Dog breeder and hobby farm

“Great, just what the world needs, another dog breeder and hobby farmer.”

Anonymous Reader said that in response to the lovely article in The Keene Sentinel.

New Plates I keep remembering the bumper sticker that I have on my truck. No Farms, No Food.

Does focusing on heritage breeds who can thrive out on pasture make us a hobby farm? Does having a mere 150 animals to care for do it? Not having a barn? Not buying into the Monsanto way? Not using chemicals, artificial fertilizers, drugs? One of us needing a day job so we have health insurance and pay off our kids’ student loans?

We believe that we need a vibrant farming community in our food shed, and we’d like to be a part of that solution. We are find that it’s both quite rewarding and quite hard to farm, but you have to start somewhere. We should encourage anyone who wants to, to try. The average age of farmers these days is something scary like 58.

What’s a hobby farm? So few New England farms can pay a mortgage. A few tomato plants are a hobby. The King Ranch is not. But where is the line between a hobby paid for by the day job, and the business that doesn’t make quite enough, so someone needs a day job? What about the wannabee author or actor waiting tables? We all win or we all lose.

Green, Purple, One I’m not going to apologize for breeding Icelandic Sheepdogs. Our farm needs both herding dogs and guardian dogs. Many other farms do as well. All of this litter won’t make good farm dogs, but I bet three or four do. The rest will make great pets.

We are getting our second rescue dog, Buddy, in a couple of weeks. I spoke to the person who is fostering him now, and he sounds like a winner. She says he’s a lady’s man, and thinks he’ll charm Maggie and Disa. This is our second Great Pyr coming up from the south. Farm dogs without a farm to protect, a job to do. We will gladly provide for them in exchange for their help. He’ll arrive here via Rescue Road Trips on March 6th.

Of course the writer is anonymous. Aren’t they always? It lets us project our current insecurities and defensiveness onto them. I think she’s a vegan PETA-type, happily eating organic veg flown in from California and Chile. Frank thinks it’s a CAFO operator who feeds his caged chickens GMO corn. If the only choice was eggs from those cages, we’d be vegan too. It’s not a binary choice, though.

Encouraging letter The article in the paper has brought far more good than one snarky comment, of course. There have been many phone calls, emails, and visits, and it’s helped us meet all sorts of people we have heard of but hadn’t met. We also got a lovely hand-written letter from Ann Sawyer from Jaffrey, NH, a fifth generation dairy farmer. She said “I really respond to your love of the animals and the land. Go for it!”

We’re delivering a couple of hundred pounds of our wool down to Jaffrey for The Yurt Alert, as soon as the snow stops. (Ha.) We will definitely stop by their farm to say hi. I can’t wait.

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6 Comments

  1. Sara
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Hobby. Hah!

  2. Posted February 25, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    There will always be detractors. You can’t talk to them. Especially if they won’t sign their name!

    I wonder how many people know the King Ranch? I’ve been there – a trip in college as part of the National Block and Bridle Club annual meeting. It was quite interesting.

  3. Regina
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    What does size have to do with successful farming? Fortunately it isn’t a binary choice for those of us smart enough to feed ourselves and others. I think your snarky commenter is envious.

  4. asha
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like neither a PETA fan nor a CAFO operator to me, but merely one of the vast majority of people who have no idea where their food comes from, don’t WANT to think about it, and thus write those who are concerned off as silly . His or her scorn is based in pure ignorance about the our food system, and that ignorance is likely to remain because it’s far easier than educating yourself.

  5. kat
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    what a freakin’ great article. wow, i loved it, but then i love your blog to death, too!

  6. kat
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    one more thing, there are people in this world that so hate themselves, it bleeds out on every one else. you may be giving snarky one too much credit with peta, etc. she just may be a self hater!! she must of just hated her happy, positive, attitude!

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