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Title: Oral History Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999. Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Connor, James W. (Jim), interviewee
Interview conducted by Thompson, Charles
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 212 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-10-02, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999. Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0818)
Author: Charles Thompson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999. Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0818)
Author: James W. (Jim) Connor
Description: 179 Mb
Description: 57 p.
Note: Interview conducted on December 19, 1999, by Charles Thompson; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by L. Altizer.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
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Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999.
Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Connor, James W. (Jim), interviewee


Interview Participants

    JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR, interviewee
    DAWN CONNOR, interviewee
    CHARLES THOMPSON, interviewer
    ROB AMBERG, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ROB AMBERG:
Come back to your house.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Smell different though.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I don't know if I got the ones I wanted you to show you.
ROB AMBERG:
How has your wife been faring with this big change with the flood? Is she been doing okay?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
She's been doing better than I am.
ROB AMBERG:
Has she?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
She says 'She gets all new stuff.' And I say, 'Yeah and I got to pay for it.'
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Exactly.
ROB AMBERG:
That's the way it ought to be isn't it. Or the way it is anyway.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
A friend of mine got my gun. There's my gun collection. I caught the Mexicans trying to spy in the window.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Rode up in a boat, looking in the window.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. I had a picture somewhere where we floated those animals out but I can't find it. There's a little house down there next to Steve's Restaurant.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh yeah. Tenant house.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Two rental houses I have. Now there's his store. That's during the flood.
ROB AMBERG:
Oh man.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Water, oh the ice machine turned over sideways.

Page 2
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. There are the hog houses we just left. That's after the water went down. I'd liked to get in there.
ROB AMBERG:
That just makes you sick.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's my partner's government truck sitting over there by the hog houses. He got that high where it wouldn't get wet.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Water didn't get into the toolbox.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. That one got totaled. There are my two sons. There's that seat of water was up to here on the truck. And there our ring we put in. You can see the dead animals floating in there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Several dozen.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Like two hundred.
ROB AMBERG:
Two hundred in this one.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh, I see them in there.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That kept them contained after the water started down. There's the end field up there loading them up.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that a government truck?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. National Guard.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's hardly any water there.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's still seven feet of water there where you turn off the road going in there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. How long after the first flood waters rose is this?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
About twelve days.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Almost two weeks.

Page 3
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Those hogs were smelling ripe by then, weren't they?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They were pretty clean. There wasn't any odor in there with the dead hogs because they hadn't started to decompose or anything. They were just—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Because the water was so cool maybe. Kept it like a refrigerator.
ROB AMBERG:
This is really an interesting photograph.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You can see the watermark right there on that fence.
ROB AMBERG:
This is such an interesting photograph, I mean with the reflection here and all of this. That's nicely done.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Thank you.
ROB AMBERG:
Okay and this is the government truck loaded with them.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I didn't even see that one. Maybe it was sticking. No this was the one I didn't see.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
This is just water. Right there's another similar one to it. That's the old house that's right across the road. You might even notice that thing is built back in eighteen hundred and something.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I did see that one.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They had water that was up half way to that window. FEMA gave them four thousand dollars to redo it. You couldn't even do the floors.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah.

Page 4
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
The lady said, Look. We'll do it for four thousand dollars if I wrap the place up in saran wrap.' I told you. Here's the guy's cows and horses standing on the porch of that trailer.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh yeah.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
We put the floating dock right up on it and walked them on it and carried them, pushed them up to the forestry station.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How many cows?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There were five cows and a horse.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Were you—I've got the tape running. Will you tell the story of what happened?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, when the water got up so high back in this pasture area, he brought them up here and got them on his porch. You see, the water still got up about six or eight inches in there. It kept on coming on up and so he had a floating dock over by Holland's Restaurant. We cut it loose and backed it up against the porch and the first trip we took the horse and three cows out. Took two johnboats and put them like a tug and pushed them right up to Highway Fifty-Three to the forestry station and put them off. We came back and got the rest of them and took them up the same way.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They just stood on this dock.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. It was Jimmy and his wife. They road on the barge and kept the animals calm. We put some feed on there for them so they'd be munching. They rode pretty good. The only time you'd have a problem if another boat tried to get around you and caused a wake and make it rock. Then they'd get kind of nervous. So we had one guy hanging off the back—you know Randy Wells that had the bulldog down there the

Page 5
other day. He stayed about three hundred yards behind us and kept people from coming past us. We had another guy three hundred yards in front of us making everybody stop.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In boats.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
There were people zooming around in their boats?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. Jet skis. They were having—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Just for fun.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. Let me say on this tape that we're here in the tenant house on the hog farm of Mr. Jim Connors. It is December 19, 1999. We're looking at pictures of the flood that he took.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I had a tractor over on this side and it got up under water. There's my Jeep there. It got under water. That's another one of Holland's Restaurant. There's that truck when the water was up pretty good. There's my Jeep.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh man.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's another one of the cows there on that porch.
ROB AMBERG:
That' s the Jeep that's sitting out here.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. We got it going.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh okay. How hard was it to get a car going after being filled with water.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, we had to drain all the fluids and several times. Put transmission fluid in it and redo the bearings on the wheels and everything.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How about the gas tank?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Drain the gas tank. Drained all the fluids. All the fluids—.

Page 6
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How about the carpeting inside?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Rip it out and dry it out. Take the seats out; take the carpet out.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you have to put new carpet.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, we put the same carpet back in but we took it out and disinfected it and dried it out.
ROB AMBERG:
Watch.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You like that huh?
ROB AMBERG:
I really do. I love pictures like this when you can kind of do both ways like that.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Now that's right there.
ROB AMBERG:
This is the right way. It's sharp. The only way you know it is the sharper; you can see the reflection in the water. Fuzzing the lines. That's neat.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's where the fox and the three cats were up there. The fox is right there but you can barely make him out.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Tell us about that.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Just had three cats I was feeding up on the beams of the barn that the top blew off of. One day I went to feed the three cats in the boat and there was a gray fox up there with them. They just all eat out of the same bucket. They were all in trouble. It looks like nature knew it. I've got one in here that you won't really like if I can find it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You obviously are somebody who loves animals.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Can't you tell.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Yes, I can. You saved five cows and horse, a fox, three cats. How many? Have I got them all?

Page 7
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's a beaver dam inside a ten by ten culvert. All they had was about nine inches of completely blocking it off.
ROB AMBERG:
Wow.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
We were in there blowing it out. We put a third of a pound on this corner, this corner, this corner and this corner and one pound right in the middle. I had it on a timed explosion.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you work for—.
ROB AMBERG:
A third of a pound of dynamite. Ammonium nitrate.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, it was an Oklahoma City bomb.
ROB AMBERG:
Right. Ammonium nitrate with [unclear] oil.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They call them mini-packs.
ROB AMBERG:
Look at this, this is amazing.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Yeah. I did see that.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Here's my son walking around in the house in waders. There I had my generator running until the water got up over it, off my PTO.
ROB AMBERG:
This is right there where we were?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. There's back on the other side of my lake looking at the house.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh that's one of the pictures that Rob's going to like. That is your house.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You can't tell which is sky and which is water.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah, this is wonderful. What a cool picture.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I can't believe I got one—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Same picture.

Page 8
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I guess the damn thing is somewhere. I had one I wanted to show you Rob. I can't find it. You can see-this is what I'm looking for. That sign says, 'Water subject to flooding.'
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
And it was right up to the bottom of the sign.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You've got an eye for photography.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah, really.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I told my wife I wanted that thing blown up poster sized and put up on the wall in there for my camp.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I'll say. You call this your camp.
ROB AMBERG:
This is certainly nice. This is—do they provide you with this when you get the prints.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It comes with it.
ROB AMBERG:
It's a little contact sheet.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It's numbered so you can have them made.
ROB AMBERG:
Well, when I—I shoot black and white and I do the same thing. I put the whole roll on one eight by ten sheet so they're a little bit bigger with the size of the film. But I've never seen this. This is very nice.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I bet she's going to surprise me and have that thing made for Christmas. Probably—.
ROB AMBERG:
Say it a little bit louder.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It's disappeared. She does stuff like that.
ROB AMBERG:
You do have a good eye. You've got a real good eye.

Page 9
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I'll tell you what this one is. I love a big Christmas tree. That's the way we had it over at the other house last Christmas.
ROB AMBERG:
Wow.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How big is it.
ROB AMBERG:
Wow. It's—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Eleven, twelve feet. Eleven or twelve feet.
ROB AMBERG:
It looks like it's two or three feet above those beams in the house.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh yeah.
ROB AMBERG:
Those sky beams.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh my gosh.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I love a—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that a cedar tree.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It came right up from Avery County.
ROB AMBERG:
Is that right?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Avery County.
ROB AMBERG:
Frazier fir, then.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Frazier fir.
ROB AMBERG:
That's not too far from me at all. Actually we've got—we go every year and cut trees over at some neighbor's house or dig them and stuff like that. We dig one about every other year.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's one when I was initiated into the Jesters. I had somebody—a friend of ours took that picture. That's when I first day I came out. Dawn met me up at the bridge.

