Pigs on Pasture


We raise our pigs on pasture.  So they get to live the kind of lives pigs enjoy, rather than suffering in cages and on concrete floors.

Our pigs have lots of room to romp, run, play, root and wallow.  They have fields and woods in which to roam and forage.


Yesterday I mowed their pasture.  It made their day.  They chased me, ran along beside me and occasionally played chicken with me–running in front of the tractor then darting out of the way at the last minute.




Pigs have a great zest for life and they never fail to make me smile.

What we have done to these wonderful creatures in exchange for cheap pork is just shameful.

When we buy pork, we are voting on the kind of world we want to live in.  I know it’s all the rage to joke about bacon.  But do we really want bacon enough to do this to a pig?


CAFO pigs


Following up on a few of my recent posts–

We didn’t win the Bon Appetit grant contest. One of the Maryland college project finalists rallied the student body and carried the day in a landslide.  The other winner was a North Carolina seafood company, selected by the staff based on its years of good service to the company.  All the projects were worthwhile and we’re happy for the winners.  We got a lot of positive publicity for our farm and advanced our relationship with our local university, so it was good for us too.

Ginny is almost fully recovered now, which is a great relief.  We seriously worried that she wasn’t going to make it. Had we followed through with all the veterinarian’s recommendations (including surgery) she’d probably be dead by now.  Instead Cherie gave her herbal and homeopathic remedies and changed her diet.  Now she’s eating peas, sweet potatoes, eggplant, green beans and venison (all from the farm).  She’s eating better than the vast majority of the people in our country.  I expect lots of sick people would benefit from such a diet, as she has.

On a less positive note, after a series of health issues in the family our friends the Harkonens were put on a medical furlough.  They have temporarily left the Congo and gone to Finland, to stay with Timo’s family while they recover. Janey’s condition did not improve and she ultimately was hospitalized for a week.  She’s returned home now but is on pain medication and her problem still hasn’t been diagnosed.  Their experience is a good reminder for us of the hardships and risks that so many people are taking in the world today in order to help care for those most in need.  I know the Harkonen family would appreciate your prayers.  The best way to follow them is to friend them (Laura Harkonen and Timo Harkonen) on facebook.

Lastly, autumn is upon us in its full glory.  We’re enjoying it–watching the gardens grow.


Corporate Welfare

News came out here recently that the citizens of our nearby town are going to have to come up with millions of dollars the city handed over to a couple of corporations as subsidies, on some pie-in-the-sky promise that they were going to locate here and generate jobs.  The jobs never happened, the businesses are belly-up (or never even materialized) and now the citizens are out a couple of million bucks.

Sadly that seems to be a fairly regular occurrence around here.  Our powers that be are enchanted by the dream that high tech businesses are going to locate here, bringing with them high-paying jobs and economic prosperity. Nevermind that we don’t have a workforce here with the education needed for such jobs. About the only thing that would make this area attractive to industry is our large unskilled workforce willing to work for low wages.  That is what attracted the company that once employed about half of the people around here–one of the largest cotton mills on earth.  All that’s left now of that once booming company are abandoned buildings–the corporation having declared bankruptcy several years back after years of decline.  It’s remaining assets were bought by a company in India and moved there.  Those jobs are gone and they ain’t coming back, as Mr. Springsteen said.  But our industrial legacy, such as it is, is what our political leaders seem to be fixated on.

Our area’s greatest resource is our farmland.  But while politicians here routinely promise that they will “create jobs,” I’ve never heard one say a word about agricultural jobs.  The vast majority of that work is now done by imported seasonal labor, despite our very high unemployment rate.  Our policymakers ignore agriculture, while flushing tax dollars down the toilet in pursuit of some industrial messiah.

The problem certainly isn’t limited to our part of the world.  Yesterday I read a blog post noting that nine states (Virginia is not among them) dole out 58% of the state subsidies to private businesses. The states doling out the most corporate welfare are both red and blue.  It seems to be something the two sides agree on.

The post quotes a study by Veronique de Rugy, an economist at George Mason University.  Her conclusions make a lot of sense to me:

Targeted state subsidies to private businesses are often promoted as a “market-friendly” means to boost growth, jobs, and development. However, the empirical studies on state subsidies find that these programs have little to no effect in producing their intended goals.

What’s more, as Christopher Coyne and Lotta Moberg write in their recent Mercatus working paper, “The Political Economy of State-Provided Targeted Benefits,” these subsidies are often ultimately damaging. Targeted state subsidies misallocate scarce public resources while encouraging rent-seeking, regulatory capture, and cronyism. To encourage sustainable state economic growth, policymakers should shift their focus away from tailoring policies to benefit specific firms toward policies that create a general environment in which all can flourish. The first step is to end the practice of targeted state subsidies.

With all the money our community has wasted on corporate handouts and now-abandoned “industrial parks” we could have put in high speed internet, for example, expanding the opportunity for home businesses and telecommuting, and creating “a general environment in which all can flourish.”  And for a small fraction of what’s been wasted on phantom “high tech” businesses, our community could be promoting and developing our local food resources.  Better yet, they could have just left all that money in the pockets of those who earned it.

I’ll keep dreaming.

Here’s an amusing sketch Cherie brought to my attention that is relevant.




I have been trying to read
the script cut in these hills-
a language carved in the shimmer of stubble
and the solid lines of soil, spoken
in the thud of apples falling
and the rasp of corn stalks finally bare.

The pheasants shout it with a rusty creak
as they gather in the fallen grain,
the blackbirds sing it
over their shoulders in parting,
and gold leaf illuminates the manuscript
where it is written in the trees.

Transcribed onto my human tongue
I believe it might sound like a lullaby,
or the simplest grace at table.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: “For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful.”

Lynn Ungar

h/t Love is a Place

Drying Clothes

A homesteader’s blog post I read recently discussed using washboards and ringers to wash clothes.  It was interesting, but absent some catastrophe that’s not something I expect we’ll be doing here.  But we have begun making ourselves less dependent upon the dryer.

A few years ago we had some friends move into our old farm house for a couple of years.  Not long after they moved in they asked if we would take the dryer out of the laundry room.  They wanted the space for something else and they said they had no plans to use the dryer.  That baffled me.  Why not, I asked.  Because, they said, the dryer is an energy hog and they were perfectly happy drying their clothes on the clothes line.  I took out the dryer, but I didn’t agree with them.  Now, a few years later, I understand completely.

We never had a dryer when I was growing up.  We dried clothes by hanging them on a clothes line.  My mother wanted a dryer but my father would never agree to it.  It seemed unnecessary to him.  I think it was the first thing she bought for the house after he died.

My grandfather would never agree to a dryer either.  He outlived my grandmother so they never had one. One of his objections was that clothes dryers wore clothes out sooner.  He said that the lint that dryers create comes from the clothes.  He was probably right about that.

We have a dryer and we still use it sometimes.  But whenever we can, we now dry our laundry outside.  And why not?  The sun and breeze do a fine job of it and the energy to do it is completely natural.  Besides, I like the smell and feel of clothes dried that way.  Reminds me of my childhood.

Speaking Ill

To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves; let us be above such transparent egotism. If you can’t say good and encouraging things, say nothing. Nothing is often a good thing to do, and always a clever thing to say.

Will Durant



We’ve got a great crop of radishes this fall, including this strange one.


Radishes grow easily and fast.  We’ve been enjoying them raw and pickled (my favorite),and Cherie has used them to make slaw and she has used the greens to make pesto.  But we still have a lot more radishes than we have uses for radishes.

Any suggestions or recipes would be welcome.  :)