Sugar Mtn Farm on Flu

Walter & Pigs on Fox 44 News – Click to see video…

I got a call yesterday afternoon from reporter Ben Kennedy of Fox44 News in Colchester, VT wanting to interview a pig farmer about the “swine” flu.

I started to explain that it wasn’t really ‘swine’ flu but he had done his homework and already knew that. In fact, that was the focus of his report. Mr. Kennedy wanted to discuss that the flu wasn’t about pigs and there was confusion from the name. He asked if our pork sales were being affected by the confusion of the name – they aren’t.

After we chatted on the phone he and his cameraman Matt drove all the way over to our farm and visited the pigs. That’s a long several hour drive for what ultimately becomes about a minute or so of air time. They got to see Blackies new huge litter, born less than 24 hours ago. (That was going to be the topic of today’s post here.) We talked about local food, pork, how we got into farming and then Mr. Kennedy did his interview (videotext).

The weather and pigs cooperated admirably – I admit that just before the reporter and cameraman came I had spent a little time training the pigs to come over to the spot where he was going to do his interview. A little advanced planning works wonders with animals. I won’t go as far as taking credit for the glorious weather though!

The result was a great little minute and a half news piece correcting the name error of this flu and discussing the effects on local pork sales. As I explained to him, there has been no drop off in sales for us. My wife Holly says, consumers are likely educated enough to think about it, get the facts and realize that there isn’t any problem and, probably correctly, figure that if there is any relationship it would be with the big factory farms, the CAFOs. Holly’s theory is that scares like this increase sales for small local farms. That is certainly what happened with Mad Cow (BSE), the spinach problem and the false tomato scare that turned out really to be peppers. Another likely factor is that it is, for now, far away both in distance and in concept from local small farm pork.

“Swine” flu was a misnomer and even the news media is beginning to use the correct term of A/H1N1 since this flu virus is possibly a combination of genetics including human, avian and swine which is being transmitted and spread by people, not pigs or birds. Whether it turns out to be all human, all avian, all swine, a combination or something else the currently known fact is it is not being found in pigs, or birds, but rather in people and is being transmitted person to person.

One confusion I’ve seen stated in some places was the mistaken idea that antibiotic abuse would cause the flu outbreak. This is false – antibiotics don’t do anything for viruses. The flu is a virus – a.k.a. influenza. Part of this confusion might come from the fact that when people do succumb to the flu antibiotics are used to save their lives, treating the secondary bacterial infections.

Of course, time well tell what the full scoop is. In a few weeks or months we’ll have a better idea. Hopefully, like the Bird Flu scare of a few years ago this A/H1N1 influenza will fizzle and turn out to be a dud. It is very sad that it has killed the people who have died to date, and those who may yet die. There is a lot to be said for prevention – It makes sense to take reasonable biosecurity precautions as we continue on with our lives. It is not completely harmless, as the deaths prove, and it is being transmitted person to person. Be careful but not paranoid. The hysteria can be worse than the disease as being demonstrated in Egypt where this flu is being used as an excuse for depopulation and persecution.

A much bigger issue is the enormous centralization and distribution systems that spread disease – ah, you thought I meant factory farms, no as much as I dislike them, I’m talking about air travel and other shipping of everything all around the globe. The number one way to spread disease is modern distribution. We’re shipping people and objects too often and too far. This isn’t just a pollution and global warming issue. Along with everything shipped, from spinach to wooden pallets to people, tags along disease, alien plants and foreign animals, such as the long horn beetles that came from Asia on pallets and are attacking our trees. When people travel they can carry disease from location to location as has happened throughout history. Should we stop all travel? No, but perhaps it would be wise to travel less, to use online meeting resources more and keep in mind that all this travel does carry a real risk, not just pleasure. It is a luxury that should be used judiciously.

Thank you to everyone who’s emailed me about this news story. One irony is that while I’m “on TV” I don’t have TV so if it weren’t for the web I wouldn’t see this. We’re too far out for cable and the mountains block air reception. Luckly for us we were able to see this on the web which was rather fun. :) I just wish we had green pastures to show off – as it is the pigs are just starting to go out and the pastures just lost their snow cover this past week. Still, the reporter didn’t seem disappointed with mud season on the farm.

