid for many a farm. It made the smell of hogs much more tolerable.

In the 1970s, Charles and Mary Dillard moved to the Watervale Community. Their house was located at the corner of Old County House Road and U.S. Highway 70, just across the road from John A. McCall’s store.

Mary’s father, Mr. Tom Wilmore, lived next door to the Dillards. Mary’s son, Ricky “Burr Head” Oldham, grew up in Watervale (also known as Punch). I think my mother gave Ricky the nickname “Burr Head.” Ricky had a double cowlick, and whenever he got a haircut his hair would stand straight up in the front; hence, the name “Burr Head.”

When Ricky grew old enough to carry a gun and hunt wild game, he often hunted on our farm. One particular fall, my brother John insisted that Ricky come to the farm and hunt squirrels. There was an abundant supply of acorns that fall, and John told Ricky he could bag his limit of squirrels in less than 30 minutes under one particular oak tree.

Well, John was right. Ricky approached that oak tree, and in a few minutes he had his limit of plump, fat squirrels. What he didn’t know was that those fat squirrels had been eating something besides acorns.

Late in the afternoon and early in the morning, those squirrels had been slipping into the hog parlor and eating cracked corn out of the hog droppings. He would soon find out.

Mr. Wilmore dressed those fine squirrels while Mrs. Wilmore got the skillet hot. Then, she battered that fresh squirrel meat in her favorite batter and laid each piece in the hot grease. In five minutes, the smell of hogs ran them all out of the house. They ended up throwing out the squirrels, the grease and the skillet. And it took two days to air out the house.

You might say I am too familiar with the smell of hogs. I guess that is the reason I have never been fond of chitterlings, boiled or fried.