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Garbage vs. Swill: the Difference Is a Pig

THE ever-increasing demands of my philosophic meditations perforce prevent me from addressing my talents to the many perplexities that vex our mismanaged world, but I find one that I can solve quickly without hampering the smooth flow of my other interests. It has to do with garbage. Somebody has estimated what it costs mankind to dispose of his household castoffs, and it is a prodigious, frightening figure. Day in, day out the expense goes on. And there's no need for it. Everybody should keep a pig.

There is a semanticism here that makes a good place to start. In my life, man and boy, there was never the word "garbage." We dealt with swill, and for those uninformed folks who consider garbage a somewhat elegant word as compared to swill, the definitions do not bear them out. Swill is kitchen waste recycled as animal feed. Garbage, useless, is removed at great expense to the taxpayers and poses a mounting problem. The difference is a pig.

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Disdain and opprobrium have been cast upon the pig, to be sure, but in truth this is unkind and undeserved. A pig is by nature as clean, if not cleaner, than his barnyard co-workers, and a baby pig can be as sweet and cuddly as any pussy kitten. The misconception that pigs wallow in mud and mire comes from the pig's happy custom of wallowing in mud and mire - that is, he's performing a porcine nettoyage exactly as wealthy patrons of the finer things visit the celebrated mineral springs and soak in goo. S peaking of pigs, there's my grandfather....

One summer June baked off into July, and nary a drop of rain came down. The countryside parched. Grandfather put barrels in his hayrack and drove to a pond six miles away to get water for his animals. During this drought, his four hogs behind the barn breached their fence and disappeared. When Grandfather found them, they were far down the slope, at the edge of the wood lot, and they were wallowing in mud and mire. Instinct had led them in a dry time to seek moisture, and they had rooted with their snout s until they brought up a living spring that nobody suspected was there. Dirty, filthy, nasty, they were frolicking like boys in a swimmin' hole. But Grandfather said they cleaned up in the sun with dry grass, and came back to their pen at suppertime, clean as whistles. Gramp took his horse and a loot and enlarged the spring hole into a small farm pond, and took the barrels out of the hayrack. Until it rained, he drove his animals and let them haul home their own water.

The pig, as a solution to the world's garbage expense, should be two pigs. Farmers believed one helped one another. The swill in context, taken from the kitchen sink in a swill dish, was enriched with a little bran, shorts, and middlings, a bit of salt, and leftover cow's milk warmed to taste. A pig offered such gustatory delight makes his happiness known to the surrounding miles and applies himself assiduously to rectifying the economy and promoting the general welfare.

The first pigs I bought for my city-girl bride immediately became her pets. I sent a check for $10 to "The Pig Man" down in Woburn, Mass., enclosing also a shipping tag with my address on it. I never knew the pig man's name, and he always endorsed my checks as The Pig Man. We can assume Woburn has long since zoned its piggery into either oblivion or into Winchester. (The State of Ohio some years back took part of a pig farm to make a picnic plaza for a turnpike. Then they put the pig farmer out of busine ss because his pigs bothered the tourists. Then the tourists complained because of the littering.)

When my bride's sow and barrow arrived, barely weaned, it was a matter of love at first sight. She lavished affection and put a chair across the door so they wouldn't come into the kitchen. Pigs are also smart, so they began jumping over the chair.

It wasn't long until her shoats were too big for cuddling and coddling, so I restrained them under the barn. But they remained her pets and tutored her well in numerous country matters. There was never a garbage problem at our house, simply because the swill went to the pigs every time anybody moved from the house to the barn. So everybody go get a pig, and I can return to my ruminations knowing the world is better for my suggestions.

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