Therapy weekend for homesteaders at the Mother Earth News Fair.

We went to the animal fair, the birds and the bees were there… Remember that old children’s song?

Well, going to the Mother Earth News Fair this past weekend wasn’t exactly an animal fair for all concerned, but it was for us.

We were invited to bring our Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs to exhibit near the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy stage.

Since the hubby and I have been Mother Earth News groupies from way back in the day and members of the ALBC, we were all for it. I had actually already purchased advanced tickets for the MEN Fair so hooking up a trailer, gathering up feed, feed pans, water pans, along with other tools, hooking up a trailer, loading uncooperative pigs at dawn and pulling it a couple hundred miles was just no big deal. Some people might look at that as too much trouble.. for me – it’s my kind of therapy.

The pigs were – did i just say “not very cooperative” early on Friday morning as we had to hurry up and load up early so we could get to our appointment at the vet to get a quick health check and health papers to cross state lines with these oinkers.

Interestingly, our veterinarian, who had actually inspected some of our pigs in the past, says he never heard of this breed of pig. The talker and educator that I am proceeded to overload him with all of the wonderful things about the breed and since he was a vet I figured he would appreciate talking genetics and gene pools and semen and the lack thereof. I was right, he shook my hand and told how much he thoroughly enjoyed the education.

My daughter-in-law, who I have been mentoring about all things farming, came along for the adventure to MEN Fair. I thoroughly enjoy her company and love her enthusiasm about learning. (And, having a hand to help unload pigs and such was nice, too!)

We got there mid-afternoon and unloaded our pigs in their pen, which was just down from the American Livestock Breeders Conservancy stage.

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There were some itty bitty Idaho pasture pigs down the row from us, some Cheviot sheep and over in the pack goat exhibit there were the largest goats I have ever seen in my life! And, in the same exhibit were a couple of mammoth mules. They were absolutely beautiful!

Tons of visitors came by to talk to us, pet our pigs and talk pig with us. We do love to talk pig .. and for that matter goat, and sheep and turkey and chicken… it’s a beautiful language. There were a few interesting people, but heck, who can not like a big ol’  bearded guy wearing a kilt and a pig shirt.

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We made a lot of good contacts and a lot of people signed up to receive emails about our next litters.

It was a good show for us… but our biggest thrill was having Joel Salatin come by and visit with us – the father of the pastured poultry, hogs and grass fed beef movement. I’ve spent many hours reading his books, watching his videos and learning from him.

Joel Salatin

Mother Earth News Editor Cheryl Long also came by for a chat… I was enjoying talking to her so much I forgot to get a picture… not like me at all.

This is a dangerous love –  these trade shows, networking with “my people” and road trips. I wish someone would have purchased these hogs from us while we were there  – at least it would have helped with expenses…but it’s OK, it’s what we like to do with our money.

So, I was just adding up the expenses for this weekend adventure and here it is:

$30. health check for interstate travel (For the pigs, not for me! 🙂 Had to clear that up)

$ Gas fill up for trip to Topeka: $40.

Grab another coffee for the road after finishing the first cup I brought:  $2.

Hotel room for 2 nights (hot breakfast included): $249.

Books purchased at the fair: (with my 25 percent off coupon at the MEN Bookstore): $76 -$19 discount equals $57. Of course, my daughter in law bought about the same amount of books (maybe more) so we can share.

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Killing cone and a boning knife for chicken processing after being influenced once more by Joel Salatin’s demonstration: $65. (I wanted to come home with the whole processing outfit)

MEN T-shirt: $15.

Renewed membership to Shaklee and a bottle of Basic H (for worming livestock) : $25

Dunkin’ Donuts (I’ve quit donuts but that’s because they don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts where I live): $10.

Dinner at the Irish pub: $20.

Dinner at the hotel restaurant Saturday night since we were too tired to go anywhere else: $10 (a real bargain for a ton of food)

A Topeka Capital-Journal Sunday paper so I can read the coverage of the MEN Fair… and then finding there was no coverage: $2.

Tank of gas for the ride home: $40.

I’m sure i’ve missed some of the miscellaneous food and other such items, but going to the MEN Fair, so we can promote our farm, the breed and get away and meet some people of our same “tribe” (as Joel Salatin calls it) $565. (And that’s not counting the polos with our farm logo on it that my daughter-in-law made for us to wear – $40… Oh, heck, just add it in and we can bring this total to more than $600.

As I said, we tried to sell some pigs while we were there for $250 apiece, but no one wants to raise hogs in the winter… we aren’t too keen on it either but that’s just how it works out sometimes. We could have at least come out smelling a little better (well smelling better is not a good word because handling pigs does make one smell better).

All in all… maybe I shouldn’t have added up my expenses so soon after my weekend which threatens to compromise my elation.

We had such a good time and it is such therapy to be around so many kindred spirits. Now, I want to build it and grow it and smell it and eat it and compost it all!

Will talk about that stuff another day.

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