Tag Archives: hogs

The Lighthouse Analysis: VIII. Mythology- Odysseus

27 Aug

There are many references to mythology in The Lighthouse movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re themes of the movie, because none of them are carried out in an entire story arc.

The Lighthouse does not follow or retell the Odyssey. There are, however, many references to that text that I will highlight below:

Homer portrayed Odysseus as a man of outstanding wisdom and shrewdness, eloquence, resourcefulnesscourage, and endurance.  In the Odyssey Odysseus has many opportunities to display his talent for ruses and deceptions, but at the same time his courage, loyalty, and magnanimity are constantly attested (3). 

Younger fancies himself hard-working and resourceful. Actually, it’s more than fancies, that’s how he sees himself (though others do not). Younger can’t take this unfair (in his mind) criticism of his work, which clashes with his own self image, and allows the logging foreman to die without intervening. Then he steals his logging foreman’s identity to get a job, which is deceptive. More central to the story, is the fact the whole premise is that Younger is deceiving himself. The fact that Younger is the only one in the lighthouse, yet the audience sees a story of two men, is the primary ruse. Younger, in an effort to evade responsibility for his murderous behavior, separates the side of himself he blames for impulsive, immoral behavior–his Id, or as the audience comes to know him–Older.

Odysseus was deeply involved in the war of Troy since he was one of the commanders of the forces. With his skills in oratory and his smart ideas, he was a critical figure in the victory of the Greeks (4).

This speaks to Younger’s mindset as well. The movie references this characteristic of oratory skills in the dialogue throughout. Older talks in a poetic manner. This is because of Younger’s dreamy, unrealistic, fanciful notions of what a lighthouse wiki is supposed to be like. Since Older is a figment of Younger’s mind, he embodies all those storybook characteristics to a T.

Bear with me on the following formatting here, the mythology description tells each stop of the journey one after another, but I want to make my comparisons to the Lighthouse film after each:

Books VI–XIII describe Odysseus’ wanderings between Troy and Ithaca:

The call-backs to the Odyssy in this movie are not a direct relation to the story, like I said, but there are little things that are similar in Homer’s story and in this film. The fact that Younger has drifted from job to job is similar to Odysseus wandering all around having adventures.

He first comes to the land of the Lotus-Eaters and only with difficulty rescues some of his companions from their lōtos-induced lethargy;

Odysseus’ first stop at the Lotus-eaters talks of lethargy. This is shown in the movie as Younger getting barked at during his logging job for going slowly, and also when he first came to the lighthouse. The bad notes in the logbook about Younger’s lazy work ethic are why he murdered the senior wiki.

he encounters and blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops, a son of Poseidon, escaping from his cave by clinging to the belly of a ram;

Cyclops comes up in the movie with the one-eyed bird and one-eyed decapitated head–possibly a call-back to cyclops with the one eye.

Among other things Poseidon controls the sea and carries a sort of fish spear called a trident (which is an extension of God’s own power (7)). Obviously, the power of the sea is symbolized throughout the Lighthouse movie with the isolation and the waves and the storm. God or ultimate knowledge is also referenced with Older’s dominance of the lighthouse light and the ending where Younger looks into the light and whatever he sees is enthralling, but also too much to handle.

he loses 11 of his 12 ships to the cannibalistic Laistrygones and reaches the island of the enchantress Circe, where he has to rescue some of his companions whom she had turned into swine.

Older destroys the boat toward the end when Younger wants to chance getting struck across rocks in the storm sort of like Odysseus’ larger loss of ships to the cannibals. The Lighthouse does not show cannibalism, but it does show a similar, desperate rationing of food, and last resort consumption of alcohol, than pure ethanol for lack of clean drinking water.

Lastly, swine could also be pictured between Odysseus’ adventure and the Lighthouse looking at the interior condition of the lighthouse deteriorate-they are living like pigs.

Next Odysseus visits the Land of Departed Spirits, where he speaks to the spirit of Agamemnon and learns from the Theban seer Tiresias how he can expiate Poseidon’s wrath.

