This week’s featured artifact is a nice box of 100 copper hog rings and hog ring pliers donated by St. Isidore’s Madeleine Martel. For those who did not grow up on a farm, or who are unfamiliar with pigs, these animals have a very strong sense of smell which they use to find food underneath the ground. They then use their snout to dig up their find; this is called rooting. The rings are used to prevent this behaviour in the pigs as rooting can be quite destructive. A ring or sometimes two or three are clipped to the rim of the nose of the pig which makes rooting uncomfortable yet allows the pig to rummage freely for food that is located above the soil.
The set of adjustable pliers would be used to clip the rings onto the nose of the pig. Although this may seem like somewhat of a cruel way of dealing with the natural behaviour of the pig, this does very minimal damage to the pig in a very cheap manner. A drift of pigs would do a lot of damage to a field or pasture if they were not rung which is why in some cases the rings were a necessity.