Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Caught in the headlights...

Caught in the headlights...
The author of Mark's Work, at the botanical gardens inFort Bragg...

Baseball been veddy good to me

Baseball been veddy good to me
SmallBoy doing his thing in the outfield...

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
C D B's... D B's R G's

Gluten-Free Mama and Ben-Jam-Man

Gluten-Free Mama and Ben-Jam-Man
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Butterflies know what's up.

If you've seen one skink, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one skink,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Hands R Us

Marigold

Marigold
June gems

Foxy lady.

Foxy lady.
Foxes are back.

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

markyboy1231@hotmail.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Happyday Farms-Three Little Pigs-See How They Run


This is the thirteenth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms-
Three Little Pigs-See How They Run

I can emphatically tell you that I have never considered the option of rearing a hog.  My father raised hogs in SoCal, back in the fifties and sixties, and again when he relocated here to Mendocino County in 1977. My son Casey raises hogs; I guess the hog-rearing gene skipped a generation and I am very grateful for that.

However, I do have tremendous amount of respect and understanding for the reasons that Casey and Amber are committed to going ahead and repeating the adventure of a year ago, when their first attempt at keeping pigs on Happyday Farms provided such an assortment of serendipitous escapades.

I call  them escapades because it suggests that I found these instances rather comical.  Of course, I was not the one chasing the three merrily sprinting miscreants, down the driveway which eventually takes one either to Unc Matt’s spot or the new pond.  Neither was an attractive destination for our rotund runaways.

Why would a farmer go through all of the fun and enjoyment-if maybe a little undignified at times-of raising pigs?  The answer is because it’s the most practical way to ensure that what you are eating has been raised properly.  

Of course, one can purchase locally-grown hogs and be assured they are completely organically raised, but it also costs accordingly, as well it should.  However, if you have twenty acres of rolling ridge-top, it makes a lot of sense to rear them yourself and cut out the middleman.

That noble concept being aired, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: what makes raising hogs so challenging?  It’s pretty well-known that pigs are smart fellers, more intelligent even than dogs.  That’s one reason George Orwell used them as the the animal that would rise up and dominate the others in Animal Farm, published in 1945.

They simply want to know what is on the outside of their pen.  Casey began by driving t-posts into the ground and affixing sections of rigid metal fencing to the posts with baling wire at first, and various other practical methods of attaching one item to another.

Theoretically, this arrangement should have been more than sufficient to keep the beasties inside.  And it worked most of the time.  Problems developed because first of all the pigs can be wildly rambunctious, so their play occasionally created problems when repeated encounters with a questionable union of two sections of fencing might separate them, creating gappage.  Or would you believe that a gate might not have been properly latched?

If the pigs stayed always in the same spot, then more permanent measures would probably have produced more permanent results.  But Casey only wanted the pigs to stay in the same spot for a certain period of time, before he rotated them to a different spot.  The advantages of running pigs (chickens, sheep, whatever) are so many in terms of refurbishing the land to make it more useable for farming, the list is endless.

In fact, for a period of time there in the middle of the summer, Casey used an electric fence to pen them in, because he could move it with only half the degree of difficulty, than the more traditional (and dependable) rigid metal fencing.  The problem with the electric fencing was elementary.  The pigs were willing to endure the shock of the electric fence if it meant freedom.  

So a sprinting pig would hit that two-strand electric fence and never slow down on his way to freedom, especially with a jolt of electricity to fuel the flight.  I will tell you in perfect frankness, with the voice of seasoned experience, you do not ever want to come into contact with that wire.  Ever.

So, hey, those little piggies must have wanted to get out pretty badly.  As I alluded to earlier, the first time I was aware that they were able to bust free, I was preparing to leave the house when I looked out at the driveway running past my home, and there were the three of them jauntily prancing down the road, with seemingly no cares in the world.

When I called Casey and asked him if he knew they were on the loose, all I heard was, “Expletive! Again?”  Oh, so this is a re-run, so to speak.

 How did Casey and Amber get the happy wanderers back to their home?  Elementary, as Annie and I witnessed first-hand one fine morning up on Bell Springs Road, while taking our morning walk.  Annie heard them before we saw them, wallowing in the cool spring grass, and we gave Casey a quick heads-up with our cellie, and told him we would wait there until he arrived.  Ten minutes later, along came Amber, almost nonchalantly hiking overland with a five-gallon bucket of oats, partly filled with enough goodness to produce a tantalizing sound when jostled.  And the three little piggies docilely followed her home.

I am still kind of reeling from all that I have learned recently about the duping of America (or more realistically, urban America, because the small farmers and ranchers never forgot it).  I honestly thought bacon and bacon grease were bad for you.  Cholesterol and all of that, you know.  And all of those vegetable oils...they’re all healthy, right?  Well, I still cannot explain the specifics, but then again, I don’t have to.

Casey and Amber are two of the most motivated individuals I have ever met when it comes to eating healthily.  I might even call it fanatical, except that fanatical has a pejorative connotation and there is nothing negative about wanting to steer clear of the harmful effects of what is available on the shelves of ‘Merican grocery stores.

I am proud of what they are doing and I am proud to be a part of it, even if what I accomplish has nothing to do with the actual production of food.  Small farmers need to be supported and given respect, because of all the vocations a person could have, wanting to grow food for your community is right up there at the top.  It is a noble profession.

Even if it means occasionally chasing three pigs down the road to the pond.  

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