Meet Tia and her cousin BobbyT3. Tia is the daughter of a major star in the Holstein Show Circuit. And her father is an acclaimed Angus bull. She is very calm, and friendly. Docile. Her cousin the steer is also a gentle fellow. They are both a good size too. Almost three months old. Nice looking animals.
When they are settled and doing ok they will join the black and white beef herd. Though I will definitely breed Tia to Carlos next year – her temperament is perfect.
The hog prices have taken a dangerous dive in the last few months. Only two months ago these pigs were worth $40 dollars at auction, now they are getting between 10 and 15 dollars.
This is the reason for them not selling so well this year. None of my reading tells me this is a long term trend so I am going to hold tight. But there is serious panic running through the smaller hog farmers now. The big producers are smashing the little guys to bits.
It means that these two litters will be sold at a loss and I have decided to take the ones I am raising for meat into the abbatoir earlier: at 100 pounds instead of my usual 200+. This will cut costs considerably and is actually more attractive to the average family. I am calling it the Mini Roast program and I have quite a few people interested. I have also decided to bite the bullet and continue breeding. I know of a number of small producers who are getting shaky – feed is still expensive – the losses are huge. You cannot breed let alone feed an animal for this return. There is no money in it this fall. The massive mega producers, with newly developed, high tech, mammoth farrow to market companies, big even by American standards, have come on line and are producing huge amounts of cheap pork. More than ever in the history of this country. Production has spiked. But demand is the same – exports have not increased but supply has leaped ahead. Late summer is also the months when hogs go to market so with these two things combined prices have crashed causing a slide into ruin for many.
As long as my girls don’t have too many huge litters and I can still pass off a few pigs for my friends to raise for themselves and raise a little meat for myself and some for Jake we will continue. But I still want to stay small. Small is best for me.
But I am making no money at all – in fact the pig budget is most unhealthy and I will be borrowing from my vacation fund for pig feed this winter to get us through to the spring when they will start to sell again. I am not ready to quit.
The cows are doing OK though. The cows have paid for themselves this year. Not a huge profit but enough to invest in these two.
And feed them all until next summer.
I have some sad news. Yesterday morning Lurch died. (For those who are new to the Fellowship: Lurch she was one of a litter of piglets rejected by their mother – many of them died young but wee Lurch was a fighter and even though her legs would not work properly she refused to give up). Lurch’s adopted mother Lori had a wheelchair made for her and Lurch would run about the house on this with her useless back legs laid above the wheels.) Lori told me this morning that Lurch – who she had renamed Maggie – was fine yesterday morning, ate, went outside in her chariot for her exercise then Lori laid her on her bean bag for a rest and when she looked at her only minutes later Maggie had stopped breathing. Her heart just stopped.
Lurch whose name was Maggie has died.
Some lives are not long but this does not diminish their importance. Just like relationships. Sometimes a little is long enough. Wee Lurch will always be embedded in this summers memory.
That’s very sad news about Lurch, but on the bright side, she had a good life while it lasted 🙂
Pig breeders (and other livestock) had similar problems in the UK, especially with cheap imports from Denmark. These days quality, free range animals are marketed as such and the public (who can afford it) seek out properly reared meat from happy animals, as opposed to factory farmed ones. Hopefully Jake’s business will take off and people will seek out your special pork.
That is sad, but her short life brought many good people together. The world needs more of that.
Early morning tears & sympathy with my tea for wee dear Lurch whose name was Maggie. I have her picture on my t-shirt & will wear it in her honor & sweet memory. Bless her brave little heart.
And all those who loved her.
So sorry to hear about Lurch/Maggie, but as Mad Dog said, she had a good, if short life. I get many compliments on her shirt and wear it proudly!
Your philosophy about the importance of short lives is beautiful. You don’t have to have big feet (or trotters) to leave footprints. What a precarious balancing act farming is but you base your decisions on sound judgement, solid experience and what is best for your family of animals and you can’t do better than that. Big hug miss c.
I’m sorry to learn about Lurch/Maggie. What a little trooper she was and what kind and meaningful care she was given, from her very first moments.
Interesting about pork. I’d been wondering why prices were so good hereabouts right now. Wish I had a good source like yours. Have a good day.
I am so so about Maggie… So sad ♥
I lost a sweet little bottle lamb years ago and a friend wrote me the following words and I have held them dear since. “Think of all the people he made happy on his goodwill lamb tour-he brought a lot of joy to everyone he met. I believe God sends some of us extra special animals who don’t have a lot of time on this earth and we give them all that extra love they need before they go.”
