Bracken: Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life


From Matt Bracken:

Professional trappers don’t catch fast-breeding and destructive feral pigs using hunting dogs and guns, or in little traps one or two at a time. The wily pigs quickly learn to evade humans after such fleeting contacts. So how do the pros trap entire feral pig herds, eliminating them all, from granddads to piglets, in one go?

They feed them, most generously. They kill them with kindness.

First, in a clearing in the woods, the trappers build an enclosure about twenty feet on a side and four feet high, made of stout wire mesh. There is an opening on each of the four sides of the pen. The pen is loaded with corn and other pig favorites. At first, the suspicious hog honchos will send in a few of the little ones as scouts. The scouts come and go at will, eating to their piggy satisfaction, until eventually suspicions die and they are joined by every other member of the herd right up the chain of command. The pigs soon come to believe that if nothing bad has happened to them after entering the strange wire enclosure full of corn, then nothing bad will ever happen. Their “normalcy bias” kicks in very quickly.

Soon, the pigs can’t imagine any other life. Rooting for tubers? An unpleasant task of the forgotten past. Nightly the herd eagerly trots to the free corn in the pen, and they fail to notice when one of the openings has been closed off with another panel of wire fencing during the day. Pigs are said to be as smart as dogs, but neither can count to four. Nor are the closings of the second or third openings much noticed. Finally, all that remains for the trapper to do is to install a powerful spring-driven trap door above the last opening. The entire tribe of formerly wary feral hogs once again enters the pen, and with a metallic clang their miraculous corn nirvana turns into a death trap.

The moral of the story: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t go inside the “free corn” pen, not even when all the doors are open. Free food is as dangerous as the sirens’ song to ancient mariners. It is all too easy to get used to being fed, and then to miss the exits closing one at a time.

2. The Turkeys and Farmer Brown

Pigs are Einsteins compared to turkeys. Turkeys are so stupid that care must be taken to prevent them from killing themselves by accident. For example, if incorrectly stimulated, they might stampede into a corner of a feeding lot and trample many of their brethren to death in their urgency to follow the herd.

If turkeys think at all, they think of Farmer Brown as “the food man” or “the food god.” So you can imagine their simple and unreserved joy at seeing the food man arriving to dispense the daily manna. For 364 straight days they believe they are living in turkey heaven, and they worship the food man, until on day 365 he unexpectedly takes an ax to their necks. (Hat tip to Nassim Nicholas Taleb and his seminal book, “The Black Swan.” If you have not yet read it, you are way behind the learning curve. It’s waiting for you at your local library.)

The moral of the story: If somebody is feeding you every day and asking for nothing in return, give an occasional thought to his motives and his possible end plans. Not everybody that feeds you loves you. The normalcy bias can kill you.

3. The Buffalo Jump

Native American Indians hunted on foot before the arrival of Spanish horses in North America. Bows and arrows and spears were not showstoppers against stampeding herds of bison, each weighing up to a ton. The Indians understood bison much better than the bison understood the Indians, however, and so the bison repeatedly failed to discern that all the pesky humans waving flags and setting grass fires were funneling them into a narrow draw and then to a yawning cliff, with squaws and children waiting below to commence the butchery.

The moral of the story: If you are being stampeded and funneled, it might be toward disaster, not away from it. Take any exit and go another direction. Read about the Greek city of Smyrna in 1922 to see a human Buffalo Jump in action.

4. The Lemmings

The lemmings we are interested in are the small furry rodents that live on islands around Norway. For most of history, their mass charges into the frigid waters were seen as some kind of group suicide. Today, they’re understood to be the result of the little rodent’s rapid gestation period kicking into high gear during rare periods of abundance of seed grasses sprouting madly during particularly mild arctic summers. In a matter of months the lemming population explodes, but eventually every last seed is eaten, and not another seed will appear until after the passage of the long arctic winter. The starving rodents packing the small islands can either die in place or undertake a desperate swim to greener pastures on other islands beckoning in the distance.

The moral of the story: There doesn’t need to be a pig trapper or a turkey farmer in the equation to cause a mass die-off event; nature can do it all on her own. And nature doesn’t care about your schedule, or your personal problems.

5. The Land Crab Massacre

One day in Puerto Rico a platoon of Navy SEALs had to drive in a few trucks and vans to an isolated rifle range way out in some swampy corner of the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, now sadly closed. A few miles of gravel road paralleled the Caribbean shore, with mangrove trees close on both sides of the narrow track. You had to access this rifle range at certain times during the daily tidal cycle, or the road might be under water. The frogmen spent the day shooting guns and blowing things up, then at sunset packed up the trucks for the quick run back to their beloved NavSpecWar Det Caribbean.

Truck headlights illuminated a moving sheet of land crabs, migrating from the ocean toward the land for the night. Land crabs have a body about the size of a fist, and one claw as big as a Maine lobster’s. They were so tightly packed that you could not toss a hat into their midst without hitting two or three: a near solid mass of them covering a mile of gravel road and the mangrove swamps on both sides. All the SEALs could do was drive over them in their government trucks, pulverizing thousands of them, maybe millions, leaving two wide swaths of crushed crab, crackling and squishing beneath our tires for a mile.

On the return trip to the range the next day, not a sign remained of the land crab holocaust. The smashed crustaceans had been immediately devoured by their erstwhile kin, who were probably happy that the hard work of shell-cracking had already been done by Goodyear tires. A mile-long crab massacre was followed by a cannibal feast that left no trace, overnight.

