Community: Forum: Vegetarian Discussion

Vegan / Vegetarian Discussion - All Things Veg*n Forum

I am new to forums… but not to Agriculture… My sore ankles and my sun-baked arms will validate this claim… I have been a long time vegetarian… and at times mad cow about it… But, I would like to share a few stories, today one, about significant experiences that tempered both my thinking and my actions… and they are here for amusement only… Let our peaceful, respectful diet reflect our peaceful and caring ways…

Years back, working a large-scale organic avocado ranch, I contacted a local dairy to use their stockpile of manure… We worked a deal for $5 a dump truck and we loaded it with our own skip-loader we kept at the dairy… I made hundred's of trips and on occasion took break time to converse with workers and the co-owner, John. Young John was a poster boy out of the 50's… Handsome man, quiet demeanor, tan, strong, and one could sense he was an incredible worker with had an incredible work ethic. John was married and had two very young children… And like that poster, I would see them playing on slide and swing set in front of John's tiny home located next door to the milking room…

One day John was more talkative than his usual self… I still am not sure if he just experienced a mood tweak, had defined a sense of trust or friendship with me, but there I was talking farming with a third generation dairyman. I remember the camaraderie… and not much else EXCEPT the part about the herd… Apparently they were having an unusual amount of "doubles" in the birthing… Doubles are not a good thing because the second calf requires milk that would otherwise be sold… And the new calf value does not offset the loss from the required milk to raise the calf. He expressed a sense of wonder about it… unknown wonder… We spoke of downed cows and the need to use antibiotics fro the entire herd whenever ONE in the herd became sick… John said he did not like to use antibiotics… He wondered about the impact on the milk himself… but he felt he had no choice! His livelihood, his family's welfare depended on a healthy herd… There were no chances that could be taken regarding these responsibilities… I left John that day thinking about how similar animal science agriculture was to crop science… How farmers, those close to nature, sensitive to climate and much of the natural world have resorted to the use of chemicals and a varieties of agents to safeguard their crops and thereby their livelihood and family…

I liked John. Not long after that meeting we abandoned the dairy manure project… It seems the manure was just not biologically active.. Or, in combination with our almost "saline" well-water the manure did not produce the desired effect to salt sensitive avocados… The dairy was later bought out by the city and I was informed John moved to the Sacramento area along with many other dairymen…

I grow organically. I like the challenge… but honestly I pray I never encounter a disease or pest that I cannot quickly control with the available organic arsenal… I should tell you about avocado thrips sometime… and how there just happened to be a product that had not had the registration expire (materials are registered for only a limited time period)… and a quick helicopter spray was therefore available and "affordable" (nothing is affordable in ag!)… Without the spray some growers lost almost everything that year! Big hits financially! I lost a crop to wind one year and I still claim I never really recovered! Anyway… maybe young John has matured and joined our movement and is now producing organic milk!

Peace, gray

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