Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday shared stuff

I've been trying to incorporate Google Reader into my repertoire of Internet tools. but apparently it doesn't get along too well with my work computer. So until I get that figured out, I hope to periodically post a few items of interest here on Sand Creek Almanac.

The Farmer as Natural Resource Professional

As a fish and/or wildlife manager, one of the first things one learns is that most of one's efforts to protect and maintain habitat and fish and wildlife populations are at the mercy of private land owners--farmers, forest product companies, developers, lake shore owners. Of these, farmers have influence over approximately 58 percent of the total land area in Minnesota. When I was in graduate school, we often saw examples of "farmer as bad guy" in land and watershed management: stream banks eroded by cattle, land tilled right up to the roadside, with no fencelines or other wildlife corridors, ditches washing topsoil and fertilizers into rivers. However, there always have been farmers who practice good land stewardship, and an increasing number are making the connection betweeen the health of the land, sustainable productivity, and wildlife habitat. The above link is about one such farmer, Kent Solberg. Solberg had a somewhat nontraditional route to farming; he grew up in the city, got a degree in wildlife management, and spent years working with various state and federal agencies as a wildlife manager. Now he and his wife raise dairy cattle, pork and eggs on carefully managed pasture on their farm in north central Minnesota. Listen to the linked podcast if you have time; it's about ten minutes long but very informative.

There is also a personal connection, which is why I was happy to find this story this morning. Solberg and The Hermit were buddies in graduate school, he was best man at our wedding, and I worked at the same office with him for several years. We haven't been in touch for a while, but I would like to visit their farm some day.

Choosing to live with less

In these tough economic times, there are a few people who are not feeling the pinch, since they have chosen to get by with what some would call poverty-level income. However, the lives they are living seem to be rich and fulfilling. I was inspired by these stories. And there's another personal connection; the barn dance I played at last week was called by Terrence Smith, who is featured in the article. His passion for music and dancing is contagious.


forest wisdom said...

Thanks for sharing these links. Godd stuff. The second one especially resonates with me.
Peace and happy Monday. :)

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about you/your blog yesterday - and the role that private landowners play in our collective conservation efforts. I was doing an easement monitoring visit for the Land Trust - and had the pleasure of visiting a beautiful hobby farm in a northern suburb of the TC. The property has been lovingly tended by one family since the early 1950's, and it is truly a special place cared for by a very special family. When I get depressed about the state of our environment, I think of people like this, and people like you, who do so much to inspire and educate others through a lived example of what it means to be good stewards of our land. Thanks Deb!


Deb said...

Forest Wisdom- Peace and Happy Monday to you too! It really made my day, seeing that story in the Duluth News Tribune. I've been thinking about how our life here is still way too consumer-oriented, and what I can do to change that gradually.

Diane- Thank you! And thank you for your work with The Land Trust; I really like the model they have for land preservation.

BurdockBoy said...

Great Links.
I actually grew up in NW Illinois surrounded by the "bad farmers". My parents had about 1 acre worth of organic gardens that we tended and I constantly had to listen to my father complain about the poor conservation practices of the farmers. It was only later (college) that I discovered there were farmers out there concerned with land ethics. Good stuff, thanks.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Deb,
Thanks for sharing the links to these 2 stories. I need to learn to live with less too and I hope Kent's farming methods are the wave of the future--not just in Minnesota, but throughout the US.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Google reader is great. I wish it could do more, and it probably can ... you know how the new online tools are, they are powerful, but don't come with a handbook, it's learn by trial and error. Some people never leave their reader when reading blogs, others visit the sites. I always visit, but do use the reader as a starting point. Although this time I got to your site from Pure Florida.

MojoMan said...

I liked that piece about frugality, and living such a simple life sounds satisfying...until I imagine what happens when something unforeseen like illness or tragedy strikes. People are sometimes too quick to curse modern civilization, but happily fall into the safety net it can provide when the s--t hits the fan. I like to imagine a world where we all live simpler but productive lives and all share the burdens and benefits more equitably.

Deb said...

BurdockBoy- That's interesting, how you grew up on an organic farm in the midst of the Corn Belt. The land ethic, unfortunately, is in the mind of the minority, not the corporate farmer out for a profit.

RuthieJ- I think with the economy the way it is, we may be pushed towards a more local system of farming. At least Bill McKibben told me so. I do hope it's the wave of the future.

Robert- When I try to use Google Reader at work, I just come up with a blank screen. It works here at home, where I have precious little computer time these days. Even if I used Reader for blogs, I think I would still visit the sites.

MojoMan- Good points, and I don't know what the answer is at this time. The economy, like it or not, drives all those good things we've become accustomed to: security, insurance, being able to make a living off arts grants for calling barn dances or teaching pottery (I'm not implying anyone does; I'm just saying having wealthy patrons and state arts boards reflects a robust economy.)