News From the Farm | October 15, 2018

This week was anything but uneventful here at Full Belly Farm with celebrations of birth and love and markings of age. Here is a general recap of the eventful things that happened, though this does NOT include all the picking and packing for markets and CSA boxes and harvesting of 12 acres of walnuts. That all seems to happen so seamlessly!

On Sunday evening we were greeted with the first of 14 piglets born to our beautiful sow Agnes. On many farms the birth of piglets is sort of a ho hum no-big-deal experience, but since we only have two sows it is always a flurry of excitement here. Over the course of the night there were moments of six (or more!) people – interns, interns parents who were visiting, farm owners and farm kids – watching the piglets being born and quietly cheering on Agnes. Unlike other mammals who quickly lick off their newborns, a sow lies rather peacefully on her side and lets the piglets find their own way to her tidy rows of teats where they instinctively begin their noisy suckling and nursing. We have found that to have someone helping the little ones right at the moment of birth, to clean off their noses from fluids and to gently encourage them to the right spot, greatly increases their chance of survival. Two of our interns, who had never witnessed any kind of birth before, graciously agreed to spend the entire night as one piglet after another was pushed out into the world, over eight hours of birthing altogether. The piglets are looking fat and happy now after nearly a week and mama sow is doing a great job with them, albeit already a little tired of 14 hungry mouths to feed.

As the week wore on there were other flurries of preparations as our long time employee Pancho and his wife Nina began preparing for their daughter Julia’s Quinceañera, the fiesta de quince años, a celebration of a her 15th birthday, scheduled for Saturday night at his home near the farm. There were tables and straw bales moved and flowers picked and made into a beautiful crown for Julia on her special day. Huge pots of beans were cooked along with spicy meat and rice, and hundreds of tortillas warmed in the oven. Many of us here from the farm attended, as well 100 other community members, and watched as Julia and her young women friends and their escorts danced Quinceañera dances and greeted their community as young adults. The night was warm and perfect, the live music flowed through the oak trees and the onto the grassy dance floor and everything about it was magical. Pancho began working at Full Belly Farm as a twenty year old and soon fell in love with Nina, an intern working here from the Bay Area. We have all had the pleasure of watching their two children grow up and become community members, and their son Joel, a hard working farm hand here at Full Belly.

To top off the exciting week, we had a marriage of our farm harvest manager Jan, to her sweetheart of 11 years, Jordan, in a very non- traditional marriage ceremony on Sunday morning – a hike to the top of the mountains and vows read overlooking the Capay Valley and the river and farms below. It was a beautiful fall windy morning as we hiked up the trail, little blades of grass coming through the dried grass from the rain of last week, marking new beginnings. Jan and Jordan had written the most heartfelt vows and read them to each other as the wind carried their words into the bright blue sky, a hopeful message of love and commitment to the world. Another feast was prepared for a small close-knit group of friends who had all made favorite Full Belly dishes of sweet roasted delicata squash, platters of steamed greens, fresh cannellini bean salad, grilled lamb and whole salmon stuffed with freshly picked lemon verbena leaves…isn’t it always the food that ultimately marks the celebration?

Just another ho hum no-big-deal week at Full Belly Farm!  Thanks for being a part of our community.

—Dru Rivers

Joel and Julia