Thursday, September 11, 2014

Organic or Not Organic that is the question...

So, from time to time I toy with the idea of going Organic or even more extreme to go Biodynamic (which to me makes more sense than organic since it is the old style of farming.) I could do without the sprays and synthetic fertilizers in fact now that I have inherited the farm we are stopping the use of them (can't afford them anyway).  For me the biggest factor stopping me going this route is no use of antibiotics. To me, I will do holistic treatments and they work most of the time, but sometimes you have to use modern medicine to help your animals. Under these systems the animals are now no longer certified and has to be sold just because you treated the animals to save it. I am sorry but if my kid is sick and natural methods arent working I am going to take them to the hospital and get them something to get my kids better. After treating them I wouldn't sell off my kids why should it be the same with my animals??... 

Ok, so animals are raised in general for food not as our offspring, but what about that dairy cow you raised from a calf hand reared through thick and thin, prized of the herd to a farmer, she is considered one of our offspring, our hopes and future are in that cow and others like her.  If she is treated we are expected to get rid of her??... 

It is the duty of a farmer to raise the healthiest food we can!  Also to be the guardian/mother to our animals to provide them with the best life possible.  God gave us this responsibility to care for the land and animals in our care that their lives would provide us as we have provided for them. Too me the use of antibiotics is one of those tools God has given me to help when the time is needed. I do agree that their use is way too high but going from one extreme to another does not make sense to me. Farming is about balance, too much of one thing never works out well for the farm, the soil or the animals. 

We sell what we produce on our farm direct to people in town.  I agree it would nice to have some type of certification saying yes we run our farm more naturally than the current farming practice, because than they know yes this is ok food to eat without being able to come out to the farm to see it themselves because like us, they are busy people. However since I don't agree with no Antibiotic use I don't see us going biodynamic or organic.  It makes it harder for us to get people to try what we produce because it is not certified even though if they came to the farm they would see how we raise our animals and crops. I guess I am old fashioned and believe that people should get to know their farmer and trust him like they use too with the growing of their food. Perhaps we need a certification called the responsible farmer for those who believe in the Balance of farming like our forefathers did.... Dan

Why We Farm!

Yes, I admit it, I am one of those that probably spends too much time on FB somedays.  Recently there has been a lot of talk on the negative aspects of farming.  A particular person made a post that really hit home this year for us.  Many people are so moving from the city's to farms recently.  They have "stars in their eyes" about this lifestyle.  I do not call it a job, because a job you get to go home from and not worry about til the next day.  This is a lifestyle.  It is something that you live day in and day out.  Last year and this year we have had massive crop failures.  It makes it very tight.  You worry about how you will pay the electric bill.  What animals can I sell and still be able to not impact myself in a bad way so that I can make that payment.  We have lost calves this year.  We have lots chickens to hawks, coyotes, foxes, and due to a very wet spring an outbreak of coci even though they were on medicated chick feed.  Fences have been damaged and walked through.  Garden didnt get cleared and planted properly this year and the veggies we did have all died due to health issues and being unable to go water them.  We have nothing here at home to can except what people have traded with us.  Egg production is down due to the loss of adult hens to the hawks.  Our local butcher closed down and now we have to drive three hours one way to get animals done up to sell the meat.  It adds to the costs for sure.  Our meat bird flock was decimated due to a storm that went through and blew open the building that was their hut and the coyotes got in, that was all in one night.  We have no money, very few crops, and our livestock is going down rather then up due to many factors.  It is a bad year.   We suffer through illness just like anyone else.  We suffer through injuries just like anyone else.  We do not get to take time off without it affecting everyone and everything.  I got hurt pretty bad this year.  Causing a situation that I was unable to walk and am still recovering.  Hubby has had to take it all on himself.  Everything.  Being cooker, cleaner, feeder, feed grinder, waterer, hauler, birther, harvester, everything.  For two weeks.  I am finally able to start helping again, although I still can not stand for long nor can I carry anything, not even our 20 month old daughter.  I can get the kids to help do minor chores.  Like feeding the rabbits and goats.  Doing the dishes.  With help of a chair and my 7 yr old (who loves to cook) we can make breakfast and lunch, but not dinner yet.  Nor can I milk my own goats again yet.  I have breeding coming up in a month and I am just hoping that I can get out there to transfer who I want to when I need to.  If not, hubby will still have to do it.

