173. The Independent Farmstead | Growing Soil, Biodiversity, and Nutrient-Dense Food | Shaun and Beth Dougherty

Independent Farmstead

I’m so excited because your book is published by Chelsea Green Publishing, from White River Junction, Vermont. I learned a little bit about intensive pasture management and nutrient dense food from Mandy Gerth and Jay Cummings when I went to their farm. And because I teach on the east side of the mountains I’m always shocked at how expensive dairy food is on that side and I think they should start a dairy over their to reduce the price of food like cheese and milk.

The Independent Farmstead

Authors of the book, The Independent Farmstead: Growing Soil, Biodiversity, and Nutrient-Dense Food with Grassfed Animals and Intensive Pasture Management

To win a copy of the book enter a comment on the Organic Gardener Podcast WebsiteĀ with your biggest takeaway from this episode! Winner will be picked on April 29th 2017!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Shaun and I are both, farming in Ohio now, native Texans grew up in Texas andĀ  Oklahoma

gardening and raising beef cattle, when we had a young family,

spent the first 4-5 years,

my gosh it rains here and it wasnā€™t raining in Texas or Ok, and Appalachia have a culture in the same way TexansĀ have an identity,Ā but the same sort of steadfast stick in the mud here

How many kids do you have in your family?

We have 8 children!

6 boys and 2 girls between 30-9 pretty evenly spread out

5 at home

2 in college

15 and 12

Youngest is 9

On a farm thereā€™s an advantage to having kids. In the city you might look atĀ racking up kids as expensive, but on the farmĀ kids are just part.

My husband kind of grew up like that with 4 boys and Ā he talks about having to have the cookie jar full to give the boys energy to get out to work!

Feel like our life revolves around food bringing in food and eating the food!

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Beth: My folks spent the first 7-8 years of my life moving around, my dad was in school

before we move to the farm

when we moved out to the ranch, my dad raised cattle, he was a doctor, but he raised cattle on several hundred acres in south Texas. We put in aĀ big garden out on the farm. I rememberĀ I was a very picky eater until we moved to the farm.Ā 

I remember crookneck squash for the first time and realized that food was a delightful experience. It wasĀ transformative, I was an extremely picky childĀ until I encountered fresh garden vegetables

Shawn: Garden

I remember coming back from the garden one time and remember the Pickup is full of potatoes

impressive and very neat and something for us

Did you both come from big families?

Shaun: I was one of 6 boys,

Beth: there were only 3 kids in my family.

How did you learn how to garden organically?

Itā€™s really interesting even though we both kind of grew up on farms and we spent our early summerĀ when we were first married we spend time on family farm in summers

We were

  • growing vegetables
  • composting

we didn’t have knowlege of how a farm works and we’d been told

“you just canā€™t farm any more”

we had a little garden

desperately wanted to get out to the city

price of land was so high, didnā€™t know how it was gonna happen

found a piece of property we thought was gonna be it!

50 acres

beautiful 3000 square foot pre-civil war stagecoach inn

before we thought we were going to buy it, someone else bought it, we didn’t even know osemone else was looking at it and theĀ realtor said, sorry it sold.Ā 

we couldnā€™t believe it!

Then a good friend of ours who said they saw something in the local paper

16 acres and a house for $11,000.

we didnā€™t even go look

We figured the house was made of cardboard….

But he said “At least go look at it”

We called the guy up and he said “if the door hanging open can you close it on your way out?” and this was in January.

It was in bad shape!

people who had lived in it hadĀ thrown trash over the side of the hill

mostly hillside

no flat piece of property bigger then a swimming pool

but it was getting us out of the city. We thought this will be ourĀ staging ground we can learn some things! Then we’ll find our real farm.Ā 

As we started working on it, brought in some goats to take care of the briars. Started to discover what was here.

  • The house had a solid foundation
  • electrical was ok
  • added on

become our farmā€¦that we absolutely love.

Well let’s go from there. That’s what your books aobut right?