Outdoors: 70°F/33°F Sunny, Somewhat Windy
Farm House: 49°F/47°F
Tiny Cottage: 68°F/65°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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15 Responses to Sugar Mtn Farm on Flu

  1. Emily says:

    Congratulations on the air time Walter. I think you guys are correct in that scares like this increase consumer’s demand for locally grown food. I love seeing small farms getting media attention, increasing public awareness… yeah!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great plug for No NAIS also. Erik

  3. Pablo says:

    Go ahead and take credit for the weather! It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to learn it was under your control.

  4. Aye, they did do a very nice photo of our mailbox in the interview. The camerman grabbed that at the end. Our mailbox has our farm name in the URL form as well as the URL on it. This helps with giving directions but people still often drive right by and don’t realize they’ve passed us until they get half way down the south field or around the bend of the north field. This happened to the TV crew. Fortunately it was a nice day for driving.

    Pablo, don’t spread rumors like that… I don’t want to have to field requests or take responsibility!

  5. ChristyACB says:

    I so completely agree with you that it takes a few scares to wake a lot of people up to the bounty right next door, so to speak. If buying local gets a boost from this, then we have at least one positive effect.

  6. Kudos to the news team for some accurate reporting. It is astonishing how it’s being blown all out of proportion. We have 4000 people a year that die of the flu in Canada every year. Wheres the news in that. But use the word “Pandemic” and that’s news..Saw a T.V. piece yesterday that, on a map, showed all of B.C. and Ontario in “Pandemic Red”.All two citizens of B.C. that have contracted the “Swine/Mexican” flu must sure be spread out! You sure are not missing anything real by not having a T.V.

    As far as travel goes your on the money. It is commoditized beyond all rhyme or reason. Jeez, maybe those “Eat local” Hippie types just might have something..(vbg)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am reminded of this poem you should remember from your childhood:

    Arthur Guiterman. 1871

    Strictly Germ-proof

    THE Antiseptic Baby and the Prophylactic Pup
    Were playing in the garden when the Bunny gamboled up;
    They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised;
    It wasn’t Disinfected and it wasn’t Sterilized.

    They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;
    They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees;
    They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope
    And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap.

    In sulphurated hydrogen they steeped its wiggly ears;
    They trimmed its frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;
    They donned their rubber mittens and they took it by the hand
    And elected it a member of the Fumigated Band.

    There’s not a Micrococcus in the garden where they play;
    They bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day;
    And each imbibes his rations from a Hygienic Cup
    The Bunny and the Baby and the Prophylactic Pup.

  8. I keep getting calls from the press, but haven’t actually talked to anyone. Nice job!

  9. Evelyn says:

    I'm using this to push people to eat local. You are either part of the solution, or you are part of the problem. You do have to choose which. I'm giving everyone I can the eatwild site to find out how it benefits them personally to eat Natural, grassfed meat. I'm sending them to LocalHarvest & to find places to get locally grown, healthy meat.
    Most say that they've been thinking it would be a good idea & they've been meaning to do something to find out how & what to do. I make it easy for them by giving them the info they need. If I convert 5 people to local meat procurement, I'll be tickled. They won't buy from me, because I can't sell packaged meat & they don't have large freezers. But, the more people who eat local & natural, the better we all are.

  10. Hi Walter,

    Congratualtions on the interview, and as many here have already said, I, for one, am glad the reporters decided to do some factual research and write the story the way they did. It does not seem to happen much in that way these days, unfortunately.

    God bless.


  11. Hi Walter,
    Good to see you on the News! Hope we can get some of those porkers this year.
    Jim & Wendy Mahmood
    Green Mountain Grown

  12. Farmerbob1 says:

    Found two typos, Walter.
    “for us there has been no drop off in sales for us.”
    ‘for us’ appears twice. It shouldn’t.

    “He ask if our pork”

    Tense mismatch with other parts of the article, ‘ask’ should be ‘asked.’

    Also, the links to the videos are no longer good. They go to a different video.

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