Farm to Fork


July 17, 2018

Several years ago, a young man stopped to visit with me. He was full of excitement about living a homesteading lifestyle. We had many talks about farming, gardening and family. He was a well read man, who knew what he wanted. It was easy for me to expand his knowledge. At the time, he was very interested in trying to raise his own pork.

I talked with him, showed him and encouraged him to try raising pigs. I explained what I believe to be the best methods. Buy young pigs at weaning called feeder pigs. Keep the pigs in a pen on full feed and water ration. Give them treats like apples, garden leftovers even weeds. Keep their pen clean and keep the pigs comfortable, shade for summer, deep bedding and a warm hut for cool fall days.

The young man, Mark, went home to try and convince his wife that they could grow their own hogs. Sure enough, he wore her down and pigs soon graced the landscape at their farmstead. I went over that autumn and taught him how to humanely butcher his pigs. He learned well and was a quick study. They have raised their own pork now for seven years.

Mark has a young family. He is teaching his children all about gardening and animal husbandry. Mark’s wife too has a hand in teaching. She cans and freezes their food. They make cider, raise chickens for eggs and meat, and produce lots of vegetables in their raised bed gardens.

After using a makeshift yet sturdy pen for a number of years, Mark built this nice permanent pen. At the gate where the pigs enter the pen, he set a stainless steel fork into the concrete. The pigs pass this fork twice. Once when they enter the pen and the last time as they are slaughtered for food.

The fork keeps everyone grounded. The children know that the pigs are not pets. Sure, pet them, scratch their ears and rub them down, but keep in mind the purpose of the pig is to sustain the farmer and his family. The fork also signifies that the pork will be going into their mouths, so the pigs will be only fed wholesome grain, vegetables and other gleaned produce from the farm like apples and pumpkins.

I am pleased to have helped this young man out. He is paying it forward by helping others return to the land. This makes me very happy. We must teach the young ones where our food comes from. They learn kindness, responsibility, nurturing and become self-reliant. They learn patience and tolerance. They learn many things about “farm to fork”. Congratulations on your homestead Mark. Thanks for being such a good student, but most of all, thanks for helping others.

Putting Down Roots
July 14, 2015, 8:23 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Mid-July garden starting to prosper

Mid-July garden starting to prosper

July 14, 2015

Our garden is finally starting to flourish. After a slow start, lots of rain and even some hard packed soil, things are really looking up. I was more careful this year to do more companion planting. The cucumbers have benefited from the nearby onions. The squash bugs and cucumber beetles have been at a minimum. Our peppers and tomatoes look great. Even some cantaloupe plants are thriving.

I am sure these results are driven by our new raised bed system. I also think that planting the plants with “friends and associates” helps too. Each plant gaining a little from a neighbor, by doing nothing more than growing itself. There is a lesson here for us humans.

Last fall, I became re-acquainted with an old friend. I knew him casually but didn’t really know him. I also put “two and two” together and figured out where he lived. I had driven by his place and often thought that I should stop and introduce myself. It was obvious to me that whomever lived at the farmstead, shared many of my same thoughts and desires. I had no idea that the farmstead belonged to Ron and his family. I am thinking that they have found their place in the universe, just as I have. All of us have put down roots that run deep.

We came together over my sheep. It turns out that Ron’s nieces, Leah and Rachel, were looking to become shepherdesses …or the owners and masters of a flock of sheep. We struck a deal and my sheep became theirs….well except for a few that I had to buy back because I missed them 😮

As the months have gone by, I have gotten to know Ron’s family quite well. We have shared meals, much laughter and many moments of fellowship. We all share a love for farming and gardening. We all enjoy the simple things in life. We encourage each other, help one another and laugh together. I’m thinking this is much like companion planting as each of us, gains from one another by simply living nearby and sharing moments in the sun…under the Son!