The Vads are new to farming, but they have found their niche with Mangalista hogs
While many young adults are leaving farming and agriculture for other careers, Aron and Midge Vad are actively involved in creating a working farm for themselves and their children.
Aron, 36, is the director of Treasury Services at the Assemblies of God National Headquarters in Springfield, Mo. Midge, 32, was an elementary school educator when the couple met.
Neither Aron nor Midge had a background in agriculture but were becoming concerned with chemicals and additives used in food production. Midge began to learn as much as possible about small-scale farming and shared the information with Aron. As their family grew, with Eva (8), Ella (6), Easton (5) and Eden (3), they decided to begin farming.
“We wanted to get into it to give our children an experience and lifestyle that few other children have.” Midge said.
A year-long search for the right property ended in 2015, when the couple found 10 acres with a large house and barn that needed extensive renovation. In less than two years, the couple gutted the house down to the studs and rebuilt it in a way that created a warm, modern home with rustic accents.
At the same time, they made needed improvements to the barn, fenced the property, and created a 50-foot-by-50-foot garden.
“We intend to become as self-sustaining as possible and grow our own food, including meat, fruits and veggies,” Midge said. “I am now a stay-at-home mom and farmer who now homeschools the four little ones. I also make authentic tiramisu, an Italian dessert, for my business, The Tiramisu Company.
“Aron’s parents live in Mico, Texas, and recently got into farming. They gave us our first breeding pair of Mangalista hogs.”
The Mangalista was developed in Hungary from the European wild boar over 200 years ago. It is the only hog breed that grows a hairy fleece similar to that of sheep. The breed has three different color variations: blonde, swallow-bellied (black on top with a blonde belly) and red.
“We have two of the three colors, blonde and swallow-belly, and hope to add a red to our breeding program in the future,” Midge said. “When you first see Mangalitsa pork, you are surprised by its deep, dark red color and marbling from beautiful, pure white fat. The human body needs ‘essential fats’ containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for many purposes including building healthy cells and maintaining brain and nerve function. Our bodies can’t produce these fatty acids; the only source is food. There’s growing evidence that they lower the risk of heart disease and may also protect against type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and age-related brain decline.”
The diet offered by the Vads to the pigs also impacts the quality of the pork they produce.
“Because we allow our Mangalistas to mature at a natural rate and to forage on a variety of plant materials, their fat is mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, and high in essential omega fatty acids,” Midge said. “We only supplement their diet with fermented oats during the winter when the vegetation is limited.
“The best meat and highest percentage of good fat comes from 16- to 18-month old animals that weigh between 300 and 350 pounds. The meat is delicious and is becoming very popular with some of the world’s greatest chefs. When Mangilista pork is available to the public, it sells for incredible prices.”
Midge added that the temperament of the breed makes them ideal for their small family farm.
“The hogs are almost like dogs, come when we call them by name and follow us anywhere, which makes it easy to rotate grazing or bring them inside. We currently have Bacon, Pork Chop, Starsky and Louise. Because both the boars and sows are not aggressive but are in fact gentle and calm, even the kids enjoy helping take care of them” Midge continued.
Midge and Aron sell breeding pairs of Mangalistas and raise some for their own use. The hogs are the focus of their farming operation now, but Midge’s parents purchased an adjoining 30 acres and are planning to build a large green house in the near future.
“My parents, as well as my four siblings and their families, are considering moving here to take advantage of the farming lifestyle. Aron and I are also trying to talk his parents into retiring here,” Midge said. “I want to learn to can vegetables and process our own meat. We intend to stay small to effectively utilize our land but will sell any surplus locally.”
The Vads also have chickens for eggs, a cow and goats for milk, an Guinea fowl for tick control. They also have two Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd cross dogs that patrol the farm at night to protect the livestock. Their long term goals are to provide for their family and to enjoy the healthy life style that will result from eating nutritious food that they know is free from chemicals, additives and preservatives.