At first, Younger tries to escape accountability (which can be seen loosely as atonement) for his hand in killing two people. His delusional mind separates the impulsive, more animalistic, Id side of his personality. While he is acting the hypervigilant super-ego side that is overly concerned with social norms. Failing this, and with reality knocking ever louder as the movie progresses, Younger looks to the lighthouse light for divine intervention and knowledge.

The next stop of Odysseus and his crew was the island of the cyclops, Polyphemus. Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon and the nymph Thoosa. He was a one-eyed giant. In Homer’s Odyssey, Polyphemus traps the voyagers in his cave and closes the entrance with a gigantic boulder. To escape from the cave, Odysseus made his men sharpen a spike so that they could attack the cyclops in his single eye. When Polyphemus returned, Odysseus used his superb oratory skills and talked to Polyphemus for long hours while the cyclops drank wine. Polyphemus ended up drunk, and Odysseus’ men used this chance to attack his eye with the spike, thus blinding him (4).

The theme of being trapped is, throughout the movie, emphasized. The first scene showing just how far, and how endless the water is around the lighthouse let’s the audience know any people on the lighthouse are truly alone. And when their relief crew does not show up, it shows the wikis are trapped-there is no way off the island. The storm just emphasizes what we already knew–the men are stuck. Not even the small boat can help them off the island, as it would be crushed on the rocks nearly immediately.

Another similarity to Odysseus, strongly alluded to throughout the movie is the speech. Like Odysseus’ superb speaking skills, Older speaks in poetry. The language is like an old English novel, not a modern day blue collar worker.

Further similarities to this part of Odysseus’ journey are brought up in the movie. The one-eyed bird/one-eyed decapitated head references cyclops pretty directly in The Lighthouse. Some scholars theorize that the cyclopes also symbolizes the sun and solar power. The cyclops Polyphemus was the son of Zeus. And for the ancient Greeks, the sun was the eye of Zeus. Thus the cyclops embodied the power of the sun and the aspect of their god Zeus that was fire and light (9). Now we’re heating up! The Lighthouse itself with it’s bright light (an eye, maybe?) that allows people to live, or if the light goes off-die at sea. It’s very similar to the God Zeus having the power to help people live (with light and fire) or kill people off. Aside from showing the power and divinity in the light both stories are talking about divinity.

Their next stop was the island of Aeolus, the god of the winds (4). AIOLOS (Aeolus) was the divine keeper of the winds and king of the mythical, floating island of Aiolia (Aeolia). He kept the violent Storm-Winds locked safely away inside the cavernous interior of his isle, releasing them only at the command of greatest gods to wreak devastation upon the world (10). Aeolus, master of the winds, wanted to help Odysseus on his journey and gave him a bag which contained all the winds except the West Wind. In other words, only the wind he needed was allowed to blow, while all the winds that would hinder his journey were bagged up. Odysseus’ men did not know what was inside the bag and thought that the god had given Odysseus a great treasure that the king was keeping to himself. They departed the island of the god and sailed until they were in sight of Ithaca. When Odysseus was asleep, his men looked for the bag and opened it just as they were nearing Ithaca’s shores. Unfortunately, the winds were unleashed and took the ships far away from their home. With this, they arrived in the land of the Lastregonyan, a race of cannibal giants that destroyed all their ships but one and killed almost all Odysseus’ men. Only Odysseus’ ship and its crew survived this attack (4).

Aeolus, who is son of Poseidon (God of the sea), gifts Odysseus friendly wind. Due to ignorance and greed, Odysseus’ crew open the bag containing all the unfavorable winds and the ships are taken further from home instead. Then, the group faces cannibal giants that destroy their ships, condemning them to death and further time out at sea for Odysseus. Similarly, in the Lighthouse, Younger kills the senior wiki and hides him in the water tank instead of just listening to his criticisms and tightening up his work ethic. Then, checking the water tank Younger sees the dead, but his delusional mind makes it a bird, rather than the man. When another gull flies toward this scene, threatening to ruin Younger’s delusion with reality, Younger kills the bird violently. It’s an ignorant move because the truth and reality are inevitable–the drinking water is tarnished. In the movie, the same shift in winds that Odysseus and his men go through is spotlighted after an ignorant act. The arrow points North and the isolation on the lighthouse island becomes more sinister. Younger and Older will not be going home any time soon. The giant cannibal in the Lighthouse is Younger’s delusional mind itself, because he is more and more hedonistic and dangerous the longer he is out there.

