We’ve had a much-needed break from livestock chores over the Winter, and time for reflecting and planning. In that time we have finished redesigning the barn. I’m struggling to marshal enthusiasm about the process of rebuilding, but I am very excited for the structure to be complete! The only similarities to the old barn will … More What’s Next for Shelterbelt?
7 work parties, more than 75 volunteers, and 11 dumpsters. That’s our fire clean-up effort by the numbers. Of course, the numbers don’t tell anything close to the full story. While it is undeniably depressing to watch your life’s work leave the farm in dumpsters, our friends, families, neighbors, and customers have made it impossible … More With Full Hearts
Social media allows people to curate an image of themselves they want to project to the world, and it is almost never the full picture of what is going on in that person’s life. The same can be said of farming. Instagram is full of magazine-cover-worthy images of #farmlife; rugged, attractive farmers, fat healthy animals, … More The Full Picture of Farming
There aren’t many good things to say about the pandemic that has dragged on for 7 months with no end in sight. One silver lining for almost every small-scale farmer I’ve spoken with: customers have been flocking to buy local food this year, especially meat and eggs. If you are one of those customers, thank … More Where’s the Meat?
When I can no longer see my counter through the piles of apples, peppers, and tomatoes, and I’ve stubbed my toe at least twice on the canning pot that is parked for a few months on my kitchen floor, I think about how we’re not so different from wild animals. Putting up food for the … More Squirrel Mode, aka Winter Feed Math
The frigid temps of Winter arrived early this year. That first morning we woke up to a landscape covered in snow and temps in the teens, we shivered just looking out the window, and only left the house when clad in bulky layers. Our house pets, like us, have not grown a winter coat, and … More In Defense of Outwintering Livestock
The US is in love with speed and productivity. Amazon Prime can get a package to your door in less than a day. Increasing speed of data transfer is the holy grail of technology developers. We even want our food to hurry up, so our country spawned fast food restaurants spreading like tumors around the … More Slow Food: What Matters More than Efficiency?
Two years ago I helped my then-5-year-old son plant a sunflower seed in March. I told him was much too early. Undaunted, he tucked the seed into a small pot filled with soil. I was sure his attention would not span the months it takes for a seed to grow into a large, healthy plant, … More Growing Transplants Without Fossil Fuel Heat
It’s the time of year when our lambs are coming off pasture and heading to “freezer camp.” It’s a terrible euphemism, I know. But farmers–like cops, coroners, and other professionals who deal with the nastier parts of life–have our own brand of gallows humor. We’ve been raising animals for meat for 12 years now, starting … More Little Packages of Meat
There are a lot of factors that have contributed to the death of the family farm—most of them financial—but I believe a lack of social sustainability played a role too. By “social sustainability” I mean working conditions that can be sustained in the long term for a farmer. It’s common knowledge that farm work is … More Getting Away from the Farm