The moral of the story: Don’t be caught in the middle of a mass migration where you have no room to maneuver independently. Any outside force, or your neighbors, can smite you at will. Like Desert Storm’s “Highway of Death,” refugee columns attract warbird attention the way that honey attracts flies. History is full of refugee columns being strafed, on purpose or through mis-identification. Or like the bison, refugee columns can be herded into traps, and the individual refugee can do nothing to prevent it. This is a paradoxical case where the normally presumed “safety in numbers” is a deadly betrayer instead of a savior. Given a choice, going it alone beats The Buffalo Jump every time, but it’s very hard to bolt from the herd.

6. The Rat Flood

This occurs in northeastern India and parts of Burma. Only in the last century was this bizarre cycle of human famine following unexplained super plagues of rats finally understood. It turns out that forests of a certain bamboo species go into a wild explosion of fruiting, producing seed nuts on a 48-year cycle, a trick of nature that had been missed until the middle of the 20th century. Intrigued by the half-century cycle of human famines reported in 1862, 1911, and 1959, modern scientists finally noticed the link between the famines and the bamboo tree cycle. By 2006, the next time the bamboo began to fruit, they were on hand to observe the complete phenomenon.

The superabundance of nuts every 48 years leads to an explosion in the population of Asian black rats, which live in the bamboo forests. Because of their rapid breeding cycle, the number of rats per acre shoots up to astronomical levels, eventually the entire mega-crop of nuts is consumed, and a lemming-like mass starvation follows.

Millions of starving rats break out from the forests in what the local people call the Rat Flood. The onrushing solid tide of scurrying rats destroys entire crops in the ground and attack unprotected granaries, leading to an immediate human famine. Millions of dying, dead and decaying rats add to the misery by polluting streams and causing other intensely nasty sanitary problems. A once-every-48-years bamboo nut super-fruiting leads to millions of rats and then to human famine.

The moral of the story: If subtle connections are missed, a radical new situation may at first wrongly be considered a Black Swan Event. But sometimes the Black Swans can be seen in advance, if seemingly unconnected links and mechanisms are properly understood. And if you’re not sure what a Black Swan Event is, you definitely need to read the book.

7. Lions, Hippos and Crocodiles

Certain stretches of African rivers dry up from time to time, stranding all the water-dependent creatures in a new desert-scape dotted with evaporating ox-bow lakes. During the normal times of plentiful water, hippos and crocs are the masters of the riverine environment. Lions and elephants interface with them at the edges, but pose no challenge to the undisputed lords of the river.

That is, until the water level drops during a severe drought cycle, and the last stagnant ponds dry to cracked mud. Then the crocs and hippos, already starving and dehydrated, must bolt overland to discover another pond or river extension. Few of them moving cross-country in the desert heat live to see another waterhole. Their overland fatality rate is lemming-like, as lions, hyenas and vultures swarm in when they finally drop to the earth.

The moral of the story: Don’t be a hippo if your stretch of river might dry up. Be adaptable to many environments, not just the master of one that might prove to be impermanent. Better yet, be a bird, able to fly away to a safe location as conditions on the ground change for the worse. Have an agile mobility plan—or two or three.

8. Hungry Horses

If you read a lot, you will run across these stories a few times a year. As a recurring phenomenon it’s not as well known as some of the others, but it happens often enough to merit attention. Do an internet search on starving horses, and you will find many such sad stories. Typically, a utility company repairman, meter reader, contractor or salesman will visit a remote ranch or farm and be horrified at the sight of dozens or more starving horses or cows. There may even be dead livestock on the ground. The witness informs the sheriff, who comes out and arrests the land owner for animal cruelty and other charges.

The land owner will usually end up doing prison time, often for what he believes was no crime. He was merely doing the best he could, but times were hard. He had lost his job or been injured, but bottom line, he couldn’t afford trips to the feed store. They were just plain hungry times, they were all hungry, but the livestock would fatten up again just as soon as he got enough money for the feed, or the drought ended and greened up the fields. And it’s going to rain any day now.

This dynamic recalls Confederate Major Henry Wirz, the commander of the open-air POW camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Everybody was hungry, civilian, military and prisoner. They were hungry times. There was no food to give the detainees. Nobody had a plan for the Union POWs, except to corral them in a given location. In the year before April 1865, nearly one-third of the 45,000 Union prisoners died. Wirz was hanged in Washington late in 1865, after one of the first American war-crime trials, yet to this day many believe he got a raw deal. After all, his apologists say, he was doing the best he could under the terrible circumstances.

The moral of the story: The guy who is starving you may sincerely be trying to feed you, but his best efforts might not be enough. In the end, if you are penned in, you can be killed by simple starvation and neglect, requiring no directly malign intention by your captors. Starvation just happens naturally when insufficient food is coming into the enclosure.

9. The Crazy Cat Lady

When the stink of the crazy cat lady’s house sufficiently annoys the neighborhood, she is either found inside dead, or if she is still alive she must be taken away to the crazy old people’s home. After the surviving starved cats are taken away by folks in hazmat suits, her house will often be burned down to prevent the spread of disease. Most of the rescued cats are too far gone and must be euthanized at the animal shelter.

Yet her motives were perfectly pure! The crazy old lady truly loved her pets. She could not bear to imagine them out in the cold rain, hungry and alone, so she invited them inside. Imagine that you are the fifth or sixth cat adopted into her warm and dry house. An old stray would consider himself to have landed in cat paradise. Soft rugs, plentiful food, and a kind human hand await inside. Purrr-fect. It’s a great deal even if you are the tenth cat invited inside, but not so great when you are the two hundredth and the inside population is breeding unchecked. The crazy old cat lady, in spite of her very good intentions, ends up presiding over the feline version of Auschwitz, a true death machine, killing her beloved cats slowly by starvation, dehydration, and disease.

