What am I doing?

Thoughts while moving hog fencing.

This week I began to rotate my two four-month-old piglets through the cow pasture. The cows had been moved out of this pasture the week before, so it is now available for the pigs.

In this rotation I am moving them daily. I use two hundred-foot hog nets to make a paddock. Moving these nets to make new paddocks each day takes about 15 minutes.

I walk the piglets out of their pen at the barn mid-morning, and bring them back at 4pm for dinner. For six hours each day they chew on the grass and root for worms, grubs, and who knows what else. They literally roll back the grass with their snouts looking for delicacies.

This process requires attention and effort on my part. It requires more than just dumping a bucket of food in their pen, checking their water and walking away.

I moved their nets this afternoon in the brisk winter air, observed the “damage” they had done to the pasture, and asked myself

What am I doing?

Most immediately I am pulling up short white polls attached to electric netting, gathering them in my arms, and resetting them on fresh grass. But why?

Providing the piglets with fresh pasture each day gives them a clean, healthy environment and supplemental nutrition. Moving them daily using small paddocks distributes their fertility (aka urine and manure) throughout the pasture and limits the destruction they do to each area.

I look at the pasture they are tearing up, walk around using my boots to replace the clumps of grass they have displaced and ask myself

What am I doing?

Well, I think I am improving the soil. The work the pigs do could be considered destructive, but what if we thought of it as disturbance. Sort of like aerating the soil. I am inputting my time and labor by rotating the piglets daily, but they are also working for me by just being pigs.

Will this intensive rotational grazing be destructive or beneficial to our pasture? I don’t know. I won’t really know until later this spring. I will observe what grows in the areas the pigs have worked. Has it improved or declined? Do the areas they disturbed look barren or healthy.

We will see.

I will trust. And wait. And try.

Opening a Farm Stand

On working to develop a hyper local economy.

One day last week my mind was occupied with the words hyper local. Those two words kept rolling around as I worked to sort out what that means to me. At dinner that night I shared with Mr. J that I think hyper local is the answer to my goals for community and economy.

When our cows escaped last year, it was neighbors that stumbled upon our troubles that helped us to get them back home.

When our pipes froze in the last storm it was neighbors across the way that drove over to help us out.

I source honey and milk from neighbors within a five-mile radius.

My eggs and pork and many of our vegetables come from our own farm. Soon our farm will supply us with lamb and beef.

That is hyper local.

Our aid did not come from friends out of state (though we did benefit from their prayers). Help came from people across the street or down the road.

It doesn’t get more local than that.

In this global world, hyper local is the solution. At least as much as possible.

So, I am starting a farm stand.

(Actually “farm stand” sounds a little too grand for what I have going on right now, but a girl can dream.)

I won’t advertise on social media. I don’t want people going out of their way to find me.

I want the neighbor who is driving past our farm regularly to be the customer. I want to be on their way, not out of their way.

It’s winter. I don’t have excess produce to share. I do have eggs. I will start with eggs.

A sign by the road letting neighbors know I have something to sell.

A cooler with my farm fresh eggs inside.

It’s a start.