Her Little Pigs
By Bruce McGovern
I knew Berenice only as one
of my niece's friends. Two years ago, while I was recuperating from a major
illness (encephalitis, including six days in a coma in the American British
Cowdray Hospital in DF), she mentioned her pigs, and I told her about my dad's
pioneering work with close confinement of Landrace pigs, nearly forty years ago.
We had a long talk, which really surprised my nieces, who didn't know I knew
anything about pigs.
February 21, 1998, Berenice
invited me to visit her pig farm. It's near the highway to Pachuca, about
fifteen minutes beyond Teotihuacan. She inherited a cookie factory from her
father, and used some of the income to develop the pig farm. It is approximately
two acres, surrounded with a high wall, with the usual broken glass on top.
One building is for pregnant
sows; one for sows and unweaned pigs; one for weaned pigs; one for mixing
purchased sorghum with concentrate – and, a long one with a dozen pens, partly
covered, each pen holding litters of pigs for finishing. She ships about 400
finished pigs each year.
She uses a planned cross,
Landrace to Hampshire, then back to Landrace, to maintain hybrid vigors, just as
my dad did. Of course, she uses AI. It is an impressive operation. She keeps
records of pedigree, feed efficiency, etc. But, no computers – there's a
clipboard on the wall of each pen. By the way, she graduated from veterinary
school to learn all she could about pigs.
The farm includes two nice
houses, one for her employee and his family, the other used by Berenice and
guests when she visits. Running water; modern bath; TV; gas stove; all
exquisitely decorated with Mexican crafts and matching, comfortable furniture.
There is also a concrete volley ball court. She puts up a tent for parties.
Berenice is in her late
twenties, tall, well‑built, pretty and well mannered, intelligent, and
ambitious. She could use her income to lead an idle life, but she's at work by 6
a.m. every day. And, after our visit to the farm, she sat down at the piano, and
played, beautifully, “Matrimonio de Amor.”
As long as there is a
Berenice, Mexico has a future.