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
“Plant beans and squash when the lilacs are in full bloom,” or “plant peas when you hear the Spring peepers” are based on animal and plant behavior related to the accumulated warmth of the season. In the era when everyone farmed, at least on a subsistence level, such observations were once commonplace and widely used, … More Wisdom From Nature
What do you picture when you hear the word “farmer”? The image we are presented with in commercials and children’s books is of an older white male, perhaps wearing a plaid shirt and a mesh cap, often perched atop an old John Deere or Case tractor. And for the past 6 decades or so, this … More Farming While Female
Our culture has always had a fascination with group performances. There is synergy—even magic—in the collective movement of a dance troupe, or an orchestra playing music together. When it’s done well, it is a visual and auditory feast. But if someone is having a bad day and gets off rhythm or misses a cue, the … More Farm Choreography
Loving Animals, Eating Animals Recently at Shelterbelt Farm, we harvested our first beef. The two steers were shot on-farm, which avoided all the stresses of transport. They lived the high life until the very last minute, content to graze with their herd, free to do as they pleased. But I have had several people express … More Loving Animals, Eating Animals
My 5-year-old loves Bee Movie. If you missed it, it’s an amusing animated movie whose protagonist is a bee named Barry, narrated by Jerry Seinfeld. It’s designed for kids everywhere to love. But I got so angry watching it that I wanted to throw something at the screen. Why would such an endearing movie nearly … More What Are We Teaching Our Children About Farming?
My 9-year-old daughter Rowan sparked an interesting discussion recently by asking, “Why do we use money for everything?” Kids are great examiners of things we adults take for granted. As always, her question got me thinking. Before the advent of money, humans got what they needed by trading with each other, exchanging goods or services … More The Barter Economy