Page 10
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now, the first day you came out, tell—what do you mean, you came out? Where were you staying?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I stayed upstairs in my office because people were looting and everything so bad. I wouldn't leave the place. It was twelve days before I even came out to get supplies or anything. I met her up there at the bridge.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What were you eating?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
[Laughter] Vienna sausage. Poptarts, beanie weanies. Anything in a pop-top. A friend of mine brought me a couple of cases of these MRI, Military Ready to Eat Meals. I had a bunch of that stuff. Of course, we didn't have any power. I had a Coleman lantern up there and a Coleman cook stove but I didn't want to cook. I just ate me stuff like that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Let's—let me ask you some questions and let you talk. When did you move here to the community?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
1974.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you had been an airline pilot.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I was then.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You were then.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I moved up here to get my boys out of town into a little more open environment.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You were flying for?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Piedmont.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Describe the place you picked out to buy and why you liked the looks of it.

Page 11
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, I was in the Shrine Drum and Bugle Corps down in Wilmington. A friend of mine was in the real estate business. I told him to look for me a farm because I wanted to get the boys out of town. About a year later, he hadn't said anything and we had a practice every Monday night. We were practicing and I said, 'Jack, you found me a farm yet.' He said, 'Well I've been kind of looking.' I said, 'Well, look. I've got this money saved up to buy a farm. If you don't find me one this month, I'm going to buy a boat and start fishing.' So he found this place. I said, 'I want a farm but I don't want any buildings on it because whatever goes in there, I want to build what I want.' He came up with this piece of property that had one old run down tobacco barn. That's all that was there. I just fell in love with it. I bought it. My wife did not want to move to the country. So that's when I told her to get a set of blueprints and put everything in them that she'd ever wanted in a house and I'd build it on a farm. Well y'all can see she laid a pretty good one on me. But you know back in '74 when we built that house, it was $47,650, turn key job. The last time I had it appraised it was $340,000 so it wasn't a bad investment. But I got like seven and a half acres of yard area right there at the house with tennis courts, and the basketball and the lake in the back for the boys to fish in and swim in. It just turned out really, really—well I say a smart thing to do—an ideal thing to do. Dawn, come in here. Meet these guys. This is Charlie Thompson and Rob. I can't remember your—.
ROB AMBERG:
Rob Amberg.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
This is my wife Dawn.
ROB AMBERG:
How are you?
DAWN CONNOR:
Fair to middling. Thank you.

Page 12
ROB AMBERG:
You did a beautiful job in here. This is just great. DC: You should've seen the before pictures.
ROB AMBERG:
That's what Jim has been saying.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Find me the pictures that Kelly took if you get a chance. They might be over in [unclear] County.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah. That's—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you moved to your farm. You were still flying planes. How much longer did you do that after you moved there?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Twenty-three years.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you were going down to Wilmington to pick up a flight and—were you flying out of Wilmington?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. At one time, that was one of Piedmont's largest crew bases. I flew out of there until Piedmont got the 727s and the crew base for it was in Charlotte. Then I'd commute over to Charlotte and pick up my flight. Then when they got the 767s, I had to go there. I flew domestic on those for about a couple of years going from Charlotte to LA, back and forth and San Francisco. Then they got the international; so I'd go to Charlotte and do that. They were doing London and Frankfurt out of Charlotte. If we'd go to Paris, I'd have to deadhead to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh and take the Paris flight. So it was pretty neat. I was gone a lot. Lived out of a suitcase a lot.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When you drive up in your yard, you can't tell necessarily that you live on a farm. It's sort of residential and has a tennis court there that now you use those as a dog lot. When did you decide you wanted to be a farmer and raise hogs?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Always have.

Page 13
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You always have?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Always wanted to live on a farm.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that right. Why?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I don't know. I guess it was from when I was a kid and going spending summers with my grandparents and things like that. They were farmers.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What kind of farmers were they?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Just a living. They had chickens, hogs, cows, mules, tobacco, corn, peanuts, and soybeans. They just made a living off of the land. All my ancestors have.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In which county?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Columbus County. My dad's father, he had a lot of farms up until the Depression. He was pretty much a go-getter, I call it. The guy had a third grade education. He could spell every word in the dictionary. He typed with two fingers. Before the Depression, he had a Ford agency in Whiteville, a movie theatre in Whiteville, a restaurant in Whiteville, a Ford dealership in Chadbourne and fourteen farms. During the Depression, of course people were getting stuff on their signature. After a lot of people got wealthy after it confiscating. My dad used to tell me a story that my granddaddy—my dad had five brothers. There were six boys. People'd owe granddad money. He'd say, 'All right boys let's go out there. We're going to have to get their chickens and mules and cows and whatever we can to salvage some money.' He said that they'd go out and some lady'd come to the door with a bunch of little crying kids. He said they couldn't take these people's stuff so he lost everything he had because he would not confiscate people's property. That takes a pretty big man, a pretty big man. I've got a friend right here in Pender County whose family's absolutely wealthy through the kazoo.

Page 14
His great grandfather had a dry goods store. At the end of the Depression, he took about four thousand acres of other people's property because they couldn't pay him. I just say to look at the comparison between his granddad and my granddad. Here these people've got land everywhere, and we've got zip other than what I bought since I got out and started doing it. But I bought that farm over there. Moved my boys—I told Dawn one day when we were in Wilmington. We lived in Pine Valley. I said, 'There's one block there's nineteen children and the oldest one is eight years old. In about six or seven years all hell's going to break loose. I want to move the boys to the country.' That's what we did. It turned out a good move.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You always wanted to be a farmer; butt you decided to be an airline pilot in the meantime somehow. How did that?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, I don't know. I started off at Piedmont as a flight attendant. At that time, they called them pursers. They didn't have any stewardesses. We'd during from one leg to the other, the purser would go back in the baggage bin and sort out the baggage that was going off at the next stop, and the mail that was going off at the next stop, and serve coffee. Back then when they got on the airplane, you gave them two samples of cigarettes—a sample box that had five Winstons in it and one of them had five Salem cigarettes in it. They had you do a chiclets chewing gum. You'd go by and give them before you started your descent for them to chew to keep their ears from popping because none of the airplanes were pressurized. I started doing that as a flight attendant. I rode back there about a year.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Was that in Raleigh?

Page 15
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No, I started off, they sent me to Washington, DC. They hired me in Winston-Salem. That was the home office. I had to go to Washington. We lived up there six years. I tell everybody it took us six years to save up enough money to be able to leave because it's a high rent district. Then I went back to Wilmington and bought a house. Got to looking around for some property to get in. I started flying after about a year as a flight attendant. I said, 'You know if you're going to ride around on one of these things, you might as well drive.' Of course back then, a pilot didn't make any money. I think a Captain with Piedmont at that point was making $800 a month.
ROB AMBERG:
Man.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I was a flight attendant. I made $225.
ROB AMBERG:
Man.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
And got four dollars and twenty-five cents a day for meal expenses and if you flew past midnight you got an extra dollar for a midnight snack. It's been a real, real—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you decided, you had to go to flight school.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No. I bought an old airplane, a Veronica L-3, a two-seater. It looks like a J3 Cub except a J3 Cub the pilot flies it from the back seat. The Veronica, the pilot flies it from the front seat, tandem type. [unclear] lay down. Down. Thank you. The guys, I bought the airplane, and the pilots taught me how to fly it. Then I built my time up and had to get an instrument rating. DC: This is all I've got.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Okay. Thank you. So I had to go out and contract to do that and when I got all my hours in—you had to have a commercial, an instrument rating, and that was it to go on as a co-pilot back then. That's all you had to have was a commercial and an

Page 16
instrument rating because you were flying co-pilot. After a period of time, you'd get your multi-engine rating but you didn't have to have the multi-engine to be a co-pilot. Then after you get an air transport rating when you upgrade to Captain to fly anything over 12,500 pounds. But when I got all my hours, you had to have those ratings and a thousand hours, Piedmont would hire you as a co-pilot. As soon as I got all my time, they hired me as a co-pilot. I flew co-pilot for four and a half years and checked out as Captain when I was twenty-seven on a Mark 404. So from twenty-seven and retired at fifty-five, that's how many years I was a Captain—.
ROB AMBERG:
Twenty-eight.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you bought one hundred and some acre when you were still—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They called it ninety acres more or less; you give them a ten-percent play.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
At one point you must've been still flying but deciding to do something to make some money off of your farm. When did that start being an idea in your head?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I always do other things. Back when I was in Wilmington, I started a portable toilet business called Rent-a-John and rented to contractors. When you're in the flying business you've got to have a first class physical every six months. Well if you bust the physical, you're out of work. So I always was piddling with something else in case something happened with the flying end of it. I'd have something to do. I started that toilet business and it was real successful. Ran it for about twenty years and turned it over to my dad. Then after a few years, he decided he wanted to retire so he sold it.
I went to the country. I always wanted to raise cattle. Man, I wanted cows. I had a herd of Black Angus cows. I think I had twenty cows and a bull. A friend of mine had the FCX in Burgaw, Eddie Bassum. He gave two of my boys two bred gilts for an Ag

