See Spot Run
November 14, 2012, 10:15 am
Filed under: November 2012 | Tags: , , ,

“Spot” enjoying a bit of free ranging

                                               November 14, 2012

     Yesterday, I was able to turn two young gilts out into a small pasture. It is the pasture where we had planted pumpkins and squash. The little rape and turnip field is also located in this pasture. I had taken the fence down to build the wash-house. That fence has been rebuilt and the hogs are loving it 😮

     Hogs on pasture is nothing new. Folks raised their pigs in this fashion for centuries, but then the “modern farmer came along and crammed large numbers of pigs into barns and onto feedlots. These confinement operations were for “efficiency” the experts said. Chores can be done in minutes rather than hours. Feed and manure can be handled much better. The hogs can be moved or sorted easier too.

     One of the greatest things, according to the experts is, that the pigs will clean the manure from their own pen! I got to that work a time or two and I knew before I could see it, that there must be a better way…. I could smell the self cleaning pens long before I could see them.

     The pig stalls were quite large, with 25-30 pigs in each one. The floors were slightly slanted towards a slatted trench. As the pigs walked around, the 3 inches of liquid manure would flow towards the slats by gravity and eventually ooze through into the trench below. That trench was also slanted so the manure would slowly ooze to an outside pond. No bedding of any kind was used, because it would mess with gravity and plug up the system.

     The high part of the slanted pig pen was were the pigs ate and slept. The floors were wet and slippery with manure from the pigs feet. I am sure the floors were cold too. I felt sorry for the pigs at the hands of the so-called experts. Government officials came from far away to see this updated wonder for rasing pigs “humanely and efficiently”. They blessed the farm with many permits so nearby neighbors could only complain, but do little else…. other than move away.

     I watch my hogs roam our pasture and cuddle down in deep bedding on cold nights. I see babies chase and play, then run to momma to nurse in batches of eight or ten. I see them root out treats and vegetables grown for them and supplement their diet with roots and grasses from our pastures. I can’t help but wonder how those experts got it so screwed up in the first place!

     My pigs are clean. Their sleeping area is bedded and soft. I move and sort them slowly with patience and repetition. They start out by following mom. They next run in and out of the pig barn for water or to play. They don’t fear me and many come when I call them. They live a stress free life here on our farm.

     Sure, we eat them and I sell to many other folks who eat them. Stress free hogs raised with compassion and locally grown farm raised corn, soybeans, pasture treats and all the fresh water they can drink, make for some very tasty pork!

     I will say that many folks don’t want the chores that I have. Many small farmers were pushed out of the hog business by the large feeding operations because of those self cleaning pens, quick feeding methods and easy moving and sorting. The feed companies bring feed in with all sorts of stuff mixed into it ..including bones, fat and meat from other animals for those pigs to eat.

     The “expertly” raised hogs are often placed on the farm by a big company. The farmer is merely an indentured servant pushing buttons to care for the livestock and making perhaps $5.00 per head once the animals head off to market. It is important to him to have raised lots of them in a years time… I’m sure it’s not so great for the animals though.

     It is not just the hogs who are pushed onto cement lots to live in filth. The beef and dairy industries are also headed this direction and quickly too. One farm with 1200 cows takes the place of forty farms with 30 cows. The manure was once spread over the land of forty farms, is now concentrated in lagoons and pumped to fields near the big farms of the 1200 cows. The nutrient rich manure once held in high regard for fertilizer, is now a waste product and a nuisance for farmers that use the petroleum based fertilizers…made practical by the “experts”.

     I know what is right. I see it work here on my farm. The once depleted fields are now lush green and able to support many head of livestock. The manures from many species of animals, composted then spread on my fields makes them productive. The animals stay healthy in my pastures and barns. I have control over my pork from the womb to the tomb.. I am sure Tyson can’t compare with that “chain of custody”.

     I will leave the experts to their thinking for now, because I know people who want quality will demand what this farm produces and other farms just like it. Small Farming will once again become profitable, without gouging customers, as consumers and producers meet. The transition back to small farms may be a little slow as new farmers learn to embrace the old ways, but we will get there. In the meantime I will be content to  … See Spot Run 😮


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I like your style Ralph!!

Comment by Lee Schulz

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