Tag Archives: farm

Chicken Tractors!

I finally managed to finish the chicken tractors this weekend, what started as a Saturday project ended up eating the better part of 3 weekends but these things happen. The design is entirely my own, I’ll go into more of the details as I go along.

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For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept of a chicken tractor (Europeans typically call them arcs). The idea is to place the birds in a space that meets their needs for green forage for one day, then they are moved each day to fresh forage.

There are a couple of advantages to doing things this way compared to other methods of keeping chickens. With a traditional coop, any grass in the chickens run is typically gone within the first couple of weeks, after this if you feed them fresh greens they will have to be cut and hauled in. In addition, because they are moved daily, chicken tractors don’t generate a bad odor, which is often the case for more traditional coop designs.

The tractor also provides protection from the elements and from predators, whereas birds who are free-ranged, while they get plenty of fresh forage, don’t have this level of protection. This is particularly helpful for smaller flocks where the loss of even one bird is pretty devastating. The tractors are also helpful for people, such as myself, who are involved in urban or suburban agriculture. The neighbors after all wouldn’t appreciate having chickens running crazy in their yard.

The tractor gives me an aesthetically pleasing way to keep the chickens exactly where I want them. For more details read Chicken Tractor

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I patterned these tractors to look like a miniature version of a little red barn. As you can see they are accessible on both sides via the doors. This makes it relatively easy to access them to get the eggs out, feed, and water. We have been getting 8 eggs a day so far, which is pretty impressive since we only have 8 birds. As you can tell from my post “Mini Farming”, the hens are very glad to get fresh greens everyday instead of every few days.

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Inside I have chosen to use plastic crates for nesting boxes. I love to use them because they are cheap, easy to find, and have a variety of functions around the farm. Versatility is a must for small scale, low acreage operation.

The waterers are kind of special so I’ll mention them here. This is a new design I encountered when I picked up my chickens. I was unhappy with traditional designs because they tend to get dirty very, very quickly and in our hot summer time weather that can be a dangerous thing for the birds. These waterers are built using poultry nipples which the birds peck from below. Each time they peck at it they get water. Because the water is enclosed in the 5 gallon bucket it stays fresh and clean. These systems are also cheaper on price point, a five gallon traditional style waterer costs $35 or so. I got a set of 5 poultry nipples for only $9 and the bucket was free. You could probably get the bucket for $5 though if you didn’t already have one. These are also super easy to make. All you do is drill a 5/16 in hole in the bottom of the bucket, wrap the threads of the nipple in plumbers tape and then use a drill and an 11mm socket to screw it into the hole. It might have taken me 5 minutes total.
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These tractors have been customized for Alabama’s incredibly hot summers. The birds will need lots of shade come summer, so I brought the sides all the way to the ground on two sides and left the front and back open. I will face these east-west so that the birds get plenty of morning and afternoon light but are well shaded in the heat of the day. The heat is also why I put in the roof vent, which you can see is screened with poultry wire.
For anyone interested in building something along this design, most aspects of the build were relatively easy. I bought all the materials new and it ended up costing me about $150 or so each.
If anyone wants more details I’d be happy to share more information on how I built these. Just email me or leave me a comment.

The Bard’s Book Reviews: The One Straw Revolution

Hat tip to JB for suggesting this great read!

The One-Straw Revolution, written by Masanobu Fukuoka the father of “natural farming” or “do nothing farming” reads like a treatise on the philosophy behind permaculture.

Let me begin by saying the book is most definitely influenced by Bhuddist and eastern metaphysics, particularly the view that everything represents an integrated system and that mankind cannot improve upon this system but should instead strive to be in harmony with it. While these philosophical roots will occasionally fly in the face of the Christian worldview, the book is still worth the read for a variety of reasons:

I am deeply concerned by the level of compartmentalization in American and other western cultures today. Particularly in agriculture this compartmentalization is very dangerous as it is largely responsible for our industrial, monoculture based system. While Fukuoka probably goes to far the other way, his influence deeply helps Western readers to be pulled back to a healthy middle ground n this issue.

In addition this book provides a beautiful philosophy of permaculture both I. Terms of the good of mankind and of the earth, while pointing to some of the dangers of an overly scientific approach. All of this is wrapped in fascinating narrative with neat first hand accounts of Fukuoka’s success with his very unusual approach to farming.

