Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Farming’

This animated short (sponsored by Chipotle) has gone viral on YouTube. Its anti-industrial-farming message is generating a lot of discussion, but the film is worth watching for the beautiful art direction and music alone. The studio that made the film—Moonbot—is not terribly generous about giving credit to all those who contributed (other than the directors Brandon Oldenburg and Limbert Fabian), but it appears that the Art Director was Joe Bluhm.

One small quibble: I realize “All Natural” is fairly meaningless as a marketing claim, but I’m pretty sure you can’t inject chickens with things that plump them up and call that “All Natural.” Just saying.

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As you can see from this video, feeding 146 head of cattle in the winter uses a lot of labor, equipment and fuel. Even more fuel is used shipping the certified organic hay down from our supplier, Jeremy Smalley of  Transfiguration Farm in Brandon, Vermont. Where we farm, cattle eat about five times their own body weight in hay every winter. So, it would be significantly cheaper for us to truck our cattle up to Vermont and back than it costs to truck the hay one way. We have talked to Jeremy about this. If we brought the herd to the hay for the winter instead of the other way around, his farm would no longer have to buy manure to fertilize his fields. That would be a more sustainable system for him and a lower carbon footprint all around. On the other hand, his place is now a pristine paradise with no fences, no cowpies, and no muddy hoofprints—and tourists spend good money to vacation there. It is unclear what bottom-line impact the cows would have on that business.

While I had the calculator out, I did this math: If you take the total amount of money we spend on the hay plus the shipping, we could afford to ship our herd about 1,250 miles and back each winter. That just about gets us to spending our winters in Orlando, Florida. All we need is a free 150 acre piece of land to graze. Now that sounds like a plan!

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Land Ho!

For some time, we have been searching for more land to expand our cattle herd. And we are very excited that we finally found some. Peter Nash has agreed to lease some of his nearby land to us. The new land is “under transition” to organic certification. This means it has not been farmed organically in the past, but we will be following organic practices, and the land will be eligible for certification in three years.

We will be very busy in the next few months–there are a lot of new fences to build, and we have to figure out how to deliver water where no water sources exist. But we are delighted that we now have a chance to keep up with increasing demand and to build the farm into a self-sustaining business.

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