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Safeguarding
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Aviation
Stories from our members...
 

When Pigs Flew by George Loegering June 27, 2003

My Dad retired from general contracting in the early 60s to Trinity Center, California. I thought he had lost his mind (I retired there after seeing the wisdom of his choice). Soon after, it became too crowded with over 300 people in a 25 mile radius so he bought a "ranch" at the 3,500 foot level in central Trinity County in the heart of the Trinity National Forest. The original "Carter Ranch" supplied beef, fruit and produce to gold miners along the Trinity River in the early 1900s.

The best feature for my Dad was the last 4 miles of steep unpaved winding road to the property. It had been owned by an Native American lady. Her second husband conned her out of the timber and then the land itself. He sold off some lots of an unapproved subdivision. Dad bought the remainder after the lady had died and the husband got killed in a saloon shotout. After several years of putting the ranch back together there were about 20 of the 100 acres tillable for row crops, corn and wheat.

After building a new ranch house, my Dad could usually be seen in the fields leveling and aerating the ground with a small Caterpillar tractor or blasting tree stumps that had taken over during the prior 30 or 40 years of no use. I learned how not to fell trees.

My four sons, their cousins and some of their friends were soon drafted by Grampa during the short summer growing season. The farm was run more like when my Dad was a young man working on the family farm including some horse drawn equipment. During those years my wife appreciated some time to herself and for our traveling. We were extremely pleased that the boys were getting literally down to earth training. They milked the cows, slopped the hogs, fed the chickens, learned horsemanship, marksmanship, planting, cultivating, fence and shed building and machine operations including driving & bailing wheat & grass. They enjoyed nutritious home grown/cooked food too. They also participated in slaughtering the animals, rendering lard, making butter and cheese and fun things like swimming in the fishing pond (about 8ac) and going to town & the county fair. These activities were healthy and I believe stimulated a desire to seek an education for an easier lifestyle.

My wife and I would commute in the family A-35 Bonanza to visit for a day or a week several times during the summer, sometimes bringing in or taking out kids/parents. The routine was to buzz the ranch with the gear down and fly to the Weaverville Airport-the ranch truck would be along by the time we fueled and tied down. On one particular arrival I was greeted by the airport operator Lonnie Poole who handed me a letter from my Dad. Inside the envelope were instructions to call a pig farmer in Red Bluff and buy 3 piglets; an ad with a phone number were enclosed.

I called the farmer who indeed had saved 3 piglets for my Dad and expected my call. I asked if he was near the Red Bluff Airport and after a long pause said yes, about 10 minutes away. I gave him instructions where to meet me and said I would be there in 20 minutes. He needed reassurance that this was not a joke and finally agreed. I landed and pulled up to the visitor area fence as he pulled up in a beat up old Chevy pick up. He had a dusty western hat and well worn bib overhauls. I did not see the pigs but after I shut down the engine, stepped out and waved to him, I could see he had a look of astonishment, disbelief, a boyish look on his gnarled face. I said I was George for the pigs; did he bring them-wordlessly he leaned over the truck bed and brought forth a rather dirty, squirming, dripping, noisy and as it got closer smelly gunny sack. I accepted it and set it down on my side of the fence as noises inside the bag increased. How much; $15 each, here's $45. He took off his hat and scratched his head as I loaded the wriggling screaming bag in the papered baggage area. I waved again as I boarded and could imagine him telling this story many more times than me.

As soon as I started the engine the menagerie in the baggage got real quite and made no more noise until I opened the baggage door back at the Weaverville Airport for my Dad's inspection (now realizing that I had not even done a count). Praise the Lord; he gave a smile of approval as he said, "you did good." Who said pigs can't fly?