Arnold Ziffel

There are several things you learn early when you grow up on a farm, the most important of which is NEVER, and I do mean NEVER, name the animals. To name an animal implies a relationship. Naming a living creature gives that creature an identity, and a certain understanding you'll care for it.

On a farm, it seems unfair to name an animal know that the animal you so lovingly just named is probably going to end up on your plate, or meet an otherwise unsavory end, like the time all of my brother's chickens were massacred Jeffrey Dahmer-style in their coop. He came out in tears, holding his favorite, Henrietta, with her head lolling back and forth, in his arms.

We warned him not to name her.

This story, however, is about an animal we did name. Arnold Ziffel, so named for the pig on Green Acres, was a pot belly pig my mother brought home from school one day as an adorable little piglet. Seriously, have you ever seen Hamlet the Mini Pig? That's what Arnold was like when we first got him. Unlike Hamlet, Arnold didn't stay mini forever. 

He got big. 

Really, really big.

He didn't have a ring in his nose, which is to prevent rooting, but we didn't think it was a big deal, because he was so sweet and ate grass in the yard occasionally but mostly just laid in the shade. 

Then the trouble started.

Arnold, as he grew into an adolescent pig, developed a bad habit of wandering down our long gravel road during the day when no one was home. It would have been fine if all he did was take a midday stroll...but no. Arnold Ziffle was a very, um, virile potbelly pig, and his favorite activity on these little jaunts was to sodomize our neighbors igloo cooler that sat in their yard during the summer.

As you can imagine this did not sit well with the neighbors. 

After a couple of complaints, poor Arnold had to be penned in the barn during the day. This lasted about as long as it took him to root a hole large enough to fit through at the corner of the barn. The barn, I might add, is over a hundred years old, built by my great grandparents. It took Arnold about a week to root the foundation out, causing extensive damage. 

The neighbors moved their cooler, but it didn't stop Arnold. He went a little farther and hit the holy grail - plastic deer set up as yard art. Let me tell you - he went TO TOWN. I would say he was as happy as a pig in mud, but it seems much more appropriate to say he was as happy as a pig humping the living daylights out of a plastic deer could ever hope to be. 

Again, though, the owner of the deer objected - and as we had no where else to safely keep Arnold from attempting to procreate, we gave him away, to a loving family with three boys. 

I thought about Arnold every now and again, because you don't see that many pot belly pigs, and he was a good pig (all humping aside). As it happens, Mom ran into his new owner at the grocery store a while after they took him. 

She asked how Arnold was doing, to which the woman replied, "Oh, we ate him."

Just like that. Like he was just any old pig bound to be breakfast bacon. Arnold Ziffle wasn't any old pig, and THEY ATE HIM.

We knew better but we did it anyway - never name a farm animal.