The land that weā€™re sitting on, the land we are farming,

plat map on the state of Ohio,

not sutiable for agriculture.Ā 

They never said a truer word.

We live in an east west draw which isĀ called a holler.

  • moisture all summer andĀ winter
  • overgrown with the weed trees
  • alynthias and shoomack
  • covered in brairs

None of it on the level couldnā€™t go over with an implement

As we started to intend to fix it up for 2 years, sell it to someone who wanted a cute little place in the country and thenĀ go buy something with fences and a barn. ButĀ in the course of bringing in any organic supplements we could get for free

  • cow manure
  • rotting sawdust
  • building raised beds
  • chicken house
  • goats and tethering to eat briars and milk

redefine what we meant by farm

it was a long process becauseĀ initially we went out and bought books on farming…

  • storyguide to raising chickens
  • followed the directions
  • raised chickens but always with our parents in charge who had full time jobs off the place

Started to methods

Found we were getting more food off the place

to what ever extent we were dropping our grocery bills we were raising our feed bills… basically operatingĀ import/export business

bring in the feed

guet food if we sold any off that was the export

Something told us that wasn’t all there was to farming

poor dry farmers in arkansas, knew theyĀ didnā€™t have big feed stores

Both had a hard time, it was world war ii, dustbowl, knew it wasn’t easy but also knew there was an economy that didn’t include importing most of your nutrients.

shawnā€™s dad grew up in the dustbowl

jumpstarted the gardens with raw sawdust and cow manure

Foodprint Farm

what is the economy of the footprint farmĀ 

that doesn’t go outside of itself to make it work.

what makes it work

inputs are either meteorological – rain, snow sleet… or it’s sunlight

2 things you have to work with

we started looking for ways to do that

first thing we discovered


if you have a dairy cowĀ all ofĀ  sudden you have a method of turning your principal sunlight capture thatā€™s grass into all kinds of nutrients that are available all over the farm

Most people think milk cow, and they think cow, and jugs of milk…

I only go through 2-3 gallons a week so how much is that?

We try to encourage people to thinkĀ the energy source is the sun, capture is in energy growing that needs to be convertedĀ into forms not just human beings but everything on the farm can use!

Little Known Facts

you can raise a hog, from weaning- slaughter

protein supplement (most expensiveĀ 

1 gallon of milk a day

that’s because as it gets bigger the percent of it’s diet theĀ need for high quality protein goes. You think a cow gives out milk and think what the heck am I gonna do with that

all of a sudden you have a hog growing on roughage and milkā€¦

everybody who has a dairy cow their best friend after their cow is their pig

our next great insight

everybody gives their cows grain. Everybody gives grain. ButĀ cows used to live on grass.

We bumped into the intensive rotational grazing after we bumped into theĀ soil conversation people


only on grass

living paddock

little bit at a time

you hold your cow in a small area an area as big as your bedroom moving it every 12-24 hours and not coming back to the grass for 30 days or 60 days and that’s the key to intensive grazing you let the animal eat that down and then don’t let the animal back on the grass for 30 days… and youĀ let the grass to come backā€¦

It gives them fresh grash all the time too…

now we canā€™t believe how our pastures have improved

areas that were rock shale that you couldnā€™t walk on

we have had goats and sheep on them and all those areas are coming in

the only thing that has institution of intensive rotational grazing

grazed it and watched the grass grow in

transformation is mind boggling!

On our very steep home pasture we haveĀ thick tight beautiful legume grass mixes

shale and weeds

just from moving the costs over it, feeding out hay

feed them out on the pasture keep them moving we are putting down a certain amount ofĀ grass seed and organic matter

exciting thing for us is we are reallyĀ extending the grass season! Now in February weĀ stockpiled some area to we didnā€™t put the animals on it, now as we go into the winter, we feed them off that grass we do some supplementing of hay, we give them grass.Ā instead of giving them hay.

So how many?

Cheating a little bit

one of the things we say to farmers

young farmers

itā€™s all too expensive

find some trashy land and turn it into a farm

find the land that is close to you that Ā noone is using and start to use it

So up the road there’s a monestary. The sisters bought that about the same time we bought ours…

somebody come in brushhogā€¦. bring in a big tractorā€¦

You know what they do here, they burn it… as soon as the sun comes out and it gets nice in the spring….

mowing this big piece of property

what if we ran some cows up here

sisters were urban girls, so they were a little bitĀ nervous about it…

They had 50 acres that we put into pasture…Ā their place had been a pig farm where Ā 20 years before they bought it they wouldĀ load up a truck with restaurant trash, partly food scrapsĀ let the pigs go all over it …Ā eventually they got hog cholera

burn them, bulldoze them

grown into briars and weeds


21 minutes

ag regeneration taking land that is bad and turing it into good farmland starting primarily with rotational grazing and milk cows.

feeding yourselves

Milk share where we were feeding other families

feed the sisters up there from the dairy

pastures are improving rather then taking away all the time… we’reĀ making the farm better and feeding ourselves

Intensive grazing is the way you take something away and end up with more

when you graze intensively the source of the foodĀ ultimately goes back to a living soil

So the soil gets deeper and better quality

If you are practicing good intensive rotational grazing you are creatingĀ fertility what could be more magical then that

By moving this ruminent across the ground

  • pretty darn bad ground
  • feeding farm animals
  • milk going to pig pen,

milk whey is a first class soil treatment and compost feeder

ways a nature


through a Ā dairy ruminent while I am doing that I am actuallyĀ growing soilĀ by measurable amountsĀ with intensive rotational grazing

litter and manure

growing soil underneath the surface

grazing creates root die back

intensive razing

soil horizon massive plant above that and about anĀ equal mass amount in roots. When the top half is grazed down theĀ bottom half Ā corresponding to the top

organic man

mcrobes living around the roots need

break it down

more nutrients in the soil

passages for Ā air and water to get back into the soil andĀ new roots to grow through

rest cycle with intensive

pulsing Ā carbon into soil


making room for more water


invent one that got more enragedtiv

getting back to original question We raiseĀ 2-3 dairy cows on our little property. We canĀ pasture about 7 acres withĀ cows we could pasture about 4 acres

We moved up to sisters have about 20-25 cows up at sisters

here weĀ changed over to sheep

  • better on the hillside
  • softer impact

sisters have much more flatland

Keep Sheep and Cattle on the home-farm…weenland calves

Less likely to steepr hereā€¦

little animals less likely

here we run in summer time

6-7 ewes and a ram, their babes

6-8 weenlyning calves at at time

6-7 acres of sloped pasture

55 acres of grass at the monestaryā€¦ another 20 animals of various sizes and ages…

You must have to go up there and move them.

We milk up thereā€¦ the thing that is surprising isĀ how little time it takes to rotational graze. IĀ taught as a professor for 25 years and recentlyĀ as our farm took on more of lives and we loved it and thinkingĀ how can we be more at home?

I now work for sisters as maintenance man, farmer, gardener

He’s theĀ honeydo for 30 nunsā€¦ Im on that farm most of the day, beth is at our little farm here

She comes up and she’s the one that manages the grass toĀ move the fences

1/2 hour to an hour a day…Ā if I have a long move …Ā this time of year, making bigger paddocks. takes a little longer because I’m moving more fence

not a time intensive operations

You know the best fertilizer is theĀ shadow of a gardener

shadow of the animals

walking that land

that little bit every day

were better farmers because of it

We’re not running a tractor to mow those fields they are beingĀ mowed by the cows

even as we talk they are up there mowing…

That’s been a going theme of 2017, talking about really, all along it all comes down to your soil. But Jon Moore in Austrailia was the first one I talked to who mentioned no til soil….

Grass fed that’s all anyone talks aobut if you are gonna eat beef you should eat grass fed beef.

for a long time

we thought that cows need to have grain

dairy cows we were giving them a little bit toĀ pull into the stand

donā€™t give them any gain

only give them hay so they areĀ completely grass-fed

move toward how can our farm feed our animals we are not atĀ 

no cost feeding

  • donā€™t fertilize fields
  • donā€™t mow fields
  • providing little babies

these animals are going and providing little babies

almost completely free animals

do buy a few bales of hay in the winter. Eventually it occurred to us we wereĀ spending about the same amount on equipment repairs as we were getting in hay value

retired the equipment and buy just a little bit of hay from when we have to stopĀ to get from feb-march till being of aprilā€¦

Questions going through my head… you have to milk the cows every day… would you start with a cow?

Goats, are a good place forĀ people who are nervous about a cow, although american are used to drinking more cows milk then goat. but once you realizeĀ how well the conversation works from soil to milk

You can start out milking a cow

  • under a grape arbor
  • portable canvas garage
  • shed scrap lumber and recycled tin
  • used a solar powered little light
  • string of leds with that shed

upgraded because as our children were getting biggerĀ one way to improve was to build a better barn

A lot of people assume that it requires a milking machineĀ but hands work better then milking machines for the health of the animal

for the health and happiness of the animal

  • 2 hands and a stainless steel bucket
  • 5Ā¢ a day for a strainer

tye their cow up to a post

hold it

head gate

that we manufactured out of 2x4sĀ 

I was just online looking at what people were looking atĀ micro dairy,Ā unfortunately people thinkĀ 25 cows

  • 2-3 cows
  • up to 8
  • nothing more then our family can milk by hand by ourselves


important to remind ourselves

industrail famrirng is less then a century old, the average dairy before WWII wasĀ 17 dairy cows andĀ a family with 3 children helping out can milk 17 cows

  • one of the chores
  • it wasn’t a form of torture…
  • not terribly
  • morning milking is one of the most peaceful things you do on a farm all day long

People could lay here another half hour. What gets them out of bed…

Im gonna get up and go milk my cow

her clock is as tight in some sense their clocks are better then ours…

ready to go at a certain amount of time there’s some flex.

not tied down to

I love the order that it gives

2 times of the day I know where Im gonna be

once those start to become bookends for the work day thenĀ other things become more regular and fall into place

the family rhythm by the milking times

Shawn is a morningĀ person

Iā€™m not a morningĀ person when I made that commitment I realized thatĀ I am a farm person IĀ realized that

from the beauty that I could see coming out of that bed at 5am to go milk cows.Ā 

really was powered by the sunlight

harvest and the greens that will

will by golly get out of bed

the reward has been far beyond the effort

cows make very litte demand on you

get up at 5

shove our legs in your dirty blue jeans

and shove your feet into your boots, by the time you’re therethe morning air and the screech owls down in the valley

  • no oneā€™s talking to you
  • no ones telling you didnā€™t do something rightā€¦.
  • you walk up slow behind the cow and they put their head in the stanchen

When I talked to Jean Martin Fortier I was watching his videos etc I thought that is so much work, IDK if I could do that… it’s very similar with the animals, it’s a nice life. I think people are trying to get more back to that… maybe I tend to hangout with people who are more connected to their food. I meet people every day who are still like what’s compost?Ā 

when you start reflecting on it,

people in this country don’t seem as a group

seem concerned

despite the sources

worried about a centralized chemical based food system is that it’s aĀ complete black box

donā€™t know where our food comes from and whatā€™s inside

where our food comes from

no idea where to address that problem

exciting thatĀ so many young people popping up in theirĀ teens and Ā early twenties and older people butĀ that group of people seems to be turing out a lot of people that the cubicle life they have been educated to daycare through college and sit in a chair and respond to bells monad tap on a keyboard

despite not having a background in farming they areĀ looking to soil and nature to give them a sense of meaning they havenā€™t had before

sepecially interested in the processĀ wevā€™e been privileged to find on our own farm. It’s an intro aĀ foot in the door for a lot of young people staring out with school debt and lack of experience

2 obstaclesĀ 

what’s preventing young people from getting into farming.

  • lack of capital
  • no expereince

donā€™t have experience faming

onece you buy a farm another huge obstacle is operating costs

Intensive grazing answers all three of those problems

donā€™t have to find good land


what Iā€™m about

better effect if I find land thatĀ needs to be regenerated

It’s easier to buy or beg steal land thatĀ no one else is biding on

no one had written a book that told us how to do regenerative farming.

like our grandfathers to live

we decided to write the book, soĀ we did,Ā we are now going to conferences and help people see there is another way to farm!

rather then the commercial way whcih is destorying the land

sucking the life out of the land


i donā€™t like sustainable means we’reĀ just trying to maintain I want to talk about regenerative because thenĀ weā€™re making it better

this method that weā€™re exploring weā€™re more excited about

bilborad for shelter pets

find a shelter farm


a shelter farm find a piece of land that needs you…

instead of imposing your visionof what a farm ought to be

1/4 acre ot generate $20k

I’m not denegrating that model…instead of that model that requires quite a bit of cash input…Ā go make friends with that land. ThenĀ give it what it needs.Ā 

case of grasslands

overrun with weeds

home place had been

  • mined
  • logged
  • overgrazed
  • top soil stripped off and sold

So about as bad as it gets. Give it animalsĀ graze but wonā€™t over grass

other too obstacles

operating money

very little operating money in an operation that relies on grazing.

you can do it on 2 acres or less if you animals are small

Make nature your teacher

  • always there one on one 24 hours a day
  • never changes the rules on you
  • disciplien you if you get out of line

perfect situation

as you listen what altho animals

  • instead of paying for your schooling
  • harvesting your food
  • as others see what is happening on that land
  • they see this land coming back and how beautiful it is

They come to you and say can you do the same on my property

helng them get their property

link up other people with the inclination to farm toĀ other pieces

We’re not gonna grow our operation.

If I had 20 lives maybe so.Ā 

For any topography there is sort of aĀ natural limit to what can beĀ well farmed by one family

natural limitĀ to how many cows you can graze in one area

dairy means animals walking back and forth and the barn. A cow just wants to walk so farĀ between the dairy parlor and her dinner.Ā 

middle as far as the cow is willing to walk because sheā€™s loosing interest inclination to walk that’s about the natural size for a dairy.Ā 

A farm is like that. Every inch of it deserves to be husbanded well, thereā€™s only so many inches you can look at before the day is over.Ā 

I think this is great when our planet is in a bit of peril. Our big problem is soil, having access to quality soil. I like the way in your book you talk about buidling soil. I love the way you talk about the millennials I love them I call my audience green future growers. Talking about growing energy in the book. So many people put them down and complain about htem and the ones I interview are awesome.Ā 

I think they are born heroes, and they wereĀ born itno this age with the purpose



sense of hope. If you can’t see where the cahnge is gonna come from it’s hard to know where to find the hope

where all the energy you use on this planet isĀ solar energy when you discoverĀ whatever is growing where the sun falls

how are we gonna use that

drinking yesterdayā€™s sun in that milkā€¦ because the cows have just grazed it and the cowsĀ turned it into milk so we’re drinkingĀ liquid sun

when we picture the sun

the possibilitys of what

the system shutting downĀ 

  • economic system
  • transportation

shutting down for a period of time

weā€™d have to adjust a few things

dairy cows

migrant families walking down the road every dayĀ camping in a new spot with 2-3 cows and we’d be fine,Ā wedā€™ be ok

now itā€™s a lot nicer to live on a nice farmĀ and harvest your grass in that spot and improve that soil and know theĀ future is gonna find a better place in this little corner of OhioĀ because we stayed here and took care of it. Liek thatĀ original command to Ā Adam and Eve there’s something toĀ make this piece of ground. I don’t want to leave my childrenĀ not a million dollars butĀ fertile land that is better then when I got it andĀ ready to be made even better.Ā 