Page 17
project. We made more money with those two hogs in two years than I'd made with twenty cows in six. Eddie used to tell me, he said, 'You'll get enough to get groceries out of beef.' He said, 'You can pay the mortgage with hogs.' So I told the boys, I said, 'Boys, we're in the wrong business here. Them cows, we need to get in the hog business.' So then we—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What year was that? You might have said but I didn't catch it.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Probably late seventies because we hadn't been up there long. So then I got another friend that was in the hog business; I bought ten bred gilts from him. I built the old barn. You didn't go to them on the other side. I was working up to a fifty-sow fare to finish operation. I had that running pretty good. I had to go to school on an airplane. I was going to be gone about six weeks. I rented my hog operation out. When I came back, that's when Prestage's was just cranking up. When I came back, a friend of mine in the turkey business said, 'You need to talk to Bill Prestage. He's looking for growers.' So I did. Man, this takes all the gamble out of it. I build the buildings; I furnish the building, the labor, and utilities;and he furnishes the hogs, the feed, the medication; he sells them; and I get a percentage.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And all that's written into the contract.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yep. But they gave you a five-year—he gives you a five-year contract. At the end of that five years, if you didn't take anything out of it, the operation's paid for. Only thing I took out of it was enough to pay my utilities.
ROB AMBERG:
So you got a five-year contract on the hogs?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. And it's renewed. I've got the original contract. It just—if you don't screw up, it just renews itself. Like I've been growing for him for fifteen years on that

Page 18
same contract. The only thing is that every so often, he increases. Now when I first started, I was getting about seven fifty to eight dollars a head. He's increased it enough that I'm getting about eleven fifty to eleven seventy-five a head now.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You don't have to pay for the feed. You don't have to pay for the medication. You don't have to pay for the transportation.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
About how much would it cost to build a building like that?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Today?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Today.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Probably a $100,000 per building.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You could pay for that in five years today?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. The return on investment is still about the same, about thirty-two to thirty-four percent.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you like that better than being your own boss so to speak?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, I am my own boss.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
People talk about that you're a factory farm and like that. I'm not a factory farm. I just got a supplier. It's still a family farm. We run the thing. The only difference is that once a week they've got a serviceman that comes by to look at their animals. He makes sure I keep the feeders adjusted the way they want them, that we're not wasting. We get a premium on feed conversion. It starts at four oh. Anything under four oh you get bonus money on.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Four pounds of feed to one pound of hog. I just wanted to make that clear.

Page 19
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Right. So any difference, like this last one, my feed conversion part of the check was over $12,000.
ROB AMBERG:
That was a bonus that you got just for feed conversion was so good.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Say if I wasn't doing a good job, if say it was four oh. I wouldn't have gotten that $12,000.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What was yours?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It was two point four six, two point four eight. Somewhere right in there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Less than two and a half pounds of feed to make a pound of hog. Is this because hogs are just finely bred today?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. It's in the genetics for a long lean hog because they don't put any additives in the feed. They put a soybean meal to give them their protein. It's just corn and soybean meal. Unless you have to do some medication, where you get a whole sick herd or something like that. They'll put it in the feed and water so you can knock it out. But the mortality will usually run under two percent on a turn. If you do two percent or less, you're doing an excellent job. I've seen guys that would get pseudo-rabies in a herd or something like that and lose eight to ten percent of the herd. When you start losing heavy hogs like that, that really screws up your feed conversion because you bury a two hundred-pound hog, you're burying six hundred pounds of feed. If you don't keep those feeders adjusted where they can get that trough full of feed, then they get in there and flip it out. When it goes through them cracks, it's gone.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You're still paying for it in a sense.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well they are. It comes off your feed conversion bonus.

Page 20
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You find this to be a—you said you only spend four to six hours a day on the hog operation. That's a pretty good job. But you have to do it seven days a week.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well you can do it in less than that. If you don't have a lot of sick animals where you're giving shots. You can walk through one of those buildings and check the waterers, check your feeders, check the fans, your curtains, make sure you're not getting build up underneath the slats where it flushes. If you've got a dead animal or something, you pull it out and put it in the Dumpster. You can do a building, if you don't have a problem in it, in thirty minutes. These four houses, it'd take two hours and do a good job.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What is the minimum you can have a still get a contract? Can you just do one house? Do you have to have three?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
When I started, I had an old finishing floor that would hold three hundred and sixty. Bill came down and looked at it and said we needed a thousand to justify hauling feed this far because the feed mill's in Clinton. So I built that six twenty finishing floor by that one. Well, actually, it's six forty, which you keep one pen for a cull pen to keep the others from killing him or beating him up. Once they establish the peck order. You take the weak ones out and put them down in the cull pen and move those out like three times during a cycle. It's pretty interesting.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you have a son who's decided to go into it?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
He's managing a two thousand sow unit for Prestage.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You and he both make a good living at it you said.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. I hope that one day he comes and takes over this operation. They'll probably shut that one down. That one knocks sixty thousand a year off his potential income.

Page 21
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That one you're referring to is the one in the flood plain.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
The flood plain.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Can you describe the deal they're offering you and what you're reaction to that is?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I don't know what the deal is because the package hasn't come out.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is this FEMA?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No, this is state.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
State Department of Agriculture?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They've appropriated $5.7 million to buyout fifteen farms that's in the flood plain.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that all that in the flood plain in the entire—
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They don't know. They say it might be as many as 180. They just don't know. They've got—like one of the guys they've got on the list is over on the other side of Wallace. They had an article in the paper last week, his family doesn't grow hogs. They've got cotton, peanuts, and corn. They've got him listed as having an intensive livestock operation in the flood plain.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Why just fifteen?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Those are the ones they know that were impacted during this hurricane.
ROB AMBERG:
So they don't know—and part of that too I guess is they haven't really established where the flood plain is.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. The records they're going on are so old. They don't know. I'm on the Pender County Planning Board, and we go through that stuff every month and people come in here wanting to do subdivisions. Of course now we've got where they have to

Page 22
have a soil scientist and stuff like that because if you've got certain type soils that you're not supposed to build on and like that. Now you can't build an operation in a flood plain anyway. That's just with this new 0200 state regulation. There will not be anymore new construction in the flood plain. That's the way it ought to be. I didn't know I was in the flood plain when I built those or I probably wouldn't have. Wouldn't have built my house there. The only thing they told me was that Highway Fifty-Three was the high water mark from a flood back in the early thirties. So I had the guy building the house set a transom up and shoot a line up from Fifty-Three and put my floor joists a foot higher just in case. I've been there twenty-seven years and this was in case. It wasn't high enough. I would've had to go up six more feet to have kept it from coming in the house.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You had water in your house.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Sixty-two inches.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Sixty-two inches.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
There's so much to talk about that you brought up but—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I should've never told you about Sammy.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I know.
Let's get back to the hog houses. Can you just describe what the life of a hog is in that house? There's so many people who don't know, who hear what they hear in the news and so forth. You go in, you're feeding—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Everything is pretty much automated. It's climate controlled. You've got fans in there to circulate the air all the time. You've got kit fans to pull the ammonia out so they won't stay in there with the animals. Curtain drawn thermostats. You've got foggers around the side if the temperature gets up over eighty-eight degrees it puts a mist

Page 23
of water on two minutes out of eight. The buildings are designed where there's like either twenty or twenty-two pigs in each pen. That's allowing each one of them seven and a half square feet for optimum growth. They'll make the first pull at thirteen weeks. Animals are like humans. Some of them are going to grow faster than others. So at thirteen weeks, they'll come in and take the big ones out and go ahead and market them. They'll be up to around two forty, in that area. That gives more space for what's left in there. You try to keep them comfortable or they won't perform.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So the pigs are comfortable?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They're happy.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh yeah. You saw how they're jumping around when you went in to take pictures. That's their whole thing in life is for the consumer. You keep them comfortable. You can't just be cruel to animals. You've got to like them. You go in there and giving them shots. They'll get to know you. They'll talk to you when you come in there and run up to the gate. When a strange person goes in there, they're kind of lay back until they see everything's all right and then they'll come out.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
A pig's pretty smart.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh they're the smartest animal there is. They say that's the only animal that's ever been able to figure out a three-way latch. Horse can't do it; cow can't do it; a dog, a cat, a monkey. But a pig can. That's pretty neat.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you feel like you have a relationship with these pigs somewhat like you do those cats out there.

