Pastured Pigs

bringing the people behind our food to

life I grew up on a farm my parents

still have a farm back in Michigan I

grew up on a dairy farm actually during

the 80s I saw what my parents went

through with the farm crisis and it was

really hard for me as a child to see how

they struggled and how they worked in

eight days a week thirty-six hours a day

and yet they still couldn’t make ends

meet when I grew up and I had a chance

to make a decision about what I wanted

to do farming seems like something I

wanted to really work on because farmers

are folks like my parents who are the

salt of the earth and they are working

like mad to feed our communities and yet

for the most part they’re not making

even a living wage and so my roots

essentially took me to the issues of

farming and community organizing and

becoming a farm and food activist

out of college I had the opportunity to

go and work for the Michigan Senate as a

legislative aide and so I got to see

firsthand kind of how agricultural

policy was made agriculture really has

been in my blood all my life I was my

dad’s a hired man until I went off to

college and then on the summers I’d come

back and work on the farm I didn’t know

that I wanted to be a farmer until I

started really paying attention to farm

and food issues and I have been

everything from a vegetarian to a vegan

to a well a meat-eater before being a

vegetarian and now I’ve been I’ve

circled back and I I consider myself a

humanitarian on humanitarian a

humanitarian because I me that I raised

or I know how it was raised I have

always loved pigs when I was a kid I

wanted a ping so bad and my dad would

not have any of it

see never-ending process usually what

we’ll we’ll do is just sleep the hose

running for a while and I’ll have a mud

bath and pour Gretel so hot huh

it just helps them to keep cool when we

get these first few hot summer days I

had a chance to spend a considerable

amount of time in Iowa with Paul Willis

at Neyman Ranch pork company this might

be just the lost cause for the time

being let her have a mud bath it was

such an enlightening experience to me I

guess I didn’t really know that pigs

could be raised that way he raised them

outside and he fair owed outside the

pigs were never confined and so that

particular experience rekindled my love

affair with pigs and as soon as I could

get a pig of my own I got to and started

to breed them Hazel’s on the left and

elby’s on the right

we actually are crossing to heritage


the red pigs are called Tamworth it’s

actually known as the bacon Pig the very

lean pig we’re crossing them with a

large black which is another heritage

breed they’re a pig that gets a lot of

their nutrition from grazing they’re a

forager I am committed to raising our

pigs outside on pasture I absolutely

refuse to confine our pigs at any time

no farrowing crates no gestation crates

but you can’t just take a pig and throw

them in a field and expect that you can

have a successful mama if they haven’t

if their genetics have been changed so

they no longer know how to do that

by picking the heritage breeds we’re

picking pig that know how to be hearty

and go outside and come in when it’s

it’s inclement outside they know how to

raise their young they’re good parents

my husband and I we both work day jobs

and so farming is it’s a second job for

both of us it’s our third job

we also are raising heritage turkeys and

we’re doing this year for the first time

heritage meat birds at some point we’d

like to be able to have enough of an

income stream so that the farm can

support my husband’s income which we

hope will happen within the next year so

lb is a large black he makes babies lb

is the quintessential makin bacon the

only thing he’s supposed to be doing and

he’s just an absolute love I think it’s

really important both wearing my

advocacy hat and wearing my farmer hat

that consumers know where their food is

coming from they know how their food is

is being raised and that they

self-certify it if you can get to the

farm and get to know your farmer the

only way you you know if you are okay

you see it for yourself and you can’t

always trust third-party certifications

you are shedding the lawmakers want you

to think that if you’re not a farmer

that you don’t have a say but the truth

is consumers have a stake and

agricultural policy without consumers

farmers wouldn’t exist if you’re going

to eat food and you’re excited to

support your local farmers and you’re

excited to go to the farm and meet the

animals then you should really be as

equally driven to make a call write a

letter do what you have to do to make

sure that the policies that are passed

in your areas actually support the kind

of food and the kind of people that you

want to see producing that food they

bring a lot of joy for sure

the pigs that turn into pork that you

buy traditionally and at your

supermarket our pigs that are raised in

barns with lots of pigs and so it’s it’s

economies of scale