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Friday, September 10, 2010

How Visiting a Pig Farm Made Me Think About My Underwear

"What do pigs have to do with BigD's underpants?" you might be asking. (Actually, you probably aren't, because you've written me off as a little cracked to even be typing about this.)

Well, this week I had the pleasure of joining a tour of a modern hog operation in North Central Indiana. It was a chance to see the inside of those mysterious barns dotting the countryside that yield one of the most delectable things God has graced us humans with, you guessed it: Bacon.

To be part of this tour, you had to agree to take a shower before entering the buildings.

And, no, I don't mean that shower in the morning, just before breakfast. This was a shower on-the-spot. At the barn. Complete with shampooed hair. Yeah, soapy from head to toe.

Why??? Might you ask?

Well, that is the length that Farmer Randy would go to make sure we rubber-neckin' people didn't track in some errant germ or disease-containing filth that could sicken his pigs. After all, keeping them healthy is his job, and that of Michelle, his very young and highly motivated herd manager.

So, what, pray-tell, does that have to do with my undies?

Well, going in, I wasn't sure about the set up in these traditionally male facilities, and I totally expected a locker room set-up, where my fellow lady tourists and I would be shucking down to our skin and "showering in". (And, no, the farm staff didn't check to see if I washed my neck.)

Apparently, based on the morning chatter, I wasn't the only gal who did a quick assessment of her underwear options before the visit. I admit I did stand at the dresser drawer for more than a second, wondering when did I last invest in some decent under garments... hmmm... surely it's been since my 10-year-old started school... I was trying to remember which party held the White House...

Anyway, I was inspired to grab a new package of Fruit of the Looms when I ran through Meijer. (I'm really not the Victoria's Secret type... What a shock.)

Here was the routine for getting into the barns:

Enter a small dressing room and take off all your outer clothes (ie, all but underwear/bra). Put on a Tyvek jumpsuit (a plasticky one-piece thing that makes you look like the Stay Puff guy) along with plastic boot covers, then exit through the back door to the clean area--where no street clothes and shoes are allowed.
We proceeded to the back part of the farm (I was glad it wasn't cold!), where we entered another clean room and removed our shoes. We stepped into the shower room, where we changed into yet another set of clean Tyveks. The farmer provided us with rubber boots that do not leave the barn for biosecurity reasons.

I grew up on a small, part-time hog farm that was nothing like this operation. Unlike our pigs, which split their time between a dirt-floor barn and a mud-lot outside, these Farmer Randy's hogs live in climate-controlled buildings that are kept in the upper 70s, and checked on several times a day by his employees who are watching them for any signs of stress, illness or injury. (Ours got checked in the wee hours of the morning and not again until after we were home from school.) The herd veterinarian visits every Monday to pregnancy check the sows and tend to any health issues. Overall, the operation was impressive, and the farm staff seemed to really enjoy working with the animals, and took pride in the work they do.
On the way out, we were invited to shower again, before we repeated all the afore-mentioned steps in reverse order. That way we were smelling sweet for the ride home (in my shiny new underpants!).
Just realized I got tagged by Bloggy Pal Liz over at Two Maids a Milking for 8 questions:
1. Who is one person you admire and why?
A: My mom. She's had cancer twice (the second time caused by the radiation she had the first time 32 years ago!) that has really taken its toll on her physically, and yet she still has the most positive outlook on life.
2. What is your favorite quote?
A: "Perception is reality." I'm known for that one at the office, and I find myself repeating it at home.
3. What is your favorite song?
A: I can't really pick one. But lately I've been stuck on Johnny Cash's Boy Named Sue.
4. What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
A: I think I was starting to eek out some spare time after finishing my class in April... Then I took up this blogging-thing... now I'm not so sure. Actually, I really like watching old movies (musicals) with my daughters and sewing.
5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: I really, really want to go back to Europe, after my visit in March. There's so much I haven't seen!
6. What is your favorite food?
A: I like so many! Probably has to be grilled cheese or BBQ potato chips. I could eat that everyday.
7. What is your favorite holiday?
A: Columbus Day. It's a state holiday and my kids are in school! hahaha!
8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
A: This blog was launched as a joint effort by my daughter and me. (Although she can't seem to get to posting with her homework load.) Sometimes we get in debates that can really beg the question: Who is really the grown up here? Sometimes, I can't believe it's me!


  1. This is an awesome post! I just got in from the field and went to shut the laptop down and head to bed - but you immediatly caught my attention with pig farm and underwear in the same title! Glad you enjoyed the tour and the new undies!

  2. This is the best post title ever! lol!


  3. I second Jent and Jessica's comments! Great Job! (p.s. I only shop at Vickie's if there is a huge sale going on and they have my particular size and style, which includes as much material as possible!) ;-)

  4. Welcome to the world of shower-in/shower-out pig farms. I was very intimidated the first time I had to do it, but now I could do it in my sleep. :-)

  5. Thanks for the follow, right back at’cha! Hope I can share some deal and reviews you can use :)

  6. What a great post! I really enjoyed reading it!
    You have a great writing style.

    I never knew farms like that even existed!
    Thanks for teaching me something new today:)

  7. Very good post! Thanks for stopping by, I'm following you now!

  8. Following from blog hop...would love to have you follow back!

  9. Here (late) for the Friday blog hops! Great blog! Your newest follower. Hope to see you at Dropped Stitches!

    xo Erin

  10. Wow. Hubby showers when he goes from the bigger birds to the littler, but not the other way around. When he worked for the USDA disease labs, they had a "hot barn" that they had to shower in and out of like that, though. But that was because the animals they were working with there WERE ALREADY DISEASED! I didn't know they did it on some hog farms!

  11. Visiting from the Blog Hops! I love your site. I can't wait to get to know you better. Stop by when you get the chance. I have a Meet Me Monday blog hop and I would love if you could join in. Its the first thing posted on my site.

  12. What a fun blog and a fun journey. As you know, I'll be praying for you.

  13. I am your newest follower from the blog hop. I hope you can follow me back at
    God Bless,

  14. Omg. How funny! I guess at least you know the pigs are healthy??

    Hi there! Following you now from the Mom Blog Hops! A little late is better than never right?? I hope you can come by and follow back! Would love to see you!

    Amy @ Render Me Mama

  15. WOW - who knew!!! I guess I'll be a little be more appreciative of my next BLT!!

    Loved your bio and as a mom that is on the other side of the challenge you're about to afraid, be very afraid. My youngest just turned 21 and I'm still holding my breath - but just a bit :-D

  16. Hi- I found you on Meet Me Monday. I am a new follower! Hope you will visit me and follow me back. Thanks!

  17. Oh wow, I loved reading about this! That's really interesting that they would make visitors shower first, but that totally makes sense. Also, I'm sure I would have kind of freaked out about my underwear too, haha.

    Following you now! :)

  18. Hi - visiting back through WMW - thanks for stopping by my blog. So glad I stopped by yours - I now know about 100% more about pig farming than it did previously. What and interesting trip!

  19. great post title... I just had to read it. I'm wondering if Farmer Randy's bacon is better than other bacon... but am am now craving BACON!!! Thanks for visiting my blog!!

  20. You had me at "underwear" LOL
    I am a new follower and I appreciate you following me!!!
    This was all sorts of greatness! I too am not a Vicki Secrets type of gal and love my comfy Hanes undies just like you do!!!! LOL