Letters to my Granddaughter: No. 8

By | June 27, 2023

[June 27, 2023]  It was my first day cleaning a pigpen, and I knew I had stepped in it big time.  Yep, that’s me all right, taking on a job that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or getting into.  But I was also too hard-headed to admit I was over my head, thinking I could do anything anyone else could do and do it with little effort.  I was wrong.  And I will admit that my personality has never changed that much.  For good or for bad, I’m still too hard-headed for my own good.

Shortly after my thirteenth birthday, we moved away from the town I grew up in and where all my friends lived.  I was distraught for leaving my friends and everything behind, including our two dogs that I loved dearly, beautiful Rough Collies and both emotionally close to me.  Our move would be one of many, moving almost every year, making and losing friends, finding new summer jobs, and involuntarily learning to be mentally tough.

A man showed up the same week we moved into our newly rented house and said he was looking to hire a teenager to make some cash and “learn the trade.”  The following day was my first day cleaning pigpens.  I’d never even seen a pigpen before. 

 While I cannot remember his name, I was attracted to this happy-go-lucky pig farmer with his outgoing nature and bubbly personality.  It was helpful that he had three daughters; one named Linda – about my age – the first girl I’d ever kissed.  I fondly remember that kiss.  It was like an electric charge that ran through my body.  It made us both smile widely.  She was so cute.

I also remember that first day in the pigpens.  It was memorable, and for a 13-year-old boy, it took plenty of grit to get through it.  Pigs are powerfully built and intelligent, big animals, and they remember how you treat them.  I think their memory is better than elephants, and pigs will hold a grudge.  Don’t ever get on their bad side.  You might be crushed up against a side railing or knocked over unexpectedly from behind and stomped on.  They are crafty creatures.  Respect them.  Treat them well.

That first day, my task was to clean two of the pigpens, I think to prove I was up to the job.  Cleaning the pens is a job that is important because that’s how you raise healthy pigs.  It controls roundworms which pigs are prone to get, keeps the bacteria down to a manageable level, and helps prevent diseases.  A clean pig is a happy pig.  My job, keep the pigs happy.

The pens I was to clean were slippery with solid pig waste and urine, hay to absorb the moisture, a concoction of wet anti-bacterial disinfectant, and rainwater that dripped through the barn ceiling.  Maybe that’s why I fell face-first into that dirty pen that day, and I was stunned, more by landing in the pig poop than by the fall.  Oh, did I mention that pig poop has a strong recognizable stench.  I didn’t know it then, but pigs like to poop on wet spots.  Of course, the entire pen was wet.  I also learned, that first day, cleaning the pens while wearing tennis shoes was figuring things out the hard way.  Typical of me.  I swear the pig farmer was dying from laughter, watching me struggle, get filthy, tear my pants at the knee, ruin my shoes, scrape my forehead, and vomit.

At the end of the first day (actually a half day), I was exhausted, and I remember little else after leaving the pig farm other than my mother making me take off all my clothes in the backyard and hosing me down before I was allowed in the house to get a “real” bath.  The pig farmer paid me five dollars in one-dollar bills for my efforts.  I had a real job.  I was rich.  The pig farmer liked me.  And I kissed a girl. 

The Summer would be one never to forget.  My mother, a wonderful woman, helped me more than I realized at the time.  She cleaned my clothes and had them ready for me every day.  She fed me a full breakfast and packed my lunch, usually a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich on white bread, an apple, and a cookie (my favorite) and placed them in a paper bag for carrying.  My dad was happy because I was a “man” since I had a job and contributing to the family.

I did learn one big lesson.  Don’t work on pig farms.  I joined the Army.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “Letters to my Granddaughter: No. 8

  1. Wild Bill

    Read the entire series. And I agree with those who are hoping this becomes Gen. Satterfield’s next book.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Wild Bill, first thanks for being a regular reader and contributor to my blog. Second, several have recommended that I make this series into a book. Good suggestions and I will think about it.

  2. Bird Man

    Pigpen cleaning, I just gotta laugh out loud. No wonder Gen. Satterfield is so easy going (well, at least I think so). He was picking cotton at 10 and now cleaning pigpens at 13. What more can he do to push himself into a regular workman’s shoes. He knows what it is like to be a hard worker and he has the respect of them and for them. Great men do this, weak men only complain and whine.

    1. North of Austin

      Ha Ha, I was thinking the same thing but Bird Man, you beat me to the punch. I love this series and hope it continues.

  3. Watson Bell

    “I did learn one big lesson. Don’t work on pig farms. I joined the Army.” LOL on this last para. 😂

  4. JT Patterson

    “I also remember that first day in the pigpens. It was memorable, and for a 13-year-old boy, it took plenty of grit to get through it. Pigs are powerfully built and intelligent, big animals, and they remember how you treat them. I think their memory is better than elephants, and pigs will hold a grudge. Don’t ever get on their bad side. You might be crushed up against a side railing or knocked over unexpectedly from behind and stomped on. They are crafty creatures. Respect them. Treat them well.” – Gen. Satterfield. This para says it all.

    1. Pooch T.

      I agree, JT. But it is the entirity of the series that makes me want more. I hope that Gen. Satterfield considers writing a book and maybe filling it with these letters and too an explanation why he wrote them and the full meaning. For example, he talks about his friend jumping off a bridge. what is the background? Inquiring minds would like to know.

      1. docwatson

        Pooch, we all would like to know. Gen. Satterfield, great job.

      2. Jerome Smith

        Good points, folks. And the best part is Gen. Satterfield is a great American Patriot.

  5. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Gen. Satterfield, thank you for the good idea. I’m going to do the same for my grandkids.

  6. Yusaf from Texas

    Excellent series. Looks like EVERYONE agrees with me on this one.

  7. Silly Man

    Very Very NICE series, Gen. Satterfield, keep this series going.

    1. Idiot Savant

      Yepper, we all love it because…. wait for it …. we learn more and more about the origins of why Gen. Satterfield thinks the way he thinks.

      1. Julia

        As most of us here have said repeatedly, Gen. Satterfield is a great guy and super leader. What we don’t often see, at least in the past, was what made up his upbringing and formative development that helped make him who he is. This series is really about how to be a better person and Gen. S. is using his experiences to get to that point. Well done for all us readers!!!!!!

          1. Kenny Foster

            You got that right, Emma.
            Don’t ya just love my emoji spread?

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