Confessions of a bacon eater

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

Editor’s warning: If you are a vegetarian or a vegan you might want to skip this column.

Yes, I admit it, I love bacon. In fact I love nearly all things that come from pigs although I am hard pressed to recall when and if I’ve ever had pigs feet or head cheese. Give me a good, well done, flavorful pork roast with a couple of pieces of lefse, some real butter, salt and pepper and I’m in heaven.

I grew up on a farm - just two miles west on Highway 19 - and through the years we raised a few animals for the family’s consumption. One year it was turkeys but mostly it was a few pigs, a couple of heads of cattle and often some chickens.

The trouble with my dad was he would grow to be fond of these critters, especially if we gave them a name, so when it came time to turn them into hamburger or roasts, he just couldn’t do it. We had more than a few Elmers or Bessies who never did die anything but a natural death thanks to my soft-hearted papa. I was always kind of proud of that.

My sister and I were very close in age, I was older by only two years. As children we played with these animals, too. Some were ornery and hard to love, like the turkeys, but we managed to muster some affection for just about all the calves and pigs we raised even if we did hate mucking out the barn, stalls and pig pen.

That being said, I want to address the issue of the proposed Animal Feeding Operation that the letter writer told us about in yesterday’s Devils Lake Journal.

The gentleman I spoke with from the North Dakota Department of Health this morning assured me that the proposal submitted by Tayler Aasmundstad was for a medium-sized Animal Feeding Operation, not one of those monster sized CAFOs you see in other parts of the state and around the nation.

Although I inherited my dad’s soft heart and believe that animals should be allowed to roam free and live out their lives in the open air like they did at our house, I realize that isn’t practical for an operation that is made up of larger numbers of sows and piglets.

Yes, I feel sorry for the creatures that don’t ever get to enjoy the out-of-doors, to feel the wind on their faces and a good romp in the green grass. When I drive past the bison farm outside of Grand Forks I cringe when I see the animals standing knee deep in feces and mud - not a blade of grass or open prairie in sight.

I also hold my breath as I drive past the hog farm beside Highway 2 as you head toward Grand Forks from Devils Lake. That smell is horrible.

So, yeah, I guess I’m a little goofy for feeling sorry for these animals, but as I stated from the start, I like my bacon, and ham and summer sausage and so on and so on, too.

When I heard of the location of this proposed AFO I did question it seriously.

It is close to the picturesque little cemetery where my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents rest. It is also where I hope to rest one day, as well, the Norway Lutheran Cemetery.

Not far from this Cemetery is another tiny little cemetery, in someone’s field, where the victims of a diphtheria epidemic took a number of people, including three of my Grandpa Matt Moen’s siblings. They are all three buried in the same grave for they died on the same day. I believe they were 12, 8 and 6 years old. That cemetery pre-dates the Norway Lutheran Church and Cemetery which was established on the hill a few years after the epidemic.

To reach either cemetery you have to drive on the questionable road that heads north of the road that leads to Grahams Island. It was underwater for a number of years and abandoned by the township or county. Now that it has emerged from the lake water, local farmers from the area have added gravel and built it up again so they could use it.

How could that little shabby road handle semi-truck traffic that would come and go from the AFO?

The water table is so high in that whole area, there are numerous areas of wetlands and, yes, the lake itself that could be in danger of pollution should a spill occur.

I am by no means an expert on this topic, I just have some questions and concerns.

With all the high and dry and out-of-the-way places North Dakota has - is this the best place for this kind of operation? I wonder.