Pigs. Hogs. Sounders. And Litters.

Posted On November 17, 2023

Some swine content before your Thanksgiving ham.


This is about pigs. Hogs, too. Sounders. Litters. And it’s timely since many of you, like me, accompany the Thanksgiving turkey with a ham. So, let’s have a quick chat about the magic that is pigs, hams, hogs, and other swine-related stuff.

Next week I’ll spend part of the Thanksgiving break in the woods of Clarke County, Alabama. If the weather is nice, my Thanksgiving meal will be on the porch of my father’s camp breaking bread around 1pm with my wife and kids, my brothers, their wives and kids, and my father. It’s what we do. There will be a ham there.

In the woods nearby will be hogs. Wild ones. And if I understand the story correctly, some of them are descendants of the hogs the first explorers to the Americas tossed out on islands as they came through. The explorers were preparing for return trips to Europe and put hogs on the islands knowing they’d survive because they can and will eat nearly anything and they’d multiply. When the explorers came back through on their way back home, they provisioned with some fresh pork. Some of the hogs that were left behind found their way to the continental US and the ones rooting the woods of Clark County, Alabama could be long descendants of those founding father pigs. Columbian pigs. Mayflower pigs. And I think that’s pretty cool.

But admiring wild hogs in Alabama is taboo. They’re hell on property and no farmer or landowner has anything good to say about them. They are, however, a remarkable species. They survive and they propagate regardless of their environment or circumstances. They’re a mammalian kudzo. They drop multiple litters each year of as many as ten piglets. Controlling them is nearly impossible, as any hunter or landowner or farmer can attest. As an animal, they’re full of vulnerabilities, allowing all kinds of prey to feed on them yet, they thrive.

And they’re tasty. Pork loins are delicious. I once ordered a blue cheese stuffed pork chop at K-Pauls in New Orleans and nearly fainted in bliss. I returned, and ordered it again the next night and had it many times until K-Pauls shut their hallowed doors three years ago. I used to genuflect when I went in.

And then there’s the ham that we will pull from Thanksgiving Day. Magically cut in circles. The kids love it. They fill their plates. The ham has that iridescent sheen that glimmers in the light. Exactly why ham glimmers and forms rainbows like spilled petroleum is unclear. I don’t want to know. It must be God’s will.

Later on Thanksgiving Day, after we’ve cleaned up and after I’ve curled up around my packed belly for an afternoon nap, I’ll step into the woods with a rifle, hoping to take down a distant cousin of the ham I’ve just eaten. Whose ancestor may have hitched a ride on the Niña, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria a long time ago. It’s all a bit gross and weird and magical all at the same time.

And that’s all I got to say about that.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real. Happy Thanksgiving.

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