(Meet Pork and Belly, our new pigs)
For some years I’ve wondered where the line was between being a gardener and a farmer. It began when I made the conscious decision to grow my own food. I felt like a farmer, but couldn’t really call myself one. Then, I endeavored beekeeping. I started with one hive; they unfortunately died. I got two more and lost them. I was really hurt.
I thought that this is what a farmer must feel like when he loses livestock or must acquiesce to some sickness and put an animal down. They were just bees (I said to myself), but they were more than that: they were my livestock, my responsibility. I was, however, still just a gardener with bees.
Last year when we bought our current property we had to start from the ground up. I renovated the house over the winter: I was a carpenter. I plowed a large plot for my garden: I was a gardener. Early this spring I built a greenhouse: I was a market gardener. Bees came and I was again (gladly) a beekeeper. Not long afterwards I built a chicken coop: carpenter again.
Finally, the time had come to get chickens; there were animals coming to a farm. I felt that finally I could call myself a farmer. I picked up the small chicks and installed them in the coop. They had water, they had food, they had straw; I must be a farmer, but alas…still nothing. I could have chickens in the city.
Then, I got a call on Friday from a farmer that I had met. I ordered manure and we talked pigs. Evidently, I ordered two piglets when they were ready (about 8 weeks old), which would be in about 2 weeks. He told me that “my” pigs were ready to be picked up. My wife and myself scrambled to build a house for them, a pen and bought some electric fencing. We had the whole thing ready within 24 hours.
We picked them up and put them down in their pen. I was nervous. The cuffed around in the dirt and ate some food. They were getting use to their new home. They were a bit nervous in their new surroundings; they didn’t know what to expect. They were, in fact, a bit like me: nervous in their new position. Without knowing it I had fallen into farming, but I think the pigs realized it before I did.