The moral of the story: Good intentions don’t mean squat if you trap other living beings inside an enclosure and then you can’t feed them in perpetuity. The holocaust that results is still on you. Expressed good intentions about your trapped population will not be accepted. “I was doing my best to help them” will ring as hollow a defense as “I was just following orders.” North Korea comes to mind as a very large enclosure.

10. The Grasshopper and the Locust

Grasshoppers are the same creature as locusts, but as population density and crowding increase, the small green insects undergo a morphological change caused by increasing tactile stimulation that leads to new hormonal releases. Little Jiminy Cricket will more than double in size, take on a darkened and armored appearance, and develop effective flying wings. The morphing locusts will breed even more often, in preparation for their famous swarming behavior.

The tiny grasshoppers, instead of accepting the fate of other overpopulated, starving species, turn into warrior invaders and take wing to go in search of greener pastures, leaving famine and death in their wake. An emergency breakout plan is part of their DNA.

The moral of the story: Soft and timid little creatures can turn fearsome and go on the warpath if their very survival is at stake. Even a weak and normally helpless neighbor can become a danger if his survival is at stake, especially if he joins a gang where he benefits from strength in numbers.

Larger Lessons

If somebody else is feeding you—even if you entered the community or the building of your own free will, even if all the doors and gates are currently open or unlocked—you may already be living in your future prison. All it takes is a change in management to turn your Holiday Inn into San Quentin. Like the feral pigs, you might find that the exits are all sealed off, and the free food was meant only to lure you in and fatten you for slaughter.

If you are kept in an enclosure, even if you are currently being fed with food brought in from outside, you are living at the mercy of the status quo. The benevolent dictator who satisfies your needs may be replaced overnight by Caligula or Stalin. Your Holiday Inn might be sold to or taken over by the next Nazi SS.

Or authority might be abdicated entirely, leaving prisoners starving in their pens and cells; think Baghdad Zoo after the 2003 American invasion. A power vacuum, such as occurs when the crazy cat lady becomes infirm, can be as deadly to a trapped population as the turkey farmer and the pig hunter are to their own deliberate target populations.

Creatures that are able to flee starvation will do so.

If presented with an impossible barrier, they might attempt a lemming-like swim, or head across desert terrain like hippos fleeing the last dried-up pond. But they will try. They will not starve in place.

Or starving millions may break out and appear like a sudden refugee tidal wave, as is the case with the Rat Flood in India. Or the millions might turn warlike and break out violently like locusts, bent on temporary conquest and laying waste to the land in their search for sustenance. But few creatures will starve to death quietly in their dens. Social ecologists will ignore this lesson at their peril.

Most of these parables involve a densely packed population that undergoes a cutoff in their food supply that is too rapid to permit them an adjustment period. The more densely packed the population, the more likely that when their food is abruptly cut off, they will attempt to break out in search of new food sources.

Urban areas in the United States and other countries present many risks similar to some of the parables cited above. America has somehow evolved a system for artificially maintaining the lives of millions inside open-air prisons, with free food dispensed to the voluntarily semi-incarcerated. It is all too easy to grow dependent on free food, as the feral pigs might attest. Turkeys don’t know any better, being born in captivity, but the same fate awaits them at the end of the free-food line.

Today we have become a nation of slaves.

One group is made up of the wage-slaves, working for the government so that politicians can dispense largesse to their pet interest groups in return for their votes. Fifty million Americans are currently enslaved on the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) food-stamp plantation. The masters of both the producers and the moochers are the looters “employed” in the government sector, robbing Peter to buy Paul’s vote in order to raise taxes on Peter yet again. Combined, the looters and the moochers will always outnumber the producers, until some population-altering event disrupts the status quo. (Hat tip to Neil Boortz for his looters, producers, and moochers trichotomy.)

The urban population density is obviously high, with no possibility of providing its own food through local agriculture. In the event of a food supply disruption, such as a breakdown of the EBT system, it is very likely that a large part of the urban population will break out in search of food rather than quietly starving in place after all the supermarkets and other nearby food sources are looted.

Like restarting a diesel engine with an air-locked fuel line, getting the food supply system of a city running again cannot be done by turning a key and stomping on the accelerator. The diesel engine air-lock must be tediously purged and the injectors bled. This takes time, and there is no shortcut method, no matter your state of desperation to get the engine running. The “just in time” food supply system and our lack of old-fashioned food warehouses will worsen the air-lock in the broken food supply. It will be extremely tricky to restart the food supply conveyor into an out-of-control city in the thrall of deadly food riots. The hungry population may break out in anger before the authorities are able to introduce some type of emergency feeding plans. In fact, the desperate rioting mobs, paradoxically, will be the main impediment to delivering the food. FEMA might rescue one or a few cities, but will be impotent if the food supply crisis is widespread and many cities are affected.

In normal times our urban inhabitants are free to come and go at will. But cities are usually divided into manageable sections by highways, railroad trunk lines, rivers, ravines, steep mountainsides and other manmade or geographical features. The authorities, or those living in areas adjoining the boroughs experiencing starvation, may or may not permit free entry or passage of hungry refugees. If the authorities or suburban vigilantes wish to stop the breakout of the starving masses, it will have to be done with extreme force, if it can be done at all.

