Merry Christmas My Friend





Rusty Fleming 

The weather she’s  a cooling down, usually happens this time of year,,,,and those of us having been blessed with time of residing in the arid southwest growing up being exposed to a variety of cultures, including but certainly not limited to, Mexican, Indian, European etc etc etc,,,and the melding of said cultures along with their various culinary and gourmet delights,,,cooler weather stimulates a few cool weather related dishes,,, chili, room temp tequila, frijoles beans’s’s  and TAMALES !!!


Tamales can be made with anything,,, chicken, pork, deer, beef,,, even veggie tamales,,, green chile n cheese, et al,,,some of the best I remember happened years ago in south Texas,,,I ordered 75 dozen from a Mexican woman, ranch raised and knowing what good tamales are,,,,mucho mas more authentic that way, and we were using deer meat,,,I always ordered extra meat in them, no I cannot tell you how much meat is in one tamale,,, yet,,, but she ran out of provided meat and substituted refried beans and jalapeños in the last 4 dozen,,,,hers were, like all them old time tamales makers,,,,,1st rate, the masa was cooked to perfection, chile colorado properly applied, but when out of deer meat, those she made con frijoles and canned jalapeños were absolutely PRIMO,,,,better than the deer,, and the deer tamales were great,,, I kept the bean and jalapeno ones for me ,,, the rest were for friends and family for Christmas and New Years.

A few years later, I was working on a project in south Texas and headquartered at Pearsall,,,, my eldest son Bronc and his wife Molli were joining Molli’s dad raising high quality show pigs,,,adding show pigs to a successful breeding of high quality, banner winning show goats. All those elite show pig breeders AI’d their sows to a variety of top oink sires from the Midwest, the origin area of top shelf show pigs,,, Bronc’s father-in-law, himself a top flight show pig breeder, had a teaser boar,,, named Bob,,, Bob was a good minded individual, gentle, easy to handle and pretty large,,, really nice pig,,,we guess’d Bob to weigh at least 600,,,,,his father in law had raised him and used him, was finished with him and gave him to Bronc and Molli to use, then when Bronc was finished with him, he told me to come get him, Bob had now fulfilled his designated purpose and had graduated to food purpose quality and surely ol’ dad could find a use for an abundance of oink meat,,, I hooked up the trailer, drove to Bronc and Molli’s,,,, son also told me I was to take a companion pig along, a freezer pig,,, a nice 100 Lb or so pig, to do with as I wished. I easily connived a plan for him too.

Upon arrival at the headquarters of Fleming Livestock, I parked, hopped out of the pickup, hugged everybody and there, at Bob’s pen, my two year old granddaughter and goat and pig handler, Maddox, was feeding Bob, Oreos, one at a time and he was loving the deal. Wonder why I didn’t get a picture,,, no don’t ask me. I figured by now Maddox prob’ly had Bob broke to ride. It was quite a spectacle, she’d feed Bob a cookie and pet him on his nose,,, hard to figure out who enjoyed it more. But Bob and his companion pig, I had named, Lil Bob, and oh yeah, a show goat, named him Show Goat Bob, all loaded up and I was prepared to head back south.  It was mid July, pretty toasty weather and I made the comment I was gonna have to stop at every village going south that had a car wash and cool big Bob down,,I was gonna need a stash of quarters,,,,, I sure didn’t want this pig overheated as I had a kill time pre-arranged at Uvalde Meats in yes, Uvalde, in a few hours, to kill this pig, Bob, later that day and I wanted Bob to arrive cool, calm and comfy. Gotta give credit here where credit is due,,,, Bronc and Molli were both raised knowing where meat comes from and Maddox was no exception,,, Maddox knew early on they bred them, raised them, groomed ‘em, fed em Oreos or marshmallows or other piggy snacks, and loved on them, showed them, sold them and then when it was time, they killed ‘em so they could be eaten,,,and she, Maddox, like all her predecessors an ancestors, was a member of the carnivore clan,  so no tears were shed over the departure,,,and besides, there were several dozens more showy pigs and showy goats around the homestead for her to gentle down, the way only kids can.


