By Bruce Murray
While visiting a friend in southern California he asked if I would help him move a pig to the butcher.
I readily agreed but inquired as to how he came into possession of a live pig.
Previously, his son had raised a pig as a 4-H project but his son was now away at school. He explained the daughter of a family friend had raised a pig as a 4-H project but for some reason the pig was not eligible for the sale. Being a kindly person, he bought the pig sight unseen to help them out financially.
He had previously built a portable pen that allowed a pig to walk into it and then the handles on the back were lifted and the wheels on the front took the weight.
The pig could then be moved around much like moving a wheelbarrow. The cage was constructed of metal strapping with an open bottom and top but was much taller than a pig.
He also had a ramp he used to walk the pig in the cage up into the back of his pickup. The cage with the pig inside would then be strapped down securing it in the truck.
We loaded the equipment into the truck and headed out to pick up the pig and transport it 100 kilometres to the butcher.
When we arrived and saw the pig, the reason for it to be rejected for the 4-H sale became obvious. The pig had a very large tumour on the side of its head. The growth was heavy enough the pig walked with its head tilted from the weight.
It was an ugly pig but it seemed healthy enough other than the growth. My friend called the butcher and explained the tumour and asked if the meat from the pig would be safe to eat. The butcher said it was but the head would be discarded.
We loaded the pig and strapped the cage down in the back of the truck and headed out across the desert on Interstate 8 towards Yuma, AZ. — where the butcher was located.
As my friend was driving I would periodically turn around and check on the pig. It was difficult to see the pig, as his truck was a crew cab but I could occasionally catch a glimpse.
On one of those checks I told my friend I could not see the pig. He said it must have laid down. We drove on a bit more and I checked again, still no pig visible even when I raised up in my seat to see a little better.
I told my friend the pig could not be seen and we should stop and check on its well being. We stopped and I went around the back of the truck. No pig, it was gone.
We looked back down the road but no pig was seen, so it must have gotten out sooner.
We got back in the truck and drove to the next overpass where we could turn around and retrace our trip.
This was a four-lane divided freeway with brush in the divider, so it was hard to see the other lanes.
Our conversation, while we travelled, was hushed as we discussed the real possibility the pig may have caused a crash or even injured someone. We were very worried.
We also wondered how the pig got out. It would have had to climb or jump up its own height just to get out the top of the cage. How this happened and we not hear or feel anything was a real mystery.
Finally, in the distance, we saw flashing lights from emergency vehicles. Our hearts sunk. This was bad.
As we drove by on the other side of the freeway we saw a border patrol SUV and a California Highway Patrol cruiser parked on the medium — and the pig.
It was alive and no one was dead. What a relief. Now our conversation shifted to what we do now. Do we proceed to the scene and admit the pig was ours or just keep driving?
We decided to own up and went to claim the pig and the certain ticket that would await us. When we arrived we overheard the conversation between the female border patrol agent and the policeman.
They had the pig secured at the end of a pole and were discussing who would take it in their vehicle.
The border patrol agent was saying it was not her problem but the policeman was saying the pig would not fit in the trunk of his cruiser.
When we got out of the truck the policeman immediately said, “is this your pig?”
My friend admitted it was. The policeman then asked, “Do you have some way to load it in your truck and get it out of here?” My friend again said, “yes.” The look of relief on the policeman’s face was very obvious. “Then do it,” he said.
The pig only had a small amount of road rash and didn’t seem worse for the experience. We loaded the pig back into the truck and made sure there was no way the pig could escape a second time.
The police were kind enough or relieved enough to let us go with just a warning to better secure the pig and no ticket.
So, the next time someone uses the expression “when pigs fly” to describe an impossible situation, think carefully because I know pigs can fly.