Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Slow and steady wins the race.

   With our timeline stretched a bit, my focus has now also been redirected a bit.  Over the last few weeks and months I have been reading, searching and accumulating information as rapidly as possible.  My initial research on farming and homesteading was understandably broad. Covering everything from canning food to birthing cows and bee hives and tractor implements.  As our land hunt turned into a purchase, my searching focused more on what I felt were going to be our actual first steps.
   For us, given our start low go slow plan, we figure on making our first farm animal attempt in the poultry department.  So I had been gorging myself on chicken info. Along with a few nights spent on Managed Intensive Grazing, other wise known as MIG.  However, since our move-in date has been pushed back 10 months I now have more time to focus on outlining a full plan of attack.
   I returned to my initial planning phase by getting back into books that were dealing more with the concepts and systems of farming.  Putting aside the step by step how-to books.  The first book I have taken in form cover to cover since that redirect is called The Accidental Farmers.  The author, Tim Young and his wife Liz, are about 5yrs into a relatively similar journey to the one we are embarking on. Natures Harmony Farm is their take on the idea of small local farming.  Tim and Liz are taking farming back to what it once was with a few modern twists.  An admirable task for sure.  Sure… we don’t see eye to eye on everything but the day is young and the number of similarities between us are far greater.  So much so that if time and money will allow I intend to make a trip down to Georgia for a look-see at their operation.
   What does this mean outside of me and the Young's?  If you have a few minutes to spend on a quick read.  Tim Young has put forward a reasonable backdrop for understanding why our food supply, eating habits and life style choices may be the reason our piece of the American pie is not as satisfying as we thought it would be. He offers this insight form the perspective of a virgin farmer all the while leaving most of the shock value stuff for the tabloids.  If you want a full flavored look into Americas food problems, I can point you in the direction of that rabbit hole,  but that route is for the strong at heart, soul and stomach!   The one thing I really like about the approach Tim has taken is it paints a picture of a real world and its food. It does that from behind the barn door with dirty boots and bloody hands.  Not from a 10th floor office. The realties involved with a return to a self sustaining life might be surprising to most.  But just knowing the driving force behind this growing trend could really improve the life of the urban dweller.  We are not all called to the farm life.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Our city loving friends and family are vital to the strengths of civilization.  However, just as the farmer should know as much as he can about the stock market the city slicker should be in touch with his food supply.  We all need to know how to feed ourselves and families and do it in a truly healthy way.  Don’t read this as my push for people to think “organic” or “sustainable” or even “free range”  buzz words are what you should be looking for at the grocery store.  These words should be given no more value than the paper or plastic wrapper that they are printed on.  We should however, be asked to understand the systems and practices that place our food on the table.  The industry says that they are just providing what the customer wants.  So make that the case.  I really believe that the industry and its regulatory bodies are telling us what we want (need).
   If you read The Accidental Farmer and see no need to understand why small local farming is of value, then by all means go about your routine.  Yet, as I would imagine, if not hope, you will at least see your local small family farmer as someone to get in touch with. (not to be read as your farmers market, these are often just a joke)  Possibly even inquire about what you can do to put truly healthy food on your families table.   As far as I am concerned just striving to get involved will be worth it.  At some point we are going to have to do something…   If we don’t search out the proper balance between quantity vs quality,  that balance will be found despite us and at our expense.  A very high expense!
  I will leave you with a thought from the book
In 1987 the Food and Drug Administration began requiring milk to be pasteurized and processed in the name of food safety.  What then was their thinking behind fast food, frozen pizzas, candy bars and high fructose corn syrup, all apparently deemed wholesome and safe by the same FDA.
  Go anywhere and ask to buy a bottle of Mono sodium Glutamate and your money will be gladly taken.  Then try and get your hands on some raw milk!  If the answer is, “Sure we have that.”  It’s an under cover sting operation.  Run away!


  1. A note about farmer's markets. . .when we moved to Charleston I excitedly went down to our local farmer's market and selected a variety of fresh veggies from the outdoor vedors. . . then I went inside and saw a butcher counter. Feeling like I was having a Jamie Oliver moment I chatted up the butcher asking about the cuts of meat they offered. Then I asked the question, "where do you get your meat?" He paused,shrugged his shoulders, "Uhhhh, from the Midwest somewhere. . . " So much for farm fresh. I can go to Krogers and get meat straight from "the Midwest somewhere." Ask questions!!!! Buy local!!!!

  2. Natures Harmony is the site I was talking about and couldn't remember. I want to borrow that book. You need to read their blog from the beginning it's a great read! Catch you at church sunday. Matt.

  3. You are free to have a read if you can tolerate my propensity for the digital format. Also, I know Georgia is a ways off but we might need to consider a road trip! Then again Polly Face is just in Virgina.