Every time I go longer than usual having not blogged here I feel like I have to explain. Life, pigs, small humans, outside writing work; the song is always the same. I’ve taken on some communications work for AgroLiquid, a fertilizer company whose world headquarters just happens to be in the middle of rural Michigan. It’s a good gig, at a good company, surrounded by good people where I get to craft agriculture messages all day long; almost exactly what I’ve always done, but more of it and with different nuances. It has been fun to try out some things for a business that size — things that were only theories in my head before — and rewarding to stretch my mind in new ways while delving deeper into parts of the ag industry I’d neglected in the past. I like new experiences, ideas, challenges. I don’t think I’m what they set out looking for, but am glad we found each other and excited to be forging this relationship with them.
Meanwhile, I’ve been bellybutton deep in The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen. And I’m not complaining at all! The outpouring of media interest and support from readers has been overwhelming in the best possible way. I had sincerely hoped that this book would have an impact on the way kids see their food, and that it would get their families talking about food and farming, but I was wholly unprepared for how incredible it would be when that happened. Getting messages from people about how their kids reacted to reading the book and how it opened up conversations about food for their family is pure awesome. I love hearing things like the story from a mom whose young son, upon being asked to get some eggs out of the fridge, exclaimed, “Where are the chickens?!?”
Just a few of the outlets that have run stories on this book: Corn & Soybean Digest, Western Producer, Clinton County News, Lansing State Journal, Detroit Free Press, Southwest Farm Press, Eau Claire Country Today, Parenthacks, The Pinke Post, Kelowna Capital News, Farm Progress, Mother Nature Network, and many others. And I appreciate every single feature so much. The Pig and Dairy Adventures at Fairoaks Farms have been displaying The Cow books on their front desk and in their gift shop, The Ag in the Classroom networks — especially in both Illinois and Arkansas — have been abuzz about this book and working to get it into more classrooms. The support and interest is just amazing, and I look forward to where we go next with this discussion.
Somewhat related: I’ve got some multimedia projects up my sleeve. One, in particular that’s a joint effort with Kerry Nobis who you all got to “meet” here last fall. We’re hoping to bring that to you very soon… as in just days from now.
Of course, it’s farrowing time again too, and the sows are hard at work keeping us hard at work. We’re just about done with the first round of farrowing this winter and all pigs, plus a good hefty handful out of the next round have already been spoken for. Every year I think we’re on the right track and every year I’m blown away. This is good. My vision for this hog farming stuff was so drastically different when we set out, I’m not even sure how to compare where we are to where I thought we would be, but I couldn’t be more pleased.
I guess what I’m saying is: I appreciate you, and your support. Even when I’m not writing here as regularly as I should, I think about you every single day. My aunt says that when I was in kindergarten I told her I wanted to be a writer. I don’t remember that or any of my motivations, but I suspect the readers weren’t part of my immature idea of what this life would include. Still, they’re one of the best parts. Thanks for being you, being here, and for following me around both online and off, even if it does sound stalkerish when I “say” it outloud.
In other news, some of you will be very pleased to know that Bridget has really pulled her weight and so much more around here this farrowing season: she’s not retiring without a fight so you’ll continue to see updates on her here and elsewhere. And Bridget fans will also probably be happy to know that we seem to have a Bridget II coming up in the herd. Bella is a three month old gilt. Like Bridget, she’s a purebred Tamworth and to say that she’s precocious is putting it lightly. I’m beginning to think there’s something to these ‘B’ names. Maybe we should steer clear of them in the future. For now, we’re just careful not to set down anything valuable or turn our backs… or expect fences and buildings to go un-demolished. You know, the small things.
Well, that should do it for now. As it turns out, I have not just been eating bon-bons and watching “stories” all day while neglecting to write here. Still, it feels good to get things moving along again. You’re the best! Back soon!