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Why do Farmers Farm?

July-2013-Food-For-Thought

In a previous article I wrote about farmers who have full time jobs and then came home to tend to their farms. Many of us know farmers like this. But we may not stop to think “why” they do it. After a long day at the office, would you want to clean out a barn or drive tractor? To understand the “why”, I paid a visit to a family friend.

MELISSA GREEN Thought for the day: A sow will have, on average, 10 - 12 piglets per litter.
MELISSA GREEN
Thought for the day:
A sow will have, on average, 10 – 12 piglets per litter.

Jody Samons works full time as the Administrative Service Officer for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Glenn County. But that is just her day job. Jody inherited a show pig business from her now grown daughters. Named after two little girls who always dressed in pink, Pink Lady Pigs started 26 years ago as a 4-H project. Today, Jody has 9 gilts (female pigs) that farrow (give birth) throughout the year. The pigs are sold to 4-H and FFA students for fairs from Orange to Lassen Counties or raised for traditional meat markets. Jody’s daily chores take a total of 3 hours to complete. She does them both before her office job and again at the end of the day. She even stops by the barn on her lunch break to check on any new piglets. Pigs sound like a lot of work, don’t they? So why does she do it?

For Jody, raising show pigs is all about helping the kids in her community. The Pink Lady Pigs’ motto is “Paramount Pork with Personality”. They want to ensure that their kids have a high quality animal to show at their fair. But more importantly, they want kids to have a positive learning experience with their pigs. On pig selection day, all of the Pink Ladies dedicate themselves to matching kids with high quality, healthy and well-mannered pigs. Through raising pigs, Jody enjoys helping kids develop observation skills, responsibility, financial accountability, and the sense of caring for something other than oneself.

Jody fervently encourages her customers to get involved. The students get to name Jody’s sows. The kids even select which boar should be bred to the sows for the next litter of piglets. Jody says this creates buy-in with the kids and is key to helping students understand the full cycle of raising pigs. She also helps facilitate a farrowing day for 4-H students to observe the birthing process, a castration day and vaccination workshop. Pink Lady Pigs is all about helping kids develop the tools they need for success.

When asked about her favorite part of raising pigs, Jody responded “The kids are what make this special.” Plain and simple. She knows that her grown daughters gained great knowledge and experience through raising pigs. So Jody is thrilled to help other students to the same. She loves getting calls from her customers, hearing their questions, watching them get involved, and staying connected long after they have graduated. Every day Jody spends her own time caring for her pigs. Why? Because Jody says, “You get out what you put in.” Then it is no surprise that after 26 years, she has a perfected system. Her involvement in the community, dedication to kids, and her pigs makes those extra hours worth it!

Thought for the day: A sow will have, on average 10-12 piglets per litter.

 

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Melissa Green
Raised on a ranch in Arbuckle overlooking the Sutter Buttes, Melissa Green holds a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from CSU Chico; she also holds a master’s degree in Meat Science from Colorado State University. Green currently works in Northern California conducting research and development for new meat products. Her passion for educating consumers on the topic of “where our food comes from” enables Green her to pursue a mission in preserving our agricultural heritage.

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