In Around The Web on May 9, 2011 at 8:39 am
From MARK T. MITCHELL
Front Porch Republic
[See also: Gene Logsdon — Oxen Power for Family Farms]
A New York Times piece, describes the renewed interest in animal power among some small farmers. Mind you, these are not quaint Pa Ingalls actors demonstrating out-dated farming techniques to giggling groups of school children. There is a logic to this shift, one that we are all encountering when we fill up the gas tanks of our cars.
As diesel prices skyrocket, some farmers who have rejected many of the past century’s advances in agriculture have found a renewed logic in draft power. Partisans argue that animals can be cheaper to board and feed than any tractor. They also run on the ultimate renewable resource: grass.
Of course, a yoke of oxen are not suited to farming huge tracts of land, so questions of scale immediately present themselves. Nevertheless, for some farmers, the benefits are numerous:
In Around The Web on May 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm
The hummingbird successfully crossing the Gulf of Mexico is adaptive, mile by mile, to the distance. It does not exceed its own mental and physical capacities, and it makes the trip exactly like pre-industrial human migrants on contemporary energy.
For humans, local adaptation is not work for a few financiers, and a few intellectual and political hotshots. This is work for everybody, requiring everybody’s intelligence. It is work inherently democratic.
What must we do?
First. We must not work or think on a heroic scale. In our age of global industrialism, heroes too likely risk the lives of people, places and things they do not see. We must work on a scale proper to our limited abilities. We must not break things we cannot fix. There is no justification ever for permanent ecological damage. More Wendell Berry…
In Around The Web on February 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm
From MAKENNA GOODMAN
Holy Shit: The Secret Behind Creating Truly Sustainable Food
MG: When I moved to a farm in rural Vermont, I knew life would be a far cry from the New York literary world from whence I came. I knew even though plaid shirts, work boots, and waxed canvas coats cover the fashion magazines these days-life on a real farm has nothing to do with image or status. I do have to say, however, when I meet my old city friends on the streets of Brooklyn to hock eggs or pumpkins, I have been known to brag. Not about how amazing farm life is, or how well I can pitch hay, but rather, how familiar I am with shit these days. And how in awe I am of poop. I tell my friends about where my chickens leave their dollops, and how that’s actually money in the bank.
Shit rules my life-or at least it should, if I were a good farmer. Don’t be grossed out. If you’re into food, you’ve got to embrace manure. The bowel movement after all (human and animal), More Gene Interview…
In Around The Web on December 17, 2010 at 8:10 am
From GENE LOGSDON
People talk about Peak Oil, but we’re also at Peak Fertilizer.
I never thought I’d see the day when shit — the bodily kind — would make headlines the way it is right now.
When my book about managing manure, Holy Shit, came out recently, erstwhile friends grinned and remarked, “You’ve been shooting the bull all your life so, sure, why not write a book about it?”
But this time what I’m writing is definitely not B.S. The current fertilizer crisis is real. Chemical fertilizer prices rise and fall with every change of pulse in supply and demand, but they are definitely on a long-term rise — not only because production and transportation costs are increasing, but because of anticipated shorter supplies in the future. People talk about Peak Oil, but we’re also at Peak Fertilizer. More Manure…
In Around The Web on July 24, 2010 at 8:43 am
From WENDELL BERRY
For more than 100 years the coal-producing counties of eastern Kentucky have been dependent on the coal industry, which has dominated them politically and, submitting only to the limits of technology, has come near to ruining them. The legacy of the coal economy in the Kentucky mountains will be immense and lasting damage to the land and to the people. Much of the damage to the land and the streams, and to water quality downstream, will be irreparable within historical time. The lastingness of the damage to the people will, to a considerable extent, be determined by the people.
The future of the people will, in turn, be determined by the kind of economy that may come to supplement and finally to replace the economy of coal. Contrary to my own prejudice and sense of caution, I am going to yield here, briefly, to the temptation to talk about the future. more
In Around The Web on March 1, 2010 at 6:48 am
[...]The Crop Mob, a monthly word-of-mouth (and -Web) event in which landless farmers and the agricurious descend on a farm for an afternoon, has taken its traveling work party to 15 small, sustainable farms. Together, volunteers have contributed more than 2,000 person-hours, doing tasks like mulching, building greenhouses and pulling rocks out of fields.
