Saturday- Austin to St. Peter

We drove from the cold, economical Rodeway Inn out of Austin, MN, the home of Hormel, and arrived at Jarod Ellis' family farm. 

His parents were out of town, so he and his brother were given the charge of caring for younger sister Courtney, who eagerly watched and later participated in the filming process. Ryan, a field agent from Niman, showed up too. 
It was about 20 F, probably colder, so Andy got a chance to wear his coveralls, which are like walking around with a blanket on, he said later. Chores started by checking on female pigs, sows, and little piglets, who in the cold are especially vulnerable to disease, and death. 
From there, walked to the hoop barns, where pigs were fed, and then into an ATV, and over to another property where more pigs were fed in more hoop barns. The "hoops" as they are generally called are filled with straw and manure, and sometimes woodchips. The straw and wood helps to minimize, but certainly not entirely eliminate the smell. 
We tried about 5 different interview locations until returning to our first option, which was at the Ellis dinner table, inside and away from the whipping winds of a cold Minnesota winter. Courtney helped clear the table, and move objects like lights, and mini-whiteboards out of frame. We said she's got a future in set design... She smiled, a smart, well-behaved 5th grader. 
Jarod talked in short responses, usually answering questions directly, and efficiently. It made it a bit difficult to establish a flow of conversation, so we probably covered more questions in a shorter period of time than in previous shoots. 
Jarod talked about how his father's respect, and treating him as a partner, and not a subordinate were probably key in his decision to return to the farm. He said that he believes that in about 20 or 30 years most of the hog barns will be like Niman, because people want to know that their animal is raised humanely. He pointed out that on his farm, everyone working their owns the farm, and therefore has a real interest in making sure that it is a success. At the larger farms, workers are hired who don't care as much about the animals, because they don't stand to gain or lose based on the productivity of the farm. 
We headed out after saying goodbye and drove to St. Peter, where we had lunch at the Co-Op, before finding the most financially inexpensive lodging in the area, the Viking Jr. Motel off of 169. 
After a number of consecutive full work days we both fell asleep for a few hours in the early afternoon. After waking, we headed to a neighboring bowling alley, where we rolled a few games before heading back to the Co-Op for dinner. Sunday would be our first day since last Sunday we'd get some time to fully rejuvenate.
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