I don’t know that this book would be on my top recommended reading,list for those interested in sustainability, particularly since most of the technique is tied to Japan’s unique environment. However, it is a short and delightful read and well worth your time if you are looking for more of the “heart” of sustainability.

Mini Farming (with pictures)

My posts have been a bit sparse this week, but I had been intending for quite some time now, to do a post showing just what I’ve been up to. We have been doing small scale food production for several months now, having picked back up after moving out of our apartment. Things have begun to pick up speed the last two weeks, and this week I got a bit busy. This post may make master gardeners cringe (if it does I’d love feed back in the comments section) as I have much more experience with small scale livestock production than gardening. I do hope, however, that for others who may not have much experience producing their own food that this post will inspire you to try new things. Explanations will be below each set of pictures.

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We are very fortunate this year to have had access to a greenhouse that was already attached to the house. As you can see it’s a simple design and takes full advantage of the existing wall of the house. The wall it sits against actually backs up to the basement which further increases the temperature stability of the greenhouse. On the coldest nights we had this year (low 20’s Fahrenheit) I have been able to keep the temp at a cool but stable 45 degrees just by leaving the lights on. This has allowed us to get a head start with spring planting as many of the plants we already have growing would normally just be going in the ground without the greenhouse. Due to our mild winters, I am excitedly hopeful that we will be able to produce cold hardy plants year round.

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Another advantage of having a greenhouse is the workspace it provides. I can start plants on the work table, pot them, etc. without worrying about dirtying up the floor. Starting plants indoors in the house can be a bit messy. To the right is the plant “nursery” I created to get an early start on plants like peppers and tomatoes that have a higher germination temperature. I scavenged a lamp the shade broke off of, and old vent hood, and a rubbermaid box and based the design on chicken brooders I’ve made in the past. With an internal temp averaging 80 degrees or so it has worked great for growing plants fast (sometimes faster than I’ve known what to do with them) and by lowering the light I could also raise chicks in it if I decide to raise broilers.

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Now that the weather has finally warmed up all the plants are enjoying the sunshine on the deck behind the greenhouse, another big perk though is that end of next week when bad weather is expected I’ll move the young plants inside so the wind doesn’t rough them up to much.

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A young tomato plant (left), bean plants waiting to be trellised (right). Of note, some of you may be concerned about my direct application of manure. The manure in question is rabbit manure which has a pretty even carbon-nitrogen balance, for this reason it won’t “burn” the plants like most manures will and can be applied directly without composting. I still prefer to mix in a little bedding to be safe. However, as I recently discovered, you should be careful not get any rabbit urine on your plants or the ammonia will kill them. That goes for worm beds to.

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Okra plants (left), a strawberry plant in a hanging basket (right)

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Kale plants in cast iron pots (left), I am hoping to move these inside over the summer and grow leafy greens year round. Alabama has borderline subtropical temperatures which means summer can be harder on plants than winter.

I am experimenting with growing blackberries in pots (right, large, round brown pots). I couldn’t find much info on pot size but there were numerous gardeners saying they did this successfully. I’m guessing those pots are around 5 gallons. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Another experiment this year has been with fig trees. You can see our 2 fig trees in the top left of the picture overlooking all the plants on the back deck. Since fig trees can be grown from cuttings, I saved several of the healthy cuttings when I pruned the trees this year and potted them. Obviously I will have to separate them out after they grow some, but as you can tell from the new green shoots they are alive and growing.

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I’m also tinkering with the beans and peas. I couldn’t find much info on how to trellis potted beans or peas, but I knew from Square Foot Gardening that there space requirements are relatively low. I decide to try wrapping the wire cages around the pots, this way the they take up the same amount of space vertically as the pot, but by wrapping around the outside should get a lot of linear growth over the 4 foot vertical climb, in addition all the beans/peas should hang on the outside for ease of harvest.

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My final big experiment is with sweet potatoes. The ground pots will be pretty conventional, grown up wigwam style pole trellises, the only experiment there is with that one small pot in the top right of the photo. However, I’ve read that they can also be grown down from hanging planters so I thought I’d try that too. I doubt that the smallest pot is big enough but I accidentally bought to many plants and had other plans for my last remaining larger planters. I suppose worst case scenario I’ll transplant it.

