Earl Lauer Butz (July 3, 1909 – February 2, 2008) was a United States government official who served as Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. His policies favored large-scale corporate farming and an end to New Deal programs, but he is best remembered for a series of verbal gaffes that eventually cost him his job.
His mantra to farmers was “get big or get out,” and he urged farmers to plant commodity crops like corn “from fencerow to fencerow.” These policy shifts coincided with the rise of major agribusiness corporations, and the declining financial stability of the small family farm. Wikipedia
The drive to produce more, more, more is still very prevalent in farmers today. Some manage to keep up, some do not. Wally and I got caught up in the “get big or get out” mentality, several times in fact. When we were going to the Charlotte Farmers’ Market, we could not keep rabbit, beef, goat, eggs, milk, etc. in stock so we sourced more, raised more and then the bottom fell out in many different ways.
Now that we are on less than half the acreage that we were on, we have to manage our livestock better. It is probably a good thing that we no longer have cows because the area that we can use for pasture is likely not enough to carry more than a couple of head of cattle. It will carry a lot of goats (or sheep). No, we are not getting sheep. We likely will not raise any more pigs either. We fed the pigs on excess cow milk, which we no longer have. When it comes time to restock our freezer, we will buy a pig from a farmer that pasture-raises heritage breed pigs.
Goats bring their own sets of challenges: they are escape artists! They are needy little buggers! They stand on fences which can wear them down. They will eat themselves sick. They are pushy and do not have boundaries. They are clever little beasts, much smarter, I believe, than cows.
They do not give anywhere the amount of milk that a good dairy cow does.
Volume … we need to learn to live on less, not more.
Wally and I grilled another rabbit last night. I think we are close to perfecting the art of grilling rabbit. Someone on FaceBook asked if the rabbit was tender – we were striving for it to be tender, but I do not think that is possible. Our rabbits are like heritage breed chickens; the general public is used to commercially-raised franken-chickens that are crammed into a building fed corn and soy and who-knows-what-else so they are fat with big breasts and meat that is spongy. It grills and stays tender (unless you burn it); not so rabbit. But that does not seem to take away the flavor. It has texture, but eating it (with your hands) is very primal and satisfying. To me now that I’ve eaten so much rabbit, chicken is not satisfying. It fills a void, but it is not satisfying. Such is fast food these days. It fills up your stomach and perhaps it is satisfying because of all of the flavor (which is chemical flavor if it is fast food), but whatever satisfaction you get is short-lived and often you feel like crap after eating it.
And if you feel like crap, you can just go to your doctor and get a pill to make you feel better so you can eat more fast food.
This all comes back to volume. Perhaps if people ate more nutritionally-dense food **cooked at home from scratch**, they would not need to eat so much of it which would mean farmers would not be pushed to produce so much. I so commend the efforts of farmers like Anson Mills, the creators of the documentary film, the Grain Divide and chefs like Sean Brock, author of Heritage, all of whom support the production, cooking and consumption of nutritionally dense food.
Wall and I are no longer going to produce volume; but focus on nutritionally-dense, humanely raised, environmentally conscious food. We are not going to be creative and find a way around things that do not work out because more often than not, when something does not work, then it was not meant to. Wally and I are both “older” farmers and with that age comes wisdom. Wisdom is a very valuable thing.
Until later …