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On the Farm, Making Room for Pigs
Townhall.com ^ | August 25, 2013 | Steve Chapman

Posted on 08/25/2013 9:29:36 AM PDT by Kaslin

The placid cornfields of the upper Midwest have the look of a place where nothing important ever changes. But here, at a large pig farm five miles south of town, the beginnings of a small revolution are unmistakable.

My host today is Bob Johnson, a sturdy 6-footer who gives the impression he would not be rushed if he were running with the bulls in Pamplona. As president of Johnson-Pate Pork Inc., which he co-owns with two sisters and a brother-in-law, he has taken a big role in changing the way hogs are handled.

In recent years, one major food corporation after another, from McDonald's to Safeway, has announced plans to stop buying pork from suppliers that confine pregnant sows in gestation stalls -- individual enclosures so tiny the pig can't turn around. Target has set a deadline of 2022, voicing an increasingly common sentiment: "We're committed to the humane treatment of animals, and believe they should be raised in clean, safe environments free from cruelty, abuse or neglect."

Johnson, who has lived on this farm since he was a teenager, saw a business opportunity in getting rid of the cramped crates, as well as eliminating the routine use of antibiotics. So in 2010, his company switched -- a big undertaking for a farm that sells 20,000 pigs per year.

Traditionalists say that gestation stalls are indispensable because when pigs are housed in groups, they fight -- with bigger and fiercer animals injuring smaller ones and getting more than their share of the feed.

But that's not what is on display in the gestation building, a structure about 60 feet wide and 250 feet long occupied by some 625 pregnant sows. They are walking around and lounging quietly in large group pens. Some cool off under sprinklers that go off intermittently, as a few take their turn to eat. When the weather is good, they can go into an outdoor enclosure.

Johnson says when the pigs are moved into the pens after being inseminated, there is "some fighting, as they establish their social order." Before long, each pig knows when it's her turn to eat and, equally important, when it's someone else's.

Each pig has a radio transmitter attached to her ear, which carries a ticket for one free daily meal at the electronic sow feeder -- a narrow chute that dispenses an enriched mixture of corn and soy meal. Once the pigs have eaten, they understand they won't get fed again till the next day. Well, most do: As we're watching, one sow decides it's worth trying to get seconds. No luck.

Peggy Pate, Johnson's sister, has two animal science degrees from the University of Illinois and takes a hands-on role with the pigs, checking to see that they're healthy and well fed. "I'm in the pens at least twice a day," she says.

A slim woman wearing a T-shirt commemorating the 1994 Cornfest 10K, she's dwarfed by the hogs, which weigh in around 450 pounds. But she says the animals are calmer than they were in gestation stalls. Back then, she says, "I always wore earplugs to block the noise."

It's helpful to Pate when the radio transmitter indicates a pig hasn't eaten, which is sometimes a sign of illness and sometimes a sign that an ear tag has fallen off. She uses a computer to adjust the feed for specific hogs that she sees losing weight or gaining too much.

Does raising pigs more humanely cost more? Johnson reports that expenses are a little higher with the new methods, but his customers, which include Whole Foods and Fork in the Road Foods, are willing to pay a premium for his pork.

The effect is small compared to changes in the cost of feed, which adds up to 70 percent of his expenses and has doubled over the past decade. The returns are enough to make it worthwhile. "We'd do it over again," he says.

Others may want to learn from his example. Nine states have passed measures to outlaw gestation stalls. In conservative, Republican Arizona, 61 percent of voters voted for the ban.

A lot of Americans are not entirely comfortable with how farm animals are treated to maximize output and minimize costs in food production, and they are hopeful there is a better way. As it happens, there is. At the Johnson-Pate farm, there is something new in the air, and it's not the smell of pigs.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 08/25/2013 9:29:36 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

That pig on the right is the weirdest I’ve seen.


2 posted on 08/25/2013 9:35:25 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Kaslin

Sow stalls keep the piglets from getting crushed or eaten by the sows.


