Chapter 17 – pig day

In the early days of March 2010, more baby goats were born. Metallika’s daughter Schatzi had her second kid, a giant single who was very hard for momma to squeeze out. I had to assist in the birth, and then teach her about nursing and being a goat mom, as I’d had to bottle feed her first baby (a traumatic birthing experience for both of us) the spring before. Vanessa, a Saanen doe, had twin boys. May-May had a hard birth with a single buckling who passed away shortly after his arrival- he was too big for her to get out on her own and after being stuck for a long several hours, he just succumbed to the stress. My Nubian doe Vivi bore colorful ruby roan themed triplets right after I returned from an evening of ice fishing. I was working my day job, trying to figure out where on my little parcel to pasture my ducks so they weren’t so loud and obvious to my neighbors, my Bourbon Red turkey pair was mating and the hen began laying eggs, I was brooding purchased turkey babies in my bathroom, preparing to get my first pigs and had a CSA fair to attend. Amid all this madness, Andrew and I had been having a blast chatting online a bit in the evenings and I decided to confess my crush. We got together in the city for a slightly awkward long walk and talk, and he said he thought he’d prefer to be friends.

I kept trucking at my goal of being a real farmer, I was signing up new customers for my CSA, getting a couple of retail egg accounts started, and I had my taxes prepared. My tax man had been doubtful that I doing more than a hobby farm the previous year, and had stressed the “4 out of the next 7 years being profitable” rule. He and I were delighted to see I had made a $72 profit on my farm for 2009! A small profit was something, but I had quite a ways to go before I could quit that day job.

I kept my eyes open for a partner. I longed for someone to share this farm life with, to work with, to actually farm with. I attended some new farmer get-togethers, but the potntials all seemed so scattered and unfocused about their farming ideas and plans. Still just dreaming, not doing anything. I was a new farmer in action, looking for someone who was proactive, so we could catapult into the business of farming together.

I invited Andrew to come out to visit again. We had a bonfire, we ate roast duck and salad and mashed potatoes, and talked and talked and talked. As far as my crush went, we were both pretty nervous to mess up our long friendship. He’d just ended a long relationship and had been enjoying his newfound single life. He stayed over in my guest room. The next morning the weather was mild and lovely. He helped me in the garden, I started seeding my spring plantings, and my ducks, who had been moved to their new pasture, kept returning to their old one, out of habit, climbing and leaping and flying over the fences.

Then, on that sunny afternoon, it was decided it was “Pig Day.” I had a hog-panel pen set up in the hoophouse and ready to go, and had called a few farms with piglets for sale. Prices were high and piglets were scarce, as all the kids who would be showing pigs at the county fair were buying their piglets too, but I finally located some for sale about an hour north. Andrew and I loaded a big dog kennel in the back of my Subaru and went on a mission to get pigs. The farm we pulled into was a huge operation, not a factory farm, but definitely not the kind I was aspiring towards. There were monstrous adult pigs in a muddy quagmire of a pen out by the road. The man was gruff and you could tell he’d been dealing with pig-newbies quite a lot over the past few days. He asked what we wanted and I told him two girls, and he went into the barn, and came back out a few minutes later carrying a squealing black and white 50 lb pig by the back leg. I was shocked! She was placed in the kennel, and the man went back into the barn, returning with a pink and grey colored pig. I handed him my cash, and off we drove.

Andrew and I weren’t farming together yet, but the intensity between us and the things we were doing together were certainly leading us in that direction. Our love affair really began that day as we settled Roxy and Matilda into their new home, sitting with them and observing how pigs operate. (Andrew wrote a story about it, called “Two Pigs and True Love,” which was published in the Greenhorn’s book 50 Dispatches from the New Farmer’s Movement.)

I invited some of good friends out for a Pig Party a week later, and was able to introduce them to Andrew. The next morning was my first ever Open House on the farm, and Rudi, my last remaining pregnant goat had her twins, right before people started to show up. I was shocked at how many people came out to my little farm! It felt amazing to connect people to my farm and the animals. I was able to explain my farm ethics and verify that was I said was how I did it. The fresh baby goats, of course, were a huge hit. The fuzzy baby turkeys were cuddled in cupped hands. The ducks were observed from a distance, as I explained they weren’t too keen on strangers. Most of the people had never seen piglets up close and personal before, and I was elated to have some verbal agreements for pork purchases right then and there. Things were progressing on all fronts.

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