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Oct 31

Crone is ma’am-o-grammed by hog-trappin’ cowboy

Feral hogs So Crone, you say, what’s doin’ down at the good old manure pile?

Behold a couple of feral hogs, caught in a hog trap. The trap was set, and the photo taken, at the manure pile by my excellent barn contractor and fellow Cottonmouth Countian, Travis.

Travis isn’t his real name, I confess. His real name is the best name I’ve ever heard for a barn contractor, and suits him so exquisitely that I was sorely tempted to use it here, for what would surely be the most savory fillip of delight you would experience all day. I have no plans but to write most glowingly of him on this blog, right? But sadly a crone can’t just go around using barn contractors’ real names on the internet willy-nilly, so Travis it is, alas.

Lard knows I’m no fawning heterosexual looks-ist crone, but nevertheless of young Travis I am compelled to say this: he is breathtakingly handsome. He’s like the underwear model love child of, say, Brad Pitt and a really handsome dude. This caliber of handsome is not often seen outside film studios or red carpet events, and so it is extremely distracting. Sometimes, when he drawls to me in that textured Hill Country patois about cement block or roof framing, I find I’m not really listening so much as marveling at the luminosity of the glow he emits. He looks particularly stunning in a stiff white straw cowboy hat.

I am not proud of myself, by the way, for objectifying this dude. But you should probably know, before this gets much further, that I’m not as perfect as I once (thought I) was.

Other fun Travis facts: his voicemail greeting contains the parting valediction “have a blessed day.” I have no idea how to do that! Also, he wears a Jesus fish on a leather thong around his neck. He ropes steers in rodeos and his pre-school daughter is a mutton-buster. And he addresses me as “ma’am.” All the time. Even in text messages. This means he has to switch keyboard screens to add the apostrophe. That’s dedication!

At first all the ma’amming irritated me. This antiquated, chivalric form of address may be considered to otherize the addressee, connoting pedestal-putting and a distancing insistence (distinstence?) on the bogus construct of Southern feminine frailty. But no amount of “just call me Jilroy” could pry the ma’am from Travis’s lips. He’d been too well steeped in patriarchy at his mother’s knee. So, since I couldn’t stop it, I said what the hell and decided to just go with the flow. Now I actually sort of relish it as the measure of deference I so richly deserve as the ranking crone of the manor. The sheer politeness of Travis’s demeanor — that he can ma’am me without seeming patronizing or condescending — blows my mind. I mean, the “ma’am” is almost universally preceeded by a “yes.”

Yes, ma’am. Absolutely, ma’am. No request is too large, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.

A welcome change, if you’ll excuse a small venting digression, from my infuriating, combative handyman. Now that dude, though his intellect is vastly inferior to mine, argues with me incessantly, and actually expects to win these arguments using the yelling-louder-than-me method. A philistine.

Remind me to fire that dude.

Anyway, when Travis astutely perceived that Dreadful Acres is more or less overrun with feral hogs, he offered to trap some of’em for me. I would just as soon leave them be, but they are aggressive and dangerous and destructive to property, so I was grateful for the offer. Sensing my despair over the potential for animal cruelty suggested by the scheme, Travis assured me that he takes the live pigs down to San Antonio to some hogs-for-the-hungry group that selflessly slaughters them to feed the poor. I had the idea that Travis might have been stretching the truth about this semi-favorable outcome to chill me out, but I didn’t pry too deeply. One way or another those hogs have got to go. I reveal no secrets when I say that I lack the skills to dispatch’em myself. I own a shotgun but am too stupid to handle it without endangering all lives within a 5-mile radius.

Feral hogs. Traps. Shotguns. Dreadful.

29 comments

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  1. JRoth

    I find I’m not really listening so much as marveling at the luminosity of the glow he emits.

    My sister did a software training at Disney Studios and said that you could spot the actors at great distance, even if you’d never seen/heard of them before, because they were the “shiny” ones.

  2. Laurie

    Dreadful is right. Can’t Travis just dump ’em all on your handyman’s front doorstep in the wee hours, before he wakes up? That might take care of both your problems.

