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Meet Heather

photo of Heather Sandford at the Ithaca Farmer's Market

Heather Sandford owns and runs The Piggery, a pig farm that specializes in raising heritage breeds and taking them all the way to the finished product.  You can learn more about their story at their website:  We recently caught up with Heather and asked her a few questions about what a "Day in the Life" is like for her:

Describe a typical day at work for you.

"Our farm has evolved… When we first started, every day involved work with our pigs. This included pasture rotations, feeding, watering, collecting whey from local cheeseries to feed them, loading them onto the USDA trailer, etc.  Since we have an on farm butcher shop, our day also involved cutting and preparing fresh meat for sale.  Now we have a full time farm manager who does the day to day chores, but we're on call to help move the herd or address any problems."

What are 3 skills you use regularly?

  • Multitasking
  • Creativity (how do I fix this problem with limited resources???)
  • Customer service skills (you have to sell the meat you produce!)

What do you like most about your job?

"I LOVE working with our heritage breed herd, restoring our land, and feeding our community good food."  Sounds really fulfilling!

Would you have pictured yourself in this career?  What did you want to be when you "grew up"?

"A rock star.  Seriously - I played bass guitar in bands and was a DJ for years.  Turns out pig farming is equally fun."  What a perfect example of being open-minding and trying things out to find out what you enjoy!"

What background and training do you have? 

"I went to Cornell for Agricultural and Biological Engineering where I mostly focused on water systems.  Brad (my husband) went to school at Cornell for Genetics.  We received no training from former employers.  We are self-taught farmers and butchers."

Do you have any advice for students interested in careers with animals?

"Be true to yourself. We first started working with chickens and cows and it just wasn't for us.  Don't force yourself to work on a project that's not right for you (I mean sometimes you have to, to pay the bills.....).  But I know we wouldn't be happy or do as good of job being dairy farmers. After raising a few hogs for ourselves, we knew we had found our animal.  We think we do a better job raising hogs because we understand how to make them happy :)."  Great advice:  do what you’re good at and find your niche!"

Heather is a great example of how you never know where life is going to take you! So keep your eyes and ears open and find your piece of the world. You could be the next pig-raising rock star!