Friends in Need

I received an email a short while ago that I believe deserves further attention. I don't personally know the people involved nor am I personally familiar with the work that they are doing, but I believe the kind of work they are doing is important. As such, I consider them friends. Jen Small of Flying Pigs Farm, who I do know and whose similar work I also know, had this to say:

"We know Arie through our work with the American Livestock Breeds
Conservancy. Indeed, Arie spent a few days with us in Washington County
when we hosted a workshop for rare breed pig breeders. She has done
tremendous work with the Mulefoot breed, which is listed as
Critically-Endangered by ALBC. We'll do what we can for these very
important rare breeds by sending Arie a check, and we encourage others
to join us. This is the first we have heard of this fire; thank you for
passing on the message and rallying the troops. Helping Arie has a
direct impact on the survival of the Mulefoot."

The text of the email follows:

"Dear Leaders,
I just got off the phone with Arie McFarlen who is a member of our Ark of
Taste committee.  Arie owns Maveric Heritage Ranch in South Dakota, where
she has single-handedly saved several rare breeds of pigs, bringing them
back from the brink of extinction.  Tragically, last week, Arie's barn
burned to the ground killing over 40 of her rare breed hogs, sows with
babies and her treasured horse.  She lost everything – the feed she'd put
away for the winter, the feeding troughs – she doesn't even have a
pitch-fork.  Yet she still has other animals to care for. Since it was an
electrical fire and electricity powers her water pump there was no water on
the farm to put out the fire.
Arie is devastated, but full of hope. Fortunately she kept duplicate
breeding pairs of her rare breeds in multiple locations on the farm, so no
breed was lost.  Those remaining animals are keeping her going.  Her
neighbors are helping her out as well.  She told me about neighbors using
tractors to bring water for her animals until the pump could be restored
with temporary power.  She said, “One thing about living in a rural
community is that everyone pitches in when something goes wrong.”  To
continue her work though she is going to need more help than her neighbors
can give. Our shared work makes us all a part of her community and we should
pitch in too.
Unfortunately there isn’t a chapter in South Dakota yet, so we’re reaching
out to the larger Slow Food community.  A special fund has been set up to
help, and you can find more information in the linked press release.  It is
important that we take care of each other in times like these.  I encourage
you to share this information with your members, and if you can, to give
your support.
Donations can be made online at or sent to the “Endangered Hog Foundation” in care of Maveric Heritage Ranch Co. at:
Endangered Hog Foundation
Maveric Heritage Ranch Co.
47869-242nd St.
Dell Rapids, South Dakota 57022

You can read a letter from Arie below.  We’ve posted her letter on the Slow Food USA blog at
Josh Viertel

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

Arie McFarlen, PhD
Maveric Heritage Ranch Co.
(605) 428-5994"

Please do what you can to help.


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