I have mixed emotions about your suggestions. One the one hand, I'm one of
those farmers who wishes for more production (especially small scale) and
day-to-day operations discourse on this list. On the other hand, I live in
this society that tends already to over-compartmentalize our lives -- this
is work, this is home; this is the farm, this is the city; this is
production, this is philosophy. While this separation may make it easier to
sort out all the information being flung our way at an ever increasing pace,
it nevertheless breeds the very misunderstanding and frustration
not-so-eloquently expressed here of late.
I, for one, wish there were more farmers participating on this list. I try
to respond personally to each who asks for a more production-oriented
discussion by urging them to ask production questions. Unfortunately, those
questions often get responded to only by others seeking the same information.
But until a farmer core is established, that is the way it will be. Let's
face it, alternative/sustainable/small-scale ag hasn't exactly been the
darling of the government/university/extension set for the past 50 years.
That said, however, I don't believe the answer is separation (separate
Just as I am willing to monitor a pest situation on my farm to see if it will
correct itself without my intervention, I am willing to monitor the
invectives sometimes thrown on this list. Farming (and probably age) has
taught me one thing my parents couldn't and I wasn't born with -- patience.
Organic farming requires even more as the quick-fix given by chemicals isn't
Farming organically has taught me to look at my farm as a system.
Everything, no matter how unpleasant and annoying, is connected to and
reflective of every other thing on my land and in my ecosystem. I read the
weeds on my farm. The ones that grow here and the ones that do not are
indicators of the health and content of my soil. This is similar to the
postings here. Even the weeds tell me something.
It is the off-season for us now. The days are shorter and colder. The soil
is less active. We aren't producing crops for market. It happens every year
at this time. Things are cyclical here on the farm. Every year at this
time, right around Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays heavier philosophical
discussions crop up on sanet. Things are cyclical here, too.
We all need each others voices. Researcher, profs and Extension folk need to
know what farmers are thinking and needing. Farmers need to express their
philosophy. Philosophers and sociologists need to hear and see what is real
for those of us not in their business. Whether genteel or rancorous, we all
need to hear what is going on in this crazy world/ecosystem we live in
because we are all impacting each other.
If I leave the list, if I ignore the weeds, they still exist and still
radiate the same messages, all I have done is to make myself insignificant in
the scheme. If I look only at weed control without looking at fertility or,
say, the beneficial insects that may feed on the weed flowers, then I am no
longer taking a systems approach to my farm.
I have noticed that the Extension agents and profs on this list only post
farm situations/problems when they don't have the answer at their fingertips.
What if you all shared more the types of questions you are being asked?
Maybe we could start a monthly forum here on say, the second week of each
month, on a different production situation.
Maybe the third week of the month is legislation/regulation, maybe the
fourth, industry. I'm not suggesting limiting discussion to only one thing
just imparting directed energy streams at specific times to give those
interested something else to chew on. Multiple strands are possible. And,
isn't that a systems approach anyway?
I must confess, weeds and insect pests annoy and aggrevate me but, they are
just part of my farm. I don't know whether I am learning how to better
manage them or better manage myself.