(A blogpost from our trusted Farmhand, Tiffany Edholm. Tiffany has been with Yker Acres a full wonderful year. She is a recent graduate from the Environment Sustainibility Program at UMD. She has many talents: a rad mountain biker, an avid artist, and a companion to our son Josey)
Being a farmhand at YKer Acres is a blessing. I met Matt, Sara, and Josey last summer when I helped out on the farm while Matt and Josey were away at a bike race. I did chores with Sara in the morning at 6AM then went to the Food Farm at 8:30AM to do chores and farm work till 6PM. That summer I interned on the Food Farm. Janaki Fisher-Merrit and the rest of the Food Farm crew showed me how wonderful farming can be. How farming can make your days feel so rewarding and joyous, but it wasn’t until I was introduced to the many beautiful faces of YKer Acres that I really found my happy place.
Don’t get me wrong vegetables are awesome. I still get giddy thinking about harvesting carrots and cabbage. But every farmer has to find their niche, the thing that pulls on their heartstrings. I found that little bit of wonderful at YKer Acres.
It is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been to a pig farm. But to me there are so many great and wonderful reasons to love being a pig farmer. The way Large Blacks wiggle when you scratch their backs just right. Or when we call the names of our breeding stock and their ears perk up because they know their name. The special little moments when you can sit and watch piglets bounce around like little jumping beans running off an endless amount of energy. Pigs have huge personalities and affectionate hearts.
Being a farmhand at YKer Acres is challenging and rewarding. It’s not a 9-5-desk job that’s for certain. Weather-depending can make some days more difficult than others. The spring mud season taught me to enjoy being dirty all the time and taught me to be patient because things don’t always go right when there is mud everywhere. Starting and completing a big project such as putting up a lot of fencing or laying concrete can seem overwhelming at times and insurmountable, but the feeling of accomplishment when its completed makes the tough work totally worth it.
Chores involve feeding and watering all our pigs. Feeder pigs have feeders which get re-filled weekly or so. I give out buckets of food to our breeding stock and clean out and re-fill water containers. On hot days I’ll have to water twice or even three times depending on how much mischief the pigs get into to stay cool. Many of our pigs think their water container double as personal pools. When water containers are filling I use my time to checkout the pigs. I make sure they look healthy, watch out for injuries, and give out lots of back rubs. Pigs enjoy being scratched on their backs and behind their ears. Once chores are done my day could go one of three directions: do a couple small projects such like fix fencing, or I could work on a big project with Matt like moving pigs around, or I could call it a day and go biking.
I stumbled upon this career path by chance, but ended up loving it. The most important part about being a farmhand is remembering that I care for pigs. I’m not just out there to feed and water pigs so they grow. My job is to keep these pigs happy and relaxed because happy pigs are the best kind of pigs. I am proud of the effort I put into this farm. Doing chores doesn’t really feel like work to me because I’m having so much fun. My days are filled with laughter and oinks, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.