Too much poop
The other day we got a call from The Department of Ecology.
The official was responding to a complaint someone who visited our farm made.
Apparently we have too much poop on our farm.
I laughed when the extremely nice and professional woman told me why she was calling.
And then I asked her if she knew we were a farm. A working, breathing, laboring farm.
She said yes, she totally understood, but she needed to come out and investigate anyway.
So she did.
Guess what guys.
We don't have too much poop on our farm.
Praise the Lord.
She connected us with some local resources to make sure our manure management plan was as productive as it could be. They're resources we were actually already actively working with...because, though it may not look like it at times, we are continually striving to make this farm a healthier, better piece of Earth.
Have you heard of regenerative agriculture?
Before the mainstream use of chemicals all farmer's practiced regenerative agriculture. They would rotate cows, cover crops, market crops, you get the idea, across their land. This practice actually made their farms more resilient to pests, increased the nutrition in the soil, and produced healthier, safer food. Over time, and partly due to our involvement in two World Wars, our farming practices changed and we focused more on quantity instead of quality. Scientists worked with farmers to make everything produce MORE. With this change diversity fell by the wayside and we became heavily reliant on chemicals.
When American pioneers first started farming in the Midwest the layer of topsoil was extremely thick and healthy due to a centuries long relationship between ruminants and prairie land. This relationship birthed what has been touted by some scientists as the most important asset for humankind.
But the alarming thing is, we're using up our soil at a toxic rate. The United States is losing soil ten times faster than the natural replenishment rate.
Why does this matter to us?
Because even though we are a goat dairy, we’re technically grass farmers. The grass becomes the milk, which in turn becomes the cheese.
Healthy soil means healthy cheese.
We don’t farm on traditional farmland. We took a luxury housing lot and turned it into a farm (we forgot to build the luxury house). We can only assume that the developer who prepped these lots for sale to prospective home buyers actually stripped the land of topsoil before putting them on the market.
The land we are working with is covered in dirt. Not soil. Dirt. If I had a penny for every rock in our pasture I wouldn’t need to worry about running a successful farm anymore.
That poop, when managed properly, turns into black gold. This amazing organic matter is then spread on our fields and slowly starts becoming the kind of Earth even our ancestors would be proud of.
So the question is, do I find it annoying that someone felt the need to call a public official and complain about my poop situation?
No. I don’t.
But I do understand now that it’s our job to educate everyone who comes through our gates what the different stages of a farm look like. And then maybe, if someone has concerns about the level of poop they are interacting with, we can talk about it as part of an open and candid conversation about where food comes from.