To Market, to Market to Buy a Fat Pig

If you want to buy a feeder pig to barbecue, here’s my advice, based on hard-earned experience. Call up Triad Meat, 275-5671, a day in advance, and buy one of their 100-pound pigs for $169.

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Here’s what not to do:
• Don’t drive all the way to Snow Camp—even though the day is balmy and the road winds through some of the state’s lushest farmland—just because the reedy voice of the man on the phone reminds you so much of your grandaddy you’d drive even further to meet him.
• Don’t stand around and make good friends with the whole family who’s sitting on the front porch, even before young Andy rides up on his ATV.  As soon as Andy starts hollering “Piggy, piggy, piggy,” Easter lunch comes running up to the fence. Do take a good look; yes, the pig is real frisky, not too fat and not too lean, and has been cut, though he does look a little bit muddy.
• Don’t, once you’ve decided the pig is up to snuff, let grandaddy take you to meet the breeding stock, Poppa boar and Momma sow.
• Don’t solicit a lot of advice from people in the know over the Internet on the kind of pig to get and then find out the breeders are a mix of Tamworth (“You can see it in the boar, red with some white. They tend to be on the fat side.”) with some Poland-China (“That’s the spots.”) along with a little Landraiser (“That’s like a pink pig like you see in the movies.”) and some Hampshire on side (“See them spots underneath.”)
• Don’t take your wife with you because she’s going to fall in love with the little piggies that sneak up behind you and try to eat your shoes and like to have their bellies rubbed but don’t want you to rub their ears. (And do consider what your shoes will smell like for the next two weeks.)
• Don’t let your wife go up on the front porch and get to talking about dumplings and gravy and write a check before you find out that Andy doesn’t want to slaughter and dress the pig because someone told him the city people at the party are going sue him for $10,000 in damages and his ATV if they get sick.
• Don’t drive away without thinking about how on earth you’re going to get a live and kicking pig into the back of your Jeep (Forget Anne letting me use her CRV) and to the slaughter house, which is not what it’s called anymore, anyhow.
• Don’t try talking custom-meat-processing plants into taking and dressing a pig that’s been shot. They “don’t want no dead pigs.”
• Don’t think, once you find out how tricky the processing part of the equation is going to be, that maybe that check your wife wrote hasn’t been cashed yet. Country people know to take a check to the bank before the ink dries.
• Don’t try to back out of the deal. A man’s word is a man’s word and if you’ve bought a pig, it’s your pig. Deal with it.
• Don’t be surprised when Andy and his grandaddy offer to somehow get the pig to Matkin’s (“We got a rotweiler dog cage.”), so all you have to do is show up when you’re ready for the pig and pick it up.
BTW, I’m renting a 6-foot-long, pull-behind cooker from Hauser Rental. Maybe the neighbor who called the fire department on me last time I used a barbecue pit in the backyard (even though it was legal) doesn’t call them again.

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