So why do we do it?  Why do we live this lifestyle and why do we farm?

Lets see if I can explain this where people will understand.  I do this for the crops, the livestock, my children, my self, my husband, and those that purchase from us.  I do it because it is a hard life, but much more rewarding then almost anything else.  To be able to give my family healthy food to eat.  To teach my children through our daily lives what is important in life, the first being your family.  I do it for those little miracles.

For my children:  I love to watch the faces of my children as they watch a calf born from the cow they helped to raise.  The joy at sharing that moment with them.  To watch the excitement as a chick hatches into their hands.  As they bottle feed a sick baby goat and help give it medicine to make it stronger and healthy again.  To then watch that baby goat be able to run and bounce around.  The deaths are part of that too.  They experience death often too.  Be it during butchering or from predation or from illness.  It happens and they know it.  They learn to deal with it in a manner that helps them in life.  They do not take life for granted.  To watch your children plant seeds and love to get dirty and grow things at the same time.  Then to watch them get to harvest veggies from the seeds they planted.  They love that they got to do it and then they really enjoy eating it.

For my husband: To support him in his decisions on the farm.  To help him see his vision and figure out how to get there.  For him to feel good that another year has gone by and he accomplished something many people find too hard or too stressful.  For him to feel loved and useful.  To help him support his family and get those large jobs done.  To allow him the freedom to be with his children when he wants to and not just "after work".  To allow him to sleep I will take night watch when a first timer is calving or an animal is sick.

For the crops:  To enhance the soil in the old fashion to help our crops.  As ultimately that is helping us.  To grow the food for our livestock so that we know they are eating just as healthy as we are.

For the livestock:  To be able to provide the best we can everything they need.  To give them treatment when needed, pasture, feed, water.  To be able to be thankful to them for their life that will ultimately give you your food for your life.  To watch those births and miracles they provide for us.

For my customers:  So they too can get good quality.  So they know where their food is coming from.  So they can experience some of the farming life when they choose to and see the miracles themselves.  Even if it is just the miracle of a garden or a chick hatching.

For myself:  Mostly it is for myself.  As human beings we are ultimately selfish.  We look out for what can benefit us.  For me, my benefit is the joy this life brings to my children and my husband.  For the pleasures a good harvest can bring.  I dont do this to fix fences, I really do hate to do that.  Worse yet is cleaning out the barn.  But I still do those jobs so that I can experience the joys and miracles that I so want.  I love to watch a new life come into the world.  I love to be able to give people the food and quality they love to eat.  I love for my children to be able to play outside and I know they are safe.  I love to see my husband take a deep breath after a hard days work as he looks out over the job he completed and realize just what he accomplished that day.

I know this all sounds romantic.  The honest truth is, the reasons I live this life are more important to me then the reasons I would leave this life.  Sick animals sometimes have to be put down.  It is up to you to do it.  No one else.  Farming as a bottom line is a hard life.  You dont get vacations, but you get miracles.  You have to fix fences when the animals or wild life breaks through them, but in doing so you get to see the daily growth of your livestock.  You have to collect eggs everyday or they freeze or the chickens learn to eat them, but you get eggs that you know are healthy.  You have to milk the cow/goat twice a day, but you get fresh milk, cream, butter, and cheese.

I love this lifestyle because you get out of it what you put into it.  There is never just one way to do things.  You learn more everyday and nothing is ever the same.  We work hard to live well.  Some people rather work hard at a 9-5 job to buy the things we provide for ourselves.  I am grateful to those people, because it is them that buys from us that allows us to pay our bills.  And it is them who are grateful to us for working so hard to provide it to them.  I do this because my heart and soul are in it.