Odysseus and his remaining men next stopped at the island of the enchantress Circe, who would cause more trouble for the voyagers. Circe offered a feast for the voyagers, but the food and drink she gave them had drugs and turned them into animals. Odysseus was not among the group who attended the feast, and one of the men who escaped, found him and told him what had happened (4).

This part of Odysseus’ journey is shown in the Lighthouse with the drinking, loss of food, and the ethanol. As a direct consequence of Younger’s murder, the food and beverage literally turn the situation untenable. Drinking alcohol, then ethanol turn the men at the lighthouse into animals-their behavior increasingly debaucherous.

As a sidenote, Younger’s delusion turns man into bird so Odysseus is referenced in that way also.

Odysseus then encounters the SirensScylla and Charybdis, [we already talked about sirens, don’t forget] and the Cattle of the Sun. One of Tiresias’ instructions to Odysseus and his men had been to avoid eating eat the sacred cattle of Helios, the sun god. However, after spending a month in Thrinacia due to bad weather and running out of food, his men could not bear it anymore and hunted down the cattle. When the weather cleared, they left the land but Helios was angry at their actions. In revenge for killing his cattle, Helios asks Zeus to punish or he would no longer shine the sun over the world. Zeus complies and makes the ship capsize. Odysseus loses all his men, becoming the only survivor (4).

see source (8).

The Lighthouse strongly asserts the story of the sun-cattle through the plot. Running out of food because Younger didn’t listen. He didn’t listen to the logging foreman before. He didn’t listen to the senior wiki. And he didn’t listen to Older about rationing. Younger refuses to listen and change his behavior like Odysseus’ crew do not listen or mind about eating the sun cattle. And in both stories rules of honor and piety are alluded to. The Gods/divine power are displeased with the hedonistic acts, and both Younger and Odysseus’ crew are doomed afterwards. In both stories divine power takes away the sun/light as punishment. In both stories boats are lost and the sea is harsh.

After the ship capsized, the tides washed Odysseus ashore onto the island of the nymph Calypso. The nymph fell in love with Odysseus and kept him captive for seven years. She offered him immortality and eternal youth, but the king refused her because he wanted to return to Penelope in Ithaca. Years later, Calypso decided to let Odysseus go with a raft. However, the king once again suffered the wrath of Poseidon, who sent a storm that destroyed the raft and left Odysseus in the middle of the sea (4).

Women and sexuality feature strongly in The Lighthouse film. The men both hunger for sexual attention from women, and fear it’s power over them. Older speaks with sadness of a wife at home who couldn’t stand his long absences. The two masturbate, but also can’t conquer the siren/mermaid or the fishy entity around the light of the lighthouse. Even the figurine fails to get Younger off toward the end of the movie. To the men, women are desirable and chaotic, sexy but wild. In that way, women are also compared to nature, which cannot be tamed or mastered. In this setting of powerlessness over the wildness of nature (or on a smaller scale, women) Younger gives himself a type of immortality. As long as his mind separates out the scapegoat Id, he is innocent of any crimes. He may be captive on the lighthouse with his victim, but his mind walled off his action and he is free to pursue power of knowledge through mermaids and the light.

After almost nine years, Odysseus finally leaves Calypso and at last arrives in Ithaca. Odysseus proves his identity—with the aid of Athena—by accomplishing Penelope’s test of stringing and shooting with his old bow. He then, with the help of Telemachus and two slaves, slays Penelope’s suitors. Penelope still does not believe him and gives him one further test. But at last she knows it is he and accepts him as her long-lost husband and the king of Ithaca (3).

