“I shouldn’t wonder if he would do first-rate. He’s a quiet fellow, and cows like that. He has those roans tagging him all over the place; and if a horse likes a man, it’s because he’s nice and quiet in his ways. I notice that he can milk a cow quicker than the other men, and it ain’t because he don’t milk dry—I sneaked after him twice. The cow just gives down for him better than for the others.”
We have now launched three of the four principal industries of our factory farm. The fourth is perhaps the most important of all, if a single member of a group of mutually dependent industries can have this distinction. There is no question that the farmer’s best friend is the hog. He will do more for him and ask less of him than any other animal. All he asks is to be born. That is enough for this non-ruminant quadruped, who can find his living in the earth, the roadside ditch, or the forest, and who, out of a supply of grass, roots, or mast, can furnish ham and bacon to the king’s taste and the poor man’s maintenance. The half-wild razorback, with never a clutch of corn to his back, gives abundant food to the mountaineer over whose forest he ranges. The cropped or slit ear is the only evidence of human care or human ownership. He lives the life of a wild beast, and in the autumn he dies the death of a wild beast; while his flesh, made rich with juices of acorns, beechnuts, and other sweet masts, nourishes a man whose only exercise of ownership is slaughter. The hog that can make his own living, run like a deer, and drink out of a jug, has done more for the pioneer and the backwoodsman than any other animal.
Take this semi-wild beast away from his wild haunts, give him food and care, and he will double his gifts. Add a hundred generations of careful selection, until his form is so changed that it is beyond recognition, and again the product will be doubled. The spirit of swine is not changed by civilization or good breeding; such as it was on that day when the herd “ran down a steep place and was drowned in the sea,” such it is to-day. A fixed determination to have its own way dominated the creature then, and a pig-headed desire to be the greatest food-producing machine in the world is its ruling passion now. That the hog has succeeded in this is beyond question; for no other food animal can increase its own weight one hundred and fifty fold in the first eight months of its life.
All over the world there is a growing fondness for swine flesh, and the ever increasing supply doesn’t outrun the demand. Since the dispersion of the tribes of Israel there has been no persistent effort to depopularize this wonderful food maker. Pig has more often been the food of the poor than of the rich, but now rich and poor alike do it honor. Old Ben Jonson said:—
“Now pig is meat, and a meat that is nourishing and may be desired, and consequently eaten: it may be eaten; yea, very exceedingly well eaten.”