Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Deep Thread

This thread runs deep and wide, and the comments shed light on a few different aspects of the dilemma of selling market lambs. I think this requires a deeper solution than on farm slaughter and butcher though. There has to be a complete re-think on our food system and on our own demands to have whatever food we want whenever we want it.

Here's another spin on it.  There are great swaths of grassland and rangeland in Canada and in the USA that support vast herds of livestock and wild ungulates. While there is raging debate over the correct land use, which is another topic altogether, I do believe the health of those grassy ecosystems depends on those animals being there. In those large places and such rural places like ours, on farm slaughter, butcher and marketing from the farm gate, is not a viable option without reams of capital dollars and hired labour to make it so.  Likewise, the folks who know and respect the land, and excel at land stewardship and keeping native and domestic ecosystems in partnership and intact, are the very folks we need to keep there in order preserve what we have. These folks will never excel in the role of managing slaughter, butcher and sale of product. So then more people are needed. 

Every time my thoughts come full circle; maybe there is no way around the system put in place to try to conquer this very predicament, but yet the system in place is wearing very thin.

So all the pondering leads me here - could I sell the flock? If so, then what ??? - that is Allen’s big question for me. What in the world would you do if you sold the sheep? Truth is I probably couldn’t sell them all because what about the dogs?  How in the world to part with them?!  But selling some sheep might be an option, or maybe focusing on breeding stock or wool, as some of you do.  I could rent out the land I don’t need.  Perhaps there is a way to lend a leg up to someone else who would not have trouble with the aspects of selling lambs or calves or pigs…




5 comments:

  1. I believe you are totally correct in saying that grazing animals are key to managing large grasslands such as your area and areas in the Western USA, as well as small farms in the East. I also believe holistic grazing techniques and farming methods promise a bright future for agriculture. Yes, on-farm processing and marketing work for me, although probably everything I do is illegal, but I am only dealing with a tiny number of 16 lambs and 9 calves. I do not pretend to imagine that my system would work on your ranch. Even on my small scale, going this route is a huge amount of work. I think you are on the right track. You manage your land and livestock responsibly, and you have worthwhile work for your dogs, which you all enjoy. Raising healthy meat for people is a noble task. Now you just need to get it to people as close to you as possible. Have you considered buying clubs and such? I also wonder if you might enjoy diversifying a bit with a small herd of cattle. Cattle and sheep are very beneficial together, and you probably would not have to change much of anything to add them. Think of the fun your dogs would have!!! Maybe you would be happier with the whole thing if you just had a little more control of who actually consumes your lambs. Where do they go now? It is important for people to have healthy and humanely-raised meat, and I like the idea of people near me consuming my lamb instead of lamb from New Zealand. I am hoping you can figure out a way to make your operation work, so that you are at peace and happy with it, as I believe you are a great asset to your land and community.

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    1. I agree with what you've said...thanks for saying it!!!!

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    2. We ran cattle with the sheep a few years back and they are very complimentary. With no means to handle cows (give vaccinations or help if needed) we let them go to focus on the sheep. We had Galloway's - we miss them. If you snoop at some of the oldest posts you'll come across photos.
      I'm not sure doing more farm work or adding more animals is the answer for me. We've done a lot to make our operation work, it's the global agriculture system I feel tied to just by way of what we do, that is urging something different.

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  2. Hey, I just read your newsletter....a BIG congratulations for paying off your land! That is a HUGE accomplishment. I still have seven more years to go! Also, pertaining to this blog posting, have you ever considered custom grazing other's stock? Have your read those Greg Judy books that talk about this? If you haven't and are interested, I could send them to you. There are two, No-Risk Ranching and Comeback Farms.

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    1. Thank you, we feel a bit stunned still. Yes, custom grazing is a good thought, as is straight rental of the land for cattle or sheep or both. When we pencil it out neither makes as much income but the work would not be year round either, which is a plus. I am familiar with Greg Judy's books and his work, yes. Thanks for reminding me of them.

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