It was time once again for the morning feeding at Loa Yorkshire Farms.
I sighed, pulled my hat snug around my ears, put on my gloves, and stepped from the warmth of my car into the gray winter morning. The biting cold wind promptly blew a swirling eddy of snowflakes directly into my face. I could feel my cheeks gradually turn red, and then numb. The old farm truck was broken down―again―and this left only one way to feed the pens of screaming, inpatient hogs, and that would be to carry the buckets of feed by hand to each pen. It would be a slow, tedious task.
I began plodding back and forth in the snowstorm, carrying bucket after bucket of feed to the sows. For some reason on this particular morning, as my feet trudged through the snow, my mind and my emotions ran. I felt a small knot of confusion and doubt form in my stomach. This blast of winter wind was not only unpleasantly cold, but its icy drafts were blowing away my natural sense of optimism and leaving me with the uncomfortable realization that I may be in over my head. Managing this hog farm had proven to be a challenge. The ship of hope that I so often relied on to see me through difficult times was in danger of being sunk by this storm of reality.
The worries were adding up: young piglets in the nursery were dying; my breeding records were unreliable, and I couldn’t figure out why a beautiful new young sow in our herd had suddenly died just yesterday. Then, ominously, just at the precise moment that my train of thought led me to conclude that the problems for me to successfully operate this, or any hog farm were perhaps too much for me...a particularly strong gust of frosty, cold air stopped me dead in my tracks, almost blowing me a step or two backward.
It was a bitter wind and its chill carried the sting of opposition. It was as though this storm cloud of doubt had sent its winds as emissary straight from the arctic pole of reality to remind me that hope and optimism could only carry me so far. It was an uncomfortable reminder that here was another endeavor of mine―begun with sincere intent and a world of hope—but nevertheless bound to crash and fail amid the blunt realities of life. In its strongest gusts, the wind asked the question that I often avoided: why even try something new if failure is to be the inevitable outcome?
But I couldn't just give up…at least not right now, not right on the spot...I'd have to think about it---later, and so I pushed that thought aside, hope and optimism eventually returning, and kept doing the only thing I knew how to do, and that was to simply, stubbornly, go on feeding, pen after pen. My patience and my perseverance finally prevailed, and those troublesome thoughts eventually died down, along the wind.
Later, as I considered that morning's wind and its unkind message, it occurred to me that someone should write a book about the difficulties of hog farming and the book could be titled: Uphill And Against The Wind, as this seemed to be an apt description of how the odds were stacked against anyone who would attempt such an endeavor.
Several years later, when hog farming was no longer my occupation, I decided to write down some of the experiences that I'd had at the hog farm and I realized the story waiting to come out was not a book about hog farming at all, but a book about pigs themselves. And so, that book which began on a cold winter's morning with an icy blast of wind, you now find in your hands. It has a slightly different title, if you hadn't noticed. So, if you have a few minutes, and a little patience, please make yourself comfortable. I'd like to tell you the story of how I found out that PIGS ARE MY FRIENDS.