“hog” in Texas today and most people think you’re
talking about wild pigs. But feral hogs are descended from domestic swine. And
thereby hang several tales.
During the bloody days of the Mexican Revolution,
with the violence occasionally spilling over into Texas,
a Texas Ranger riding the river looking for trouble soon found it.
ranger was riding along the vega (the river’s floodplain) when something shot
out at him from the tall cane,” said Stephen A. Watson of Round
Rock, who owns the old Apache Ranch between Laredo
and Eagle Pass.
“The ranger didn’t have time to think. All he knew was that someone was charging
So, in the Old West tradition of “shoot first, ask questions later,”
the ranger levered his .30-30 and cut down on what he presumed to be a bandit
who had been waiting to ambush him. Unfortunately, the attacker proved to be one
of the landowner’s prized swine.
“He later lamented that his quick shooting
had cost him three or four month’s pay,” Watson said. Unreported is whether the
deceased hog got converted to state service by rangers hungry for a little variety
in their diet.
hog tale reminded Watson of an unusual example of farm architecture he encountered
on a hunting lease south of Dallas about
a decade ago.
“We were hunting on this place that once had been a farm
owned by a man descended from Swedish Texas immigrants,” Watson said. “Behind
an old barn, I saw an unusual looking enclosed wooden chute built of oak and hog
When Watson asked someone more familiar with the place what the
structure was, he learned it was a Depression-era hog feeder that was a model
“The thing was designed to hold six hogs, snout to tail,”
Watson said. “They had enough room to stand up, but couldn’t move enough to get
ahead of the other hog.”
The frugal farmer fed the first hog in the chute,
but the other five hogs didn’t live as high on the hog, so to speak. Based on
the common knowledge that a hog will eat anything, the pen was designed so that
all the other hogs got to eat were the biologically recycled remnants of what
the hog in front of them had chowed down on.
The poor-boy system was sufficient
to keep the hogs alive on minimal feed, but only the Number 1 hog got the good
groceries. However, being Number 1 isn’t always best. As the fattest hog, he got
the dubious honor of gracing the farmer’s table after hog killing time rolled
around in the winter.
The other hogs, obviously of lesser quality, got
sold. Whether the people who bought this farmer’s swine knew that the pork they
were eating had been raised on hog manure is not known.
Watson said that
was the only time he’d ever seen such a feeder, so maybe it was an idea that didn’t
final hog tale has to do with a three-legged hog.
Seems that when a traveling
salesman (called a drummer back when) came up on a Bosque County farm, one of
the first things he noticed was a fine-looking three-legged hog hobbling around
Invited to stay for supper, the drummer asked about the hog
in an effort to make polite conversation. “Oh, that hog’s special,” the farmer
began. “One time, little Jenny was playing outside and an Indian slipped up on
her. That ole hog saw what was happening and charged the warrior, running him
off and saving my daughter from captivity.”
Indeed, the drummer said,
only a particularly bright hog would know to do something like that.
not all,” the farmer said. “Jenny’s little brother was crawling around the yard
one day and came up on a coiled rattler. Before the snake could strike my son
that hog trotted up, grabbed that rattler and ate him whole.”
the drummer marveled.
“That’s still not all,” the farmer said. “One day
when I was in town and my wife was home alone with the children, a man tried to
break in our house. Soon as that hog realized what was happening, he came bounding
over and chased that burglar off the place.”
Quite impressed with the
hog’s intelligence, not to mention his bravery and obvious sense of loyalty to
his owner, the drummer asked why the porker had only three legs.
the farmer drawled, “when you’ve got a hog like that, you don’t want to eat him
all at once!”
"Texas Tales" December
24, 2009 column
Texas Hog Stories