Soil and Hogs

Rich soil and chubby hogs helped farmers to thrive.


The source of it all was the land—the soil—rocks deposited here by the glaciers and broken down by eons of weathering into sand, silt and clay. Insects, plants and microorganisms thrived in it. As they died and decayed, the soil became rich with organic nutrients. The growing season from mid-May to October and an annual rainfall of 32 inches; gave Iowa the ideal climate for growing many crops. Farmers raised corn, oats and hay to feed their livestock—hogs being a favorite with Iowa farmers and corn being a favorite with hogs. Porkers usually found a profitable market, so profitable that hogs were called the ‘mortgage lifters’—helping many to pay for their land. A good hog in those days had large hams, plenty of bacon and lard. Although a farmer couldn’t control nature, he could guide it through selective breeding—each generation evolving into higher quality livestock.

Iowa Heritage Roots in the Soil

Iowa PBS