Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday Cleanup

My parents had a great holiday party this week.  We spent the past two months planning the menu, preparing the house, and decorating with LOTS of pumpkins and squash.  It was gorgeous weather today - on last fall hurrah - so we loaded up the car with leftover pumpkins to bring to the pigs at Footsteps Farm.

The piglets were so excited for a treat.  We smashed the pumpkins open and they stuck their entire head inside, chowing down on the seeds and then the flesh.

The pigs at Footsteps Farm are raised in 1/2 acre wooded pastures, in groups of 10-20 pigs that move around the farm.  This time of year their diet is comprised largely of acorns and whey (from a neighboring cheese farm).  Thats the stuff really high-quality meat is made from.  Footsteps Farm is a special place.

The best part of today's visit was that my mom tagged along.  She is UNBELIEVABLY supportive of me starting a farm (I think she may have even finally given up hope that I will become a lawyer :-)), but still trying to learn a lot of the details.  Like the difference between organic and conventionally grown, free-range and pasture-raised.  Our food system has grown so complex that it's difficult to navigate.  She just knows that she wants to support local farmers, and healthy food production.

Visiting neighboring farms is the best way to learn.  The pigs today were running around, rooting in the forest, and showing just how much personality pigs have.  The pigs are not organic, but they are fed GMO-free (genetically modified organism) feed and forage much of their diet.  The pigs we visited yesterday, on the other hand, WERE certified organic (fed organic grain), but were living in a crowded muddy pen.  Both farmers are local and both are raising a quality product, they're just going about it very differently.

All I know is that I had a great time outside with the pigs today.  They are so curious and friendly.  Even after just an hour it was easy to learn several of their names and their quirky behaviors.  Like Eddy, who broke his jaw as a piglet but made a complete recovery and loves to get an ear rub.  Or Josie, who just weaned off a full litter of piglets and prefers cinnamon bread to plain bagels (leftovers from a local bakery).  It's that connection with the animals that really makes me feel connected to the land.

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