The mud is growing deeper by the day. Of course we know this is a good thing, because all this moisture will help grow our pastures and crops. But…if I were a PETA undercover “investigator” I could have found many ways to make our farm look like the worst farm on the planet today.
WHAT, WAIT a minute… our farm isn’t perfect lush green pastures with cows frolicking in the sunshine every day of the year? You mean our cows get DIRTY?
Yep, that is exactly what I mean. Too often animal agriculture is forced onto this high unattainable pedestal where animals are never dirty, never get sick and never pass away. Of course animals get dirty, sick and even die. These are all natural human life events as well for animals. We care deeply for our animals. We as farmers try very hard to keep our animals healthy and secure. The reality is that the very nature of farming leaves us with few things we can control. We cannot control the weather. We cannot control our animals independent thinking minds and we cannot control “life happens” events. What we try to do every day is to provide for our animals in a way that minimizes stress and maximized comfort and health.
Let’s take today for example. We provide our dry cows with a large deep straw bedded area within their winter pasture/paddock where they can stay clean and dry. They are free to roam, play and eat and drink during the day. They have lots of space and have protection from the elements if they desire. But there are always some cows who just prefer to lay in the muddiest area possible. I don’t know why they do this, but some just do. Cows are independent thinking beings. There are two ways we could prevent them from laying in the mud.
- Keeping them in a concrete building and hire someone to stand behind our cows and scrape up their poop as it happens or
- Not having cows at all.
We can all see that providing a comfortable, secure and natural environment for our cows means better health, even if they get dirty.
Dr. Temple Gradin, in her book Animals in Translation, talks about how regulations aimed toward the meat packing industry demand perfection. This has actually created an unintended consequence. Instead of meat packing plants meeting all the standards, you have plants that are so scared to ask for help on an issue because they feel they might be persecuted for something else they missed.
I think this is a reality in all of agriculture. Too often farmers will put off seeking assistance with manure management, soil erosion, or animal health issues because they fear they might face a penalty for not being completely in compliance with regulations, instead of being rewarded for wanting to improve. So instead of correcting issues, the farmer continues doing what they are doing and lets the problems get worse. Who is to be blamed: the farmer or the regulations?
Probably both are slightly at fault, but the real question is why do we have such a false idea of reality, that regulations in the animals industry demand perfection? This leads us into a whole new can of worms and I am not going to go there. The main point is: you cannot have animals living in a natural and sustainable environment and expect perfection 100% of the time. All of us that have kids understand this.
On our farm we will continue to welcome the mud and the promise of growth and new life that it brings. We will also continue to care so deeply about our animals that we allow them to make their own natural choices if they want to get muddy or not.
Tonight I leave you with a dessert recipe from Organic Valley. This recipe uses the new Live Yogurt. This drinkable yogurt is very delicious. Ask your store to stock it.
Pumpkin Cobbler by: Terese Allen
There’s a little magic in this recipe. You start with a batter on the bottom and with pumpkin custard on the top, but as the dish bakes, the two switch positions, and you end up with cobbler: fruit custard on the bottom and pastry on the top.
(There’s also magic in the way it tastes.)
Prep Time: 30 Total Time: 90
- 5 tablespoons Organic Valley butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 1/2 cups Organic Valley Live Organic Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt, divided
- 3 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 2 cans (each 15 ounces) pumpkin puree
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 large Organic Valley eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter pieces in a 12-by-8-inch baking dish that is at least two inches deep. Microwave (or heat in oven) until butter is melted. Tilt dish to distribute butter around bottom of dish.
2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Stir in 1 cup of the vanilla yogurt until just blended, then spread mixture in prepared pan.
3. Using the same bowl as above, combine pumpkin, remaining 1/2 cup yogurt, brown sugar and eggs; whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the spices. Pour this mixture evenly over the flour mixture—do not stir the two layers together.
4. Sprinkle surface evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. As the dish bakes, the pumpkin sinks while the batter rises; the end result is a kind of cobbler, with pumpkin custard beneath a tender baked topping. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com