It’s because the animals that provide for us deserve good lives and our respect!
Anyone that has met me knows that I am a HUGE dog lover. I have left lines of customers to go pet a dog. Believe me when I say that I have wanted to do that more than I have. Honestly, that love extends to all animals.
I am sure many of you have seen pictures or videos of Factory “Farms”. The places where some bright individuals decided they could make more money by housing large numbers of animals for less money thus making them bigger profits. Seeing the pictures and videos is sad but you can turn them off and walk away. It is completely different when you actually walk into one of those facilities. When you see the cute piggy and want to pet it but it cowers away from human hands. This is where Dan and I started.
He saw an ad for a Hog Confinement Facility for sale.
Dan was reading the Farmers Exchange, a newspaper out here that is all about farming. He saw an ad for a Hog Confinement Facility for sale. Make $90,000 a year for about an hour of work a day. We had 4 pigs at that time and were intrigued.
I would like to digress for a minute. Please know that before this we were the typical consumer. We were from Chicago. We had no idea where our food came from other than the grocery store. Yes we knew that beef came from cows and pork from pigs but that was the extent of our knowledge. We had seen cows in fields and just assumed that is where our meat came from. How scary to find out how wrong we were!
We made an appointment and went to see the business. The first thing that hit us was the smell. We gagged and that was from the outside. We went into the office and the guy running it began the tour. We walked through the first “barn” and saw pen after pen of pigs crammed together with barely enough room to turn around. Every hour feed was dropped to the ground from a conveyor in the ceiling. ON THE GROUND! Where these animals urinated and defecated.
The man saw something that wasn’t working in one of the pens and walked into the pen. He kicked at these poor pigs that didn’t have room to get away from him. It was clear in their eyes that they were terrified of him. We continued to tour the facility. He took us to the “nursery”. What a nice word that is until you see the horror. Young pigs taken from their mothers too soon literally on top of one another. Dead piglets laying on the concrete floor. I could not stay another minute, I walked outside.
Antibiotics in their water every single day!
We reconvened back in the office where one of us noticed these lines of pink liquid running along the floor. We asked what they were. We were informed that was the antibiotics going to the hog’s water to keep them healthy. Antibiotics in their water every single day! We also learned that every other day the pigs were moved around between the pens to keep all the same sizes together. That means that every day they were fighting. Pigs are territorial. They form bonds with other pigs. They lost their friends simply because they didn’t grow at the same rate. They were thrown in with strange pigs simply because they grew faster and had to fight for their place.
We walked around outside and were shown how the pigs arrived and where the feed and antibiotics were delivered. There was a large “pond” in the middle of the property. The “pond” was liquid manure from the hog barns. This was sold to farmers that would spray it on their land prior to planting crops. They had contracts, there was nothing to do but sit back and make money.
When we got back into our car I told Dan there was no way I wanted anything to do with that place. Dan, bless his soul, wanted to buy it. He told me how we could make doors and outside pens for the pigs to go out. Dan was sure he could make the pigs lives better.
After many long discussions we realized that we would never be happy with that situation…
…and that we could not live with ourselves keeping the animals that way. We decided that we would raise them outside in the woods on our 15 acres.
Why do we do what we do? Passion pure and simple. Yes many of them are going to become meat. Does that mean that they should be tortured for the time they are here? Does that mean they shouldn’t receive love and human kindness? We don’t believe so. We want them to live with their siblings and parents. We want them to be able to sleep with their best friend every day of their life. We want them to know safety and security while they are here!
Depending on how long you have been one of our customers you may know that we don’t make a lot money at this. Winter is even harder, not having the walk by traffic of the farmers markets we rely on orders for home delivery. Customers that we see every week throughout the summer disappear in the winter. Our income literally drops to one third of what it is in the summer. Expenses are higher in the winter. The pigs eat more. We have to keep heaters in the water to prevent freezing. We have to winterize their huts. Feeding and watering is much more labor intensive. It is all around harder and more costly.
More on this in our next blog.
Thank you for reading and we look forward to your comments.