Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for: Nuthin'

On harsh winter mornings in 1960, my brothers and I hurried down downstairs, eager to get near the heat stove that sat in the middle of the farmhouse kitchen.  Winters were hard on every living being on the farm, especially on the animals.  My father had hundreds of swine and cows under his care; winter was the time when there were 20 to 30 sows in the farrowing house with their newborn litters of piglets. It was not unusual for us to find a cardboard box resting on the open door of the oven range, with newborn piglets wrapped in flannel.

Usually it was because the sow had rejected the piglet(s) for some reason, or there were not enough nipples to feed all the piglets.   Either way, we children would have the responsibility of feeding these squirming little piglets until they were large enough to go into the pig population, or until they mysteriously disappeared in the night.  That meant that Dad had found them dead and disposed of them. 

Life was life, and things died—all farm children know the harsh facts.  But, one cold winter day there was a lone piglet that was different. 

Love me for my brains!
He had been rejected by the sow because clearly something was wrong with him.  He had a huge tumor on his left hind leg.  My brother Robert looked down at the piglet in the box as I uncovered it and examined his poor leg.  “It ain’t worth nuthin’.  Should let it die.”

“Nuthin’…that’s what we’ll call him.”  Over the next days and weeks, Robert and I took turns feeding Nuthin’ first from a bottle, and then from a dish.  Nuthin’ grew, and we kept him in a pen in the breezeway until spring came.  By then, Nuthin’ was almost the size of our dogTuffy, and they played together in the yard.  We called his name, and Nuthin’ came as fast as his crippled leg allowed him.   
Fast Friends
Spring was moving into May, and Nuthin’ was getting too big to let roam the yard.  Animals reaching adolescence are just like humans; they aren’t the same sweet little kids anymore.  Dad said we had to put him in the barn lot with the three milk cows.  We could still visit him, but playing with him wasn’t an option.  That was when we noticed the tumor on his leg growing.  Day by day, we could see Nuthin’ slowing down, and not eating as much.  One day Nuthin’ lay down, and no amount of convincing could make him move.

The next morning Nuthin’ had disappeared.  No one said much about that, because all farm children know the harsh facts. 
I have told the story about Nuthin' to my children and students many times.  The A-Z blogfest gave me an excuse to share it with you.  Many many thanks to Arlee Bird, Jeffrey Beesler, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Jen Daiker, Candace Ganger, Karen J. Gowen, Talli Roland, and Stephen Tremp for hosting this daunting and awesome event! 
Susan Kane  22 March 2011


  1. What an amazing story. I'll be thinking about this all day and I don't think I'll ever forget about little Nuthin'

  2. Aww! I had a feeling that this post wouldn't have a happy ending. I'm just glad that Nuthin' got to spend what little life he had playing and being loved.
    Like Elisabeth I don't think I'll ever forget Nuthin'!

  3. I'm pleased this post had a happy ending, love the blog very much.

    Enjoy your week-end.

  4. Aw, what a great story. But poor nuthin'. :-(

  5. I'm glad you gave Nuthin' a better life than any of the pigs in the meat factories.

  6. very interesting. did you guys have chops later? or bacon? I'm sorry but I guess if you lived on a farm, you did eat some of the animals?

  7. I liked how you took us to your farm and childhood. Thanks for sharing the story with us.

    My word for N was Nothing. Such different posts.

  8. What a great story! I too am a farm girl (or was) and have a similar story with a lamb called Blacky. He thought he was a dog, slept on the sofa, demanded walks... until; he ate one of my dad's fave baby apple trees. He was soon after turned into burgers and served up to us kids. Hmm, no wonder a few years of vegetarianism turned up in my teens.
    Lovely post

  9. Such a nice tribute to 'Nuthin, who was clearly Someth'n - you've remembered him after all these years

  10. What a lovely story you have shared with us.


  11. Aw, poor Nuthin'! I'd have been so sad. But his legacy lives on ...

    Thanks for sharing Nuthin' with us!! :)

  12. Thank you for sharing this life lesson. Poor Nuthin...

  13. I've never heard this story, Sue. I loved it! The moral is...It's worth loving something, even when you know it won't last.

  14. Susan,
    I grew up in rural Georgia on a small family "farm." My older brother caught the prize in the county fair greased pig race when he was 6 and I was 4. We brought the pig home and named it Wolfy. It romaed our yard like a dog and it was our pet.

    Wolfy grew to an enormous size. And of course, like a dog that seeks attention, became very pushy, even taking over my plastic swimming pool and making it his mud pit.

    One day, Wolfy disappeared. A few days later, we ate BBQ porkchops for dinner. No one said much about it. That was how things worked on our small rural Georgia farm.

    Excellent story, Susan!


  15. Thanks for your comment on my blog about my daughter's recent neck surgery. She's doing okay now, thank you.

    Every time I come over here I read through your bio. I spent a summer in San Diego in 1960 when I was 20. I kept a journal. I loved the city! I can relate to the picture of you overlooking San Diego harbor.

    And like you, I feel like the age I am now is wonderful. I feel so calm in so many ways.

    What a lovely pig story. Thanks for sharing it. Nuthin' was really something, as all God's creatures are! (I have farm memories, too, spending summers with my country cousins.)
    Ann Carbine Best, Long Journey Home

  16. That is sad! But it sounds like you and Nuthin' made life a little better for each other. And that's all we can really do, isn't it?


Go won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!