Page 24
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I look after them like I look after that lab. You got to worry about their health. Keep them happy; keep them comfortable.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What would you say to a person who says, 'I just don't understand how you can care for animals and then go and know they're going to be killed?' What would you say?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That's why they're grown. That's what one of these abortionist rights people was telling me one time. I think you're the least caring of the—and this just happened in our family. My son that's a pilot, his wife was four month along and they went to do the scan to see if it's a boy or a girl. When they did it and looked at it, the doctor said, 'This is not good.' The liver and lungs were on the outside. They said she could go full term but it'll live five minutes. They went to Wake Forest two weeks ago and took it.
ROB AMBERG:
That's really hard.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
But anyway, the story I was going to tell you is this abortion person was telling me, that's wrong, that's wrong that's wrong. You should never do that to anything. I don't care.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do what?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Kill or abort a baby or something like that. I said, 'You eat eggs?' They said, 'Yeah. I said, 'You're eating an unborn chicken. What's the damned difference?' And my youngest son, the one that's managing the two thousand unit—my mom about twelve years ago had to have heart surgery. The valve on top of her heart was bad. They couldn't put a synthetic valve in; so they put a pig valve in. It comes from a special Russian hog. They had to put a pig valve in there, and he was doing a paper his senior

Page 25
year in college. He did it on that pig saving his grandmother's life. He said the first time that professor read that thing and cried.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah. My father has a pig valve.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It's amazing. The synthetic ones just wouldn't go in there because she had rheumatic fever when she was a child and it damaged the flapper valve on top of the heart. They had to put that pig in there. You look, all your burn tissue comes from pigs, where they graft. Heart valves, shoes, belts, bacon, pork chops. And a pig is the only animal that you've got three shots a day at the consumer. You've got bacon, sausage, and country ham for breakfast. You've got your sandwich meats for lunch. You've got pork chops and ham roasts and stuff like that for dinner. It is the only animals that you've got three shots a day at the consumer. You think about that. People don't eat steak three meals a day. You don't eat chicken three meals a day. You might if you went to Hardee's and get a chicken biscuit or something like that or a steak biscuit. But really, you're wide open, three meals a day at the consumer.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So do you think that the market is going to be good from now on for hogs.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. I think it's going to be good. You're going to have to put up with the environmentalists, so called, and the activists and people like that. But as long as you're eating and as long as you keep the pigs tissue for skin grafts and things like that. I don't see any slacking off on it. Unless the whole country goes to vegetarian. That's not going to happen.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you've got people out here eating meat and you've got international markets now, like you said, China, Russia. Is this the best way to raise them?

Page 26
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. I think it's the only way to raise them. If you were to raise these same hogs that I've got on this farm, twenty four hundred eighty of them and you had them out on the range, it's going to take you twice as long to get them to market. They're going to be in the ditches and in the streams and everything else. It's just making one mess.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that polluting too?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That's more pollution that what you do—there's no pollution at all here. None.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where's it all go then?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It goes in these spray fields out here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Go back to the time when the manure drops through the slats. Tell what happens to it?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They've got an automatic flush system on it that flushes it out of the building into a lagoon.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And the lagoon is about how big?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It's predicated on how many animals. You have to build the lagoon to accommodate how many animals are going to be on that facility. I don't know the formula on that. The soil and water people calculate it, and then you do it to their specifications.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
To build the lagoon you say you have to put clay in it.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You don't have to put clay in it but preferably you have a clay base seals it so it won't seep out. They have rubber liners they put in them but they can't say that when they put them in that the equipment doesn't puncture it or something like that. But you can tell whether it's leaking or not. You've got to pump that thing out four or five times a

Page 27
year. Pump it down to keep it in your twenty-four hour one hundred year event. You know it's not leaking.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So we were up there and it was raining. But I didn't smell the lagoon. I smelled the fans, the hog odor coming out of those. The lagoon—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You won't smell them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Why not? Why wouldn't you smell it?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It's just the aerobic action of the lagoon is like a great big septic tank without a lid on it. It's decomposing all the time. If you get a real foggy heavy morning, you'll smell it. But most of the time you won't. I'd say ninety-nine percent of the time, you'll never know it's there. That's not like turkeys and chickens. That's some strong litter. I guess, it's the amount of ammonia in it or something. I don't know how.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The ammonia is staying in the hog.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, it's going of into the atmosphere, pretty much is the way it works.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay, so it's flushed out every so often, every thirty minutes.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Whatever long it takes to fill the tank up.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And then it goes into this holding unit, and then what do you do with it?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
We've got an irrigation system. We pump off the top eighteen inches because the solids are going to the bottom. You pump off the top eighteen inches and put it on your fields through a—I use a portable reel, which I can put the reel out and pull my hose out eight hundred and eighty feet. You just calibrated to how much you want to put on the land, which the ideal situation. Well my waste management plan calls for each application to put a half-inch of water to the acre.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now who gave you that plan?

Page 28
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
The soil and water. Then you calculate it when you have your lagoon analysis done. Now like those over there that got flooded, it's like point two three. This one, because it's got a lot of hogs in it and it's never under water, it's like one point seven eight. One point seven eight pounds of nitrogen to a thousand gallons of water. So that's the way I know my gun puts out a hundred fifteen gallons a minute. I keep track of how many minutes it runs over how much acreage and just divide it. I can tell how much I put and probably a pound to the acre. That acre is probably, depending on the type grass, will be able to take any where from eighty to one hundred twenty pounds of nitrogen a year.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What does that grass do then? How do you use it?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I use it for hay. I feel my cows with it and sell it. We do a nitrate check on that before we sell the hay. We plug it; send it off and they come back and tell you if the nitrate level is too high then you don't sell it to people with horses because it'll kill them. If it's two stages higher, you don't feed it to cattle. It'll kill them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Those are your own cattle.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That's right. They aren't going to kill them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Has some of that ever—when you've sprayed it on the fields—has that run off? We hear about agricultural run off.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Not if you use your application rate. Half inch of rain on a field isn't very much. It pretty much absorbs that. You don't pump when it's raining. You don't pump when you've got a whole lot of water on the ground. You've got to have adequate grass cover to absorb what you pump. That's why it changes. In the summertime on Coast Bermuda, you can put about twice as much as I can put this time of year on winter rye.

Page 29
Because the winter rye doesn't use as much nitrogen as the Coast Bermuda does. I got fescue over here I pump on in the wintertime. I've got about twice as many acres as I've got Coastal because I can't put as much on it. And then if you're going to graze where you're pumping, you've got to have more acreage to allow for what the cattle are going to discharge. So that changes your formula all around. So I've got my cows on another place I rent. I don't have any cattle on my property. I just use it all for spray fields.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You have to have how much property for four hog barns out here in order to have enough land to spray it on?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Twenty-seven acres. About nine acres to the barn for this six twenty size.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Six hundred and twenty hogs finishing barn.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Figures about nine acres.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And then you bale that hay and sell it and that gives you more income.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. I need twenty-seven acres for these and I've got a hundred and twenty-eight.
ROB AMBERG:
That you're spraying on.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you're doing more acreage than your plan recommends.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh yeah and then that cuts down on the nitrate that I'm putting on it because I'm spreading it on more area. Actually I've got more land than I have water that I can pump.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So let's get back. It's already one. Do you think we should?
ROB AMBERG:
I think you ought to call.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I know, let's go back to—Rob just got a picture of you with a beaver that you'd trapped. Now how—. Tell about your, well it's really kind of a relationship with the river that you have, this creek. Tell about that. How did you get to know that creek and tell about how you spend a lot of time on it hunting, fishing?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, you know with the kids coming up, we hunted and fished back in the creek and the rivers. We did trapping. We trapped rabbits, coons, foxes and stuff like that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Sell the hides?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No. Basically, we were catching rabbits, to eat them. Coons, we'd sell the hide. Then I got into beaver trapping because they were flooding my land. I was doing it on my own. Friend of mine is head of the wildlife specialists in this area. He's retired game warden. He was down at Steve's Restaurant one morning, and he said he had to hire two trappers. He had a couple of guys who were interested but he said, 'You know by the time I outfit them and with benefits. I've got $30,000 tied up, and I can only guarantee these guys four months work and they've both got good jobs.' I'd retired from the airline at that time. This is only been a year ago. I said, 'Well Herman I'll make you a better deal than that.' He said, 'What?' I said, 'I like to trap beaver.' And I said, 'I've got my own trucks. I've got my own boat. I've got my own traps, and I don't need your benefits.' Well the next morning, he came in with the application.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How many are you supposed to trap for him?