 

 

 

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One of my favorite ways to have an “instant garden”, especially when moving somewhere new is to use one of these “top soil gardens”. The bags of topsoil are cut open at the top and have holes poked in them at the bottom for drainage. With a little compost these become instant raised beds. As you can see I’ve got collard greens, lettuce, and spinach coming up fairly well. Although I’m afraid they should have been watered more this week.

 

 

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Rabbits are one of the most efficient ways to produce your own food in a small space. They are lots of fun to raise, but a bit hard on the heart to process. The two in the top right photo are Flopsy and Mopsy, the one by himself is Peter. These will be our new breeders. Coming soon they will be moved out of the greenhouse to the cooler and shadier back porch, as well as getting a “tractor” so that they can graze the lawn during the daytime (I won’t be leaving them out at night due to neighborhood dogs and cats). With my rabbits I use deep bedding, putting in several fresh handfuls a day to cover over their newest manure. This allows me to keep the cages more sanitary while going longer between bedding changes. Personally I’m not a huge fan of the hanging style, wire bottom cages.

You’ll also notice the rabbits are eating left over lettuce. We try compost as much as possible, particularly by running compost through the animals. Right now that means the rabbits eat our greens and the chickens get the left overs. Coming up soon I plan to have worm beds at which point I will double compost the rabbit food by giving their manure to the worms, they will also be able to eat several things (ex. crushed egg shells) that neither the chickens or rabbits can currently eat.

 

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The chickens have been the biggest source of work for me this week, since we got them a couple of weeks ago they have been in the temporary home you see above. This has several major draw backs: First it takes about 30 minutes for me to move it, compare this to a better build tractor that can be moved in 2 minutes or so. You can see the problem with this in the top right photo. See how there is a small patch of green between the 2 eaten down patches? That patch was underneath the edge of the pen, the birds have literally gotten so hungry for fresh greens that they were sticking there heads out of the fence and eating down the 4 inches or so they could reach on the outside edge of the pen. This is a good indicator they aren’t being moved often enough.

My project this week, which hopefully will be a post for next weekend has been to build 2 new tractors for our birds so that they can be moved daily on to fresh forage. Our birds are already getting a fairly green diet which has contributed to what one friend called “the best eggs I’ve ever had”, but I would like them to get as much as possible.

We have 2 heritage breed birds, Road Island Reds and Black Australorpe’s who had just started laying when we bought them. I personally prefer to buy adult birds for laying hens, since it guarantees egg production (no birds die before they start laying) and cuts down on the cost of bringing them to laying age. We were fortunate to find birds that had been laying for just 2 weeks and had been free ranging, which has contributed to their being very aggressive foragers.

Hopefully by the end of this week I will be able to do a post with pictures of the new chicken tractors, in addition I am planning to return to my normal 3-4 posts a week this week.

Ecology and Global Disciplemaking

Considering that the creation mandate to take stewardship over the Earth and care for it properly never went away, and also considering that mass starvation, illness, etc. will have strongly negative consequences for everyone, but especially “the least of these”; I have long considered returning to a more normal ecology to be an integral part of the Mission of God’s people on earth. To accomplish a more normal ecology will, however, require significant cultural change. We will have to see a massive deurbanization as more loving stewards move back to the land, as a result there will be a massive cultural and economic shift back to the rural, as well as back to local. In order to fix our global ecological issues this will have to take place at the global level. Because this change will be so radical, we must ask ourselves how this will affect global discipleship.

In the first place urbanization has, without a doubt, greatly increased the ability of the church to access many unreached people groups that previously were very difficult to minister to due to geographic and political barriers. In many cases, here in these United States today, there are immigrant and student populations of unreached peoples on our own soil, living in major cities. However, accessibility should not be confused with receptivity. While urbanization has made some parts of discipleship easier, it has made others harder. Urbanites have much shorter, and often more disjointed relationship chains. Whereas, with the correct approach, the Gospel will flow very rapidly through existing relationship structures to reach a rural people, this growth is often dwarfed in urban cultures simply because those relationship structures don’t exist. For this reason, I would suggest than any access issues than urbanization has assisted with are offset by the difficulty of transmitting the Gospel throughout the entirety of a people group.

