Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (AH).
AH: “So I heard this from my dad, but I don’t know where he heard it. There’s this delivery guy and he’s making his normal rounds, but he has to go out to this really rural part of town to deliver this package. It’s a big ranch house and there’s a huge yard, and there’s pigs out and dogs out, it’s just absolutely gorgeous. So he walks up to the house and there’s a pig pen off to the side and he notices that there’s a pig out there with only one leg.”
CB: “Only one leg?”
AH: “Only one leg. And he thought ‘well that’s odd’. So he goes to the door to deliver the package and he asks the guy ‘hey what’s with the pig that has only one leg?’
And the guy looks at him and goes ‘See that pig right there! Let me tell you about that pig! THAT pig ran into my house and saved my WHOLE family when it was burning down. And we’ve rebuilt everything now, but he saved my entire family’s life’
And the guy says, ‘that’s cool, but why does he only have one leg?’
And then the man looks at him and he says, ‘Let me tell you about that pig right there. That pig saved my daughter from being eaten by a rattlesnake.’
And he says, ‘That’s awesome, but why does he only have one leg?’
And he says, ‘Let me tell you about THAT pig right THERE. It was the middle of the night and a wolf was coming down the mountains to eat my animals, and THAT pig right there chased that wolf all the way up the mountain saving my entire livestock.’
And he was like, ‘That’s GREAT. But WHY does he only have one leg?’
And the old man looks at him dead in the eye, and he says, ‘Well it’d be a shame to eat him all at once wouldn’t it?’ ”
CB: [Laughs] “Um… That’s great. What do you think the meaning of the joke is?”
AH: “Uh… uh don’t get rid of a good thing”
CB: “What do you think that it’s important to share that joke?”
AH: “Well it’s important because it teaches you how to properly eat a pig without killing it.” [Laughs]
My informant told me this joke, even though we had both heard one particular member of our family repeat it many times. The joke plays on a dark sense of humor that he is known for, and has become very heavily associated with that relative.
My informant called me with stories prepared after hearing that I had been interviewing other members of our family for folklore. We had a fun and casual conversation, exchanging versions of stories that we had heard growing up.
My informant, and her father who told her the joke, grew up in Salinas, CA. Salinas has grown to be a decent sized city, however it is still surrounded by a huge agricultural community. This joke reflects tensions that are common in modern agricultural communities; a separation between the ‘city folk’ and the ‘country folk’. This joke mocks the farmer for their stereotypical behavior, and satirizes his choice to eat his livestock. By having the farmer eat such a clearly intelligent and amazing pig, the joke portrays him as ‘uncivilized’ and out of touch with modernly accepted behaviors. These ideas represent stereotypes for farming communities, and highlight the tension within the community.
For another variation of this joke see Doug Mayo’s post “Friday Funny: The Pig with a Wooden Leg” in University of Florida’s IFAS Extension. https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2016/01/15/friday-funny-the-pig-with-a-wooden-leg/