Page 31
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's no amount. What they're doing is if a land owner calls and tells them they've got a flooding problem, then I'll go out and check it out and estimate the damage on it. I'll catch the beavers for them, and we'll tear the dams out or blow them out. I do, most of the work primarily I do is for the Department of Transportation, where they're causing problems under culverts and bridges. Like the culvert I showed you where they had that thing plugged up. We had all this water. If hadn't have gotten that culvert open before that water, it'd have blew the highway out. That would've been three or four hundred thousand dollars to repair. It's just—one guy over in Atkinson, Combs, his place called Combs Folly. He lost like fifteen million dollars worth of timber to the beavers.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Were they overpopulated or what?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
The state introduced them I believe it was in 1939 for farmers to supplement their income in the winter. But beaver pelts at that time were sixty-five to seventy dollars apiece. If a guy go out there and caught a beaver, well he's made a week's wages. But now with the animal rights people, pelts are three and four dollars.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In other words, there aren't many people that don't particularly want to wear fur.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well you've got—it's not that they won't wear fur. A guy isn't going to buy the equipment to go catch them if he's only going to get three or four dollars for them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You mentioned the animal rights people. Now why do they get—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Why do they do, I don't know.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How do they make the price go up?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They just affected the market.

Page 32
ROB AMBERG:
Okay, so people are not wanting to buy fur coats because of the animal rights people.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There's a stigma from it.
ROB AMBERG:
And that's dropped the price.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There you go but I can't [unclear] about the animal rights thing and the fur coat.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, let's keep it running and talk about what we said back on the farm. I was just half joking you talked about the environmentalists in sort of a negative sense. But then I said, 'You're kind of an environmentalist.' And you said, 'I am.'
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You don't farm and not be a good steward of your land because you're cutting your own throat. That's like I told the fellow from the News and Observer when he was talking about. I said, 'I was the first one to put an incinerator in down here to burn dead animals rather than bury them because I was concerned about ground water.'
CHARLES THOMPSON:
This was before the flood?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh this was fifteen years ago. And then since now, we have these dumpsters. We can put the dead animals in the dumpsters and the truck comes by every day and picks them up and takes them to a rendering plant and process them and they go into animal feed for protein. Dog food, cat food, stuff like that, which is a lot better way to do it. I was burning them before that just because I did not want to pollute the ground water.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You care about that creek up there, don't you?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I love that creek. My kids swam in there when they were little. I've got two houses there by Steve's. We've got a pier we'd dive in there and swim and have a good time. We'd eat the fish out of it. The ditches around here are the same thing. They feed into that creek. Why would I want to fool with it? I don't understand it. Most of the

Page 33
people raising the hell about this stuff, sit behind a desk dreaming about things. They're not out here living on the land. You'll get—as far as like apples. You'll have one bad one every now and then make the rest of us look like a bunch of jerks. I just—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What do the jerks do? I mean, the ones who—. They just don't spray at the right rates or something?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They had some guy in another county, it's been about a year ago. The Department of Water Quality does an annual inspection on every farm, and Soil and Water does an annual inspection on every farm. They don't come—they come once a year unless they get a complaint. Then they'll come every day if they need to. You stand up to a $10,000 a day fine if you're causing a problem. You're pumping too much and causing run off and like that. You're not following your procedure. This guy had a farm, I'm thinking it's over somewhere around Newton, but I'm not sure. DWQ comes by to do his annual inspection. Well he's not there, and he's got people working. The guy comes around and he's checking his lagoon out and he says, 'When was the last time you pumped this lagoon?' He said, 'We ain't never pumped it.' The guy said, 'Well.' Well what had happened, he'd put an overflow pipe in that thing. It got so high and it went out this four-inch pipe and into the creek. They'd have never known that if that guy hadn't have said, 'We never pump that lagoon.' Then they started looking because they couldn't tell there was an overflow pipe. The water had it covered up. It was just seeping out. They got to looking and found out where it came out, and it was coming out of that black dike right there, and it was going right straight into the ditch. It ran into the Blue Line Creek. That—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What do you think ought to be done with that fellow?

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JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Just exactly what they did. It cost him about $75,000 in fines, and they shut them down. He had to have the animals out of there within forty-eight hours. That's what they should've done. They ought to send him to jail. Ought to locked him up and throwed the key away. Man, you can't tolerate stuff like that. You can't do it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You said, you might take the buyout on this other farm over there that's in this area where you thought might be—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I'm just looking at this you might say this might be a five hundred-year flood. I don't have to worry about the next one. But then again it might happen again next year. If we get three hurricanes back to back and dumps twenty-two inches of water over a seventy square mile area, it's going to happen again. It's going to happen. It was a pain. Right sickening to be out there and to float them animals out and shoot your goats to keep them from drowning. I mean, it was terrible. I'd shoot a goat and cry. Shoot a goat and cry. It was terrible.
ROB AMBERG:
I'd like to hear, you know you were talking about caring for you animals and things like that earlier. During the flood, you described to us earlier just what you did in order to keep your hogs going and keep your hogs feed and comfortable and all that kind of thing. I don't think we have that on tape.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And then also, how do you handled the ones that die.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
The dispatcher, they sent me twenty-four tons of feed in here by boat in two hundred-pound bags. We stacked them in the high end of the building; took us—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You had to do that by hand?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I got a hernia out of it. I weigh 185 pounds and I was wrestling two hundred pound feed bags and chest waders going from building to building. Then I had my

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johnboat with a generator in it and a submersible pump, and I was dropping it over the side filling feeders up to the water. The dead ones, we'd just go in and float them out of the building. I told my boys, I said,' Let's go float these dead animals.' They said, 'Why you want to do that?' I said, 'I'd rather float them out than have to carry them out. When the water goes down, they still have to come out.' So that's what we did. We'd go in there and get him by the foot and walk out and put him in our little holding area there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The holding area's important because so many people thought, 'Well these hog farmers are just letting them float down the river.'
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No. I took a two-inch PVC line, I use to recycle my flush system, and sealed it at the ends and put it around to make a containing ring. Like you would an oil slick. And floated the animals in there between two buildings and then when the water went down, the animals stayed right there. After it was all over, they came in with a backhoe and a truck and hauled them off and buried them. Not one of them got out of there, not one. In fact there's a record of the Health Department came out on a boat while we were building it. He liked that. He said, 'If every farmer was like you, we wouldn't have no trouble.' The thing about that is that that's kind of not fair because most guys were doing the same thing I was. They just—I just happened to be the one he saw.
ROB AMBERG:
Your sense was that most farmers that you know of anyway were doing those kinds of things to feed their animals or to—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I know a guy and son that had turkeys where the water got up in the building about two and a half or three inches. Well, the birds were small. They were like six, seven inches high. He and his boy stayed in buildings walking for twenty-four hours so the turkeys wouldn't lay down and drown, to keep them up. For twenty-four hours, he

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and his boys walked them buildings to keep those babies up. He didn't lose but maybe a thousand he said out of fifty thousand. But that's his livelihood. You aren't going—I couldn't have walked away from those hogs and lost eighteen hundred hogs when I could save most of them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It's about money but it's also about caring about the animals.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. It's terrible. It's all intertwined. You do everything you do to make a living. You do your interviews to make a living. I farm to make a living. It's all intertwined. You can't have one without the other. If you don't take care of your animals, they're not going to live and you're not going to make any money. I think it's all intertwined; everything we do.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where do you get these values though that cause you to care about your farm and how do you teach that to people?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I guess they have to live it. You can't take somebody in New York and have the same appreciation for the land or for the animals as the guys down here on it have. They just can't comprehend it. I know one time when I was flying, I met this guy in La Guardia that was a baggage handler. You can get passes to go anywhere, and I had just been out to Las Vegas and I told this guy, I said 'Ernie. I said, 'You need to get a pass—he worked for Eastern Airlines—and go out of Las Vegas.' I said, 'That's a pretty place out there in that desert.' I said, 'You'd really like that. You'd really love the gambling.' He said, 'I'd be afraid to go out there.' He said, 'I've never been out of New York City in my entire life.' This guy was thirty some years old. I said, 'I'll tell you one thing. If you ever get up enough nerve to go out there, you'll be afraid to come back. You go see how the rest of the world is, you'll be afraid to come back.' I think stuff like that is all relative to