3 posted on 08/25/2013 9:35:38 AM PDT by VanShuyten ("a shadow...draped nobly in the folds of a gorgeous eloquence.")
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To: Kaslin

Neat!


4 posted on 08/25/2013 9:38:01 AM PDT by rawhide
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To: Kaslin

Ag is becoming increasingly hi-tech, and that’s not to say only huge mega-farms and corporate owners can succeed. Small and mid-size agribusinessmen are thriving all over the midwest, and many of them have difficulty finding workers with needed hi-tech skills. Time to stop telling kids that college and big city life is the only alternative for a successful future.


5 posted on 08/25/2013 9:38:05 AM PDT by bigbob
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To: Kaslin

Terrorist Nidal Hasan needs to be sentenced there for the remained of his life as a shackled laborer


6 posted on 08/25/2013 9:55:59 AM PDT by CGASMIA68
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To: Kaslin

Sows getting too fat is one of the biggest problems for the gestation period. They have to be kept on a very ‘slim’ diet, otherwise they are too fat to have healthy piglets and have to be shipped to market.

A good healthy sow can have 10 or more litters with ease, an overfed one only one or two.

The can easily eat 15 pounds a day, but have to be limited to 3 to 5 pounds, depending on size, age, and how close to the due date they are.

With the new technology, as described here, it’s posible to do all that and more.


7 posted on 08/25/2013 10:07:04 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (When America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: Kaslin

This is an ploy to drive out small farmers. Such practices will be demanded by the Feds in the future.

Big Ag can afford to have IT guys on standby to fix/replace the electronic gizmos. Small farmers can’t and will bypass such laws and if get caught heavily fined.

Gestation stalls are there for a reason. It will take more than PCism to over come generations of tradition(al) sucess.


8 posted on 08/25/2013 10:07:41 AM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: VanShuyten
Sow stalls keep the piglets from getting crushed or eaten by the sows.

And sows are known to eat their squished piglets.

Wonder if they will attack rival sows' newly born.

I don't know cuz we always used the stalls...
9 posted on 08/25/2013 10:10:57 AM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Kaslin
In conservative, Republican Arizona, 61 percent of voters voted for the ban.

Which just proves the point that urban dwellers are ignoramuses on the subject of how their food is produced.

Good luck (and don't complain) with the higher prices, dolts!
10 posted on 08/25/2013 10:15:53 AM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Kaslin
Peggy Pate, Johnson's sister, has two animal science degrees from the University of Illinois...... "I'm in the pens at least twice a day," she says

That's where there "educated idiot" syndrome comes in.

On what traditional farm can one spend additional time on one part of an farming operation without sacrificing other parts? Cows, chickens get neglected? fields not plowed/planted Machinery not serviced/repaired? Fences not mended?


How bout time withe the family?
Life on campus is reeeeeeeeeel cushy if you don't have to tend to all the "unglamorous" functions on a farm.

College professors of all fields need to get out in the real world
11 posted on 08/25/2013 10:26:42 AM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Kaslin
What a wildly stupid article!

Putting sows in a gestation crate doesn't have a damn thing to do with sows fighting or with how much or little they eat.

They are put in the crate to keep the sow from laying on her pigs when they are born, and that is the only reason.

The sows are only put in the crates a couple days before giving birth and are in them for only a short time.

Without crates half or more of the baby pigs will be crushed by their mother when she lays down.

12 posted on 08/25/2013 10:34:39 AM PDT by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: 1rudeboy

That’s why they make it stay in the background.


13 posted on 08/25/2013 11:30:58 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: VanShuyten

Here’s a pretty clear explanation of sow stalls and gestation crates:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestation_crate


14 posted on 08/25/2013 11:38:04 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: Beagle8U

Before you get your snout out of joint, please realize that the article was addressing sow stalls, not gestation crates:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestation_crate


15 posted on 08/25/2013 11:38:54 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: RedMonqey

What the heck are you complaining about?

