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Anyone interested in Environmental Sustainability on the farm?

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  • Anyone interested in Environmental Sustainability on the farm?

    I'm a dressage rider-gone-environmentalist, and I am looking for farms that are interested in ways to:
    a) cut their carbon footprint
    b) cut farm costs
    c)increase the health/productivity of their livestock

    I have been studying Permaculture (a quick google search will explain it, but basically sustainable human living systems, along with growing all your food on a tiny plot of land) and want to apply it to a horse farm (which has never been done, to my knowledge) and attempt to eliminate nearly all costs associated with running a farm!

    If interested, please pm me or email me at barnwellart@gmail.com and I can send you more info. This would be completely free for the farms involved.

  • #2
    I would LOVE this.

    I already do what I can... composting, spreading manure by hand, maintaining pasture as possible...

    But I know there is more.

    I am also HUGELY interested in being off the grid. I am about 90% there right now, but must rely on a generator for water at the moment. A deep well hand pump is about $1200 more than I have, but hoping to somehow get there before winter. I would love it if I only had to turn the generator on once a week or so to do laundry, as really, that is the only other thing I need it for now.

    I am in the PERFECT location for wind and/or solar, but they are so incredibly cost prohibitive to install. I wish I was thinking this way when I took out the loans to purchase and had made it part of the construction.
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


    • Original Poster

      Hey Pintopiaffe!
      I'll tell you a little know secret... all this sustainability stuff... can be done for CHEAP OR FREE. Other countries have been doing this stuff (wind tunnels, passive solar heating/cooling, pedal power, rainwater runoff water system, permaculture) for centuries out of necessity. All of the techniques are already perfected for us, and most of them are absolutely free or very, very cheap. There are many, many people who want you to think that you need to buy their expensive solar panels... when you can make them for very cheap or free!

      Hey, I tried to pm you, but it said your mailbox was full! Do you have an email address?


      • #4
        You may want to learn more about that, before you jump on anyone's bandwagons.

        Conventional agriculture has been bashed so long by those pushing "sustainable agriculture" without any data that they decided to start accumulating some.

        Surprise, conventional agriculture is in fact better at smaller carbon footpring, better at using resources and just better no matter how you measure, compared with all those other systems supposedly so "sustainable".

        Here is some to read and these facts are just about one very small part of traditional agriculture:



        Where our food comes today is a very complicated issue and a very serious one:


        If what you mean is that you want to make better use of your land and in general live yourself with a small footprint and as self reliant as you can make your existence, acknowledging that the world we live in toda is as it is because of all that surrounds us, including conventional agriculture, then that makes very much sense.

        Living a well thought out life is a great goal for anyone and I applaud you for it.
        Just don't forget to thank what got us where we are today.


        • Original Poster

          Great articles, always good to look at things from all sides. I personally don't trust much of anything the USDA says... or am very wary of them. The first research was done by the USDA, the second by a cattle vet on "The Cattle Network". As I expected, they were also both pretty biased. But again, always good to look at both sides.
          Conventional farming has a long, long way to go, as does the current state of "sustainable" farming. Definitely.


          • #6
            Barncat05, you might be interested in a group out of Washington state, Horses for Clean Water, "Your online resource for environmentally sensitive horse keeping," and their newsletter, the Green Horse. They frequently hold workshops to help people achieve what you are seeking.

            I recently listened to a call-in radio broadcast with Michael Pollan and a number of small, traditional farmers. Both sides, minus the polarizing factors from either side. While they began the session seeing each other as adversaries, in the end they were almost entirely in agreement about each other's goals and methods.

            The problem lies with those who profit by making the "other side" out to be the enemy. In fact, the small traditional farmers and "new agrarians" have a whole lot in common.
            Last edited by susanne; Aug. 20, 2010, 03:40 PM.
            They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

            Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth


            • #7
              My farm was profiled in a book on eco-friendly horsekeeping.

              We're also almost completely self sustaining. I draw the line at my own milk cow, and buy milk from another farmer.

