Tom Henry is finally getting a happy ending to a story that he initially thought would end in tragedy.
After the last few months of scrambling to find a place for the hundreds of pigs that were living in a barn on Happy Valley Road, Henry has found them a new home.
“I’m feeling like this is going to have a really great ending,” said Henry, owner of the Stillmeadow Farm.
Stillmeadow Farm has been operating for the past 60 years, supplying to places such as Red Barn Market and other butchers in Victoria. But it’s only within the last decade that Henry has rented the current facility to operate the pig farm, which also includes sheep, chickens, hay and grain.
However in June, Henry received news that the landlord planned on tearing down the barn to replace it with housing, forcing Henry to vacate the premise by February.
Henry desperately sprung into action trying to find a new home for the roughly 350 pigs or he would be forced to shut down the business. He looked into the possibility of purchasing or renting other barns in Metchosin, as well as places north of the Malahat and out by the Victoria International Airport, however, nothing worked out.
“We were absolutely devastated by the thought of losing these pigs,” Henry said. “When you’ve been around these sows (the mothers) for this long you really build relationships with them and the thought of seeing them go off for slaughter was just too much to consider.”
That’s when he stumbled across a piece of property his wife’s family owned. And after months of calculating and pencil work, along with support from customers, plans are now in the works to move the pigs to the new property on Wootton Road in Metchosin. Henry was just waiting on the green light from council to approve a development variance permit for the roughly 10-acre piece of land, which was approved during a meeting earlier this week.
As for the pigs, Henry plans on building a new 14,000-square-foot barn. The fabric-covered building, which includes a view of the ocean, will offer lots of light, and will have walls that can be rolled up so the pigs can get fresh air anytime of day in any weather – a style of building Henry first encountered by farmers who were using it for cattle in Ontario. Two smaller storage buildings to store shavings and manure will also be built.
“With council’s decision, we can go ahead with this barn, it gives us the chance to do something that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a farmer,” Henry said.
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