Here’s a post from Sarah Dunn…
The Omnivore’s Dilemma* (Michael Pollan, Penguin Books, 2006) was given to me by Kathy and Tersh Skinner. It is a fascinating look at the agribusiness in the United States and its influence on our eating habits. The most interesting chapter is about a farmer called Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farm. His sustainable methods of farming are directly opposed to the methods of the big corporations. Kathy had thought we might want to consider his approach vis a vis Moone Athy. I wrote her how much I liked his approach, but I didn’t think we had the resources nor the time to apply them at Moone Athy.
Our problem: How to get from A to B…
|A. Woodland before honeysuckle removal||B.Woodland after honeysuckle removal|
Our Solution: The Boer Goat
It is with pleasure that I inform the family that we now consider ourselves Sustainable Farmers thanks to Kathy and the ten or so Boer meat goats who currently take up residence at Moone Athy.
|A. Doelings at work||B. Sustainable Farmer Jay, with his goat guard dog Lancelot|
We have been for years battling noxious weeds at the farm like Amur honeysuckle and multiflora rose with herbicides and labor, but the goats are now happily eating the honeysuckle and the rose bushes, getting fat while doing so and clearing the understory of our woods at the same time. They belong to a young man by the name of Jay Deatherage who is a big advocate of the Salatin method and prefers books on farming that were written before the 1950s unless they are by Salatin.
The goats are fenced inside an movable electric pen with a Grand Pyrenees guard dog to protect them from the coyotes and foxes. Jay’s goats are South African Boer meat goats. His plan is to increase their numbers while moving them on a regular basis around the farm feeding them a steady diet of honeysuckle and rose. They work well with the cattle as they prefer to eat what the cattle leave behind.
A word of caution for riders and dog owners. The horses will be frightened when they first come across the goats. Be aware that the fence is electrified if the dogs go to investigate. The Great Pyrenees is sure to bark at them.
If you see Jay at the farm, be sure to introduce yourselves. He is more than willing to answer any of your questions. He has answered some of mine. A mother goat is a doe, a father is a buck and a baby girl is a doeling. Hence my comment to Bob which titles this posting. I hope you will visit our Moone Athy goat tribe soon.
* “On the horns of a dilemma” is a phrase that all Priory students of Fr Timothy will recall. He would emphasize that correct usage of the word “dilemma” should imply not a generalized quandary, but instead should only be used to indicate a difficult choice between two non-optimal (hence painful, hence pointed horns…) options. Perhaps this Boer goat pic will provide a visual to pin this usage onto…