Saturday, May 18, 2013

Life at ARI

Buyo are biting and pigs are poo-rolling, which means warmer weather is here to stay.

I'd like to dedicate this blog to life.

Tuesday was the expected delivery day of one of our mother sows. But there were no piglets to be seen on Tuesday. No piglets to be seen on Wednesday, nor Thursday, nor Friday. After a long day in the sun on Saturday (details to follow), we went to bed early, only to be woken up by excited shouts about the sow's water breaking. When I made it to the delivery pen, there were about 10-12 other people already waiting and watching in anticipation. The sow had already given birth to one piglet about 20 minutes before I arrived. So we waited, gasping at every heave and grunt and movement of the sow. It wasn't until an hour and a half passed that piglet #2 joined its sibling in the outside world. The actual birth of the piglet happened a lot quicker than I expected. The piglet just slid right out of there.

The welcoming party was ready and with their cue they picked up the piglet and went to work cleaning her, snipping her free from the lifeline of her mother, and weighing her. She joined her brother in the warm box from where we could hear them playing together, KAWAII!!! 

The whole event was so exciting I thought I would stay to see another piglet's journey through the canal. So I stayed. We waited, gasping at every heave, grunt, and movement of the sow. It wasn't until an hour and half passed that I said, I have got to go. We were to get up early the next morning to join some folks for a Zen Buddhist Meditation. 

For these sows, a normal litter is 10-12 piglets born on average every 15 minutes. This delivery was a bit out of the ordinary, this morning I saw 17 healthy and happy piglets, and 1 exhausted mama. This was a very unique experience for me, having never seen a mammal delivery (I've seen chickens lay eggs, that's about it). I've never stared at the backside of an animal with so much hope and happiness and awe.

The crew.
On Saturday, we celebrated our successful English Farm work-camp that we had two weeks ago. Takashi invited the volunteers and staff who helped over to his house for a barbecue! It was a beautiful day outside. We built a stove for a barbecue pit and grilled ARI pork (piglets will be pork one day, and that's life) and onions. And we made homemade pizza and cooked it in a brick-oven that Takashi built himself! We enjoyed the life of our friends and our food, and of the sun. I think all of us got at least a little if not a LOT sunburned.

Kneadin' the pizza dough
Ayumi and Fuji fannin' the fire
Takashi next to his brick oven!
Yum. E.
Takashi's mini-me :)
After leaving the mother sow pen Saturday night to get some rest for the meditation, we found out this morning we had to cancel because Nishi was sick. We're sorry to hear she was sick, sorry we missed out on meditation, and sorry I couldn't have stayed to watch more piglets born. But here I am anyway, rested with more free time than I anticipated to write a semi-interesting blog for you. :)

Another thing I want to share with you this week is my new friendship with the workers at Otani Supermarket. As you may remember, I have been driving the kitchen garbage route twice a week since March to collect local resources for use on the farm. One of the places I go is Otani Supermarket where they collect fish that doesn't sell in time, is imperfect, or not suitable for sales. I've gotten to know some of the workers there and we always share broken English and Japanese with smiles and laughs. So on Thursday, Doug took the afternoon off and joined me on the route to meet my friends. We took a picture of course. Sometimes we find friends in the darndest places.

Doug, Yasco, Jenny, Tome, Saori

With a blog post dedicated to life, I can't leave out Knight Field. It's hardly recognizable as the same plot anymore. With the warm weather, sunshine and rain, our field has really grown, along with all the surrounding vegetation. This morning we spent about an hour clearing away some of the overgrown vegetation around the field, weeding, and planting the newest member of the Knight Field Family, a tomato plant. The seedling was an accident, a "weed" in another seedling's pot. They were going to just compost it but I asked if I could keep it. So I repotted it and we've been nursing it for a couple of weeks and today we sent it off with its school books and lunchbox into the real world. We hope the wheat and garlic and potatoes will play nice.

We seem to be in countdown mode, for many things. First on the list is my birthday, then Kim's arrival, then 5 weeks of Knight Fever Fiesta, and during that time we will harvest our wheat and hopefully make bread. After that, just a few short weeks before we are crying and dripping snot on people's shoulders saying "bye." We'll spend about a week in Korea visiting my cousin then make our way home. Wow.

But there's work and love to be done between now and then. Thank you for reading and supporting your Knight farmer missionaries in Japan.

Doug and Jenny


  1. Jenny, I love reading about ARI on your blog. Bob and I are gearing up to come in August. I wish we could meet you, but I think we will be passing each other! What an amazing year you have had. ARI will stay in your heart forever.

    1. Wow, Thanks for keeping up with us. Sorry to hear we'll miss each other! How long have you been involved with ARI?

  2. Building a brick oven in your yard allows you to cook and bake whatever you want. Sometimes, I try to make pizzas with new toppings and ingredients and it feels so nice that you don’t have to spend much to buy a pizza. Anyway, I can see that you’re having a good time in planting and cleaning your plot. I hope you can have more plants to grow and preferably, get some ingredients for the next pizza that you’ll make. :D

    -Nohemi Tutterrow-