As a child and through his teen years, Jennings was very involved in his family farm but chose not to pursue it as a career because of the risks associated with expanding the operation. Instead, Jennings went to college, studied chemical engineering and built an off-farm career. In recent years, he has worked as an Engineering Manager for the Department of Health & Human Sciences and now as Facilities/Safety Director for Eastpointe Human Services.
In 2013, Jennings decided to bring hogs back to his family farm. “The way we’re doing it now -- raising hogs outdoors--really isn’t a whole lot different than the way we did it 30-40 years ago.” Jennings is making good use of about 20 acres of thick woods on his farm. He has fenced off and sectioned an area and installed A-frame farrowing huts for his sows (momma hogs) and their piglets to live. Once those pigs are weaned (at nine to 10 weeks of age), they are moved to another wooded area and raised as a group to their finished weight (about 300 pounds). Yet another wooded area bordering a pasture is dedicated to his boars and gilts (not yet bred females). “I’m fortunate to have more woods to expand into--its ideal habitat for the hogs.” To ensure that he has hogs ready all-year round, Jennings constructed a covered (and thus warm) barn with farrowing pens for sows to give birth in the winter.
Jennings’s family is involved in other agricultural enterprises, including a wholesale muscadine grape operation. His cousin is managing most of their row crop operation on leased land and he grows the grains needed to feed their hogs. “After all those years of contraction, its gratifying to invest in our farm and see it grow again.”