And Why Does it Matter?

I spoke of whether you are country or town folk in the last post but ‘Why Does it Matter? It doesn’t and it does. It doesn’t matter to the people who live on the land individually for the present time. But a study done in  2002 showed that every minute, 2 acres of, mostly prime, farm land are lost to industry or smaller acreage plots for housing.

If there are 435 acres on an average farm in America then that means 1,208 farms are lost a year. With the number greatly increasing especially with the huge down fall of dairy farms, then it is easy to see our food supply is quickly dwindling. That will mean greater imports of which only 2 percent is inspected at the present numbers.

I can’t blame the farmer or rancher who are selling small acreage plots and plowing under fruit trees, crops and grazing land because their income keeps dropping. If the funds to feed, clothe, and house your family dropped 50% in the last 5 years, you would be scrabbling for ways to stay afloat too.

Reality is that imports will increase as more and more farms go under. Each year, food borne illness strikes 48 million Americans, hospitalizing a hundred thousand and killing thousands. The majority of the food coming into America is not inspected. Few small farms can survive in the present economic climate. Farms have become industrial sized. Some dairy farmer owners having 18 to 20 thousand cows. They can not be managed like 200. This means if there is a problem with the product, it effects large populations, not hundreds. So recall of foods has become the norm.

You can see the problem collectively of small acreages where most are simply people squatting on the land. Clearly they have a right to do so. But for every action, there is a reaction. The reaction to this is two-fold. 

It increasingly limits the food supply coming from America for America.

Food Safety problems have greatly increased.

The reaction to the loss of farm and ranch land is that we become more dependent on other countries, which means they have a greater control over us. Within our country as farms and ranches are super sized, many owned by conglomerates like General Mills, then a few have the control over the many.

Untended land becomes less fertile.

While the people who live on small acreages enjoy their larger yards, most of the property is neglected, becoming less and less fertile over time.

An example, I wish you could have seen the 25 acres down the road before and after. I should have taken pictures. The former resident had cleared a great deal of brush from the property. He put in some deer plots and watered them to draw in wild game but they never did well. Then last fall and winter the property was leased to a local rancher. He put his heifer calves in and they ate it to the quick. You might have thought it was ruined but wow!!! The cloven hooves broke open the soil without tearing it up like a horse’s hooves do and they cleared out the old dead grass, opening it up to sunlight. The property owners had had horses in the previous year and the property showed no improvement. The amount of grass that grew and the height after the cattle was amazing the next summer. It looked like a new property. New grasses grew that had once been choked out. Mullein that once flourished unchecked was now balanced with a variety of other plants.  There were now plants that grew at differing times and matured at different times, all giving greater resources for animals including deer.

One of the reclamation rules for the local surface coal mines is that they have to be grazed by cattle. Our mountains are grazed in the summer by cattle. There is a good reason why.

I went to listen to a speech by a gentleman who was hired by ranches around the world who wished to increase productivity by working with nature, not against her. He spoke of how leaving land to the wild creates a waste land. He had figures but alas, I’ve forgotten them. You may wish to disagree and say Mother Nature will take care of her own. The problem is that we’ve take away some of her resources. Thousands of buffalo and elk roamed the plains before we moved in. Their hooves and manure doing what the heifers did to the property down below. Deer just aren’t enough to do the trick. Our lawn is thick with deer poop each spring and yet the grass is poor. Deer are browsers, not grazers giving a different type of fertilizer. Plus they don’t weigh enough to open up the soil. They are not what the lawn needs.

Most small property owners lack the intimate knowledge about the flora and fauna and most don’t even notice the change that comes over their land. No skills, no equipment, and a mind set that others will provide, they lack motivation. It is why I call town people in the country – squatters. They’ve bought the land rightfully, yet though they surround themselves with Mother Nature, they have no relationship with her. What makes me cringe is that so many of these owners put just horses on them – usually too many and unchecked. The vegetation is soon ruined, and dirt is all that remains.

But, what the land needs most is a variety of animals. Cattle roam through, then sheep and goats, and then chickens and turkeys. Cattle like tall grass, sheep shorter grasses which mean they are tending different natural crops and goats are browsers which keeps the brush in check. They recommend 2 goats per cow. A form of checks and balances for the vegetation. Differing fertilization as well from their manure. Throw in a free range of chickens or turkeys scratching and eating worms cast off by the livestock and you have a beautiful balance.

The same is applicable with crops. Our previous hay guy would grow alfalfa to up the nitrogen and then corn which uses large amounts of it. It lowered greatly the amount of artificial fertilizer he had to apply – working with nature.

Meanwhile, the bulk of these families on small acreages with no skills, knowledge, or tools to feed themselves, let prime land go to waste. That is the problem I see with town folk on small acreages. They neglect it. The people have no intent to feed themselves or anyone else or being stewards of the land.

  • Meanwhile as a nation we become more and more dependent on other countries – more controllable.
  • Slowly our food becomes less safe as large farms take over and more food is imported.
  • Our land becomes less fertile

Have you thought about this? What are your thoughts now?

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