I grew up on the shores of Lake Superior, in a beautiful home built by my father's own two hands. Aside from a large garden at the side of our yard, there were no crops or fields or livestock or anything farm-related in the entire area that I grew up around.
So how is it that this woods and water gal married a wild-west mountain-loving cowboy (minus the horse) and ended up on a 40-acre farm in southwestern Wisconsin?
Who starts farming in their 40's, anyway? What were we thinking?
Oh yeah, we were thinking about those strutting baby turkeys, those fat, happy chickens gobbling grass and bugs, the sheep that leap for joy when let into a new paddock, a brand new cria breathing its first breath of fresh air, baby bunnies bouncing around their mobile pastured pen.
We were thinking about the thick fog that comes in like a cloak and lays in the dips and hollows of the valley, the steep climb up to the highlands of our property to gaze out over the ethereal valley below.
We were thinking about fireflies that twinkle like stars and crickets and cicadas serenading the summer's heat all night long.
We were thinking about how important it is for us to know where our food comes from - not only because we don't trust the industrialized food system that puts profits before health, a system that insists things like high fructose corn syrup, Splenda, Nutrasweet, rbST, and GMO foods are all "safe" (even trying to make labeling foods containing GMO illegal!).
A food system that insists honeybees aren't dying because of the use of agricultural neonicotinoids and GMO crops, despite evidence to the contrary, and that as long as a company makes a profit, it matters not the impact on the land, the animals and the humans.
We were thinking about how helpless we feel about all of the above, but how empowered we feel whenever we walk into a paddock and see healthy, happy critters all expressing their natural instincts like running, flying and grazing, things that animals no longer do in confinement systems.
We were thinking we got into farming because it is choosing the opposite of animal suffering and environmental degradation. It is healing the land and the animals and the people who tend them.
We were thinking we got into farming in order to secure the cleanest, healthiest, happiest food on the planet.
Some may argue that the way to accomplish all of this is by eliminating livestock and following a vegan/vegetarian diet, but I disagree. I will cover all of the problems with the "vegan/vegetarianism is the way to save the planet" points in a separate post.
But today, I will go spend some extra time with my flock of heritage Sweetgrass turkeys, which are only a week away from going to market in preparation to grace many local Thanksgiving tables.
I will haul fences and set up new paddocks and watch as my lambs leap for joy over a new salad buffet.
And I will feel grateful for this life, this farm, these animals,and this clean food.