Roughly, these are the three alternatives facing those who find themselves in an urban area when the outside supply of food stops:

1. Die in place like the neglected horses or the felines trapped in the crazy old cat lady’s house of horrors. This only happens to captive populations, but it happens. Some armed force might be guarding the bridges and highways around your ‘hood, with strict orders to “contain the problem.” The Warsaw Ghetto could become the model for ultimate urban renewal and a radical rebalancing of the moocher-to-producer population ratio. As with the crazy old cat lady’s putrid house, fire may be the cleanser of choice. Again, read about Smyrna in 1922.

2. Attempt relocation too late, like the lemmings and the hippos. This was the fate of many of the Jews in Germany, the Armenians and Greeks in Turkey, and the Christians in the Middle East today. The human normalcy bias is so strong that it’s difficult for most people to understand, after a few peaceful generations, that bad can go to worse and then to fatal in a few unexpected jumps. Jews, Armenians and Greeks all clung to the belief that things could only get better—until it was too late to flee successfully. The Copts in Egypt may be the next population of Christians marched into a desert to die, while the world watches.

3. Break out, like the bamboo forest rats and the locusts in search of more nutrition in the next valley. But don’t expect to be welcomed in the next county if you are forced into a mass refugee exodus. Instead, you will be considered a plague of hungry locusts, and locusts are exterminated whenever possible. When you move into the hinterland you may find crude signs posted stating that Trespassers Will Be Shot On Sight. Signs put up by very serious hard-eyed people with more scoped deer rifles than EBT cards among them.

It will now be pointed out that there are more rural than urban users of the EBT system. This may be true in absolute numbers, but it is not important. There is a reason why the parables in this essay focus on situations where population densities are high when the food-rug is pulled out from under. Out in the wider country, there is a likelihood of the former EBT user moving in with other rural kin. Truck gardens and farmer’s markets are not such a distant memory, and arable land is plentiful. A deer or a pig might wind up over a fire. “A country boy can survive,” to quote one modern philosopher.

But there will be no surviving within the urban death traps when the seemingly perpetual food conveyor grinds to a halt for any of a number of causes. The only question is, will the EBT urban plantation slaves die in place, penned in by suburban rifle fire or other means, or will they break out in a starving flood? Possibly even with government help, on government buses? To be taken to whatever wire-fenced FEMA camp enclosure awaits them—or perhaps to your local high schools as a “temporary” measure?

Either way, what an unholy mess we find ourselves in. Our urban plantation population of EBT slaves has become a Damocles Sword hanging above the greater society. That perpetual food conveyor had better not experience a hiccup—for any reason—or in an eye blink there will be unholy hell to pay. Wise citizens will carefully consider the meta-terrain around them for future Black Swans, Black Swans that in reality might be located at the intersections of already understood natural phenomena and the unintended consequences of social experimentation gone disastrously wrong.

The final moral of the story: Don’t live in—or near—a densely populated enclosure where all the food is brought in from outside, even if today the exit doors are all open.

(And now I will be called the usual pejoratives by the usual politically correct imbeciles, who would condemn a child for noticing that a too-swiftly receding ocean tide might be a tsunami warning. “Don’t ever mention tsunamis!” the imbeciles will shout. “It is forbidden! Tabu! Haram! If you mention tsunamis, you will bring them!” Wise people ignore these imbeciles and press on with learning, and warning.)

37 responses to “Bracken: Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life

  1. The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp

    based on a telling by George Gordon

    Some years ago, about 1900, an old trapper from North Dakota hitched up some
    horses to his Studebaker wagon, packed a few possessions — especially his traps
    – and drove south.

    Several weeks later he stopped in a small town just north of the Okefenokee
    Swamp in Georgia.

    It was a Saturday morning — a lazy day — when he walked into the general
    store. Sitting around the pot-bellied stove were seven or eight of the town’s
    local citizens.

    The traveler spoke. “Gentlemen, could you direct me to the Okefenokee
    Swamp?”

    Some of the oldtimers looked at him like he was crazy.

    “You must be a stranger in these parts,” they said.

    “I am. I’m from North Dakota,” said the stranger.

    “In the Okefenokee Swamp are thousands of wild hogs.” one old man explained.
    “A man who goes into the swamp by himself asks to die!”

    He lifted up his leg. “I lost half my leg here, to the pigs of the swamp.”

    Another old fellow said, “Look at the cuts on me; look at my arm bit off!”

    “Those pigs have been free since the Revolution, eating snakes and rooting
    out roots and fending for themselves for over a hundred years.
    They’re wild and they’re dangerous. You can’t trap them. No man dare go into
    the swamp by himself.”

    Every man nodded his head in agreement.

    The old trapper said, “Thank you so much for the warning. Now could you
    direct me to the swamp?”

    They said, “Well, yeah, it’s due south — straight down the road.”

    But they begged the stranger not to go, because they knew he’d meet a
    terrible fate.

    He said, “Sell me ten sacks of corn, and help me load it in the wagon.” And
    they did.

    Then the old trapper bid them farewell and drove on down the road. The
    townsfolk thought they’d never see him again.

    Two weeks later the man came back. He pulled up to the general store, got
    down off the wagon, walked in and bought ten more sacks of corn.

    After loading it up he went back down the road toward the swamp.

    Two weeks later he returned and again bought ten sacks of corn.

    This went on for a month. And then two months, and three.

    Every week or two the old trapper would come into town on a Saturday
    morning, load up ten sacks of corn, and drive off south into the swamp.

