IN A RECENT talk, pigs came up - not in persona, from the crowd, but more remotely. The subject being raised, I had a lot of things to say about pigs. One was that, to quote Saddam Hussein, I had eventually built the Mother of all Pig Pens, after a couple of years of trial and error, but never resulting in escaping pigs.
Pigs are both smart and funny creatures. If you give them a ball, they will cuff it around. If you give them room and decent quarters, they will keep themselves clean. There is an old saying regarding the smartness of pigs. "Dogs look up at you, and cats look down on you, but pigs look you straight in the eye."
The Mother of all Pig Pens consisted of two 8-foot cedar posts driven into the ground at the back barn's rear wall, two more opposite, and then 2-by-12 20-footers nailed along the inside and outside of all. These made a perfect receptacle for pallets to be placed between the inside and outside walls. The icing on the cake, or the bad touch to a wet snout connected to four wet and well-grounded feet, was a very hot electric wire on the inside, about six inches off the ground.
I should have patented that. But what is there to market and get rich from in the Mother of all Pig Pens?
I've had a lot of queries about how the North Country's big ATV Trail Loop has been doing. This loop, soon to be two loops, offers riders a look at hundreds of miles of wild country few people have ever seen. There is nothing even approaching it this side of the Mississippi.
This whole thing is, indeed, an experiment. Voters at town meetings two years ago authorized using certain country roads (one of which is mine) to link up trail systems.
My take? (A) The ATV emergence is going through what snowmobiling went through a half-century ago. Organizations and self-policing are the key. (B) Once the trust with landowners is broken, you are done - there will be no place to ride. (C) In my experience, in what I've seen from front porch, lawn and barnyard, it is the teens and 20-somethings who are the problem, same as they were with snowmobiling. Who among us does not remember those wild early years, back then with cars, now with off-road vehicles?
Local clubs will find a way to get the word out to families and rein in young offenders. It's how to tackle the young adventurers from down below the notches that poses the real challenge.
On this last subject, I have a real problem with print and TV ads glorifying to-hell-with-the-land and to-hell-with-anyone-else-on-the-trail reckless, feckless and careless ATV misuse.
The ads depict fast and inconsiderate - and downright idiotic - riding as somehow being OK and portray blatant disregard for the environment and, more particularly, the landowners' dirt.
When I see pickups and SUVs towing ATVs north on Thursdays and Fridays, I think: "There comes some sorely needed money." When I see muddied ATVs heading south on Sunday down Route 3 through Pittsburg, Stewartstown and Colebrook, I think: "Whose dirt?"
My wife, Nancee, who has a farm just a bit north of mine and just across the Connecticut River, has been having problems with a bear, which has made repeated visits (as evidenced by piles of evidence) and made off with an entire canister of bird seed. Moral: Don't leave anything even remotely edible outside, a lesson I learned under similar circumstances only a year or two before.
She set up a radio on the porch, tuned it to New Hampshire Public Radio, and has not had a problem since. Wondering whether it was maybe program content, I asked, "Are you sure it was not Vermont Public Radio?"
John Harrigan's address is Box 39, Colebrook03576. Email him at email@example.com.