August 26th, 2019

When Pigs Fly…Pardon Howdy!


Winston Churchill said, “Dogs look up to man. Cats look down to man. Pigs look us straight in the eye and see an equal.”

Think about it…a pig unlocks his cage, flies out the back of a moving truck on the interstate, runs off into the woods where he successfully evades coyotes, werewolves (I mean humans), and braves the elements. After two lonely weeks in the woods, he allows himself to be caught by friendly hunters and makes the WCAX news—not once but twice. Hello! This pig leads a more illustrious life than most of us ever will. He’s a trailblazer, adventurer, and giver of hope when we need it most. Extraordinary animals deserve a different fate.

As I watched the story last week, I hoped Farmer B. wouldn’t see it. I wanted Bethany (aka Howdy) to live. But when the second report aired, I was surprised the owner didn’t find Howdy’s shenanigans at all inspiring or amusing. What Burmeister from Burelli Farm in Berlin said was brutally truthful. “What happens to pigs on a farm is eventually they end up being roast pork and bacon and ham.” Well that’s hogwash! I reckon I’ll rewrite the script for Disney…a fairytale version where Howdy lives out his life happier than a pig in $#&!, takes flying lessons and doesn’t end up beside my pancakes.

Does every animal have to share this dystopic future? If you answer yes, you need to take a long, hard look into your cold, dark soul. We share the world with many creatures and they’re simply not all meant to be fodder for our culinary desires and bottom lines. Animals teach us wonderful things. We need to spare the great ones, even if they’re tasty on a spit.

Howdy’s name says it all. Hey Ya’ll, he’s trying to communicate with us. He’s clearly a social Ham who deserves a stage, not the frying pan. If Obama can pardon a turkey, surely Mr. Burmeister can find a heart (perhaps clogged by too much bacon fat) to pardon this little porky. I’m also sure there are Vermonters who would adopt this ancient symbol of wealth, good luck, happiness and honesty.

I just had a birthday; I was born in the year of the pig, 1971. When I blew out the candle, I wished the Governor would pardon Howdy from the smokehouse. Sure, I get it. Farmers raise animals for a living. I eat meat too, having recently enjoyed a venison supper at my brother-in-law’s. But there should always be exceptions to the rule. Howdy is more valuable alive than dead. My cousin uses farm animals in her therapy practice and I think Howdy would make a smokin’ therapist. We could all learn to be more assertive, brave, independent and self-determined. Send him to the Big Apple instead of stuffing his snout with one. He’d have a client list 10 blocks long.

They say that pigs are smarter than dogs, but I would wager that this pig is smarter than most of us. If I were in his hooves, I would hope somebody would take a stand and save my curly pink tail. I am sad this story of inspiration is destined to become sausage links for muffin-topped Americans obsessed with stuffing their pie holes.

If you don’t think pigs are cool, then you didn’t grow up watching the Muppets. Nor did you read Charlotte’s Web. But that’s okay, take a moment now to learn about this intelligent, loving creature in ‘The Whole Hog’ by Lyall Watson. Check out the story of Esther the wonder pig, or Pru the amazing pig who saved her owner. It just might change your mind.

Kristin Calkins

Hartland, VT

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