We are having mixed feelings about the pigs lately.
We love the pigs. We love raising pigs. It makes a lot of sense for our farm and our land. But somedays, it is really, REALLY frustrating.
We raise our pigs in the woods, rotating them frequently in small paddocks using solar-electrified fencing. This means that every time we move them we end up getting the fence caught on every twig and briar and branch, every few seconds. Tripping over hidden rocks and logs, falling in the mud and poison ivy, cursing the heavens. It means that when a pig gets OUT, as it definitely will sometimes, we end up chasing that pig through the woods in the middle of the night. and that means more cursing. It is, as I said, frustrating.
We dream of having pastured pigs. Or stationary pigs. Pigs that stay put and don’t require a stumbling five minute walk through a dense cedar forest with two five gallon buckets every day. Plus, we have plans to do more faming in our woods – mushrooms, nut trees, nettles, and so on. Pigs don’t exactly fit into that plan.
But then we move them into a fresh paddock, and they are so happy. SO happy. They are romping around, chomping on nuts and making gleeful piggy sounds, and it is clear that this is how they should be raised, as maddening as it is at times.
Every year, from May until Julyish––it’s not much of a science––things get hard on the farm. Not just physically hard, but emotionally, too. I go through this period of feeling totally and utterly overwhelmed. There is so much work to do, and try as I may it doesn’t seem to decrease with effort. It increases, mockingly. The feeling is hard to explain. In some ways, it feels like ordinary stress. In other ways, it sorta feels hopeless.
But I’ve also learned that this overwhelmed feeling acts very much like a fever. It builds and builds and builds until the point in which I wonder if I can even go on another week. Then without warning it just disappears, and my mood returns like “Hey what’s up?” I suddenly feel completely normal again. I suddenly feel healthy and happy. I suddenly feel like what we do is possible.
It’s uncanny how reliable it is––that the fever will come and the fever will break at some point in time. But also, I’m glad it’s reliable. The first year I had it, I really thought I was not going to be able to survive as a farmer. Then in late July it broke and I was back to normal, excited to be a farmer again. Sane.
Is it avoidable? Not sure. I think the more set-up we become on our farmstead, and the better I become at planning and managing the farm––yes. Yes, it will at least one day become a smaller, or more tolerable fever. But until then I have to rely on the fact that it will come, but it will also go away eventually. It is not terminal. This too shall pass. Take a nap, eat some tomato sandwiches, and call me in the morning. If I can keep that in mind, I will always make it through, like I did this week. Like I do every year. Like always.
Small farmers get a lot of credit for the new local food movement, but perhaps more deserving of that credit are the people who build the markets, battle with local governments for permits, organize and facilitate said movement––people like Jamie Aramani (of sustainablekentucky.com). Jamie is an absolute inspiration to us and few people have done more for small farmers in Kentucky than this wonderful lady. For years she has promoted small farms, organized events like the Green Living Fair and WildFest, and written for many publications about the importance, value and lives of the small farmers in our dear state. If you regularly read our site, it might very well be because of something Jamie––one our very first supporters––wrote. Remember when we raised $8000 to build our cabin? We could not have done that without Jamie’s help. No way.
And now, excitingly, she and her crew are crowdsourcing money for a permanent retail location in which to sell local food and products year-round. This project is designed to help support local farmers not just for a few hours a week during summer at their busy farmers’ market in Somerset, but year-round, creating more income for them, and more exposure for local food in Kentucky.
So please join us in making this retail location become a reality. They’re only trying to raise $15,000 and are halfway there already. But we still have to get that last half in the next week! Even if all you can afford to do is share this campaign on your social media, that would be huge. Write something for your blog if you keep one. Maybe you can kick in a few dollars if you have it––every little bit helps.
To support people like Jamie, and projects like this, is critical if we want to keep growing this movement. Luckily, the internet makes that easy. Click, donate and share. Thank you all.
– Jesse + Hannah.
Photo from The New Pioneer.
Some random photos from the past week.
Further loves sweet peppers…and his bouncy swing.
All the rain has filled the forest with fun mushrooms. We seem to find a new kind every day!
Oh, summer harvests.
The shiitake logs are looking great! The white means its working.
Making bouquets for market.
Things on the farm have been a little chaotic, lately. If you have been wondering where we’ve been: Cher broke her leg (and is 7 months pregnant, by the way!) We had nearly 10 inches of rain, basically all at once. A giant tower of stacked soil block trays toppled over in the greenhouse. So, yes, I’m sure you are tired of hearing it, we are busy.
But things are good! Cher is healing well, the weeds are insane but the food is still growing, the gardens are beginning to dry. We harvested onions a few days ago, and Further was complete trooper in the 95 degree heat. It was a somewhat sad harvest, as the recent deluge of rain was not kind to the onions, but we are glad to have them out! They are all laid out on woven wire fencing in the greenhouse, where they can hopefully dry out in the intense sun. After we get the potatoes dug, all of our “major” summer projects are finished….I’m already dreaming of the ease of the fall garden!