Goin#8217; through that door

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 20, 2007

It wasn’t that long ago we all had hogs on our farms and they were all outside. Every one of them.

And that meant fixin’ fences and hauling feed. It meant pigs in mud in the summer trying to stay cool and pigs piling up on each other in winter trying to stay warm.

It meant those hogs biting and rooting and gnawing everything in the pen until there was nothing left to bite or root or gnaw.

It meant cleaning out feeders after a hard rain.

It meant hauling hot water down to the pens on a cold January morn hoping by the time you got there it was still hot enough to thaw out those waterers. Which froze again that night.

And it meant getting up hogs that had gotten under and over and around that fence that always needed fixin’. Again.

And so it was on our farm. Until we, just like a lot of other farmers around, decided to try something different. We built those pigs a house. A house of their very own. With sprinklers to keep them cool in the summer and curtains to automatically rise and keep them warm in the winter.

With clean, fresh water ever day of the year and rich, nutritious feed in clean feeders that never got rained in.

Why, if I was a hog, it was a dream come true. The Hilton Hog Hotel. Why, I think those hogs could live better than me. They even had a generator in case the electricity went out. Because, above all, we wanted those hogs to be happy.

Finally, the day came. The day when they would enter their new, expensive, thermostatically controlled, modern house. We rounded them up out of the mud, loaded them up in a trailer, brought them to the house, backed up to the door and waited for them to go rushing in.

But it didn’t happen. They didn’t want to go in. Not in the least. It was cleaner and cooler and nicer and brighter. But they wanted no part of it. We ended up having to force each hog through that door. All 150 pounds of him. Every cotton-pickin’ one of them.

And I guess there might be a lesson in there somewhere. Sometimes we don’t want to go through a new door simply because it’s a new door. Simply because we haven’t been there before. Because we don’t know what’s on the other side. It’s uncharted territory and not predictable and might make us uncomfortable.

We sometimes would rather stay on this side because, at least on this side, we know what it’s like. Through that door might be a new job, it might be a new relationship, it might be a new venture.

It might be dangerous and even carry the risk of failure.

And the first step is the hardest. The floor feels different and the air has a different scent. But, alas, the second step is a little easier. Just a little.

And, behold, on the other side of that door there’s a whole new world we didn’t even know existed. And our life is changed and we are a different creature. And we realize there might be other doors waiting to be entered.

Well, after about a week, a strange thing happened. Those hogs smelled and sniffed and started to like the place. They grew to love the fresh water and the fresh feed. They grew accustomed to the cool air and cleaner accommodations.

It even seemed to me they got a smile on their face. Which brought us to our next problem. You guessed it. We couldn’t get them to come out of their house.

Rex alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is rexalphin@aol.com.