United we wallow

Maybe now that G. W. has been officially inauguated he can sit down with his brother and see about solving this Florida problem. Not the pregnant dimple/hanging chad election problem. That was bad enough, of course, but that’s all behind us now. There are bigger pigs to fry in the Sunshine State. I’m talking, of course, about the situation in Stuart, Florida, where the golfers and the pig farmers are having trouble getting along. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with this gripping drama, I’ll go over the facts of the case for you, to bring you up to date. An alert reader, who has asked to remain anonymous, sent me a Reuters article about this situation, due to the fact that golf and pig farming are both outdoor pursuits. Unless, of course, you happen to live in Arkansas. Stuart is a town on the east coast of Florida, about 110 miles north of Miami, where people have been raising hogs for generations. Everything went along fine until 1995, when a housing development and country club, called Florida Club, was built in the semi-rural area, adjacent to a couple of hog operations owned by Paul Thompson and Thomas Rossano. The entire area has been zoned for agricultural use for years. Shortly after the golf course was completed the manager of the club started hearing complaints from the golfers about unpleasant aromas and loud country music that came wafting across the links from the direction of the hog farms. It seems that hogs gain weight faster when they can listen to country music (although line dancing is not mentioned in the article). After haggling back and forth with the farmers for a few years, with no results, Florida Club sued Thompson and Rossano for harassing their patrons, and the whole mess ended up in court. I had a difficult time deciding which side of this issue I’m most sympathetic toward. On one hand, I used to raise hogs myself, so I know what they smell like (under The New Political Correctness hogs probably do not stink, but they are definitely “aromatically challenged”). On the other hand, I used to play a lot of golf, and I know how obnoxious golfers can be. Just the sight of a middle-aged, pudgy, balding man in orange plaid pants, a lime green polyester shirt, and white shoes would probably cause a pig to dive into the nearest mudhole. At first glance, I almost threw my lot in with Florida Club. After all, golf is an ancient and honorable game invented, maybe by my own ancestors, in Scotland. Besides, driving around in those little carts is a kick. But in the end I had to go with the hogs, since they were there first. Thompson has, personally, been raising hogs on his land since 1957. He runs around 200 head at a time. “If you built a house next to a railroad track, would you expect the trains to stop coming'” he asked Florida Club. A good point, you have to admit. Rossano only raises a few head of hogs, since he has a regular job, sort of. He’s a postal worker, which proves that you don’t have to be smart to join a country club. I would much rather put up with listening to Clint Black while I’m trying to putt than risk irritating Rossano. The music thing sort of surprised me, since the hogs I raised never showed much interest in it. We could get them to run around in their pens by honking a horn, but we never thought to offer to play them any Mel Tillis or Stattler Brothers. If I had figured that one out I might be a rich man today. But I’m wondering if a compromise is not possible here. The pigs might do just as well on Jazz, or maybe classical music. And the golfers might not object so much if they could swing the six iron to a little Mancini or Fettuccini or Ragatoni something. Which brings up other possibilities that should be explored. It might be feasible to train the hogs to carry golf clubs around the course. They could be fitted with pack saddles, and carry a bag on each side, accommodating two players. You wouldn’t get much advice about club selection out of them, but the golfers would save a bundle on tips. They might even be coerced into wearing orange plaid pants and lime green polyester shirts. The hogs, I mean. This might even give rise to a special tournament every year. Celebrities could be invited to come and play in the Martin County Toyota Purina McDonald’s Pro Pig Classic. Money could be raised for charities, such as PETA or the ASPCA (maybe then they could afford to hire someone intelligent). Stuart could actually end up on the map. Tiger Woods would be glad to come, since he’s named after an animal, himself. And let’s not forget that hogs are able to sniff out truffles, which happen to be worth more money than money. For all the owners of Florida Club know, the development may be built on the richest truffle land in the lower forty-eight. Since the last news I have of this story dates from last July, I tried to get hold of Paul Thompson through his website at www.pigfarmer.com, to see how things are going. The site contains some pictures of Paul and his hogs, a couple of pig cartoons, and a link to the Florida Right To Farm Act, which clearly proves that Florida has a Right To Farm Act. There is also a page which tells you how you can contribute to the “Paul Thompson Pigfarmer Legal Defense Fund,” which has become necessary due to the high price of lawyers and the low price of pork (which seems sort of backwards, considering the value of each of these two groups to society). So whip out that checkbook and fire one off to the Fund’s account at the First National Bank of the Treasure Coast, 3300 S. Federal Highway, Stuart, Florida 34997. The account number is 4150037846. Do it for Paul. Do it for the pigs. But most of all, do it to help put the people who make polyester out of business . . . Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and pig lover. Barbecued, mostly. Write to him at PO Box 564, Mason, Tx 76856 or email hemphill@towa.org

Leave a Comment