the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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the shortage of livestock veterinarians is reaching “crisis levels”

The_farmer's_veterinarian_BHL20172818

Even after the lamb comes, the ewe continues to strain. Sticky with afterbirth, the ram lamb calls to his mother in quavering tenor, but though she lifts her head in his direction and lets out a low moan of response, her heaving sides won’t let her rise and go to him.

In the compounded darkness of the manger—it’s well after sunset—it’s hard to see what’s happening. The ewe stretches a hind leg in effort, and then again, and again, pushing. She stops her rhythmic movement, breath ragged. Someone shines a light: there is something there, behind her hind legs, on the straw. A second lamb? The thing is dark, darker than the first lamb. A black lamb? But no, it glistens too strangely in the odd glare/shadow contrast of the flashlight.

“I—I think that’s part of her body.” What? “I think those are her organs.” 

The stillness breaks. The livestock manager is called. “Prolapse,” “iodine,” “warm water,” “towels.” There is a flurry of activity in service to these words. The rumble of a truck announces the arrival of Josh, the livestock manager, from down the road. He clicks his headlamp on to peer at the lumpen tangle between the prostrate ewe’s legs. “That’s her uterus,” he says, and walks away to call the vet.

He returns shaking his head. The vet can’t come for two hours—there’s another emergency, over the border in Vermont. “I guess I’ll try to put it back, but I’ve never had much luck.”

Josh instructs someone to fetch sugar, someone to fetch a better light, someone to prepare a bottle of colostrum for the new lamb (“He’s huge, look how huge he is! That must be what did it”). He sloshes iodine up to his elbows while two people hold the ewe still. Gingerly, he lifts the uterus from ground, pulling off bits of straw and hay. He pours sugar over it. “The vet says this will make it shrink, so that it will fit,” he tells us. Then in a low mutter, to himself, “This was my favorite sheep.”

After a few moments, he begins trying to push the uterus back into the ewe. But even gritty with sugar, reverse-osmosis starting to drain the fluid, it’s slippery and swollen, bulging any place where Josh’s hands can’t stretch, the task like trying to fit a water ballon into the tap from which it was filled. “She’s pushing against me,” he says. “Her body thinks she’s having a lamb.”

He keeps trying: adding more sugar, repositioning, applying prolonged pressure, but it won’t go. Josh sits back on his heels. There’s nothing to do but wait for the vet.
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soil is life

photographs by lawrence braun

photographs by lawrence braun

Herbivorous Solar Conversion and Sequestration in the Shenandoah Valley
By Joeal Salatin, Rural America, August 16th, 2015

Soil is a world. A community of beings as unbelievable as you can imagine. If you could go out right now and look at the soil through an electron microscope you’d see this kind of 4-legged-aqueous-cow creature walking along, splashing and eating cilia and paramecium and all this other stuff. Then, all of the sudden from 10 o’clock, in runs this narwhal 6-legged thing who pierces the four-legged cow-looking thing and, fthhhh, sucks out the juices. And then while this aqueous-cow-looking-4-legged critter is sitting there, desiccating—being sucked into the straw by this narwhal thing—in comes an 8-legged critter from 2 o’clock running into the electron microscope you’re looking into. He has scissors on the top of his head and whacks off the head of the cow-looking thing and, thp thp thp thp thp thp thp, eats it up. And all this happens in a fraction of a second in the electron microscope while you’re looking at it. This is what’s going on. It’s out there happening billions and billions of times a second. Everywhere we step, everywhere we are. And yet, who thought about this world in their shower this morning?

Want to learn how to rebuild soil with animals? Read the full article!


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great listen: farming without labels

To listen to the radio piece, click HERE!

