Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting Closer as We Grow the Farm

Some of our favorite farmers and mentors advise you can’t afford to take a struggling piglet away from a sow for intensive care. We know it is futile to try to care for a piglet if it was not able to get some of the sow’s first milk, the colostrum, with its special antibodies. Our first tries at piglet emergency care did not work for this reason, as our “Risk the Runt” story documents.

As was the case with “Tiny Tim,” a little come-back pig worthy of a book, Sphinx is a pig who’s pork alone won’t pay off the time we take to give her care. Yet while Sphinx is a bit of a distraction, she sure is adding value. We are all amazed watching her wound heal – unbelievable that in 2 weeks the cavernous hoof-shaped wound on her back has almost entirely disappeared. And bottle feeding has afforded many of us a closer look at all of her pig cuteness. Simultaneously we are growing with her, knowing our food intimately and confronting what it means to, like the pig, be an omnivore.

She is also growing the farm. Our little Sphinx is even holding court on FaceBook! Over the weekend Melissa Pasanen, cookbook author and Food Editor for Vermont Life, visited our farm, piggy-backing on chaperoning a gold-medal science fair effort. Sphinx won a place in her heart… and on her facebook page. Sphinx is a good story inside a good story. She is accelerating and deepening relationships between this farm and people and broadening the community to whom we are relevant. Sure we grow delicious food but really we are farming relationships.

As we write we have pulled a limp and struggling member of Fife’s litter into the bathroom. We say out loud again “didn’t we have a Tiny Tim policy” (translated = no more pigs in the bathtub.)? If we are all lucky he could become a gentle boar (Fife, his mom, has struggled so much sadly she won’t be a long-term sow). If not, we’ll mourn his loss as he joins the other saints in the warm compost. Either way, he too will grow our farm.