Wednesday, January 30, 2013

...but I like the pigs

As I work on closing the deal for the new farm, I've talked to a lot of people about various things that can be done with the space, and it's funny, but most of the people seem to think that I'd like to get out of the pig business.    Nothing could be farther from the truth.  

 I've had pigs since I started farming; initially because I wanted to experiment with charcuterie (making salamis and other cured meats) and because I really didn't have any experience with them.  I had kept chickens at my city house for years, and the first year had a couple of hundred, but pigs were new, and I didn't know how I'd like them, or they me.  They've grown on me.
 From the little weaner pigs that end up in the living room cuddling with a stuffed animal because their sow rejected them...
 To the sows that adopt piglets that aren't theirs

and raise them in batches, with endless patience, I really do like pigs.

It would be hard for me to consider my place a farm without them.  Having owned all sorts of poultry, sheep and cattle now, I can say that the pigs are by far the most intelligent of all livestock.  They do not think in the way that we do -- sharing really isn't a big pig concept, for instance -- but you can see the wheels turning, and they are absolutely as smart as a smart dog, or even a bit more.

The ability to recycle otherwise-wasted food, turn compost, and provide pretty endless entertainment is why I kept them.  Sure, I make a profit off of it, but even if they weren't both delicious and profitable, I think I'd have a few around just because their presence really makes the farm complete.  Much in the same way I keep a barnyard flock of poultry.

I sincerely respect them and they bring me joy every day.  Here's to pigs!

Monday, January 28, 2013


Did you know that the minimum wage in Australia is $15.50/hour, USD? 

We have the highest minimum wage in the country here in Washington State, at $9.19/hour, USD. 

Australia has an unemployment rate of 4.9%, compared to the current US rate of around 9%. 

This comes into play with farm labor.  Many farm jobs, particularly piece work, don't pay well at all.  It's odd that a country like australia can pay so much when that sort of wage would, according to many people in the US, kill jobs and collapse businesses. 

Henry Ford, who did quite well, said this about wages: 

"There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible. "
Henry Ford

We seem to have forgotten the last sentence in our rush to the bottom of the wage scale.   Corporate profits are at an all-time high right now.  Perhaps we shouldn't be arguing about tax rates so much as profit rates, and perhaps even sending some of those profits to the folks who are doing the work. 

Check your states minimum wage here
Article about Australias minimum wage here

Friday, January 25, 2013

Milk taste test

I'm always interested in good food, and how things taste.   Andrea and I did a taste taste of 4 different brands of milk tonight.  Each of us poured four glasses of milk for the other, and we each tasted and then rated the taste of the milk without knowing which brand was which. 

If you drink just one milk you really don't see the difference.  When  you set them side-by-side, you can immediately tell the difference between them. 

I'm interested in what tastes the best.   We chose whole milk, pasteurized, and when we could get it, unhomogenized.  We were not able to find a conventional brand of milk that wasn't homogenized. 

Pasteurized means that the milk was heated for a length of time and to a temperature that is calculated to kill harmful bacteria. 

Homogenized means that the cream in the milk has been broken up so that it no longer separates from the milk. 

Our number one pick for taste was:
Best tasting, $13.40/gallon
 This is a very tasty milk.  It is smooth and rich and is clearly a better milk than any of the others that we tasted in this batch.  Part of that is due to the guernsey cows producing a milk that is richer in butterfat, but the bottom line is that if we were going to buy milk to drink based on taste alone, this is the stuff we'd go for.    Grace Harbor farms blog
Close second, $11.58/gallon
 The taste of the pure eire milk was good, a very close second to the grace harbor farms, but it had milk solids that distracted from the taste.  It may have been lumps of cream, but it was distracting when you expected fluid milk.  The taste was very good.  Pure eire's website

Third, $10.92/gallon
 This milk was ok, but had nothing to set it aside from the pack.  It was an OK milk, but it wasn't as good as the first two.  It was much better than number four. 
distant fourth, $7.40/gallon
Watery, bland, just not worth drinking, in our opinion.  We gave the remainder to the dogs. 

Why so much difference? 

