Carving Pathways

We are carving pathways in a sea of grass, to ensure the way forward. Electric nets will go up next, accompanied by the shade mobile, and to be followed by water tub and mineral sled. Then the flock of sheep will enter this paddock for two days of high-quality grazing. The route of these pathways is not fixed. They can go in any direction necessary, which is part of their beauty. Much effort goes into preparing these pathways and moves, under Clark's leadership, to achieve food of high nutrition and integrity.

May Flooding

Five inches of rain fell last week in 48 hours. The creek jumped the banks and our bottom-ground was flooded. Our sheep, cattle, and hogs were on high ground. One of our chicken coops was on low ground and had to be evacuated. Fortunately, it was the one on wheels and relocating proceeded without mishap. We brought the cows back to the feeding pad for two days, to protect pastures, before returning them to the grazing plan. It was an intense few days, that tested the design of the farm and the resolve of its managers.

Golden Yolks

The ladies have arrived, and in droves! After an 8-hour drive from eastern Pennsylvania, these ladies are finding a new home. They don't know what green pasture is, but they will learn soon enough. Note their long beaks, left intact so they can hunt and peck in the grass. (In confinement operations, they are debeaked, so as not to cannibalize each other.) Outdoor hens are constantly moving to fresh grass, distracted by lush feed. After a few days of orientation, they will begin their march across pasture, never to sit still again.

Spring's Power

Sunrises like this propel us into the power of the moment. So much is percolating these days it is hard to process all of it. Forces of spring are emerging, lambs are being born, cattle are thriving, generosity is being extended, orders are persisting, teamwork is flowing, and a pandemic is dominating. Assimilating all of this transforms the average into the extraordinary.

Our Resilience

This pondweed species, Potamogeton, has been frosted, but soon enough will be green again. It was startling to see brown plants upon the water the other day on this eve of spring, as it is startling to find ourselves arrested in place at this same time. But the resilient urge to overcome within nature and within us always murmurs restlessly. Example of this are blue bands of hope bordering frosted pondweed and Spring Beauties newly lining the forest floor.

Moon Travel

As we reside at home, to where would the moon transport us? Almost anywhere, with a little help out of the kitchen... Over the past two weeks, we have traveled to Mexico, North Africa, and Italy, free of charge, and without hassles in airports, customs, or taxi cabs. Pretty good deal. How does one do that? By opening a cook book and then casting an eye heavenward. There is an adage: If you can read, you can cook, and if you can cook, you can travel... It is so true. And travel doesn't want to be first-class to be rewarding. Often the most interesting is what comes off the beaten trail. The same is true for cooking.


Two herds have been concentrated into one. One hundred fifty beeves are now in one herd, representing 3 generations: mature cows, their current calves, and last year's calves, who are now long-yearlings. We have not had this much concentration of beef in one group before, amounting to about 100,000 lbs. of weight. The above lot is nearly 5 acres in size, and they were only in it for one day, but when we start strip-grazing taller grass, impact upon the soil will be about 100,000 lbs. of weight per acre. One has to be careful with that much impact, but it becomes a powerful tool for building organic matter in soil, when managed properly.

In The Doing

We find peace of mind in the doing. A burst of sunlight on the hillside reveals much activity in the valley below. In the far distance is Landis' house and behind the trees is the grass-based dairy he manages. His cows have been calving through March, so their peak production of milk will be timed with peak production of grass in the months ahead. Then you can see in the picture a thin strip of red beef cows closely managed by Clark. Next in view is the egg-mobile, which Mike moves twice a week, assuring eggs will be firm and yellow. Closer in the foreground is a trailer and skid-steer, which reflect the fencing project for sheep nearing completion. The pasture where the hay is unrolled is a bit overgrazed, so today we move the flock of sheep to another across the creek.

Tipping into the Future

A tipping point has descended upon us like a cement block, presenting a future that shines and beckons. Much that was spawned by the Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries is suddenly being brought to its knees by an untamed microbe. A 200-year-old and deeply ingrained model of doing business is being shattered before our eyes, by an invisible force, over a period of months. The world is convulsing and retching, as if sickened by its diet. Conventional structures of power stand impotent and mute, seemingly by magical decree, before this silent fury sweeping through the interstices of the world. Carbon-guzzling jets lie idle; the price of oil has collapsed; the world has returned to natural boundaries, conventional businesses are dying, and blue skies have reappeared above Wuhan for the first time in two decades.

Recovering Balance

We are all thrown off balance by this pandemic, but we are already recovering ourselves, and will have product for you on Sunday. Schools in Cincinnati are closed for the foreseeable future, including Clark Montessori. We are thus required to find a new location for the winter market, which has not yet been ascertained. The formal market is accordingly closed this Sunday the 15th. But we will be in force, through four scenarios.

Intersecting Forces

These cows stand amid two powerful intersecting forces. The first is health. Our culture reels from issues with health, much of which stem from poor quality of food provided by the industrial food system. Such foods are delivered at low cost, at first glance, until externalities of health and pollution are added to the calculus. These cows provide an antidote, in that their meat is derived 100% from grass, producing high-Omega-3 nutrition, which our bodies recognize from our aboriginal era and thrive on. And they produce this golden food while augmenting the environment, not detracting from it, which takes us to the second powerful force.

Live Staking

One thousand live stakes of black willow have just been planted along this sloping creek bank. "Live staking" is a process of coppicing willow shoots, cutting them into 2 foot lengths, and then transplanting them into moist soil. When executed during appropriate conditions, results are very reliable. It can't be too warm or the stake will germinate buds but not roots, and die. The tree from which the stake is harvested needs to be dormant, which means winter. But if too cold, the stake freezes and also dies. Temperatures need to be around 40 degrees during the non-growing season, and the soil needs to be moist enough to receive the stake. Such conditions were present this past week, and a hearty team of five cut live stakes and planted them into the stream bank, which we had peeled back last fall. Jacob, Paula, Bob, Kathy, and Clark persevered through cold rain to bring this important task to the fore, for which we are most grateful.