Anybody else reading them ? Just finished "Folk's, this ain't normal" and found it very thought provoking. Spoiler alert - he is anti - recreational horse. Thinks all our pastures are wasted feeding "rec animals" rather than animals destined for the table. He has a lot of interesting observations on modern society norms that I have also been questioning lately. If you've read any of his works, pls tell me your thoughts...
I first heard about Polyface when I read Michael Pollan's book, "Omnivore's Dilemma". I like a lot about his philosophy and supported his farm by shopping and eating at restaurants that served his meats when I lived local to him, but he as an individual turns me off. I was very interested in doing an apprenticeship with him but, whoops whoops, they don't take women (or didn't when I was in college). In addition to being anti-recreational horse, he is also anti- many things about modern society, and while I admire his approach to local farming, it is a hard model to envision on a global scale.
I agree with sustainable living, reusing, re-purposing, etc. I think he thinks very highly of himself. He came down here to Tampa to do a lecture a few months ago and I was not really impressed with him. I feel that he acts like he is the only one doing something to make a difference.
I actually know him...have been to his farm. He's a pretty interesting guy. I don't agree with his stance on "recreational horses" obviously but I rarely agree 100% with anyone on all topics. I find his books thought provoking and loved "Folks this Ain't Normal." Polyface Farm is well worth a visit.
I was very interested in doing an apprenticeship with him but, whoops whoops, they don't take women (or didn't when I was in college).
They do now, according to all-knowing wiki. But only 2.
I might buy his meat if I lived in the area, but his sexist views turn me off. Although it's hilarious to me that he's being castigated by what I can assume is an even moar-holistic-than-thou farmer in the wiki article for not raising heritage chickens.
I think the " no more than 2 female interns" is more a matter of housing than sexist views. Could also be he feels the guys offer more "manpower" per intern ? Must not have met too many horse girls then !
Not surprised at all about him not being supportive of recreational animals; I know several other farmers (dairy and beef cattle) that feel the exact same way. And, from their perspective, they are right. Horses DO wreck a pasture, and do not provide us with anything *productive*.
I haven't read his book but have read about him and his farm model. I think he's great, although a lot of "homestead" farmers probably don't see anything new in his plan, except perhaps the idea of marketing it to the public versus just farming that way for their own sustainability.
Well, I have seen that running horses and cattle in rotation here on my farm works very well. My pastures have never looked better. He has not had horses and admits to being a bit afraid of them, so I figure he's just not that enlightened in all matters after all.
He is right thought in his book "You Can Farm" that raising horses is a top way to lose your shirt. That was before the crash in 2008 and it's even more true now. He and I had a good laugh over that when we talked. I now have 9 beef cattle (including 3 newborn heifer calves), 5 pigs, 100+ chickens, and am reducing my horse herd to good homes. We've quit breeding. I have to admit that he was right on that one. The demographics of our nation are changing too and less young people want horses. The handwriting is on the wall to read if you are paying attention.
Sure...some folks can make money producing horses but you need to be in the top echelon of your breed or involved in something high demand. I think even WB breeders are starting to feel the hurt now.
He's pro horse slaughter too for the record.
Joel's real accomplishments are those of an activist grass based farmer in demonstrating that you can raise a hell of a lot of of food animals in a humane and non environmentally damaging way, making good profits, without relying on the modern confinement system to do it. His family took a piece of land with badly eroded soil, exposed rocks all over, and rebuilt the soil in 20 years using his rotational system to where he can graze 1 cow per half an acre for 9 months out of the year. That is incredible.
He's fought a lot of fights with the establishment and won them...and that is one reason Virginia is as friendly a state as it is now to be a small farmer. He's helped all farmers here regardless of their farming method and made it obvious that you don't have to be bottom of the barrel and an uneducated redneck to be a farmer. His model is helping build regional and local food systems in small farms that can make money and not rely on a middleman to take raw goods and do something with them. That method of buying your food from a farmer versus a grocery store was the historically normal method up until the 1940's for most people.
He promotes food independence...having a garden and preserving food. Again very "old fashioned" by today's standards but historically normal until the last few decades. In this world, I personally will not allow myself to depend on anyone else for the necessities. We eat about 80% of our meals off our farm now. I realize not everyone can do that but many folks can support local farming if they make an effort to do so.
He's got several other books that I liked... "the Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer" and the other one was "All I Want to do is Illegal."
I wasn't suggesting that his model isn't great, I just meant that once upon a time people probably had to think like he thinks now - how to grow the most food in the most sustainable way. I think his bringing this back into "current" thinking is terrific, and especially the efforts on behalf of the small farmers.
And of course it is possible to keep horses and cows; my point is that if you don't ride, horses are just "hay burners". (And sometimes when you do ride...I have a few burners at my farm as we speak)...