By Neno J, Spagna, DPA
Harry Lindburg never dreamed he would ever see a pig that barks like a dog, much less own one, but that is exactly what happened to him, and, his life has never been the same ever since.
Today Harry Lindburg and his wife, Lucy, are retired and live in an upper income home located on a two acre plot of land that was once a part of an original 160 acre farm of his great, grandparents. Harry and Lucy farmed the land ever since his parents took early retirement and turned the farm over to him and Lucy. One would think, now that Harry and Lucy are retired and supposedly living in the lap of luxury that they are enjoying and savoring every minute of it. No, Harry is not happy despite his good health and financial security. He longs for and misses the good old days when he would get out of bed at sunrise and work into the late of night in order to do his farm chores, but, those days are gone forever. Gone are the cows he used to have to get up at 4:00 A. M. in the morning to milk; gone are the big tractor and farm equipment that he used to sweat in for ten hours a day in order to get in the soy bean and winter wheat crops; and, gone are all the animals. Yes, the cows, the horses, a few Poland China hogs, the two dogs, Lupe and Bongo, the chickens, the ducks, the turkeys, and the rabbits that all shared the Lindburg country farm. Farming was hard during those days, but as they say, “it’s a living” and Harry loved it. After finishing their every-day farm chores they would sit on the old, rickety porch swing, relax and watch the deer, birds and occasional stray possum or red fox that would come there to eat the flower seeds and left-over table scraps that Lucy put there for them.
Simpson Lindburg, Harry’s great, great grandfather first bought the 160 acre tract of farmland back in the late 1867’s right after the end of the Civil War and it has been farmed ever since. The farm was passed down from generation to generation until Harry inherited it. Harry and Lucy continued to farm it until they sold it. They both loved the farm life, that is, until the day when that danged pig called Brutus that barked like a dog came into their lives and changed everything.
Before Brutus the Lindburgs lived a normal idyllic life like all the other nearby farmers of the area. They stayed busy raising their two children Anthony and Alyssa, looking after the farm animals, taking care of the crops and helping one another and the neighbors whenever help was needed. The Lindburgs were an old established family, well-liked by all and considered permanent occupants who would spend all their lives farming their land as their forebears had done before them and then pass it on to their heirs to continue the tradition.
It should have happened that way but it didn’t. The coming of Brutus changed the lives of the Lindburgs as well as the lives of all the landowners living around them.
It all began when Harry, some twenty years ago, was making a routine check of the farm animals and stopped at the hog pen to see whether an expectant sow had given birth to her piglets yet. Harry was pleased to note that she had and the new piglets all seemed to be doing well. It wasn’t until he turned and started to leave that he thought he heard a strange sound. He hesitated for a moment and then thought to himself, I thought I heard Lupe bark but I don’t see him around. Thinking it to be a figment of his imagination, he turned again and took several more steps when, much to his surprise, he heard the little barking sound again. This time there was no mistaking it; it was the bark of a dog but still no dogs were in sight.
Glancing down at the mother pig and her piglets, he noticed that one of the piglets was caught under the back foot of the sow and was trying desperately to get free. Harry knew that if the piglet didn’t free itself before the mother rolled over, she would probably roll on it and squash it to death. Harry picked up a nearby shovel and used it to raise the old sow’s foot up just enough to let the piglet free itself. It was then, as the piglet ran for its freedom that he heard the little piglet let out another feeble oink that sounded like the bark of a dog. Harry was stunned; he had never heard of a pig that barks like a dog. He had heard of dogs that could count; parrots that could play Yankee Doodle on a toy piano but never a pig that barks like a dog. Harry leaned on the side of the pig pen and watched the little piglet squirming among its siblings in order to find an unoccupied nipple where it could drink a little of its mother’s warm milk. While the other piglets oinked like normal pigs do, one of the little piglets gave out a series of bark-like utterances that sounded like a black and tan coonhound that had just treed a coon. Harry could not believe what he was hearing, but, what is, is. He had to accept the fact, as strange and weird as it may seem, that he was now the owner of a piglet that barks like a dog.
That evening, at the dinner table with Lucy and the two children, Anthony and Alyssa, he casually mentioned that one of the newly born piglets barks like a dog. At first he was afraid to talk about it because he thought his family might think that he had been having some sort of hallucinations. Oh, can I see the little piglet? Alyssa asked. Of course, Harry replied. Anthony was quick to chime in; I want to see it too. After dinner, Harry replied, after dinner. They all ate rapidly and hurried to finish dinner so they could all go to the hog pen and listen for the pig to bark like a dog.
As they all watched and listened for the little pig to bark like a dog, Alyssa commented, just look at the way that little piglet is pushing all the other pigs out of its way to get to the best nipple. It’s acting like a little brute. That’s it Anthony broke in; let’s call it Brutus. From then on, Brutus it was. Before leaving the hog pen for the night Harry warned everyone, better not say anything about Brutus to anyone because nobody will believe you and probably just think that you are making the story up.
