First of all, hubby and I wanted elbow room. We’d both grown up in homes adjoining wild land, and realized that in today’s rapidly expanding suburban doughnut one must own their additional land to guarantee it stays wild. (My grandfather found this out 80 years ago when the neighboring plots he had planned to buy got bought up and built on under his nose, this isn’t a totally new phenomenon in suburbs of larger cities.)
I’ve been keeping an eye on Joshua Rockwood’s case, because this sort of thing could make or break sustainable farming. Animals belong outdoors. They need access to shelter and water, but it takes a foot of snow before my sheep lose interest in pasture time. When it’s 14 degrees out it’s not always viable to leave liquid water out 24×7, but as long as the livestock are generously watered twice a day they do just fine.
We do not currently use draft animal power on our farm, but we are members of the DAP Network, and we really respect the wisdom of the DAP farmers. Their sustainable farming practices are gentle on the land and help preserve rare draft horse and oxen breeds. (We do use animal power in the sense that 6 months of the year our sheep harvest their own feed, saving us considerable fuel in harvesting and moving hay. We have been considering oxen for our farm in the future.)
A study in the Midwest found that horse farmers make more money per acre and have a higher quality of life than tractor farmers, primarily through lower costs and taking rest breaks when the animals also need rest. (Total income was lower because they generally work fewer acres.)
The DAP Field Days is a trade show of sorts, a old fashioned country fair focused on animal power.
Eddy Ridge Grassland can accommodate small groups such as homeschoolers and scout troops. Activities will vary by season and can be adjusted to satisfy badge or curriculum needs. We can (depending on season and weather) take short grassland nature hikes, study temporary wetlands, analyze grassland production, plant crops, make hay, study older farming tools and methods, weed gardens, harvest crops, and hand feed sheep and chickens. Children must be well supervised by the adults that brought them.
We are now a member of the Livestock Conservancy. You don’t have to be a farmer to be a member, they also offer a products directory for the consumer that wants to support rare breeds.
Rare breeds are important both as links to our history, and as a gene bank going forward for the production industry to draw genes from when market demands change. If a rare breed is lost, we can never get it back.
We personally are providing direct support to the Cotswold breed, but we stand with farmers that support any rare breeds.
The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again. – William Beebe, The Bird (1906)