Warning: some slightly graphic, suggestive language below. All meant in fun, of course.
The final wedding of Summer Matrimony Fest 2003 is finally out of the way. Another grand occasion highlighted by impressing the locals with consuming large quantities of fine scotch (Glen Fiddich, 18 year old model). However, I did have to miss the Indiana State Fair to attend the wedding.
Normally, I’m not much of a state fair guy. I think I last attended one when I was three or four and didn’t have much say in the matter. It did seem like a good time to attend, though, and get a better feel for my new home. I’ve heard about deep fried Twinkies for weeks. I dreamt of the smells of real corn dogs, cotton candy, and kettle corn assaulting my nose. Avoiding “cow patties” and “horse pies” is always entertaining for us city folk. But most of all, I missed seeing the World’s Largest Hog.
A Yorkshire Hog named Statesman won this year’s largest boar competition, weighing in at a massive 1,227 pounds. Sounds like a lot of bacon to me. I was so intrigued I actually read three articles on this magnificent beast. Turns out Statesman hails from Seymour, IN. If John Cougar Mellencamp hadn’t been born in that noble ville, Statesman would be Seymour’s claim to fame. He was raised by Top-Line Genetics, who despite the name, claim he has been fed nothing but ground corn, soybean meal, and farm fresh greenery. That’s some damn good corn!
So what kind of satisfaction does one get from raising a half-ton hog? Prize money? Sure, the owners walked away with $450. They also spend roughly $700 a year to feed him, so clearly the monetary award is not the motivation. A faithful companion? I doubt Statesman is allowed to lounge in the living room like those scary little Vietnamese pigs some people keep as house pets. Poor guy can’t even really stud, given his immense size. Or so I thought. Turns out Statesman has somewhere between 3,000-4,000 piglets to his name. If he wasn’t already bursting at the seams, I bet he would be with pride of his genetic domination of southern Indiana. So how does this monster father enough offspring to keep Sicily in sausage for a year? When in doubt, consult the Daily Show. A few years back, Beth Lilleford filed a classic report on hog farming. The highlight of the report was her hands-on investigation of how pig semen is, well, harvested I guess. Like me, she assumed there was some fancy “device” that took care of the process. Something like those suction tubes that milk cows in the modern world. Well there is a special “device” that handles the act, and it’s called a human hand. That’s right, in order to breed pigs, these lucky porkers get a hand job from Mrs. Farmer Brown.
Jim Rome often talks about the self-esteem of the woman who is asked to Windex the pole in a strip club at the end of each night. Just a guess, but I’m thinking if you spend your day jerking pigs off, you’re probably not A) filled with huge amounts of good feelings about where you are in life and B) bragging about your job to your friends. Unless there’s some special technique involved that requires intense training, I would imagine we’re talking minimum wage here, and sliding down a brass pole for two grand a night doesn’t seem so bad.
“We’ve sold a lot of semen on him in the past,” Statesman’s owner told the Indianapolis Star. If that’s not one of the top five quotes of all-time, I don’t know what is. All this made me realize that like everything else in the world, the state fair has lost its sense of innocence. I always thought the pig contests were created for happy little farm boys and farm girls in 4H who spent the winter getting up early to feed and clean their favorite boar. They looked forward to the summer, hoping to get him up to 200-300 pounds so they had a shot at the blue ribbon. The reward was a special pin on their 4H jacket, months of good eating, and the satisfaction of a job well done. Like every other competition, though, even state fair pig contests are now dominated by cold, faceless corporations. In the area of hog genetics, they use computerized nutrition programs to create super swine, 3-4 times bigger than normal hogs. When Bobby Jim and Jenny Sue from Hanover can’t expect to get within 900 pounds of the winner, isn’t something really wrong with our country? I’ll be anxious to see how this year’s Indiana gubernatorial candidates handle the issue.
Just something to think about at this year’s Pig Roast. Eat some ribs for me!