This article is from the March 2000 The Mexico File newsletter.
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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.