    Glad you’re getting rid of them, one way or another. We’ve got them on our 40 acres too, and they’re scarier than any bear, bobcat or mountain lion. A friend told me that aside from being naturally pugnacious, their vision is very poor, so it’s not uncommon to happen upon them, and that’s when things get ugly. A friend of his lost a leg to infection after he got gored in the thigh.

  3. Jane Anger

    To be fair (?!), Travis probably also addresses males who are his elders with “sir.”

  4. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Being disarmed by some male’s dudely beauty usually irritates me, because I fancy myself a jaded old bat.

    At a work social function lo these many years ago, the fella next to me introduced himself, causing me to drop the olive fork into the bottle. Glory be! My ovaries were jingling like sleighbells. He was as beautiful as young Elvis, with silky biceps and a rakish smile. And sweet to boot. I was undone. He became a pal over time, and thus less threatening. (A gal can get into a passel of trouble with such a bloke. Especially at work, where more than just her heart&gonads are at stake).

  5. TwissB

    My sakes! she cried breathlessly, Travis and hogs alike (in this respect only) have inspired breathtaking, uniquely Twisty, eloquence, evoking both to perfection. Dreadful Acres may yet prevail – or is it merely a distracting, glittering harbinger of feminism’s demise?

  6. Val

    Nigel spied a small drove of feral hogs way back dere in our pasture last weekend, so my boy immediately grabbed his rifle & set out…
    Of course he opened fire far too soon, did nothing but scare ’em away which was just as well as far as I was concerned… Still, they do extensive damage to our pastures (not that you can tell much in the aftermath of 2 yrs of drought); we don’t need to be sponsoring ’em.

  7. Tei Tetua

    The transition from full-time Blamer to Crone has certainly had some, um, unexpected results. One has to wonder, was this willingness to adulate (with fervor and ardor) a male who isn’t displaying immediately apparent hideousness, lurking below the auntly surface all along, just boiling and bubbling?

    Well regardless, the patriarchy is to blame.

  8. Ron Sullivan

    Michael Pollan swears they’re tasty.

    The hawgs, I mean.

    They’re hell on native plants in wildlands here, especially some of our weirdly gorgeous Calochortus species, which unfortunately are tasty bulbs.

  9. quixote

    This story reminds me of one I read about Congo. The biggest rural problem for refugees, aside from people, is not lions or green mamba snakes or poisonous spiders or scorpions. It’s hippos. They sound a lot like feral hogs, only bigger. That same blend of vegetarian ferocity combined with short tempers. Glad to hear there’s a Travis to deal with them, even if he does wear fish.

  10. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Tei Tetua October 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm:

    The transition from full-time Blamer to Crone has certainly had some, um, unexpected results. One has to wonder, was this willingness to adulate (with fervor and ardor) a male who isn’t displaying immediately apparent hideousness, lurking below the auntly surface all along, just boiling and bubbling?

    Ha! Well, I’ve maintained all along that an aunt has facets.

    The focus of the patriarchy blaming blog was consciousness-raising. The blamer-aunt is an ideologue and a construct, gesturing with broad strokes. This blog, on the other hand, is merely what actually happens to me, Jill Psmith, every day. Not so much with the heavy-handed ideology.

    Even so, I would not attach to my views on Travis the phrase “adulate with fervor and ardor.” They’re more along the lines of “entertained by extreme patriarcho-obsequiousness.” It’s not like I’m gonna marry the guy. He’s a fucking fundamentalist tea-partying Christian bow-hunting compulsory-pregnancy-ist for crying out loud. But I’m sort of taking a break from obsessing about all that crap.

    However, I’m still totally up for feminist revolt. Who’s with me??!!!1?

    Hear those crickets? Hardly anyone’s with me.

  11. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Ron Sullivan October 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm:

    Michael Pollan swears they’re tasty. The hawgs, I mean.