Fat is why ice cream tastes good.  The first two milks in this sample were from breeds of cows (Guernsey, Jersey) that produce a richer, fattier milk.  The last two samples are probably primarily from holstein cows, who are industry favorites because of the volume of milk that they produce, but produce less butterfat per gallon than the other two breeds. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Olympia Washington legal marijuana public hearing

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is the agency in the state government that is tasked with coming up with the rules to implement the voter-approved recreational marijuana system specified by Initiative 502
As part of that rulemaking process, they are holding a series of public meetings where anyone who has an opinion is encouraged to provide it to the board. 
This particular meeting was held in a room that can comfortably seat about 150 people.  More than 500 people attended.  Standing room only. 
They'll put anyone on TV.  Even me. 
 The local tv stations had interview stations out in the lobby where they interviewed a variety of people. 

Here's a summary of a couple of hours of comments: 

There is quite a bit of worry in this community that by providing their name and address and so on to a public agency that they would be targeted by thieves intent on stealing their crop just prior to harvest.  This was mentioned by several speakers, and security is a big concern. 

A secondary concern is that by providing this information that it was making them easy targets for federal enforcement.

There is a fight brewing between initiative 502-based recreational shops and medical marijuana (MMJ) shops.  Shops licensed by initiative 502 have a variety of restrictions -- cannot be near a park, or school, or playground, etc, based on the federal law that creates enhanced prison sentences for dealing near a school.  MMJ are not subject at this point to that sort of restriction, and so can locate their retail outlets nearer to customers, and in many more desirable locations.  There are also no limits on the total number of MMJ shops, and there are limits to the number of I502 shops.   This is causing quite a bit of concern from the people proposing to sell retail under I502 that they will be at a big competitive disadvantage.  My sense is that the MMJ folks are pretty happy with things as they are, and that the I502 will be very unhappy. 

A number of commenter talked about a concern that large growers will eclipse or eliminate smaller growers, or that the quality would go down if larger grows happened, or that the number of licenses would be limited, making it difficult for small growers to get into the market.  

There were a number of comments on very specific restrictions on grows; use of specific chemicals, or fertilizers, soil PH levels, etc.  Some comments wanted very specific grow standards, others wanted no standards.  Some people wanted indoor grows only.  Some wanted choice on grow. 

Several of the commenter talked about the economics of the grow, one claiming that by her spreadsheet figures it would cost $1300 a pound to produce MJ.  Others saying that the eventual price of the crop should be compared to saffron, at $500 a pound, or cut flowers and fresh herbs. 

One commenter claimed that the liquor control board had grossly underestimated the size of the pot market in Washington state, saying that it was "probably a BILLION dollar market!  ". 

several farmers spoke, advocating that the current rules on handling edible food were sufficient, and no further grow-specific regulation was needed. 

"We need to have a significant application process so inexperienced people will not be able to get into the business"

More than 5 of the people specifically asked that a felony conviction for (possession, dealing, smuggling, producing) drugs not bar license issuance.  Others asked that a poor credit rating not bar an applicant.  Both of these can be used to bar someone from being issued a liquor license. 

The board was asked directly if they smoked MJ.  The surprising answer from one board member?  probably yes.   One was 7 months pregnant, the other quit smoking anything in 1981. 

The vast majority of people attending this meeting didn't say a word.  They gathered in small groups and listened very carefully to each speaker.   The people producing MJ at this time are looking at their market changing in a very real way.  There are a lot of people who make their living growing in the underground economy, and they are watching this process very carefully.

You will find the raw audio of this meeting here

 The view for the majority of people was the backs of the heads of folks in this standing-room only crowd. 
 Each speaker was given "2" minutes but was actually allowed to go on at length if they desired.  I didn't see anyone cut off. 
 Each speaker could speak from prepared notes, and some had copies of their comment to hand to the board to make sure that it was correctly noted and attributed. 
 The board itself was remarkably patient with the comments, and generally positive about it.  I thought that they handled themselves quite well, given the variety of comments received. 
 Local law enforcement, in the form of the county Sheriff, was present, although the crowd in general tended to form a hollow wherever they stood. 
Some speakers brought props to support their statements.  Here, a necklace of hemp. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Future plans...

With the purchase of the new farm in escrow, Jeff asks a question I've been thinking about a lot:
She's due in July

"So are you going to milk cows or just grow your pig operation? "

It's actually pretty attractive to me to use at least part of the infrastructure for what it was designed to do.  I could, if I decided to, go buy a milking herd and be in the dairy business in a month or two.  What attracts me to that is that it's pretty much a turnkey operation.  What scares me about that idea is that the last guy who did it went broke. 