She’s being a good farmer by overseeing and observing her livestock frequently.


16 posted on 08/25/2013 11:40:13 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: RedMonqey

Baseline standards against some forms of animal cruelty, such as sow stalls are only decent—not city-slicker ignorance.


17 posted on 08/25/2013 11:41:29 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: 1rudeboy

***That pig on the right is the weirdest I’ve seen.***

Just a part of the food chain. In the olden days farmers raised cattle. Some of the feed passed through undigested so pigs were run behind them to eat the manure and undigested grain. Then chickens were run behind the pigs for the same reason.

Three crops of meat from just feeding cattle grain!


18 posted on 08/25/2013 11:58:05 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

Oh, I get it . . . the guy on the right looks a lot like the guy who attacked the hole in my jeans this morning. A pig wouldn’t do that (at least the pigs I know).


19 posted on 08/25/2013 12:00:33 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: RedMonqey

***This is an ploy to drive out small farmers.***

Alas this is true. My dad bought three pigs and we kids were the ones to feed them. They grew well in open pens, no cages.

Dad then took them to the sale barn and was already counting the money he would get, then he went on to his job.

That evening, when he stopped to get the check for the pig sale, they did not bring enough to even pay his feed bills for them.

That was the last time he raised pigs.


20 posted on 08/25/2013 12:01:51 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: RedMonqey

***Which just proves the point that urban dwellers are ignoramuses on the subject of how their food is produced. ****

Urban dwellers should have no say in farm management.

Next they will demand we buy meat made in the store, not from an animal on a farm!


21 posted on 08/25/2013 12:04:32 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
Urban dwellers should have no say in farm management.

And work on one for for at least one year.

If I was dictator I would make that one of my first decrees. Of course I would then be shot the next day

Next they will demand we buy meat made in the store, not from an animal on a farm!



True story. Back a few years ago in a lively discussion on a bypass highway that would affect many farms(including ours), we overheard a suburban woman(who was old enough to know better) say:

Why do we need farms anyway!

I get my food at Kroger's


Everyone, including her husband kinda snickered at her ignorance.

I hope he corrected her on the way home...

I'm sure this attitude is more common than one supposes...
22 posted on 08/25/2013 12:26:09 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: 9YearLurker

You Wiki link use crates and stalls interchangeably.

It’s a BS article by animal-rights morons.


23 posted on 08/25/2013 12:26:48 PM PDT by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

24 posted on 08/25/2013 12:36:07 PM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: 9YearLurker
She’s being a good farmer by overseeing and observing her livestock frequently.

I know these Ag professors. My cousin is one. He's in "Animal husbandry" at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and hasn't got a single callus on his hands.

He hasn't seen an working farm since he went off to college.

So kindly keep outta a subject you have little to no knowledge in...... especially my family's business....
25 posted on 08/25/2013 12:36:55 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
.That evening, when he stopped to get the check for the pig sale, they did not bring enough to even pay his feed bills for them.

The only way we made money with hogs the last few years was senting them to the local Mennonities who butcher them according to our needs(excellent work, btw)

We then smoke 'm ham and sauages and sold them locally.

Well, used to til Pop died, then only my brother does a couple hogs for our own families use.

Hogs, like chickens before is now the domain of Big Ag...

Cattle are next I'm afraid...
26 posted on 08/25/2013 12:44:29 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: 9YearLurker
Baseline standards against some forms of animal cruelty, such as sow stalls are only decent—not city-slicker ignorance

Gestation stalls, not to be confused with Veal calves stalls, are only for a short time to protect the newly born piglets from getting squished by their mothers.

Visit a traditional farm before you comment on what you speak...


27 posted on 08/25/2013 12:49:58 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: 1rudeboy; Ruy Dias de Bivar
.Oh, I get it . . . the guy on the right looks a lot like the guy who attacked the hole in my jeans this morning.