At school next morning Anthony forgot all about his father’s admonition and told some of his classmates about Brutus. One of his friends, Jerry, asked if he and his family could come over and see the piglet that barks like a dog. Asking his father and getting an O.K. that night, Anthony told Jerry, the next day at school, that it would be O.K. for him and his family to come over that following Sunday afternoon and see the little piglet that barks like a dog.
Jerry and his family were amazed to see and hear the piglet that barks like a dog. None of the neighbors knew about the visit as the Lindburg farm is located on a lonely unpaved street that is called No Name Road by the surrounding property owners who use it to get to their homes. Even though this visit went unnoticed by the surrounding neighbors, things were about to change.
By the following week it seemed like everyone within miles of the Lindburg home had gotten the news about the Lindburg piglet that barks like a dog. People began coming to the Lindburg home, uninvited and unannounced. The neighbors, who were usually very tolerant of what others living along No Name Road are doing, began to complain to their County Commissioners about the noise, traffic and nuisances that the drivers were making in coming and going to and from the Lindburg farm. One property owner even suggested that the county send a clean-up crew to pick up all the rubbish and debris that the sightseers had thrown along No Name Road.
It soon became obvious that something had to be done; the County Commission reacted by agreeing to pave No Name Road and give it an identification name so drivers could find the Lindburg farm and reduce the commotion caused by lost drivers. Paving and renaming No Name Road to Brutus Boulevard helped some but did not turn out to be a silver bullet and increasing complaints continued to frustrate the County Commission.
With the passage of time, other problems began to manifest themselves as more and more sightseers made their way to and from the Lindburg farm to see the pig that barks like a dog. First there was the enforcement of the county zoning regulations. The Lindburg property was zoned for agricultural uses and the question of whether the zoning legally permitted the land to be used as a sight-seeing attraction for viewing the pig that barks like a dog came up. After several public hearings, neighborhood meetings and a legal interpretation by the County Attorney, the County Commission ruled that the agricultural zoning designation of Lindburg’s land does not permit its use for exhibition purposes such as the viewing of a pig that barks like a dog, even if no admission charge is required. If they want to continue letting the sightseers visit the pig that barks like a dog the land will have to be rezoned to a commercial use that specifically permits the exhibition of a pig that barks like a dog, and, if this is done, then an exhibition charge could be charged. This ruling stunned the Lindburgs and they decided to stop letting the people come in and see the pig that barks like a dog. The Lindburgs posted several “No Trespassing, Private Property and Keep Out” signs and installed a gate at the entrance to their property. This made the traffic situation on Brutus Boulevard even worse as the Lindburg farm now took on a celebrity aura as “that place with the pig that barks like a dog.” Sightseers just kept coming and congestion on Brutus Boulevard just kept getting worse. Something had to be done but there didn’t seem to be an easy solution to cure the problem.
At this point of discussion, the County Planning Advisory Agency recommended hiring a planning consultant to come in and prepare a Future Land Use Map (FLUM) for the future growth and development of the area around the Lindburg farm. This was agreed to by the County Commission and there were many discussions and meetings before a preliminary FLUM was prepared, agreed on by the people involved and recommended to the County Commission. Many of the problems involved existing land uses, incompatibility problems between possible future land uses and existing land uses, and resolving personal property problems of individual property owners as well as problems affecting the area wide considerations. These problems had to be resolved before the County Commission would adopt the final FLUM.
The Consultant’s proposed FLUM recommended that the Lindburg property as well as much of the adjacent and nearby properties be designated as future commercial use. This meant that when the FLUM is finally adopted by the County Commission, the property owners could petition the County Commission to rezone their land to a commercial use in accordance with the FLUM. This seemed to be a solution for all of the property owners directly involved but it left the Lindburgs having to request a future rezoning to a commercial designation in order to permit the exhibition of the pig that barks like a dog and,if desired, charge an exhibit fee to see it, or, retain the existing agricultural zoning designation and discontinue the exhibition of the pig that barks like a dog. It was a tough decision to have to make but the Lindburgs decided to accept the future commercial land use designation with the provision that they would be permitted to continue exhibiting the pig that barks like a dog as a temporary use until the final FLUM is adopted by the County Commission and then permit it as a grandfathered use after the adoption of the final FLUM. The Lindburgs fully realized that as a grandfathered use there would be limitations on the use; future expansion, parking requirements, etc. but believed the odds of continuing to exhibit the pig that barks like a dog as a grandfathered use is better than requesting that the property be rezoned to a commercial designation. They reasoned that with all the problems that the pig that barks like a dog has caused the surrounding neighbors, there would be one or more of the near-by land owners that would most likely be opposed to the granting of any rezoning and that the County Commission would not grant it. These exceptions for the Lindburgs were incorporated into the consultants recommended final FLUM and were eventually adopted by the County Commission.