“The more tedious the work we have, the better,” Jones said, smiling. “Because part of Crop Mob is about community and camaraderie, you find there’s nothing like picking rocks out of fields to bring people together.”… The Mob was formed during a meeting about issues facing young farmers, during which an intern declared that better relationships are built working side by side than by sitting around a table. So one day, 19 people went to Piedmont Biofarm and harvested, sorted and boxed 1,600 pounds of sweet potatoes in two and a half hours. A year later, the Crop Mob e-mail list has nearly 400 subscribers, and the farm fests now draw 40 to 50 volunteers…
One of the biggest issues facing sustainable agriculture is that it’s “way, way, way more labor-intensive than industrial agriculture,” Jones said. “It’s not sustainable physically, and it’s not sustainable for people personally: they’re working all the time and don’t have an opportunity to have a social life. So I think Crop Mob brings that celebration to the work, so that you get that sense of community that people are looking for, and you get a lot of work done. And we have a lot of fun.”[...]
More at NYT→
In Around The Web on February 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm
From ELIOT COLEMAN
Four Season Farm
The radical idea behind by organic agriculture is a change in focus.
[This post was adapted from an address given at the recent Eco-Farm conference in California.]
When a friend told me of two of the proposed discussion topics for a major agricultural conference — “What is so radical about radical agriculture?” and “Is small the only beautiful?” — I told him that I thought both questions had the same answer. Let me see if I can explain.
The radical idea behind organic agriculture is a change in focus. The new focus is on the quality of the crops grown and their suitability for human nutrition. That is a change from the more common focus on growing as much quantity as possible and using whatever chemical techniques contribute to increasing that quantity.
None of the non-chemical techniques associated with organic farming are radical or new. Compost, crop rotations, green manures and so forth are age-old agricultural practices. What is radical is the belief that these time-proven “natural” techniques produce food that is more nourishing for people and livestock than food grown with chemicals. What is radical is successfully pursuing that “unscientific” belief against the counter-propaganda and huge commercial power of the agrochemical industry. more→
In Around The Web on December 29, 2009 at 3:10 pm
From SHARON ASTYK
Over at ye olde blogge, on one of my Independence Days updates, a reader commented on something that I’d posted. I’d mentioned that we are having trouble with goat parasites – most specifically, meningeal worm. Meningeal worm is a parasite is hosted by snails and transmitted by the feces of white tailed deer. It is worst in camelids like llamas and alpacas, but goats are a secondary host, and two of does, Selene and Mina, have it. It is most common after a wet summer and warm fall – this past summer was the wettest in living memory here – we had almost 20 inches of rain in June alone, and it was generally a warm fall, with few frosts. We’re lucky – we knew what it is, our vet knew how to treat it, and we caught it fairly early, so everyone should be fine.
In order to prevent recurrence, I have two choices. The first is large doses of wormer, much larger than one would typically give a goat. There are two problems with this – first, the possible health consequences of using this as preventative, the second that a growing immunity to wormers in general, including the two specific ones most effective on this parasite is a chronic issue with goats.
Complete article here→
Image credit: Turnbridge Hill Farm
In Around The Web on December 11, 2009 at 9:06 am
From JILL RICHARDSON
La Vida Locavore
Today, Michael Pollan participated in a panel discussion at University of Wisconsin. The panel consisted of two farmers, a UW student who grew up on the farm, and Michael Pollan. The UW student had an enormous smile plastered on her face. Something told me that she wasn’t there to talk about her family’s organic farm. And you know what? If you’re looking to put Michael Pollan in a difficult position, it was clever. It reminded me of the Palin/Biden Vice Presidential Debate. The last thing Biden could do was aggressively debate Palin, as it would put the audience on her side as the victim of a bully. Or, as Saturday Night Live’s fake Joe Biden put it:
My goal tonight was a simple one: to come up here and at no point seem like a condescending, ego-maniacal bully. and I’ll be honest: I think I nailed it. There were moments when I wanted to say, “This lady’s a dummy!” But I didn’t.
Michael Pollan nailed it too. This cute, cheerleadery, young girl spouted off every single Big Ag talking point in the book. (I kept expecting her to start winking, Sarah Palin-style.) The last thing he could do was pick a fight with a student. That would turn into an ugly incident that would make national headlines. The many Farm Bureau members in the audience would make sure of it. His response to the student was nothing short of brilliant.
Full article here→
Thanks to comment from Becky