I was near Ames, Iowa for work. On my way back to La Farge and CROPP headquarters, I stopped to visit a friend of mine and his family. James Frantzen and his family are also part of CROPP Cooperative. They produce pork and beef for the Organic Prairie brand.
This was my first time on an organic hog farm. I have been trying to visit his farm for years but I’ve never had a reason to go to Iowa. I was very excited and brought my camera along. James had promised me that there would be piglets.
It was bitterly cold outside with a nasty wind, but inside the maternity building all was quiet. The newborn piglets were warm in deep layers of straw. They could snuggle against their mothers or lay under a heat lamp.
It was hard to take their pictures because they kept racing around the pen.
After seeing the new babies, we went to see some slightly older piglets. I suppose in human terms they would be five-year-olds. They were pretty hilarious. James had three sows with their pigs in a very large pen. The piglets kept racing from one end to the other. They have a funny little trotting gait interspersed with fierce little kicks.
A few runs would exhaust them and they would return to their mothers to nurse.
After visiting with James, my main impression was that raising pigs is a lot of work. There is an art and a science to raising them in any situation. The Frantzens add another layer of complexity by providing the pigs with a lifestyle that mimics how they would live if left entirely to nature. This includes having a small amount of pigs living in family groups, giving the sows plenty of room in the maternity pens with their babies, and letting the pigs graze on green grass and enjoy mud wallows in the summer.
You can read more about the Frantzens here.