I talked a lot about it in this post,  and I actually had this farm in mind when I was talking about it, but that was while we were negotiating about prices, and I wasn't sure that I was going to get it into the price range I wanted to pay.  I worried a lot about prices because land is probably the most expensive single thing you'll buy while you are farming, and you limit your choices (and ability to weather downturns) when you have a lot of debt.  A key thing for this purchase was getting it at a price that made sense -- hopefully at less than it will be worth in a few years, and I think I've done that. 

Life is good the way it is
So the simplest option is to do nothing on the farm -- pigs don't mind the dairy infrastructure, they just appreciate the roof and the shelter.  Fill it with wood chips, use it as is, no change.  The pig business will basically pay for the property. 

Seems a waste not to use good ground
But I only need about 10 acres of the 70 for the pig part of the venture -- and pigs can use a lot of the land that's marginal -- you don't need prime cropland for pigs.  Brushy overgrown areas, forested areas, all work pretty well for pig areas. 

Low input farming
What i am considering is a grass fed dairy, and that's why I was over in the milking parlor in December.  I wanted to get a feel for the work, and the issues, and how the barn was set up and so on.  I'm grateful that the farmer was willing to let me see his operation because it made it a lot less scary to contemplate.    He's milking 120 cows, and has a husband-and-wife team who are relief milkers for him, and is a pretty good model for what I've been thinking about. 

My biggest fear
My biggest reservation about operating a dairy is that I am really, really, uneasy about how milk is sold. 

I'll expand on that a little:  If I don't like the price that a local butcher will pay for pigs, I have a relatively easy time finding a customer to buy my pig.  If all else fails, I can go to the auction and sell the pigs -- probably for less than what I want, but I can sell them.  Pigs are relatively liquid assets and I have a number of choices about how I'd like to sell them.  If I can't sell them this week, since I've got low-cost feed it doesn't cost me much to keep them until next week, or even months, if I need to. 

Milk is different.  A dairy produces a lot of milk; thousands of gallons, and if you don't sell it relatively quickly, it rots.  Dairy cooperatives work by pooling the production of many farmers, and the milk truck comes to your farm to pick up the milk.  That's the good thing. 

The bad thing is that the price you get for your milk is basically assigned to you.  And if you don't like the price, you can choose not to sell it, but that's really not an option.  And you have no ability to sell the milk to anyone else, usually, because of the cooperatives contract.  if you're selling to dairygold, you cannot have your own private brand.  Same for Organic Pastures, same for horizon, to name three cooperatives in my area. 

You're married to your dairy co-op
So you have a highly perishable product that takes a lot of time and money to produce, and you have absolutely no control over the price you get for it and realistically, when you're a member of a coop, you have no choice about who you sell to.   

Food prices are variable, and I fundamentally distrust the food market.  I think that food prices are manipulated by external forces and that fact hits a dairy on both ends -- the cost of feed for your dairy is also affected.  So both your input prices and production prices are subject to market forces that you have no control over. 

A ray of hope
But every once in a while there's a little ray of hope, and what appears to be a path to profitable dairy farming.  Here's what I think it looks like: 

Your dairy only runs as many cows as it can produce food for.  if you are producing your own forage you have much more control over the cost of that feed, and by doing so you have a big cost under control. 

You own your own land outright, or have as low a cost of land as you can possibly get.  In my case, the total payment on this property is about $1400 a month, plus utilities; I got there by a combination of a big down payment and very favorable interest rates right now.  Lots of people pay $1400 a month as rent in the Seattle area.   You want your fixed costs as low as you can possibly get -- this becomes your "retreat" number -- if things don't go well,  an off-farm job could pay that mortgage pretty handily. 

And finally, you figure out a market that isn't a dairy cooperative.  If you want to see what I mean, take a look at this video

Take home lessons from that dairy: 
Organic certification - higher retail price
Small herd - they're milking 30-50 cows
Bottles their own product, sells direct to consumer, and to a local market chain
*NOT* a member of a coop -- has the flexibility to find other markets for their milk. 
Gets a higher percentage of the retail dollars returned to the farm. 

Their milk is selling for $10/gallon. ($115/cwt)  That same milk sold to a coop would be $1.87/gallon ($23/cwt).   Every dollar counts to the farm. 

So that's where I am.  The waste-not part of me would like to use the infrastructure.  The engineer part of me says that it could work.  The business manager part of me wants to see a few more farms and get some more experience before committing.

