Jon and Teri's Farm / Blog / Pigs, Stinging Nettle and Decisions

Pigs, Stinging Nettle and Decisions

Posted on by Teri Jenkins

Tonight in the salad patch was rough.  On Monday morning, Jon went to feed the pigs and found Cheetah sitting outside the fence in our salad patch.  Upon quick inspection, he determined that she hadn't done much damage, but tonight on my way out I called and he said she had been in there more than he initially thought.  In fact, the bed with our most recent transplants has a pig trail through it.  When she got to the plants that were meant for this week's harvest, she munched on either side like it was a salad bar.  Lame, Cheetah... Lame!

Nom, nom, nom!  Even the pigs love our salad, I guess!  Following finding all the damage, Jon went to return something and when he took a long time coming back I walked over to find him.  Bubbie (another pig) was out of her fence.  They were two ditches and a patch of stinging nettle away from me, bu when pigs are out you just GO!  So, I ran through the nettle patch, which was taller than I expected.  When it got up to my neck, I decided to hold my arms over my head to save them.  Jon said he could only see arms and the top of my head, and then all of a sudden I was gone.  There was a third ditch I didn't know about!  We got her back in no problem, and I was only slightly the worse for wear:

(I don't do well with bitey, stingy things.  A mosquito bite for me is the equivalent of a black fly bite for most normal people.  Not sure why, but I definitely felt the nettle burn until I fell asleep that night!).  Totally harmless though-- in fact, actually it's supposed to be good for you!

Farmer Jon applying Entrust to our latest salad seedlings.  They are in the brassica family, which means they are the favourite food of flea beetles.  Our production plan includes the use of row cover to minimize the damage that these pests do.  However, unfortunately it is not always enough, and we have been closely monitoring our plantings so that we don't end up with lacy, bug-eaten un-saleable salad. 

Jon joked as he was applying it that "someday I'll be telling my kids I remember the taste and smell of Entrust!".  That's my Dad's line... except he remembers the taste and smell of 2-4-D, when the sprayer was on the front of the tractor and no one knew any better to wear protective equipment or even considered the potential dangers ingesting chemicals.  That was back in the day when the effects of these chemicals were untested and unknown-- and thankfully we know much more today.  Jon and I count on following the allowable inputs set by the national organic standard, and Entrust is on that list.  However, that being said, we hear about new findings all the time that change whether or not something is allowable, and so we are always aware that what is okay today may not be okay tomorrow, and relying on chemicals for farming is short-sighted and not sustainable.  Among our community of organic farmer colleagues, there is a lot of debate about the use of Entrust.  It can be potentially harmful to pollinators-- we minimize the risk to pollinators because none of the crops we are spraying are flowering, and we cover immediately after spraying with row cover.  It works, and we think of it as a band-aid solution right now, until we can figure out a way around it.

Jon was slightly horrified that I was putting a photo of him spraying on the blog.  I told him I'd make sure it was educational and informative.  And, that just goes to show, we are not proud to be doing this!  One of the motivating factors for me to get into farming and specifically organic farming is my Grandpa Tom and his 67 seasons of grain farming on a quarter section in Manitoba.  If he were alive today, he too, would remember the smell and taste of 2-4-D.  Unfortunately, he died of Parkinson's disease over a decade ago, a disease whose cause is largely unknown, but has been linked to pesticides.  Grandpa Tom used to love the stories I'd come home with from my job at McDonald's 13 years ago, and I know if he were alive today he'd love to hear about our salad growing and all the choices and decisions we make.

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