A fellow journalism student recently asked me a simple question about my family’s show pig farm, “Why do you farm?”
I immediately began to explain my farming heritage: my parents grew up on farms, their parents grew up on farms and so on.
That’s when it hit me, what was I even saying?
She didn’t ask for me to rattle off my family tree, she asked me why I farm.
So what’s the real answer? Why do I farm?
I farm because I love caring for our pigs.
I love getting up early and heading out to the hog barn with my family.
I love helping my dad decide on new feed recipes that will help our pigs eat a healthier, more balanced diet.
I love helping new piglets enter the world and watching them play with their littermates.
I love giving extra attention to the runts of the litter and the pigs that get sick until they all are well again.
I love that my 4 year old brother thinks that playing with piglets is more fun than watching cartoons.
I love helping my family care for the pigs on weekends when I come in from college and then returning a few weeks later and seeing how quickly those same pigs have grown.
I love knowing that when I come home from college, my favorite sow will whine until I give her a little extra feed. (Sorry Dad, but you know she’s spoiled!)
I love selling a pig that we raised to a 4-Her and seeing how excited they are to have their own show pig to care for.
Don’t get me wrong, every day on our farm isn’t perfect.
Farming comes with more than its fair share of stresses and challenges but to me, that only adds to the enjoyment.
I love that my siblings and I usually went to soccer practice smelling like pigs because we had to make sure they were taken care of before we could do any extracurricular activities.
I love that my entire family cancels their plans when a sow goes into labor earlier than expected so that we can be there for her in case anything goes wrong.
I love that during dinner conversation we discuss any pigs that might be showing signs of illness so that everyone in the family is prepared to care for them.
I love that during heat waves we don’t think twice about spraying the sows down with water every couple of hours to make sure they stay cool enough.
I love that when the temperature drops so low that we can’t keep the water lines to the hog barn on without them freezing, my siblings get up extra early before school to haul water to the pigs.
I love that when an ice storm desolated my hometown in 2008 and cut off electricity and water, my fiance and I dropped everything to head for my family farm with a car full of gallon jugs of fresh water for the pigs.
I love that immediately after opening presents on Christmas morning, my siblings and I have to leave our gifts and go take care of the pigs.
I love that I’m spending thousands of dollars on a college education to use as a back up plan because all I really want to do for a living is raise pigs.
More than anything, I love knowing that I’m feeding the world.
I love that my family’s long hours of hard work are going to provide families around the world with safe, nutritious and affordable pork.
We may be a small show pig farm but we’re not really that much different than larger hog farms across the country.
We have 6 sows, they may have 600, but we’re both farming for the exact same reason: because we love caring for our pigs.