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The hogs were fed chopped corn and garbage


by Henry E. Powderly II


We fed the hogs chopped corn and garbage, the corn to fatten them up, the garbage to lessen our carting bills. But to call it garbage doesn't really explain it well. It wasn't like your average waste bin collection, something you could overturn on a wood floor and segregate by material, color … smell. Pig garbage is perishable, food scraps, the corn flakes you spilled all over the floor, the milk just starting to turn, the deli meats that dried out because you forgot to seal the bag, the leftover gravy, dinner scraps, the wilted lettuce, the rinds of the the cantaloupe, apple cores, day-old pizza, chicken skin and bacon grease. It was all some kind of food.

Maybe it was the sun outside heating up the pig-garbage trough that accelerated the perishing, but the parts didn't retain their individuality for long. The rinds melted into the deli meats that liquefied along with the chicken skin and firmed up as the corn flakes dissolved into the leftover gravy. In the end, it was all gravy, a squirming gray soup that you could bounce a tennis ball off of.

The chopped corn, they ate with with little rush, like a grown man eating cream of wheat. But the garbage made them crazy, made them shove and scream and chortle like mad beasts. If you dropped your hat in the putrid soup it would end up in a sausage. I know this first hand.

I started out dropping things like bubble gum into the trough, or a crumpled paper dinner napkin. They'd eat them. A paper bag, a plastic bag, a soiled dust rag, and old sponge, cardboard, puzzle pieces, greeting cards, then a magazine, an old leather driving glove, hair clippings and even one of my small action figures, I'd throw them in the trough, until the end of the summer when my family held its pig roast and my uncle Lester found a ninja's head behind the cheek.

Most of my relatives laughed, but not the two who counted.

So I spent the whole fall indoors because pigs don't floss.

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