Written by: Marie Clark
To break away from some of the stress that midterms creates, I chose to break away from campus by a chance trip to the Student Organic Farm on Saturday after the RISE Open House. Joe, Dalanei, and Sejal were on their way out right as I passed by them in the hall and they invited me to go. I took a chance, even though I planned on doing homework, and went anyway. After the trip, I knew it was well worth my time!
We went out to visit our two farrowing mama pigs, Ursula and Harriette, and I was really shy at first because I am not used to big animals. I stayed my distance for quite a while even as I saw all three of them pet the girls back and ears by getting low. Joe kept saying how the pigs are really very nice as long as you stoop down so as to not be above them but at their eye level. It makes so much sense because just as humans don’t like to be looked down on, the pigs get defensive when they are peered from above. I observed how Ursula proceeded to eat all her food as well as some of Hariette’s because she was really hungry. She took possession of her bowl of feed forcefully by nudging Hariette out of the way. I could see Hariette shy away as Ursula kinda hurt her each time Hariette would reach her snout in for some food. It was as if both were oblivious that there was another bowl of feed for them just a short distance away. But, instead, eventually they learned to share and nibble from the same bowl. They were both so happy and calm as you can see in the picture that Dalanei took. I mustered up the courage to pet Harriette’s back from encouragement from Joe. Her hair was so coarse and grainy. I realized that it was this way to keep them warm and insulated in the changing weather, especially as they were growing about 10 little piggies in their stomach. I am amazed that they give birth to 8-10 piglets about twice a year. My whole perspective of pigs changed in that pen as I got to see them eat, get close, and understand their personalities just briefly. I was absolutely surprised of their size because I expected them to be smaller, but most importantly, I was surprised how much I would enjoy being around them.
We also noticed how the chickens just around the corner were peeking their heads into the pig pen and trying to see what we were up to. I have never seen such healthy and clumsy chickens in my life. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen chickens that close.
After giving the mamas their food, we went to the crew house just to explore more of the farm and I was really amazed by the little living area, stove, and quaintness of the old worn out work house. I demanded we get a picture with Mazie, the farm cat that was as soft as can be. Even though we only got out there for about an hour, I was so thankful I took the opportunity to go see the farm because I grew a greater appreciation for the necessity of good and sustainable farming. Animals are beautiful creatures that often times get put in the back of my mind because I am not exposed to them too often, but the feeling of getting to pet an animal, see it eat, and realize its’ value was eye opening. I’m really thankful I spent some of my Saturday with the pigs!
Cover Photo Source: Dalanei Willoughby