So my plans are this point are to close the deal as quickly as I can, hopefully before the growing season starts, and plant those corn fields with grass and some experimental plots.  I'd like to see if alfalfa can grow out there.  I'll probably plant some corn, a few acres of it, and some other things, and I'll keep thinking about the dairy.   I'm certain that I will have a personal milk cow; the question is whether I'll buy another 60 cows to keep her company.

I haven't decided.

Food prices, hunger and retirement accounts

There's a lot of money that's looking for a better return on investment right now, that is making life difficult for people, particularly poor people. 

What I mean is this:  Everyone, and I mean anyone, with dollars in a bank account is unhappy with the interest rate that banks pay on your savings.  They're paying tenths of a cent per year.  It's really tempting to anyone to get  higher return, and a financial concern that can return 10 to 30% returns annually is considered to be attractive. 

The bankers have figured out that they can now make large profits on food

Look folks, I'm all for making a profit.  In fact, making a profit is how a farm survives.  But we do that by actually producing something and selling to people who want it, not by a shell game where traders buy and sell food, or options on food, and just the entry of the money into the market drives prices up. 

Commodities markets were designed to allow a farmer, in this case, to sell their crop before they harvested it - futures.  It allowed someone who used that crop, like a cereal manufacturer, to lock in a price that they considered fair, and allowed both the farmer and the manufacturer, more certainty in their supplies and prices and profits. 

When an investment bank, like goldman sachs, invests BILLIONS of dollars into this sort of market, just the money coming in will drive up prices -- it creates an artificial demand for something that is limited in supply.  There's only so much corn sold on the open market each year.  Or pork bellies.  Or beans, or any other food.  

So how many people should starve so that a retirement account can go from a 6% return to a 7% return?   Because in a wealthy nation like the USA, a dollar more for your corn flakes really doesn't matter much...  unless you're poor.  Like 30% of the population in the USA.  And then that extra $1 means a great deal. 

Take care with your investments, and make sure that you're not sponsoring this sort of behavior.  Goldman Sachs is the worst of the bunch, but most investment banks aren't much better, in my opinion.   Invest in companies and individuals that you know and trust. 

Disclosure:  I believe that stocks, and the financial markets in general, are rigged for the benefit of the banks and brokers.  I think that individual investors will never know what is going on with their bank, or broker, or any publicly traded company.  I own no, as in zero, stock, preferring to invest my money in farmland and in companies that I own directly and make a profit by making products that people want to buy.  I produce goods and services. 

When you have a large bank, like HSBC, who laundered billions of dollars in drug money for the Mexican cartel, and admitted intentionally doing so, and NO ONE goes to jail for that crime -- can you really say that there's any meaningful penalty for any financial crime?

Since there's no penalty, and therefore, little to no risk, there is nothing to curb this outrageous behavior but individuals like you. 


Saturday, January 19, 2013

I'm buying a new farm

I've been writing about looking at farmland or buying farmland for the past couple of years and that I thought that dairy properties, or former dairy properties, represented a good value right now.   I do believe that, and I'm in the process of purchasing one of those properties.  

I wrote a blog entry a couple of weeks ago where I said that I thought that small dairy properties were undervalued; that they were available at what I considered to be bargain prices, often way less than replacement values.   It represents a huge discount because of the state of the dairy market.   

My offer for this former dairy farm, located about 20 minutes north of my main farm property, was accepted today.  

 It's 69.xx acres of great crop land - level, fertile land - which was mostly planted in corn last year.  It has 54,000 square feet of barn space and a full grade-a milking parlor, as well as a 4 bedroom house, farm office and equipment shed. Plenty of covered parking for everything.  It's located at the end of a dead-end road, and has approximately 1/2 mile river frontage on a great salmon and steelhead river.  Bonus that the state fish hatchery is 1 mile upriver.  
Click on the picture and look for the biggest barn .  lots of space, lots of pasture
 This property was listed for $695k, and was more than I wanted to pay.  After a couple of months on the market, the price was dropped $200,000...  now we're talking.
The farm office is located to the right of the bins.  milking parlor far right
 I made an offer substantially below $495k, in line with what I suggested in that other blog post, and after a bit of back-and-forth, my low offer was accepted.   I was the first person to even look at this property in person, and my offer was the only offer.   I think that this property is a bargain.
Pole barn,  15,000 sf, currently used for hay storage
This property only being 20 minutes from my current operation means that we can move our production here and use the other property for retail sales.  Helps with bio security concerns, and means its easier to manage from sales point of view -- only animals for sale are at the current farm; the breeding animals and animals I don't want to sell would be here.
back yard with orchard and fruit trees