    I once ate something called “wild boar” — that’s what you call “feral hog” when you want to charge a lot for it — at a storied wild game restaurant in Austin, and it wasn’t bad. But apparently there’s an art to the butchering. I understand that they’ve got a layer of some pretty gnarly fatty tissue on the withers which supposedly makes the meat taste rancid if it isn’t removed properly.

  12. Aunti Disestablishmentarian

    Reader, I married him.

    Teh End.

  13. Hattie

    Travis!
    We got ’em where we are too, and also the feral hogs.

  14. buttercup

    There’s a great tradition of wild boar cuisine in the land of my foremothers, Italy. The ones in your trap look too cute to eat, though.

    I’m up for the revolt, provided I don’t have to walk too far. My legs aren’t what they used to be.

  15. tinfoil hattie

    “ma’am-o-grammed!” Too funny!

    I too am an imperfect crone and sometimes catch myself marveling at the sheer beauty of another human being. Can’t be helped.

  16. Glendy

    I have to admit I’m sort of disheartened by this entry. I discovered I Blame a few months back and was really energized by the articles overlapping feminism and animal rights. I’m sure feral pigs are dangerous, but isn’t there a way to get them fixed and relocated rather than killing them? And isn’t that in itself slightly icky, giving impoverished people meat (which apparently a lot of people find distasteful) from a pest animal?

  17. Liz

    And then along came Lester and my tale of woe began!

  18. Nancy

    Nonsense; looking is free. And if a crone can’t enjoy the luminous beauty of youth, male or female, what the hell good is all this maturity anyway. If he’s around much, I guarantee you’ll come to love him like a nephew, anyway. Even if he is wayyyyy down on the other end of the political spectrum. It can’t be helped.

  19. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Glendy:

    I have to admit I’m sort of disheartened by this entry. I discovered I Blame a few months back and was really energized by the articles overlapping feminism and animal rights. I’m sure feral pigs are dangerous, but isn’t there a way to get them fixed and relocated rather than killing them? And isn’t that in itself slightly icky, giving impoverished people meat (which apparently a lot of people find distasteful) from a pest animal?

    Good questions. Alas, there is no fix/relocation initiative for feral hogs. There is nowhere to relocate them to. Nobody wants them because they’re so dangerous, they don’t really fit in any natural Texan ecosystem, they compete directly with native wildlife for food (to the detriment of the natives), they carry bubonic plague and anthrax, they require thousands of acres be be self-sustaining, and the extra-hardcore fencing required to contain them costs a mint and a half. The expense of neutering/vaccinating them I can’t even imagine. There are upwards of a million of these animals in Texas. Nobody’s gonna pay for that. I certainly don’t have the resources to ensure a favorable catch-and-release outcome for the 50-100 pigs that terrorize my acreage. At the same time, I am responsible for protecting the native wildlife from invasive species. It is very sad, but this means the pigs must go. As Mr Spock decreed, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the hogs.

    However, it may re-enhearten you to know that the chance of completely eradicating the hogs from Dreadful Acres is slender; many of them will evade the traps and continue to happily threaten the safety and well-being of me, my dogs, my nieces, and all the other plants and animals that live here.

    This sort of rock-and-a-hard-place situation is what I mean when I say country life is dreadful.

    As for slaughtering them: When properly butchered the meat is not icky, and is considered by certain discriminating carnivores to be quite the taste sensation. As a matter of fact, I saw “wild boar sausage” at Whole Foods today. Bought a fair trade pineapple instead.

    Incidentally, the two hogs pictured above were snapped up by one of the carpenters on my barn project for a Thanksgiving pig roast. At least they lived happy lives of snarling, rootling freedom on my farm until the end.

  20. TansyJ

    There’s a lovely sense of denial with living in the city.

    Generally speaking someone else pays more someone else’s to do weed and pest and critter control.

    Of course if it were up to you, you would let termites eat through your foundations and rats scamper unimpeded through your pantries and aggressive stray dogs run loose.

    Once you move to the country you realize that nature is a bitch, you’d much rather have an intact house than a sense of moral superiority, and that if even the lowliest of field mice had access to and a working knowledge of how to use a shotgun you and your barn cats would be dead in a field while they burrowed into your dried goods.

