Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dave Hedlin said....... sustainable farming

The Inauguration
"Everybody" said it was a dark speech and everybody happens to be right this time.
Trump supporters must live in some kind of dangerous dungeon and are hoping that Trump will rescue them from the approaching doom. Honestly, is it that bad?
Trump is right in one sense. Most of us shrink from the idea of becoming global citizens... The same thing is going on in England with Brexit ... The people of England would like to feel a little more British.
But we can look homeward without being so ugly as to say America First...
Sustainable Farming
Dave Hedlin said, "We need to make enough money so we can go farming again next year."
Sustainable agriculture is not really a new idea, it's conservation with a cell phone.

Sustainable Agriculture. "Sustainable" is a buzz word in farming. You can get a masters degree in "sustainable agronomics" and then find a position in high five figures at your state ag department or crop association. You can get one of those clipboard jobs where you travel from farm to farm and ask interesting questions like why is that cow standing in the middle of the stream? "The cow is standing in the middle of the stream because it's hot and she's thirsty," said the farmer.

That's an interesting question, but first I will explain sustainability to the average person. Sustainability means staying in business. It means that you made enough money this year and you've been taking good enough care of your land that you can do it all over again next year. You didn't burn out. You didn't go broke. Your farm didn't turn into a toxic desert. It means you were careful and you saved a little bit. It means you left a little of your corn crop at the corner of the field -- left for the poor people who come gleaning, left for the birds to nibble on a cold winter's day, left for the roughage that will return to the soil.

It means you didn't break your back working. You take good care of your body when you're working by easing off a little bit. You don't work yourself into a lather -- but you ease up and keep going. You work slower because you last longer and you get more done that way. You drink plenty of water on a hot day. That's called working on a sustainable basis and you will still be out in the field years from now.

Sustainable farming might mean reading the history of the Nile River in Egypt. They have been farming on the banks of the Nile for how many thousands of years? -- 6,000 years or more. Despite dire warnings of coming disaster -- climate change! acid rain! frogs falling from the sky! -- they are still farming along the Nile River.

Egyptians farmers are supposed to follow simple guidelines of seven fat years followed by seven lean years. I don't know how that got started but it was a good plan. Of course, over that entire period of 6,000 years, there have been dust storms and plagues of locusts, and human depravity and violence of the worst kind, but they are still farming in Egypt, and I would call that sustainable agriculture.

Currently, Egypt has a much larger urban population than can be fed from Egyptian farms. But you must understand, one of the tenets of sustainability is that disaster is always looming. There is no guarantee or promise of tomorrow. Only hope. So work as hard as you can, but take a break now and then, and you will be sustainable.

But I'm not done.

The question I asked about the cow standing in the middle of the stream was far form innocent. The guy with the clipboard was coming directly from environmental protection and wanted to know -- Sir, why is your cow standing in the middle of the stream? The implication was that the cow should not be there, dropping her abundant nitrogen-rich manure into a public waterway, thereby encouraging algae bloom and clouding the water for the sweet little fishes downstream,

Well, if it was only one cow, it cannot be too much trouble, but a herd of cows watering in a stream can be a problem, and the guy with the clipboard might want the farmer to fence off the stream and find the cows a land-based source of drinking water so that the manure falls on the ground where it can do some good, and the branches and bushes and little trees can once more grow by the side of the stream and cool the water, and provide shelter for the sweet little fishes that hide in the nooks and crannies, safe from herons and hawks and bigger fishes.

Yes, that would be good, and it would be sustainable -- to fence off the stream. Except for one little problem -- who is going to pay for the fence? The farmer says, "I cannot sustain that cost. My cows have been wandering in that stream ever since I was a small boy and this place belonged to my grandfather. We're still here, and we want to stay here and keep on farming."

This is a problem, and I propose no solution. Agriculture is full of problems and costs and expenses and bad weather and bankers that cheat you and lazy workers and it never ends. But if you're sustainable you just keep going. You worry, but you don't worry too much. Because you need a good night's sleep so you can do it all over again tomorrow.

Sustainable agriculture is not really a new idea, it's conservation with a cell phone.
What is Sustainable?The idea of sustainable living can be applied to many situations. Take the example of homeless people living in RVs in Venice Beach. That urban social environment can sustain 30 to 40 RVs parked around various streets, but when the number ballooned past 200 vehicles a few years ago with attendant crowd and sanitation problems, then the Venice community felt over-burdened and banned ALL the RVs.
But the sustainable number was 30 to 40 RVs parked on city streets, one here, one there -- and that could have gone on for years. That is the hall mark of sustainability -- that it can last for a long time.
You can easily find sustainable patterns in nature. The deer does not nibble a bush down to the ground, but grazes from bush to bush to bush, giving the foliage a chance to regenerate.
You can adopt this pattern if you are seriously depressed and you need to cry on someone's shoulder. You call Bob, you sing him the blues, but you don't wear him out. Instead you say thank you and then call Bill and sing him the blues..... you need to have a half dozen confidants for this -- you share your misery with each one in turn and none of them get worn out -- just like a deer going from bush to bush.
Sustainable Immigration. (I could come up with these patterns all day, but here is the last one.)
It doesn't matter what country they come from. It doesn't matter how many of them come here. The only thing that matters is the rate, that is, how many come every year.
A modest amount of newcomers -- a sustainable rate -- allows us time to adjust and get to know the new people. It allows the immigrants enough time to assimilate. The harmony of society is maintained.
But when too many come at one time, we are overwhelmed, and we over-react and we slam the door. This happens every time and every where. The only need is to govern the rate of immigration -- not too many and not too little -- but steady and sustainable. That is the best way to do it.
Rain. Steady rain here in Santa Barbara, rain day after day, so very welcome. Flash floods and mudslides are possible, but the reservoirs are starting to fill up. It's a wonderful thing. No dark vision here.
thank you,

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