I had a chance to visit one of the new kind of dairy farmers yesterday – the kind who fills a farm
with a variety of people, and animals, plants and trees, and new ideas. This kind of farmer is fascinated with the way things work: how water and air flow through soil, how organic matter is built up or depleted, the impacts of plowing, the intricacies of grazing, the behavior of cows, chickens, predator hawks, shepherd dogs, nematodes, kids and bureaucrats; the depths of roots, the best kind of shade in a pasture; cover crops, trace minerals and nitrogen fixation.
Such a farmer might understand what you can teach a cow, and what you can’t; why some dogs just don’t get it, and some do; how to get a lamb to start suckling, or not; why goats require the extra minerals from deep-rooted plants; what molasses does for a milk cow in one season versus another; why an old farmer who ‘doesn’t spray his fields much’ might still have hay that is loaded with herbicide; the sensitivity of cows to mineral content in feed, and how to test that; the hazards of accepting free money; the value of visitors; the excitement of an 8 year old girl who learns that one of her goats has just delivered.
I am happy to say that farmers like this appear to be doing very well.