Friday, March 11, 2011

"The Accidental Farmers" :: Chapter 4 Book Report

If you would allow me to use a bit of a pun right now I would like to say that chapter four of Tim Young's new book really gets to the "meat" of the values behind their farm. I thought of that one right away ... I promise! But, really this chapter is about why they have decided to focus on meats at Nature's Harmony Farm instead of going with a CSA or market garden and I would have to say that I agree with at least one of their most basic premises ... that eating meat is just part of who they are and they like it! That is probably one of the biggest reasons I went the route of a livestock farm. Because I just love to eat meat ... especially more than vegetables, but I realize I need to work on that.

This chapter is an interesting one to read though especially after Monday's post on the topic of "propaganda". I think (according to the dictionary definition of the word propaganda) that this chapter could be labeled propaganda. Now as I say that please don't think I disagree with the way they are choosing to raise their animals, just understand that I'm just looking at the definitions of propaganda and seeing that Mr. Young is using ideas, facts, and information to promote his cause. At the same time I'm sure there are other farmers out there that would read this chapter and say that he is focusing on rumor and allegations. I don't think that is necessarily the case ... I'm just saying it that if some conventional farming advocates got their hands on this chapter they may like to disagree with Mr. Young. Which I think he would have no problem with ... at least that is what I think.

What I can appreciate about a chapter like this one is that it allows you to see the thought process that formed their values and farming purpose. But, what really jumped out at me is the real disconnect that he writes about having with his food prior to beginning the farm. Obviously I grew up in very agriculturally minded state and had family members out on the farm, so even though I wasn't a "farm kid" I had a connection. Even as a young boy I knew about confinement houses, feed lots, and things of that nature. Although I did not wonder whether it was a good idea to raise pigs inside on cement I at least knew where the pork on the grill was coming from.

I what a deeper look at this chapter does for me is make me realize how important my individual farm story is ... and how important the story is of Nature's Harmony Farm ... and every other farm out there. And that is truly what I love about my farm. I love the fact that because of the farm I have a chance to tell the story and share with other people the beauty of cows and pigs and chickens and sheep and people out living and enjoying and soaking it all in (I like to use the word and)!!!

While I may not agree with everything in this chapter (and others may not even agree with this chapter existing in book like this), I do appreciate the way that it makes me think and remember the story that I and other farmers have to tell. I love to tell a story ... any story actually ... especially ones I'm passionate about!


Rich said...

I haven't read the book, but I used to read their blog, and I have a feeling I know what you are referring to when you say "...if some conventional farming advocates got their hands on this chapter they may like to disagree with Mr. Young..."

Some of what he advocates as "following nature's harmony", like not castrating pigs or needlessly worming livestock seems to make a little sense.

But, then I started to read on their blog that it was unnecessary to provide minerals for cattle and since pigs didn't need to be castrated then bull calves didn't need to be castrated either. I began to wonder what would happen to anyone else that tried to follow that sort of advice and how a farm could be successfully ran like that.

I hope there is some sort of disclaimer in the book if they are advocating something similar.

Ethan Book said...

Rich ...

I guess this is one of those each to their own deals. I still castrate pigs right now, but am looking into it more and more. As far as the minerals for cattle and not castrating bull calves I guess I don't know what they have said in the past or what they say in the book (haven't gotten to the cattle section yet.

At some sort of level I would say it is working for them and maybe at lots of levels. I'm not sure.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I would say that their farm is "working" because they have the funds to keep propping it up as their animals die off from lack of minerals and good feed. Most people starting out can't afford that type of learning curve. I quit reading their forum and blog a long time ago after they started writing about their goats dying of parasites with no intervention of any kind.

Anthropomorphism is good to a point, but can lead to some poor management decisions in the long run, i.e. leaving males intact etc.

Steven said...

I remember reading that they were at least talking about raising bulls for beef (vague memory) and I know that they wanted to raise a herd of cattle that could make it on grass ALONE with no minerals at all. I think this may be one of the points that Tim said he disagreed with Joel about.
We try to do very little other than grass but do provide kelp/salt and sometimes other minerals most of the year.
I sometimes wonder if their herd isn't still in the beginning stages of culling down to a grass ONLY, healthy, group of cows, that can actually be fat on GA grasses. I know we have cows that don't do great in our system and we have cows that are nearly always fat and nursing calves. I bring this up because I don't see alot of fat cows in NHF photos. They are all natural and may be mineral supplement free but... I don't want people to assume that they have found the perfect way to raise grass only, fat, healthy, bovines.

Bruce King said...

It was this post that got me banned from natures harmony blog.

NHF was offering classes that covered "how to finance a small farm"; it's easy: Make millions in another industry, then buy your farm. That's the NHF backstory.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...