circular driveway big enough for semi trucks

"small" steel framed barn, 12,000 sf
Hobby barn, set up for horses with stalls and paddocks and stuff.  1800sf
I'd be all set if I wanted to own some horses.  
4br 2.5 bath house.
The house is one of the best parts of this property, for me.  I've been commuting to my farm for the last 6 years.  Actually living at the operation will make all of the chores easier.  I am really looking forward to that.
Big steel-framed barn, 25,000 sf.   Sean posing for perspective
One of the nice things about this gigantic barn is that it makes all sorts of things possible.  this barn alone is more than a half-acre under roof.  That is a lot of space.   There's also a 3 million gallon manure lagoon, which in this regulatory environment would be very difficult to permit new.    This single barn had a construction cost in 2007 of $325,000.00.  There's more than a thousand yards of concrete in this barn.

My offer having been accepted, I'm having the property surveyed, house inspected,  the water well tested and doing other due-diligence.   I'm hoping that we can close this deal by sometime in march, but that depends on some  things out of my control - appraisals and lenders criteria, as well as looking at the survey for encroachments and the inspection and the report on the well.   At this point I'm not anticipating any issues, but there's always a chance.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Back to farming...deep litter, 90 days in.

 I'm trying a new management technique for the pig barn, deep litter bedding.   These are pictures after 90 days on the litter.  

Pigs like to pick an area to dung in and use that area exclusively.  In this case they picked a spot near the center of the barn, and what formed is pictured above; it's a fairly liquid mix of urine and dung, about 10x10'
 Underneath the dung there's 6" of wet chips, and under that is completely dry.  The wet stuff is just right on top, about 2" deep.
 The overall penetration of the wet area is consistent across the entire dunging area.  There's about 18" of dry chips underneath.  So from the perspective of containing the urine and dung to the barn, just the wood chips do a pretty good job.  there's a concrete floor underneath these chips, so I can be pretty safe in saying that there's no manure that's escaping the barn.


 I chose to "turn" the bedding with my small backhoe.  The basic process is to dig a hole down to the concrete floor and then fill that hole with the chips adjacent to it.  To completely turn all of the bedding -- some of which was just wet with rain water that had dripped off the pigs when they returned from the pasture, and some of which was urine/manure - took about an hour.
 Once the chips were rotated, about 2 hours later you could see and feel the heat rising off the floor.  The turning reactivated the composting, and the breakdown was probably helped by the manure/urine.  A compost thermometer showed a temperature of 90 degrees 8" below the surface 6 hours after turning, and it seemed to be getting warmer.

 As part of turning the bedding we also added another 6" of clean, new material on top, which the pigs mostly immediately turned under.  They much preferred the warmer chips underneath.
So far I've put 250 yards of bedding into the barn.  I'd estimate that it's 20% broken down into soil at this point.  The mix is probably 5% manure, 95% wood chips and leaves/needles.  I'm surprised that the stuff is still composting away and generating heat, though.  Outside temperatures are in the 20s at night, low 30s in the day.

you may be seeing a lot more of my farm...

We had a film crew on the farm yesterday that flew in from out of state.  They spent the day shooting some footage for a project that they are considering.  I really can't say much more than that.   I think you'll enjoy it if it happens. 

On a related note, I'll be doing an interview with TVW (basically a washington-state government cspan channel), for their show "In focus" on Monday. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The daily bread...machine

I've been using a bread machine for a while,and it's actually gotten sort of like my rice cooker.

Yes, you can cook rice in a pot, but honestly, if I can delegate that to a machine that does it perfectly every time without any fuss, I'm all for it.   So for dishes that take rice, a minute spent adding rice and water and then pushing the button and its all taken care of.    

I'm using this breadmaker, the Zojirushi home bakery supreme 2-pound-loaf breadmaker, partly based on a recommendation and partly on reviews.  I wanted a bread machine that produced a rectangular, basically standard-sized loaf. 

why?  A pretty prosaic reason; sandwich bags.  They come in one size, and I didn't want to be trimming my bread all the time to fit into them.  

 This is my standard bread; it's a white bread recipe that I split the top of and add butter (that's the groove on the top of the bread).

