Terrence Smith pulls back the branches of a tree in the distance, revealing the wiggling bodies of six pigs ascending the hill.
Rusty, with his flecks of orange, and Little Girl, the most petite of the plump litter, flop onto the ground where fresh, cool water turns the earth to mud. Terrence and his wife of 30 years, Cindy, have memorized their names of each pig at Goatfeathers Point Farm.
“One thing we’ve realized is that we’re not smarter than a chicken, not smarter than a goat,” Terrence says. “There’s a lot more to them, and they deserve to be treated well.”
Since moving to the land in 2006, they’ve pasture-raised every pig, chicken, turkey, goat and cow that they sell directly to customers from their sprawling 38 acres. Like many farmers, they hope to do their small part in healthier agriculture. As a sailor and former pilot, Terrence has witnessed the influence of a changing environment firsthand.
“We get removed from the climate,” says Terrence. “It seems like people are getting even further away from its impact because they’re always inside. With the farm, we’re forced outside.”
Extreme weather and the effect of erratic temperature patterns on the soil have taken their toll in the past. The couple remembers the panic of waking up to sirens and finding their home surrounded by water due to a flood. During another flood earlier this year, Terrence was forced to wade through knee-deep ice water to rescue goats by canoe.
“That’s probably the biggest revelation with farming,” says Terrence. “If you don’t do things when they need to be done — and do it right — an animal can die.”
As the Smiths get older, they realize this kind of intensive labor and the everyday tasks of lifting 50-pound bags of feed and 5 gallon buckets of water becomes more difficult. While self-feeders and improved water access helps, the question that continues to loom is: How do we maintain this?
It’s a fight worth waging after they’ve seen the transformation of farming in America, where small family operations have turned to industrialization. It’s their time to help reverse it.
“The bell is swinging,” Cindy says. “We’ve already hit the low point, and now it’s coming back.” 4570 Akron Peninsula Road, Peninsula, 330-815-0408