Monday, May 4, 2009

a steamboat hog before factory farms

Hog at Entitas, 1970

The commune-farm, a place
of raped minds where
boredom led me away
from the clubhouse to the mud pasture. . .

I heard him first, his
sloppy muffled sound
then saw the biggest
gray hog of the bunch.
He was 280 pounds
of loneliness kept from
the others because of
his strength
that he was saving,
I supposed, for the time
the people there named him

He would tear that
foul place apart
if ever set free,
if ever.

I was planning
his escape when
the tour guide came near
and the group commented on
hog's size.
They cheered when the guide
hung a sign:

I loosened the latch.

(c) MLM (Lydia)

I wrote this poem when the concept of Factory Farming would have been inconceivable. Compared to the pigs and hogs raised in today's stench warehouses of death, the hog at Entitas had it pretty good. Entitas was a 1970s pseudo drug-rehab hippie commune at Steamboat, Nevada, between Reno and Carson City.

When I was a little girl our parents would stop at the dilapidated Steamboat Hot Springs on our way for a day at Lake Tahoe. The buildings were in ruins and there was a worn wooden sign near a spring right by the road that read "Chicken Soup Springs." We'd cup our hands into the water and take a drink, and it did taste like hot chicken soup! Then my family bought a home in Steamboat when I was in 7th grade. Entitas came to the area, inhabiting the natural hot springs and surrounding buildings, around 1970 -- just in time for me to move into the commune for a weekend and write a college paper about the whole affair.

Now renovated and in business under the name of Steamboat Hot Springs-The Healing Center and Spa, I really do hope to go for a soak someday. The smell and sensation of the waters would make me feel like a long-lost guppy that found its way back to its home tank! This info is from the Steamboat Hot Springs website:
The Hot Springs
The Steamboat Springs are classed as “thermal waters” of volcanic origin maintaining high heat as well as high mineral content. The temperature of the water as it reaches the surface is between 200 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The artesian well produces super-heated steam, that has been measured at 300 degrees, along with the water. The mineral water flows into a system of holding tanks and a cooling tank. We therefore have a supply of both hot and cool mineral water.
Water is piped from the holding tanks into the Spa building where all of the water supplied to the soaking tubs is mineral water. Our steam room is also supplied through the hot mineral water, just as it comes out of the ground.

The mineral water contains numerous sulphate minerals derived from the weathering of sulphides deposited from the hot water. Some of these minerals are extremely rare. One type found here has been hitherto known only in Chile in South America; another is a borax mineral not known before in the United States. Some of the minerals include silica, antinomious anhydride, phosphoric anhydride, magnesium, soda, Lithia and potassium.

I loved this post at The Wicked Witch of the Web and was captivated by the photo of a mini pig the size of a teacup!

Goal of
To eliminate factory farming in favor of a sustainable food production system which is healthful and humane, economically viable and ecologically sound.

Stop Factory Farm Pollution!
  • There are many ways that groundwater, in particular, may be contaminated with nitrates from factory farms including: lagoon seepages, lagoon spills or leaks and the misapplication of manure onto the land. Read More
  • Drinking nitrate-contaminated water can cause "blue baby" syndrome in infants, leading to developmental deficiencies or death. Read More
  • One survey of drinking-water wells in North Carolina found that 10% of wells near factory farms have unsafe levels of nitrates -- the cause: leaking hog lagoons and hog wastewater sprayfields. Read More
  • Residents near large hog factories may experience headaches, runny noses, sore throats, excessive coughing, diarrhea, and burning eyes more often than people living elsewhere. Read More
  • Higher levels of tension, depression, anger and fatigue have been found among residents living near large swine factories. Read More

Go, Hog, go!


svasti said...

Love your hog poem! Such ridicule for a beautiful (yes, I think they're lovely in their own way) animal. And such sweet revenge!!

Your memory of the chicken soup lake is fantastic. I hope you make it back there some time for a spa.

Factory farming is cruel and unnecessary, not to mention unhealthy for the poor animals and ultimately, for those people who eat them.

Boo to factory farming!!

RB said...

As a vegetarian, this post really struck a cord with me. But it brings to mind a lot of the debates I've been having recently about whether it's ok to eat local meat, or whether it's really not a good idea to eat meat at all.