My youger siblings were raising some 4H chickens "free range style' when one of the roosters ' spurred" my little sister and then when my little brother came running to help, chased both up an oak tree.

When "The Old Man" heard about this, we had a mighty fine fried chicken dinner that night.

My sister took extra relish on hearing it was that "old mean rooster" and made sure to have seconds of that bird....
28 posted on 08/25/2013 12:58:58 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: 9YearLurker
.Here’s a pretty clear explanation of sow stalls and gestation crates:

Your Wiki link references activities that happen on "factory farms' which is a long way from tradition farms.

They are the monstrous creations, shooting up the animals with steroids and antibiotics inspired/created/encouraged by people like your professor of whom you defend as an example to farmers to follow.

Traditional farms give the sows land to roam once they are out of the gestation stalls.

But your "humane" laws will affect both but with dire effects and to the detriment to both farmer and animal...
29 posted on 08/25/2013 1:14:57 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: DuncanWaring

HaHaha

If I hadn’t heard words to this effect with my own ears I’d thought it was some kinda prank by farmers.....

Truth is stranger than fiction....


30 posted on 08/25/2013 1:17:36 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: RedMonqey
Gestation stalls, not to be confused with Veal calves stalls, are only for a short time to protect the newly born piglets from getting squished by their mothers.

Gestation stalls are used, as the name suggests, during the gestation period, which is 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days (113 days). They are used so that each sow can receive the proper amount of feed (see post #7), and so that fewer developing baby pigs are lost due to fighting.

The stalls also allow for better husbandry because each animal can easily be evaluated, as compared to a group where the sick one can kind of 'get lost' in the group.

They differ from farrowing stalls in that they have no place for baby pigs to be, the feeding trough is much smaller, as farrowed sows are put on full high energy, high fat, feed soon after farrowing (the proper word for a sow giving birth). A lactating sow will eat 15 or 20 pounds of this high energy feed per day, which is a large volume, and needs a large trough.

31 posted on 08/25/2013 1:22:32 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (When America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: RedMonqey

Hey, clown, I’ve got decades in farming—including hogs and cattle. Your posts make farmers sound stupid and cruel.


32 posted on 08/25/2013 1:43:04 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: RedMonqey

Where does it say that she’s an ag professor? All is says is she’s got two ag degrees. Many, many farmers have animal science or similar degrees these days.


33 posted on 08/25/2013 1:44:16 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: Balding_Eagle
.Gestation stalls are used, as the name suggests, during the gestation period,

Thank you for telling me something I learned forty years ago ....


34 posted on 08/25/2013 2:03:24 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: 9YearLurker
Where does it say that she’s an ag professor?

Professor or not, makes not a witt of difference.

An "ijot" educated beyond any use....
35 posted on 08/25/2013 2:06:07 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: RedMonqey
OK, but when you said

"Gestation stalls,......... are only for a short time to protect the newly born piglets from getting squished by their mothers."

I thought maybe there had been some confusion between gestation stalls and farrowing crates.

36 posted on 08/25/2013 2:07:08 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (When America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: Beagle8U
>>The sows are only put in the crates a couple days before giving birth and are in them for only a short time.<<

They are talking about gestation stalls not farrowing stalls. I believe they still go into the farrowing stalls when pigging time comes. We always used farrowing stalls as well for both pig and sow safety but didn’t use the gestation stalls to keep sows year roung other than breeding.

37 posted on 08/25/2013 2:07:56 PM PDT by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
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To: 9YearLurker
Hey, clown, I’ve got decades in farming—including hogs and cattle.

Then start posting like one that has a lick of sense.

Farmers and ranchers generally don't like busybobies interferring with their livihood...

Somehow I doubt your statement.

.If your were one you'd know there's "crueler" things that happen on a working farm that these animal rights people would disapprove of...
38 posted on 08/25/2013 2:12:05 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Balding_Eagle

That’s ok. no offense taken....


39 posted on 08/25/2013 2:13:10 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: RedMonqey

***Hogs, like chickens before is now the domain of Big Ag...***

This area used to be in the economic stranglehold of the Chicken Men. You worked at their starvation wages or you did not work. Then Sam Walton started his Walmart store and people flocked there for better wages.

The Chicken Men could not get cheap help so they began to import Mexicans back in the LATE 1960S.

Then they began to start HOG FARMS here. The smell was so bad that they eventually closed most down and relocated to the high plains around Guymon, OK, where there was lots of empty land.


40 posted on 08/25/2013 2:17:45 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
Yeah, we killed chickens for our own table but I'd hate during it for 8 hours at min wage. .

No way.

The smell was so bad that they eventually closed most down and relocated

The only thing worse than hog crap is CAT CRAP.(Granny had a whole bunch of em that used her back porch as a crapper)

Had a neighbor that had a bunch of hogs(about sixty) that he kept on a large lot in a the wooded hollows common in this area(Luckily not us!).

On days when the wind didn't get in there, it literally choke you.

If you were in a car, you rolled up the windows and hit the accelator(air condition just cooled the smell)

I've heard of those hog cesspools out west and can just imagine being downwind of them badboys....Wheeeew!!!!
41 posted on 08/25/2013 2:34:47 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Balding_Eagle
I thought maybe there had been some confusion between gestation stalls and farrowing crates.

Ours were "homemade" made of rough sawmill lumbar and actually a little more roomier than gestation stalls but still served the same purpose. We let them out once the piglets were on their feet and could fend for themseleves outside.
42 posted on 08/25/2013 2:40:13 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: RedMonqey

***I’ve heard of those hog cesspools out west and can just imagine being downwind of them badboys....Wheeeew!!!! ***

Years ago, when I burned wood, I had permission to cut on a farmer’s woodlot.

I had cut a lot of wood and was going to come back in a few days to load it. Meanwhile, he had dumped tons of hog fertilizer (manure)on the area. The smell was so bad I had to wait several weeks till the smell faded, and the wood I did take home required me to air out my old SCOUT for a week.

Now I choke when a truck of chicken manure goes by, and we then have to keep on the AC till the smell fades in a few days.

Do you know that hog and chicken manure can stink up to five miles away from where they dumped it?


43 posted on 08/25/2013 2:41:39 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
Do you know that hog and chicken manure can stink up to five miles away from where they dumped it?

Yeah, (at least with hog manure)When the wind shifted and came from the south we'd get a whiff of Charlie D's pig lot. Still I'd rather have chicken than hog.

Maybe cuz I've only smelled it from cleaning out the t brooder house where me and my older brother raised fifty 4H chickens, 25 roosters and 25 pullets.(maybe not large enough sample vs. hog piles) Little brother and sister got the idea it was fun but didn't tell them everything about tending to them...HeeeHee

Cleaning out the soiled straw they crapped over on a hot, humid summer day was no day at the beach but I'd rather that any day compared to hog crap.

Aaaaah, memories.....
44 posted on 08/25/2013 3:03:29 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
The smell was so bad I had to wait several weeks till the smell faded,

There's nothing like seasoned (oak)wood burning in the wood stove.

Mind you it doesn't reek of hogsh^t.

The Mrs. would not approve.....

And make sure you get all the poison ivy off it.(it lingers in the smoke)
45 posted on 08/25/2013 3:08:13 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: RedMonqey

I can’t eat my clients. Bad for business.


46 posted on 08/25/2013 4:45:30 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy
I can’t eat my clients. Bad for business.

HaHaHa.

Had to think about that one.

Your variety comes on two leges..

. What the Orientals used to call Long Pigs....
47 posted on 08/25/2013 5:06:09 PM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: CynicalBear

The article used both terms mix/match. It’s BS.


48 posted on 08/27/2013 9:54:41 AM PDT by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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