Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Something to Squeal About

The drive out to “the farm” is not for the weak or the weary. After turning off the tar (paved) road, there is a 45-minute jaunt up and down hills and around blind corners that shakes your innards and tests your fortitude. Once you pass through the farm gate, you will be met by a smell that brings you to attention and also provides extraordinary comfort for all those who call the farm their home. It is the smell of pigs. Why are the pigs located at the entrance? According to Peter Kopp, “so people know they have stepped onto a farm.” As if they did not know already. That beautiful stench from the pigs has increased a bit lately and I wanted to give you a sneak peek as to why. 

When we arrived, the farm needed to increase their revenue stream. A natural for me to focus on what I am comfortable with—vegetables. But as you may know, agriculture is about finding and seizing opportunities to fill or create markets. There is a huge market for pork in this country. The supply (quantity and quality) is generally poor and we can easily sell any high quality pork we produce. So we have expanded. A lot. When we arrived there were about 40 pigs on the farm. Today, there are about 120. Though we rear and raise our own, most of these new pigs were purchased from nearby pig farmers at weaner stage (approximately 5 weeks old) and will be grown out until about 20 weeks. We’ve been busy converting some existing chicken houses into pig growing rooms, and have made progress in maintaining pig health and resolving feed issues. For the farm this is a big investment. As you can imagine, as we have been expanding we have also been waiting for the cash flow to begin. It has been a balance of patience and aggressiveness as we work to ensure a more consistent cash flow for the months ahead. While we are not totally in the clear, we are beginning to see the light. The first group of pigs that we purchased after we undertook the expansion will be ready for market next week. Praise God! This has been a team effort—from the local homesteads supplying the weaners, to Mpush, who leads our pig operation, to the kids who work and clean the pig unit—everyone has chipped in. 

We are confident in the direction we are heading but can still use an immense amount of prayer as we continue to move slowly through the development stage. Everyone on the farm is excited at the potential to produce our own value-added meat such as bacon and sausage. Please pray for wisdom in making decisions for this project and for everyone involved—even the pigs! If you were to ask the kids and the moms about the smell on the farm, few would turn away in disgust. A more popular response would be “THAT is the smell of money!”

Making feeders using plastic drums (barrels).


  1. Alex, we sure hope so! It was great to "see" you last week. Our next post will have to be about the youth retreat we went on with about 100 Swazi teens!