Oh, we are so sorry to read that Lurch died, trying so hard to survive. We wish you well, You have presented amazing photos :)) Jen
Hang tight. I firmly believe we are entering a crossroad in this country. Our health and lives will depend on which road we take. We have some of the “cheapest” food in the world and spend a fraction of the money that many others spend from around the world. But, “cheapest” is a an oxymoron when used to describe our food prices. We all pay astronomical prices when we add in our subsides. Unfortunately, we who are small and raising animals in a sustainable and healthy way are paying for the subsides and our prices for animals and food. We in the United States have absolutely no clue how much we are REALLY paying for our food. If we add in the cost of our health or lack there of, then the costs skyrocket even more. I have written many times that we are spoiled ever loving rotten here in the states and we are paying the price in many ways.
There are people willing to pay the price for good food and I see the numbers rising. Set your price so that you at least recoup your costs and someone will buy your food. Right now my husband and I raise broilers (about 400-500 a year), pigs (around 12 a year) and layers (have around 45 since an owl decided to help himself to many earlier this year), and dairy goats. We raise for family and close friends and end up just asking for reimbursement for our costs plus they have to help butcher the chickens if they want the meat at cost. Even then the cost for the broilers is at $2.50 a lb. We raise freedom rangers which take longer to get to size. Our feed is non-gmo which is more expensive. The birds themselves are 100% non gmo from parent stock down which raises prices but so far we could sell many more than we raise even adding on to make some money. We have waiting list for our pigs which are limited due to our limited acreage which is 5 acres. We are land locked with no chance short of a miracle of getting more land.
Many are starting to realize we are what we eat. We are ruining our water, air, soil and soon some may start to realize you CAN NOT EAT OR DRINK YOU MONEY!
I have talked to many, some of whom have shocked me, that have said the words “I will do without many things but I AM going to put my money in my food.” I was laughed at 10 years ago when I was asking if anyone had non gmo feed. Now it is becoming more and more common. Things are changing and many are fighting that change. But, as many people see their health care costs continue to spiral out of control, their health continue to decline, the air and water they have to have to have to survive continue to be contaminated, I am seeing a seismic shift. I don’t think it will be a majority soon, but a growing, very vocal , minority will happen. And frankly, I am going to be a part of that vocal minority. I have the mouth to do it, as I have been told! LOL
So hang in there Cecelia. You really are a part of a growing movement that is going to get bigger and more interesting. We just need to hang on tight for, possibly, the ride of our lives. Have an awesome day. I absolutely love your pigs. I have 6 Berkshires here that has me hoping and praying for mild weather until 12-27-16 when they go to the butcher. We raise them outside in huts and deep straw. I really don’t want to haul water to them 6x a day because it has frozen and a thirsty pig does not eat.
Yes, sad news about Lurch. But as someone already mentioned, she brought many people together and it’s wonderful to know that there is someone out there who works with little piggies like Lurch.
I know that you live in an area that is industrially farmed, but I hope that you can hang on with your pig breeding. As people get more educated about Big Ag and how animals are raised in that setting, I think more and more will turn to producers like you. And I hope that Jake’s enterprise will get off the ground well. I wonder if there was any way of tapping into the Chicago burb market!
So sorry to hear about Lurch but as you say, in her short life, she touched and enriched many others. RIP Dear little fighter.
Oh, and I can’t forget to say Welcome to Tia and Bobby T3! They are very handsome!
So sorry to hear about Lurch/Maggie but she had so many people who loved her, didn’t she? You have her all the love.
Gave not have. #fatfingersyndrome
I am so sorry to hear about Lurch.
There’s such a lot of controversy about pork production Down Under. Most pork here is mass produced: inside, tightly packed, on concrete floors. It’s a growing trend for people to choose sow-stall free pork, to the extent that supermarkets are actively marketing pork produced this way. The best option, free range, ethically produced meat is more expensive, but as the life and processes of the Farmy demonstrate, it’s for a very good reason. Fingers tightly crossed that your new marketing plan works, that you’ll be able to feed everyone this winter without forfeiting your travels, and that your piggy girls have small and easy to manage litters. And your new Tia and Bobby T3 are gorgeous 🙂
Lovely shot, by the way, of Tima with Boo.