    The stranger soon became a legend in the little village and the subject of
    much speculation. People wondered what kind of devil had possessed this man,
    that he could go into the Okefenokee by himself and not be consumed by the
    wild and free hogs.

    One morning the man came into town as usual. Everyone thought he wanted more
    corn.

    He got off the wagon and went into the store where the usual group of men
    were gathered around the stove. He took off his gloves.

    “Gentlemen,” he said, “I need to hire about ten or fifteen wagons. I need
    twenty or thirty men.”

    “I have six thousand hogs out in the swamp, penned up, and they’re all
    hungry. I’ve got to get them to market right away.”

    “You’ve WHAT in the swamp?” asked the storekeeper, incredulously.

    “I have six thousand hogs penned up. They haven’t eaten for two or three
    days, and they’ll starve if I don’t get back there to feed and take care of them.”

    One of the oldtimers said, “You mean you’ve captured the wild hogs of the
    Okefenokee?”

    “That’s right.”

    “How did you do that? What did you do?” the men urged, breathlessly.

    One of them exclaimed, “But I lost my arm!”

    “I lost my brother!” cried another.

    “I lost my leg to those wild boars!” chimed a third.

    The trapper said, “Well, the first week I went in there they were wild all
    right.”

    “They hid in the undergrowth and wouldn’t come out. I dared not get off the
    wagon.”

    “So I spread corn along behind the wagon. Every day I’d spread a sack of
    corn.”

    “The old pigs would have nothing to do with it.”

    “But the younger pigs decided that it was easier to eat free corn than it
    was to root out roots and catch snakes. So the very young began to eat the
    corn first.”

    “I did this every day. Pretty soon, even the old pigs decided that it was
    easier to eat free corn.”

    “After all, they were all free; they were not penned up. They could run off
    in any direction they wanted at any time.”

    “The next thing was to get them used to eating in the same place all the
    time. So I selected a clearing, and I started putting the corn in the clearing.”

    “At first they wouldn’t come to the clearing. It was too far. It was too
    open. It was a nuisance to them.”

    “But the very young decided that it was easier to take the corn in the
    clearing than it was to root out roots and catch their own snakes.
    And not long thereafter, the older pigs also decided that it was easier to come
    to the clearing every day.”

    “And so the pigs learned to come to the clearing every day to get their free
    corn.”

    “They could still subsidize their diet with roots and snakes and whatever
    else they wanted. After all, they were all free.
    They could run in any direction at any time. There were no bounds upon them.”

    “The next step was to get them used to fence posts.”

    “So I put fence posts all the way around the clearing. I put them in the
    underbrush so that they wouldn’t get suspicious or upset.”

    “After all, they were just sticks sticking up out of the ground, like the
    trees and the brush. The corn was there every day.
    It was easy to walk in between the posts, get the corn, and walk back out.”

    “This went on for a week or two. Shortly they became very used to walking
    into the clearing, getting the free corn, and walking back out through the
    fence posts.”

    “The next step was to put one rail down at the bottom. I also left a few
    openings, so that the older, fatter pigs could walk through the openings and
    the younger pigs could easily jump over just one rail.”

    “After all, it was no real threat to their freedom or independence. They
    could always jump over the rail and flee in any direction at any time.”

    “Now I decided that I wouldn’t feed them every day. I began to feed them
    every other day.”

    “On the days I didn’t feed them the pigs still gathered in the clearing.
    They squealed, and they grunted, and they begged and pleaded with me to
    feed them.”

    “But I only fed them every other day. And I put a second rail around the
    posts.”

    “Now the pigs became more and more desperate for food. Because now they were
    no longer used to going out and digging their own roots and finding their own food.
    They now needed me. They needed my corn every other day.”

    “So I trained them that I would feed them every day if they came in through
    a gate. And I put up a third rail around the fence.”

    “But it was still no great threat to their freedom, because there were
    several gates and they could run in and out at will.”

    “Finally I put up the fourth rail.”

    “Then I closed all the gates but one, and I fed them very, very well.”

    “Yesterday I closed the last gate. And today I need you to help me take
    these pigs to market.”

    – end of story –

    The price of free corn

    The allegory of the pigs has a serious moral lesson. This story is about
    federal money being used to bait, trap and enslave a once free and independent
    people.

    Federal welfare, in its myriad forms, has reduced not only individuals to a
    state of dependency. State and local governments are also on the fast track
    to elimination, due to their functions being subverted by the command and control
    structures of federal “revenue sharing” programs.

    Please copy this flyer and send it to all your state and local elected
    leaders and other concerned citizens.

    Tell them: “Just say NO to federal corn.”

    The bacon you save may be your own.

  2. Very nice. Very good article. Well thought out an organized and right on point. Thank you.

  3. Pure, unadulterated genius.

  4. Amen, Matt. Some of us have been castigated as being “less than brave” for not staying in the urban areas to fight the “good fight” against tyranny and mayhem amongst those dense populations. I’ll stick with living rurally, where some hard work and a bit of preparation can provide not only a living for myself and those I choose to assist, but also, perhaps, a base from which to sally out to pick off some of the folks engaging in tyranny, and some of the folks engaging in looting, raping, and killing, as well – but I repeat myself.

