He proudly displayed his two new herd boars — two purebred Durocs — standing sentinel to roughly 50 York/Landrace cross gilts.

He will use both natural service and AI to service the gilts. He has only had the herd for roughly a month, as he purchased them shortly after the Chinese New Year — the most important holiday in the Chinese culture.

As we learned about his operations and motivation to raise pigs, his wife diligently swept (not scraped) the manure into a channeling trough that ultimately ran onto his neighbor's vegetables (and everything else) with an old-fashioned, traditional broom.

They feed a complete, pelleted feed purchased from their local feed store, but have no idea of its contents. They simply tell the feed supplier what they need and the age/size of the pigs.

The feed store then gives them a suitable feed at a suitable price. They have absolutely no idea what DDGS is and ethanol is literally and figuratively a foreign idea.

The couple had three buildings that would eventually become their farrowing house, finisher and gestation barn.

Currently, everything was housed together as the boars may have been 300 pounds, but the gilts were about 200 pounds.

Although it was a relatively new setup, the facility lacked slatted floors or nipple waters — veritable "must haves" in modern swine production. What would easily be a part time job in the United States, fully employed two people — Mr and Mrs Chen — in China.

As we said our goodbyes, I couldn't help but gaze in the not so far distance and see factory smokestacks piercing the sky like needles and think to myself all of the astonishing economic progress and improvements taking place, literally all around me.

I wished them good luck and we were on our way.