              It's not a pretty farm. Not the idyllic, every blade in its place farm. And it is a helluva lot of hard work.
              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling


              • #8
                We're just starting out... so feel free to PM me any information you have. I'd love to see it.
                "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


                • #9
                  Make your own solar panels??? And what about a converter/inverter and storage????? I'd certainly like to hear more about that. With utility costs going through the roof - and using up all kinds of resourses to provide it, yeah, I'd really like to hear more about that.

                  I think it was Montana that went solar for their electric utility. I wonder how that has worked out price-wise for the people of Montana. It certainly sounds good for the environment.
                  Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                  Now apparently completely invisible!


                  • #10
                    You can use passive solar power, that is thermal mass, to heat your house, one way with well insulated, like inside windows, piles of rocks heating during the day and releasing heat at night.

                    One way to be energy efficeint, for those building, is to study what makes the most efficien dwellings, like no more than 17% of your wall enclosures open with doors and windows, overhangs that shield the walls and windows from the sun in the summer, but let it warm them in the winter, for us at 36 degree latitude, that is 7' overhangs.

                    There is a tremendous amount of information out there on how to be as efficient as you can be with the resources you may have.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                      Surprise, conventional agriculture is in fact better at smaller carbon footpring, better at using resources and just better no matter how you measure, compared with all those other systems supposedly so "sustainable".
                      Personally, I think the best approach is to familiarize yourself with as many practices as possible, and then pick those measures which are most approprite for your situation, from organic, traditional, and alternative sources.

                      In many cases, I think the simplest way to reduce energy and cost expenditures on horse property is to have your horses live out 24/7. Insulating the stock tank in winter has made a huge difference in the electric bill, though I have periodically been tempted by those solar stock tank contraptions.
                      "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                      -Edward Hoagland


                      • #12
                        I'm interested! we have 25 acres, no barn yet. would love to know as much as I can about being self-sustaining!


                        • #13
                          I would be interested as well! We're building the house now, but the barn hasn't been started and we have quite a bit of land we could do something with...


                          • #14
                            I forgot this link in my earlier post. I've added it there, too, but in case you don't go back...

                            They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                            Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth


                            • #15
                              I have an intensely compact 4 acres that I stand two warmblood stallions from and raise show horses from birth in conjunction with permaculture type gardens that help supply a healthier way of life for our family. My interest also extends to biodiversity , water conservation and alternative energy and generally living a rich life with less consumerism and a little more in sync with nature .

                              Synergy Sporthorses
                              Home to hunter,jumper, dressage, eventing competition stallions
                              Holstein Cotopaxi and Hanoverian Raffaello


                              • #16
                                For those wanting to try some alternative energy, check with the new regulations, that will help you buy whatever system you want to install.
                                The government will pay you outright for half of the cost, or give you a tax break if that is what you choose.

                                The trouble with alternative energy right now is that the technology, materials and manufacturing are still more energy costly and have generally a larger footprint than conventional energy does, although once producing energy, your cost is minimal and you may even get to sell some energy back to the grid.
                                With wind turbines, the pay off averages 10 years, the life span 25, so, even with some repairs, etc. you at least get your energy over those 25 years at half the cost of conventional energy.
                                BUT, you have to count on using that turbine for all those years to achieve that gain, not be moving or dying before that.

                                There are some new emerging technologies that may even be better than those using sun or wind, stay tuned.


                                • #17
                                  But as Barncat mentioned , it can go very low tech and more minimal cost such as these solar air heaters made with salvaged materials and aluminum beverage cans .


                                  Planting deciduous trees to provide summer shade to cool in hot weather is really effective. After living for years with no relief to summer sun baking my house even in the relatively temperate Pacific Northwest, this year the more mature trees are finally really providing relief from the heat in our home. It does not get any more low tech than that but you have to have patience : )

                                  I would love to learn about more things and be able to work at them.


                                  • #18
                                    I don't know of any real farmer who's not interested in "environmental sustainability on the farm." That said, I also know of few real farmers who ride bandwagons and/or promote the "green theme of the month."

