Friday, February 04, 2011

The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer :: Chapter 2 Book Report

The second chapter of Joel Salatin's latest book is titled, "Grass Farmer" and it is another one of those passion topics for him. It's easy to understand why because the soil and the grass (and the sun) are the basis of any farm like Mr. Salatin's. In this chapter he gives a great overview of the importance of grass and the basics of grass farming. You can tell that he has changed his grazing management over time and has now moved to more of tall grass mob grazing system as opposed to the managed intensive grazing he practiced when he wrote "Salad Bar Beef". Of course it's all some sort of managed grazing.

If you've read anything on the subject of mob grazing before he hits all the main points in an overview sort of way ... grass being a mirror image above and below ground, the use of grazing management that mimics nature, the importance of keeping your nutrients and water on your farm, and things like that. But, the thing that I really took away from this chapter is fact that I love the location of my house.

I used to drive around the Iowa countryside and wonder what exactly got into a person's head that they decided to build a nice house in the middle of a corn field ... with no trees in sight. It just seemed like it would be so awful to live out in the middle of the corn field with nothing exciting to look at except for the dirt and the corn/soybeans. I just thought it seemed weird to have a beautiful and expensive new house in the middle of nothing.

Then of course I chose the top of a hill with no trees for the location for my house! When the house was being built I always envisioned where the trees would be and what they would look like when the were mature shade trees all around the house and barnyard. Then I lived here for awhile and something crazy happened ... I decided I wasn't crazy about a ton of trees. In fact I really liked not having them blocking my view of the pasture! There was just something beautiful about looking out at the grass and the livestock doing their thing.

As I said yesterday my soil is not where I want it to be or need it to be and my grass is the same way. But, this encourages me. It encourages me that eventually I'll be able to look out (with a couple trees around the yard ... not blocking my view) to a grass land that sustains a variety of livestock and wildlife ... just like a few hundred years ago in this same location.


Rich said...

I also kind of like being on the top of the hill with a view of the surrounding country.

Locally, most of the original homesteads I am familiar with are located on high spots and you can usually see some of the surrounding homesteads from those sites.

Is it some sort of desire to be both an individual and part of a larger community at the same time? I don't know, but something always feels "right" at these old homesteads.

But, I have also noticed that most homesteads have either one or a pair of trees in front of the house. Our barn/shop is built next to where my great grandmother's house used to be and there is a big elm? tree in the yard is probably over 100 years old. I'm not overly sentimental, but there is a certain value to that tree besides the shade.

Just put the shade trees in the front yard where they don't block the view.

Rich said...

Related to the topic of trees, I have always had the impression that Iowa had a reputation for planting shelterbelts around farmsteads to block the winter winds, etc.

With that idea combined with the winter storms we have had the past couple of years, I have been pondering the idea of planting some clumps of cedars in strategic places to give some shelter to our cattle (Grandpa would kill me if he knew I was planting cedars instead of cutting them down).

With a little thought and planning, the pasture could be "painted" with some artfully placed cedars in the low spots and along drainage areas.

Anonymous said...

Is the book in line with this?

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