I am so happy to be involved in raising pigs. Pork is an economical and nutritious protein source. Food is one of the basic necessities needed to sustain life. Oxygen, water and shelter also make the list of essentials. Being involved in growing and raising food gives those of us who do such a great deal of satisfaction.
I learned this week that in the USA we spend an average of 10 percent of our income on food. Our country experiences the lowest percentage of our income spent on food, when compared to the rest of the world. People in other countries spend as much as 80 percent of their income on food. I also learned that as people’s income in developing nations increases, their consumption of meat increases. I am exuberant to be involved in producing food!
I have been thinking about the Christmas story. There are two things that really impress me. God sent his Son and our Savior into the world via a stable. Secondly, God chose to make the announcement of His Son’s birth to the world through a group of shepherds.
Now being around animals every day, I recognize the sweet smell of hay and fresh straw are not the only aromas that go along with animals. And the shepherds — who certainly were not society’s elite — undoubtedly carried the scent of their animals on their clothes and bodies as they left the field and rushed to the manger. Wet wool is not my idea of a sweet-smelling aroma. To think the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, our Creator and the Creator of all that is saw fit to visit mankind in this humble way blows me away. I can believe in and serve a God like that. It would be like Jesus being born in our hog barn.
Speaking of Christmas, on Christmas Day our pigs will require 48 hours of labor. A normal work day requires 52 hours of labor. We will start very early in the morning, and all our workers will be present, so that we can hopefully be finished by 11 a.m. We will do extra work the day before to shorten the requirements for Christmas Day. There are a few jobs that we can move forward a day. Some of those would be iron shots to baby pigs and processing baby pigs. One or two people will return in the late afternoon to make the rounds and check that farrowing sows are OK and that everyone has food, water and proper ventilation. The pigs will not be slighted in any way. They will receive as much and all the care they require.
From our stable to your table, we wish you a very Merry Christmas! And we do hope that pork will be on your menu. Emmanuel!
Steve Cowser is a pork producer in the Bradford area.