Friday, March 27, 2009

Wooly Hogs, Fried Duck Livers, and Dirty Jobs

I think I've always wanted to be a farmer. Some of my favorite jobs in my past that involved manual labor, at least those not involving too much yard work or unloading furniture off of semi-trucks all day, and I've always loved the things that farmers spend their time around. I've just never thought of being a farmer as a real, legitimate job possibility.

Let's face it, traditional farming has about as much future for the small farmer as a printing press has for a journalist. Of course, I never said I wanted to be a traditional farmer. There are niches out there for small time farmers; it's just that instead of fields flowing with monoculture, it's in organics, heirloom fruits and vegetables, and heritage livestock. In other words, the weirder side of agriculture. I like the weird side of things.

I've been tossing around a fantasy for years now of pastured poultry and grass fed meat goats and sheep, maybe even a small boutique creamery off to the side to supply fancy-pants cheeses and yogurts to upscale restaurants in Savannah and Atlanta. Only, that dream had as much weight of reality to it as did the ones involving me winning the $220 million Mega Millions jackpot and retiring from regular employment at the ripe old age of whatever-I-was-at-the-time-of-the-daydream. It's drifted through my thoughts many times but never stuck as something possible.

Maybe, when the economy settles itself out and I can be relatively sure there'll still be a market for high-end foods, I'll actually take out a loan, stress my wife until she develops ulcers or finally gets fed up and leaves, and try my hand at raising a flock of pastured ducks, a herd of grass-fed lambs, and a few head of Mangalitsa and Mulefoot hogs. I've got the land already. I only own 5 acres, but I'm surrounded by 300 acres of family-owned land already being leased out for traditional farming. I'm sure I could use my blood leverage to get a good deal to take over that lease, at least until those family members die and leave the land to me in their wills. Plus, I've got a few connections in fine dining in the state due to my beer geekery and writing. All it would take to get this started is a little courage or too many beers in the company of the wrong people.

And ain't that Mangalitsa the coolest hog ever?

But until I can be sure the overpaid class will remain overpaid (or that the reasonably paid stop worrying so much about expensive cars, too-large houses, and HDTVs and put more money into their bellies), I'll have to settle for the dream over the reality.

On a tangent, here's a video of Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, talking about castrating sheep along with anagnorisis and peripeteia. Great talk, and has a ton of stuff to keep intelligent people occupied and thinking. I have to thank Hank for turning me on to this site.


JustinS said...

Mike Rowe is my hero. Seriously.

And did you know he was an opera singer?

Jacob said...

I did not know that he was an opera singer. He's got a great speaking voice, though. Seems really smart, too.

Julie said...

But I like expensive cars, too-large houses and HDTVs.

Courtney said...

That is one curly-eared hog! I want to pet it.

Mickey said...

That hog is cool, but does that translate to tasty?

Allie posts TED talks too, and I always want to watch them until I realize they're 20 minutes long.

Follow your dream, Jacob.

Jacob said...

I've never had it, but it's supposed to be stronger flavored than regular pork (which really isn't hard considering that factory-farmed pork is pretty damned bland), but it's similar (especially when finished on acorns like many US farms do) to the flavor of the hog used to make that Spanish ham that runs $100 a pound.

This is one of the few, maybe only, hogs where the meat is marbled like a good cut of beef, meaning it's more tender and less dry. So, it's popular more for eating reasons than appearances.

Chris said...

There's a dream I can relate to. In a weird way, I've always sort of thought I'd enjoy the life of a farmer myself --- although I have no skills/experience in the area and don't have the access to land that you do.

Speaking of Mike Rowe, did you know he used to be a salesman on QVC, late night I believe? I read an article that indicated he was canned from the job for making vulgar jokes/gestures with a doll he was supposed to be selling. Search for Mike Rowe QVC on Metacafe --- some funny videos there, although I haven't seen "the" video yet.

A Free Man said...

I'd love to be a farmer. But my special lady friend pretty much loathes all things 'natural'.

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