Hogs at Geisert Farm

A Walk Amongst Hogs

I arrived at Geisert Farms at 5:55am, pulling into a spot next to the self serve vegetable stand, the sun just a purple glow to the east. Todd Geisert had told me via text a couple days earlier that “We start at 6″ so I didn’t want to be late. I had time to get out and stretch after my forty-five minute drive from St. Louis before, at almost exactly 6 o’clock, Todd and his workers rolled into the parking lot.  He told me later in that day that most photographers want to come after 9am when everything has already happened (the implication being that maybe some photographers are maybe a little more lazy than others.) I like to think that getting there before he did scored me some points.

Todd is a no-nonsense farmer, businessman and entrepreneur. He’s affable and an easy talker, but is perfectly fine with enjoying the natural sounds of his farm. His morning routine – checking the hogs for injury or new litters, driving from one group of pigs to another on a vintage red tractor – is one of his favorite times of the day, before his phone starts ringing.

I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with Todd, perched on a small plastic swivel seat unceremoniously attached to the back of his tractor with a metal bar. Among other things I learned that if you want to take a walk amongst the hogs be prepared to have wet feet and muddy everything. Early in the day one particularly hungry group of pigs thought that perhaps I was the one with the food, and crowded around me like enormous puppies. The beasts snuffled around my feet and leaned against my thighs, covering me with mud, water and … whatever … so from that point on I just had to embrace the dirt.

Amazingly, due to Todd’s crop and grazing rotation, the farm does not smell like pig manure, and in fact simply smells better than most farms I have been on. As we walked and drove over the farm, one thing is clear: nothing goes to waste. Once crops are harvested, the pigs are moved onto those fields to graze on leftover roots and greens, and to fertilize the ground for next year. Harvested produce is sold either to restaurants, at the vegetable stand, or at the new market down the road. Anything that doesn’t sell or is past it’s prime is fed to the hogs. Gesturing at a pile of old tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers on the ground, Todd said “You know what we call that? Bacon.”

All in all I captured some wonderful moments out on Geisert Farm, including what may be my favorite shot of the year, of two pigs following our tractor over a grassy hill as the sun broke over the horizon. I love that image. To read the full story about Todd, check out the August 2016 issue of Sauce Magazine.

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Geisert Farms

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Self-serve vegetable market at Geisert Farms

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Hogs at Geisert Farms

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Mama hog and her piglet.

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Todd Geisert on his tractor at Geisert Farms.

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Two hogs coming in for feeding time.

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Feeding the hogs.

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Geisert Farms Self Serve Produce Stand.

Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

Todd Geisert does his morning rounds, checking the A-Frame pig shelters for new litters.

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