I've been hearing so much criticism by everyone leveled at everyone else lately that I was wondering if anyone was actually looking in the mirror and considering how they measure up. I realize there are several people in this world who are entirely too hard on themselves, so I recognize my characterization is likely unfair. But, it seems the loudest voices right now are getting pretty mean without realizing that perhaps the critique being pointed at others just might apply to the source as well.
Case in point:
It is important, if you own a small, working farm that tries to sell locally and direct to consumer, to always put on a 'good face.' Give the people what they want and maybe you'll make a few sales. Do what it takes to always make things look good. Obscure anything that doesn't meet that end and stretch definitions when it seems like it is important. And, perhaps, above all - make the customer feel like this:
Instead, I took it as a reminder of how very far away the Genuine Faux Farm is from being perfectly friendly to the environment - despite everything Tammy and I think we do to work with nature. Do not get me wrong. It is very important to us that we try to do the right thing with respect to keeping the damage we do to the environment to a minimum. But, there is no getting around the simple fact that our very existence as a farm is often in conflict with nature.
Deer, woodchuck and rabbit are all likely to destroy many of our crops - especially at moments when we can afford to lose those crops the least. Foxes, raccoon, mink, hawks, owls and other predators threaten the poultry we raise. Trees shade gardens that need full sun - or solar panels that don't do their job quite so well in the shade. We till our soil and make life a bit more difficult for the micro-organisms that try to live there. The snakes hate it when I turn the compost pile and the rats are generally not welcome where our poultry feed is. We grow plants and varieties that are not native to our soils. We drive a tractor that creates soil compaction and uses fossil fuels. We use single use plastic bags for green beans in shares.
I could probably make an extremely long list of things that we do that are contrary to the image we hope to project. But, I have to avoid crossing the line into despair.
We have to hope the difference we make because we actually TRY to work with nature is enough to start with.
|We're happy to have some bumblebees on the farm and we'd love to have more.|
It would be too easy to just throw up our hands and say, "Well, I guess that was useless. It's just easier to stop caring." Well, ok. I'm wrong. I think it would not be easy for the two of us to say this unless it was a moment of sheer frustration. But, I don't think I am entirely wrong in saying that many people have opted for this attitude.
The - "oh well, nothing I do really makes a difference, so why try?" - attitude.
|Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin & Hobbes) often got it right.|
I had the dubious 'honor' of having to euthanize a song-bird today. I didn't enjoy it at all. But, I was enjoying watching it go through its suffering even less. This bird clearly had either been injured or it was dying from some sort of disease. I realize that creatures of this world are constantly dealing with threats to their well-being and have been doing so well before humans started piling on additional threats and obstacles. But, I still found myself questioning whether I had some part in the circumstances that led to this particular bird's demise.
Does the concentration of poultry on our farm create some sort of imbalance that might impact wild birds? This is certainly a possibility that I can not discount. I also know that the habitat we have installed attracts more birds to our farm than the surrounding corn and soybean fields do. So, I suppose I should feel good about that. And the Goldfinches love the sunflower seeds right now. But, sometimes I wonder if I just lure these birds into a trap that exposes them to the unhealthy things that surround our farm at certain times of the year.
It is not required that every criticism I level at myself should have legs to stand on its own. What is required is that I ask the questions so I can continue to seek out better answers.
By providing what might be considered a very small oasis by migrating song birds in the middle of corn-soybean fields, we probably expose ourselves to more instances of exhausted creatures who just don't have enough in them to continue their journey. So, I guess we will continue to provide habitat because we think that is better than the alternative. And, I will once again provide the dubious service of easing suffering if I am called to do so again. The difference is that the Genuine Faux farmers will move on and look critically at the habitat we provide in hopes that we can improve it. We will also continue to consider the size of our poultry flocks in an effort to keep them, our pastures and the rest of the farm as healthy as we are able.
In the end, we know we can do better and we are willing to be self-critical so we have a prayer of actually becoming better. We'd love it if more people joined us in this endeavor.