Community goes 'whole hog' to support local farmer
Residents rallied after reading a heartfelt – and heartbroken – Facebook post written by a local pig farmer who was nearing the end of his rope after hundreds of dollars of meat were stolen right out of the freezer at his farm.
Jim Ross, 51, is the owner of Havesome Hogs in Slocan and creator of the Facebook page Farm the Kootenays, a popular page allowing farmers and gardeners to share information, ideas, questions and best practices, sell produce/livestock/equipment etc., and network with others in the region who share similar interests.
Ross’ post on July 26 was a sad one, and it got the attention of many people on the page.
“Been a tough week on the farm,” Ross wrote. “Sales are slow. Really slow. Someone came to the farm last week while we weren’t here and helped themselves to over $500 worth of bacon, ribs, tenderloin and sausage. I didn’t want to believe it but I’ve checked and double checked. It’s likely someone who has been here before and knows the routine. This is so disheartening.”
Ross went on to explain many of the challenges and obstacles he is facing in maintaining the farm, describing what a farmer’s life looks like, and sharing some of his history.
“Not sure what the solution is but we’ve decided to clean up the farm in the event we have to sell it,” he wrote. “It’ll kill me to do so and end a dream I’ve been working on for a few years now. Something I love and believe in. Perhaps following my heart just isn’t working out. Perhaps my heart misled me. I don’t know. I despair there is no solution beyond quitting and taking a job I don’t love.”
Little did Ross know how completely his story would galvanize readers on his page, as people started flocking to support him, some with donations sent via email transfer, others by buying pork from him, and hundreds of messages, phone calls, visits and hugs.
“Nothing was further from my mind when I posted that,” he told The Source in an interview on Tuesday, “I posted it, and went to do some chores. When I came back hours later and looked at the computer and saw it all, I burst into tears. I don’t know any way to describe that feeling. I’m completely and totally overwhelmed.”
In two days, he said, he was able to sell more pork that he had the entire month before.
“I’ve just spent two hours just making Interac deposits – and the thing is, I’m not even done yet,” he said. “I never posted that expecting what happened. I tend to be really open when I post – I feel that, in order for people to understand what it takes, they can’t just see photos of cute piglets being cuddled by kids. I want to encourage people to farm, of course – but I want them to go into it with both eyes wide open.”
One of the most touching parts of the story is that Ross’ farm isn’t just a business for him – it’s a dream; a vision to create sustainable and compassionate food production in our area. Havesome Hogs is SPCA certified, and they don’t use antibiotics or drugs of any kind. Ross said they used to purchase piglets each season, but didn’t like that they came with their ears docked and their teeth trimmed, having been farrowed in commercial settings.
“We just couldn’t support that anymore,” he said, adding they bought breeding stock two years and never looked back.
But back to Facebook, Ross posted a second heartfelt message in Farm the Kootenays, this time one of stunned gratitude. Here’s an exerpt:
“Hope was the reason I started this group. I hoped we could help each other raise more food for ourselves and others. I wanted to connect farmers stuck on their farms and people wanting to grow their own food without knowing where to start. While people often thank me for starting this group, it is people like you who have made it what it is. I provided a vehicle and you jumped in and drove it, keeping it between the ditches and rubber side down. This is truly amazing.
“Thank you seems like a hollow way to express my gratitude. Those two words can’t possibly encompass how I feel this morning. A kind word or thoughtful gesture can mean so much. So simple, yet a gift that keeps on giving. It can drag us out of the deepest hole and allow us to soar, as you have done for me.
“I’ve always loved being in the mountains. A wise friend once said, ‘When you’re standing on a mountain looking down at the valleys below, your problems seem small’. Thank you for helping me climb this mountain.”
You can check out Havesome Hogs yourself by visiting their website at www.hogs.farm