Though The Lighthouse does not mirror this plot point in Odysseus’ travels, the movie does center on identity. Through the film there are many questions that are (subliminally) brought up that need considering: Whose perspective are we viewing the plot through? What is identity? Is identity only the sum of all parts (Id + ego+ super-ego) or does each part individually hold up when separated? Is one portion of our identity fully responsible for transgressions while another is completely innocent and pure? Which part of identity has the most power? Knowledge? Divinity? What is real and what is a delusion? And does that matter to the story?

More directly, The Lighthouse has Younger assuming his boss’ identity and using that name. Older goes by a nickname. Toward the end secrets and identities are revealed, which also spells out the fact that these are actually the same person. Tommy and Thomas Wake-both are named Tom. This is the movie taking pains to show the audience what has happened. So we don’t have tests of identity per say, but the whole movie IS the test.

Sources:

1) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Siren-Greek-mythology

2) https://symbolsage.com/sirens-greek-mythology/

3) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Odysseus

4) https://symbolsage.com/odysseus-trojan-war-hero/

5) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Prometheus-Greek-god

6) https://symbolsage.com/prometheus-greek-mythology/

7) https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Trident_of_Poseidon

8) https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-odyssey/book-12

9) https://www.uniguide.com/cyclopes

10) https://www.theoi.com/Titan/Aiolos.html#:~:text=AIOLOS%20(Aeolus)%20was%

20the%20divine,wreak%20devastation%20upon%20the%20world.

The Wild Hog Situation

3 Jun

Have you ever Googled the news using key words “wild hog”?  There is an overabundance of news about damage done by hog varieties.  I’ve included some, but you know how I’m lazy, so I just cut & pasted the info directly from the articles without appropriately citing them.  Everything  in bold (not much) is mine.  Everything else is swiped off the internet.  Here is some example stories from many possibilities.

Here’s the news:

1.  “They’re nothing like Babe or Wilbur in ‘Charlotte’s Web’” notes a Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch report written by editor D’Ann White. “These pigs are the bane of property owners throughout FishHawk Ranch.  Seen throughout Florida and Texas, feral hogs are also called feral pigs, wild boar, wild hogs or razorbacks.  According to the Department of Natural Resources, these hogs are quickly wearing out their welcome, having tremendous negative impacts on native plants, native wildlife, livestock, agriculture and humans.

2.  “It is a problem, and it is a serious problem,” Supervisor Dan Sturm said Tuesday. “I understand they are big, and they are nasty.”  Sturm said residents have called the town with reports of seeing groups of 20 to 25 hogs of all sizes on their properties. . .  Spotted nine hogs walking in single file by a stone wall along Burr Road on Friday. The hogs, which included a 230-pounder at the lead and a piglet coming up the rear of the line, cut across the road

3.  http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/pigs-49982–.html  OK, admittedly, I NEVER click on links on blogs, Facebook, e-mail, or anywhere else because I’m too lazy.  But you should click this one because the story provides a lot of good information, but is too long for me to cut & paste on to this post.

Why it’s real bad:

1.  . . .  “Chewing up habitat, displacing native plants and animals, besting other game for food sources, breeding prolifically. Given the right conditions, a sow can produce three litters a year of up to a dozen piglets per litter.

Just this week, the National Wildlife Federation highlighted the importance of the issue, “calling for state and federal measures to remove feral swine, a highly destructive invasive species that is a growing menace to wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Pigs out-compete any animal that likes to eat an acorn. We’re going to tell our hunters, ‘You know, what if I told you they directly out-compete bear, deer, turkey for acorn mast? A group of pigs can come in overnight and ruin your food plots that you spent weeks and hundreds of dollars to establish.’ ”

How it relates to hog farming and farrowing crates:

These articles and the many like them prove how the Old McDonald model of farming is nothing but a fairy-tale.  It would not work this day in age.

According to the Wiki, “It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises.”  Domestic pigs can escape and quite readily become feral, and feral populations are problematic in several ways. They cause damage to trees and other vegetation, consume agricultural crops and can carry disease.  They are omnivorous scavengers, eating almost anything they come across, including grassnutsberriescarrion, nests of ground nesting birdsrootstubersrefuse,[12] insects and small reptiles.  Feral pigs often interbreed with wild boar, producing descendants similar in appearance to wild boar; these can then be difficult to distinguish from natural or introduced true wild boar.