  5. Don’t think I could add anything to Matts writing, as usual, it’s damn good stuff. Saw “Militia Rising” tonight on Discovery Channel, yeow, what a hoot. The guys in Florida were probably the best, and at least had a plan for what to do. The Arizona gang are kidding themselves that they are doing anything important, watching and reporting on illegals and drug runners at the border. They are going to get themselves or someone else killed. But those lard asses in Indiana are not to be believed. Almost all of them are clueless, have seen too many movies, eaten too much of whatever, and are somehow convinced all that tacticool crap they were wheezing around in makes them “militia”. The colonel, one of them, although I could say three of them, is an idiot giving orders almost non stop to about a fire teams worth of men. Their camp was a joke, camoflage “tents” of tarp and a blue one, a white bucket water filtration system in plain view, and all of them and it out in an open area that could have been sneaked up on by a blind man. The “colonel” and “Sgt. Major” sneak up and shoot the guys with airsoft, causing “casualties”, and in turn run out of ammo and are captured. Nobody made a move to practice first aid for the wounded, and nobody really knew what any of it was about. I am real glad I ain’t in no militia, especially like the ones they’re in. I believe Matt has also pointed out the probable necessity of combining for a neighborhood protection plan, to sway the “golden hordes” to look for easier pickings, and the aesops fables he writes this time make for an all too easy to see scenario for our future. I got work to do, and lots of it.

    • bpfreebuckeye

      No kidding…I stumbled on that show & watched most of it. It was funny & sad…we laughed & cried…It must only be the most incompetent amongst us are attracted to the invitation to be involved in a show like that…maybe it is there to make the truely preparing folks feel overconfident, believing they are miles ahead of these guys, so you must be doing all right…? Don’t fall for it. Either way great poinst Sean, & thank you Matt for the refresher on many a fine parrable
      bpfreebuckeye

  6. You forgot to remind folks that……..there is always free cheese in a mouse trap. Well, I suppose the pig story could qualify as the same thing.

  7. Matt’s article(s) nails what is coming at us. Location is everything.

  8. Great allegories, but I fear the cognoscenti in the cesspool of DC will not stop their deluge of effluent. Sooner rather than later there will be a break down of the funding. I only hope it hits DC first to give them a full measure of the devotion they’ve courted!

  9. Bracken….you are most enlightened. Great essay.

    DAN III
    “There Are Enemies Amongst Us”

  10. Great stuff Matt. Writing this note 5 miles from Detroit and shuddering.
    Preps are set, thank you for your tutelage and God Bless.

  11. This is pure gold.
    Nature is a cruel bitch. We have been force fed happy endings for so many decades that the average schmuck no can no longer conceive that he might freeze to death this very winter, or even be in the throws of starvation before his monthly cable bill is due.

  12. Pingback: Government Corn « Liberty and Lead

  13. Pingback: Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life - INGunOwners

  14. Before WWII, my Dad had a medical practice in Hot Springs AK in a professional building directly across the street from the main entrance to one of the best hotels. Because his name began with one of the first consonants, it was not unusual for a sick hotel resident to cross the street into the building, see his name atop the tenant directory, and walk in his waiting room.

    Additionally, it was common practice for Chicago gangsters to vacation in Hot Springs, to gamble, drink and take in the “hot baths”. Hot Springs was a “DMZ” where if you didn’t start trouble, you wouldn’t get trouble as enforced by the symbiotes of LEO/MOB. Coincidentally, my grandfather worked in a large wholesale grocery supply house in Hot Springs, too. My grandfather’s emporium sold a lot – no, I mean a LOT – of refined sugar.

    So, one day a sick mobster walks out of the hotel, across the street and into my Dad’s where he receives prompt, effective treatment and enjoys a quick recovery. Inquiries are made by the former patient and connections are discovered. Shortly thereafter, my Dad gets an invitation to go razorback hunting. He is advised to accept this display of appreciation.

    Upon agreeing to go, he is advised to put on his tuxedo and show up at a local airstrip at the appointed time. These instructions seem inconsistent with the stated plan but he shows up as “suggested”. After boarding a small plane, there is a short flight to a remote strip in the Ozarks next to a very large house with no obvious vehicular access.

    What follows next is a large, opulent formal dinner into the evening attended by many personal servants. After dinner, the host announces the hunt will begin and everyone goes upstairs to a large balcony providing a view of the quiet mountain evening. Thompsons are provided and when all are ready, flood lights suddenly brightly illuminate the grounds. The light reveals a herd of razorbacks feeding from a pile of bait corn. The guns roar and the hogs are slaughtered.

    Everyone returns downstairs for after-dinner drinks and smokes. The next day the plane returns my Dad to Hot Springs. It is unknown how the hogs were disposed. He only went bird hunting after that experience.He was duck hunting when he learned the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor on the radio, so he returned to town and enlisted into the U.S. Army Air Corps that day, serving as a flight surgeon.

  15. So our Pig trapper is a very dispicable character. He has just trapped a load of pigs on Farmer Johns farm. Farmer John has paid him a handsome sum to haul the pigs away and promises to pay him again if pigs come back.
    Our Pig trapper drives off and a few miles down the road he sees another very nice farm. Later that night he returns to that very nice farm and sets that load of pigs loose again on this very nice farm.
    About three weeks later he drives back to that very nice farm which belongs to Farmer Ted. Farmer Ted agrees to pay him to trap the pigs just like farmer John did after he set the pigs loose on his farm.

    Moral of the story is you can be the farmer and still get screwed by the trapper.

    • Jimmy the Saint

      The trapper should try setting up shop in California’s central valley. As soon as he got the first wire fences set up, they’d get stolen that very night for the metal….

      Just because one is a predator, it doesn’t mean that he’s the apex predator.

      • LOL
        Pretty much the same here. If one to leave corn out in the open, some hillybilly would come along and take it to make sour mash moonshine ;^)

      • Jimmy government is always the apex predator.

