On animals and worldviews

I suspect that one of the driving forces of the greatest changes in society over the past 100 years versus the past several millenia has been specific movement of people away from caring for food animals. One cannot help but … Continue reading

I suspect that one of the driving forces of the greatest changes in society over the past 100 years versus the past several millenia has been specific movement of people away from caring for food animals.

One cannot help but learn about the brutal realities of the cycle of life to death to life when one cares for food animals. As a result, one cannot help but see the realities of the same cycle in every other part of life. Such realizations cannot help but make someone more pragmatic at the least, if not even a little fatalistic.

That kind of pragmatism then fueled all sorts of ways of thinking that dominated most of human history. And while, yes, that thinking justified all sorts of things we moderns consider savage and inhuman, it also gave birth to the world we have today and, to a great part, continues to sustain it long after most people have forgotten what it all might mean.

Now, being engaged in that kind of undertaking, I find my own thinking inevitably changed by the reality of what I do. In some ways I am softer. In some ways I am harder than I ever imagined I could ever be. My focus is different–dare I say, more focused–and the change in my view of the realities of life and death could not be more profound.

I understand the impracticality of a general return to agriculture, but I cannot help but wonder if we would not benefit from a return to some parts of the worldview it fostered. We need more pragmatism in a world sometimes blinded by the shining and ofttimes false optimism of modernity.  We could do worse than to revisit history, and I’m certain we can benefit from it.

DLH

Winter milkweed

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Milkweed is food for the monarch butterfly. As we have reduced the amount of mechanical mowing we do on the farm by using the goats, and also changed how we mow the hay pasture, flowers and plants have been regrowing – and popping up in new places!

This is on the north side of the barn hill – the goats mowed this area last spring.

We’re so pleased to see the wild plants come back – with more milkweed, perhaps we will see more monarchs this year.

And so much more…

I’ve discovered over the past five years that people have huge preconceptions about what being a farmer means. I know, coming in, I had all sorts of them, and I know I am surrounded by fellow farmers who have deeply … Continue reading

I’ve discovered over the past five years that people have huge preconceptions about what being a farmer means. I know, coming in, I had all sorts of them, and I know I am surrounded by fellow farmers who have deeply held ideas about their profession. One of my first posts on this site dealt with one of them, and dredged up the almost predictable responses (I’m not linking to it simply because I want to talk about something else).

One of the preconceptions I had coming in was the nature of what farm work meant in the first place. Many people, including my onetime self, have the idea that farming is as simple as growing and harvesting a crop or raising and selling an animal. I’m here to tell you firsthand that, whatever kind of farming one does, that could not be further from the truth.

Even at its most monoculture, farming is a polyculture because it cannot be anything else. Farming demands knowledge of everything from agriculture to zoology and demands the farmer be everything from an accountant to a zoo keeper.

It’s not an accident, then, that history notes the rise of farming intertwined with the rise of what we think of as civilization. Domesticating, planting, raising, harvesting, and slaughtering plants and animals for food in more effective and efficient ways is the necessary mother that gave rise to everything we take for granted today, either by inventing the things we have or by enabling the things we have to be invented.

And so, in the end, I can think of few other undertakings as intensive and broad as that of the farmer. Granted, the hurdles are tall and the valleys are deep, but if anyone wants to fully challenge himself in the pursuit of life, the vocation of farmer is a place to do it.

DLH

A new addition

It’s always hard after a dog dies. The house gets less chaotic, more quiet. But rushing out to fill that hole isn’t the best thing to do – grieving must happen, because that animal wasn’t “just a dog”, but a part of the family.

Sounds a bit “woo-woo”, but you really do know when it’s time to start looking. And Lola is who we brought home from the Darke County animal shelter, right before the coldest days of the winter.

She’s not housebroken, so we walk her outside every hour or so during the day (and a few times overnight).

She has separation anxiety, which has led to much cleaning of the carpets after she “stress poos” on them.

She wants to gnaw on our arms, in addition to her proper chew toys.

She barks at that dog in the bathroom mirror, lays across our feet, plays keep-away with the tennis ball, loves belly rubs, and smiles when we love on her.

She’s not a replacement, she’s an addition. Welcome to the family, Lola.

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