|Posted on March 24, 2013 at 8:05 PM|
It's been a long winter! The most upbeat people I know are actually beginning to get a bit grumpy, the new has worn out of wearing woolens and creating warm spaces.
In a darker moment last week it hit me like the ton of lake effect snow hitting my windshield why Eastern and Midwest pioneers were so willing to pull up and head to the mythical, magical Willamette Valley. The place where I've spent a great deal of my life since 1970 and living, literally at the end of the Oregon Trail within view of the Willamette River. They'd heard about fertile land, long growing seasons and braved the Continental Divide AND the Cascade Mountain range to live free and prosper in that Promised Land.
I grew vegetable gardens annually a good part of my adult life so I know from being out in the elements. And, I wasn't one to complain (too often) about the 'liquid sunshine' Portland, Oregon is so famous for. BUT the two hogs we raised in Oregon did lose their lush, perfect pasture within a week of arriving in February. Nothing like two 12 week old piglets to turn wet, rain saturated soil into one big mud bath.
Hmmm. Well. Extended, Michigan cold winter silver lining time. Last spring everyone may remember the warmer temps but have forgotten the TON of rain and flooded pastures many rural farmers dealt with. We personally were knee deep in mud and had lost a hefty percent of our winter pasture so dry, cold Michigan winter 1. We had to press more 'not yet ready' pasture into use to keep clean, healthy conditions for our younger piglets. Dry cold Michigan winter 2. We purchased 5 large round bales for winter wind breaks last year, which became unneeded due to rain but have filled in beautifully for straw bedding this year. Dry, cold Michigan winter 3 and winning by a landslide!
And, while the overnight temps keep us from starting our dinner chickens as early as we'd initially planned it is the perfect condition for our year round, outdoor heritage pig raising.
So here's to Mother Nature. I may have grumbled a time or two this March and grown a deeper understanding of why my distant kin wagon trained it West. But, when I look at the big picture you've proved to be a real friend to these Midwestern heritage hog farmers. 2013 Yale, Michigan. We are in the right place at the right time.