Very sad post in deed – financially and sweet little Lurch. She had an extremely good life however and we can all be proud that we helped make it that way. Hugs and to you and Pat as I know she was quite attached to the baby too.
Sad news about lurch/Maggie. But as other people have said a short but happy life. Your two new cows look lovely.
I think we are quite lucky in the uk that we can buy pork from farms that sign up to a certain practice, eg outdoor reared in our supermarkets. I do prefer to get my pork when possible from a farm though.
I’m pretty sure Lurch/Maggie picked the two very best homes in the USA. She sure showed everyone how to persevere through adversity with great courage.
The big guys may be flooding the market with quantity and be cheaper initially, but surely more and more people will want non-GM fed, happy, well treated animals/meat. Ultimately it is affecting our health too. In time, word of mouth will put you on the map I am sure. Welcome to the new sweet calves. Laura
Lurch was a fighter for life. I’m glad to have seen her example. Sad news indeed.
Your determination and perseverance are an inspiration, C. Sorry to hear of the loss of Lurch.
Lurch/Maggie will always be in our hearts. Such a lovely little pig. Your story about the big pork producers just further underlines the importance of supporting our local growers. Be it vegetables, fruit or meat- it is so very important. Not everyone can or has access to local growers, but if you are able to please buy from them. Otherwise we will all be forced to eat poorly grown and not healthy food. We cannot depend on our government to protect us from poorly produced food- that is for sure. They are in bed with the corporate growers.
Fly hig beautiful Lurch ❤
I was looking at November's pinups, Tima and Tane on the Farmy calendar this morning and wondering if you were going to put out another for 2017 Celi? – Would it be enough of a boost in the feed coffers to help out? I would absolutely buy one again 🙂
Such sad news about Maggie. I don’t know if I could handle the sadness incumbent with farm animals. Even knowing your cute little piglets are destined for chops makes me teary despite the fact that I love eating pork. Hypocritical of me. I am glad these animals have you, though, making their brief existences the best they can be.
Celia, you raise your pigs so differently from the giant and atrocious hog factory system (which is so cruel to the animals and I believe very toxic to them). So much of what you do for your pigs like pasturing them, feeding them milk and eggs, and healthy delicious other goodies from the garden, and keeping them where they are not breathing ammonia saturated air like in the hog factories, should make for a different market. Joel Saladin sells his pork meat at a completely different rate than the commodities market. Perhaps you could contact him and get some tips to make your operation profitable. By promoting to a different market and not selling thru the standard system, I think you can do much better. http://www.polyfacefarms.com/speaking-protocol/joels-bio/ http://www.polyfacefarms.com/ People who raise real food like you do should not have to compete with these inhumane operations because your product is night and day different. Some of the people I know here in NE Georgia who are homesteaders and small livestock producers sell their meat directly to customers at a much higher rate and people surprisingly are willing to pay that because the food is so much different and they know it isn’t toxic. They freeze it and sell it vacuum packed at farmers markets, and thru direct sales. I hope this helps. We need farmers like you to keep the food safe and real. Love, Di
Bless her. She gave it all she had.
My daughter Kate loves her Lurch shirt and the story behind it. She is 13 and has Aspergers Syndrome, so the shirt has extra meaning for her. She has remarked that she herself often ‘lurches’ along. So little Lurch also left an impression on the next generation. 🙂
You have strengthened our resolve to buy meat only from local farmers. We try to do this anyway, but reading your story has made it even more important for us to do so. Have you seen the new documentary on National Geographic called ‘Before the Flood?’ They talk a lot about how beef cows add to the climate change problem; I kept wanting to yell at the TV, “But if folks ate grass fed beef from well-managed grazing lands, the carbon sink from the land would offset the methane from the cows!” They didn’t talk at all about that.
RIP little Lurch. Loved that piggie from afar.
She had a well-loved life. In one of those huge grower houses she would have never made it past the first few hours, for this short life we are all grateful.
Very few realize how hard farming is, especially for the small farmer. It can be a matter of hours that makes the difference in prices you get and you are at the bottom of the food chain. If I could find someone like you here locally, I’d never set foot in a grocery store again. I’m still checking and have looked at our local farmers market. I’ll work harder at it now. So sorry to hear Lurch didn’t make it. He had more love than most pigs especially those raised on big commercial farms. Your new cows are lovely. Best of luck with them.
