the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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the shortage of livestock veterinarians is reaching “crisis levels”


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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foraging ahead: a nice video from sesquatchie cove farm

Sequatchie Cove Farm is a family-run farm in Tennessee’s Sequatchie Valley. Four generations of Keeners live in the Cove. They have succeeded in creating a culture of food that puts the land back on people’s minds and dinner tables.

To see move videos and stills from Luke Padgett, check out


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2013 fracktivist conference

2013 Fracktivist Conference
September 13-15, 2013, Knoxville, TN

The movement to end all forms of extreme energy extraction on this planet, wrest control from multinational corporations, and give the power back to the people is becoming something truly beautiful! It is an honor to be a part of it, as so MANY of us are.  We are rising! Please join us for another opportunity to combine struggles and strengthen our efforts. Continue reading

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garden assistant position

Rural Resources is seeking an AmeriCorps Garden Assistant for a productive and educational vegetable garden.

2012 garden 2

The AmeriCorps Garden Assistant will help the farmer with management of a half-acre production plot and assist with farm education programs for local youth.  The position runs from May 1st to August 31st, 2013.

Skill Requirements

  • Must be comfortable with intensive farm labor including cultivation, harvesting, and processing of a wide variety of produce by hand

  • Commitment to organic growing practices

  • Must be open to working with youth

  • Must have excellent communication skills for a sometimes hectic working environment

  • Building and handy skills are favored

  • Must be able to take initiative and work independently

Full job description can be found HERE.


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barns: the heart of the farm

If you’re in the Tennessee area, a  barn open house and Q & A session will be held on March 2, 2013 at the Broadened Horizons Teaching Farm in Rockwood, TN. To contact farmer leaf with farm related questions or comments, e-mail The piece below was written by Farmer Leaf to accompany this session.  BARN #1

Above: A good example of truss construction. Interior painting brightens up the interior of the barn.

Nothing telegraphʼs a farmʼs status clearer than the condition of its barn. A good paint job on the exterior walls, combined with an intact, leak-proof roof, is usually a sign of overall farm prosperity. A well maintained barn also indicates how a farmer responds to meet the shelter needs of the farm livestock and the farm equipment. A well organized and efficiently run barn provides multiples services and benefits and helps a farmer maximize the potential for making a profit.

As in my pond construction work, I also hold some very strong ideas about what constitutes a good barn. The very first consideration is location. A poorly placed barn is an overall liability, not a seamless asset. I have advised clients to remove existing poor quality barn structures and use the salvaged lumber to rebuild away from wet springs and drainages, or to place the structure more conveniently (efficiently) in the center of the daily ongoing farm activity. It should be accessible in all types of weather, not cut off by flooded waterways, snow drifts or long distance. Continue reading

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grazing workshop, tennessee

Coming up on Wednesday!

March 28: Pasture Workshop and Field Day (Montgomery County Cattleman and UT Extension)
Loaction: Clarksville, TN at Phil Baggett Farm
Contact: John Bartee Office: (931)648-5725 or Cell: (931)624-1173
Contact: Phil Baggett (615)347-5454

The program is coming together for the March 28 meeting in Clarksville TN. We will be starting at 9AM with an indoor session at the Montgomery County extension center up to lunchtime and then we will be out at Phil Baggett’s farm ( for the afternoon. Continue reading

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farm for lease – limestone TN

Here’s a note from Landowner Heather Halsey – this is a wonderful opportunity for the right greenhorn!

I have a 100 acre farm – Second Chance Farm in Limestone, TN – that I am no longer working.  I have a new job with a land trust organization in Maine (where I am from).  I would be interested in leasing it to a young farmer in need of a farm (preferably a 2-3 year lease, with a 1 year trial period) or some other arrangement. I would like to sell this farm, and am open to suggestions to make it possible for a young farmer including selling the house+11 acres, and leasing the remaining acreage, or vice versa. The farm is in an area popular for retirement homes for Floridians, but is still primarily  farmland.  Continue reading