Feral hogs can rapidly increase their population. Sows can have up to 10 offspring per litter, and are able to have two litters per year. Each piglet reaches sexual maturity at 6 months of age. They have virtually no natural predators.

As of 2008, the estimated population of 4 million feral pigs caused an estimated US$800 million of property damage a year in the U.S.[54] The problematic nature of feral hogs has caused several states in the U.S. to declare feral hogs to be an invasive species.

Still think it’s a good idea to let hogs roam freely?  Indoor housing and farrowing crates are for the protection of the hogs, the environment, and people!  Click my other two posts on this issue for more info/opinions.

Farrowing Crates

28 Feb

I have yet to see the Chipotle commercial (I don’t have TV), but they bring up a controversial point.  One that I think warrants discussion.  But the discussion needs to be educated and practical.  Knee-jerk emotional reactions (especially from those who have never seen hog production or worked with pigs) are not the way to fix problems.

What are farrowing/gestation crates?  A confined area where hogs are kept during gestation and lactation.  The hogs cannot turn around.  They can only stand, sit, or lie down.

Why do hog producers use farrowing crates?

1. They are used to keep the hog from eating the food of her piglets. Obviously, a lactating hog has different needs from several growing piglets.

2. They are used to keep animal separate. Hogs can be aggressive.

3. The farrowing crates makes maintenance of hogs easier. It is simple to feed, quick to clean, and keeps each hog in her own little area in the facility.  It is also easier to individualize care–if a hog looks thin, the farmer can supplement only her food.  If she looks ill, it will be noticed faster when she is confined to one area.

4. The primary reason for farrowing crates is to protect piglets. Hogs are known to lie on their piglets and squish them to death. If she is confined in a farrowing crate, the piglets can scoot away from their heavy mother, but still nurse when they need to.  The family doesn’t have to be separated as in many other species of production.

Farrowing crates aren’t perfect.  I would argue, no system in animal production is perfect–everything has room for improvement.  We should always search for ways to make animal production more humane for animals, safer for workers, more cost effective for producers, and faster.  Sometimes these goals conflict with each other.

Before you condemn farrowing crates here are factors to consider:

-Hog production is all-in, all-out these days. To go into a pig farm–even a small one, people (visitors, employees, vets) have to shower in and out, change boots and coveralls, etc. . . This is to manage diseases–for the pigs. Even delivery trucks have a certain path to minimize cross-contamination. Some farms even have a truck wash! Letting hogs outside, creates a world of opportunity for sickness. And makes the problem of vaccine/antibiotic withdrawal periods even more pertinent.

-Hogs really damage the environment. They root in the dirt, rub on trees and fences, and have output that could contribute Nitrogen, Ammonia, and Phosphates to nearby (ground) water.

-Hogs and piglets have differing nutritional needs. Keeping the two separate is difficult and also poses ethical and logistical problems. Also, hogs have potential to fight. Even 3 week old piglets will eat each other, give each other scratches and black eyes. How to reduce injury?

-Money and compliance. Will requiring alternatives to gestation crates put the SMALL farmers out of business?  How much would it cost to change an entire operation? Who regulates it? And is this a priority for regulators when there are so many other animal/production issues?

-What will pork cost?  The expense of finding a new system will go to consumers as well.  How high are we willing to pay for meat?  It would be a shame to require hog production to change then, turn to beef or poultry or away from meat all-together because we do not want to may high food prices.

 

My Background with Hogs (Prequel to Farrow Crates)

27 Feb

My Animal Science major had me take a semester of Hog Production. We talked about how pork is the bottom rung for funding, how pork is mostly consumed in the morning and how the industry is working to change that, and how hogs get a LOT of diseases.  And of course, throughout the program small farms vs. corporate factory farms were featured.  And animal welfare.  And the normal nutrition, management, and other animal production concerns.

