Friday, February 18, 2011

What They Leave Behind

It has been a quiet week here at Green Mountain Girls Farm. Statistics from Royal Butcher help us understand why…not only are the 13 “piglets” no longer with us, but they had a bigger presence than we knew.  Our “piglets” had grown even bigger than we predicted producing over a ton of pork! Chores are easier, feeding time is quieter and the farmers’ adrenaline associated with outsmarting them into the trailer has subsided.
Art by Liva Coe

But as we ready to drive to Green Mountain Smoke House with the hams and bacon and to rush the rest to the freezer, we realize these pigs left us so much more than this! Fife’s five were the survivors. In early July, Fife’s litter struggled due to her acute, sudden onset mastitis. Those that survived were hypoglycemic and sunburned by the time Dr. Stuwe confirmed the need to bottle feed them.  Many helped nurse them, first in the bathtub, then under the apple tree, until they could join their 8 cousins out in the back pasture.  Then we all enjoyed the months of silliness, curiosity, determination and joy these pigs demonstrated on pasture, digging in the woods, playing in the snow, enjoying an ear scratch and sleeping peacefully in big piles of warmth. 

As we ready to support Fife, Madison and Checkers who will all farrow in late March, we first must contend with another legacy of the 13.  Their bedded pack is a rich arc, 18 inch deep and 100 square foot area, where they left their marks.  Our team carefully layered in sawdust to capture the nutrients and spent hay and straw from their bedding area to keep the area dry.  Now the trick will be to add water and pile on wood chip to initiate the hot compost phase which will ready this material for fall garden beds.  Before even the next round of piglets, the full cycle of life is visible, even in the quiet emptiness where last week 13 good looking pigs stood.  Each litter makes a mark on our hearts, land and lives.  We thank them for all they provide.

And as Madison plowed her way through the deep snow this week [video link] we wondered if they are getting in shape to build their nest (video) and bring us the next litters to who will in turn leave their imprint on this farm community.  

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