Urbanization and the False Gospel of Prosperity

An even larger issue, as far as I am concerned, is whether or not the Gospel being transmitted is pure and true. Now before I really launch into this, let me stop and say this: I am not accusing any church, mission agency, or other organization of deliberately teaching a false Gospel. As a general rule those involved in Mission are more detached from the false elements present throughout our church culture today; but it is often very difficult to separate yourself from the culture you were born into and this in turn can make it very hard to disentangle the Gospel message.

The problem I am seeing and experiencing is that Western, urban, materialistic culture is in direct contradiction to the Gospel; that is the values of urban culture are opposed to the Scriptural commands and values. All the emphasis on material wealth, and on prosperity in our culture has resulted in a Gospel diluted with promises of worldly wealth and prosperity. As a add on to this dangerous belief set, it then becomes hard for people who are materially “blessed” to recognize the lack of holiness and godliness in their lives. After all, if God is blessing me I must be doing everything right, yes? This wealth also sneaks in and steals away the church’s dependance on God. With an insurance policy for everything, and massive cash reserves its no wonder most people hardly recognize the old term “Divine Providence”.
A people who live on the land, can have the bounty of the earth without ever losing sight of the visceral connection between there hard work and their dependance on God’s grace. Returning to the land, almost automatically cuts modern humans back down to size. In the manmade world of cities, it is easy to gain a false sense of importance; but in the vastness of creation remembrance comes of the One who is actually sovereign. It is clear to one who works the earth, that the food it produces is the product of some unspeakable miracle. Shopping at the grocery store will give the impression that food comes from money, money “I” worked hard for.

While I do believe that there are some who can live in urban environments and still keep themselves pure from the prevailing materialism, indeed some are likely called to do so; for most this urban culture has lead them astray from the true Gospel and sent them off chasing wealth as fast as they can get it.

I would suggest that it is the bigger, cheaper, more convenient mentality of urban culture that has largely driven the modern church to give up discipleship and turn instead to numbers and marketing. Discipleship represents stewardship and slow growth, values best taught by those in a proper ecological relationship with the earth. Quick progress and rapid results are the goals of an urban culture that is used to everything being handed to it like a fast food hamburger.

Only a move back to a heathy ecological relationship with the earth, our younger sister whose care we have been charged with, will give us the edge necessary to stamp out materialism from the Gospel we preach.

Busyness, the Urbanite versus the Small Farmer

It is no secret that modern urban people have filled their lives with all kinds of activity and rarely have time to do anything very meaningful. Some of these useless activities could be pretty easily replaced with activities that actually impact global disciple making, but some of them can’t be. At this point in time it has gotten very, very difficult to maintain a family on a single income; this is particularly true for younger workers in entry level jobs. The result is that children not only rarely see there fathers anymore, but now they rarely see their mothers either. One of the most central and basic ways of fulling the command to make disciples, the discipling and raising of children, has been outsourced almost entirely to the state and a group of experts at church. This alone has severely impacted gospel growth, and now according to some statistics we are confronting a generation of young people in which only 4% embrace a Biblical gospel.

This busyness gets far worse though, just ask yourself, or one of your friends, to make some sort of long term time commitment to reach the unreached. Try to get involved in working with international students or immigrants from unreached groups in your city. The time commitment involved is often fairly significant, perhaps 10-15 hours a week. Most people have a very hard time swinging this. Now I am not trying to criticize anyone, this problem stems from the nature of modern, urban life. When you spend the best 50-60 hours of the week, depending on your commute, at work; then it becomes very difficult to do anything other than come home, eat dinner, tuck the kids in, and spend a few precious moments with your spouse before falling asleep. By Saturday you are so behind on things around the house that between that and a little family activity the whole day is over before it starts. Sunday you go to church and put the kids to bed early in preparation for the new week and it all starts over. Worst of all, this process doesn’t stop it goes on and on week after week all year. There are no seasons, no rest times, just a few weeks of vacation and perhaps a holiday here and there.