In that class, we visited 2? Maybe 3 different hog farms. One of the farms was larger and completely indoors, state-of-the art equipment, and looked to have a lot of money behind them.  The other was a smaller farm, still indoors, with less frills.  Both of these were all-in, all-out operations, and I remember having to shower, put on their coveralls and boots before entering, and shower again before leaving the farm. This was to minimize contamination and reduce disease.  I don’t love class field trips that require 2 showers, by-the-way.

As a pre-vet student I visited a hog farm of my veterinary-employer’s friends. Got that? My boss’ friend produced pigs in a relatively small Midwest operation. Though small, and family-owned, the operation was still not the idyllic Old MacDonald’s Farm.  Only the boars and a few of the older sows were outside and only part of the time.  And they were confined in small sections, not unlike an outdoor run for a dog.

Then, after graduation, I worked at the university on a hog heat stress research project. The hogs were completely indoors, and completely confined at all times.  This job required me to help feed, clean, collect temperature data, and even process piglets! During this job, I had a lot of exposure to hogs and piglets, and a tiny bit with the “teasing” boar.

That’s 3 farm tours and a university job with pigs.  Each of the facilities taking advantage of farrowing crates and confinement to one degree or another.  Yet, none of the hogs I saw looked miserable or dirty or diseased.  And I didn’t see any outdoor hogs roaming around resembling Old MacDonald’s Farm that people think of when they think of the perfect pig situation.  So that’s where my opinion on farrowing crates, and hog production at large, is coming from.  Next up–the controversy.

Foodie Wannabe: Careers that Deal with Eating

20 Oct

Eating is one of my favorite things ever!  It seems, that is where the majority of my money goes.  So it would make perfect sense to work with food for a living.  Here are the food-related careers.  A lot of them are very similar.  Some focus more on food for enjoyment.  Others are more human nutrition and health based.  A couple go to the root and focus on food production and agriculture.  I think my interests and attributes for all are closely related so they are all on the same page.

Molecular Gastronomy/Culinology:/Chef (baker):

Dietetics:/Human Nutrition:

Agricultural Science:/Food Science:

-I love to eat!

–for fun, I eat at restaurants

–most of my money ends up being spent on food

–my mate and I adore cooking together

-I already know about the production/animal side of food

–my bachelor’s degree is in Animal Science

–I have worked with many food animals in research/veterinary settings

—dairy cattle

—hogs

—sheep

—poultry

–I have volunteered my time to gain exposure to livestock

—Went to 2 different hog farms

–I have already worked undesirable (to most) service hours

—milking shifts at 4 AM and 4 PM

—research data collection every 4 hours around the clock

—weekends and holidays at high volume companion animal boarding

—12 hour shifts at emergency hospital

-I am prepared for a food career

–I got honorable mention in a state-wide science fair in 4th grade for growing different crystals using minerals found in the kitchen

–worked at Campus Dining Services my first year of college

–have a chemistry minor

—got an A in biochem

—took animal nutrition, dairy/beef production, hog production

—had animal labs on different food species

—I did an ergovaline feeding trial with rodents

—I have measured and calculated the daily feed intake of dairy cattle

–I am competitive and strive to improve myself

-My interest in food issues has been long term

–One of my life goals since I was little was to publish a beverage cookbook

–I published my own fundraising cookbook, and sold over 200 of them

–I try to read everything Marion Nestle’ writes

–one of my favorite TV shows is Top Chef

–I have diabetes in my family

–I have had friends with disordered eating

-I have worked with people successfully

–from prior career blogs

 

Pig Latin [posted 2-4-08]

17 Jan

At Noah’s Ark, all the animals I work with have names.  Not the case in the swine chambers at the University.  I decided to rectify that situation.  Here’s a list of pig names I’ve conjured up:

Straw, Stick, and Brick

(from the building materials of the 3 little pigs)

Porky, Spider, and Treat-Heart

(last name:  Pig)

Pinky, Napoleon, Snowball, and Fluffy

(for those that read, bonus points if you can name the books)

Razorback, Spanky, and Wiggly

(the lessor-known cartoon pigs)

Suey

(as in sooo-ey, to call the pigs in)

Bank and Miss

(Piggy, of course)

Grumpig

(I had to include at least ONE of the Pokemon pig-things)

Oscar, Meyer, Pork-rind, pork-chop, and bake-o

(cause lets face it, that’s what they’re going to become)

Wilber, Piglet, Babe, and Gordy

(my least favorites, as they are clichéd at this point)

That’s 26.  Can we brainstorm more???

