“On the farm with Keegan-Filion, Dockery’s, and Farmstead Co. “
By Mary Scott Hardaway
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Less than a week old, the babies are a pale blush, seven huddled in a corner between the heat lamp and their mother’s snout. In an adjoining pen, five week-olds roam independently of the sow, feeding and lounging, black and white with wiggly tails and sharp hooves. “Sometimes they get stuck, sometimes they don’t want to start breathing right away. We’ll wipe their mouth, shake them,” says farmer Marc Filion, who will wake up every two hours throughout the night when he knows a sow is about to give birth.
Marc, who runs Keegan-Filion farm in Walterboro with his wife, Annie, and son and daughter-in-law Jesse and Amy, knows every animal on his farm, whether he’s helping them catch their first breath or lighting their heat lamp.
At Keegan-Filion they raise chickens, turkeys, four breeds of swine, and cattle in a humane environment — it’s exhausting, 24/7, 365 days-a-year work with morning, afternoon, and evening chores. There are easier ways to raise animals, without fresh straw laid down every day, without fans in every pig pen and a system of moving the chicken houses daily so they can roam and graze on new patches of grass. Marc says when he’s lucky he gets two-to-three hours on Sundays between his farm duties to relax. He and Annie haven’t taken a vacation in six years.