The English have an adjective to describe someone who is simultaneously stubborn, tenacious and contrary: bloody-minded. Farming today, in times of agricultural cartels, obstructionist government and monopolized markets requires nothing so much as congenital bloody-mindedness. I resemble that remark.
Besides being bloody-minded, I am also raising crops and food animals on a 1,000-acre organic farm in Virginia, meaning that I have had to become an “expert” on: local zoning law, national and state inspection criteria, riparian buffers, tall fescue endophyte, optimal location of watering stations, four-season forage mixes, insurance cooperatives, no-till cropping, &c. Ayrshire Farm is simultaneously Organic, Predator-Friendly, Virginia’s Finest, Certified Humane, and raising rare breeds in partnership with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The aforementioned doesn’t begin to address the issues raised by the on-farm meat-processing facilities where we are inspected by the USDA, the Virginia Departments of Health, Consumer Affairs, and Agriculture, Oregon Tilth, the Predator Conservation Alliance and Certified Humane Farm Animal Care. As one might expect, these various organizations do not necessarily meet regularly with each other to ensure that their requirements are not mutually conflicting, thus making interagency compliance probable. Or even possible. And, that’s just the meat-animal part of the farming operations. Continue reading It’s the End of the Worm as We Know It*