Traditions are an interesting animal to ride. They come in many forms, many shapes, many sizes.

Some can be happy traditions, like going out to buy or cut a Christmas tree. Maybe it was a tradition to open those Christmas presents on Christmas Eve night, or early Christmas morning.

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Other traditions may be reflective, even sad. Visiting a family member's gravesite on a birthday or anniversary. Still, others may be patriotic, maybe going to a Veterans day Parade.

Yep, traditions come in all shapes.

Growing up on a little Minnesota farm in the 1960s, there was a Saturday morning tradition I grew up with. I'm not 100% sure my older brother grew up with it, but I suspect he did.

It was the Saturday morning tradition of cleaning out the 'ol hog house. No, not dusting or sweeping or vacuuming.  We're not talking house cleaning here. We're talking hog house cleaning. That's a whole different cut of....well....hog.

Now let me be clear: I'm not talking about lots and lots of pigs and hogs here. I'm not talking about those big hog confinement systems and buildings you see nowadays. No, no...there weren't hundreds of them. Heck, there weren't even dozens of them. You need to realize, this was an old, small farm place. The buildings were old and, for the most part, small. So no, no hog confinement building here.

This was a small red building with a small loft on top. There was a little fenced-in area off to the one side of the building, with a concrete floor. Inside? Just a few smallish pens and then a 'bigger' area. And it was in that 'bigger' area that these pigs and hogs mostly lived. It's where the hogs walked, where the hogs laid, where the hogs snorted, and where the hogs...


I got to say I wasn't sure how to say it, what phrase or word to use, but I think pooped is OK.

I'm pretty sure that as a young kid in those days I could have made a perfectly sensible case that these animals, these big ugly beasts that my Dad dearly loved, well....they were nothing more than walking, snorting, breathing poop machines.

Of course, with the decades that have flown by, I now know better. Give me a hot ham sandwich and I'm good to go! But that is now, and that was then. Back then they were big, they were ugly and they pooped a lot.

We weren't big farmers, not at all. Dad milked maybe seven or eight cows. There were, from time to time, a few chickens, a few calves, an occasional goat or two, maybe a lamb now and then. And that was about it. We had a great dog who didn't care much for no cats.

Oh, and the hogs. Fifteen, maybe twenty at a time. And when Saturday morning rolled around, it was time for this young kid to pitch. Nope, not from a mound, not with a baseball. This pitching was with a pitchfork, a scoop, and the receiver was a manure spreader just off the back door, hooked on to that 'ol 'A' John Deere.

Pitch after pitch after pitch until the spreader had enough. That hog house floor? Well, not clean enough to sleep on but clean enough to walk over! Then up onto the John Deere and to the field we go with this poop....uh, I mean fertilizer.

My Dad, long passed now, would smile and say 'Smell that son, that's the smell of money!'

No Pop, that's the smell of hog poop....and I didn't have to smell it ever again...but I did that next Saturday morning when the tradition continued.

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