“But don’t pigs destroy the landscape and spread dirty diseases”, I hear you ask? Well, no. Pigs are actually very clean creatures, and even when kept in small enclosures will defecate in one corner, and then try to stay out of it.
It is only when large numbers of pigs are kept in confined areas, where they cannot move freely and get away from their own waste, that they become susceptible to boredom and disease. They are also unable to put on muscle bulk without the help of hormones. Intensively raised pigs routinely have their teeth clipped, and tails docked, so that they can not bite other pigs, or chew off their tails, causing infection. Sows are artificially inseminated, and farrow in pens so small they can’t even roll over, so that as many piglets as possible can live. There is no way for them to socialise, they don’t have any fun, they’re fed a diet of chemicals and antibiotics so they grow quickly, and don’t get sick, they're loaded into a large, loud, scary truck, and then… people eat them. I don’t want to feed something like that to my family, which is why we grow our own 'happy' meat.
But back to the point, which was pigs. Improving the soil. Yep, that’s right. Our animals, including the pigs are moved regularly from paddock to paddock, and once they move on, that pasture is planted with a variety of seeds, mulched and watered with compost tea. This introduces or improves the soil microbiota, the resulting pasture grows back bigger and better, soil starts to ‘grow’, moisture retention improves, and when you grow food on those pastures, the nutrient quality of the food abounds. To sum it up: it is the interaction between animals, plants, and their microbiome that builds and improves the soil and increases nutrients. And improved nutrient content means better health through food, but also.. amazing taste!
Unfortunately, at this stage, my vision for a Utopia of lush green pastures growing in the shade of the trees while being munched by roving bands of fat ruminants, pigs and fowl; exists only in my imagination, but every product that we sell, brings those pastures closer to reality, and I want to say: Thank you to all who support our farm! Because without You; Shady Patches Farm would still be ‘naked, hungry, thirsty, and running a fever’! (Ray Archuleta, 2018)
I have always had an interest in gardening, self sufficiency, the environment and health promotion. When I started farming, those interests coalesced into a way of life that, for me; holds true meaning.