Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Visible agriculture"

Weaned pigs, ready to go
 I get year-round tourists who come to view the pigs.  They'll see them off the trestle (the raised highway bridge that is elevated over my farm) and after passing by a few times will find their way to the surface road and I'll see them parked on the side of the road, taking pictures or just staring at the pigs.
Curious, alert and social:  the perfect livestock
I try to take the time to go and say hello and that they're welcome to take pictures, and if I have a litter of piglets or two or three I'll offer to take them to look at them. Piglets are pretty popular. Or I'll give them some fruit that they can throw to the pigs and that's pretty popular, too.

We get a variety of colors in our pigs

It's funny because I often get a guilty reaction when they realize that I've seen them taking pictures. I practice visible farming, and that sometimes means that people have judgements about what I do, or how I do things, and that's fine.  I work hard to keep an open mind and answer peoples questions.
Our current production model for pigs is to make them completely invisible to the average consumer; they're raised in buildings, isolated from people, and you just never see them, even if you are traveling through the heart of pork country in iowa.

They're in a stock trailer while they're being weaned and waiting for their new home
 Which I think is a shame. I really like them as an animal. They do have their challenges, but I can't imagine a farm being complete without a small flock of chickens and a couple of pigs. If you've never kept them they're about one step up from chickens in terms of difficulty, and they will cheerfully eat anything you don't want from your table or orchard or garden, and while doing so provide you with hours of entertainment.
Nothing cuter

And well started on solid food.  We wean onto commercial feed because that's what most folks feed their pigs so there's no transition shock.

These three are at 135 pounds or so, marked for market.  They'll be sold as BBQ pigs. 

1 comment:

Kev Alviti said...

Thats a great way to be and I think to be open about how you farm is the best way. Some people just don't understand wha goes on. Currently here in the UK a school is raising pigs to see how food is produced. A great project which will teach the children so much, but unfortunatly there is a petition against them doing this from animal rights groups. I t makes me angery as I'm sure if more children had this experience then they'd grow up to be compassionate adultswho'd care about animal welfare.
Here's the link if you're interested:
and one from the bbc without the petition: