John & Susan Merrell
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Scio, OR 97374
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"Let's take the Buffalo as an example," he went on.  The audience sat with rapt attention as Dr. Joe Snyder talked about natural control of parasites in livestock at an Oregon Tilth conference.  Much of what he spoke about is directly applicable to sustainable practices in general.

Dr. Snyder went on to describe a system in natural balance that maintained the health of the Buffalo, forage and other wildlife.

  • The herds' migrations meant that forage was never overgrazed, and always had time to recover before their return.
  • Dung left by the herds (and carrying internal parasite eggs) provided a breeding ground for insects.
  • Birds tore apart the dung patties in search of insect larvae, spreading both the Buffalo manure and their own to fertilize the ground.
  • Internal parasites adapted to the Buffalo largely died off due to the lack of hosts and dessication from exposure to the sun and heat.

Then he provided the kicker to his presentation.  Prior to the 20th Century virtually all farms were highly diversified and so provided a microcosm of the larger natural processes.

The average farm had cattle, swine, sheep, horses and poultry, in addition to producing grains, vegetables and fruits. These various enterprises were integrated into systems that mirrored what nature was doing on a global scale.

Cornfields were harvested, and the swine were turned loose to clean up the field.  Poultry ran free, controlling insects and parasites, and providing natural fertilization to the land. Cattle grazed on natural forage for as much of the year as possible.

Animals were generally healthier, as was the land itself. Production costs were lower.  Food diversity was greater.  (Think of the relative rarity of cool weather crops such as turnips, kale, etc. in today's diet in the U.S.)

Dr. Snyder gave an example of a diary farm in Southern Oregon. By the simple introduction of turkeys into the farm operation multiple benefits were attained.

  • More efficient manure management
  • Less disease
  • Less parasites
  • Lower fertilizer costs
  • An additional income stream
  • Improved forage

By studying natural systems, and learning to mimic them, the science of sustainable agricuture is developing techniques that provide

  • Increased Food Diverstity
  • Healthier Food Supplies
  • Healthier Land and Water
  • Multiple Income Streams for the Farm
  • Lower Production Costs

The process of "naturalization" inevitably means diversification.  But, diversity can not be willy nilly.  It needs to be planned and implemented in such a way that each piece of the puzzle supports the next.

Alpaca Sales

"He smoked several pounds of my tobacco, and taught me several ounces of things worth knowing; but he would never accept any gifts, not even when the cold weather came, and gripped the poor thin chest under the poor thin alpaca-coat. He grew very angry, and said that I had insulted him, and that he was not going into hospital. He had lived like a beast and he would die rationally, like a man..."

Rudyard Kipling
Indian Tales
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