Wade Cole is the oldest of seven children. When his father died at the age of 42, Wade took over their 4th-generation farm in Johnston County. “I’ll admit that at the time, I didn’t want to do it. But I also couldn’t imagine giving up the farm,” says Wade. So he quit his job and gave farming a try, raising various types of produce, tobacco, corn, soybeans, poultry, beef and hogs.
Notes Wade, “People don’t realize that making a living farming is hard to do, especially on a small-scale.” After about four years, Wade took a job working for Progress Energy and has been there for the past 31 years. He still farms, but hires some part-time help and spends his evenings and weekends in the fields and with the animals. “I could never give up farming. I love being outdoors and knowing that I’m helping to feed the world,” says Wade.
Today he manages about 100 acres, 10 of which are dedicated to pasture-raised pork production. Wade runs a 14-sow “farrow to finish” operation, selling most of his hogs through the NC Natural Hog Growers Association. Most of his acreage is devoted to rows crops used for feed and habitat for the hogs.
Like many outdoor hog producers, Wade uses his forested areas, as well as mobile huts, to provide the hogs with shelter from the heat and wind. At certain times of the year, the hogs are allowed into fields planted to millet, wheat or rye. While there, they root (i.e, dig up soil with their snout), wallow (i.e., make shallow pools to cool off) and glean crops. Wade raises a mixture of Hampshire, Duroc and Chester White breeds, balancing good mothering traits with meat quality and yields.
Wade is married to Joyce who works full-time as a nurse. They have one son and four granddaughters.
Wade is a member of the NC Natural Hog Growers Association. For more information about the Association, send an email to email@example.com.