Thanksgiving is the best American holiday. For the most part, Thanksgiving resides beyond the scope of commercial exploitation that undermines the meaning of most, if not all, of our other holidays. Beyond our spiritual beliefs; our family, friends, health and good work are the foundation of our happiness. If you have all four, you have much to be thankful for. But each and everyone are profound gifts that we should acknowledge to whom we give thanks.

There are many among us who are less fortunate. Regardless of how they got there, they are in need. Their suffering is far beyond where most of us reside. Whether we brush them off with the uncompromising edge of judgement or simply forget about them because there is so much to do in our busy lives, they remain, doing what they can to fend off hopelessness and dispair. Take a moment and consider sharing some of what you are thankful for. Take a morning to help out at your church’s outreach program, volunteer at Friendship Trays, http://www.friendshiptrays.org/, or the Crisis Ministry Assistance, http://www.crisisassistance.org/, or make a donation to one of these as a token of your Thanksgiving, as a nod to yourself to acknowledge the feast that has been laid at your table.

In the greater Slow Food family, a tragic loss has come to one of our farmers. On November 19th, Arlie McFarlen, of Maveric Heritage Ranch, a member of the Ark of Taste committee and rare breed pig farmer awoke to the horror of her 100 year old barn engulfed in flames, her animals trapped in the barn. Below you will find a letter from Arlie, recounting that morning.


Dear Friends of Maveric:

It is with the deepest and most profound grief that I write this message. At 5:30am November 19th, 2008, we awoke to our beautiful 100 year old gambrel barn engulfed in flames. Trapped within the barn was my beloved stallion, several rare Mulefoot hog sows with their litters of piglets, an extremely rare Wessex saddleback boar, a favorite guinea hog boar and all of my dearly loved cats. Although we made attempts to rescue our animals, we were unable to save any from the barn.

We were able to run pigs from their pens near the barn to the pastures and get them away from the heat & flames. Many animals in these pens were burned and have suffered smoke inhalation. Though it is several days after the fire, we are still losing animals we have been nursing and trying to save.

The fire burned with such intensity that it caught a large tree and our new barn on fire as well. The firemen were able to save our new barn, but our gambrel was a complete loss. The fire marshal reported that the fire was burning in excess of 2000 degrees due to the way the metal items in the barn melted and puddled. The fire was apparently caused by a failure in the main power breaker. When the power transformer began to melt, we lost power to the whole farm. This also left us without water, as our well is pumped by electricity.

All of our feed (approximately 1000 bales of alfalfa), our tools, watering troughs & feeders, buckets, piglet pens, fencing supplies, power cords, winter heaters, saddles & horse gear, construction materials for our new barn and so much more were completely destroyed.

We cannot replace our rare breed pigs. They simply do not exist. Our work for nearly ten years has been to preserve and save these breeds of pigs. We cannot begin to express our sense of loss over these animals, not just from our lives, but from all future generations.

This tragedy has made it even more clear to us that these rare breeds are in a very precarious situation. At any moment, a disaster, accident or disease could take yet another species from this planet.

Our friends have already begun to rally around us and offer support. We have received many calls and emails from the folks at Slow Food USA, Animal Welfare Institute, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Dakota Rural Action. Because of this outpouring of encouragement, we feel compelled to persevere and insure that future generations are able to raise and enjoy these breeds, and that biodiversity amongst pigs is preserved.

The Endangered Hog Foundation has been established to help us rebuild and to help continue work with endangered pig breeds. We fully intend to carry on with our DNA research, breeding program, establishing new breeders and promotion of endangered pigs. We have already begun the process of cleaning up the debris and will begin construction of a facility to continue working with our pigs as soon as spring arrives in South Dakota. Temporary measures to provide for the pigs during the upcoming winter are underway.

We need your help . Our immediate needs are for physical labor to help with clean up and building temporary shelter to winter the pigs. Additionally, we need to find a source for alfalfa hay square bales, to obtain portable shelters for the pigs due to farrow in early 2009, hog equipment and hand tools.

Donations can be sent to the “Endangered Hog Foundation” in care of Maveric Heritage Ranch Co. at the address below or through the link on our web page at www.maveric9.com.

Thank you to everyone who has offered support. I cannot describe how it feels to stand in a place of profound grief and intense gratitude at the same time. We will carry on through the love and support of our friends.

Endangered Hog Foundation
Maveric Heritage Ranch Co.
47869-242nd St.
Dell Rapids, South Dakota 57022

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Arie McFarlen, PhD
Maveric Heritage Ranch Co.
(605) 428-5994
www.maveric9.com

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