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What Animals Bring to the Table

December 11, 2012
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I‘ve never been too enthralled with the vegan style farming that has come to be so popular these days.  I’m not trying to upset any vegans or vegetarians, since I have friends whose choose that dietary path.  But I genuinely believe an ecological farm needs animals.  On one hand there is nothing natural about growing crops, animals can help us restore our farm ecosystems.

Thanks chickies!

Thanks chickies!

On the other hand, animals are necessary for our emotional well-being.  Even our spiritual well-being for that matter.

Jane Butterfield

Jane Butterfield

To respond to confinement farming by not having any animals on farms seems to be too drastic to me, just as drastic as mega-farms with few employees and thousands of animals.

Meat and eggs

Meat and eggs

I write a lot about the food we raise here to nourish ourselves and others, and the manure we gather to grow grass and vegetables, but I don’t often (never maybe?) write much about the daily joy of farm life.

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Maybe I’m at a loss for words to describe the idea of having livestock for companions in my daily work.

skimming the surface

skimming the surface

Or maybe the pictures can tell the story.  If you have a chance to bring animals to your farm, do it.  You won’t be sorry!

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. girlgonegranola permalink
    December 11, 2012 11:12 pm

    You inspire the heck out of me, lady. I hope to have it all click for me someday like you seem to have.

  2. December 11, 2012 11:26 pm

    I very much agree with you on this one. I have studied sustainable management for the last three years and, like you, from what I can see you need the animals in the mix for that healthy ecosystem. I agree that maybe it would be better to reduce the amount of meat eaten and increase the vegetables, but some of the healthiest meat is being scorned, the lamb and beef fed on grass, where crops cannot so easily grow in large quantities. Without these animals the land would become unproductive. I will stop now before I write an essay :)

  3. RecyclerSA permalink
    December 12, 2012 1:32 am

    All homes need animals, big or small, farm or not :) Laura

  4. A.A. permalink
    December 12, 2012 1:39 am

    “Maybe I’m at a loss for words to describe the idea of having livestock for companions in my daily work.”

    You did it wonderfully with this post. :)

  5. Kay permalink
    December 12, 2012 2:43 am

    We love our farm animals. They are very entertaining, especially our milk cows. They seem to be much more smart (yes I am biased :). We spend so much time w/ them that they really do understand more than what I ever thought they would. I can literally spend hours watching the cows. They keep me calm and centered. Even our chickens crack us up. We have no human kids, so our animals our are kids. Don’t even get me started on our bratty dogs and cats LOL

    Our animals are certainly a huge blessing from God!

  6. December 12, 2012 4:09 am

    We went through a period when we were really sick when all we had was a couple cats here on the farm. It was a hard time. This winter we only have 18 hens and a couple cats. It’s weird, but at least when I look out the window, I see happy hens zooming around at the barn.

    This farm has never been so healthy in the 30 years we’ve owned it, since we added multi species rotational animals and composted manure to it.

    But we look forward to the return of the cows in the spring and the new spring piglets and broiler chicks.

  7. December 12, 2012 4:14 am

    I can’t imagine a farm without animals, though I can understand the complicated feelings people have about killing animals. It’s one of those things that you can read about all day long, but will never understand fully until you live it.

    One dimensional, partially informed vegan rants determined to not listen to anything that challenges their mindset are kind of wearing me out…

    My theory is that no human education is complete without a minimum of a year in farming and a year in the service industry :)

  8. picaritabasura permalink
    December 12, 2012 5:00 am

    “I don’t often (never maybe?) write much about the daily joy of farm life.” ??? I laughed out loud when I read this. To me, pretty much everything you write conveys your daily joy of farm life.

  9. December 12, 2012 5:23 am

    I can’t imagine my farm without my animals. To me they are as much a part of this farm as the plants and humans that inhabit it. We are both much older and would have a hard time with large animals like cows. But the smaller farm animals like goats, rabbits, chickens, pigs and turkeys are more than enough to keep us fed and busy. And the dogs to entertain us : )

  10. Kristin permalink
    December 12, 2012 6:20 am

    I love watching and hearing cows graze. It is a glorious sound.

  11. December 12, 2012 7:36 am

    I love my animals. I waited for seven years before we could get a place in the country where I could have livestock. Winter is upon us right now with snow and cold and I won’t “carry over” livestock through winter if I don’t have to, but OH how I miss my goats. I love my chickens though, too. I can watch my charges for hours on a pleasant day…

  12. TAMMY ANDERSON permalink
    December 12, 2012 7:40 am

    When I’m outside, putzing around the house, my two goat girls talk to me, nose around what I’m doing, and seem to check up on me. They are a comfort to me.

  13. December 12, 2012 9:31 am

    What breed are your dogs?

  14. December 12, 2012 11:39 am

    What an interesting synchronicity… I just read a much wordier post on the same subject the day before you posted this.

    http://fieldquestions.com/2012/11/26/the-animal-lovers-dilemma/

    • December 12, 2012 12:16 pm

      Yes, and much more eloquent. It reminded me of a woman CSA farmer who happened to be vegan – she visited one time while I was making soap out of lard and tallow, she was horrified and asked me why would I kill a cow and a pig just to make soap, when I could buy olive oil and coconut oil at the store? She didn’t really get my reply that I didn’t kill the cow and the pig to make soap, we fully stocked our freezers with the meat, and were just making use of ALL the animal that we could…

  15. December 12, 2012 10:47 pm

    I agree, I think most people don’t realize how very hard on the land row cropping is; and that animals are the only thing that can come close to balancing it out. I believe it is naive to think that we could ever move to a model of only row cropping, and remove animals from the picture other than solely milk- and egg-producing animals. Meat animals are an integral part of making vegetarian crops sustainable, not to mention their good use of marginal land that’s not suitable for row cropping.

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