Other people’s pigs

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I want to tell you about Walter Jeffries.

Walter’s a pig farmer in Vermont, and I’ve been following his adventures at Sugar Mountain Farm since long before Tiny, Doc, and Spot came into this world. I read him for his pigs, which are raised on pasture, supplemented with whey, a waste product from a nearby creamery. I read him for his many, varied engineering projects, which are irresistibly engaging. I read him for his prose, which is smart and funny.

And, of course, I read him because I think what he’s doing up there is a fine example of how animals ought to be raised. If we humans are going to eat pigs, that’s how they should live. Outdoors, rooting and roaming, turning food that humans can’t eat into food that they can.

Life is stressful at Sugar Mountain Farm – just ask these Tamworth and Large Black sows.

When Kevin and I needed advice about pigs – how to house them, feed them, care for them, entertain them, engage with them, and, ultimately, slaughter them – we got in the habit of asking Walter. It was an easy habit to get in to, since he replied to every e-mail with thorough, useful answers, as well as links to more information. Over the last six months, he has been incredibly generous with his time and expertise, and he never seemed to care that Kevin and I are total strangers.

There’s only one problem. The very project that Walter is helping us with is exactly what prevents us from becoming his customer. And, right now, he’s in the throes of completing the last link in the food chain – an on-site slaughter facility – and is looking to sell some pork. He raised most of the money for the project on Kickstarter, but he needs a little more — $30,000 or so – to finish it off.

If you’re in the market for pork, and want to support a farmer who’s doing right by his pigs and the environment, there are a couple ways to do it. Walter pre-sells quarter, half, and whole pigs CSA-style (halves and quarters are sold out for now, but wholes are available), and will ship them if you’re not in his delivery area in Vermont. If a whole pig is too much, you can buy individual cuts, and he will send them.

Better, he sells a Decade of Pork – ten half-pigs – for $3000, which is a tremendous bargain. My favorite, though, is the Lifetime of Pork for $30,000. If I were younger, I’d be in!  (Walter is also offering 6.375% APR on loans with two- to ten-year terms; if you’d like to finance part of his effort, contact him via his site.)

Walter’s pork is expensive. And, coming off the experience of raising three pigs for meat, I can say with some assurance that it should be. Animal farming is an expensive, labor-intensive enterprise, and farmers who are raising animals responsibly and producing high-quality meat need to be able to make a living doing it.

You can get some of that high-quality meat, and support an exemplary farm in the process. If you do get in touch with Walter, tell him I said thank you, would you?

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Comments

  1. Tamar, just yesterday I mentioned to my husband that I would take ham over turkey any day. Fortunately, over the years, I have never had to mess with a turkey on Thanksgiving, benefitting instead from the kindness of family hosting elaborate thanksgiving feasts. In fact, while we are going to Tampa this Thursday with our sweet potato pies and cornbread-cranberry-pecan dressing in hand, on Wednesday, we will be enjoying a smoked Boston butt roast as the center of our small family celebration. So, your post highlighting Sugar Mountain Farm has me actually considering getting a deep freeze and financing 10 years of pig for $3,000! Either that, or we pack up and move to Vermont so we get free delivery. Yes, you have found my Achilles’ heel. There is nothing about a pig I do not like!

    • Lita — I’m with you. The pig is, to my mind, the premier eating animal of the world. And perfect for Thanksgiving. If you do go for the Decade of Pork, please let me know! I think it’s a great thing, and I’d be very happy to know that I put you and Walter together.

      Have a wonderful holiday.

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