Our Rural Roots

A Class in Pig Math

(Progressive Farmer image by Jennifer Campbell)

I was a stellar elementary school student, I really was. According to my parents, I didn't apply myself in high school, but that's a different story for a different day.

I learned my addition, subtraction, multiplication and division just like all the other kids. But guys, no one taught me pig math.

It is really just simple elementary school math. But, even at 51 years old, it makes me feel like I'm back in third grade and frantically taking a timed math test trying not to use my fingers.

There are three basic kinds of pig math I seem to deal with regularly: Baby Pig Counting; Pen Stocking Math; and Loading Out Calculations.

One little piggy ... two?

Counting the number of pigs in a pen sounds easy enough. I can count, I am confident in my counting ability, until what I'm counting starts moving. Baby pigs move under and over each other. They literally run in what I can only describe as a "pig-nado," a bunch of freshly weaned piglets running in a circular motion.

Simply take stock?

No pride here -- I pull out my handy dandy cell phone calculator to do "pen math." Moving pigs from a room that has 10 pens to a room that has eight pens uses both multiplication and division.

Three or four more ... shut the door?

The trucker communicates in existing numbers of how many he has in a compartment. The barn guys want to know how many more they need to send to fill that compartment. That leaves the middle guy (or in my case, girl) left to do some very quick converting; and let's be real, I'm easily confused.

My husband says pig math is easy -- just count the ears and divide by three or count the tails and multiply by 1.5. Honestly, it's all as clear as mud to me.

> Jennifer (Jent) Campbell can be found chasing and counting pigs on her Indiana farm where she writes a blog called Farm Wife Feeds, farmwifefeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter @plowwife and on the podcast @girlstalkag.


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