Epidemiologists at the Center for Disease Control in Stateline have confirmed three more cases of human flu in Hormel’s swine population and have warned farmers to take action or risk widescale pandemic. Many farmers have already placed masks on their hogs or added Tamiflu to their slop.
But the response may be too late.
Joe Burst, who owns a pig farm south of the Nafta Superhighway, says he’s lost ten pigs in just one week. “We lose pigs all the time but most of ’em’s downer pigs. Downer pigs save us money ‘cuz we can ship ‘em without zappin’ ‘em first. But this here’s a different story. These pigs is dyin’ faster ‘n we can get ‘em to market. And that ain’t no joke.’”
Zach Putzman, ex-prize fighter turned hog farmer, sees a similar pattern. “I got pigs droppin’ like bat shit out here. And it ain’t from the heat. Most of ’em makes it to market. But now folks won’t take ’em on accounta this epidermic nonsense. Since when’s a sick pig ever stopped folks from buyin’ pork? The damn media’s done whipped everyone into a frenzy!”
How long Zach or other farmers can withstand this assault is unclear. Nikki Bartlett, epidemiologist with the CDC and co-founder of the local bluegrass outfit, Center for Disease Control Boys, thinks not very long. “This flu is being spread from humans to pigs, not the other way around. And it’s spreading fast. In my view, the only answer is to remove the humans and let nature take its course.”
But Joe Burst says that solution is unthinkable. “I ain’t leavin’ my pigs for no pencil-neck bureaucrat. If they wants my hogs, they’ll have to pry ’em from my cold, dead fingers!”
And don’t expect help from lawmakers.
State agriculture officials are scheduled to take up the issue this week, but the Hormel Pig Lobby is already on top of the situation. Reports of free lap dances at the Tres Frais for members of the State Agriculture Committee are rampant and fueling speculation that the committee may delay action pending further delay.
Becky Landgrab, a stripper who performs at the Tres Frais when not soliciting outside Horseman’s Park Motel, says dancers were informed last week that customers with special “hog-shaped” tickets would be given “special treatment,” including free lap dances, stunted grape champagne and “and anything else they want.”
Unfortunately Ms. Landgrab was shot seven times in the back several hours after she gave her statement to the press. Stateline police have declared her death a suicide.