There’s this joke my mom used to tell about a very special pig. When I became a vegetarian in my teens, this joke really irked me, but now I remember her telling it and smile.
There were two old friends. Steve lived in the country and Carl lived in the city. The city friend, Carl, came out to visit Steve’s farm on a nice fall day. They were old friends and enjoyed getting together to catch up once in a while although neither really knew each other very well anymore. Carl cautiously followed Steve around the farm, getting his nice shoes dirty as they wandered around the barn and pastures. Carl demonstrated what a city slicker he was in the garden when he didn’t believe that carrots grew underground until Steve pulled one out of the soil to prove it.
Steve enjoyed showing his friend around the farm, his pride and joy. He also loved that Carl was so naïve about rural life and country living. With a twinkle in his eye, Steve said- “Oh, hey, did you have a chance to meet Sara yet?” Carl scanned his memory and with a guilty twinge admitted he didn’t recall meeting anyone named Sara. Steve puts his hands around his mouth like a megaphone and calls “hey, Sara! Where are you? Sara… SARA…come here Sara!” Around the corner of the barn a red flash comes flying awkwardly towards them. Too big to be a dog, but what WAS that? Steve crooned “Sara, come here you big beast.” The big red pig hobbled over to stand by Steve’s leg and starts rubbing her monstrous head on Steve’s overalls, nearly knocking over her master. Carl can’t believe it, he’s never seen a pig in person and he never imagined they could be huge while appearing so tame and, well, sweet. Then he notices this pig is standing there, but only has three legs. Carl asks with a bit of caution what happened to this pig named Sara that she is missing a leg. Steve laughs out loud, stroking the beast’s forehead and tells Carl that this is a very special pig.
“See, one day in the early spring, I was out cultivating the field, but it was too wet to be out there on the tractor. I should have known better, but I always get so impatient to begin planting. As soon as I went down the first row, one of the back tires got stuck. I got out to try to get it loose, then I discovered one of the bolts was broken off and before I knew it, the tractor had me pinned to the ground. Not crushed, thank god, but I was thoroughly stuck and had no way to get myself out. I thought and prayed and could think of nothing, so I laid there crying in despair, and had to just leave my predicament up to the Lord. Then I heard a grunting, and what do you know, there was Sara. She was rooting around the soil by my shoulder, trying to loosen it! I took this as a sign from God, and that pig kept at it until I could wiggle out, totally unharmed in anyway. Can you believe it?!? That pig was sent to save me from a long and slow death by god above. A miracle.”
Carl listened to this story with disbelief and amazement. “ Wow, WOW! You were saved by an angel. An angel pig! A 3 legged angel pig!” Steve chuckled and sort of choked up a little, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. He stroked Sara’s broad bristly back and said “Oh she had all 4 legs then. But that’s not the only story- Sara is a VERY special pig. In the middle of a hot summer night, I woke up to Sara outside my bedroom window, she was shrieking like a hound dog, grunting and squealing, banging around in some sort of insane fit. I’d had a hard time falling asleep in the heat that night, and didn’t want to get up, so I yelled from my bed for her to quiet down, not really sure what she was doing up by the house. She wouldn’t stop though, and fearing she was being attacked by a bear or something, I got out of bed and grabbed my gun to find out what was going on out there. As soon as I opened my bedroom door, the smoke hit me. There was a fire in the kitchen! That pig…………she saved my life again! I was able to get out and call the fire department from my neighbor’s house, so she even saved most of the farm house from being destroyed! It’s it something? She is such a special pig!”
“I really can’t believe a PIG could save your life, and twice! That is really something. She should wear a badge of honor around her neck, be on the road, be a celebrity pig! But, I still don’t get why she only has 3 legs. Did she get injured in the fire?”
“Well Carl, the truth is…a pig that smart, this sweet and who saved my life twice? Well, a pig like THAT, you just can’t eat her all at once.”
I sound like a broken record with yet another “what weird weather we’re having.” Nights are dipping down to 45ish, and daytime temps go up to 80. At least we get a feel of summer during the day!
Cashflow is tight this year, as we are raising a whole lot of ducks who are eating tons of feed (literally) but not laying eggs yet. We’re taking the little bit of extra money we do have to build a winter hide-away. Our old current house is not really a candidate to fix up- in the winter it leaks heat like a colander strains pasta water. So, we’re making a place to spend the winter, one that is cozy and warm. This, officially, is not a habitation we’re building, but a studio or insulated shed. it won’t be fancy, but it is something we absolutely need to get through another Wisconsin winter with our sanity intact. 8 months of wearing snowpants in the house is not an option anymore. I wore mine out.
Andrew’s been designing and organizing the entire construction project. His awesome Dad was here to help, so I could keep my focus on tending the farm. The studio is being built on piers, since we have a rather high water table. Andrew hemmed and hawed over piers vs. a rubble trench foundation. It’s all greek to me. Today the cement truck came and poured the piers. It is very exciting! This is happening! No more snowpants! Winter is right around the corner!
What else has been happening- well, sadly, yesterday was super hot and we had 3 Bubsters (our broiler chickens) pass away, not sure if was the heat or their eating too much, but it seemed to be heart related. One of the three was close to perishing when I found him, I tried to bathe him in cool water to bring down his temperature, but he was wheezing and not able to stand up. I humanely harvested him for us to eat, so as not to waste his life. it was a seriously mixed emotion situation. The two that were already dead when I found them, I gave to the dogs. We could have eaten them, but they had blood in them that had not been able to drain out as in a traditional chicken harvest. Weird farm life realities.
I had enough lye left from my spring soap-making ingredient purchase to make three more batches of goatmilk soap. Lemongrass Oatmeal, Citrus Swirl and Sweet Orange Clove w/tumeric. As we’re short of cash right now, I’m thinking of doing a fundraiser with a “Year of Soap” CSA. I’ll mail you 2 bars of soap every month for a year, for $100. Non-US shipping might be a little bit more. If I could get 20 people to sign up, it would help us significantly! Email me if you might be interested: farmerkhaiti(at)gmail.com
My first farming business endeavor was goatmilk soap, and that’s because I make AMAZING soap. I won’t even be humble about this, it is awesome soap. It’s so silky, yet leaves no gross residue. Goatmilk has a ph level that equals human skin, so my soap does not steal your skin’s natural moisture. It lathers and cleans gorgeously.
Our 3 biggest pigs and two of our calves will be harvested by our professional licensed butcher Mike this week. We’ll be butchering the smallest, Cutlet, ourselves for our own home use. I really am anticipating the first taste of our own pastured veal. This was purposely a home-scale project this time around, but I am extraordinarily grateful we have 4 customers ready and lined up to buy halves. Thank you thank you! for supporting our endeavors to do good in the world! If we all love the pastured veal product, this could become a permanent part of our farm operation. There are SO many dairies all around us with dairy bull calves that have no place to go other than an auction barn. It feels good to know we gave these three beautiful bull boys a wonderful life here on our farm. I’ve really adored raising these calves as an immersion into the world of cattle.
What’s next? I really, really want Scottish Highlands. I chose the calves this year as my birthday present. May I seed the idea of some Highlands for next year, if not sooner? The thing with raising and finishing grassfed beef is it takes years, and every time I pencil out the numbers, it’s a bit sketchy, especially if we were breeding Highlands. But if we bought a few yearlings?
As I sit, an Amish hay wagon pulled by a horse went by, driven by 3 kids alone. I lifted my hand to wave and all 3 waved back. Awww, life in the country. I love it.