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2007-the Chinese Year of the Pig

Story ID:1624
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Lakewood Ohio USA
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2007-the Chinese Year of the Pig

By now I think everyone is aware that 2007 is the Chinese year of the pig. Most of us probably look upon these Chinese-zodiac-symbols as a form of fun folk lore. If you don't know which year of the 12 animals on the Chinese calendar
claims you, you can find this information on the internet.

Per a feature on this subject by Holly Hartman "Buddha asked all the animals to meet
him on the Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Those born in pig years tend to have excellent manners, make and keep friends, work very hard and appreciate luxury. They are very loving and make loyal partners."

Well then- those born in this year of the pig have some pretty wonderful characteristics.
Some well -known people born in the year of the Pig are: Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, Mahalia Jackson, David Letterman, and Arnold Schwartzenager.

I was born in the year of the horse whom I truly love and admire though sadly from a distance. Not too many of us have the money or resources to own one and I belong to that category. However, when I got my first wonderful puppy Peaches in 1975, I grew to have a new wonderful appreciation for all of God's creatures. I would now find something to be grateful for with any and all of the animals in this Chinese zodiac symbol table. How could we not appreciate them since they were all created by God? Yes, some of them may not appear comely and beautiful, but I laughed one time when a co-worker told me that their family owned a bull dog who was so ugly that he was beautiful! And I believe this is true of all the animals-they are beautiful in their own inimitable way.

Re the pig, growing up I think many of us learned to pass on such unkind remarks like-
you're fat as a pig or you're as lazy as a pig. Any and all such descriptions are
untrue and unjustly malign the pigs. I hope this year things will start to change for these social creatures who share many of our human traits. I think a good start would be in the schools and reading books from pig experts like Russell Ash, a British subject. I also am happy that a film remake of Charlotte's Web is due for showing this year. E.B.White's wonderful story is appreciated by young and old. If only we would have more compassion for the pig!

Among some of the things I have gleaned about pigs is that like humans they choose to live in groups and form friendships and relationships with those around them. The sows nurture their young with milk, warmth, and love. And piglets, like children enjoy playing with toys and one another. But sadly, since the 1980's or earlier-- 90% of them owned by the large agribusinesses are in factory farm type conditions called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feed Operations) where they can no longer enjoy their natural family lives. Truly, Mohatma Gandhi was right when he said you can judge a nation by how it treats its animals. And sorry to say, our track record is not very good.

There are so many places on the internet which describe the conditions of these poor pigs but I chose one which appeared in The Star Press of Indiana (Sept. 2004). It featured Rodney Walker's observations after working 7 years in the pig CAFO of Muncie, Indiana. He said
he doesn't buy industry claims that the CAFOs are comfortable for pigs.

Walker makes numerous allegations about the conditions at the farm: ... "Drippers and sprinklers to keep the animals cool in hot weather did not work. Air exhangers to help maintain fresh air do not work. Pigs skinned their snouts rooting on hard surfaces. Manure bubbled up through the slats in the floor. Hooves got stuck in the floor and were torn off. Gaps between the floor and the wall caused broken legs.

Injured and sick pigs were clubbed to death-an unapproved method of euthanasia for pigs older than three weeks. There was little room for bigger pigs to sleep or play, and they had to fight their way to their feed. Sows too large for farrowing crates developed sores."

Recently in Wayne County, Ohio our local TV stations reported that a couple of downed sows were hung. I believe some of the workers thought it was funny to see them dangling and struggling on a rope until mercifully they died. They also tossed piglets around like footballs. When the Cuyahoga County prosecutor viewed the tapes, thank God, he saw nothing funny about this cruelty and has brought charges against the owners. If interested, more information can be gotten at Petabuse.com. I was glad to find out that Alison who manages the web site, publishes any and all cruelty of animals she learns about -not just pets.

I don't know who I can give "credit" to for starting these factory farms from hell. I'm not even sure which country started them but I do believe that the Reagon administration and the
Congress at this time in the 80's were enablers when they allowed the anti-trust laws be set aside so that big agribusinesses could snap up small family -operated farms and ranches. Sadly, no one seems to have had the sensitivity and compassion to see how cruelly it would impact on the animals. It would appear that economics as always was more important than the terrible suffering it would cause the animals. These mechanistic enterprises deprive the animals of all the natural ways of their former existence. No more sunshine or blue skies. No more mud baths, though surprisingly -given a choice, they would much prefer to use a pool of water to cool themselves. And of course, no more social interaction. They obviously didn't recognize that the animals
too have the same God-given principle of life as we- souls if you will. Even Pope John Paul II of
blessed memory avowed this in one of his talks.

In the 80's Astrid Lindgren the author of the beloved character Pippi Longstocking was instrumental in turning things around for many of these incarcerated animals in her native Sweden. In 1987 she wrote "I Had a Dream the Other Night" where she dreamt that Our lord had come down to earth on a little inspection tour to check out how the animals were doing..."He remembered how nice it was during the days of Creation....And now He had come rambling along, full of expectations, to see with his own eyes how good it really was."
"You shall take me to some lovely place where many animals are assembled he said to me. "I would like to interview them and listen to their happy comments."
"Pigs, maybe," I cunningly suggested and Our Lord nodded in agreement.
"Excellent," He said. "Pigs are happy and intelligent animals, funnily enough, they love to be scratched. I remember that particularly."
"Right," I thought, and so I led Our Lord to one of our big Swedish slaughterhouses for pigs...And then we stalked into hell. Our Lord was at first dazed by the stench but when He regained His wits He shouted: "Stop! Stop it! I see that these animals are suffering!"
He took in everything. He saw the multitude of terrified pigs being driven to slaughter with electric shocks, saw the speed with which they were stunned and hung up, one on each hook, and stuck and bled...He seemed totally confused at the sight of pigs being hastily bled and then chucked into the scalding vat. There was one poor little devil who hadn't been bled quide to death because of the rush and when he landed in the scalding water he regained consciousness, screaming, swimming around among the corpses of his fellow pigs (and, for that matter, in their urine and feces).
Our Lord saw all that...."What kind of blockheads are these to whom I gave dominion over the animals?" Tell me that!"

I believe because of her efforts many changes have been made in Sweden and the animals
are living a much better life as a result. This story made me always glad that I had given
up eating meat. I can approximate the taste of bacon and ham with tofu analogues, but I find that I don't even really need them. There are so many delicious vegan recipes on the internet that these processed foods are not essential to satisfy my tastebuds.

Now the glimmer of hope for some of our pigs. Smithfield, the largest producer of pork in the US announced that they will start phasing out the gestation crates which provided no comfortable amenities whatsoever for the sows who were being continually kept pregnant- producing litter after litter of piglets as they lay on cold slabs of the gestation crates for their 16-week pregnancies. A very large agribusiness, Smithfileld raises sows at 187 farms in eight states. They said it would start
replacing individual metal cages with pens where the sows would be housed in groups, allowing more mobility and social interaction. Sadly, it will take 10 years to completely phase out the gestation crates but in the meantime each
year more and more of the sows will be freed
from their metal imprisonment. It is a long wished for correction, but one day I hope that these living, breathing beings who have needs much like our own will be returned to the small farms where they can enjoy a happier life.

Animal welfare activists praised the move. "This is perhaps the most important moment in animal welfare in the agribusiness sector in 50 years," said Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States. I agree.

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