Friday, August 15, 2008
So here I am living in the woods in my tent. Nobody, including myself, would ever have guessed that I once was terrified of the forest and the mysteries within. Really—I was terrified. Vermont itself was scary to me. I felt like I had no business being within Vermont, and it had nothing for me. But here I am on a crazy hill called Craftsbury in the Northeast Kingdom completely sidetracked from where I thought my life was going. But I very quickly came to realize that I was in fact not sidetracked, but going in the perfect direction. Though school has been a struggle for me personally, Sterling College has done incredible amounts for me, and the biggest aspect I believe is introducing me to agriculture. Agriculture to me five years ago was the grocery store and shelves being restocked at night. Now, agriculture to me is closing the systems, figuring out how farms (including Sterling) can improve the connection between nature and wildlife and to work with both aspects to enhance both the farm system and surrounding ecosystems. Its funny how things work out sometimes, it really is. I am not able to bring myself to go home to suburbia, New York, but I am so happy. There is no history of farming in my family, but I am confident to say that I am thrilled to continue my life with the track I am now on by creating harmony between the farm and wildlife, to help serve a community and one day pass on my gathered knowledge to the next generation to maintain healthy ecosystems. With all of that said, I think I’m going to go into the woods now to the swimming hole. Third day of sun in a row now—it’s worth celebrating.
Posted by Alison McKnight at 1:47 PM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Recently, Sterling College accepted the gracious donation by Raymond Chauvin of Lincoln, a seven year old Belgian gelding. Lincoln is quite a willing worker, having only been at Sterling for a few hours, he helped Rex with wagon rides around the Common at our annual summer pig roast and moved wonderfully. Students of the Summer Agriculture Program have really benefitted from his presence as they have witnessed first-hand the process of integrating a new horse into the farm.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
To show respect while harvesting our food, Mitch takes the Summer Farm students through the process, from birth to death, in a manner that gives thanks to the animal, allows students the opportunity to experience an on-farm slaughter event, and, perhaps most important, creates a platform to discuss the close connection of food raised for human consumption.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
On a small farm like ours that houses many different animals, providing appropriate feed rations is a challenge--rotational grazing provides a systematic method to address and meet the different nutritional needs for each animal while providing a holistic management program for the soil.
Posted by Rick Thomas at 11:59 AM
As we have chosen to use horses for much of our traction work, responsible hoofcare is a practical skill that is introduced to students as a part of the draft horse management curriculum. Outside of feed, hoofcare is the largest yearly expense for a horse owner; by learning basic hoofcare practices and mastering a few fundamental farrier skills, students can greatly reduce their yearly expenses associated with working horses.
Posted by Rick Thomas at 11:02 AM
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Recently, Lynn Miller (editor of The Small Farmer's Journal) presented what I interpret to be a "call to action". Lynn draws our attention to three key realizations that I paraphrase here:
1. ...the climate is changing...
2. Oil is over...
3. ...the world food inventory is hanging by a thread over a precipice...
Lynn's metaphor between the collapse of a colony of bees into small like-minded (like-skilled) groups--communities--to survive and the current movement toward a model of human-scaled farming (to also survive) is very timely and meaningful to me.
I intend to weave these three strands into each of my agriculture courses this year; the intent is to keep these concepts in mind as we learn to work with animals in our fields and forest, gain confidence in the care and use of our tools, and perhaps of some higher importance, work with one another toward achieving a common goal at Sterling--that each student will connect with the food and fiber system with conscious effort.
Posted by Rick Thomas at 1:44 PM
Friday, August 1, 2008
At Sterling College, students must complete a formal internship (see http://www.sterlingcollege.edu/P.internships.html#What); for a student majoring in Sustainable Agriculture, the internship is a critical component to the degree program encompassing multi-faceted learning opportunities and real-life insight into the daily challenges faced by agricultural practitioners. While not a compartment of the Summer Agriculture Program per se, if applicable, students can apply their experiences during an internship to complete two important graduation competencies in Organic Crop Production and Livestock Systems Management.
Posted by Rick Thomas at 3:56 PM