Tag Archives: hogs

To Buy or Not to Buy…That is the Question

As a farmer and mother I have been in several situations lately where consumers start talking organic. Is organically grown food better for you then the food that is raised traditionally? I will be honest, I am no expert and I don’t like hard numbers but I do know how we raise animals and crops on our farm, traditionally that is. First and foremost I must say that there is a place for all agriculturalists and having the choice at the local grocer is our right; just get the facts and talk to a farmer before making that decision is all that I ask.

On our farm we raise hogs, cattle, corn, soybeans, and wheat. Our livestock is sent to market after being fed the crops that we produce and purchase from other farmers in the area. Since we just finished up with planting season let’s start there. When selecting a seed to plant we choose the seed that has the best traits for the soil and climate in our area. We can also choose seed that has certain traits to resist the pests that eat and ruin the crop. By selecting these traits we can cut down on the chemicals that are needed to care for the crop itself. Chemicals seem like such a bad word but in reality spraying our corn and soybeans is no different than spraying weeds in your driveway or throwing some dust on your backyard vegetable garden to keep the bugs away. Every practice that we carry out on the farm is a safe and approved and has allowed us to raise more food on less ground.

The livestock is also raised under the absolute best conditions. We house the hogs in large barns so that they are out of the elements of the weather. In Ohio we can have zero degree winter days or one-hundred degree summer sun. The hogs are unaware of this shift in weather; through the design of the barns they are always kept in a nice seventy degree climate controlled atmosphere. Since the hogs are kept in barns they are also not exposed to parasites and “bugs” that may cause them to become ill. This means that they will likely never be treated for any reason other than the electrolytes that help the baby pigs just off their moms.

There are many reasons why farmers do what they do. Becoming a farmer is not a job choice; it is a way of life. The challenge is that if you have questions about where your food comes from find a farmer and ask them. Farmers are the ones that grow and know about food and they are ready to hear from you.

The Challenges of Winter on the Farm

We had our first snow of the winter this week and with it came the normal scenes of winter.  The snow blanketed the ground and all we could see was white.  There were cars and trucks in the ditches, kids were anxious to get outside and play in the snow, and some people were shoveling snow off sidewalks. 

Kids love the snow, they love playing and rolling in the white fluffy stuff.  Snow represents fun and laughter for kids.  I LOVED snow when I was a kid too, especially because it normally meant we had no school!  As an adult though, I am not in love with snow any more. 

As an adult, snow brings a different meaning to my life.  It means I have to worry about shoveling snow, driving safely to town on slick roads, and not falling on slick sidewalks in public.  I always fall in the winter, it never fails.  When I do fall down, I always hope no one was looking.  We all have to worry about these things and we all do what is necessary to get the task at hand done.  My concerns are just like your concerns when it comes to dealing with snow. 

However, living on a farm means we have additional concerns when it snows.  On our farm, Kevin, I and his parents know it is our responsibility to protect our animals in harsh weather.  For our cattle, this means making sure they have access to fresh, clean water and hay.  It also means we need to make sure the snow isn’t too deep for them to walk through. If it is, we have to open up the field so they can access their food and water.  Our hogs are inside heated barns so they don’t have to endure the harsh temperatures of winter.  Today’s consumer wants a leaner piece of pork which means our hogs have less body fat than they did 25 years ago.  As a result, it is more difficult for the hogs to stay warm outside in the winter. 

A big concern of ours is making sure the roads are in good shape so feed can be delivered to the livestock.  We have to worry about feed trucks being able to make it up slick hills on gravel roads and driveways.  Our livestock eat 7 days a week and we deliver feed 6 days a week, sometimes 7 days.  This means we drive on bad roads a lot to make sure the livestock are fed. 

Not only do we worry about our livestock in the snow, but we are concerned for the people driving the trucks to deliver our livestock feed.  Many, many days these people risk their lives so our livestock have feed.  I have seen many feed truck drivers step out of their trucks and fall on the slick ground below.  They do just what I do; they jump back up quickly and sneak a peak around to see if anyone was watching. 

So while my kids were thrilled to see the snow fall this week, I was not so happy.  I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this feeling.  Each day of snow means we have a new challenge facing us that day.  We always survive the snow and it is always a challenge.  This is just a fact of life.  One thing is for sure, the snow makes me appreciate spring even more!

When Will The Heat Wave End?

It seems like most of the country has been hit with a heat wave.  It’s caused many problems and has touched almost everyone’s life.  It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, work in a hospital or on a farm, the heat has had an impact on your life this summer. 

This week has been one of the hottest weeks in our area.  As a livestock farmer, the heat creates more work for us because we want to make sure our livestock are kept comfortable.  Thanks to technology, our job of keeping our hogs cool in our barns is made much easier.  We have computer controlled fans, water drippers and cool cells (cool cells are a lot like air conditioners in our homes) to help us keep our hogs cool.   This technology has been a big benefit to the comfort of our hogs.  Hogs can not sweat to cool their bodies and 100+ degree temperatures and heat indexes over 113 degrees fahrenheit are very hard on hogs.  If our hogs were outdoors, we wouldn’t be able to keep them as cool and comfortable as they are inside our barns. 

In years past, when we did have hogs outdoors, we would lose many hogs to the heat.  No matter how often we watered the hogs down, no matter how much shade we tried to provide for the hogs, we would still lose hogs due to the hot weather.  Our barns have helped us overcome the challenge of heat.   The cool concrete also helps cool the hog’s body as well.  

Our son, Conner, discovered how much the hogs like laying on the concrete last week as he was preparing his hog for the county fair hog show.  While Conner was trying to walk his hog, the hog kept laying down.  Once the concrete became warm from the hog’s body heat, the hog would get up and walk to find another cool spot on the concrete to lay down.  While Conner found this frustrating, the hog was content to lay down and keep cool on the concrete.  Conner thought his hog was being lazy at first.  Once Conner sat on the concrete next to his hog to rub the hog’s belly, he discovered for himself how cool the concrete was and how nice it really did feel to sit down on the cold floor and cool off. 

We are very thankful on our farm for the use of technology.  Without it, our hogs would not be nearly as cool, and we would be losing many of our hogs due to the excessive heat we are having.  Please be careful during this heat wave and remember to drink plenty of water.  One of the biggest mistakes we as farmers and ranchers make is forgetting to take care of ourselves.  And I know this doesn’t go for just farmers.  Many of us, no matter what our chosen career field, forget to take care of ourselves during excessive heat.