Can you count the pigs?

So what happens when Heritage Farms Northwest meets Airlie Hills Farm?  Lots and lots of pumpkins transfer their location from their farm to our farm. Each year the pumpkin migration is looked forward to by eager Red Wattle pigs as well as by our mixed beef cow herd.

It all started 2 years ago in the fall of 2008.  We had just brought Red Wattle hogs to Oregon and I was on the lookout for good, local feed sources for them. After all, its better for everyone if you can feed your animals from local sources and sometimes it is even a bit cheaper. Anyway, there I was, driving down the road on a brisk Oct. day when I passed by a new pumpkin patch at Airlie Hills Farm. There hadn’t been one at that farm the year before, but lately all sorts of new things had been popping up at this particular farm. Hydroponically grown strawberrys and this new pumpkin patch were both part of their new projects.  I gazed longingly at their 3+ acres of pretty orange pumpkins and wondered what on earth they were going to do with all of them after Halloween had passed. Would they just plow them under or did they have some other plan for them? Pigs love pumpkins you know. Cows do too.

Jenna and her litter hide among the pumpkins
 The next time I passed by the patch I stopped and introduced myself to Aaron Kennel who was manning the table in the barn.  We talked for a while about pumpkins, baby pigs (petting zoo anyone?) and the fate of all those pumpkins after the big day was over. I left having met a fellow farmer and also having left my business card for after Halloween should they decide to have us haul the pumpkins off their place onto ours. Weeks passed and finally Oct 31 st. came and went. Shortly after Halloween Aaron called me and said that if we wanted the pumpkins they were ours for the hauling. Yippee!!!! An annual tradition was born.
 Since that first year we have been priviledged to haul thousands of pounds of extra pumpkins home to the herd. The first year they were not sure what to do with the big orange things. We had to open a few and let them find out that in fact those round things were FOOD!!. Neither the cows nor the pigs could figure out how to open them up by themselves, so we would take daily walks out through the pastures with a machette to whack open pumpkins for them. By the way, whacking pumpkins open is great fun and its easy to get carried away and open them all just for the fun of doing it. 
 We just completed our third annual pumpkin migration and let me tell you, the cows and the pigs know exactly what those orange things are. In fact they know what the truck in the field means. PUMPKINS!!! Because we have adult animals that are here year after year, we no longer have to show them how to get into the pumpkins. They remember year to year the technique and they teach it to their youngsters.
The "guts" are the best part, don't you know.

  This is likely the best time of year for the pigs and cows (in their opinion anyway). They get all they can eat at the pumpkin smorgasboard. Bellies are fat and faces are all smeared with orange goo. And for the humans, we get a good workout lifting, tossing and basically using our backs to move all those pumpkins. I’d love to weigh them all, but if I had to guess, I’d say we likely haul 5+ tons of pumpkins each year. This year Airlie Hills Farm grew very BIG pumpkins which meant fewer trips, but they were harder to pick up. Last year there were zillions of small pumpkins, which meant lots of trips, but we could stand 20 feet away and toss them into the pickup bed.  Each year its something different. One year it might be pouring down rain (last year!!) or it might be warm and sunny (this year!!!). But each year it is a great gift to have this fabulous local food source just up the road from us and we appreciate it. 

 Next year we will be setting Aaron and his wife Sarah up with a couple of young American Guinea hogs for their farm animal petting zoo that they have at their patch each year. Cutest pigs you will ever meet and friendly too!

How does one eat such a thing anyway?


Wendy P

0 thoughts on “The Day After….”

    1. Good Morning Laura,

      Do you already have a Red Wattle boar?

      About getting you a pair of gilts. At this time we are not selling breeding stock as we work to improve our herd from withen. We need a year or two of keeping all the gilts here on the farm so we can start to select for improvement in some key areas.

      wendy p

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