                                    Agriculture is as local as it gets. What works in MA many not work in MI or MN. What scares me is the Alphabet Soup getting "captured" by some group of zealots who Know, and are willing to use the power of the State, to enforce the One, True Way.

                                    This is also true of "alternative energy" and most other Causes.

                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                      I don't know of any real farmer who's not interested in "environmental sustainability on the farm."
                                      You had to let the cat out of the bag, did you.

                                      Farming, you use down to the last bent nail you just found, because there is no real, tangible profit, so you "have to make do".
                                      Sustainability to the max.

                                      Seriously, ask any research group at your local university who is the first industry to try to use, modify and cobble together every little bit of new stuff coming down the pipe, plus invent new stuff too --- farming.

                                      We had Delco wind generators with a little building full of old timey batteries for electricity in the 1930's and 40's.
                                      Then, the government in it's wisdom paid companies to lay lines and bring electricity to all.
                                      Now, we are part of a very efficient wind farm all over again.
                                      There is little new under the sun, is there.

                                      For those wanting cheap, homegrown energy, there are some new cells that can convert any fuel to electricity right now for half of the cost of our electricity coming thru lines.
                                      Once those are perfected, every household can have their own little generator and I mean the size of a shoebox, that with something like propane, natural gas, diesel, most any fuel, will give you much more energy than your fuel cost you and you can get off the grid then.
                                      Electric companies are right now looking at that process to complement their coal and other, as they too like the idea of generating electricity for half what it is costing them now.

                                      When we try something new to us, to help us be more efficient, we need to also be aware of how much we may invest and if it soon may become obsolete.

                                      Another point of caution, remember the irish potato famine?
                                      When you think you are becoming self sufficient, don't cut ties with the rest of the world, keep your lines connected, because any farmer can tell you you are only a drought, flood, blight, tornado, illness or accident, whatever may happen, away from losing that self sufficiency.

                                      All of us, no matter where we live, in the country or in an apartment in a city, we can try to have as small a footprint in this world as we can manage, that is not only for those that go the rural route.

                                      One last word, before diving in too far, be sure you love the reality of living as the new back to earthers, not just the idea of it.

                                      Remember, truly happy people tend to be not those that have the most, but want the least.


                                      • #20
                                        Well, somebody shoot that cat!!!!!

                                        I think there's a problem in a lot of the "sustainability" talk because they confuse "individual sustainability" (a sort of "agricultural libertarianism") with practices that will permit large scale production over an extended period without undue side effects.

                                        Frankly, modern "subsistence farming" is an inefficient an economic model as historic subsistence farming was. In the Old Days 90% of the population worked the land so that 10% didn't have to. Today those numbers are, literally, reversed in the U.S. (and most Western societies). The Third World is working on it. There were some news reports earlier this year that, worldwide, 50% or more of the Earth's population lives in cities vice rural areas. The urban numbers continue to increase, thanks at least in part to the massive industrialization of India and China.

                                        Much of this economic growth in the Third World comes with few, if any, safeguards against natural disasters. Earthquakes in China and Haiti, fires in Russia, tsunamis in South Asia, and floods in China and Pakistan demonstrate graphically that a viable and sustainable economic system needs a lot more than just arable land or new factory buildings. It also demonstrates and interconnectedness of agriculture that will be true no matter what anybody’s view of “globalization” might be.

                                        The popular “sustainability” model build on “organic” practices is particularly unfortunate, as it has garnered a bunch of positive publicity with “warm and fuzzy” stories of happy farmers and happy animals. Yet, if you look behind the curtain, you find that organic yields are dramatically lower and environmental costs higher because much larger amounts of labor and and land and machine time are required to produce those lower yields. “Natural fertilizers” are great, but to get the necessary nutrients you must use much larger quantities meaning much more run off, odor, etc. They do have a “persistence” that modern fertilizers do not but in many crops you don’t need year-round nutrients, only during the 60-120 growing cycle. These issues are almost never discussed in the broader press, although they sometimes are in specialty ag magazines.

                                        So I’m all for “sustainability,” but cast a jaundiced eye on “bandwagon agriculture.”

                                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão