Answers to your most pressing agricultural questions from a real Dayton area farm wife
Hello, I’m Holly Michael – farm wife, mother, blogger and communications professional who has worked at some of Dayton’s largest companies. I straddle the sometimes equally stinky worlds of agriculture and corporate life, so you don’t have to.
So how did you end up living on a farm near Dayton? Where did you meet a farmer?
I grew up in Jackson Township (contrary to popular belief, people living on the outskirts of Centerville did not invent townships), which is near Farmersville and Valley View Schools. I was a 4-H member but didn’t live on a real farm. I met my husband, a full-time farmer, where else, but the Montgomery County Fair. We live on a 100-acre crop and hog farm only 15 miles from the Dayton Marriott. We have three adorable children who have long ago gotten over giggling every time a pig poops.
How many pigs do you have on your farm? Do you sell them to Bob Evans?
The number of pigs on the farm varies by season. In the winter, many of the piglets are being born, so we swell to about 500 pigs. We raise purebred hogs that have papers through a registry, just like dogs or horses. Farms like ours are the “quality control” of the swine industry. We focus on raising lean, muscular, easy-moving hogs that we sell to other farmers and exhibit at the State Fair and other national shows. These pigs will go on to be the breeding stock (parents) that produce the pigs that end up in the grocery.
I love pigs. Will you let me have a baby pig to be my pet?
Pigs grow fast. They weigh about two pounds when they are born but in six months, with proper nutrition, they are fully mature and weigh 250-280 pounds.
Why are pigs always so muddy?
Pigs are actually quite neat and can be easily trained. If they have a basically clean pen, pigs will designate one area for sleeping, one for eating and one for pooping. Unlike sheep and cattle, pigs can be trained to open their own feeder to eat when they wish and push on a nozzle with their nose to get water. Pigs can’t sweat, so when they get hot they need to cool off and get their skin wet. When pigs were kept outdoors in open lots, the best thing they had was shade and a mud hole. Our pigs love to get sprayed with the hose when they are really hot and so do the farm kids.
What do you raise on your farm besides pigs?
We raise corn to use in making our own pig feed and we raise soybeans as a cash crop. We also grow hay. Note that hay is clover and other grasses, grown in a field and mowed and baled multiple times over the summer. Hay should not be confused with straw which is a by-product of wheat and by some unwritten law of agriculture must be harvested on the hottest day of the year.
Is it difficult to work in a corporate environment by day and be a farm wife on evenings and weekends?
I try to be an ambassador of agriculture as the “token farmer” that many people have ever met. Once I held a contest among my co-workers in three states to name our new boar (male pig). I have had many bosses who were puzzled when I said I needed time off to travel to the World Pork Expo. My kids love living on a farm and I can’t think of any better environment to raise them to be curious and independent.
That’s all the time we have folks. Tune in next time when we will have the balls to discuss the difference between a boar, a ram and a steer. Got any pressing agricultural questions? Leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them as honestly and humorously as I can.
Wait! Before you go, who is having sex with the chicken?
The rooster has sex with all of them.
My thanks to Seinfeld’s Mr. Costanza for the inspiration for this column and confirmation that no agricultural fact is too minor to share.