Another Organic (dogma) Fight

I guess I must really be contrary to get into a tiff with the crew over at The Contrary Farmer blog.

That's Gene Logsdon's blog, he's a great author of books like All Flesh is Grass (that's an Amazon link btw) He went off the other day about how the government is going to ruin organic farming by providing subsidies for specific programs farmers adopt.

I'm not going to rehash the whole thing, it's as simple as government never does good vs. government can do good - sometimes, you can read what was said there if you want.

But my rant here is more about me vs. true believers of all stripes. I have a hard time fitting into groups where agreeing 99% of the time is as bad as being a complete heretic. Of course all groups feel that way:

"What, you say you agree with most of the concepts of permaculture?!"
"You think organic is best yet also believe the government should encourage it just like they do the big guys?"
"You think oil will get harder to find and extract but we won't even notice?"

"You think oil will get harder to find and extract and we will all die?"

You don't BELIVE 100% the party line regarding GMOs (AGW, Y2.012k, vaccines)?
You don't BELIVE 100% in seed balls (caveman diet, high colonics, colloidal silver, Ben Bernanke)?

I guess that's the reason I'm tapping here, I'm the only group I agree with most of the time - not always, but mostly.


Farm o'the Day:


Poverty in the 'burbs

Not surprisingly the decade of the naughts (or maybe they will come to be known as the oughts) saw a rise in suburban poverty as commodities of all kinds - especially fossil fuel, began what might be permanent inflation. The Brookings Institution, in The Suburbanization of Poverty found an increase of 25% in the level of poverty in US suburbs.

Between 2000 and 2008, suburbs in the country’s largest metro areas saw their poor population grow by 25 percent—almost five times faster than primary cities and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities.

The peak of the Great American Credit Hoax saw the banks reading the tea leaves regarding their little scheme of making profits from "fees"and their own over-exuberance around the whiz-bang "securitized mortgages" and put the breaks on credit. Home "owners" of course had become quite comfortable rolling their plastic debt into ever-increasing home debt. Unfortunately, someone realized somewhere along the line that home prices were a musical chair illusion and all of a sudden the music stopped.

There are over 14 million salespeople in the US, more than 4 million janitors and 3.48 million hairdressers, etc but only 438,490 farmers, fishers and woodsmen (woodspeople?)

It doesn't seem too surprising, to me at least, that since the cities are where all the "jobs" are, in a climate like this that is also where the "lost jobs" are too.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

-- Wonderland, Chapter 6


Farm o'the Day:


Bringing Home the Bacon

 Research in the early 1970s found half of respondents would prefer to live in a small town or rural area instead of a suburb or urban setting.

But as it turned out, what they really wanted was to have both - any surprise there? People want the feeling of living in the country but they want all the conveniences and amenities of the city too. In other words they want to commute!

So as usual the Boomers got their wish and moved onto little 5-10 acre plots outside of the cities and built 3,000 sf boxes and planted a horse in the lawn for decoration. For little town fans like me they did some good things including adding to the rural tax base, which improves schools and infrastructure of all kinds. But as far as supporting any of the local businesses in the small towns they moved near, beyond the gas n go at the onramp to the interstate I doubt there was much impact.

But now that we've entered a period where the price of gasoline seems to be stuck above $2.50 I wonder if those folks will start shopping a little closer to home? That would be the idea situation for the small town, commuters carpooling to the city for employment but spending their paychecks at home and building up their local economy.

Today's Farm News
by Pops

Small Farm Mobbed!

Farm o'the Day:

*1 Residential Preferences and Population Distribution 1973


Small Farming IS Diversified Farming

I do outside chores for a neighboring dairy in trade for their bull calves. We raise the little buggers on the bottle and then get them up to a size to sell as feeders usually around 400-500 pounds.

Now this isn't nearly as pastorally photogenic as frisky calves frolicking around their mommas on a pretty meadow but on a small farm of 40 acres like ours, making very much moola as a cow/calf operation is hard. You must feed momma the whole while she is pregnant and nursing a calf to weaning age. The net effect is you are feeding 1,200 pounds of cow/calf to nourish a 200# calf. Once our calves are on the pasture we can feed 5 with the same amount of grass as one cow/calf pair.

Raising bottle calves entails 6-8 weeks of bottle feeding, then transitioning to grains and hay and only after several months to grass. They are kept in single hutches for a couple of weeks to get used to the bottle and so we can keep a good eye on them.

The first big challenges to their young immune system comes at around 2 weeks as the passive immunity they received from the colostrum collected from their mothers in the first days after birth begins to wear off. Once they are starting to eat grains we put them in groups of 5 and continue feeding milk replacer. Finally at around 6 to 8 weeks and once they are eating grain well and starting to pay attention to hay they are weaned.

But the truth of raising bottle calves in any number is that poop happens! Mix in some spilled hay and bedding of whatever kind and what you have is the makings of some fine compost. Of course w that is black gold for market farmers. Our tight, silty loam soil can use all the loosening compost we can pour on. We follow organic rules for hot composting but still always let it mellow the required time before applying to crops: from raw manure to harvest - 120 days for ground contact crops like carrots and 90 for above ground crops.

So in just that little chain there is labor trade, cattle ranching, hay farming and market gardening. The best part is the fertility from the hay and feed concentrates brought on the farm for the most part stay here, cattle use very little of what they eat - and heaven knows I don't sell enough vegetables to export much fertility!



Have you heard the saying "It's never to early to plant the first time"?

I got off to a good start here last year (at least as far as posting regularly) but then became sidetracked - ran-off-the-rails is closer to the truth, so I'm going to start over. I'm going to try mixing in more of what we're doing along with my observations as to why I think the rebirth of small farming is important.

Next time I'll let you in on my dirty little secret: I have more unfinished projects than I can count.

Today's Farm News
by Pops
Hoop House Grants

Farm-Blog o'the Day:
Freshman Farmer