I remember riding in the car with my mom full of excitement on our way to Mason City during summer break or days I wasn’t in school. Before the Avenue of the Saints, the rides to Mason City seemed long, especially when I couldn’t wait to see my dad and my grandmas and grandpas on both sides of my family. I have so many memories of riding in the car with my mom to Mason City, whether we were seeing family, going to North Iowa events, or shopping, there was always something to look forward to in Mason. For years, my mom was employed by Kraft foods in Mason, she drove 45 minutes one way to help support her farm family. I grew up on the North East side of Charles City, on my step father’s family farm where I learned my passion for agriculture. I love Mason, it is the town I spent half of my childhood, built memories walking to Birdsall’s, supported the youth of Cerro Gordo while I was a 4-H County Youth Coordinator, and grew up knowing Mason like the back of my hand. Unlike the thoughts of many bedroom communities, Mason City is so much more than a retail scene.
As an adult, Mason City is the very place I go when I feed my family on Friday nights, where I go grocery
shopping, and more importantly, the place I go to visit my family. As an outsider, I love Mason City. I love the atmosphere of downtown, I love that I can get anything I need just 15 miles away from my rural front door. I love that I can find a spot in a pew at Holy Family on those busy Sunday mornings. It is the place I take my child to gymnastics every Saturday, and the place I grew up as an outsider. As an adult, I now see the importance and economic impact Mason has on many surrounding communities. These businesses make up the livelihood of our bedroom communities, they give us a gleam of hope in our empty main streets that new families seek a quieter life in our small towns. These factories bring good people to local communities all around for those who don’t mind a little commute.
Commute is such a diversified word, but keep in mind, its all relative. The very commute our mature pigs take from our farm east of Nora Springs when they are ready to go to market is currently around 6 hours. They go to a location in Illinois. Longer commute times obviously contribute to a greater set of challenges and logistics. We do not schedule our pick up times with our truck drivers, our company does, but those truck drivers are employed by companies that are close to an hour away. The very company that we feed pigs for, already has many farms around the North Iowa area, and if speculation is correct, this company has close ties to Prestage Farms Inc. the very company that is making a move to North Iowa. If other packing plants are sourcing pigs from 6 hours away, this means that most of the farms are already established.
When we found out that Mason City was getting a packing plant we couldn’t be happier. We truly care about the pigs that grow up on our farm, and having a shorter commute time to market would definitely give us and the company we raise for a peace of mind. We believe in waking up and doing the best we can every. single. day. Read my post on, True Life: We have no holidays. We are farmers, and we are responsible for the lives of our animals. That means driving to Mason City in the middle of a white out snow storm to get a part for our barns to protect our animals. That means calling up the local vet (a person who lives and shops near Mason City) at 2 AM to get assistance with a dyeing sow. It means giving our very best every single day to respect the lives of the animals that are in our care. I am not sure what you consider a “factory farm” but I think someone who isn’t involved with farming would consider our farm large, but it is run by our small family. It keeps our family sustainable, and if our farm isn’t sustainable, neither are we. If we aren’t sustainable, we don’t spend our extra money eating out in Mason City on the weekends. I cut our grocery budget from the Mason City Fareway, and I don’t spend my money at Market 124. Sustainable for us, means that we are using the best care practices possible to take care of our pigs.
Sustainable on a farm also means using our resources. We use the manure from our pigs to fertilize the very crops we grow to feed our pigs. It is the ultimate example of the circle of life. We do this so we don’t have to apply the chemical anhydrous in the fall or spring. We follow strict regulations from the Iowa DNR and NRCS when applying manure, our soil is also tested on a regular basis to ensure we are following regulations. Manure is not “spread” anymore, it is knifed into the soil cutting down on the smell and it also ensures the nutrients of the manure do not escape the soil after a snow or rain. This natural fertilizer is has better outcomes for our crops and improves the health of our soil, naturally. So, that’s the scoop on poop…
The reality is that Mason City is as much a part of our farm and livelihood as the Music Man is to River City. As an adult, I am disappointed in how the residents of Mason City are accepting change. The change for new job opportunities for families just like mine, the chance to change the lives of local farmers, and the chance to grow. There is no denying that Mason City has turned down agriculture in the past, but the reality is that we are your biggest consumer demographic. This is your chance, be proud to support local farmers, be proud of the economic development you are bringing to not only Mason City, but the surrounding area. Make Mason City more than a retail scene.
Want more info on how modern #RealPigFarming farmers raise their pigs? Look no further than Pork Cares.org.
Hello! I am Alicia, you guessed it, a fellow North Iowa Blogger and writer for Successful Farming Magazine’s Women In Ag column and blog. Contributor and supporter of bacon. Firm believer in long nights, early mornings, coffee and wife to a #RealPigFarmer. Remember folks, we’re bacon America great again!
I like bacon, you like bacon, lets be friends. 🙂 #RealPigFarming