3 Not so Little Pigs: CSA Summer ’12 – Week #4
A special thanks to all the CSA members who attended the event this weekend. It was a huge success! Also a big thanks to Anna, one of our employees. Not only did she make the beautiful t-shirt designs, she also personally silk screened them on the 100+ t-shirts you all brought with you. Here’s a couple of quick photos:
While we’ve caught you up on most of the changes from this season to last, we haven’t written much about some new additions to the farm: pigs!
This winter, I decided I wanted to have some pigs at the farm. I thought it would be a really fun project for Zea and I. And while we are pretty good at keeping veggie waste down through donations and worker shares, etc., we still have vegetable waste that can be turned into pig protein.
Normally, I try to use the collective ‘we’ when talking about things we do at the farm. However, Mike was a little cold to the idea. Not only do they add another level of work to our already hectic days, what if they escape and get into the vegetables? It’s rare to hear Mike threaten to use a gun, but the thought of pigs in the veggie beds inspired said threat.
I decided to go ahead with the project anyway. I brought home 3 little pigs in April. Before they came, my first task was to design a pig pen that resembles Leavenworth Prison. I was learning that escaped pigs meant not only lost vegetables, but perhaps more importantly, an unpleasant marital rift. I learned that most people use either fencing with what’s called hog panel; or they use 1-2 lines of electric fencing to keep the pigs in. My pen is 48 x 32 feet. Hog panel is used as the main fencing. In addition, I have 1 string of electric fencing that runs right inside the fence, about 6 inches from the ground to discourage the pigs from rooting, or digging under the fence line. Just in case the fence shorts out (as can happen as weeds grow and lay against the line) or we have a power outage that allows the pigs to root under the fence, there is barbed wire buried at ground level so that they will nick their noses if they try to get out. So far, no pigs have escaped. Leavenworth, baby.
The pigs are characters. I feed them organic grain in the morning; veggies in the p.m. I soak the grains (mostly soy) for 24 hours so they ferment slightly and are easier to digest. Each morning I turn on the water pump and fill a bucket with water for soaking. When the pigs hear the click of the water pump (a full 300 feet away) they begin to squeal uncontrollably. They jump up and down in their food bin; and often on each other. Ruby, our dog, hears the squeals and runs at the fence barking at them. They don’t flinch. They keep carrying on until I bring the food. They don’t get out of the way when you try to put the food in their bin either. Often I have to dump in straight on their heads to get it in their pen!
My other favorite form of pig comedy is when we spray them down with water. Pigs are unable to sweat. To keep cool, they generally root and wallow in the mud. Since the soil has been rock hard in this drought, sometimes I spoil them by filling up their wallow with the hose. They take turns rolling around in their pig-sized bath hole. Then they jump out of the hole all crazy and gallop around the pen in circles. It’s as if the cooling feels so good they don’t know how to contain themselves.
Most days, the pigs aren’t all that comical; just simply eating machines. Today they ate 18 heads of lettuce in 3 minutes flat. Zea often helps me feed the pigs in the afternoon, and it’s time I really value and enjoy. Despite the smell of pig manure (which isn’t so bad when there’s only 3 of them), Zea and I often sit by the fence and watch them eat. She loves to throw food over the fence into the food bin, and she likes to talk about which one she wants to eat. We’ve had some frank discussions about how the pigs will become bacon, and she’s embraced this wholeheartedly. To my surprise, she continues to say she wants to eat the pink girl. (They aren’t named.)
The other two pigs we plan to sell by the half. The buyer will pay a price per pound for the hanging weight, plus additional for custom butchering. (Processing the meat into bacon and sausages, for example, costs more.) While the pigs aren’t certified organic, they are being fattened on solely organic grain and vegetables. I plan to butcher the pigs in September. Just exactly how I’m going to get them out of the pen and loaded onto a truck is still part of my learning curve, but we know they are headed to Black Earth Meats for processing. Let us know if you would be interested in a half and we’ll keep you in the know as we develop more details about the butchering and pricing.
Here’s hoping Leavenworth + tasty bacon = a farmer Mike who’ll embrace 3 more little pigs next year.
Enjoy your veggies this week! Sincerely, Cassie, Mike and Zea
In the Box:
- Head lettuce
- Snow Peas
- Purplettes (spring onions)
- Red Russian Kale
- Pearl Onions (spring onions)
This Week’s Recipes:
- Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese & Arugula
- Cucumber and Lettuce Salad with Parsley Garlic Vinaigrette
- Fabulous Kohlrabi Fridge Pickles
Summer Week #4: Wednesday, June 27th ” Everyother Group B