HURST — Roger Schuttek of Hurst knows how hard it is for small farms to stay in business. He and Tina Benz own Big Muddy Hogs, a small pasture-based farm that raises livestock humanely without antibiotics or other drugs.
The farm started with chickens, but as the name Big Muddy Hogs suggests, it also raises pigs. They raise Red Wattle, black and Mulefoot hogs.
Schuttek and Benz have a problem. The tractor that is vital to their farming operation is nearly 50 years old.
“Sometimes (we) have to work on it every day just to get it started,” Schuttek said.
To help raise money to purchase a good, used tractor, Schuttek started a GoFundMe account called “Help Big Muddy Hogs get a tractor.” He thought it might help.
So far, the account has $135 of its $30,000 goal.
They use their tractor for “pretty much everything” on the farm from grinding feed to moving hogs to pulling hay.
“We grind and mix our feed here on the farm, and we source the ingredients locally. It eliminates the need for commercial feed,” Schuttek said.
Commercial feed is expensive, and Schuttek likes knowing what is in the feed.
“If the tractor was to die out, just having to purchase the commercial feed could put us out of business because there is such a difference in cost,” Schuttek said.
Since their hogs are raised in a pasture, hogs are moved from pasture to pasture by loading them on a trailer that is pulled with the tractor.
Schuttek and Benz have been able to farm without taking on any debt.
“Farming is one of the hardest things, especially small farms like this. They say most people fail and go out of business within five years,” Schuttek said.
The two began selling meat out of a small store at the farm. Customers can see where and how their animals are raised. Schuttek said the store can be open every day, so it is also more convenient than having to wait for a farmers’ market one day per week.
“With livestock, it’s very had to pack up and spend the day at a market. If we are not here, nobody’s taking care of the animals. If a tree branch falls off a tree and shorts out the electric fence, pigs are really nosey and will figure it out,” Schuttek said.
To make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/help-a-small-farm-get-a-tractor. Big Muddy Hogs is located at 300 Adams St. in Hurst. For more information visit their Facebook page or call 618-922-8724.