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Archive | June, 2015

Meet an Eco-Farmer: Mountain Meadows Farm

Mountain Meadows Farm Eco-Farmers

Mountain Meadows Eco-Farmers

Why did you begin farming?

I love the land — hiking in West Virginia where I was born and raised, a World War II victory garden, fishing in Canada, and duck and goose hunting on a wheat farm in North Dakota.

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

Yes. As a career pathologist with a special interest in breast cancer, I wanted the healthiest beef I could produce.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Paperwork requirements, organic certification, label approval, Whole Foods Market requirements, government requirements.

What do you enjoy most about farming?

Seeing herds of mother cows and calves in every direction on pasture on a beautiful summer day; improving our land.

Continue Reading →

Top Herd Health Problems, Natural Solutions

by Jerri Brunetti

The following reports are based on the gleanings of a number of animal owners who have utilized “traditional” methods on their livestock herd with various rates of success. These suggestions/reports have not been evaluated by the U.S. FDA and are not intended to act as a substitute for proper professional care, i.e. the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and prescriptions provided by licensed veterinarians. If your livestock suffers from any malady or health condition always consult with your veterinarian before utilizing any alternative methods of products.

Mastitis

Remove grain from diet; forages only. Herbs to be given orally per day: 2 bulbs garlic, 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 ounce thyme, 1 ounce common sage. Half given in the morning and half in the evening. Use stimulating liniment (such as white liniment or Vicks on udder); milk out frequently (every couple of hours). Continue Reading →

The Soil Solution: 10 Keys

Soil health directly affects plant, animal and human health. It also impacts topsoil erosion, water management and ocean pollution. Most importantly, it is now recognized that climate change is directly related to soil mismanagement. I believe a global soil health initiative can help save our planet.

The Soil Solution

We have overtilled our soils, oxidized the humus and often ignored the replacement of
key minerals that determine the health of humus-building microbes.

The Top Five Threats

While in the UK, I met with a professor who shared some deeply concerning findings. He informed me that a recent survey of leading British scientists revealed that as many as one in five of the best thinkers in the country believe that we will be extinct as a species by the end of this century, or perhaps much earlier. This information should serve to spur meaningful action from every one of us. There are five core threats that need to be urgently addressed, and they all relate back to the soil. Continue Reading →

Integrating Sheep into Organic Production

Flock_of_sheep

Using domestic sheep rather than traditional farming equipment to manage fallow and terminate cover crops may enable farmers who grow organic crops to save money, reduce tillage, manage weeds and pests and reduce the risk of soil erosion, according to Montana State University and North Dakota State University researchers.

The preliminary results are from the first two years in a long-term USDA research, education and extension project, which is showing several environmental and economic benefits for an integrated cropping and livestock system, according to Perry Miller, MSU professor of land resources and environmental sciences.

The project featured a reduced-till organic system, where faculty researchers used domestic sheep to graze farmland for cover crop termination and weed control. Placing sheep at the heart of the project helped MSU scientists find out that an integrated cropping system that uses domestic sheep for targeted grazing is an economically feasible way of reducing tillage for certified organic farms. Continue Reading →

Calculating the Value of Organic

Root nodules on hairy vetch.

Root nodules on hairy vetch store nitrogen captured from the air with help from Rhizobium bacteria. The stored nitrogen is released into the soil when the plant dies.

A team of international scientists has shown that assigning a dollar value to the benefits nature provides agriculture improves the bottom line for farmers while protecting the environment. The study confirms that organic farming systems do a better job of capitalizing on nature’s services.

Scientists from Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States describe the research they conducted on organic and conventional farms to arrive at dollar values for natural processes that aid farming and can substitute for costly fossil fuel-based inputs. The study appears in the journal PeerJ.

“By accounting for ecosystem services in agricultural systems and getting people to support the products from these systems around the world, we move stewardship of lands in a more sustainable direction, protecting future generations,” said Washington State University soil scientist John Reganold. Continue Reading →

Book Review: Triumphs & Tribulations in the Heartland

Lentil Underground Book Review

Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America by Liz Carlisle

Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America;

by Liz Carlisle; book review by Chris Walters

Liz Carlisle was four years into a good career as a country singer when the cognitive dissonance got to be too much. Better to let her tell it:

“… Born and raised in Montana, I’d grown up on country radio, and I loved weaving romantic agrarian lyrics into pretty melodies. When I’d graduated from college, with a new record to sell and a full schedule of shows for the summer, it had seemed like the greatest thing in the world to travel through rural America and tell its story. But now that I’d crisscrossed the country several times in my station wagon, I knew the sobering truth. I’d been lying.

As I listened to people who came up to chat after my shows, it dawned on me that life in the heartland was not what I’d thought. Farming had become a grueling industrial occupation, squeezed between the corporations that sold farmers their chemicals and the corporations that bought their grain.”

Right away it’s clear she can write, and what a joy her story of a short-lived music career might have been had she chosen to write that kind of book. Carlisle had other horizons on her mind, though, and it is to Montana she returns after a spell working in the office of that state’s then-freshly minted U.S. Senator, Jon Tester. He supplied the link to the story she took up after studying journalism with Michael Pollan at UC-Berkeley, the lentil farmers behind a company called Timeless Natural Food, originally known as Timeless Seeds. These hardy souls were staking out a future for post-industrial farming in Montana, a semi-arid state known for short growing seasons, long distances and lack of major cities. Industrial wheat was a king whose rule was close to absolute. Continue Reading →