So sad to hear about little Lurch/Maggie. But she did know love and care and nourishing in her short little life. There’s a lot to be said for that, and also a lot of praise goes to you for making that happen for her. All lives matter. Wishing you much success with your breeding program, both pigs and cows.
Fingers crossed for your Farmy plans. Have to have a plan. I am glad that Lurch whose name was Maggie did not suffer in the end. A beautiful story is Lurch whose name was Maggie.
I am heart-broken about Lurch. I was hoping that with a good foster home, he would survive. I am so sorry. But you know what? He has touched lives so far from him – as far as in India. That is something huh?
I hope your monetary situation improves. I have been through tough times myself, but I know that “This too shall pass”. This too shall pass.
Farewell Lurch. Beautiful new calves. You now have two aunts in your herd. Tia means aunt in Spanish. Probably a good idea on the tweens. It will be expensive to get them through the winter. Pork is sure to rebound. Wish we were closer. Bill makes a wonderful ground pork stir fry with green beans, garlic and ginger. I refuse to eat it unless it is organic/grass fed. Be well.
Sad news, she was an inspiration to all who knew her. Helping to care for her was a big part of my summer joy and will be missed. Such an inspiration. Sorry Cecilia.
Small is best for all of us and the environment. I admire your flexibility, caring and great business acumen.
I am so sad that she died. So sad. But so happy that she died comfortable on a beanbag chair after a morning walk. That is a good way to go. I am also saddened by the news about pork prices. And, honestly, a bit horrified by the scale of the production that is putting pressure on you. It is wrong. Oh dear, oh dear. Mercy Me…sang Marvin Gaye, and that was before it got to this! Hang in their. Your journey is a courageous one.
As all of the Fellowship has said, this is very sad to hear. Little Lurch/Maggie was so very charming and such a brave one. It was so special to find Lori, a very special person indeed, to treat her as a queen in her chariot. The only comfort here is that she did not suffer a long, protracted illness (so far as we know). She was well loved from the moment you saved her to Lori’s kind hands. None of us can ever hope for better (or even the same).
I would be glad to eat pork again if it came from caring farmers like you, but I haven’t served pork in years. I can’t stand the way pigs are treated. (I’ve watched Babe many many times.) I only hope this drop in prices is temporary.
Just yesterday I went to the store with my Eggland coupon in hand. But when I read the carton it did NOT say HUMANE CERTIFIED. Instead it said CUSTOMER APPROVED–or some equally garbagy spin. I didn’t buy it. Instead I bought Pete & Jerry’s Organic eggs–free range and humane certified. We consumers must really read words on packages.
As a Maggie, I’m sorry to hear and I was also rooting for petite Lurch. Tough little lady. C- this morning after dropping off my daughter at school I was driving through the urban neighborhoods of Portland (you’ve seen Portland and it’s weirdness), I saw an older woman getting coffee and walking her golden retriever and her kunekune!!!! Thanks to you and Tima and Tane, I know the breed! So cute.
Im sorry to hear that little Lurch Maggie has died, I think you gave her the best life she could have in her circumstance. It sounds like she went in a peaceful way. I like your determination on the pork situation hope things get better.
Hi, have you tried listing your piglets on a “speciality” meat websites. Some people want meat that lived a happy life instead of meat from a huge farm.
Here’s another place you can list the piglets.
I read your post most everyday, love reading about your farmy. The news about Lurch is heartbreaking, such a sweet soul.
How to bring tears to someone who has made a practise of not weeping! You do that so well. Well, Lurch fought a long hard battle with life and deserves the medal of honour. As someone else has pointed out, passing away on a nice soft bed after a good meal and some fresh air is probably the best way. I guess pork prices are doing a similar thing up here in Ontario; I have noticed, the past couple of weeks, marvelous specials at the supermarket. Yesterday I went in and poked around at a deli I have seen here the past few years and was told all their stuff is from local produce (local, meaning produced in this province), free range animals. They had meats, fresh and smoked, cheeses, eggs, milk, preserves of every description. Only problem is, their prices are far beyond what I could possibly afford ($20 for 500 gr of pure honey… twice the price of the supermarket). But the shop has been operating a few years now and there were lots of people in it, so they do have an active business. Perhaps there are shops like that in Chicago that would be happy to source your pork.
