July 5th…“WHAT WAS A HARD LESSON TO LEARN AND UNDERSTAND ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH ON YOUR FARM?”
His porcine peals of pain pierced my ears in the dusty air of our hog house on that frigid winter’s evening there on our farm in southern Minnesota. I ran towards the sound of that tiny voice and peeked over the railing and down into the pen area where a new litter of baby pigs and their mother sow lived. It was quickly evident where that high-pitched squeal had come from. A tiny piglet had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. His BIG, HEAVY momma sow had, inadvertently, either stepped on his back, or had laid down with a heavy, side-flopping thud and had broken his infant back. My little boy heart was aghast at this painfully sad sight!!
In agony, the little creature maintained his high-pitched squeals of pain as he did his best to pull himself along with his front legs over the straw-covered floor of their pen. His back legs were now dead and useless as they drug along behind him. In a flash, I burst out from the hog house into the snowy winter night and made a beeline for our barn where Dad was milking our cows. Frantically, I divulged the sad news of what I witnessed and called for him to come quickly to see what he could do.
Exiting the barn, we trotted silently along in the snow together; soon reaching the hog house and stepped inside. Dad shared with me that, usually, as a mother sow lays down to feed her brood of piglets, the little ones will “get the message” that momma was going to lay down by her first dropping to her knees and then flopping onto her side.
But, it wasn’t the case this time. Big momma sow may have dropped with a heavy flop to the pen floor and now her little one was mortally wounded. Our farmer father, Russell, truly loved all our animals on that farm, yet, he also needed to keep in mind the minimal chance for survival of that little piglet who was suffering so badly. Once inside that swine’s abode, it didn’t take Daddy very long to discern that this tiny creature was not long for this world. At that moment of decision, what happened next shocked my little boy heart and I started to cry. Dad grabbed that tiny piglet by his paralyzed back legs and whipped his head, four or five times sharply against the hard, wooden, vertical posts of the hog house roof supports. Once the piglet was dead, Dad opened a side window of that pig house and tossed the lifeless body onto the straw pile outside.
Through my tears, I tried to grasp the reasoning and reality of what I just saw happen. In choking voice, I asked our daddy, “Couldn’t you have called Dr. Blohm to come out and fix his back, Dad”? Knowing I was distraught, and in his wisdom, my farmer father told me that even if he COULD afford to have our veterinarian give long-term care to that pig, there would be no guarantee that that little guy could be restored and live a healthy life. Dad made it evident that, even though it hurt his heart also to have to do what he did, he was being merciful to the little animal to put him out of his intense suffering.
The death of that little pig was hard for my little boy mind to comprehend at that moment in my timeline of life. Yet, as I look back, I saw the need to trust that my earthly father was being merciful to that poor little creature by putting it out of its torturous pain and suffering as quickly as possible. So also today, when life hands me various challenges, I need to lean and trust on my gracious Lord Jesus that, whatever happens, He has the BEST intentions for me within His loving heart. So, I will choose to put my hand within His and see that His next best will be for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.