A Walk Amongst Hogs
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.