  16. robroysimmons

    Great writing by Matt. An update on pig trapping methods inline with today’s tech. The pig eliminators will trap a young pig scout and put a radio transponder on it and then release it. The young pig being a herd animal will return to a sounder (wild pig herd), and then the shooters will locate the main group and set an ambush of it.

  17. “That perpetual food conveyor had better not experience a hiccup—for any reason—or in an eye blink there will be unholy hell to pay”

    You mean like this?:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/124049.html

  18. indyjonesouthere

    And remember that the looters will likely want to redistribute your pantry as a way to calm the moochers when their social experiment begins to collapse. Keep quiet about your goods and have them out of sight. Fire and backfire have tactical value.

  19. Great stuff Matt. One again, hit the nail on the head.

    And for the record, don’t judge Militia’s by what you see on TV anymore than you should judge preppers by what was shown on Discovery Network.

    In response to the “Milita bashers”:

    Militias are by nature local, most serving a single county or town.
    Some are state wide organizations with hundreds of members. Most
    follow some kind of military rank structure, others are simply
    Militant Preppers who band together to train. The one thing that
    identifies a true militia (as opposed to a select militia, armed
    vigilantes, or gang) is an adherence to the Constitution. Many are
    strict constructionists using only the original draft and bill of
    rights as a moral compass.

    In spite of the similarities every Militia stands apart and is different, simply because of the varied nature of the Patriot/Liberty Movements.

    Some groups allow anyone to join with no background checks, others
    vet members rigorously. Some do not allow gays or Muslims. Some are
    made up primarily of ex-LEO and Mil. Others are mostly civilians or
    farmers/ranchers. Some are very private, and others like ours are public and well known. Our unit here is about half ex-mil and half
    regular folks.

    I started recruiting neighbors and friends, then family. Then I branched out and passed out some cards at the gun range and gun shows.
    It took four years of meetings, face to face dinners, interviews
    and headaches to get to where we are now. (12 members and
    families). During that same time period about as many have joined
    and then left for a variety of reasons.(Job, Fear, angry Wives etc.)

    I just keep pushing on, even when it seems like the most thankless,
    worthless, unrewarding job on the planet. Add to that the constant
    threat of LEO violence against my home, legal attacks by the gov
    (IRS etc). And I am sure you can see that it is a pain in the ass
    to run a group.

    In spite of all that, I still do it. I serve for my kids and my
    community. I serve for the ideals that this country was founded
    on, but mostly I serve because no one else will do the job. If you
    start a group and invest the time, resources and mental energy in
    getting a unit functioning, there IS a peace of mind that comes
    from knowing you will not stand alone when the time comes.

    No, the Militia is not full of high-speed, low-drag “Operators”,
    but it as a body pre-dates every other edifice in our Nation, including the
    government. And we have not forgotten where we came from. A dozen units or more have turned down multiple requests for media coverage simply because of the portrayal and prejudice shown here.

    We do the best we can with what we have. We adapt and overcome challenges that keep the majority of you at home. So before you bad mouth the Militia perhaps you should step up and bring YOUR badass skillset to an FTX. What’s that? Too busy? Might get followed by DHS?
    FBI might tap your phone? Wife doesn’t want you gone all weekend?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought…

    • bpfreebuckeye

      Sandman, If my thoughts were taken as bad mouthing the Militia, that was not my intent. I was purely commenting on the show Sean brought up. I don’t believe he was disparaging the Milita either, but I won’t pretent to speak for him, he can do that for himself. I’ve looked you in the eye & shook your hand & I believe you are doing the work that must be done. I applaud you brother. If I were closer to your area I would be proud to stand by you & yours. I have tribe, we’re working, but like everyone else we have a ways to go, & like you we strive for continual improvement. You are an inspiration to me & others. Keep doing what you are doing, it is necessary work, please pass along my best to all your members.
      Bpfreebuckeye

  20. Excellent piece, and I commend Matt for his mention of “Black Swan” and the turkey’s event horizon elucidated therein. But I dissent with regard to the view in this piece and throughout the contributions and comments on this site that survival and resistance are possible and desirable only in the deep countryside, on farms and in the mountains. No movement can turn the tide that doesn’t have its doctors, engineers and lawyers, or that forsakes the concentration of culture, history and the advantages of proximity available only in cities. The issue is only which cities, and why. Obviously, the first criterion would be the percentage of Whites and the blue-red balance. The second would be situation in a fertile, food-producing zone. The third would be topographical features like navigable rivers, proximity to the coast, defensibility (e.g. mountains) on at least one side, etc.

  21. Another Anon

    If things go far south, never forget humans evolved from or if you prefer a creationist POV have many traits in common with banding primates. If someone is not part of your tribe, well known to you or best related to you by blood or marriage, they are always a threat. C.F the entire Middle East

    This means to maintain any scale above this is to keep the material stress index low.

    Also most ideology these days is synthetic in the sense that people go along to get along. This means you cannot count on anyone being a true believer and not flipping sides. Everyone is a potential Benedict Arnold till proven otherwise.

    This puts folks in an awkward position, people with no urge to rule have to get things stable and build their local power base fast enough to prevent other groups from taking over. Essentially, you are racing local civilization against warlordism.

    And yes, this is a local thing, not a national one. The only real national solution is for multiple groups to acting independently to similar goals, “think globally, act locally” in Leftist parlance.

    If this is done, you can have a broad are of control in the original Constitutional fashion. Fail and you control what you control.

