return to A Short Bio


Karen Allies started this whole thing with this
Mitch Allies responded with this
which reminded me of My Pig Adventure

On Nov 20, 2011, at 11:27 PM, Karen Allies wrote:
Vesicular exanthema of swine is called San Miguel Sea Lion Disease in sea lions. It is caused by a calicivirus and affects swine, sea lions, several types of seals, and other marine mammals. Vesicular exanthema is not present in the USA, but San Miguel Sea Lion Disease is present in marine mammals off the coast of California.

The disease is reportable. It is believed it was passed from sea lions to mainland pigs in the 30's when seal remains were fed to pigs.

Also, Erysipelothrix is a bacteria that causes a vasculitis in pigs and dolphins, and valvular endocarditis in dogs.

Weird, apparently pigs and marine mammals like to share disease.

from Mitchell Allies < > "interesting factoid"
There a quite a few references on the net by searching for the first two words.

Pigs on the farm were - scary, fascinating, enviable, and distantly lovable at the same time.

  1. The would eat damn near anything you threw in their pen (and with great gusto).
  2. I saw them begin to devour a skinned sheep carcass a couple of times.
  3. When the summer days were hot, they would try to root their way out of the pigpen. We came home one time and found three of them lying outside the pen in the bog that was created by the watering trough for the other animals. They looked so cool and peaceful!
  4. They had this really stiff bristly hair unlike other animals.
  5. They eat their own crap (like dogs)
  6. They are gutsy enough to turn and fight if you poke them too hard in the butt with a stick or shovel handle.
  7. Their eyes can sometimes twinkle
  8. They communicate with short grunts and squeals (like engineers) ;
    not constant sheepish bleating (like salesman).
  9. They appreciated any food set before them.

Ed Thelen's WWII Pig Adventure ( OK, my younger sister did her share )
Verry succinct !!!

You will have to let me tell a tale about 6 pig tails
'cause I ain't so organized.

Get into your WayBack machine, back to WWII.

We are civilians in the U.S., listening to the Brits being rationed to
1 egg per week, and other similar protein and fat shortages.

We in the U.S. had gasoline and other rationing but not nearly so severe.
Eggs were not rationed. Butter and red meats were somewhat.

The government issued "Coupon books" and retailers were severely inconvenienced
if the sales and coupons did not match up !!

Gasoline was rationed - mainly to keep you from wearing out your tires

  • rubber was a critical shortage item, the Japanese had captured the rubber plantations near Singapore - most of the world's supply -
  • Germany had apparently stockpiled rubber, and later developed adequate synthetic -
  • The Allies had a BIG problem !!!
    Trucks and tanks need rubber for tires/treads Rubber for self-sealing gas tanks for aircraft to reduce the effect of bullet holes !!

    Adequate synthetic rubber was developed later in the war - in the meantime, only war workers could get tires ( on bended knee )

  • Other people who had bad tires, ran on rims until that was illegal. The tireless cars were abandoned until after the war.
    "Share the ride" was enforced this way.

Sorry - back to pigs -

We lived on the Thelen family "farm" in the summer.
It had been a working farm, but all the land was now leased out.

My father and two city friends made a deal.
To bypass the meat and fat rationing, we would raise six pigs to slaughter size if the two friends would pay for the baby pigs and the feed. Each would get two fat pigs in the fall.

(I don't think we got the best of the deal, but we sure had some experiences.)

So, you need to contain the pigs and "house" them.
With much initial exuberance we:

  • Selected a low wet area near the red barn which had a little "well" you could drop a bucket about 10 feet down and bring up water. (All livestock needs lots of water !!! )
  • Dug post holes in the low area next to the "well"
  • Stuck in posts (no cement, deep holes)
  • "made fence" using some pig fencing from somewhere. (Pig Fencing has wire close together at the bottom, bigger holes (like 4" x 4") at the top. picture of pig fencing
    You dig a little trench, maybe 6" deep to bury the bottom of the fence to discourage a pig from "rooting" his/her way out.
  • Make some kind of gate so you can get in and out - I forget what we had, it was adequate.
  • Made a little shack with no sides, just roof, to keep the sun off the pigs - They can sun burn, and don't like to get hot. ( Like dogs, they don't have sweat glands.)
  • Made a "water trough" from an iron pan, maybe 8 inches high by 4 feet by 4 feet.
  • Got a good wood barrel, which already had a bung hole in one end (now the top). We drilled about a 3/8 inch hole in the lower side at the other end (near the now bottom).

    When the barrel was full of water, water would come out the bottom hole only when the water level in the iron tray got below the bottom hole and let air in. This way we could leave the pigs for a day or two, and they would have water.

I think my father's pig partners helped build for a day, then found valid sounding excuses for staying away.

My Word !!!! so much work to raise six pigs and have plenty of red meat and fat during the WWII rationing period.

