June 11, 2009

Animal Farm

During my tenure in the feed industry, I was fortunate enough to work at my company's research center, which was actually a 640 acre working farm stuck smack dab in the middle of suburbia.  It didn't start out that way.  When my outfit purchased it from Curtis Candy Company in 1947, it was in prime farm country, such is the nature of creeping civilization.  By the way, what Curtis Candy Company needed with a farm was a mystery to me.  Perhaps they employed cows as taste testers for their Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars.

The farm was complete with a chicken house, a hog barn, a dairy barn, acres and acres of corn, a small feed mill and an actual old farmhouse, that doubled as our offices.  It also contained a Nike Missile Base, which I guess came in handy for repelling any Ruskie attacks on our corn silos.  Seriously though, from what I've read, there were thousands of these Nike Missile sites sitting at odd locations all over the United States.  After the land had been sold and houses built, I wondered if some lucky homeowner had a missile silo in his backyard, which would be awesome when you were hosting barbecues.

My grandfather owned a farm in Red Top, Missouri, but I never really got into the animals there because I was afraid of them, so it really wasn't second nature for me to be working with animals at the research center, but it was always interesting.

Interesting because I found out things about animals that I never knew.  For instance, I learned that the stench from tons of chicken shit in a closed building will cause you to vomit without fail; that male cats in confined colonies will spend their leisure hours trying to spray you with their vile piss as you pass by; that a dead dairy cow cannot be pulled onto an auto wrecker with a chain tied around its' neck without its' head coming off; and that an irritated sow pig will eat her young in front of your eyes, which will result in your not eating any form of pork for two years afterwards.

One of the most fascinating animals was our fistulated dairy cow. "Fistulated", is of course Latin for "porthole".  Yes, one lucky dairy cow was selected to have an opening created in its side, which was then fitted with a porthole device so a person could stick his arm in and grab a handful of half digested hay and test it for stuff.  I was told that the cow was not bothered by the hole in it's rib cage, but I did suspect that it was socially snubbed by the other cows because of its deformity.

This reminds me of a story which I have been dying to tell for years. When I was in the hospital recovering from my cancer operation, I was befriended by another gentleman who had been fitted with a colostomy bag as a result of his particular operation.  I couldn't eat and was being fed some vile looking glop through a stomach tube, but he was able to eat normally.  When he found out that I couldn't eat, he lorded it over me about what good food they had in the hospital. During my endless walks around the hospital corridors, he would seek me out to tell me about the great breakfast, lunch, or dinner he had eaten.  Since he was a gross motherfucker, he always wore his colostomy bag on the outside of his robe, so when he would catch up to me and brag about a particularly good meal, I always said "I know, I can see it".  This tickled him to no end.  I hated that guy.

Anyway, back to the farm.  We had nicknamed one of the hog researchers "Dr. Doom" because he always had a story about how the company was going to be sold and we were all going to be laid off. One day he turned out to be right.  But he was famous in hog researcher circles because of one particular skill.  He could extract sperm from a boar hog with superhuman speed.  In other words, he could jack off a boar faster than anyone else in the industry. Regretfully, I never saw him in action, but I'm willing to bet it would have been a wondrous spectacle. 

As I mentioned above, commercial pressures finally caused our company to sell it's land to developers for a measly one million dollars per acre.  Today it is a hodgepodge of hotels, restaurants, movie theatres and homes.  In fact Jan and I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant there recently and while we were talking Jan asked me "is this where the hog barn used to set?"

All of a sudden, my pork fajita didn't look so good.

No comments:

Post a Comment