Just a few strands of wire away from those sweet sheep are these funny pigs. Heading toward two hundred pounds each at the moment, they are happy and well...and doing so much work of rooting and digging up the parts of pasture that still need clearing (and loving the daily back scratch with a stick from the man they love, also known as the man who feeds them).
These guys, Art and Paul, or ArtyPants and PaulySpots (yes, we name them), are our third set of pigs since moving here two years ago. While the ocassional escaped pig certainly gives me a fright, and though the price of organic grain has risen steadily since we began keeping them, overall...we have so enjoyed keeping pigs. We enjoy their company and love giving them a life full of the work (and food) they love. The work they have done overturning pasture (and fertilizing it along the way) is impressive and so helpful to us. The end of their lives is as humane as I know it can be. Not a bit of the pork is wasted. And thus, our family is fed so well all year long.
We are grateful.
Last week, on a walkaround (as we call them), taking stock, making lists, catching our breath, Steve and I stopped and stared at the garden space. It didn't work out in there quite as I had planned when moving it this spring. What to do, we wondered, to better this space for next year and all the years to follow. Clear a few trees for more sun, yes. Build that greenhouse to give the seedlings a better start, of course. But it needs more than that. Silence fell on the conversation until I finally dared to say, "you know what we really need here...." which he finished for me with "I'll call the pig guy tomorrow."
And so, we welcome these two young pigs to the farm (their names are still being fiercly debated). Here in the garden, where the tomatoes grew plentiful, they'll spend the fall, winter, and early spring months working to turn over this piece of land. Slowly, as crops go and and as they get bigger, they'll have even more garden space to roam. They'll fertilize it. They'll be fed twice a day like clockwork with kitchen scraps and grain. They'll be visited each day by toddling, running, biking and skipping children. Come next year, they will be feeding friends and family eager for good healthy meat, but unable to raise their own. And this place they leave behind will be fertile and ready land for our family garden, feeding us for years and years to come.
We are grateful.