Please understand I was not then, nor am I now, a professional grade pig transportation expert. Fortunately, Bronc’s father-in-law, Larry Larrison was, and said no need to wash him down,,, use ICE,,,,,like I was supposed to know what he was telling me. And I said huh,,, I need to get enuff ice for this pig to lay down on and stay cool in that trailer during the next 5 hour long trip in 100 degree July heat HUH ???. They, all being more learned in the pig hauling bidness than I, Larry says NO,,, stop at 7-11 stores and buy a couple of 10 lb bags of ice,,,,,I said and what, pour it over the top of this massive pig ??? How do I keep ice on this pig in a hunerd degree heat ??? Larry amuzingly, I say, ammussingly, shook his head and said again, NO,,,just throw the bags near his head,,,pigs, being sensitive creatures,,, (really, they are),,,, Larry said that he’ll lay his head on the ice bags,,,and the coldness from the ice on the pigs throat will cool down the blood in his neck, circulating all over and throughout this large pig’s body, with slightly cooled blood and it’d cool him, keeping him comfy, and contented,,, thereby, keeping this large oinker chilled during the trip,,, my gosh, who’d’a thought’a that,,,before it was over, I calculated I was getting about 70 to 80 miles per 2 bags of ice, which is also the convenient distance between 7-11 type stores between Christoval to Uvalde. Starting out, I acquired 2 bags of pig coolant at Christoval, then 2 more at Eldorado, it was heating up, and at Sonora, I upped the acquisition to 3 bags,,, then 3 more at Rockspings, the last 3 at Campwood,, I called ahead to the guys at Uvalde giving them my ETA, and told ‘em to sharpen their knives. 


I backed to the offload gate, shuffled Lil Bob and Show Goat Bob to the front of the trailer, took a pig showing stick and in my best imitation of a pro-grade pig exhibitor, “drove” Tamale Bob into his final destination,,, he paraded coolly slumberly off the trailer and across the cement floored pen like waltzing him to the winners circle at the Houston Hog Show and Rodeo,,, the hands at the kill plant had all noticed the empty ice bags and I said,, that’s a pig hauling trick,,, all us big time pig haulers bed ‘em down on empty ice bags in the summertime,,, beats wood shavings and sawdust,,, makes for a comfier contented pig.

I had them cut the meat in fist size pieces and cryovac it in 5 Lb bags for ease of handling. But on down the road we go,,,headed to unload Show Goat Bob in Jasper’s cabrito show pens in Encinal. Arriving at Fort Jasper, Jasper’s dad Slade, a professional livestock handler and legendary tick rider, looks in the trailer and says,,, why all the empty ice sacks ???? I quickly made the comment,,,YOU, obviously don’t know much about hauling a pig,,,,I told the story, drank a couple of 12 oz cans of Rocky Mountain vitalizing laden energy drinks, of the low carb, low calorie variety, had Jasper unload Show Goat Bob, then take his water hose and spray down Freezer Bob, formerly known as Lil Bob, I was thru buying ice,,,,I didn’t care if this pig stayed cool or not, telling Jazbo, I’d feed this piglet a few days and let him (and me) recover from the journey then we’d tend to converting him to a more edible form. 


Down the street from the Triplitt’s lived a woman that made her living making tamales,,as a qualified tamale test taster extraorinare from way back, lemme tell you HER tamales were good,, as good as any I ever had,,,,they were great ,, perfectly seasoned kinda hot and properly greasy,,, and Jaz’s mom Amanda had pre-arranged for her to crank up her tamale making skills for a large order. After I picked up processed and packaged Tamale Bob a couple weeks later from the folks at Uvalde, I had over 300 lbs of oinker meat, all was in 5 Lb bags except for the rib chops I reserved for smoking and grilling purposes. Rib chops are 3 or 4 ribs, in one piece, with the tenderloin and the top loin attached,,, WOW,,, these weigh about 8 Lbs each, and when seasoned and cooked like a brisket, over mesquite, they were fantazxstic,,, and pleasing pleasant and surprisingly, even though Tamale Bob was a 3 year old, there was not a hint of boarishness in the meat,,

,,,,,professional “piggers” know of which I speak,,,,


I started hauling the 5 Lb packages of fist size Tamale Bob to the tamale maker, and had her start making tamales from the harvested bounty,,,she made a few dozen at a time and I told her use plenty meat caused we had plenty,,,she’d get em made and I’d either go get them or the Triplitt’s would deliver,, at that time I was handling lots of meats and had 6 or 7 freezers,,,, upon the holiday season approaching, I started passing out holiday tamales to friends and family, in the standard a dozen to the foil wrapped package,,, and I ran out, not outta tamales,,,, I ran out of people to give em to,,, everybody had plenty tamales, I felt like the farmer that planted too much squash and subsequently ran out of folks to give summer squash to,,,so we called a halt at 120 dozen and I still had plenty meat. BUT we used it all up the following year,,,more tamales and lots of pan and link sausage and ground pork,,,,, everybody seemed to thoroughly enjoy their experiences eating quality pig meat, and chuckling at the Tamale Bob story,,,,,,his memory lives on late every year when the weather cools,,,, 


I been blessed,,, happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and I hope everybody has as many good tamales as they want,,,, and always, remember the REASON for the SEASON,,, God bless each of yall,,, and God bless America,,,

R.F. 12-17-2022

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