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how you grow up, what you do, probably a lot of—I say all my ancestors made their living off the land. They were all farmers.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You saw this need to get your boys out to the country.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That was strictly personal, environmental thing. I see kids that were drinking and doing drugs and raising hell, and it was because they were bored. It was not because they were bad kids; it was because they were bored. I got my boys out in the country, and they can't be bored much.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you put them to work?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. We always had animals for them to look after. They had their chores to do in the morning before they went to school. They had chores to do in the afternoon when they got home. The weekend, we'd cut firewood and did hay and whatever. Then when they got up old enough, rather than get bored, I didn't have so much work you could do, I'd take them to go to work for other people. My oldest boy, he worked on another hog farm, Dennis Humphries over on the other side of Burgaw. They all worked in the blueberries during the summer and the tomato fields and stuff like that. That's where you learn, it's working for other people. Daddy might say you can slip off early and go to the dance tonight but that damned guy over there paying you by the hour. That's Kelly and Jobe, that's my youngest and next to youngest, they were working on Thomas's tomato farm one summer. Harry Thomas was a tough taskmaster. Well, Kelly overheated and passed out. So they drag him over under the shed. Well, that afternoon when they got paid off, Jobe, he got more money than Kelly got. So Kelly went over and said, 'Mr. Thomas, we came to work at the same time and we're going home at the same time. Why'd he get paid more than me?' He said, 'I ain't paying you for that fifteen

Page 38
minutes you was laying over under that shed.' Now see I told them, 'I said, 'Boys, you learned a real lesson.' They worked for another guy on a blueberry farm. My wife would take them over there at five o'clock in the morning, and they'd get home after midnight. They were working in the fields and the packing shed. He paid them for one day, eight hours. They did it all summer. They were whipped. We were talking about Harry and we were talking about the blueberry deal and all that. 'You learned a valuable lesson. That's why I've got you working for other people and not me. You two learn how not to treat people.' I said, 'One day when y'all get up and if you've got your own business, and a guy, if you start having employee problems, you'll think back and well, I'm doing the right thing.' Because people don't buck up at you if you're doing them right. You treat them right, they aren't going to blow up at you. That's like that old guy out there at the other farm. He's been here twenty some years. I give him a place to live; pay his expense. He's not real bright but if I were in his situation, I'd sure appreciate somebody looking after me. I told my wife, 'If I die, he's yours until you die.' When I went up to Boeing one time to go to school on the 767, my youngest son was home for the summer. The second day I called and he answered the phone. I said, 'How's it going Jobe.' He said, 'I fired Sammy today.' I said, 'You can't fire Sammy.' I said, 'Go get him.' I said, 'He's there for the duration. You can't fire him.' He said, 'He didn't do what I told him.' I said, 'Is he smart enough to do what you told him?' He said, 'Well, I don't know.' I said, 'Think about it. I said, ' Go get him back anyway. You cannot fire that man.' I don't know, you just have to—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
These are the values you learn from work. You can't teach them any other way.

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JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No, your parents. My mama was pretty much like that. She was a pretty levelheaded person. You treat everybody the same. It doesn't matter if they're jillionaires or just dirt farmers. They're all the same. They came out of the same envelope. You just made your mark a little different.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You have had a good relationship with your integrator. Is that what they call them in hogs too?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Excellent.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And from other people that we talked with that raised turkeys for him, Bill Prestage is a wonderful man who is fair and has the values that you talk about because he came from that kind of background. Now what happens if this guy comes in to manage a company, and he's raised in New York City?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You've got a problem.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do we have to have companies like that out there already?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. You read the horror stories where they come in. I know a guy that has a chicken farm and they go in there and said, "They want you to change these waterers or feeders' or something like that. So you either does it or they cut him off. So he spends $80,000 to do this adjustment. Six months later they came back and had him put it like it was because they found out it wasn't working the way they said. He had to bear the expense. It's tough. But Prestage, he's just a is a super guy. They want me to change a drain bin one time. I raised Cain about it. Man that's $1800, $2000. I called him about it and he said, 'I'll tell you what. You pour the cement pad and I'll put the bin in.' Fair enough. Fair enough. He's like that. I think, his sons are coming up in the business, and he's got one that's not going to be like that at all. He's kind of a loose cannon anyway.

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Worth had a problem with him. He told him that he was going to have to bear the expense of getting rid of all them dead birds and reclaying them barns and wasn't going to pay his contract. Bill paid him his full contract. He came and got the birds.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Bill overruled his son.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh yeah. Lord, yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Once Bill is gone now—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That's scary. That's scary. Now that guy, his son that's over the hog end. He's pretty much like his daddy. The one, Scott, the one that's over the turkey end of it, down here, he, Bill's run him off three different times. The best he can do, he's got a job selling pianos somewhere. The boy would starve to death if Bill didn't take him back. That's just blood. My boys all turned out pretty good but if I had a rotten one, I'd still have to look after him. You feel like you should. It's the same thing with him. He isn't more or less let Scott sink. So every time he falls out of the boat, he props him up. Now I don't think he's doing him a favor. If he'd make him do it one or two times then the boy might sharpen up a little bit. But he treats people like dirt because his daddy's got a lot of money. That's bad.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It is. Is that where regulations come in. Do you need regulations in the hog industry?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. You need regulations in anything because if you don't somebody's going to step over the line. And the 0200 regs are pretty strict, and I think they're too strict in some areas, but in other areas, they're pretty lax.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
0200. I don't even know what that is.

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JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That's just the number of a bill that they brought these regulations in to spray fields and the acreage per unit and stuff like that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Those are environmental regulations. Are there regulations for the hog industry itself like how the integrator is going to treat the growers?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do we need that to protect the growers from the Prestage son?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
See I don't know because I hadn't had the bad experience. I hadn't had the bad experience. If it gets too bad, I think you're going to see the growers more or less organize. That way if the guy says let's do this, then they all say pfttt. But farmers are the most independent group of people in the world. It's hard—say you've got a hundred growers out there. If all hundred of you tell the guy you're not growing any more damned turkeys for him or no more hogs for him. Well he's sitting there holding a hell of an investment and nobody to grow his animals because he can't afford to have all these farms strung all over the world.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
But he can cut them off one at a time if they don't organize.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That's exactly right or one or two at a time. If they all get up there and have a committee and some in and say, 'Okay. Y'all going to be do this, this, and this then we aren't going to grow anymore damned hogs for you or no more turkeys.' Well then they got him by the—. But you aren't going to get a hundred farmers to do that. You aren't going to get three to do that. They aren't going to do it. I've been messing with them for twenty-seven years now. I can tell you they aren't going to do it. There's no way. They'll bite the bullet. They'll sit there and go down before they'll get a group together

Page 42
and just bang them. Of course, I'm not like that. If something happens, I go straight to Bill.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You've been out, you've been a pilot. You've been in other businesses. Maybe some of them.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
There've been a bunch of them. Had the Rent-a-John business, built a grocery store in Burgaw where the Family Dollar is now; done it all. I love to do stuff like that. Try different things.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Let's go back to the lagoon. It's sealed. You've worked out a great system for your hay business and so forth and you're feeding your own cows, but then the flood came along and ruined the whole system.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Well, it didn't ruin the whole system. It just went under water.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It's still there right.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That waste is still in that lagoon just because the water got up. It didn't say, 'Hey man we're out of here.' The water came up; the water went down.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The water passed on.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
The water came up across the top and went down. The solid's still in the bottom of that lagoon.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And the side of the lagoon maybe was weak but then with your.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
We pumped the inside down until the water level dropped; the twenty-four hour one hundred year event, and then we stopped because we knew the top of the dike was stable enough it wouldn't bust.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you have a marker in there that's made out of PVC pipe to tell you where that hundred year mark is.

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JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Right. It tells you when you've got twenty-one inches of treatable. You don't want less than twenty-one inches. That's to cover your hundred-year event. This time it was a five hundred-year event so it didn't cover it. But the water came in from the backside because we had them all pumped down. Department of Water quality called the three or four days before the flood, checking all the levels and we were fine. And then zap.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So would you go out there in the Shelter Creek and catch a fish and eat it right now.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Three months after the flood.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. How many trillions of gallons of water did you have? Like an old science teacher I had one time that said the dilution is the solution to pollution. And buddy everything pretty much out there got polluted because twenty-two inches of rainwater was not polluted. May got oil and septic and everything else coming down but look at the jillions of gallons. I waded around in that stuff for two weeks. I'd go take a shower every night and got me a tetanus shot, but I didn't feel like I was any worse when I was walking around in the river in the summer time. Not a bit.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So the hog industry really got a bad rap out of all this.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that way?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. My farm is the only hog farm that Prestage lost. And he didn't lose but ten percent of those animals.

