On Saturday Mark and Linda threw their annual summer solstice festival at Hillspring Farm, a laid-back and delightful celebration featuring music, storytelling, and a ceremony called a “rolling sun” in which a wheel made from evergreen branches was lit up and rolled down from the sheep pasture into the tiny tributary of the Pecatonica River that runs through the farm. If the wheel makes it into the drink it assures a plentiful harvest (it did).

The potluck dinner was terrific, highlighted by the farm’s own products like Denise Benoit’s chevre and a crisp cherry-wheat home brew made by her husband, Rob Steinhofer. Denise and Rob are the farm’s other two residents (more on them later). Linda brought out some of her excellent sauerkraut to go with the farm’s plump, juicy lamb brats made from heritage Jacob and Tunis sheep.

I hadn’t been to the farm since late last month and it is amazing what a few weeks of spring can do. The three major gardens were exploding with growth, as were the eight mulefoot piglets–who didn’t seem to stop eating the entire time.

I’m not sure if that’s Crystal or Cherry the piglets are latched onto but you can’t deny the expression on her face is the very definition of gratification. At the same time I can’t help but recall seeing stuff like that projected behind the Butthole Surfers. 

The piglets attacked the house slop just as voraciously. When they weren’t doing that they were lined up at the fence competing with the sows for handfuls of grass and clover fed to them by visitors. If you offered your fingers they’d nibble on them.

They’re showing differences already, which isn’t atypical of these old breeds–they haven’t had all the individuality selected out of them. Some are still tiny, while others seem to be bulking up pretty fast. I still haven’t picked one out yet, but I have my eye on a female with white feet who looks a bit longer than the rest.

More pics and video to come.

Video by Elizabeth Gomez