Neither of us can now recall how we came to meet Jennifer Szweda Jordan, our best guess is that it might have been at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. In any case, Jennifer was a reporter for The Allegheny Front, a radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania. In its own words, “The Allegheny Front began in 1991 and continues to serve the community as the most insightful source of local and regional environmental news and information on the radio. The program explores environmental issues affecting the community through stories, interviews, news, and commentaries.” Once we got talking, Jennifer became interested in what we do here at Pairodox; she eventually asked if she might interview us for an upcoming radio broadcast. We agreed. The program was entitled Earth’s Bounty: Rare Breeds on Farms and it aired on July 25 in 2007. We talked to Jennifer about raising heritage breeds such as American Milking Devon Cattle, Tamworth Hogs, and Shetland Sheep. We talked about the value of preserving endangered breeds of livestock especially in the light of, what we viewed as disturbing, trends in the increasingly corporate livestock industry.
Fast forward to November of 2011 when we received a call from Kara Holsopple, a reporter for the Allegheny Front who wanted to interview us as part of a series entitled The Allegheny Front Rewind. This retrospective contribution was titled To breed or not to breed heritage livestock and aired on November 26, 2011. In Kara’s check back we talked about our frustrations with spiraling feed prices and the difficulties we encountered in attempting to market pastured meats to our local market. We were raising three breeds listed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy; the American Milking Devon, the Tamworth Hog, and the Shetland Sheep. Although we were able, on the very rare occasion, to sell breeding stock, were were unable to sell meat at anything but local prices. We discovered, to our dismay, that if folks could go to the local market and pay ninety-nine cents per pound for pork chops or hamburger, for example, they weren’t prepared to pay a premium for organically raised, chemical free, humanely treated, pastured raised, pork chops or hamburger from heritage breeds of livestock. Contrary to what we were reading – our local market simply had no interest in what we had to offer. It was a tremendous frustration for us. Our blog post of September 1, 2011 tells how we finally came to the realization that the experiment wasn’t going to work, we were losing our shirts, and we put our entire herd of Devons up for sale. The hogs had been dispersed the year before and now, only the sheep remain.
On a brighter note, Jennifer also did a story about Sheep-to-Shawl competitions which aired on NPR Radio. Click the NPR icon to listen this broadcast which aired on February 3 of 2009.