Buttertop white bread
You can set a variety of things, this is the "light" crust option.  One thing that I've noticed is that the baking isn't uniform -- see how the left side of the loaf is darker than the middle?   that's not really a big deal on taste, but if you would like perfectly browned, pretty loaves (and who wouldn't?) there may be another model that does it better.  That's about the only drawback I've found, though.  

To make a 2lb loaf (about a kilogram) it takes 1.5lbs of flower, a little salt, a little sugar, a little butter and a little yeast.  No preservatives -- it'll get pretty hard overnight, but what I've been doing is I bake a loaf twice a week, and anything left over goes to the pigs or chickens or salad croutons or breading or... all sorts of things.  It never goes to waste.  

50lbs of flour at my local megamart costs $16.50, so the cost of the flour per loaf is about $0.50, figure the other stuff runs about $0.15, and you've got a nice loaf of freshly baked bread for about 3 minutes work and $0.65.  So with two loaves a week my bread "budget" is $1.30.  Cheap.  

There are a couple of things that you have to do to get the recipes correct.  Baking is chemistry, not cooking.  You'll get the best results if you're pretty precise about your measurements.  Towards that I cook by weight.  
Repeatable baking means you use a scale
Scales are relatively cheap, and for stuff like flour, measuring your ingredients by volume means that you'll get more sometimes, less others.    For a bread machine of this size I suggest a scale that can measure in grams, this particular scale does do grams, but only in multiples of 5, which means that I can get pretty precise, but I would be happier if I could get exactly what's called for.  With this scale I'm plus or minus a gram or so, which works out ok.  

(I chose this scale because it weighs up to 5kb/10 lbs, and when I'm making sausage having a scale that maxes out at a smaller number is a bit of a pain in the ass.  )

You can make any sort of bread you like; sourdough or wheat or bread with stuff in it.  Most of my bread is eaten as sandwich or toast, so I basically like a pretty standard white or wheat.  The process is pretty simple.

You add water, then dump flower, sugar, dried milk, butter and salt into the pan.  No need to mix it.
Bread machine loaded with the ingredients for whole-wheat bread. 
 One mistake that I made early on was not following the instructions regarding the placement of the yeast.   The yeast will start growing when they touch water, and while you want that (that's how bread is made light and fluffy), you don't want it to start too soon.  So the instructions say dump all the ingredients in, and then make a little hole in the flour and put the yeast there, carefully so that the yeast does not touch any liquid ingredient.
the yeast pocket
If you don't follow this your yeast will not rise and you'll get what looks like playdough, not a loaf of bread.
So you select your crust preference, press the button for wheat loaf, and walk away.

One very nice feature is that it's got a delay timer.  If you'd like to wake up to the smell of fresh baked bread,    delay the start so that the loaf is baked right when you get up.  Fresh baked bread in the morning is a real treat.  Makes the kitchen smell great.
whole wheat loaf (pictured above)
 The side crust is a bit darker and crunchier than the top crust; that's been true of every loaf I've made.

nice fine grained bread.  

It's not quite as tall as the white bread loaf.  I'll tinker with it.  
The divot in the bottom of each of these loaves is from the paddle in the bottom of the bread machine.  Otherwise it looks like it came from a bread pan.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I was on the TV news

I did an interview with the local newspaper, and on the day that the story ran two local tv stations sent their news crews down to interview me. 
 It was a bit odd, actually.  i thought that someone might be interested, but understood the story to be running the day after this.  So imagine my surprise to find two news crews in my farm driveway waiting for me.
 There is an odd sensation when they come at you with cameras.  "Mr King!  Are you Mr. King", and I have to admit that before I figured out what was going on I had an instinctual "what on earth have I done!?!" moment.
 The pigs were pretty interested at all this activity on the fenceline.  Fenceline activity is usually going to end up in food for pigs, so the pigs were there and ready for any food that might come their way.  That's piglet on the right in the photo above.  She's my favorite pig.
 The reporters pretty much stayed on the topic, and didn't even comment on the pile of produce that we were feeding the pigs (you'll see it in the lower right in the photo above.  Romaine lettuce was on the pigs menu).
 Both crews fitted me out with a microphone.  I wondered how I'd look on TV.  No makeup for me.
 Here's another view.  they were interviewing me right where we unload produce just before feeding it to the pigs.
And after my interview, one station did a live broadcast from my farm.  "From ebey island, this is..."

My 37 seconds of fame.