This level of busyness has a strong effect on the Faith. First of all it keeps God’s people from being able to commit to ministry, but even more importantly it keeps them to busy for Him. Things like daily bible reading and prayer get completely passed over in the mad rush that is your average day for most modern Christians. It is no wonder our faith is weak when no one has time to spend with its author and perfecter.

Compare this to the hard working farmer out in his fields. His work is seasonal, during certain seasons he may work 80 hours or more, during other seasons the farm nearly shuts down. Even during these busy seasons the work is communal. If he has to work by himself the farmer’s thoughts are largely uninterrupted as he goes about more day to day activities, the days more difficult challenges will require some thought, but the steady daily chores can be done while remaining in a quiet state of fellowship with nature and nature’s God. The farmer also rarely has to work alone, all the work can be done communally. If family is important, the family can come participate. Children love gathering eggs, feeding animals, and playing in the dark dirt of the garden. It’s all like a giant playground to them, and so in a normal ecology children are with their parents most of the day. Others can be to, and as illustrate throughout our history books, often have been. Communities work together to accomplish goals and spend the days together. If a farmer wants to spend time with a international student or someone else, then that person can come tag along with him and will likely enjoy seeing what life on an American farm is like anyway. The farmer can actually do life with people, the urbanite is unable to do this because his occupation is so disjointed from his life.

In the winter as things slow down, a farm community can pretty easily afford to let several of its families go out of the community for several months for ministry, most employers would never allow someone to just take off work for 3 months or more.

From all this I gather, that the farmer first of all is rooted much deeply in the community around him. As a result they will all me mutually strengthened by each other’s faith. The urbanite has to make time to spend with people, in many cases he won’t even see many people at work because he is locked in a tiny box. The farmer has a strong family, held together by large amounts of quality time, shared hardships, and communal labor this gives the farm family a strong base for doing ministry together. The urbanite is fortunate if he can hold is family together long enough for his kids to graduate high school because he rarely sees them. The farm community has time to do things with and for people, the urban world is far to busy. From this I conclude that move back to a normal ecology, with more people on the land would free up more laborers, particularly those with a strong community and family foundation for ministry and mission.

Conclusion

It is my belief that a return to a more normal ecology would fix many of the larger problems the western church is facing today. Strong families and strong communities means stronger churches. Men and women who actually have time to spend with God and to observe His power constantly on display in creation are much more likely recognize their full dependance on Him and to acknowledge His total sovereignty. A stronger faith and more pure Gospel results in a better accomplishment of Mission and a more steady development of disciples globally and locally. The earth is a mess today as a result of our modern culture and ecological practices, there are people going hungry who just a few decades ago knew how to feed themselves. The age of cheap energy will be ending soon, and when it does we will be forced to return to the a more normal ecology, the benefits of which I have just described. The Church today is faced with a choice: Do we embrace this change and work to holistically solve these problems, or do we fight the change and let the problems run us over?

The Bard’s Book Reviews: The Quest of the Simple Life

The Quest of the Simple Life, by William J. Dawson is the story of one man’s journey from the urban world of early 20th century London to a life living off the land in the countryside. The book has a more unique topic than most such books, however. Rather than seeking to be a handbook of useful skills or a how to on sustainable living topics which, in my opinion, have been thoroughly covered elsewhere; it instead takes on the more difficult topic of the moral and philosophical motivations behind the back to the land movement. If you are looking for more of a homesteading handbook then my current recommendation is Abigail R. Gehring’s Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills.

Mr. Dawson takes on his topic in a way that most modern readers will find fascinating, since all of our modern knowledge about the consequences of an overly industrialized society is absent from the book. The author argues instead that the countryside is better suited towards men’s happiness than urban life, and that it represents a better stewardship of his economic and physiological resources. For my part I was often shocked by the authors deep understanding of his material, and in particular areas where he frequently anticipated the negative consequences of urbanization. For example, the author argues for the paying of all expenses in cash, lest the we forget just how much were spending on any given object. This topic of course has come more and more into the spotlight as our society gets more and more reckless in its spending.

The author proceeds to explain how it was that he finally managed to take his leave of London, and then in response to criticism from a friend gives a moral defense of his move. This may represent the most interesting part of the book for some as it works towards reconciling the happiness of the author with his country life with the collective good of his society. As noted above this particular section is particularly interesting since it is written well before we realized the environmental and sociological damage that industrial based urbanization would ultimately cause.