Who is a good farmer? This question of goodness has been important to the popularization of the sustainable food movement. However, consumer evaluations of so-called goodness has become increasingly reliant on labels––“Organic,” “Locally-grown,” “Certified Humane,” “GMO-Free,” the list goes on. But when these labels can be co-opted by large-scale producers, do they retain any meaning? Is the certified organic beef from the supermarket a better choice than the not-certified beef sold by a local farmer at the farmers’ markets? Intuition seems to tell us no but Shizue RocheAdachi (SHE-zoo-eh r-OH-ch a-da-chee), a student at Yale University, decided to put a story to the question and headed out to Morris, Connecticut to talk to a farmer who’s forgoing the labels.

Click here to find out more about Truelove Farms


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gluten intolerance: is it because we aren’t around enough poo?

In a recent NYT opinion piece about gluten, the author ends with the following advice: Maybe we should stop asking what’s wrong with wheat, and begin asking what’s wrong with us. Turns out, this, in part, could be due to the amount of poo we breathe, swallow, let seep into our pores.

There’s a town called Karelia, which is bisected by Finland and Russia. People with celiac- associated genes are prevalent on both sides of the border there, and both populations eat similar amounts of wheat. The interesting thing is, celiac disease is almost five times as common on the Finnish side compared with the Russian. The same holds for other immune-mediated diseases, including Type 1 diabetes, allergies and asthma. All occur more frequently in Finland than in Russia.

WHAT’S the difference? The Russian side is poorer; fecal-oral infections are more common. Russian Karelia, some Finns say, resembles Finland 50 years ago. Evidently, in that environment, these disease-associated genes don’t carry the same liability.

Click HERE to read the whole article.


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conference: artisans of the grasslands, oct 2-4

Join the Savory Institute’s annual international conference “Artisans of the Grasslands – Crafting the Future for Food & Agriculture,” on Oct 2-4 in San Francisco this year.  Click here.

Convene with global thought leaders sharing an intimate knowledge of ancestral foods and healing techniques, pastoralists using livestock used to mimic wild herds and heal the land, and climate change champions from around the world.

This unprecedented event will be a venue for producers and consumers to come together and celebrate the throngs of people embracing the holistic paradigm shift in ecology, health, and diet. Join cowboys, gauchos, educated consumers, investors and activists who are actively engaged in this movement. These artisans, who have built their livelihood on fostering an intimate relationship with the land, will commune with passionate families striving to feed their children clean, healthy food that helps rejuvenate the environment on which we all depend.

Registration includes the following amazing speakers, lunch and dinner banquet on Saturday and lunch on Sunday. Also included a complimentary Friday Night Reception with small plate dinner.  All meals will be made from organic, gluten-free ingredients and sourced from local holistically managed farms and ranches where available.


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free viewing of “Grazers: A Cooperative Story” april 30th in ballston spa, ny

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Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County will host a free(!) viewing of the film Grazers: A Cooperative Story.
When: Thursday, April 30th 2015 at 7pm at the 4-H Training Center
Where: 556 Middleline Road Ballston Spa, NY
Why: New York State loses a farm every three days, and with it a way of life, generations of farming knowledge, small town infrastructure and a whole landscape. Filmed over the course of two-years, Grazers: A Cooperative Story follows a group of fiercely independent farmers in upstate New York as they create a beef cooperative to hold on to their failing farms. Grazers explores the demise of the family farm and rural landscape and the emergence of a new, local food movement that links country and city in an effort to improve food quality and retain local farms.
How: The viewing is free, however pre-registration is encouraged. Please call 518-885-8995 to register. Visit http://www.grazersfilm.com/ or contact Carter Older at co263@cornell.edu for more information.


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bookmark for winter: alan savory videos! (think holistic management)

Click HERE to watch the videos!

The Savory Institute’s Annual International Conference, was held in London on August 1st and 2nd. This central location allows our partners and collaborators from around the globe to join us and contribute to this special event. We spotlighted grasslands for all their under-appreciated beauty and value. We also foster conversations around the unifying language of the land which bridges all cultures. Our movement is about real people with dirt under their fingernails and families to feed, people unified by a love of the land, a desire to understand nature’s rhythms and cycles and the magical beauty of abundant life in the soil.