Archive for January, 2011

Snow Day

January 7, 2011

Well, some forecasts have up to eleven inches of snow possible for central Alabama.  It’s still two days out, so maybe, maybe not.  We’ll see.  My wife stopped by the store on her way home for a loaf of bread, because we were actually out of bread, and the shelves were approaching empty.  She had to buy a different brand from her normal favorite.  Only in Alabama . . . where we put football ahead of religion and the hint of a few snowflakes creates a frenzied rush on milk and bread, even two days in advance.  You should see us drive on frozen roads – from a distance, that is.

Should the eleven inches actually materialize, it would be the largest snowfall that I can remember since I was in (guessing) the fifth grade.  That was in the early sixties.

Back then my dad had some sows that were coming in (delivering their little piglets) right in the middle of the snow event.  He had recently built a new farrowing house (hog barn) and the eight sows would do their business there.  Did I mention it wasn’t heated?  Did I mention it was real cold?  I am not sure of the temp, but I think it was in the teens, maybe single digits.  I know I mentioned the snow.  Well, it stayed on the ground for a week (almost), all 12 inches of it.

Dad and Claude stayed up all night with the sows for 4 or 5 nights, till they all came in, I guess.  Then Dad went and ran his insurance agency all day.  He obviously slept sometime, but not very much that week.  He and Claude had about the bottom foot of a sawed-off 55 gallon drum that they filled with charcoal and ignited.  That was their heat source.  There were some heat lamps for the baby pigs.  Dad and Claude would take the pigs as they were born, dry them off, and place them on wood shavings under the heat lamps.

I stayed the first night till about midnight.  When I wanted to go home, Dad couldn’t leave the sows to take me so I walked by myself about a quarter mile through the pasture in the foot deep snow.  I was ten, I guess.  And I didn’t have a cell phone.  But, as evidenced by the fact that I’m now typing this, I made it.

Dad learned a valuable lesson.  He would never have sows come in in February again – and he didn’t.

I’m not sure of the details, but I think a significant amount of the expense of putting me through college was paid from Dad’s sideline hog operation.  The old farrowing house is still standing, though it hasn’t housed hogs in years and years.

If it actually snows, I hope you can enjoy the beauty of it from a warm place . . . and I hope your animals don’t decide to give birth in the middle of it.