Sunday, January 15:
Our philosophical conviction that to raise his own food is one of Man’s inalienable rights, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is reinforced by our practical conviction that it is possible to produce most of what one eats, on a small piece of indifferent ground, without costing more in cash than is realized in food value. We believe that a man should be able to sow seed, graze ruminants, feed his garbage to swine and poultry, and produce thereby food of a quality not presently available to anyone except the paisano or the billionaire, by the investment of time, sweat, labor, and only as much cash as you might otherwise spend on lattes, imported beer, Netflix, new clothes, and comprehensive coverage on a nice car. In other words, you ought to be able to do it.
We are trying to demonstrate that you can.
The pigs at the bottom of the hill – the slop pigs, as opposed to the grain-fed ones at Barry’s – are one part of that demonstration. Unlike baby Jersey bulls, weanling pigs are not cheap. Typically we pay about fifty dollars for each young animal — about a dollar a pound it works out to be. Therefore, they are for us a substantial investment from the word go, and if we want a good return on our investment we must minimize further cash outlay per animal. For ten years we have raised pigs on purchased grain; kept for five months, until they weigh about three hundred pounds, butchered and cured at home, they produce pork at a cost of somewhere between a dollar and a dollar-twenty a pound. Hams, bacon, chops, loin, sausage, roasts and ribs, and not including many pounds of excellent lard, for less than half what the cheapest pork in the stores would cost, and chemical-free at that.
Undeniably, a worthwhile exercise. Yet we were dissatisfied with a process which required the constant addition of purchased inputs, and were at the same time certain these inputs could be reduced, perhaps even rendered unnecessary. So for the last two years we have kept pigs on our own place, as well as the ones at the neighbors’, feeding the home swine table, kitchen, and garden scraps, from our own household and from a friendly restaurant in town, and all the buttermilk and whey naturally generated by a family with a milk cow. Result: the three pigs purchased this fall, have, so far, used about six bags of supplementary feed. This in contrast to the conventionally fed pigs up the hill, which, I can say without consulting the records (it’s almost bedtime), are well above fifty bags. Pig feed is presently about twelve dollars a fifty-pound sack. At least five hundred dollars less outlay, so far.
Peasant farming for the man of modest means.
We’re out to prove you can do it.