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.