Farmer

Farmer

Peaceful Valley Farm

La Selva Beach, CA

Female, 47

I've been a full-time farmer for a couple of years now. Our farm is rather small and very diverse. We raise rare and endangered breeds of turkeys and chickens. We also have alpacas, sheep, goats, geese, and recently harvested a 500-lb pig that we raised from a piglet! We grow organically, using heirloom seed stock. I'm able to provide meat and most of the vegetables for our family of 5. In the Spring and Summer, we sell chicks and eggs and have educational farm camps for kids.

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Last Answer on January 28, 2013

Best Rated

Are pigs really as smart as legend would have it? Was there anything particularly noteworthy that Olivia would do that would blow our minds? :))

Asked by Lisa Ann almost 6 years ago

I think Olivia was smart, but I'm partial. :-) One notable thing is that she recognized people and sounds. When I opened the screen door in the morning, she jumped up and stared oinking for breakfast. When she heard my voice, same thing. The most interesting thing she did was the way she set up house in her pen. Pigs aren't really filthy animals, like some people may think. She had 2 corners of her pen that were the only place she pooped. A 3rd corner is where she would wallow in mud (and if we didn't make it for her, she'd push her water bowl over there and make it herself) and in the last corner, she took all the hay and what was left of the alfalfa she ate, and built this fabulous, cozy and dry bed. She fussed with it until it was exactly the shape of her snoozing body, and kept it up daily. She also knew how to eat a whole walnut, get the meat and drop the shell. That was pretty wild!

Does farm-raised meat and produce actually taste better? Could you tell the difference blindfolded between that and standard restaurant food?

Asked by e.gabbert71 almost 6 years ago

That's a good question, and one that I may have to put to the blindfold test! Of course, the farm raised food feels better, and I definitely can tell the difference in produce (I've become a salad snob when we eat out). I can't eat the produce from a grocery store anymore because it always tastes old to me. The food we grow here (or get from our nearby farmer friends) tastes richer, more full. Which, it probably is since it's fresh and the nutrients haven't had time to degrade. Our bacon is much sweeter and less fat than store bought. Our turkeys and chickens aren't as squishy, and have a much richer flavor than store bought (because they've used their muscles and aren't injected with salt water). Overall, I'd say that the difference in flavor and quality is very obvious and I think I could tell, even with a blindfold.

Is it true that many farmers are multi-millionaires, and do some people get into it for the money alone?

Asked by Portia almost 6 years ago

Oh, yeah, totally true. NOT! Anyone who gets into it for the money is in for a big disappointment. Farming is a labor of love and barely (if at all) sees a profit. But, we're rich in many other ways. :-)

Was it a sad day when you had to kill (and eat?) your 500-lb. pig?

Asked by Charlotte almost 6 years ago

The day that we harvested Olivia was incredibly hard! I put it off for weeks, I agonized over what it would be like, I had to break it the farm families and kids that had know and loved her for much of their lives (I was always honest with the kids about the fact that this would happen at some point). I wrote a very heartfelt article about it here: http://peacefulvalleyfarm.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/olivia-some-pig/. A month passed before the butcher called to say that she was processed and ready to pick up. We didn't think that she would fit in our chest freezer, so we bought a 14 cubic foot freezer, just in case. When we got to the meat locker, they informed us that we had 160 pounds of bacon and ham, 30 pounds of ground meat, etc... and my husband and I just started laughing, until I cried. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the fact that we had a year of meat, and an animal that I loved, to load into the car (our new freezer is full). In the week since we picked her up, we've had a few pork meals, we gave thanks on Thanksgiving...And I have to say that it is the best meat I've ever had. I don't feel bad, because she had a great life and gave an amazing gift to my family. But, yes, it was really hard to initiate the process.

When you spend time with friends and family who work office jobs, do you ever feel like they look down upon farming as a profession? Do you find yourself having to defend it?

Asked by Scarecr0w almost 6 years ago

I don't think I have any friends that don't farm or garden at least part time! I know what you mean though. At first, there were a couple of people that made me feel that way, so I choose not to spend much time with them. My kids were pretty embarrassed at first, but now their friends come over and they show them the animals, eat food off the plants... I have never been in the position of trying to defend what I do as a legitimate job (which I always found myself doing as a full time mom). I think that people are much more aware now than they used to be, so they realize that being a farmer doesn't mean you're less than. I deal with so many people that talk about how important this work is and how hard it must be, which I really appreciate!

Did you used to have a "normal" job or live in the city? What made you decide to give it all up to become a farmer?

Asked by xyzxyz almost 6 years ago

HA! I haven't had a "normal" job for 25 years! I worked in retail management in my 20's, then started making soap, put out a line of natural body products, had kids...My career has been raising my 4 kids. The women in my family have always been gardeners, and we usually had chickens when I was growing up. I had them a few times over the years, but with the kids and work, it always proved too much for me to handle alone. 3 years ago, I owned/operated a professional organizing business, and lived in the burbs. I met my (now) husband and he had a dream similar to mine, to live closer to the land, in the country. We moved here, started growing, and I took a week off from my business to test the waters of Farm Camp. We were well received, so I started saving money, then a few months later, closed that business down and started farming full time. I always wanted to do it, but the financial part was daunting. Having a supportive partner who works outside the farm is what allowed me to make the leap. Best. Decision. Ever.

Are farmers economically competitive with each other? Like: if farmer Bob has a particularly successful harvest, will that be detrimental to farmer Dave's share of the market?

Asked by FieldsM almost 6 years ago

I can only speak from the experiences in our community. We have a lot of small farms here and it's a pretty tight community. When someone gets hurt or needs help, a farm dinner or fundraiser will pop up. If one farm doesn't have something, they'll point you to the one who does. There's a strong sense of support and friendship and I have never heard of competition. Of course, this might not be the case everywhere.