    I think an ability to work for a woman who has hired them coupled with an ability to stick to a schedule and an estimate adds at least +10 to any contractor’s charisma.

  21. KMTBERRY

    Hey Twisty! You could probably give a hog or two to Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due in Austin, and he’s probably give you enough sausage to last through the winter! He’s a genius at the Wild Hog Butchering. Just sayin’. (Plus you probably couldn’t find any meat on Earth with less pesticides in it.)

    Even in the city, contact with Nature in all her Dreadfulness can change heartfelt policy. After a year of having a house overrun with RATS, despite all the available “kind” anti-rat technology such as traps, bobcat urine powder, trying to seal off all rat entrances and exits, electronic supersonic beepers for every room, ET CETERA, my animal rights protesting PETA member vegetarian S.O. broke down after the rats were found to be eating the hair off our heads while we slept in bed….and agreed to exterminate them.

    Now we have made the happy discovery that rescuing feral cats (like yours!), who have proceeded to soak our entire house with cat urine (despite constant applications of NO MORE SPRAYING CAT URINE REMOVER), has had the HAPPY side effect of no more rodents. Not even squirrels in the attic. The reek is indeed that intense (and we don’t notice it much anymore). The cats don’t even get to have the F*U*N of killing the rats, which being fat bored and lazy would probably give them great enjoyment. No, perfume of the cat urine alone apparently keeps the rodents off our property.

    It might be worth it to have a BARNFUL of cats, in terms of rodent control.

  22. Val

    Cancelled appt gave me a few free moments:

    http://atlastahome.rescuegroups.org/

    This is the website of one of my clients who is the ONLY state-certified feral pig rescue in N TX… I have spayed & neutered many for her over the years; I’m not clever enough w/my computer to tell you how many thousands of dollars she has invested. A common scenario is for local hunters to bring her a litter of feral piglets which they don’t have the heart to kill after shooting their momma. She will bottle-raise ’em, then bring ’em to me for spay/neuter at 3 – 4 mos of age.
    Her farm is a most amazing place – HUNDREDS of hogs, yet no odour, very few flies! She has dedicated her life to this; says her piggies literally saved her life & gave her purpose after her teenaged daughter’s death.

  23. Friend of Snakes

    And isn’t that in itself slightly icky, giving impoverished people meat (which apparently a lot of people find distasteful) from a pest animal?

    Hahahahahahahahahah. No. We call it pork. I thank the food pantry folks same as when I get a package of chicken drumsticks. Now if you want to hear about the times they have those rib eye steaks and filet mignon on offer, girl, I could tell some stories. That’s when I really feel, not “icky” exactly, but mighty weird.

  24. Friend of Snakes

    And then along came Lester and my tale of woe began!

    Exactly!

    http://youtu.be/1HtG9ef5XI4

  25. Friend of Snakes

    Geez Louise, you’ve enabled embedding? Modern. Cool. Trashy. Uh-oh.
    Anyway, sorry, I’d a made it smaller had I known.

  26. Map

    I looked forward to someday becoming a ‘dirty old woman.’ Alas, I’m old and the young dudes are ugly as a boar’s butt. I like the same boys I did when I was young. They had long hair, no facial hair, thin. A long-haired, lanky hippie, I guess.

    Now all I see are fat bald dude with snuff in their mouths.

    The only cute dude I’ve seen works at Chipolte. He was so cute that I asked him what the hell was he doing working there. Get some photos of yourself and start modeling. Honest. I’ll even be your agent. I haven’t seen him since.

    He was so pretty. Handsomely pretty.

    Any chance of a photo of Travis? From the back would be OK. And please with the hat, if possible.

  27. me

    Is his name Barney? Barney the barn contractor?

  28. Ron Sullivan

    Thinkin’ ’bout a spay-and-neuter program for the neighborhood roof rats, who I watch from the porch at sunset as they scamper merrily along the utility wires.

    Yeah, no.

  29. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    me:
    Is his name Barney? Barney the barn contractor?

    No.

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