“It was a battle from beginning to end,” Gayle says. And the battle was on multiple fronts. “We fought drought, wind, deer and hogs,” she says.

“We did just about everything but give up,” her husband says.

Near constant vigilance kept feral hogs from destroying their peanuts. “It’s been a massive battle with these creatures the last few years,” Gayle says. “We basically slept with the peanuts to keep the hogs out. Someone was in the field just about all night with a light and a gun.”

Their daughter, Whitney Bell, and her husband, Brandon, killed as many as 170 hogs in one field last summer. “Usually, if we can get the peanuts up, hogs don’t bother them,” White says.

The drought may actually have helped thin the hog population a bit last year. “That may be the one good thing about the drought,” White says. “It may have been God’s way of thinning out the population,” Gayle adds. She says the prolonged drought also reduced deer survival. “We saw a lot of abandoned fawns.”

One of those cavorts around their barns and hay bales, a beneficiary of Gayle’s rescue and care. “He thinks he’s one of the dogs,” she says.

They are keeping a close watch on peanut fields this spring and are hoping reduced hog numbers will mean less pressure.