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Folks, This Ain't Normal
By Joel Salatin | Released October 10, 2011
Donors of $100 or more to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund 2012 FundRAISER Appeal (June 1 thru August 31) can receive a free copy, valued at $24.99.
From farmer Joel Salatin's point of view, life in the 21st century just ain't normal. Salatin, hailed by the New York Times as "Virginia's most multifaceted agrarian since Thomas Jefferson [and] the high priest of the pasture", discusses how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love. Salatin has many thoughts on what normal is and shares practical and philosophical ideas for changing our lives in small ways that have big impact.
If you are interested in learning more about Polyface Farms directly from Joel, you may want to consider donating $250 to attend the Benefactor Appreciation Event at Polyface Farm on Saturday, September 8, 2012. More details about that event are available here.
Enjoy this special preview of the first chapter.
Folks, This Ain't Normal - Chapter 1:
Children, Chores, Humility and Health
"We need something for our young people to do” is a common refrain in adult circles today. Daily news reports about roving teenagers getting into mischief during the wee hours of the morning don’t make any sense to me. Every time I see that a group of young people has caused some fracas at 2 a.m. I wonder, “Who has time and energy to be out cavorting at 2 a.m.?”
Our children went to bed at 9 or 10 p.m. and were grateful for the opportunity. Our apprentices and interns normally dismiss themselves from our company and head off to bed as soon after dark as they can get there.
That young people today, at least when they are not in school, spend the day lounging around, hanging out, and then go into the wee hours burning off excess energy is aberrant in the first degree. Add to that the pastime of playing video games, exercising only thumb muscles and fingertips, and folks, we have a situation that just ain’t normal.
When the biggest thrill in life is becoming competent enough on the video game to achieve level five performance, what kind of environment are we creating for our future leaders? When I sit in airports and watch these testosterone-exuding boys with their shriveled shoulders and E.T.-looking fingers passing the time on their laptops, I realize that this is normal for them. This isn’t happening because they are sitting in an airport trying to while away the time. This is actually how many, if not most, of their hours are spent—recreation, entertainment, and playing around.
Contrast that with historical normalcy. Here is a list of chores for young people since time immemorial:
1. Chopping, cutting, and gathering firewood. In the days before petroleum and electricity, every able-bodied person contributed to keeping the household warm during the winter months. This wood accumulation required a knowledge of the forest and of what kind of wood burns well. Not all wood is created equal. Resinous woods like evergreens coat the inside of the chimney and unless mixed half and half with nonresinous will accumulate too much soot on the inside of the chimney or flue. This highly combustible residue can become a fire hazard. Whenever we cut down a pine tree, therefore, we want to look around for at least equal parts hardwoods to balance out the fuel for the fireplace or woodstove. Green wood cut from standing, living trees contains 30 percent or more water, and this moisture retards the fire because before the wood can burn it must evaporate the water.
A skilled wood gatherer knows to seek dead and dry wood for immediate burning but to stockpile the green wood for future burning. But all dead and downed wood is not equally dry. If the dead wood is up off the ground a little, it will be perfect. A standing snag is ideal most of the time. Sometimes it has already rotted and turned to powder—common in soft deciduous trees like poplar or red maple.
If the dead or downed wood is on the ground, it may be too rotten to burn. Burning wood is essentially an extremely fast rotting process: What soil microbes do over an extended period, a fire does in a short period. If the combustible carbon is already decomposed through the rotting process, nothing is left to burn.
All wood gives off about the same BTUs per pound, but different woods weigh different amounts per cubic foot. Heavy woods like white oak and hickory give off twice as much heat per cubic foot than light woods like poplar or white pine.
Gathering wood, then, requires a fair amount of knowledge to be done well. Beyond the knowledge is the skill to gather it efficiently. Obviously if we're going to the forest to bring in firewood, we will take our tools like a chainsaw (modern), crosscut or bucksaw (premodern), or ax (old)." More...
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The Unseen War on American
by Kristin Canty, Producer/Director
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|How the Fund
|The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) does more than simply litigate cases involving raw milk. For example, the Fund has assisted nationally recognized farmer, Joel Salatin of Polyface farm, in his struggles against the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). In early 2008, Joel's chicken was being offered at a local restaurant and the restaurant marketed the chicken as "beyond organic." The USDA's NOP sent a warning letter to Joel stating that the use of the term "organic" was regulated and that because Joel's farm was not "certified organic" he could not advertise his chickens as being "beyond organic." Joel solicited the assistance of FTCLDF who wrote the NOP a letter on Joel's behalf (read Feb. 27, 2008 letter).
In its letter, the Fund set straight NOP's misunderstanding. To begin, the Fund clarified that it was not Joel or his farm that hung the sign at the restaurant. Also, the Fund made clear that even though Joel used the term "beyond organic" on his website, such use was not prohibited by the NOP. The Fund explained that "certified organic" cannot be used on a product unless the producer was certified by an accredited certifying agent, and that the "certified organic" prohibition did not apply to marketing or advertising. Finally, the Fund advised that if the NOP wished for Joel to remove "beyond organic" from his website he would be glad to do so, yet he would also explain in his own words how his agricultural processes do indeed exceed the certified organic standards.
The only response the Fund received to its letter was basically, "we'll get back to you" (read Mar. 4, 2008 letter). The NOP has still not presented any other response to the Fund's letter. The FTCLDF considers this matter as closed.