This Little Pig Went to Market: Puyallup Speaker Feature, Cheryl 'the Pig Lady' Ouellette


| 5/12/2011 8:20:27 AM


Tags: Puyallup 2011, speaker spotlight, sustainable farming, Erica Binns,

“The public is hungry to eat local,” says Cheryl Ouellette, known to her friends and customers as Cheryl the Pig Lady. “They’re starved for relationships with their farmers.”

Ouellette should know. While articles, books and even movies have been dedicated to the subjects of “slow food” and the “locavores” who are as concerned about “food miles” as calories, Ouellette has firsthand experience with local food’s rising popularity.

The pig lady’s entry into local food production began just more than 15 years ago, when she left her construction job to take care of her son on their 5-acre farm in Tacoma, Wash. Little did she know that what started out as a way to feed her family would turn into a way to feed hundreds in a natural and sustainable way.

Ouellette started out with only two pigs – one for her family, and one for a neighbor who couldn’t resist farm-fresh pork. After her first success, more and more neighbors started to request pigs, until one day she woke up to 13 sows, each with a litter of piglets. Nowadays, Ouellette keeps a total of 20 free-range pigs at any given time and grows them until they’re fully mature and ready for slaughter (usually around eight months), instead of selling piglets to other farmers.

Cheryl Ouellette
Cheryl with her pigs and cows

“We now grow breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Ouellette, who now raises cows, goats, sheep, chicken, turkeys and ducks in addition to her pigs. “On my farm we work very hard to have happy, healthy animals, but we have the animals do the work. They do the tilling and fertilizing, as well as other jobs.” She’s even writing a book titled This Little Pig Went to Market in conjunction with Storey Publishing about her experiences and viewpoints.


p l
5/24/2011 8:45:24 PM

Also, the above questions??? I would love to see an article about other animals with many of the same questions: goat, chicken, beef, rabbit... For instance, many say to feed a high protien feed to pregnant rabbits and goats, but I am looking at the ingredients on the bag and thinking "I could grow a lot of that stuff." Alfalfa... it's a legume. Why couldn't I stack up on peas in the garden (since alfalfa seed is way more expensive) and then harvest and bale it? Or beans- eat the beans for us, and save the plant for the critters. Is an half acre garden going to produce enough greens to feed over in the winter, or at least help enough to offset feed costs to make it worth saving the green stuff in a barn? I am always looking for ways I can grow my food without paying an arm and a leg for feed. Winter is especially hard. High prices and they eat more to stay warm, at least the chickens, did. And the pigs. I figured if I could get to be self supporting with the feed and animals, then I could justify all the headache because it would COST SO DOGGONE MUCH- That's why there are so fewer farmers here in lil old Oakville, WA. The government ran them out or bankrupted them. Sad, isn't it?


p l
5/24/2011 8:45:15 PM

Also, the above questions??? I would love to see an article about other animals with many of the same questions: goat, chicken, beef, rabbit... For instance, many say to feed a high protien feed to pregnant rabbits and goats, but I am looking at the ingredients on the bag and thinking "I could grow a lot of that stuff." Alfalfa... it's a legume. Why couldn't I stack up on peas in the garden (since alfalfa seed is way more expensive) and then harvest and bale it? Or beans- eat the beans for us, and save the plant for the critters. Is an half acre garden going to produce enough greens to feed over in the winter, or at least help enough to offset feed costs to make it worth saving the green stuff in a barn? I am always looking for ways I can grow my food without paying an arm and a leg for feed. Winter is especially hard. High prices and they eat more to stay warm, at least the chickens, did. And the pigs. I figured if I could get to be self supporting with the feed and animals, then I could justify all the headache because it would COST SO DOGGONE MUCH- That's why there are so fewer farmers here in lil old Oakville, WA. The government ran them out or bankrupted them. Sad, isn't it?


p l
5/24/2011 8:39:52 PM

Ok, I am going to cry now. Just kidding! Finally, I see that there are some folks HERE IN WASHINGTON that are available to ask questions to. And I can't go. Ugh. I have been looking at producing pork for about a year now, since I moved onto my acre property. Mostly I just wanted to feed my family, but I wondered what the laws and how to go about selling pork for profit. Keep one for us, sell one, that type of thing. I see a lot of Craigslist ads for pork or beef that sell by the pound plus cut and wrap- so the customer pays the grower and then the butcher. This bypasses for the farmer the USDA butchering requirement. It seems kind of spendy for your average middle or lower class income person (always my complaint when trying to be healthier or "greener", that it's only for the rich or very dedicated, not for the Average Joe) that shops at Walmart out of necessity. When you qualify for foodstamps, it's hard to buy feed for an animal. Or buy a whole hog meat supply all at once. We're trying any way. I have lots of pig questions, and hope to see an article on the processing part of how to market, sell, what laws are in WA, etc. What you are allowed to feed them, ex. scraps vs. store feed. Free range only, or is feed supplement required for growth? Stuff like that. Potbelly pig crossed with farm pig? Costs and process of artificial insemination vs. keeping a boar? How to make a 500 lb. pig MOVE. Hahahaha! Electric fence? Board fence? Wattle fence?




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