Poo-Phile [posted 1-29-08]

17 Jan

I started a new 2nd job yesterday.  I thought it would be a good way to alleviate some debt,appease the veterinary admissions board, and pacify my lingering depression from the cabin-Mansion.  Right now I’m working with pigs. Soon mice (or was it rats?) will be added to that. My job is very similar to the dairy job I had. I take ear, shoulder, rump, tail, and rectal temps. I also get respiration rates on the control and heat stressed pigs. As part of my responsibilities, I relieve some of the grad students’ burden by helping with data entry, which is super-boring. The only cool thing about typing, or should I say pecking, is I can listen to my I-Pod at the same time!

As an aspiring veterinary student striving to bulk up my application, I’ve worked with small animals forever now.  As well as building my resume’ and getting me experience, it conciliates a need within me to be in the proximity of creatures.  It’s no big deal to see the body fluids of dogs and cats. I also have horse experience.  Horses are probably the cleanest of all animals. The worst thing about them is their urine—it smells awful!

My question to you is, which is worse—hogs or cows?  Many would think pigs are more dirty and smelly than dairy cattle.  Not the case.  There is no palliating the smell of a cow.  My car reeked just from me sitting in it after work.  Laundry detergent won’t touch it.  Pigs get a bad rap.  They’re actually very clean animals.  I milked and helped with heat stress research on 40 cows when I was a college freshmen, and there are many reasons why cows are dirtier.

The sheer volume of cow crap is waaay more than pigs can produce.  They are constantly going!  Cow poo is liquid-y.  When it hits the floor, or your boot, or your arm (you get the picture) it splatters.  Cows think it’s funny to lie in their poo as well.  It dries on their sides and back, or worse, it doesn’t dry and they lovingly rub against you.  Shit everywhere!

Cows are also secretly aggressive.  They allay you into thinking they are calm and slow-moving.  They have long tails and know how to use them.  No matter how much relief a cow feels by being milked, she will fuss about the process.  Many a cow shit on their tail then, swung the dirty tail around.  Once a cow hit me in the FACE with her shitty tail–it really sweetened the deal *sarcasm*.  This was the same cow that urinated down the back of my jeans as I squatted to milk her—on Thanksgiving.  Happy Holidays to me!

The obvious benefit of pigs is you don’t have to milk them every day at 4 am and 4 pm. Cow hours were not cool.  Nothing could alleviate my tiredness after working that schedule.  No amount of sleeping during the day can ease the fatigue of being up, and work at 4 AM.  Another advantage to pigs is the biosecurity. We are required for the health of the pigs to wear coveralls and boots. This means my clothes don’t get as dirty and a little bit of the smell doesn’t permeate through it. Ok, I still smell like pig a lot, but it’s not AS bad. . .  So far.  Cow stayed on me for days—even after laundry and shower. I guess it got in my pores. The dog just loved it, and her desire to continuously sniff me and my dirty clothing could not be mollified.

Pigs have solid stools.  They also produce much less.  It does not splash and if the 24 pigs lie in it they really have to squish around in it in order for it to stick to them—rarely happens.  So far, pigs haven’t tried to cover me in feces and urine.  They can be secretly aggressive when it comes time for rectal temperatures.  They will lie with their butt on the ground, refusing to move.  They also walk forward to escape the probe, or backward squishing the probe and your hand against the back door.  Who can blame them though?

The verdict?  I liked the personalities of the cows better.  They were sweet, sometimes saucy girls.  I had fun working with them.  Of course, I don’t know the pigs very well so far, but they seem less animated.  Maybe they’re just shy working with a new person.  I’ll give it more time.  At any rate, my new part time job is going pretty well.  I’m probably going to have more stories about it later.