Reactions to the new land use regulations were slow at first and life around the Lindburg farm seemed to go on as usual. It wasn’t long, however, until the adoption of the FLUM began to change the activities in and around the Lindburg farm. As soon as it became generally known, especially, it seemed by out-of-area speculators, that the agricultural zoned land could be rezoned to a commercial use consistent with the FLUM and increase its value, the rush to rezone properties around the Lindburg farm seemed to go into high gear.
To add impetus to the rezoning fever, The Iowa Department of Transportation began work on a new state road that has a direct link between U. S. Highway 35 and a proposed interchange to be located on the Lindburg property fronting on Brutus Boulevard. This road link interconnection required approximately 11 acres of land and was taken off of the Lindburg property. Of course, the Lindburgs were paid for it but in the process it left them with 149 acres of land that was not sufficient to provide a justifiable economic return for the Lindburgs to continue the farming operation as it had been done in the past. To add to the Lindburg’s problems, the property across the street was recently sold to a fast food restaurant chain and that raised the taxes on the Lindburg property. In order to pay for the tax increase, the Lindburgs considered charging a fee to see the pig that barks like a dog but in order to do that they would have to ask the County Commission to rezone the property to a commercial use. After considering that action, they decided that would be too time consuming, too costly and there would be no guarantee that the County Commission would approve their request. It was becoming more and more obvious, as the area was changing from agricultural use to commercial use, that farming and exhibiting the pig that barks like a dog was not long for this world.
For the next 12 years following the completion of the Brutus Boulevard/U.S. 35 Highway intersection, the surrounding area grew like Gang Busters. The gasoline service stations came into each of the four quadrants of the intersection; fast food restaurants and hotel/motels followed in rapid succession. Employment opportunities boomed and people looking for jobs swarmed in from all parts of the country. Their need for housing caught the attention of the housing providers and they came in, bought up the land near the intersection of the commercial quadrants. It was no time at all before new housing subdivision developments began springing up all over the place, The construction of new homes created even more jobs that attracted more people that attracted more fast food restaurant, and stores that attracted even more…more…more…oh, when will all this growth and development stop. It seemed like everyone in the area was riding the crest of the wave of prosperity and the good times would last forever. Times were so good and the area was growing so fast that the local residents decided to get together, incorporate the area into a city and call it Brutus after the pig that barks like a dog who started the whole thing in the first place.
While the rest of the property owners around the Brutus Boulevard/U.S. 35 Highway intersection were enjoying a growth boom, the Lindburgs were barely able to survive and hold on to their land. Many of their neighbors took advantage of the good times, sold their farms, retired and moved into Brutus or went south to Florida to enjoy condominium life in a fine retirement community like Naples, Florida. The Lindburgs were determined to hold on to their land, make the best of farming it for as long as they could. Even though it broke their heart, they gave Brutus to the local Chamber of Commerce which took good care of him and used him to advertise that it was the only Chamber of Commerce in the world that had a pig that barks like a dog. Many years have passed since the completion of the Brutus Boulevard/U.S. 35 Highway intersection and the area around Brutus has changed so much it is hard for the Lindburgs to even remember how it used to be when they farmed their land and raised their family there. Anthony has gotten married, is now the proud father of twins, has a secure job as a landfill engineer and lives with his family in a small town in Georgia. Alyssa is now a registered nurse and is still living at home but plans to move to the Miami area and live with her grandparents until she finds a nursing job and decides to live by herself. Brutus is now only a memory but will always be remembered for how he changed the lives of all that he touched. Harry and Lucy got their minds together and decided that as soon as Alyssa left home they world sell the rest of the farm and move to Florida to a location where they would be about the same distance in either direction from both Anthony (in Georgia) and Alyssa (in the Miami, Florida area).
That time came sooner then expected. Alyssa obtained a job in Ft. Lauderdale (near Miami) and moved there. The Lindburgs put their farm up for sale, found an immediate buyer, and are looking to buy a home in north Florida.
Life goes on in Brutus as usual. Few will ever know the real history of how a pig that barked like a dog helped establish a thriving city in Iowa. They will only know what they read on a welcome sign that is posted near the Brutus Boulevard/U.S. 35 Highway intersection, WELCOME TO THE CITY OF BRUTUS - HOME OF BRUTUS, THE PIG THAT BARKED LIKE A DOG.
Dr. Neno J. Spagna is a pioneer Florida planner who’s planning experience in Florida dates back to 1947 as a student at the University of Miami (Florida). The names of the people and the City of Brutus, Iowa are fictional. Don’t try to find any of the people or locate the City of Brutus on a map of Iowa cause you won’t find them.