Saturday, September 26, 2009

Teaching kids via animal husbandry

I met a husband and wife team today that I was really impressed with. Patrick and Dawn Mcphearson have been teaching their daughters Shelby and Kendra things I consider important for kids to know via raising and selling pigs.

Here's the backstory: As I've mentioned I've been buying pigs from various small farmers in the area. I ran across their ad on the local craigslist, and went out to their farm to take a look at the pigs, and their setup. I'm pretty picky about who I purchase from; I'd like to reward folks who do a great job, and Shelby and Kendra qualify.

The basic operation is run by the two kids, and they pay their costs and split the profit with the family. What I really like about this sort of arrangement is that it teaches kids that hard work pays off if you work smart, and patience. With pigs or any other livestock, even most businesses, there's no quick fix. No easy money. No get rich quick. And the sooner a kid learns that, the better, in my opinion. Patrick offers that "well, when it's the kids job you know who really has to do the work sometimes, but they do a great job."
The other thing that Patrick and Dawn are teaching them is that animals, treated with kindness, respond well. That's not to say that these animals are pets. "I only let them name the animals with what they'll become. Bacon, Pork Chop, Ham. Well, they named one strawberry, and I don't know where they got that from, but at least it's something you eat", says Patrick.

Couple of things you should notice about the next photos. First, there's actually grass and pasture that the pigs have. Most pig yards are mud and rocks, or concrete. Nice to see someone give the pigs a chance to do pig things. Patrick is about to exhibit pig judo. He's going to throw that 200lb pig.
Here he's using the motion of the pig to flip it on its side.
Having done that, he completes the motion, bringing the pig to the ground.
It's happened so quickly that the other sows haven't even responded. So he's going to the next sow to throw it. This is a bigger sow, but doesn't take long...
Here's what struck me about their operation: First, spotlessly clean. Pressure washed and didn't smell at all. That's hard work. Second, the pigs were easy to handle, tame and friendly. That means that they've been treated well and not mistreated. All of the pigs were good weight and without blemish. Good job, Girls!
Ok, I was kidding about the pig judo. Patrick was rubbing the belly of the sows, and they like that so much that they'll flop right over and lay there for a while after you move on. Some folks who raise pigs are afraid of their animals. A good producer maintains a proper relationship that's all business, but friendly.
Didn't surprise me that Patrick comes from a dairy farm background. As I've said before, I'll hire a dairy kid any day. Dairy is the hardest form of farming that I know of.

1 comment:

jual kambing aqiqah said...

what a nice ideas.thanks a lot,let me try to my daugther.