If you are in our CSA, chat with us at market, or follow us on Facebook, you know that we raised pigs for the first time this year. We’ve been growing vegetables for six years now, after first working for other farmers for several years, and vegetables are what we know best. But over the last couple years we’ve started to give a lot of thought to what makes a farm truly sustainable: How do we take gentle and considerate care of our land, our soil, the pollinators, our water supply, and our own health so that none will be depleted? How can we be sure our business survives? How do we get done what needs to get done on the farm every day and continue to thrive as a family?
These are questions we ask ourselves over and over again, and they were at the very fore when we decided to raise pigs (and also our large flock of pastured laying hens) this year. Historically, most farms had both crops and livestock – not only for the full diet that could provide for farming families but because, carefully managed, this is a system that can improve soil fertility while weakening weed and insect pest pressure and minimizing waste. We feel we have a lot to learn from traditional approaches to farming.
We bought a litter of ten piglets back in June from a local homesteader. All summer long and into the fall they’ve ranged on about two acres of pasture and woods, with plenty of space to forage and lots of shade.
Having these pigs has been a real joy for us. They are easy and interesting, and they love to eat spoiled melons and other leftover or unsalable produce. Some of their land is quite bottomy – slow to dry out and difficult to plant in vegetables, but perfect for these mud lovers. Their pasture also includes a small field we farmed for two seasons and they’ve rooted that up completely. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping to see a lot less yellow nutsedge – by far our worst weed problem here – next year. The pigs also eat a grain ration made of conventional corn, oats, and soybeans, to which we we add an organic kelp-based mineral supplement made by Fertrell as well as extra calcium.
The pigs have thrived in their four months here on the farm – they are big, shiny, and active. As long as sales go well we’ll continue to raise pigs next season and beyond.
We’ll be sending four pigs to Matkins Meats in North Carolina next week and the rest in late November. We hope that those of you who eat pork will strongly consider buying yours from us.
We’re taking pre-orders through this weekend and you can pay on delivery at your regular CSA location or market; this is your best bet if you want specific cuts. We’ll also have cuts available for sale at market. See our price list here.