Hoosiers Go Hog Wild In China


            We here in rural Indiana don’t tend to think of ourselves as being part of the big worldwide picture. In fact, many people from the east and west coasts can’t tell Indiana from Oklahoma, while some foreigners mistakenly believe Indiana is America’s last Indian reservation.

Granted, Noble County contributed to the world Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick, writer Gene Stratton-Porter, and me. (My contribution is pending.) Whitley County gave us country singer Janie Fricke, and the Beast of Busco. From Allen County we have actresses Shelley Long and Carole Lombard, not to mention incompetent M*A*S*H surgeon Frank “Ferret Face” Burns. It’s quite a lineup.

Overall, it would seem northeast Indiana outside of Fort Wayne is a mere blip on the economic radar. But then I read about Whiteshire Hamrock, a Noble County farm which recently shipped 1,180 pigs to China.

Specifically, Whiteshire Hamrock ships swine breeding stock, which they’ve sent to 22 different countries. They’re very happy swine. Amorous oinkers, you might say. I grew up down the road from a hog farm, but I’m happy to say I never overheard any of the porkers, um, porking.

I toured Whiteshire Hamrock once, as part of a pre-plan training for the fire department. The place is amazing. It’s got more pork than the federal budget, but is way better organized. Frankly, the place is cleaner than my basement, roomier than my house, and has a patented air ventilation system that makes the place smell better than my back yard. (In my defense, we have a compost pile.)

The company actually has an office in China. That’s no blip – it’s a swine station!

China owns a huge amount of American debt, but if we ship them enough pigs, we should be out of hock in no time. I do wonder, though, how we actually get them over there. I mean, they have to be alive – they’re breeders. If they fly, do they each have to be belted in? And would the seats be big enough in economy class?

Then, I assume, they become mail order hog brides, happy as a pig in a poke, producing piglets at a prodigious pace.

Sorry if I’m hogging all the puns; I didn’t mean to be a boar.

Then, eventually, they’d be all play-pigged out and some uncaring butcher would haul them away on their little pigs feet, destined to provide hams like me with both joke material and a really excellent Easter dinner.

I realize animal lovers may consider me a swine for thinking of this as such a rib-tickler, but making other things the butt of my jokes is how I bring home the bacon and stay out of hock myself. Believe me, it’s not always a picnic, so spare me. There’s a lot at steak.

Don’t you just love the English language?

According to the 2002 hog census, there were 185 million hogs sold in the US in 2002. I assume the hog census isn’t as complicated as the people census. And yet there were only 715,000 heart attacks, so take that, health nuts. That’s twelve billion dollars’ worth of ribs, ham, roast, and, of course, back bacon. There’s also something called St. Louis cut ribs, because some cities just have to hog all the attention. Canadian bacon is like regular bacon, only it’s very sorry. I have no desire to know where butt comes from.

Hogs were first domesticated 6,000 years ago – by the Chinese, so a little irony, there. They started salting pork bellies around 1500. But the hogs didn’t like that much so they sprayed the salt off, giving us the term “hogwash”. Pigs didn’t get to America until 1539, when a Spaniard named Hernando DeSoto brought some over for the first barbeque.

In the early days of New York hogs were allowed to run free, forcing farmers to build a wall to keep them out of their fields. The street that ran along that wall became – wait for it – Wall Street … which explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Harry Truman once said, “No man should be allowed to be President who does not understand hogs.” If that’s true, than we should set up Whiteshire Hamrock as the new seat of government: We’ll call it the Whiteshire House, and take our government babyback away from the boneless porkers now stewing their lard in Washington, even if we have to pack it in racks and haul it in a wheel barrow.

So gird your loins for the Hamrock administration and let’s go whole hog, people. We can shoulder the responsibility; and the Whiteshire slab would be a prime location.

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