Particularly if you are day dreaming of one day escaping to the countryside yourself and living in a more traditional human relationship with the earth this book is for you. This book is also available as a free, public domain download for your e-reader.

Will Regulations Solve Our Environmental Crisis?

I don’t really care what you think about climate change; to be honest I barely care what I think about climate change. My reasons are simple enough, we can easily document the massive amounts of smaller environmental damage that has been caused by industrialization. Even more importantly, if we fix the things that we can easily prove are happening we also fix the larger situation that theoretically is causing climate change.

The question then becomes, “What do we do about it?”. For my part I believe we have to go after our agricultural problems first. The entire world is currently tottering on the brink of starving to death, primarily because of dependency on industrial farming. The damage we have done to the world’s farmland is so extensive that we could easily see a massive downward movement in food production at any moment. We have only been able to keep production as high as we have by pumping in more and more artificial pesticides and fertilizers every year.

The good news is there is a farming revolution taking place. Farmers like Joel Salatin are taking back our nations food supply and reintroducing the idea of the family owned, sustainable farm. They have found a model that creates high quality, nutritious foods in a way that is good for the environment and provides for the farmer. In short this method is wholistic it takes care of the soil, the animals, the people, and pretty much all other involved parties. Many are concerned, however, that this change is not taking place fast enough. They are arguing that for the sake of human health, animal rights, soil erosion, etc. the government needs to step in and use regulation to force the issue in the right direction.

Those who advocate such changes have a fundamentally flawed understanding of the nature of government regulations. We have a top down, government lead agricultural infrastructure now and it isn’t taking us anywhere good! In other words, we are calling on those who created the problem to now take the lead in fixing the problem. The problem is that regulation is fundamentally unable to improve the situation, because to do so is in direct opposition to basic the nature of government.

There are 2 very fundamental problems with regulation that contribute to its failure to create the kind of positive change that we are looking for:

1. Regulations are ALWAYS created by the industries they regulate. Regulations go into effect when members of an industry use “the common good” as a pretense for keeping their competition out of the market. Look at the key policy makers in the USDA, FDA, etc. pretty much all of them are former employees of companies like Monsanto, ConAgra, Tyson, etc. They can’t regulate agriculture in a way that damages their former employers, otherwise they won’t have anywhere to go back to when they get tired of being in government. In addition they are in government, precisely to aid their employers interests. Think about it, who else could claim to be qualified to regulate the agriculture industry? What’s more, any legal change has to come from Congress. Congress likes to get re-elected which means that they like campaign donations. The result is that Congress only passes laws that favor large campaign donors. Since the multi-national agribusinesses are loaded with cash and the small farm movement has only small cash reserves, all regulation is going to favor the industrial agriculture model. These causes exist in pretty much all government agencies but the results are always the same, regulations are used pretty much exclusively by the industries they regulate to keep out undesired competition. For this reason, regulation cannot bring in substantial change to an industry.

2. The government always reflects the majority opinion. The government cannot causes substantial change because it always reflects the view of the majority. No politician can push for substantial changes, unless the majority of voters approve, because in doing so he risks his political future. This is a simple, inherit fact in all representative forms of government. As a result, when the government is entrusted with care for an area like agriculture regulation, the industry will remain unchanged until a large enough majority of the American people care enough to make things change. In fact, the government will fight to protect the status quo in the name of protecting “democracy”. Only in a free market are minor innovations constantly created and then tested based upon their success. The result is that only the best innovations are brought to the forefront and the system gradually becomes the best it can possibly be.

The best course of action for the government to take, if we want to restore America’s ecological resources and food security, is to get out of the way.

Let me give some examples of how the government is currently contributing to America’s failed industrial model of agriculture:

Farm subsidies are used to coerce farmers to pursue certain courses of action. Money is a powerful tool, and it is frequently given with strong stipulations. In many cases these stipulations force the farmer to pursue an ecologically flawed method of agriculture because of the need for government money. They also create an economically flawed method, by encouraging farmers to put large amounts of capital into single use, capital heavy equipment.

