Monday, September 27, 2010

Herding Pigs

When searching on acorns and their uses I came across this story:  The Hog Drives of Frio Canyon Texas.  Imagine trying to herd a couple of thousand semi- (and many not-so-semi-) feral pigs!  The difficulties obvious pitfalls are still evident today in the large population of wild pigs in many parts of the south. 

While waiting for enough pigs to comprise a suitably profitable drive the pigs were placed in holding pens - actually pastures with " abundance of oaks that in the fall became laden with acorns. These acorns supplied the main food source necessary to keep the pigs fat and sassy."

Author Linda Kirkpatrick claims that the lucrative hog drives of the late 1800's came to an end when a weevil (a weevil species that is, not a single weevil) wiped out the acorn crop.  I'm a little dubious of the claim; I suspect that the reasons were a little more complex and that a year or two of a small or failed acorn crop were only part of it.  However, the story illustrates how heavily we used to rely upon acorns as a crop, and how in tune we used to be with the timing of the acorn drop and to annual variations in productivity. 

These days acorns come raining down, and our cars crunch and grind them on the streets while we're on the way to the grocery store to pay ever-increasing prices for food that is increasingly corn-derived.

We have become, quite literally, Chicken Little.

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