Margo: A smart swine sister with an attitude

An Eagle Point teen sends a two-page invitation to come meet her would-be prize pig at the county fair.

How can a reporter resist?

Heading off to the Jackson County Fairgrounds Tuesday morning to interview 4-H club member Katherin Schneider and Margo the Market Hog, I ponder the vagaries of a journalist's life.

Covering stories about a president, a pauper or a pig seems wildly divergent. But it's basically the same gig. Just grab your notepad, bring a hefty dose of curiosity and follow the story.

Katherin introduces Margo. Peering intently at the big white pig shuffling around the small rectangular pen, I mention my days as a pre-veterinary student at Cal Poly Pomona in California.

Too bad I'd bailed on that major just prior to the swine production courses, I say.

Katherin seems a bit concerned over my dubious credentials. And the 241-pound market hog, apparently even less impressed, turns away with a disgusted snort.

I dip a toe into my shallow pool of porcine knowledge. What is her breeding?

Margo's pedigree sports a Bluebutt mom and a Yorkshire dad, Katherin says.

Margo grunts loudly, then slams her pink snout hard into the chain link.

"Reeet!!!! Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!!" Margo protests.

Parent issues? For some reason, this is one peevish porker. Even a communications major can see that.

"She seems a bit cranky," I offer.

Katherin volunteers Margo has a metabolism problem. She gains weight easily. Way too easily. To offset Margo's sluggish metabolism, Katherin tried placing the pig on a strict diet and exercise program.

"She only gets half a can of feed and is walked two miles a day," Katherin says.

Hmm. Basically what my doctor has ordered. Perhaps she's premenopausal, I whisper to the photographer.

But Margo remains a bit jowly and has too much upper-back fat. Apparently, even when one's fate is to become a pork chop, there are judgments about one's flab. It'll cost Margo a ribbon, Katherin says.

Margo's upset grows more vocal. A nearby oinker is getting a tasty snack, but her bucket remains empty. Poor piggy.

"Ruh! Ruuuuuuh!" she grouches.

Obviously pig-latin for "Gimme a cookie!" But Margo gets just a few sips of tepid water.

More amenable to her nocturnal constitutionals, Margo enjoys evening meanders — particularly when they wander under an oak tree where she can snuffle a few acorns, Katherin says.

"She's fun company when she walks," says Katherin. "But when she's cranky, she's not very pleasant."

Who wouldn't be cranky dealing with unwelcome weight gain, starvation diets and forced marches? It's enough to put a twist in anyone's tail. My sympathies are now firmly aligned with the pig.

On nights Margo isn't up for exercise, this not-so-little piggy isn't shy about letting her preferences be known. Some nights a gal just wants to rest her trotters and wallow about in her comfy pen, I figure.

"She'll talk in ticked-off pig noises. And she'll balk and refuse to move," Katherin says. "But she's never bit me."

Apparently Ms. Margo has exhibited a certain fondness for nibbling on other munchkins, however.

"When I got her, she liked to bite small children," says Katherin. "But she doesn't do that now. At least, she hasn't lately. "

OK, perhaps I've become too in touch with my inner oinker, but maybe some brat deserved a judicious pig nip. Or maybe I should tack on a curly tail and join her in the pen.

After all, I have begun sprouting pig whiskers on my chinny-chin-chin. At any rate, I'm lovin' Margo's 'tude.

Casting my peepers on Margo's busy mouth, I try to get a view of her teeth. She looks up. Our eyes lock. Something passes between us. Then she looks away. Or was it me?

For Margo and I are not destined to become two pigs in a blanket. She is headed for that big barbecue in the sky. Raised for slaughter, Margo and her aisle-mates will head to the local butcher the next day, Katherin says.

"Oh. Right," I say, giving Margo a quick scratch behind her wiggling ears. That explains the 4-H banners proudly proclaiming team names like "Pigs in a Blanket" and "BBQ Pork Club."

Wondering if Margo has any idea she's just days away from becoming doggie chews and chitlins, I inquire about her intelligence.

"She's smart," says Katherin. "She figures out how to open gates, and take herself for a walk, and get into the food."

Margo, my swine sister, here's hoping you had one helluva brainstorm Tuesday night. If so, my pen's always open.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

Share This Story