Anyway, the hard work was over, now just raise and fatten the pigs. :-|

The 6 little pigs (boy pigs already neutered) arrived from somewhere, and the fun began :-|

For a week, we worked out the kinks in the hardware and operations. Like to fill the water barrel,

  • you put a cork into the 3/8 inch bottom hole, uncorked the bung on the top, and drew water from the well, pouring it onto the top area of the barrel, (which had the ends of the barrel staves surrounding the top to hold an inch of water as it grugled down the bung.)
  • In the meantime, you were lowering the bucket, hand over hand, back down the little well for more water.
  • When the barrel was full, put in the top cork into the top bung, pulled the bottom cork, and you were done. This way, the water flowed out of the barrel only when the bottom hole was below the water line of the trough.
To avoid the above ritual, you filled the iron tray with water several times a day, and no water would be drained from the barrel :-))

The area next to the iron tray turned into a "nice" pig wallow :-|
- mud bath ;-))

The "we" of the daily operations were primarily my sister and I - teenagers at the time.
Our parents supervised and helped with "the heavy lifting".

Oh, Yes - the "well" was a verry deep, brick lined hole, the top about 20 inches in diameter with a say 4 x 4 inch ring of concrete at the top to protect the top bricks.
- (I have no clue about the who, how, when of its construction. Still hate to think of how it was made - ? by midgets??? )
- If you stepped into the hole, likely only one foot would go in - and you would get a painful fall.
- Later, the well was cemented over, to prevent a little kid tragedy.

Apparently pigs, being basicly hairless animals of moderate climate - do not need shelter from night coolness -

So - a week of perfecting the hardware and operations. :-|

Then came a wild night thunder storm!!
- The next morning there were no pigs.
They had found a "weak link" in the enclosure ( I forget what ) and had escaped - to somewhere -

There was a woods near by and our family spent hours back and forth through the brambles trying to find and secure pigs.

Rural areas have greased pig contests, where if the contestants can catch and hold one of the greased pigs, the contestant can have it.

Our pigs weren't greased, but they are small, fast, strong, solid, and determined.

We finally caught/corralled or otherwise captured 5 pigs. One still missing !!
- We spread the word to our farming neighbors, and several days later that one "came home" also.

Pigs are smart, like dogs, (or porposes) and have individual personalities.

  • There is the usual "pecking order" like kids, who can push who with out another sharp "argument".
  • Our "top pig", also biggest and fattest, we called "Nancy", in honor of a person my sister and I detested -
    - sort of the "top pig" in our neighborhood in Stillwater.
  • Oh Yes, the pig "Nancy" - got to peeing in the water trough.
    To ?? :
    - show dominance ??
    - avoid fouling the pig pen ??
    - thought she was human with a "water closet" ??
    - ???
  • Anyway, I had a BB gun, and I would lurk about waiting for her to back up to pee into the water trough - and shoot her butt.
    - She quickly avoided peeing in the trough
    - - when I was about !!

Rather soon, the novelty of raising pigs wore off, and the druggery began :-((
Twice a day:

  • Fill the iron tray ( or water barrel :-((
  • Empty sack(s) of grain into the solid food trough
  • in season, cut and haul a wheel barrow of "pig weed" ( a suculant low weed found in our garden)
  • in season, go into Henry Lentz's corn field and pick corn and haul them to the pigs.

Oh God - no wonder folks leave the farm to
ha ha "work" in the city.

  • Eight hours of shop clerking or office "work"
    and city folks say that they are "tired".
  • Ha - they have no clue about being "tired" !!!!
  • They aren't too tired for amateur sports,
    or hanging around bars/malls all hours of the night !!!!
  • They are just a little bored - not TIRED -
    Some even take sleeping pills to get to sleep !!!

Anyway, LONG after the novelty wore off,
- and we were TIRED and BOORED of taking care of pigs -
they were judged a good size for meat -
- or in Not Politically Correct language -
- - Ready for slaughter.

That is maybe a story for another day -

  • We loaded them onto a truck ( another story )
    and took them to Henry Lentz's farm yard,
  • conveniently near his pig pen -
  • And Yes, pigs eat pigs, entrails and all !!!
  • That tale for a long dreary rainy day.
The next year ( still with war rationing )
- we relaxed, no pigs !!!
We still kept the BIG Victory Garden going - and added a BIG (?1 acre?) potato patch :-|
- (Among other things, I became a Colorado Potato Beetle Expert !! ;-))

The U.S. was helping feed the Brits, Russian, and others suffering/fighting the Axis.
- What you didn't buy at the store, could feed hungry/starving others !!!
- We sold to the store :-))

Ed ( now a City Slicker, lazy and relaxed ) Thelen

P.S.  Some city folks actually WORK -
     Pouring and finishing concrete comes to mind -
         especially on a hot day !!
     but most of us don't WORK :-))

P.P.S. A friend, Jack Nickerson, temporarily laid off at Boeing -
     came to the Bay Area to work for one his "friends", 
        a painting contractor.
     Jack was small town, had WORKed in the
      woods as a lumber jack before getting an
        aeronautical engineering degree.

      Anyway, his "friend" had contracted to paint the
         insides of newly constructed houses, like no carpets yet.
      Jack got a union apprentice permit or something,
        and the next Monday reported to work.
      Like he had to finish painting a living room,
           (with roller) every 20 minutes.
      Three living rooms/hour, 24 living rooms/day.

      Jack said never in his life had he been so TIRED and SORE !!
          After a few days he became acclimatized  -
              but that first day was a real eye-opener for him !!!