Down on the Farm in 2001

August 14, 2001

Down on the farm! That's where I was last week. We could sure use some rain. But so far, so good. The corn seems to be in good shape. And in walking in the fields, I was happy to find very good pollination. There is nothing that will cut yield like stalks without ears.

It has been hot. When it is hot, the pigs don't eat or gain weight like they should. Besides, it is a challenge just to keep the sows cool. As my son cranked up the auger wagon to haul feed to the finishing barns, I couldn't help but think about an article recently appearing in the paper.

"Scientists look to pigs as potential organ donors." I look at my pigs and wonder. If you need a heart and there aren't enough human hearts to meet demand, how about a heart from a good-hearted pig? There wouldn't be any shortage. There are other parts that might fulfill a need. Kidneys are in short supply. Livers would work.

What will the animal rights people have to say about pigs as organ donors? And will the recipients tend to squeal a lot and root around? According to the network which manages the national transplant waiting list, about 177,000 Americans stood in line for transplants last year, while 23,000 actually received them. The need for organ donors is documented. But why turn to the pig and not a cow or horse or sheep? The answer is simple. The pig's organs are the right size and pigs are smart. Chimps would be a good choice but the environmentalist would put a stop to that. There is a real problem of organ rejection that isn't solved yet but a lot of work is in process.

So,that's the way it is. Pigs are the donors of choice. Maybe they can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Until next week, I am John Block, down on the farm.