Farmers are all held accountable for their growing practices, yet lumped into one category. Whether homesteaders that sell produce or industrial farmers with chemicals and behemoth machines, they are painted with the same brush. And every one of them seems to be getting a bad rap.
A Farmer’s Catch 22
The industrial farmers can’t win because of the synthetic chemicals they use, and the use of petroleum-based products it takes to run those machines. The homesteader is suspicious because of the use of compost, and criticized for not being strictly organic. Plus, many of the small farmers are looked down on because they don’t wear the latest fashions, patronize the uber popular restaurants and adhere to the current (but quickly passing) trends. Farmers just can’t win – but without them, we will certainly starve.
We take farming seriously, as do most homesteaders and small farmers that I know. I can’t speak for industrial farmers, as I don’t know any personally, nor have I visited one. But I do read and study about them, both on paper and on the internet. What I have read does make me cautious, but I strive to see both sides of the issue. Still, from what I have determined, I have to say I lean more towards the small farmers who maintain practices that eschew as many chemicals as possible, and provide non-farmers to eat locally grown fruits and vegetables.
On Paradise Plantation, we feel strongly about being accountable for our farm, our gardens and our animals. Here are some ways we do that:
It’s a Gift
We feel we have been given this 60-acre farm as a gift from God. As with any gift you receive, you treat it with respect and take care of it. This is called ‘being a good steward’, and although we know we still have work to do to achieve being the absolute best steward of our land, we diligently work to get there.
A living, breathing being. Whether it is our cows, chickens or even wild animals such as deer, pigs and squirrels, all need to be fed and given clean water and protection. Our cows are spoiled rotten, but they are also one of our food sources. We make sure they have everything they need and are treated with the utmost respect.
I absolutely hate shooting an animal, but I will provide protection for my bovines by shooting a coyote who dares to venture close. We have opted to pen our chickens, with only supervised forays into free-ranging, as the predator factor is high. As for the wild animals, they are also a food source, so The Country Boy keeps an eye out for anything that can harm them, such as rusted barbed wire, storm debris and other harmful elements.
They still need a lot of work. We are diligently adding compost, mulch and other healthy things such as crushed eggshells in the holes for tomato plants. It takes years to get that perfect loamy soil, but we do as much as we can every year. To the best of our ability, we do not use chemicals – but we aren’t rigidly organic, either. We do feel that the use of too many chemicals can harm the soil, and we don’t like the idea of the physical side effects research is showing these synthetics are doing to our bodies and minds. Because of our due diligence, we eat well every year, with plenty to put up for winter stores.
Fences are repaired frequently, and completely replaced when necessary. Cows can wreak havoc if wandering freely on the road or in someone else’s yard. Take it from me, they can devastate a garden in less than 10 minutes, and I am responsible for that – whether in my garden or my neighbor’s. The cow can also be harmed by stepping in a hole in a yard or being hit by a vehicle, and the person driving that vehicle can be hurt, not to mention the damage to their car. The cows do get out, but fortunately, no major damage has been done, and we did buy George some grass seed to help replace the plugs our cows ate.
I am in the process of establishing a medicinal herb garden. Because there are some herbs, and parts of others that can be fatal to a human or animal, I am accountable for what I grow, and have to be extremely conscientious in how I use them. It is risky, but a risk I am willing to take in order to lessen the amount of chemicals we put in our bodies.
These are just a few ways in which we fulfill our accountability for our farm. This world was created to sustain itself and with proper management I believe it still can. Can we undo the damage that has been done thus far? I’m not sure, but I do know I am diligently working to get our own small space up to speed.
Farming is one of the oldest professions, but it still remains because it is also a necessity for survival. To live the best life possible, it is necessary to be accountable for your actions and practices on a farm. The best part is if you take care of your farm, it will take care of you and your family.
It’s the best win/win scenario for everyone!
How do you feel accountable for your farm, your home and your family? Share your thoughts – I can always use some great ideas!