I am pretty aggravated tonight so forgive me now if I am a little blunt in this post. I’ve had a long day, and I know many other moms are feeling tired just like I am tonight. When I came in the house tonight it was after 6:30 and I had supper to cook, laundry and dishes to do, and Conner had a headache and homework that needed completed. Homework with Conner means ‘mean ole mom’ has to stand watch over him and remind him every five minutes to do his homework. As a farm kid, the last place he wants to be on a nice night is inside the house doing homework.
The last thing I wanted to do tonight was chase down a strange vehicle that was trespassing on my farm. I wasn’t chasing down this truck just because they were trespassing, I was trying to stop them from going near our hog barns.
There is a terrible disease running through the hog industry and it’s called PEDV. PEDV is a four letter word in our home, as it is in many other homes of hog farmers across the United States and Canada. PEDV stands for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (porcine means swine and is just another name for hogs).
PEDV is deadly to newborn pigs from birth until about three weeks of age, and infected swine herds can suffer a 75-100% loss of baby pigs for a four to five week period. PEDV poses no threat to humans, or has no food safety impact on retail pork supplies. The causes and spread of PEDV are still largely unknown, and there are currently no known vaccines to prevent the initial occurrence of PEDV virus.
On our farm, we have increased our bio-security and we are praying every day that our farm doesn’t get this virus. I think twice before I go anywhere now, I don’t go inside the bank because I don’t know who might have been in there prior to me that may have hogs. I don’t go into a grocery store or convenience store unless absolutely necessary through the week because I don’t know who has been in the store previously that might have been around hogs. If I go to the grocery store, I try to make sure I can stay away from our barns and feed mill or any supplies that need to go inside our barns. Our family and our dedicated employees have become even more meticulous in trying to protect the sows and pigs on our farm. I freak out when I see a strange vehicle pull into our driveway because I have no idea where they have been. I instantly think, “Have they been around hogs? I hope they read our sign and stop!”
Well tonight, a traveling salesman saw our sign and he didn’t stop. I doubt he intentionally ignored it, he probably just didn’t realize how important the sign is. I saw it happening like a bad car wreck, I tried to stop him but I had just taken my shoes off and come inside the house to start cooking supper. Conner came running through the house and said, “Mom, someone is ignoring our sign, quick, we have to stop them.” But we were too late. All of our hard work was put at risk in the blink of an eye, and by someone who paid no attention to our signs.
Does this mean we will get PEDV? I sure hope not but there is no way of knowing exactly where this truck had been or if they had been on another farm that had hogs. I only hope that people may read this blog and think twice the next time they see a sign that says, ““STOP Authorized Personnel Only Beyond This Point.” Livestock farms don’t display signs like this because it’s dangerous for you to go beyond a certain area. They display these signs to protect their livestock, in our case our hogs, from diseases and germs you may be tracking in on you unknowingly. We don’t display our sign because we are rude or mean, we want to PREVENT our animals from getting exposed to germs, we want to keep them healthy.
So the next time you see a sign that says, “STOP Authorized Personnel Only Beyond This Point” or “Biosecure Area – Do Not Enter,” please be considerate and stop. The health of our hogs is at risk if you ignore the signs. And this doesn’t just impact my family, it impacts all the families my farm supports – this includes the families of our employee’s, the family of the propane delivery driver who delivers our propane, the family of the packing plant employee who packages the pork I raise, even the family of the grocery store owner and the clerk who rings up your groceries. This list could go on and on but I think you get the idea.
One of my kids’ favorite meals is pork burgers on the grill and it’s something they look forward to every summer – I want my kids to enjoy pork burgers this summer raised on our farm! For this to happen though, I may have to remain the CRAZY lady who chases people around my farm if they cross the bio-security sign. I’m willing to be this crazy lady if it means my kids have their pork burgers this summer! Life would be easier though if people would just read the SIGNS! As the old saying goes, “Here’s Your Sign!”