I don’t thnk there’s a limit to how you can improve a farm. ItĀ just keeps getting better.Ā 

I just talked to Danny Swan who works for Grow Ohio Valley, he’s in theĀ cityĀ I think doing the same thing, regenerating the soil in a pretty urban area. Using whatever he could get to mulch and build up the soil after they broke a few rototillers etc.

those possibilities

most exciting

watching these millennialsĀ start to change city ordinances to allow to farm livestock. TheĀ amount of food that could be generated and theĀ beauty and fertility by a goat and a dozen chickens and a good gardener. There’s source for hope.

I think that’s why you are so inpsriational. I am so lucky to talk to people who are making postiive change and digging into the soil.Ā 

reminding people at regular intervals Ā this is great place and we’re doing great things… Don’t judge the planet by the newsĀ judge it by the people you meet

incredible people out there doing wonderful things

When we go to conferences andĀ meet the people who are doing it and meet the young people who want to know. Who areĀ convinced there is a way to do this.

What we like to talk about

Turning it into $20k a year. But turning it into theĀ nutritional food I am gonna eat, my neighbors are gonna eat andĀ share with our sisters

thatā€™s what farming is about

feedin the farm first

feeding us this really good food

if thereā€™s some excess then

make some money off of it

let farm’s be what they were a source for food.

regenerative farming

the problem that we forsee

in some of the models that are popular out htere. Any time we startĀ 

that are temporarily

  • farming venture that has to make money from the get go
  • and generate a cash income
  • not reduce the inputs to the farm

purchased inputs instead of reducing whatā€™s needed tries to make enough cash to

thatā€™s how we got where we are in the first place was growing farms by buying bug equipment

  • specialized materials
  • condfineing animals so they are not hustling
  • then you have to make payments have toĀ get bigger
  • more payments
  • sickness
  • downward spiral

nature works

all energies coming through the sun through plants recognizing that and make our farms toĀ capitalize

take advantae of that feed the farm before all else…

farms that do generate

can export

most famringā€¦.

organic farms belong to the model of farm calledĀ 

imports and exports

hightly successful market gardener

  • not using any animals importing compost you’reĀ 
  • bringing in fertility
  • converting it into
  • import and export

stuck in an economic model that may or not support you all the way through where asĀ naturesā€¦ never gonna dropā€¦

iDo you want to at the end… I know you talked about business advice you talked about finding some land that needed to be regenerated.

The people who are on the fence who are not sure just jump in andĀ farm with reckless abandon

  • buy a piece
  • start doing it in the alley way behind your property
  • plant some seeds

we know folks who have to have it perfect before they start. WeĀ run into a goat on craigslist we sayĀ start with that and learn as we go.Ā 

look at this

instead of buying expensive classes in farming buy the animal andĀ let the animal start to teach you

add to that trust nature believe in nature

weā€™re breaking the conventional model there’s a 1000 voices that says the guy down the road who can raise out a steer to 950 lbs becauseĀ heā€™s doing it right and you don’t know what youre doing because itĀ takes another 6 months to finish out

Youve got to have an anwer

vet, feed store

grocery store

extension office

your doing it wrong

more then you believe in low producing steer

dead animal sitting gin front of you

  • cows eat grass
  • chickens scratch
  • pigs like to waste into pig

true for 1000s of years

didnā€™t change when we went industrial

working with soil that has been Ā depleted

animals that have genetics

in the end this is gonna Ā work…

It totally does… it’s interesting to me and we’ve been married 23 years… now we have lush green grass… it used to be rocky clay soil… we couldn’t have animals because we didn’t have water and then we dug a deep well slowly 2 years ago… we have transformed this land slowly… we’ve had chickens we had 4-10 foot beds.. with just chicken wire… then built a fence slowly expanded the fence, when we put the well in , I say he put the mini farm… the year we put the well in we put an orchard in, but I have been amazed in all the apples we put in. I always tell people the chickens are here for the manure the eggs are just the cherry on top…Ā 

Two things that I made notes about…Ā 

Jacqueline freeman who wrote a book about bees. She;s in Washington state her views on animals and nature are very similar. She wrote a book. She goes out and comnunes with the bees… one day she was like we need to get a cow… so they got a cow… do you want to talk about conferences… are there some conferences coming up?

