This week with the help of Kevin’s parents we were able to thin all of the storage beets. When I planted the beets, back in early July I seeded them very close together. This was to ensure that they would come up and there would be enough of them and we would not be left with open areas of fertile ground with nothing growing. Well, I went a little bit overboard and the beets were VERY close together and there were a lot of them. They were so close together in some places that there was no hope that they would ever be able to grow nice and big for winter storage. Solution: Thinning. With ten long beds of beets to thin this was definitely a race to the finish and we won the race! At 6pm on Thursady all the beets were thinned and we stood looking at these massive piles of beets at the edge of the fields.
Now we had two options. We could leave the piles there at the edge of the field where they would break down over time or we could take a trip down to the pigs and give them a special treat: 2 truckloads full of beets and beet greens! The latter seemed like a pretty good idea to us. So we loaded up the truck with the beets and drove it down to the field where the pigs are. Now how long does it for 30 pigs to eat 2 truckloads of beets? I’m pretty sure it was less than 12 hours, but they enjoyed the special treat and we had fun giving it to them. Having a diversified farm means not specializing in one specific thing but instead creating a whole system which works well together.
We are not beet farmers or pig farmers or any other specialization. Instead we work to create a system where everything we raise is able to benefit everything else and work together. The pigs are now turning up future vegetable land, exposing grass roots and leaving us with less weed pressure in future years. The pigs eat a ton of beet greens pulled out of the field. The pigs do a lot of good work for us on the farm, turning ground, fertilizing and making sure nothing goes to waste (they love kale, especially the tuscano variety.) The meat chickens improve pasture land, enriching the soil, even noticeably deepening the color of the grass. The egg layers as well, move through pasture, eating up grass and bugs and leaving behind fertility. The vegetables and the animals on the farm all work together to enrich us with good nutritious food to eat.
Wow! That looks like good, hard, but satisfying work. Not only do the pigs look happy, but so does the farmer. And I bet the beets in the field are happy to have more room.