Inspired by a post on Teresa Evangeline’s blog, I took some photos of doors on our farm. I really should have taken the time to edit, annotate and better organize these.
There are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth.
We should not be rewarding people who degrade the land. We should be encouraging people who improve the land.
Geologist David Montgomery
This comment was in the context of a discussion about topsoil erosion. Few are aware of how significant this problem is. As Montgomery puts it, “The problem of soil erosion is probably the biggest problem facing humanity that we don’t talk about.”
It takes millions of years to make topsoil, and without it most life on the earth couldn’t survive. It takes very little time, however, to plow the soil so that a heavy rain can wash it into the nearest creek or river.
I just want to follow up on that first quote. Our federal agricultural policies include heavily subsidized crop insurance for commodity farmers. 75% of the cost of the insurance is paid by the federal government (i.e us taxpayers), which guarantees a lucrative profit margin for the “insurers.” Because the producer will benefit from federally subsidized prices if the crop comes in, and federally subsidized insurance payments if it does not, there is a perverse incentive to put marginal land into row crops. If a hillside field gets washed away, then the producer collects the insurance money. And with corn prices at record highs (in large part thanks to the government) there are incentives to plow every possible acre.
I’ll resist the urge to go on an extended rant about this. Suffice it to say that shifting the producer’s risk to the public is promoting the destruction of a resource that is, for all intents and purposes, irreplaceable.
Using public funds to insure the crops of those who degrade the land to grow them is almost literally insane.
There are plenty of things to be happy about on our farm these days.
For example, Holly had this pretty kid last night.
And we’re continuing to get an abundance of late spring greens from the gardens.
But a hawk continues to kill our pullets. Deer continue to eat up our seedlings. We continue to have intestinal parasites in some of our goats. I haven’t written a word on my thesis in months.
I’ve been working as late as possible for the last three days to get our hay ready. And yesterday morning while I was picking the CSA shares, it starting raining–an unforecast shower that was not enough to do much good for the gardens but enough to wet cut hay waiting to be raked and baled. It dried out enough (I hope) for to start raking anyway, but looking out the window this morning, it looks like rain again. Ay yi yi.
It’s always like that around here. There’s good and bad, encouraging and frustrating.
On balance the good always greatly outweighs the bad. It just doesn’t always feel like that.