We try to find a good use for every single inch of the farm (we’ll never make our goal of becoming biodynamic if we don’t)
For many years prior to the renovation of the Beekman Mansion, the land and barn was used to raise cattle, and on the eastern side of the barn stood a statuesque grain silo. The structure is long gone, but it’s 5 foot tall foundation remains.
For the two years that we’ve been on the farm, we’ve been using the structure as the world’s largest compost bin. Into it we chuck almost anything that’s biodegradable: table scraps, leaves, prisoners of our weed wars, and of course the “leftovers” of the rabbits, cows, chickens, turkeys and goats. It’s the darkest, richest, most worm-infested muck you can imagine.
But could we do something more? Could we find a dual purpose for the structure?
If necessity is not the mother of all invention, then surely Farmer John is.
When we started talking over the winter about raising pigs to supplement our diets (sorry, but we do love bacon–and don’t try to tell us you don’t), we were pondering about where we might keep them. The chateau d’goats is already fully occupied and was not really well-equipped for pigs.
Farmer John said that pigs like room to roam and like to be outside. Why don’t we put them in the silo?
It was pure genius.
The Beekman pigs are eco-friendly. Pigs like to root around in the dirt looking for grubs and other tasty morsels. (We are hoping they find some truffles but are not really counting on it). As they make their way around the silo, they are constantly turning our compost pile for us. It’s a division of labor that everyone seems happy with.
We created a nice little love nest using old shutters we salvaged from the hay loft. Every morning when I go out to feed them, Porky & Bess are curled up there together. Of course, they perk right up when I yell “soo-ey”—or when they hear their food hit the trough–I’m not quite sure which. I do know that no living thing has ever looked at me with such love in their eyes as Porky and Bess do come feeding time.
They must have gained at least 15lb just while I was typing this.