My uncle Shawn lives about 5 miles from my house in the same town. Being my dad’s twin brother they are very close and as a child I spent a ton of time on their ten acres with chickens, horses, pigs, rabbits and at one point ducks. I wouldn’t describe what they have as a farm considering the neighboring dairy farms have hundreds of cows but they certainly had their hands full with a few of each species. My cousin Ellie she loved the horses and they were more or less her horses so my brother and cousin Josh had to hav your own favorites. Mine was always the pigs cause I thought they were funny to watch and for the most part were really easy for me to help take care of. These things basically had a huge section of mud/field to themselves and when they were little they were super fun to roam around with. As I got older my responsibilities to the pigs increased a little but the one responsibility that really taught me something was the harvesting of the pigs. My uncle asked me to be a part of it first when I was approximately 10 years old. It wasn’t necessarily a job I wanted to be a part of but as a young boy I definitely didn’t want to be considered a wimp. So I went along to be met by a group of guys I had never met before. I can’t recall exactly where they came from but there was three of them all speaking Spanish. Small town Vermont I hadn’t ever met people that were so different from me. As it turns out my uncle had these guys come every year to help him kill and butcher the pigs. Without going into the details these guys amazed me, they took home every part of the pig my uncle didn’t want. Of course he gave them some of the traditional meat but they took every thing but bones. They took the head of the pig which I guess makes head cheese which fun fact is nothing like regular cheese. They took intestines and organs that are never eaten or used in typical American culture but they used it all and they were beyond happy to do so. As a kid it impressed me that these guys left absolutely nothing to waste whatsoever. Its always stayed with me to not waste things especially when harvesting animals. I am no vegetarian but it taught me to respect the value of life and not to waste what someone worked hard to produce. After a couple harvests of the pigs I will always remember to understand that even if you don’t want something from your farm or garden to give it to those who do.
Growing up my family had a nice little garden along the back of our garage. Every year my brother and I got to pick out specific plants that my mom would grow in the garden but my mom had her own favorites that we got every year. She always did tomatoes and they would grow almost as high as the roof of the garage. The time of year when they would each start to turn red was the best because it meant that all the fruits and vegetables would be ready to eat soon. The garden was never fenced in or anything so my brother, my dog and I could roam around our backyard and go into the garden. One year right about the time that the tomatoes started to turn red and everyone was getting their hopes up for the first garden tomato and we had our eyes on the first one to be ready. It was a nice big red tomato that was only a couple days away from being picked. Then the next day it was gone. My family started pointing fingers and accusing someone of eating it or picking it but no one would confess. A couple days go by and more tomatoes start to get red and the original tomato was more or less forgotten about. About the time of the next tomato being ripe it too went missing. Now everyone was perplexed as to what was happening. As soon as the tomatoes would get really close to ripe they were disappearing. Then another plant fell victim to the mysterious fruit thief when mom noticed cucumbers that had massive bites taken out of them. This is when we realized that there were other suspects that had yet to be considered. We then watched my dog through the window of our kitchen one time when we let him out and watched him ever so gently pluck tomatoes off the vine. At the time my Uncle Rob was in town who thought he had a great idea on how to stop the dog from eating tomatoes. He hollowed out a tomato and filled it with hot sauce and cayenne pepper spice. We left the tomato in the garden where my dog had just eaten a tomato. The next time we let him out everyone watched my dog walk up eat the tomato without hesitation. In no way did the dog seem the least bit bothered. Needless to say we got a fence installed.