Babies

We have lots of new babies on the farm.

Chicks in the brooder coop

Chicks in the brooder coop

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Bianca and her new kids. Note their deer friend in the background.

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New piglets

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Oh yeah!  One of the best things about spring.

Oh yeah! One of the best things about spring.

New life on the farm makes me happy.

Drinking Water

Sunday was World Water Day, a day devoted to bringing awareness to the importance of clean drinking water–a precious commodity, taken for granted by many of us and desperately needed by many others.

Blood:Water Mission is a great organization, which we like to support.  They urged people to drink only water on Sunday, and to contribute their savings to help bring clean water to people who don’t have it.  A very worthy cause.

But that fundraising strategy wouldn’t be very effective if everyone drank the way we do.  Water is always our beverage of choice.  Neither of us drink soft drinks. Cherie doesn’t drink milk and other than a little in my morning coffee, neither do I.  We always drink water, and only water, at our meals.

I do have a cup of coffee in the morning and Cherie has tea.  Sometimes I’ll drink ice tea in the afternoon.  But most days I just drink water.

We host a monthly gathering of people interested in sustainable living and water is the only beverage we serve.  The last time we hosted Thanksgiving for the extended family we made the mistake of letting my mother know that we would be serving water with the meal.  So folks showed up with coolers full of Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and Mt. Dew.  The prospect of a meal without a sugary drink was evidently unbearable.

Water is refreshing, healthy and free.

Here every day is Water Day.

A Guide to the Christian Food Movement

There is now an impressive and ever-growing body of work addressing faith-based environmentalism and the theology of ecology. By comparison, very little has been written about the theology of food and eating.  It is an area ripe for further work and, of course, is a particular interest of mine.

So I was excited to discover recently a resource that will be helpful to advocates, activists, scholars, pastors and anyone else interested in exploring what’s happening in the food and faith world.

Episcopal priest Nurya Love Parish has led the way in creating a “Faith/Farm/Food network” aimed at “cultivating resilient communities through gardening and agriculture,” and at working to “create a more just and sustainable food system which reflects the abundance and grace of God.” She has produced and just released a “Guide to the Christian Food Movement,” which collects and identifies organizations and individuals working the intersection of Christianity and food.  It is an excellent resource and is available as a free download HERE.

It seems to me that our society is becoming increasingly aware of and sensitive to the moral and ethical implications of our food choices. But, strangely, faith communities seem to have been by and large absent from that conversation.

I’m encouraged by the evidence showing that is changing.

Things We Do

Continuing on the Wendell Berry theme, on his blog The Way I See It, Joel has posted a series of quotes taken from Wendell Berry’s collection of essays The Way of Ignorance.

Here is one of them (to which I’ve added another sentence from the essay):

Our attempt to maintain a “growth economy” in an ever diminishing world is playing devil with our traditional (and admirable) moral code, which our most prominent politicians now put to public use mainly to paint over our immoral behavior. We make war, we are told, for the love of peace. We subvert our Bill of Rights and impose our will abroad for the sake of freedom and law. We honor greed and waste with the name of economy. We allow ever greater wealth and power to accumulate in the hands of a privileged few only to provide jobs for working people and charity to the poor. And we sanctify all this as Christian, though the Gospels support none of it by so much as a line or a word.

– Wendell Berry, from “Letter to Daniel Kemmis

The Want of Peace

The Want of Peace
by Wendell Berry

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.

I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.
I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

Inspired by this great post by Natalie on Sacred Touches

Zoonosis

I just read that AIDS killed 1.7 million people last year.  I had no idea it was still that deadly.

Over the years AIDS has killed more than 39 million people.  Ebola got all the headlines last year and it is a horrific and deadly disease.  But since it first appeared in 1976, Ebola’s death toll is measured in the thousands, not millions.  AIDS has been and continues to be far deadlier.

Both AIDS and Ebola are zoonotic diseases–meaning they were introduced into the human population from another species.  Scientists have determined that the first human to contract AIDS acquired it from a chimpanzee in Cameroon in about 1908, likely a hunter with an open wound who butchered an infected chimp and came into contact with its blood. The disease has since spread around the world.

While AIDS and Ebola are probably the most-feared zoonotic diseases, they are not alone.  Rabies, of course, is transmitted from animals to humans.  But so are food-borne illnesses caused by e-coli and Salmonella.  Influenza can also be transmitted from animals to humans, as the recent swine-flu and avian-flu scares attest.

There is always a risk of a new disease entering human populations from animals.  By concentrating animals in unhealthy and unsanitary conditions, and pumping them full of antibiotics to keep them alive and stimulate growth, factory farming increases that risk.  The risk is made even greater by the overuse of antibiotics, leading to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Factory farming may never produce a disease as deadly as AIDS. But we can’t be sure it won’t.  And it’s a risk we don’t need to take.