Jack Brubaker - The Scribbler

Jack Brubaker

So today’s main topic is hogs. Well, why not.

Recently, the Scribbler was paging through “100 Years of Camera Scenes; Views of Eastern Lancaster County in Our Nation’s Second Century,” published at New Holland in 1978. He knew early names given to New Holland, including Earltown and New Design.

But then he found an even earlier name, one provided to that area of Earl Township that eventually would become New Design-Earltown-New Holland. It was Saeue Schwamm, or pig meadow (or hog swamp), the place where pigs grazed and wallowed.

This was in the early 1700s, when pigs were still a novelty in America — a novelty and a nuisance.

The Spanish introduced pigs to the southeastern United States in the 1500s. Some escaped, as pigs will do. They proliferated and moved north, as pigs will do. They turned wild and tore up the countryside, as pigs will do.

Whether called pigs or hogs or boars or swine, or something worse, these wild animals caused widespread devastation. Besides chomping on everything they could find that European settlers planted, wild hogs invaded American Indian villages and ate corn and other crops.

Hogs eating Indian corn contributed to the ill will that provoked King Philip’s War in New England in the 1670s.

In 1712, the Conestogas living at their town in Manor Township, Lancaster County, complained that Ann Le Tort allowed her pigs to run wild and dine in the Indians’ gardens.

Feral hogs remain a problem, especially in the South. About three decades ago, the Scribbler and family took a backpacking trip through the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. We talked with forest rangers who hunted at night with bright lights mounted on high-powered rifles. They were spotlighting wild boars.

Lancaster County’s wild boars today are confined, as far as the Scribbler knows, to a 150-acre island in the Susquehanna River at Bainbridge. Conoy Township Supervisor Steve Mohr’s Island Exotic Hunts transports hunters over to the island. For a substantial fee, they can hunt and shoot hogs, exotic rams, goats and sheep.

When someone says you are making a “pig” of yourself when you eat too heartily or sloppily, the reference ordinarily is meant to be humorous or cautionary. The remark customarily refers to domestic pigs — a milder cousin of the wild boars that have bedeviled American gardens since European immigrants introduced the species.

Thanks to Fred Albright for sharing his copy of “100 Years of Camera Scenes.” Thanks to University of Colorado historian Virginia Anderson for writing about hogs and other livestock and their impact on the Indians of New England. Thanks to the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania for documenting the Conestogas’ complaint against Madame Le Tort’s hogs in 1712.

Not playing chicken

Two weeks ago, the Scribbler wrote about a maternalistic chicken. Here’s a story about a perspicacious rooster.

Jeanne Mitman, of Manor Township, says the story sounds like a joke: “How did the chicken cross the road? He stopped, looked both ways and waited for traffic to pass, then safely crossed.”

Mitman was hauling her horse to meet a friend for a trail ride when she spotted a rooster and four hens approaching the road. She stopped the car, not wanting to run over a flock. The rooster and hens also stopped. The rooster waited and Mitman waited. Mitman finally proceeded. Looking in her rear-view mirror, she saw the birds finally marching across the road.

“My jaw dropped,” Mitman says. “I had just observed intelligent behavior in a chicken that is rarely seen in cats, dogs or even toddlers. How did he learn to do that? Is this common behavior? One thing is certain, that rooster was no dumb cluck.”

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes "The Scribbler'' column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at scribblerlnp@gmail.com.