YogaforCynics said...

Hot springs in Nevada...that brings back some memories...actually of stopping at one in between Tonopah, where I and more than a thousand other people had been arraigned and let go, and Mercury, where we'd been arrested for trespassing on the nuclear test site, and where we were camped, across the highway.

I quit eating pork some years ago. Not that I think there's anything inherently wrong with eating meat--I don't. But, if we're going to eat it in anything like the quanitity Americans do, I'm afraid factory farming is going to be inevitable....

the watercats said...

When i had my pigs, irish law meant I had to register for a swine herd number and be visited by the dept of agriculture rep once a year. On his first visit he watched my two in their quarter acre paddock and open shed with a four ft deep bed of straw and commented how nice it was to see pigs like this. He then handed me over the leaflets and forms of the recommended legal welfare standards.... I was sickened..I knew it was bad.. but wasn't aware of how bad! When you become aquainted with the porcine species, you become friends with an equal. (someone wrote similar to this who I can't remember..) I love your poem and the place you speak of sounds amazing!.. cheers!

Mark said...

I am hog wild about this!!

Erin Davis said...

What a great poem, Lydia! 200 pounds of it. And you are so right about factory farms. I love how you tie art, poetry, and information together here to provoke thought on this topic.

Lydia said...

@Svasti- Thanks for your appreciation of the post and validation for my thoughts about factory farming. Yes, boo! And I think pigs are splendid animals, too. :)

@RB- I eat poultry and fish but quit the rest long ago. Along the line of thought you presented, I make a point of buying locally produced poultry and locally caught fish. We limit our intake of wild Pacific salmon; there's this sense that in our lifetime it will be gone....

@YogaforCynics- I admire that you don't eat pork and that you protested the nuclear site. Did you stop along the way at any of those special "ranches" out in those parts? This reminds me to find my pictures of when a group of college friends and I posed outside The Cottontail Ranch on our way to Vegas.

@the watercats- You recently said that you got rid of your pigs, and now after reading the great life you afforded them I feel really sad. I don't know that quote but I've heard that pigs are brilliant. In working on this post I found a website that gave the stats for how many millions are slaughtered each year. It's hideous, unnecessary, inhumane and wasteful. And people dare to yap about a "culture of life".....oh, don't get me going!
I am glad you liked the hog poem!

@Mark- You are? That's great! Thanks!

@Erin- Thanks for your comment about the poem. It did its job if you say it tied in well with the rest of the post. I'm happy with that. And unhappy about factory farms...

the watercats said...

Just a post comment comment.. we didn't eat our pigs, I could never have brought myself to do it despite my dreams of being self sufficient, they are living in a half acre paddock up the road with their own lorry to live in, lol. A fantastic book on all things porcine is called, The Whole Hog by Lyall Watson. There are some seriously interesting thought foods in there.

Just Be Real said...

Loved this poem! Who would of thought, such a great and lovely poem about pigs! Thanks for sharing! Blessings.

Lydia said...

@the watercats- I'm so glad you followed up on the comments about your pigs! I didn't want to ask..... and the outcome is better than anything I imagined. Yeah! I'll look for that book, as it sounds great.

@Just be Real- Thanks so much. It tickles me that you cared for it. Did you go look at the mini pig the size of a teacup at that link? It's bound to bring a smile!

Beth Niquette said...

How interesting! I enjoyed your childhood story, and was totally intrigued by spring water which tastes like chicken soup! Could you imagine living next to a spring like that? One could have chicken soup on tap! I think I'd like that.

Take care, and thank you!

Jennifer said...

That is fantastic poem.

I am an almost-vegetarian (haven't given up shellfish), in part because of the factory farms. Pigs are supposed to be pretty intelligent animals, too -- not that I use intelligence as my sole reason for not eating (most) animals, but it has some meaning to me.

Lydia said...

@Beth- It is a fun childhood memory. By the time we actually lived in Steamboat the chicken soup geyser had either been covered over or had reverted to an underground spring. There was no city water out there - everyone had wells. So for eight years I drank and bathed in mineral water (that smelled and tasted like mineral water, not chicken soup). Pretty great. :)

@Jennifer- Shellfish and not other seafish? I'd have a hard time giving up wild salmon, but eat it sparingly with true appreciation for it.



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