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CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is there another place in the state where it was worse or is this pretty much representative of the whole flood area?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Hogwise I think Duplin County's got it but concentration's a lot more than it is here. I think they got hammered pretty good; some of the Murphy farms. But now mine was the only one that was affected by Prestage. He only had two turkey farms affected. That was Worth King and Trent, I can't remember his name.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
As a true environmentalist, as you see yourself, as somebody who goes out in the creeks and knows the land, what kind of message would you have for those environmentalists who are complaining about the hog industry? What sort of lesson would you like to teach them?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Go get a life. That's exactly what I'd tell them. Go get a life.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What do you mean?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Just don't know what they're talking about. We've got a crowd in this county. A guy lives over on the end of this Murraytown Road. I had to go to court with him one time. He lives eight miles from that farm over there and he can smell him. They were over there trespassing on my farm one morning. I went over there to see what—the girl that works for me said they're over there at your hog houses. I went over there. I said, 'You want to go look out them. I'll take you.' They said, 'No we're standing on the shoulder of the road' on Fifty-Three right as you look into my house. I said, 'I'll tell you about it.' 'No, we've seen everything we want to see.' Well I went on a trip to Germany and I came back three days later and my wife was—they had lawyer. There was Claude Ward and his wife and Milton Lewis and his wife and another lady. The other lady was a lawyer for Blue Ridge Environmental Group, which I didn't know at the time. I didn't

Page 45
know her. Anyway, I pull out of my driveway and went to those hog houses and turned in and stopped. They were standing there. I go to Germany and I come back and my wife says, 'Your in a heap of trouble, man.' I said, 'What kind of trouble?' She said, 'That group was over there Sunday.' Said, 'They've got a warrant out for your arrest for assault with a deadly weapon. Said you tried to run over them when you pulled in the driveway.' This female lawyer is the one that filed the suit. I had to go to court with them wackos. I pulled out of my driveway and had to stop right here and let an eighteen wheeler go by and then I turned in to stop and talk. They told them that I came and turned out of that road running better than sixty miles and hour to try to run over them. The only thing is the kid in that old house I showed you the picture of there was sitting on the front porch. I had a witness that I pulled up there and stopped and then went in there to find out what they want. They just agitators. The guy told me—well a friend of theirs told me they'd had a falling out. This guy was talking about poisoning people's animals and he told me, the guy's name was Tom Mathis. He called me up when he found out I was having to go to court. He said, 'If you need it, I'll personally testify that I've been on your farm over twenty times at night in the last year with this guy trying to find something we could sue you for.' You think my blood didn't run hot. This fellow on the witness stand, my lawyer asked him, he said, 'Mr. Ward what were you doing on Jim Connors' farm that Sunday morning?' 'Trying to find something we could sue him for.' Tom Mathis told me this lawyer, he said, 'We call her Dollar Debbie.' I said, 'Why you—.' Her name was Deborah Van Dyke. He said, 'The reason we call her Dollar Debbie is she works for a dollar retainer fee, and she gets her money for whatever she gets out of that lawsuit against you.'

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They were just combing the woods trying to find farmers that they could sue. That's crazy. That is crazy.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Just anti-farmer.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Anti-hog. See they got all brought together during this Thermal Chem plant when they were going to put this hazardous waste incinerator in the county. This little group all banned together and that kind of pulled them together. Well, after Thermal Chem, they didn't have anything to hold them together so they jumped on hogs. Well, when they beat that down bad enough, they're going to jump on turkeys and chickens and tobacco farmers because of the pesticides and herbicides and all the chemicals they use. They got to have something to do.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
About how many farmers are there left in Pender County now who make there living would you say?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I have no idea.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Percentagewise how many of you are there?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I don't know. They say fifty hears ago ninety percent of the people made their living on the farm and ten percent lived in the city. They say ninety percent live in the city and ten percent farm.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Probably, well they're now saying it's less than two percent.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. Ninety-eight to two percent.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That makes their living. Pender I don't know. I was just curious up there.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It's kind of ironic. You look. Twenty years ago, a corn combine cost you about $25,000. Fertilizer was about $100 a ton, maybe less. Gasoline was nineteen cents a gallon. And corn was two dollars and fifty cents a bushel. Well, now that same

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combine costs you $250,000; fertilizer about three hundred and some dollars a ton; gasoline, diesel fuel is a dollar and twenty cents a gallon; corn is still two dollars and fifty cents a bushel. You see.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Farmers have—.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You've got to get bigger to survive. That's like a friend of mine that grows tobacco. He's got about 110 acres of tobacco. He says he's got to have exactly the same amount of equipment to do twenty acres as he does to do 120 acres. He rents the land and goes for the max to pay off his equipment.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You made a really good case for farmers being stewards of the land as you called it earlier. What would happen if these lawyer environmentalists get rid of all the farmers? Would this be a healthier place to live?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
What are you going to eat? Somebody's got to grow it. I don't care if you're working for a big outfit or a small outfit. Somebody's got to do the farming unless you're going to import it all. And then you're going to pay twenty dollars a pound for bacon. Look what the cost of meat in Japan.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That seems pretty obvious. Do you think these lawyers think about that? Or they want everybody to get smaller; raise a garden?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They're making a fee. They don't care. They're making a fee. They're getting a settlement, and that's where they get their fee. Just like a trial lawyer if you get hurt in an automobile accident. If he settles it out of court, he gets thirty percent. If he goes to court, he gets fifty. They're just making a fee. That's all there is to it. I've got some good friends that are lawyers [unclear] .

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CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, where's the meeting of the minds going to occur? You're saying there needs to be an environmental regulation, and they're looking for dollars and maybe are not. Where should we set our standards? Should we have hog units and turkey units as we have now and keep them about this size? Or are farms going to keep getting larger? Are we at a good point where we're going to manage the environment well the way we have it? What would you recommend?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Personally, I like it the way it is right now. They started off doing this looking at the feasibility. Let's say I've got twenty-five hundred hogs and Prestage has twenty-five hundred hogs over here and twenty-five hundred hogs over here and twenty-five hundred hogs over here. Or we've got one unit that's got twenty-five thousand hogs. If you get disease in that unit, you've got twenty-five thousand hogs affected. If it's the way it is now, you've only got one herd affected not the whole damned herd. Just for the feasibility of keeping your animals healthy, keep them spread out. If you've got twenty-five thousand in one group here, you're going to have fifteen hundred acres of spray field around it rather than me have twenty-five hundred and me having twenty-seven acres. They're going to just go to where they can and build. They building in Kansas and Missouri, and they had the Prestage and Murphy and Carroll's and Smithfield's and they're building a big operation in Utah, Circle Four or something like that. The only thing that is, is ship to Asia because they fly them out of there straight non-stop through Japan anywhere over there and cover the Pacific. Pork production on the West Coast isn't very big but everybody out there eats bacon. So they were just getting closer to the market. Land in Utah is fairly cheap. They bought four or five thousand acres up there

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in a valley. They bought the whole valley. They're going to have the whole thing from the sow farm to the nursery to the finishing floor to the slaughterhouse right there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That tells me though kind of a sign possibly of the future. Are they thinking of raising hogs though where it's drier? Are they going to get away from these wetlands?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. It's just as big of a disadvantage to them. The only reason you've got it out—it started off on the East Coast like it has—in Nebraska, you've got to go sixteen feet to put a water line to be under the frost line. It's just—you've got problems. How are you going to keep—you can't live without water. If you're in an area that five months out of the year, you got to worry about pipes busting and stuff like that, you've got a major problem. It was just the economics of the thing and animal comfort and all that they started in a warmer climate.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In the Southeast. The Southwest is equally free of frost.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. They've got a lot of operations out there. A lot of them. Cargill and people like that. There's a ton of operations out there. From Texas on. Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma all that out there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you think if the pressure gets on from these environmentalists, who say no more hogs in North Carolina, that the whole industry is going to pick up and go?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Hogs are here to stay.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I think so. Like chickens and turkey and corn and soybeans and cotton. As long as a man can scrape out a living, he's going to be here. They're going to make it harder and harder for you to do it. But he'll be there. That's just like right now, they've

Page 50
got a two-year moratorium on construction. They made a mistake and put a size on it. You could put an operation in like this and fall under the moratorium.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that right?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They've got it to six hundred thousand pounds of live animal weight. You haven't got it. But most people don't want to go to the hassle of trying to go get all the permits. But legally you could build this operation as long as it's not in the flood plain.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Any other questions, Rob?
ROB AMBERG:
I had one that just kind of came to mind. This is just I think this is me being thickheaded as much as anything else. When we were talking about lagoons, you were saying that the—you'll take off the top eighteen inches and spray it on your fields and the solid waste'll go to the bottom. Does that keep building up?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
It perks.
ROB AMBERG:
Okay.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
In the summer time you can go out there and see it rolling. The methane gas is building up in the solid, and it naturally breaks down. The gas bubbles, and it comes out, and keeps going down. The reason, you pump off the top eighteen inches, you're not pumping solid waste. You're getting a diluted version. That's where you're getting your nitrates count when you do your lagoon sample.
ROB AMBERG:
It's not building up and building up and building up.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Sometimes now they will build up where we've got a big aerator. It's like a shift prompt. It's about four feet and I can just back it in the lagoon and it runs off the tractor and aerate it and stir it up. It'll increase the way it breaks down. It gets more air to it.

