Sat. Jun 15th, 2024


by Ana Grarian

For some reason I have the character “Pigpen” from Charles Schultz’s “Charlie Brown” on my mind. Maybe it is from watching our four happy piglets rooting around their pasture. This is the first time I have raised pigs on pasture myself, and it is wonderful to watch.

Our four little guys are cleaning out some pasture lots that have not been used for a long time. The lots are filled with berry briars, and wildflowers and weeds. The pigs are tireless in their exploration like any young thing. They nibble on wild mustard garlic, mint and dandelions, and then use their snouts to root up tasty morsels that might be hidden underground. Everything from small logs to lawn chairs must be moved to investigate underneath.This gives the piggies their characteristic dirty snouts. 

When the grandchildren were little, they had pretty much free range around the farmstead. I gave them little garden tools for digging in the dirt. We investigated under rocks and behind loose tree bark. Rolling down hill was a warm weather joy. One day they had the best time playing top of the hill on a friends dirt pile. They got dirty!

It didn’t concern me much. Both they and their clothes were washable. We’d clean hands and faces before meals and snacks. The rest came off in the tub before bed. Or,in the summer,during multiple trips through the pool. They were happy and healthy.

Pigpen is always depicted as a happy character, and thoughtful. He doesn’t get up in arms about much. His Mom and Charlie Brown seem to accept him as he is. Charlie Brown once defended him saying: “Don’t think of it as dust. Just think of it as the dirt and dust of far-off lands blowing over here and settling on “Pig-Pen!” It staggers the imagination! He may be carrying the soil that was trod upon by Solomon or Nebuchadnezzar or Genghis Khan!”

As the appearance of radioactivity from the Fukushima disaster in Vermont dairy cows shows us, this is entirely possible. We are an integral part of the planet, and it’s soil is present in all of us. According to Old Testament scholars like, Ellen Davis of Duke University, we are not just made from dust and destined to return to dust, but we are made from soil, humus, fertile earth. It’s right there in the first human’s name Adam(a).

.. the word “dam” dalet- mem, is Hebrew for blood.  Second, adama, alef-dalet-mem-hey, is Hebrew for earth or soil.  Third, adam comes from within the word adama, (adam is one word for man.)  This shows man came from within the soil.  Fourth, what sustains life?  Blood or “dam,” once again, all these Hebrew words are within the root of adama.  And lastly, the color of blood is adon, (Hebrew for red).Altogether these individual words….tell the story that man came from the soil or earth,.. man’s life is in the soil and … the blood is red.

Gardening has been posited to enhance both mental and physical health through exercise and being in touch with our nurturing side, and may just contain a wonderful little happy pill!

It’s in the dirt. Or to be a little more specific, a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. And on top of that, this little bacterium has been found to improve cognitive function and possibly even treat cancer and other diseases. Which means that contact with soil, through gardening or other means, is beneficial.

So “get a little piggy with it”.

Go out and play in the dirt.

Take a kid to the sandbox.

Walk barefoot in the park.

Just get down and dirty with nature!


By AFarmer

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Ken Carman
12 years ago

Want to trade houses? You can have plenty of that ancient dust, relics and… is that a spider or a holy scarab?

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