Zoning and food safety laws are being used to keep American’s from growing their own food. The government has consistently used “food safety” and zoning laws to keep people from providing food for themselves, or from making food choices for themselves. It has become extremely common recently for homeowners to have food gardens removed by force in the name of zoning. It has also become difficult to buy, sell, or even grow food that doesn’t have government approval. In the recent food safety act, even home canning equipment got defined as “food processing equipment”, with the government giving itself regulatory control over all “food processing equipment”.

Regulations are used to make it prohibitively expensive to be small, local producer. The mandatory purchase of $20,000 piece of equipment in the name of “food safety” is much more manageable for a producer that produces millions of chickens every year than it is for one who produces hundreds. This clever type of legislation appears to create innovative food safety solutions, but it is actually being used to lock small operators out of the marketplace.

This is just a small sampling of how regulations are used directly to benefit the large agribusinesses that have created the crisis we face today. Only a return to an individually run, small scale, grass based system will bring us back to where we need to be. This will only happen if thousands of people begin making small decisions for themselves that push us back from the edge of the cliff and towards a more sustainable future.

One final objection rebutted: Don’t subsidies make food cheaper? Some have advocated the need for farm subsidies in the name of keeping food prices lower for those who have lower incomes. As a the head of a single income family of 4, I certainly understand this sentiment; however subsidies are making your food more expensive. Those who, like myself, have to keep up with grocery prices will have noted a substantial increase in the price of food every year for quite some time. The cause of this increase is inflation, inflation caused by the government printing more money to keep up with its growing debt burden. Since subsidies are one heavy contributor to Federal spending, you could say they are responsible for the inflation that is driving the prices up.

Beyond this, it should be noted that American’s spend a much smaller percentage of their income on food than has been historically noted, and instead spend a great deal more on healthcare. If American’s were actually spending as much as they should on food, perhaps they wouldn’t have such high healthcare costs. In addition, it has been historically normal for most of society to produce some of their own food. A better price control would be to teach those who are not financially well off how to produce their own food, rather than trying to artificially reduce the price of food.

At the end of the day the ultimate problem with any argument that we need a top down, centralized, government run food system is that we already have one. Any attempts at advocating for such a system are going to have to explain why over the last 100 years the system they are advocating for has done more extensive damage to our environment and the farming culture of America than any other farming method ever tried.

No Magic Bullets

I won’t lie, there is a lot wrong in the world today. I won’t say things are worse in the United States than the rest of the world, but we have begun the process of decline and that will probably come with some very extreme consequences. Just think about some of the things that we are now facing:

*We have entered a period of total moral depravity, and the church, in most cases, has chosen either to endorse wicked behavior despite clear Biblical contradiction or else fails to take any significant action other than petitioning the government to outlaw such behavior.
*Mixed in with this moral decay is a level of narcism, materialism, and hedonism rarely seen except in the death throes of a society. As a result of this many members of society are too focused on themselves to even notice the early markers of societal collapse.
*We have so totally destroyed our nation’s topsoil reserves that we could very likely see a famine sometime in this generation.
*In the meantime the food that we are producing has been so processed, genetically modified, chemically altered, and degraded that we are all getting sick just because of what we eat.
*Our economy is exhibiting all the early warning signs of a hyper-inflationary collapse, and the national debt has soared so high that we are only a few short years from having the interest payments on said debt exceed our GDP.
*We have a political class that largely believe that it knows better than the people and can take whatever liberties it wants at our expense.
*This same political class is largely bought and paid for by a relatively short list of major corporations resulting in an unholy union of government and big money. The result of which has been the rise of a new aristocracy with tendencies every bit as oppressive and tyrannical as any before it.

I could go on like this for quite some time, but I think my point is sufficiently made. No doubt you have many of your own issues that are deeply effecting the lives of Americans and others around the world today. There are a growing number of people well aware of the difficulties that we have created, the problem is that most people don’t recognize the solution. We have a tendency, as human beings and more specifically as Americans (who love convenience), to want to find some miraculous solution that will put everything right, what I refer to as a magic bullet. “If only we could elect X” or “if only we could pass a law doing Y” are phrases that get tossed around constantly.

