Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Today I led the cattle back on to the pasture from the lot where they had waited out the storm, protesting loudly all the while. As I walked, I could hear our crew of red-headed woodpeckers having at the scattering of dead trees in the grove. Cindy said she saw several working on a standing popular behind their house. It pleases me to think that a farmer who pays attention can be guided from winter through summer entirely by listening to the wild things. Several weeks ago it was the migrating geese that dominated from their overnight digs down in the lower pasture. They are on their way to the Lac Que Parle for the summer, and like a group of teenagers, they talk incessantly. Kind of a goose pajama party going on down there. It has been several weeks now since we heard the cackle and rasp of pheasant as they have moved away from the yard for the summer, into the windbreaks to gain access to the grass and wait for the growing crops to provide their summer cover.

Soon the little cattail slough will come alive with the language of thousands of frogs underlying the screaming of the red headed blackbirds sorting out their territories. And before long will come the multi noted song of the western meadowlark, which is the introduction to real summer in the pastures.

The cattle are started with their grazing, the first group of sows has been turned to pasture, soon to be followed by the second, the days are getting longer and the pulse of the land stronger. Enjoy your world, whatever it is and take care of it! It is what we have on earth.


Monday, April 9, 2012


About 48 million Americans are sickened each year by food borne pathogens. Some 3000die each year. Most common is salmonella. Just last year, Jack DeCoster's chicken and egg empire sickened thousands and caused a minor ripple in official Washington over whether he would clean up his act voluntarily so that the regulators would not have to do their job. He is operating again. However, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer whose sales of his own milk has not caused a single problem shut himself down after an injunction was obtained by the FDA stopping him from selling his product.

Last year, a Wisconsin farmer, also selling his own milk, was visited by authorities packing firearms and told to shut down. And just last week the DNR in Michigan, with the permission of the governor in that state, based upon a feral pig law just passed by the Michigan legislature, showed up on several farms meaning to shoot pigs being kept outdoors. You can add many examples to these stories. They keep popping up all the time.

The first thing to say is that we in local foods have them scared. Someone very powerful wants us all out of business. And the second thing is to notice that the regulators are picking battles they think they can win. Instead of going after the conventional food system which is the basis of the vast majority of those 48 million cases of sickened people each year, and the 3000 dead ones, they are picking on farmers. And small ones at that.

The battle is shaping up. The thing to remember though, is that it can only be won by brains, not guns. Washington is deteriorating from the inside and the open question has to do with how long it can keep a lid on all the "misbehavior" it wants to control. We still have a chance to exert some influence upon the states and their legislatures, if we will pay attention to electing the right people.

And it is critical that all of us who sell anything to anyone take steps to get them aware of what is going on and keep them that way.