    A last bit of advice, more than a few people just want to watch the world burn or just want revenge . This means you really can’t hide or operate as a loner. They’ll just burn your forest redoubt down around you or overload a convenient nuke plat or pour rad waste in your water upstream just for sport . You need tribe and lots of it. Not only will this provide security but happiness as well. Tribe up or go down …

    • So true. these ‘lone wolf types’ who I refer to as “Gunkids”, are going to die as they didn’t ‘tribe up’. The worst, as far as I’m concerned, is Lootie & Company are going to pocession of first class arms and ammo. And probably Night Vision devices, BP vests, all the goodies I can’t afford.
      But hopefully, they are just 13 year olds, playing badass on the Internet.
      Time will tell

  22. If the FSA is killed by those who feed it, then the FSA will no longer exist and can’t do the lemming or grasshopper behavior. The FSA would no longer exist to tweak white guilt, or to vote Democrat or Republican. Which sides would this strengthen, and which would it weaken?

    The financial destruction of the middle class serves as a backburn in firefighting, or a salted Earth strategy in war. If the FSA swarms, it can destroy until it starves but it won’t find much to live on in the new place.

    Many of these strategies remind me of the Bug Out from prepper porn, the heroic journey which is promised to magically fix everything and lead to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    • –Many of these strategies remind me of the Bug Out from prepper porn, the heroic journey which is promised to magically fix everything and lead to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.–

      These stories never seem to end with “and then some guy hiding in the bushes shot John Survivalist in the head.”

      The bugout is a game of roulette.
      The unprepared pick a number.
      The prepared pick a colour.

      Not good enough odds as far as I’m concerned. The time to bug out is NOW.

    • Quote:
      “Many of these strategies remind me of the Bug Out from prepper porn, the heroic journey which is promised to magically fix everything and lead to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

      On what planet?
      Not a single prepper I know (dozens) thinks that a Bug Out will “fix” anything. Most are well-grounded realists, who understand that a “bug out scenario is a “worst case” scenario.

  23. RE:’pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’.
    Correct, I suspect a lot of folks will just give up and die when they can’t get their porn,t.v., pro-sports games, dope and the like.
    It was observed that in POW camps, some guys got ‘the look’ and died in a few days. One needs to have hope in order to survive. For me it’s the words of the Christ, & St. Paul, and others who faced death on a regular basis.

  24. Hmmm, with Sandy on the way and widespread, multi-state, power outages already being predicted for tens of millions, I guess the Northeast is
    about to reap the whirlwhind of the first(real world) mass failure of
    EBT cards.
    Next week is going to be very sporty in the Northeast.

  25. Sandman, no offense against any LEGITIMATE militia was intended, nor inferred. I’d have to say a legitimate militia is one that first of all, never invites the TV cameras and media to witness any of their activities. Publicity like that, no one needs. And as you may have seen, it only highlights the deficiencies, especially to those in the know. Please don’t get the impression that I don’t endorse a legitimate militia, and their activities. I do, provided their aims are not counter to civilization, morally, and physically. And I have been, crippled and diseased, on more than a few FTXs, both in the military, and as a civilian. I don’t have any awesome skill sets, and lately I’ve been concentrating on teaching the new guys things about MOUT, and counterinsurgency ops. I’ve had my share of guys wives giving me their best bitch interpretations, just for getting their husbands out to the shooting range. You know, ” Ever since he went to the range with YOU, he wants to buy a gun, and I’m not having any guns in MY house!”. I’m sure that will play out well when THSHTF. I would love to be part of a militia here, and have explored joining at least 8 of them, and the results are not only disheartening, but laughable. Illiterate CSMs. Commanders whose skill sets are nil. Political objectives that would make a Nazi wince. One was even a money making scheme that promised to fleece anyone that came near. Bottom line, none are serious attempts, and what you’re doing sounds serious, and legitimate. Keep on keeping on, and I know what you’re talking about when it comes to bleeding recruits and feeling like your efforts are almost wasted. I am positive, still, that there is a worthwhile outfit where I live, or that I might be able to start one(don’t ask) and that they have great potential. I don’t know if any of my efforts will ever amount to anything, but that hasn’t kept me from trying, and won’t keep me from trying more. Salud.

  26. The issue of when (or even whether) to “tribe up” is IMO both crucial and paradoxical. It could be that a loner or small family unit surviving the “Trial by Fire” of the first onslaught of SHTF could be an accurate determiner of whether they are worthy/capable of then joining and contributing to a larger, more secure (maybe) in numbers tribe. A tribe of homo sapiens that is able to overcome overpowering LUST, greed, fear and collectivism even though their very survival may depend on it will be extremely rare.

  27. Pingback: The View From North Central Idaho - Modern parables regarding self reliance

  28. A sparrow was caught unsheltered in a blizzard. Beaten and frozen by the storm, the little bird fell to the ground, nearly dead.

    After the storm, a farmer driving his cows through the field spotted the sparrow on the ground. The kindly farmer picked the bird up, pressed its frozen little body deep into a fresh, steaming cowpie, and continued on his way.

    The moist heat of the cowpie soon revived the little bird who, in her joy at finding herself alive and warm, burst into song. A fox hunting nearby heard the sparrow singing, and, following the sound, found the sparrow, snatched her up from the cowpie, and ate her in one bite.

    The morals of this story:

    Every now and then you may find yourself in a world of shit, but the one who put you there is not necessarily an enemy, and the one who takes you out is not necessarily a friend.
    When you’re happy where you are, it is not necessary to announce to a hostile world.
    When you are up to your nose in shit, it’s a real good time to keep your mouth shut.