March 2018
On the Edge of Common Sense

Pig Tales

Pigs are funny. Nobody would argue about that. There are people who collect them … pictures, memorabilia, statuettes, door stops, curtains, pig clocks, wallpaper, pig tails, piggy banks, pigweed, pig stickers, piglets, pig-eyed piebalds and pygmies. In the home of a pig collector, you are surrounded by pig knickknacks.

But, due to my lack of experience, I have never been able to write pig poetry. When I attended veterinary school, there were only three pigs west of Scott City, Kansas, and they were in the Salt Lake City Zoo. In the world of cowboy music, no one has risen to claim the title "Ghost Riders in the Sty."

I have held the contention that most cowboy poetry is funny due to that close relationship between humor and tragedy. Workin’ livestock is dangerous, and those of us who do it get hurt ... a lot! So the only way to deal with the pain is to laugh about it. And you quadruple the chance of injury (and, therefore, humor) by adding a horse to the equation. Well, most people don’t work pigs a’horseback, so you don’t have as many wrecks. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

Ol’ Mr. Schneider had a hog operation in central Missouri. He was one of the few in the country to employ dogs on a hog farm – specifically, Blue Heelers.

One afternoon, he had gathered two sows to take to the sale. Big ones, in the 500-pound range. He backed his pickup to the loading chute and pulled up the tail gate. Climbing down into the loading pen, he set the gates and began tickling and tormenting the two sows up the loading ramp. He thrashed and cursed them, but they wouldn’t go more than halfway. It was then he happened to look up and see his Blue Heeler, Bruno, sitting in the pickup bed peering down the loading chute.

He shouted commands at the dog, who promptly leaped into action! The two sows started backing down the ramp and into Mr. Schneider, who was wedged in place. He went down in the chute and one of the sows sat in his lap! The dog scaled the pileup and exited stage left.

Gasping for air and grasping for straws, Mr. Schneider did what any good cowboy would do ... he called the dogs!

Bruno tore back around the corner, stormed up the chute and bit Mr. Schneider on the ham! They loaded in the chute alright, slick as you please … all three of ‘em.

Bruno is now sausage.


Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television, and also through his books, cds, videos and website,