Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Today marks the 29th occurrence of Earth Day, a "day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment" (quoted from the Wikipedia article). Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson due to his concern about dangers to the environment, particularly overpopulation, although it united advocates for many different aspects of environmental concern. These included extinction of animal species, herbicides and pesticides, and global cooling :).

The first Earth Day is considered to have been the beginning of the modern environmental movement. This movement is now composed largely of liberals and/or former hippies. Due to that unfortunate fact, the issues raised by these environmental groups are often dismissed offhand by Christian conservatives, despite their validity in some cases.

Of course, global cooling is no longer a concern raised on Earth Day; global warming has taken its place as the war cry of environmentalists. Global warming is too large a topic to discuss in one post, but I certainly don't agree with it, as I've seen no convincing evidence to prove that the Earth will indeed meet its fate in fiery temperatures that will soon force us into underground cave-homes.

Another huge topic among environmentalists is clean energy. Even if carbon emissions from the burning of petroleum products are not a concern, there are other reasons to pursue clean energy sources. First, these clean energy sources- such as wind, water, hydrogen, and electricity- are sustainable, while petroleum may become scarce at some point in the future. Secondly, these sources of energy are not tied to empires of wealth in the Middle East or the political situations in that region. Thus, while oil prices are prone to myriads of variables, the price for clean energy would be quite stable.

Christian Conservation

Stewardship of our environment is an important responsibility for all humans, but especially for Christians. As Christians we are to be an example to the world in all areas of life, and only Christians, or those influenced by Christian principles, can have a true understanding of good stewardship. Through scripture we know that:

  • God created the universe and all that is in it, out of nothing (Genesis Chapter 1).

  • Thus, God is Lord of all creation including mankind, but God has given mankind the responsibility of caring for the rest of creation (Genesis 1:28).

Christians should be ashamed that the environmental movement is so heavily populated by pantheists. It should have been Christians that spearheaded the movement towards environmental consciousness and stewardship, but instead they have largely remained silent. Therefore, instead of worshipping "Mother Earth" today, I praised God for the beauty of the earth, I planted tomatoes and squash, and I wrote this blog post.

As a farmer, stewardship of the environment is a daily task for me; in every decision I make, I choose farming methods that improve the land, rather than simply mining it. I hope that my children, if the Lord so blesses me, will build on my efforts and continue improving the piece of creation which God has given us to tend.

Note: My understanding of Christian stewardship was largely shaped by Francis Schaeffer's Pollution and the Death of Man, and I highly recommend it. Schaeffer breaks the issue down to basics, and then explains the importance of stewardship, in his clear, logical manner.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Turning in the Cover Crop

We turned our cover crop under on Saturday, which is the biggest milestone of spring. First we mowed down the entire garden, then we used a 4' tiller to make beds, leaving 2' paths between the beds. We're trying to buy all of our tractor equipment in 4' widths so that we can use the same beds every year, thus confining compaction (from the tractor tires) to the paths. This will also allow us to improve the beds without wasting compost or minerals on the paths, which will never grow any food.

"Whew! Farming is hard work!"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Farm Friday Kickoff!

Spring is here in full bloom! The trees are glowing in fresh green, the air is warm, and the birds are singing, so it's time to begin my Farm Friday posts for 2009. Spring is the busiest time of year for farmers, and the next two months will certainly be busy for us!

The poultry have already arrived at Windy Creek Farm. The pullets that I raised last year have finally begun laying, so they occupy one hoop coop moving over the pasture.

I started my first broilers about five weeks ago, so they are also on the pasture in a new, smaller hoop coop.

My modified Salatin-style pen holds 80 chickens, half of which should be pullets. These should start laying in July.

My very first flock of turkeys arrived yesterday. I ordered just 20 poults to start with, while I learn how to raise them. Turkeys are considered to be a very difficult animal to raise.

Smokestack wants to start a small hatchery, and he's building his flock of breeding hens. He is starting with Rhode Island Reds and Black Australorps, although the famous Buff Orpingtons Nelson and John Winthrop have joined his breeding program. I never thought that I'd meet chickens who could strike a pose for a photo.

Smokestack's rabbits are multiplying every day. Last time I counted he had 5 new bunnies, and thanks to some serious barricades and Cocoa, we haven't had any more trouble with dogs.

The bees are growing as quickly as the rabbits this spring. Smokestack and our Grandpa split our two hives, and then both hives swarmed, so now we're up to 6 hives- and there are four more hives coming in the mail! (It took a lot of courage to get this picture.)

A few weeks ago we acquired Benjamin, a Dorset ram. I am going to sell my goats and replace them with sheep this year, so he will be my breeding ram. He's cute now, but I'm told that in 6 months he should weigh 200 pounds.

The goats are doing well, as goats are supposed to do. That's a novel idea at our farm. They're happy as long as they can sneak a bite of chicken feed when I'm not looking.

I built a small impromptu greenhouse to hold our transplants. We've got four varieties of tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, pimento peppers, several varieties of lettuce, some very late cabbage, and several types of flowers.

We've planted sugar snap peas in the garden, and tomorrow we'll be turning in our cover crop of cereal rye and crimson clover. After that we'll be putting in most of our vegetables in short order.

We have many plans for expanding our gardens as my farming goals have shifted to include more horticulture. We cleared some small trees to extend our current garden and we will be fencing part of the pasture in order to grow vegetables instead of grass. We also have a hoophouse in the process of construction.

Our mascots Cocoa and Abigail are doing their best to promote our farm, while Tiger just takes catnaps. Abigail will be kidding very soon, and judging by her girth we'll have two new mascots. ;)

Well, it's usually the cat who's napping. :D

On Wednesday we took a trip to BC Hunt Farms in Prattville to pick strawberries. I met the Hunts in November at the ASAN conference and visited their farm afterwards. They have a U-pick strawberry operation, and as far as I have seen they are the only commercial strawberry farm in the state that doesn't use any herbicides or pesticides. We brought home 10 gallons and probably ate two gallons in the field! I hadn't eaten any fresh strawberries since last spring, so eating my first strawberry of this season, with a palate unjaded by Californian strawberry-like-objects, was a wonderful experience.

Have a great weekend,

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Oak Tree

Thursday night's storms brought down a big oak tree in our pasture. We were sad because it was the most beautiful tree we had in the pasture. However, we were thankful that no one, including our goats, and bees were hurt. (The tree was located close to each.) The only damage was to the fence, which could have been much worse and a metal gate in our catch-pen. The tree knocked both our power and phone lines down. It also fell across our road, so we were trapped in until morning, when Stonewall and his dad could start cutting it up. The power company did come out at 3:30 a.m. to fix the power. We got to listen to chains saws, in what seemed the middle of the night. Another adventure here on the farm!!