Now if you pay attention to nothing else, pay attention here. The fundamental problem with these kinds of phrases, and even with several recent grass roots political movements, is that they fundamentally believe government is the answer. They are rooted in the belief that if we change some governmental issue then all will be well. The thing is, there is no quick fix or magic bullet for the litany of problems we are facing down as a nation. It is time to remember who we are as Americans, and more importantly as free human beings. The answer isn’t some mystical “them”. The answer lies with us. Americans have always been a people who find ways to overcome extreme odds, a people who pull together their own creative genius to find new and better ways to overcome unbeatable odds. The problems we face today, while certainly influenced by those who benefit from them, are the result of millions of poor decisions made over time. When you change yourself, and then begin to take a positive role you aren’t just changing things, you are becoming the change that needs to take place.

This isn’t an easy thing to embrace. It means that we bear ultimate responsibility for each and every situation we encounter, and that means that in areas we have yet to change ourselves we have to accept that we are part of the problem. At the same time though, it is time to do away with this nonsensical notion that nothing can be done. Stop behaving as though those in power will do whatever they like and no one can change it. You can change it! You, yourself can take actions that will ultimately result in total transformation of our society, because you are society.

Is your faith deeply offended by the American church culture? Be the change, get repentant before a Holy God, become a person of prayer and holiness. Then find a church that is actively engaged in the Great Commission, in local ministry, and teaching the word of God unadulterated and with authority. Can’t find one? Then start a home fellowship, church isn’t about a building it’s about the fellowship of believers. Don’t just passively endorse false doctrine or total inaction by your continual attendance every Sunday.

Does the media’s constant drivel of wicked programming bother you? Turn it off. Seek out new and more uplifting means of entertainment. There are millions of books, many of the greatest classics are now free. Besides that, there are millions of activities you could be doing together as a family that will make you stronger and closer rather than weaker.

Does the encroachment on American liberty by the new aristocracy deeply disturb you? Take back your liberty! Stop voting for lesser of two evil candidates and instead vote only for those who actually represent your values, you may not win right away but you will at least not be part of the problem anymore. Get involved within some of the 3rd party and independent grass roots movements. Demand pro-liberty legislation, especially at the state and local levels. Educate your fellow citizens, many of them probably don’t realize that they are surrendering their liberty bit by bit every day. Wake them up and show them how to stop. The Son’s of Liberty had to do exactly that prior to American Revolution, otherwise we might still be under British rule. Remember that depending on where you live you may have to vote with your feet, and you may also be forced to commit civil disobedience.

Are you concerned about the economy? Fix your home economy. Get rid of your personal debt load even as you raise the alarm about our national debt crisis. Build a strong home economy that will have enough redundancy and resiliency to stand up under a wide variety of economic conditions, including collapse. Pick up a productive trade in addition to whatever you already do for a living. Then, help re-form the Daughters of Liberty. They worked together to make sure American’s weren’t overly dependent on imports, especially British imports. Even as the Sons of Liberty were preparing the people to start a revolution, they were making sure that American homes were adequately prepared to do so. Band together with your friends and neighbors to form your own micro-economy, one which is free from the industrialized economy and not dependent on our failing currency.

Are you tired of the constant assault on our nations agricultural resources? Feed yourself. Grow a large garden. Or, better yet, get a hold of some land, whether borrowed or bought, and become part of the small farm revolution. Purchase what you can’t produce from healthy, local producers. These skills are slipping away from us quickly, read as much as you can on the subject and relearn the proper ways of producing food. Rediscover your own kitchen, prepare your own food from raw ingredients rather than letting some massive producer prepare it all for you hundreds of miles away.

These suggestions are only the beginning. There are literally millions of small action steps that you can take, and help others take to become an important part of the necessary change. I hope that we can discuss these others together as more time occurs, if you have a problem or answer you would like to discuss drop me a comment.

At the most fundamental level, the first thing you must do is change your mind. Recognize that our situation is not hopeless, we have overcome worse situations before. The Great Awakening occurred at a time when public morality was so poor, many thought the church wouldn’t survive. The revolution was carried out against the world’s most powerful empire. The Constitution was created, in large part because of a inflationary and debt laden monetary crisis. We are the answer, and with God’s grace, providence, and guidance we will overcome these crises as well.

It’s time to stop complaining about the problem, and become part of the solution.