Page 51
CHARLES THOMPSON:
After listening to you I think, it's not broke so we don't have to fix it. Is that what you believe or is there another level of sophistication there?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I think basically that's it. That's like the guy I was telling you about at the showcase in Raleigh where they covered up the lagoon and captured the methane gas but it cost a quarter of a million dollars to put it in. He was saving four thousand dollars a month on his electric bill. Well how many four thousand dollars do you have to save to recoup to save a quarter of million dollars. Well, he got it all by grant money because it's right there where the Ag department at NC State could do all the research. I got three lagoons so that'd cost me $750,000 roughly to convert them all when it's not necessary. The only advantage to a cover is to keep the rainwater out. Because if it rains six inches over a period of time, I'm going to have to pump six inches just to get it back out. That's the only advantage that I can see. But there is no problem. We enjoy the cheapest meat and poultry and vegetables of any country in the world. The American people eat cheaper than any country in the world. I've been all over Europe working, and I see what the prices in them grocery stores are. I just walk around and look. I rent a car and drive out to the country and talk to the farmers and see how they're doing things and stuff like that. You get over there and they've got little old barns with two or three pigs in there and straw that deep in there. They've got to go in there about every two weeks and muck all that straw out and put fresh bedding in and all that and stuff like that. That's because of the weather because they've got to keep them in the buildings in the wintertime. It is not half as sanitary as what we do. Not half.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How can they make a living on two hogs?

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JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Their government supplements all of the farms over there. The government supplements them. We don't have that option either.
ROB AMBERG:
I'm not sure how I want—how to phrase this because I'm—do you think the small farmers like you just described in Europe or elsewhere. That's kind of the way it was here years ago. Everybody was much, much smaller. Now there has been a move to get bigger primarily because you have to get bigger in order to stay in business, I think that's been the push. Is there a relationship between those values that we described and those values that were instilled to you and also from your grandfather and the values that you've instilled in your children? How does that relate to getting bigger and that kind of thing?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
If the guy wants his family to be able to farm, he's got to get bigger. You can't do it with four or five hogs. You've got to have a lot. If you don't have an integrator that takes the risk. I'll give you a good example. Back when I was an independent, and a neighbor of mine, we had a bunch of corn. Well here comes a hurricane and blows all the corn down. What the hell we going to do now? So we went to the livestock market, and we bought two hundred seventy-pound pigs. We wanted them big enough they could handle it on there on and not little enough we were going to have to pamper them. So we took electric fence and covered all this corn that had been blown down and we turned them pigs in there. And everyday other day we'd go in there and put fifty pounds of supplement down the road protein and we got them up to market size. We got them and they looked good. Well the hog prices went to seventeen cents a pound. Well back then the number one top was two twenty. They were at two twenty and the price went south to seventeen cents a pound. Well, hell we got to sell them so he

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took one and I took one and put them in the freezer and sold the rest of it. When we figured up what it cost us for the supplement and everything we got about one hog and four dollars a piece. Now like on contract, I don't have that problem. When hogs got down to eight cents last November, I was still making the same thing I was making before. I furnished the building the labor, and the utilities. They furnished everything else. They take the—of course, they make a lot of money when they're sixty cents. They lose a lot of money when they're eight cents and mine stays the same.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And yours is what?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Between eleven and twelve dollars per head, per hog. You know when you're pumping out five thousand at a turn that gets to be a lot of money. Fifty-three turns a year, that's $150,000. I couldn't make $150,000 on this sized farm with two or three hundred hogs. Couldn't do it. That's why everybody works in town. The wife's got to work; the kids got to work. You live in the country, you're all working but you're together, the family unit's working. I don't know if I answered your question or not.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah. It's because the farms are getting bigger, I mean I understand exactly what you're saying. I think that's accurate. I guess, it's almost like well years ago again ninety percent of the population lived on farms and things like that. Now as a society, we do live in town.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
And they don't comprehend what it takes to put that meat on the table.
ROB AMBERG:
Well there's that and yeah. Well, they certainly don't do that. I've had experience with that just on our little place up in the mountains.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They think that bacon and eggs and milk comes from the grocery store.
ROB AMBERG:
Potatoes, all of it.

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JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
They out to go work on a farm. A working farm. I might work with an integrator, but it's still a working farm. Somebody's got to fertilize that hay; somebody's got to cut it; somebody's got to rake; somebody's got to bale it; somebody's got to haul it down to feed. You've got stores. You've got use what you can to feed your cows. You've got to sell what you can to pay your expenses. Most people don't comprehend that. I don't know it's that they don't comprehend it. They just don't know.
ROB AMBERG:
Right. Well thank you very much for your time. I guess we're going to—this is the end of the tape anyway. We're going to go on over to our other interview. But this has been a wonderful experience for us and I think generations from now as this tape and transcript stays in the library, it'll be invaluable to understand agriculture in 1999.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
I don't know. I think fifteen or twenty years from now people'll understand it less than they do now because there'll be less out here on the farm.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
More and more farmers are going out all the time.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Yeah. Because you take people. I'm on the Planning Board, I see this all the time. A man remembers going to his granddad's. he wants to live out in the country. He comes out in the country and buys and acre of land and he puts a house on it or a trailer or whatever. Then he wants to control the three thousand acres around him. He says, 'I don't want no turkey houses over here. They stink. I don't want any hog houses over here. They stink. I don't want any chickens down here. They stink. I don't want that man to spray that weed killer down in that field because I can smell it. It might hurt me.'
ROB AMBERG:
That's right.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Now in Germany when I was over there, you can't live on the farm.

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[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Go up there to work their little garden. If they have a small area, they might spend an afternoon there. Everybody lives in the village. The only thing that's in the country are livestock, barns and equipment sheds.
ROB AMBERG:
Wow.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You drive out; you work your farm; you go back to the village; and you spend the night. The guy I asked about it, I was out talking to him. You'll find some old family farms where they still allowed the people to stay. An individual can't go out here and buy a piece of land and built a house on it. He said, 'Because we found out years ago that agriculture and population are not compatible because of the nature of the business. With the animals, and pesticides, and herbicides, and all that stuff that people have got to use. So we just said, you live in a village and you go out there and work. But if you go out there and buy your two or three acres and going to have you garden then you put you up one of these little summer cottage places. You might have a chair and a bed but it isn't livable. You've got to have a place in the village.' You can go out there and spend the night or something. But you don't live there. I told them—and this is my answer to it. Somewhere down the line, they have to stop an encroachment on agriculture because if they don't, you're not going to have a place to grow the things that are necessary to sustain the population. The country that controls the food is going to control the world if it ever gets to be that situation. That's just my personal view on it. They've got to stop the encroachment on agriculture. You can't let everybody and their brother move out into the country because they want to be out near nature and stop everything around them. You just can't.

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CHARLES THOMPSON:
It seems to me that you have to have agriculture healthy enough to be able to raise children on it that know how to farm that will continue farming after the generation here that's gone.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
That's right. If we start importing all this stuff, it's going to be just like it is in Japan. A pound of bacon is going to cost you fourteen dollars. A good steak is going to cost you about twenty-five dollars a pound.
ROB AMBERG:
Well, plus when you import like that all the time, you have no idea what that farmer in whether it's Mexico or Japan or anywhere else, what they are putting on their crop. You have no control over that or no knowledge of that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
No EPA in Mexico.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
No. Well look at this deal they ran into in Europe two years ago with this Mad Cow Disease.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Spreading all over the place. They have hoof and mouth disease over there and they've eradicated that in the United States since the forties. Amazing.
ROB AMBERG:
Did you ever hear that Bill Cosby routine? He's just.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Should I record this?
ROB AMBERG:
Oh, I don't know. He's just playing the part of two cows that have hoof and mouth disease and they're just talking back and forth to one another as the farmer's leading them into a pen to be shot because they've got this hoof and mouth disease. Bill Cosby is playing the part of the two cows just talking about it. It's hilarious. I had two names that I wanted to get from you. One was what was Wayne's last name, up here—
CHARLES THOMPSON:
For the pictures.

Page 57
ROB AMBERG:
When we were up here at Steve's.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It wasn't Wayne. It was Randy.
ROB AMBERG:
Randy.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Randy Wells.
ROB AMBERG:
Randy Wells. And then the state senator's names.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
John Burney.
ROB AMBERG:
John Burney. B-U-R-N-E-Y. Okay. That was the main thing.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
He's a pistol. He's my lawyer.
ROB AMBERG:
Is that right.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
You betcha.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I didn't know he was a lawyer. I couldn't tell that when I was talking to him.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
He's just down. You'd never know he was a senator either.
ROB AMBERG:
How old was he?
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
Seventy-four.
ROB AMBERG:
He was sharp as a tack. He was very funny.
JAMES W. (JIM) CONNOR:
He ate these people's lunch when I went to court.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well.
END OF INTERVIEW