Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Life and Trials of Sir Stinky...Or Was That Mr. Pink???

I'm riding on the back of the four-wheeler the other day just looking around and thinking how pretty everything is looking on the farm. My stream of consciousness went something like this: There's our beautiful garden where Marissa has just done some fall planting and we picked hundreds of tomatoes from this morning. I can't believe that it used to just look like a jungle there! Oh look at all of our baby chicks...they're teenagers now! I wonder if we'll have enough firewood for the winter. Oh and there is one of the pigs with his little curly...pig? PIG?!!!? So Boom (our sweet little border collie) goes after him and I see them run off into the woods. I stand there and call them for a while and look for them everywhere in the direction they ran off in, thinking they're in the woods somewhere. Finally I give up because I need to continue with the afternoon chores and head over to the pig pen where I see all five pigs looking at me in hopes of something delicious to eat and little Boom laying near the pig pen keeping a close eye on his charges. Sneaky little pig!!! We have a theory that the other pigs send him to do the dirty work and let us know that they are hungry. We just consider him a "free-range pig", which seems a lot better than "the pig we can't seem to keep in his pen"!

We have five pigs, the original Sweet Peeps piggies, Truffle Scruffle and Locks 'n Ivy (very well behaved as far as the fence goes) and the three younger pigs Mr. Pink, Sir Stinky, and Dr. Porkchop. I keep calling the rogue pig Sir Stinky (because I think he is a stinker!) but Marissa tells me it's actually Mr. Pink. We are all especially fond of these last three names because of the story behind them.

Back in the beginning of the summer we were invited to bring some of our animals to the Library Summer Kickoff party. We had a blast and our mini petting zoo was a huge hit with all the kids! The best part is that we had a "Name That Pig" contest where all of the kids entered their favorite names and we chose the top three. I have to say that variations of "porkchop" and "bacon" were probably the most common followed closely by "Wilber". That's pretty much the two ends of the spectrum as far as meaning of pig names go! "Wilber" is sweet but I think "Bacon" is more accurate. Lots of people ask us how we feel about the thought of eating our pigs. Honestly, for me it is a little bit hard to think about but I really like what a farmer friend of ours, Tom Ward says that "every day of these pigs lives is amazing and good until one day they have a bad day". And it's true, you never saw such happy, healthy pigs...especially our free-ranger!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Bucket List - Guest Blog by Ben Karp

Over these past couple of months we've had lots of visitors come out to the farm. We joke around that you can't come to the farm without working...except it's not really a joke. We have loved having all of our friends and family and have SO SO appreciated their hard work. Our most recent (and seriously loved) guest was Ben Karp and he has written about his experience at Sweet Peeps Farm.

As many people now know a couple months back Gypsy John Post decided to pack up his Nag Champa incense along with his patchouli oils to settle on a farm in Dyke County Virginia.  Now that a couple months have passed and the locals have almost accepted the pink barn, I couldn’t think of a better time to visit the Sweet Peeps Farm!

    I departed Albany, New York on a 12 hour train to Charlottesville, Virginia. The trip down was a brilliant cultural experience. As the cities started to disappear the Civil War reenactments flourished.   After a 30 minute wait John pulls up and exits his vehicle to greet my arrival.  At this time I am beginning to notice a lot has changed since I left my friend in Asia.  For example, John’s previous Cambodian motobike is now a flatbed Ford, his krama is now a cowboy hat, and his Australian skinny jeans have been replaced by ass-less chaps (which I’m still not convinced are actually necessary for farming). 

    Knowing John well I knew that this change was for good reason.  It soon became apparent to me that full cultural assimilation would be necessary if I wanted to survive in these parts. John created a Gypsy farmer bucket list of essential activities that would help smooth my transition.  The list is as follows:

1)    Clean up chicken poop in a cowboy hat.
2)    Tackle a loose goat and return to barracks
3)    Fire a gun (target optional)
4)    Bush hog a field
5)    Hike Old Rag Mountain barefoot at night
6)    Bareback ride a stallion
7)    Go to a local bar dressed head to toe in farmers gear and talk intelligently about chickens for five minutes.

Tolerance and adaptability is essential in life to create a true experience.  So when in Rome….

What I learned:
1)    As romantic as life on the farm sounds at the end of the day you still have to clean up a lot of chicken poop.
2)    Goats act like 3 year old children except with balls the size of grapefruits.
3)    There is nothing funny about guns (unless you are being shot at by a clown).

4)    Bush hog is farmer lingo for cutting grass. So as awesome as it may sound if a farmer tries to put it on your bucket list it just means he wants you to mow his lawn.

5)    It is not a good idea to hike Old Rag barefoot at night, especially with a Gypsy farmer on a highly Paleo diet.
6)    A stallion named ‘Rocket’ was probably given that name for a reason. Whether the name was given for his wild nature or for a more "Discovery Chanel" situation, it doesn’t matter. Still not a good idea to ride this stallion with no previous experience.
7)    No matter how big your cowboy hat, you can't fake a bar conversation about farming with a real farmer.

In all seriousness,
Although I am not sure I will ever meet the criteria to be a true farmer the experience I had at Sweet Peeps was influential. It is so inspiring for me to remember that although there are so many great places in the world you can still have a cultural experience here at home(Merica!). 
John, Steph, Bryce, Marissa, Kat and Blue continue to sludge through the mud (literally) on their new adventure, addressing every new challenge with a smile (and lots of high fives).  The work they are doing is that of purpose which is very laudable. My cowboy hat is off to these six wonderful Gypsy farmers!!