September is not a slow time on the farm. It’s still within our harvest season, so we add the challenges of school rather than dropping activities. Add to that a weekend trip to Polyface Farm (Joel Salatin) for a Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund event, a couple of birthdays, and a visit from the Colbert Report (yes, the real deal all the way from New York), and September’s been kinda hectic. It’s all good stuff and has been a blast, but I’m ready for a couple of quiet days in a row.
On the plus side, we only have about 3 more harvest weeks with the chickens. This year we’ve been playing squirrel and storing the chickens off the pasture in a big way. Our goal is to be able to take a good break over the winter. Other years we’ve raised them in our clearspan building in small numbers, adding “dry pasture” to their diet. It’s good, but no where near as good as “fresh pasture” and outdoors. They beat Tyson any day, but pasture is premium and we want to make only the best available to our customers. We’ll be hosting the MSU organic farm students at the end of the month to give them the “down and dirty” (really dirty) hands-on poultry raising and processing class. Our kids don’t know yet that they get to teach, but they have done it enough times that it’ll be fun to play the part of Tom Sawyer and get someone else to do the hard work.
Stuck in the middle of this month is OCTOBER 15. Sorry for the bad pun, but that would be part of the irony of the pig thing. That is the date for the trial up in Marquette. The judge will be hearing the arguments regarding the Constititutional issue of due process. We are arguing that the law outlined in the Declatory Ruling should be void for vagueness. If you, as an average (if you are reading this you are likely above average, I realize) citizen, can not read a law and determine whether or not you are in compliance, you are denied due process of law. If I were to have to ask a policeman to explain a law about going through intersections because it was written such that only his/her subjective interpretation helped you know if you get a ticket and pay lots of money or not, it is a bad law. Good intentioned perhaps, but a badly written law, and in violation of the protections of the Constitituion. That’s the basic premise of our argument. It got lots of bolstering in the depositions of Rodney Stokes, Nancy Frank, and the two MSU vets who all helped shape this thing. Statements from the former Director that tell people if they look at their pigs and can’t tell from comparing their erect eared, curly tailed, solid black or spotted hog to the Declatory Ruling checklist if it’s legal or not, just ask the enforcement agency (DNR), who will be happy to subjectively assess your situation and give you, oh, say, a week to depopulate any illegal feral pigs living on your farm. Pigs in the woods are bad. Are pigs on farms also bad? Senator Darwin Booher has been crafting legislation that will go through the people’s representatives (unlike the DNR’s law) to establish more tangible guidelines for farms with pigs and consquences for not controlling your animals. I’m not for more rules and feel simply enforcing the nuisance animal laws on the books would suffice, but this will help diffuse the situation and Senator Booher is working hard to defend farms of all sizes and his constituants of all types and I commend him for his commonsense approach. In the meantime, our pigs are doing what pigs do on a farm (eat, sleep, raise babies) and we are off to Marquette on the 15th.
If all that isn’t enough, we are planning a hog butchering class for November 2, 3, and 4. You will get to scald and scrape a couple of pigs, be introduced to the art of seam butchery (ie: how to cut your pig at home without an expensive meat saw), and get a feel for the art and science of curing pork. We’ll feed you and make pork available for you to take home at the end to finish curing. This will be the third such class we’ve had and it’s always a fun learning time. Stay tuned for more details, or contact us if you are interested.
As I write I hear the patter of rain on the air conditioner. It’s supposed to turn cold tonight, so I guess today will include winter prepping. The air conditioner needs to get stowed away–no more use for it for a while I’m thinking. I’d like to pull the tomatoes and hang them during the day. Usually that’s a in-the-dark-and-chilly-damp-no-fun activity and I’d like to enjoy the harvest for a change. We are supposed to go on a birthday/color tour kayaking and canoeing expedition with our friends from Missaukee Paddle Sports today. On Monday the prediction was nice weather today. Yep, it’s fall in northern Michigan!