My Empire of Dirt

With apologies to both Trent Reznor and Johnny Cash.  (The Nine Inch Nails song was a big deal when I was in high school, but I like Johnny’s Hurt better.  I have a soft spot for just about anything by Johnny Cash, no matter how mawkish.  I’m not sure why, but I’ll enjoy something sung by him when I’d gag over the same song by someone else.  I know, irrational…)

Hard at Work

You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog.  Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes I think “twice as hard” simultaneously underestimates the farmer’s workload and overestimates the contribution of the pigs, but the general idea is right.  Not that the pigs don’t do any work.  They have been working all summer and fall on the brush clearing assignment I gave them.  But they work at their own pace, taking a lot of time off for napping, eating, and chatting around the water cooler. By the way, has… Read More

The Most Best Porkchop

Lately our pigs have been enjoying a little Italian food:  whey and chestnuts.  The famous Parma prosciutto and ham come from pigs raised on a whey and grain diet, then finished on chestnuts.  I do have some suspicions about just how much of the caloric intake comes from chestnuts (similar to reservations I have about just how much acorns go into Iberian acorn finished pigs), but I think it is safe to say that in the good old days at least, the nuts were the major food source.  In those same good… Read More

Pasture Farrowing in the Fall

Fall weather descended upon us and, unacclimated as we are, we’ve been shivering.  The cattle must have seen the cold weather coming because they all have begun thickening their coats.  The pigs don’t seem to appreciably increase their coats; their cold weather strategy is more aligned with marine mammals, protecting themselves from the cold with an insulating layer of blubber. Today was blustery and just a few degrees above freezing, tonight we’ll be dropping to the low 20s.  In my experience with my pigs on my pastures (how’s that for a disclaimer?),… Read More

Trencherman

I first encountered the word trencherman about five years ago.  The word “trencher” is so much more robust than “plate” or “bowl” and not nearly as uppity as “charger”.  But if we think about trencher in its original form as a slab of stale bread, the term is even more evocative.  Trencherman brings to mind a hale fellow attending to his meal with all seriousness, probably with a napkin tucked under his jowly chin.  Even the false cognate of the trencherman a ditch digger still manages to communicate something about the workmanlike way a trencherman… Read More

Whipped Spit

“…the foam which flows from the mouth of wild boars, and many other things- though they are far from being beautiful, if a man should examine them severally- still, because they are consequent upon the things which are formed by nature, help to adorn them, and they please the mind; so that if a man should have a feeling and deeper insight with respect to the things which are produced in the universe, there is hardly one of those which follow by way of consequence which will not seem to him to… Read More

What really gets us excited? How about a portable, modular pig corral?

Raising pigs on pasture eliminates the need for a lot of fancy, costly infrastructure, but it occasionally requires specialized equipment particularly suited to our situation.  Since we aren’t doing all-in, all-out groups of pigs, we need to sort groups from time to time, removing a few pigs for transport to the butcher, separating piglets for weaning, or transferring gilts to the breeder herd.  In the past we’ve used various methods with various success, but we’ve found there is nothing like a strong corral to make the handling experience calm and easy for the… Read More

A Bigger Freezer

I spent the whole day up in Oswego.  The location was fabulous, a crazily canted old stone building right at the mouth of the Oswego River opening onto Lake Ontario with tugs, barges, and cranes all busying about.  But my sightseeing only came in glimpses as I lugged dirty insulated panels out to the truck.  I was tearing out a walk-in cooler and freezer.  I was able to get it all disconnected, knocked down, and loaded in one long slog, but it warn’t easy.  Some of the panels were in bad shape, but I should have… Read More