Your new cows are beauties and I look forward to learning of their progress! Hope you have a great day too. ~ Mame 🙂
Farewell little piggie, welcome pretty cows. There’s a documentary airing in Australia at the moment called For the Love of Meat……Matthew Evans explores all the things about growing and eating meat that you and others are saying. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to watch it but here’s a link http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/780689475958. He has a farm south of Hobart called Fat Pig Farm, and a website http://www.fatpig.farm/ so if you aren’t able to watch the documentary you’ll be able to have a read about his farm, philosophies and practises.
Will there be a calendar this year, that would help with adding a few pennies to your coffers. You need that *donate* button 🙂
Thank you for your post today – it’s so well written and briefly but precisely expressed how desperate the market situation is. I felt your sorrows and balefulness while reading. Let’s hope for the good times to return. Good luck, Celi. You are so brave. –
I’m so sorry for Little Lurchy, I will remember her at least as long as I wear my Tee with that cute pic of her and TonTon.
That Lurch-Maggie had a life, and a good one is worth celebrating. It shows us the value of compassion, which we can take with us when we make our consumer choices and use to differentiate between produce vs commodity.
We are so fortunate here in NZ that we have access to so much good, fresh food. Yes we do pay higher prices than other countries, but to my mind it is worth it. I was shocked when I watched a TV program once on wholesale food production in USA. A lot of those methods, and chemicals used, are illegal in NZ. It means even if you don’t know the supplier of your meat, as long as it is NZ beef or mutton or chicken, you can be fairly sure that the animals have been treated OK and that they haven’t been fed anything funny. Not 100% sure unfortunately – there has been some controversy in the last few months about the treatment of bobby calves. It is always best, in my mind, if you can actually source direct from the farmer, but it’s not always possible, and I think NZ has the balance a lot better than most countries I hear about.
I’m so glad Lurch/Maggie had a good life though short. I must admit I did wonder what would happen if she grew up to be a really large pig. I think it would’ve been hard to keep her in heavy duty chariots! It’s heartening to know there are still good people in this world who’ll take care of and love the Lurches/Maggies. I am fortunate to have a local farmer who pastures beef, pork and chicken. Yes, it is a bit more expensive but if you can buy the pork by halves and the beef by quarters it’s not too bad and the quality is ever so much better. We also have a wonderful summer farmer’s market, that, along with our own small garden feeds us well. I have been cooking pretty much entirely from scratch and it’s not a big deal – and I really don’t like to cook! I also find most of my grocery shopping is done at the perimeter of the store now. From the farm newspapers we get I’m seeing more and more articles about the local food movement and people wanting to know where their food comes from and how it’s raised. Interestingly enough the attitude of these papers in general has come around from scoffing to hesitant approval. There has also been increasing interest in urban and rooftop gardens to supply what are now the food desserts in the cities. Here in Wisconsin we have the pioneer of urban farming and aquaponics, Will Allen (growingpower.org) to look to. So hang in there, I really believe you’re on the right track!
I hope Lurch feels the love… I believe she does.
Lurch Maggie was a very fortunate little piglet, she certainly made an impression on a lot of people. That she had a life was a gift, most farmers would have just euthanized her and been done with it. You did everything you could to give her a chance at life, so did Lori. That counts for a great deal.
I certainly would love to be able to get pork like you’re raising. There are some shops in Chicago that deal direct with the farmer and that might be a possiblilty for the Tweens. Perhaps you could take subscriptions for raising piglets for people who would pay monthly toward the meat they would receive. Presently I couldn’t take a whole hog, 100 pounds live weight would be too much for just two people, however we certainly would be interested in less poundage. There must be more people like us who would love to know our meat was raised clean and ethically and would be wiling to pay you for it. Being near a city like Chicago should be a big plus. It might just need a marketing plan to pull it off.
Oh Celi .. I’m so sorry. Dear wee Lurch. But she had a wonderful life with much love from you and her new owner .. If only here for a short time. Thanks for all you do
We are still debating if we should breed (pigs!) or continue to buy in weaners. With such a fluctuation in prices it must be very disheartening.
We seem to have a different market here in that the low seems to be about 4 zloty a Kg ($1 \ Kg or 50c a Lb) the norm is 5 Zloty and the premium, which we manage to get selling as organic\outdoor is 7 Zloty (heading towards $2 a kilo) That has surely got to be the way forward, selling as a premium product, which surely yours are.
I’m sure that market will turn back soon enough.
Love the look of your new stock, as soon as we run a surplus of hay and feed then I’m going to convince my better half that we should invest.