RicelandMeadows


Farm to Fork

fork2table

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.



New arrivals

calicopigs

December 22, 2016

A hush fell on the night. The pig barn was quiet. Only the sound of munching pigs and fluffing straw filled the air. All except, that is, the soft grunts of a mother pig giving birth. I swept the feed aisle and offered a bit more straw to the pigs in their pens. I went about my usual business of doing chores, not disturbing the busy momma.

I found out long ago, keeping to the regular duties of chore time and keeping the status quo, keeps everybody calm. It is times like these that pay big dividends to regularity. Even the dog watching the sow, had no effect on her. The squealing pigs waiting impatiently for their dinner, is just part of the routine. The mother pig stays focused on her delivery job. I finished chores, made sure the barn was closed up from the cold winds then went to the house.

I checked on the mother pig later by looking through the window. I leave a light on making it easy to see into the barn. The mother and babies were snug in a warm straw nest. The piglets latched on and nursing were fast asleep. The mother sow also sleeping sound, tired from her big job. Satisfied, I went to bed myself.

This mother was selected from a long line of females. I have been breeding this lineage since 1986. I need mothers that will farrow on pasture or in warm winter nests … all by themselves. This is the way it was done long ago when pigs were bred for good mothering along with rate of gain. Today’s modern pig is raised with lean muscle in mind, most other qualities are secondary at best. So piglets are born in crates, where nervous mothers can barely move to keep them from laying on their piglets or even eating them!

Yes, having a pig herd such as mine requires more of my time than the standard commercial way of confined feedlot growing. My pigs are raised on pasture or in roomy pens in a barn when the winter weather forces us inside. Their pens are cleaned and their bellies are full. They are not left to walk in a swill of manure or lay on cold, wet, manure covered concrete.

The big shots say that farmers like me can not feed the world because of inefficiency. I say “Hogwash!”. There are plenty of want to be farmers who would take good care of their stock as I do. It’s just that when the mainstream way of raising pigs sucks every ounce of profit out of this noble profession. It can and will turn around, but it will take consumers demanding a better way. Once we force the big shots to produce food as good animal husbandrymen, there will be room for other farmers and a return to common sense where the animals are concerned.

The drawback will be that our food will cost a little more. It will have more flavor and perhaps even be much better for us, but it will increase prices. Our food in America is very cheap when compared to other places in the world, but that cheapness comes at a price. Small farmers get pushed out of farming and animals become regarded as “things” not living, breathing creatures which we have been given dominion over. For me, dominion means care… and I do.



Working with Friends
May 16, 2015, 8:48 pm
Filed under: May 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
My pal Duke

My pal Duke

May 16, 2015

Today we worked in the drizzle some, but by noon we had four large cherry trees up ended and laying on the ground. Two of the trees were cut up and loaded onto my trailer. The trees were in the yard of a friend. They were in a bad spot, dropping their abundant cherry fruit into their swimming pool. The birds too dropped stuff…making an ugly mess on new furniture cushions.

I enlisted the help of a friend. I have know this young man since he was seven or eight. He was a home schooled lad who grew up to do anything that he sets his mind too. His skill set amazes me. He can fix anything. He likes all things that have to do with homesteading. He is polite, strong in will, character and body too. He can climb trees like a squirrel and cut trees like a beaver. I needed help for this intense job, close to houses and fences. I called my pal Tice and he came. He and I made short work of the trees.

I also took my hired hands along. They are great help. I got to mentor them and introduce them to a man that they can aspire to be like. They pulled brush, loaded the trailer and helped us secure and pull down the trees. We had a good day. We made a great start to filling the sugarhouse woodshed. It’s been awhile since I swung my chainsaw for the better part of a day. I awakened old muscles…they are not happy. I have to keep telling myself that “pain is weakness being released”… Otherwise, I’d feel like an old fat manĀ  šŸ˜®

My pal Duke will help me tomorrow. I have plans for the horses. The rain has slowed down field work, but thereĀ are still many things to do…just the way I like it!