Monday, May 21, 2012

Life on the farm

It’s spring and things are gettin’ going out here on YKer Acres. There are starter plants in the house, seeds in the field, chickens laying on eggs, and a field that’s ready for piglets. That’s right, I live on a farm. An organic vegetable farm. It’s a CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture. Basically how it works is you buy a “share” then we come and deliver you delicious veggies every week at a drop off site. There are a lot of veggies on this farm. Heirloom tomatoes, onions, carrots, beets, potatoes, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, winter squash, summer squash, parsnips, rutabagas, melons, corn, turnips, asian greens, kohlrabi, broccoli, eggplant, beans, peas, kale, radishes, ground cherries, and huckleberries.

It’s not a farm without farm animals, right? We have those too. I raise chickens as a hobby, and for my summer job I raise pastured pigs. The money I earn from the pigs all goes straight to funding my racing season. Parts, entry fees, gas money, clothes, etcetera. My chickens are completely free range, and roam around the yard, keeping ticks and other pests away. I feed them supplemental grains, but they mostly forage for food. My pigs are raised in 300 by 300 pens out in the field. Once they are done with one, we move them to another, that pen will be used to grow vegetables in the future, as it is the most fertile soil on the farm, and the pigs are VERY good weeders. Like my chickens, their major food source is foraging. We also plant grains like oats and barley in their field for them to eat.

It’s a cruel fact, but pigs are very intelligent and do have feelings. Part of our philosophy is if we are going to eat meat, we want those animals to live the happiest and healthiest life possible. Most meat you buy at the store is raised in confinement, shoved into a space too small for the pigs to even move. “Cage-free” just means that they are free to roam around in the tiny building, but still are packed too tight to move. “Free-range” means that they have a door to the outside opened in the last few weeks of their life; however most are too scared to go outside. Even “organic” only means that their food is grown without pesticides, which is great, but they still wallow in their own feces with a thousand other animals for their entire life.

Animals love being outside. It’s also by far the healthiest way for them too live. Everyone who has had my pork or eggs says it’s the best they have ever had in their life. Which makes sense, my pigs have access to all kinds of vitamins and minerals, free range pigs eat up to five pounds of soil a day, which makes their meat EXTREMLY vitamin and mineral rich. Plus they run around and exercise every day. Which would you rather eat, a obese, depressed animal that has never seen the light of day and has spent its entire life wallowing in its own feces with thousands of others, or a happy, lean pig that has been eating grasses, bugs, roots and dirt, running around, and rolling in the dirt for its entire life?

Eating organic vegetables, pastured pork, and free-range eggs has taught me so much about good nutrition. The food I eat gives me the nutrients I need to recover from my training, build up for my racing, and grow faster and stronger!

You can find more information and pictures about my pigs and our farm on face book, at Yker Acres. I still have many pork shares available, and will deliver wherever there is a good Cyclocross race. I will be traveling to Cincinnati, Madison, Fort Collins, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Iowa city, and all over Minnesota. Please help support me in achieving my bike racing dreams, while feeding you and your family healthy food!

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