Next conferences

  • Mother Earth in Vermont early June
  • North Carolina in May
  • Pennsylvania in Sept

really exciting events

lots of presenters and vendors

alternative ag

see that hope forĀ future generation. Just came back from Pennsylvania ag conference in State College

weā€™re hoping to do theĀ  Ohio food and farm association

our farm

love to have people come out and look at our farm.Ā 

see whatĀ we do

One Cow Revolution

show people around the farm

We love to go visit! If someone wants us toĀ come to their farm and help out.Ā 

One of the greatest hopes forĀ farming andĀ hope for humanity, weĀ see so much in the news and peopleĀ donā€™t understand and donā€™t communicate. TheĀ people what we meet at conferences. We all speak one language when we start talking about soil. BecauseĀ nature’s the same everywhere I meanĀ savannah doesnā€™t look like tundra boil forest

nature how she operates

our own place in it


live that we’ll

we come to have a deep understanding of one another

We’re catholics with 8 kids, that’s not necessarily theĀ demographic you would look at NE Farming association. The ones we just got back from NYĀ and Mass

lot of different demographics

really loving and being together

because wheat wā€™ere talking about is so beautiful itĀ transcends our differences in religion or idiology or whatever difference you want to come up with.

Final question-

if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

Shawn:Ā I would really love to see the huge 2000-10,000-20,000 acre farms divided up, IDK how you would do that. I’m not about stealing land away from farmers. But I’d love to see themĀ broken back up into 5-10acre maybe even -160 acre. I would love to seeĀ that happening and families moving back into farming andĀ taking care of that land.

somewhere was talking bout china still has some of this small far

It has an intact agricultural traditionĀ that is beautiful based on the small farm

farms keep getting gobbled up

weā€™re finding …Ā if there are things like global warming when you start taking care of your grass and start doing what we’re doing itā€™s gobbling up and sequestiering it back downā€¦ so it’s really taking care of some of those problems so that would be my dream farms that are run by families.


If there was one change I would see,Ā even though we’re country farmers

excited about possibilitiesĀ of urban farming, I wold love to see ordinancesĀ shift to permit

cities in this country withĀ large areas abandoned empty degreatede fthat young people and older people,Ā not knocking us older folks in our fifties… theĀ trasnformative things

not valued for the food

but for the change they create in communities

city chickens and city goats and ordinance that could defineĀ how big the place needed to be how the animals…what sense they had to be contained

how quiet they need to be but enabling young people Ā to createĀ urban farms that are just growing plants

Albert Howard saidĀ 

nature never attempts to farm without livestock

Even the most determied vegan wants wiggler worms in her compost bing and the bigger livestockā€¦.

How do we connect with you?

If you go on line toĀ One Cow RevolutionĀ operates as a website

where we are speaking

how to get a hold of us

classes in cheesemaking

contact us as a way to get a hold with questions or a request to come on aĀ farm visit

weā€™re liable to hand you a shovel and put you to work while your here but we love to have visitors!

Chelsea Green Press.

looking for the book the most direct way.

  • chapters on grass and grazing
  • captured low pressure water system
  • gardening
  • butchering
  • dairying

learned oer 20 years

being determined there is a way to farm with nature.

jumpstart people over 5 years of mistakesā€¦.

I just have to ask is how did you get a contract with Chelsea Green?

We knew of all the books we read…Ā the books coming back to were from Chelsea Green? Thatā€™s the place that we were like to be.Ā 

Beth had done a lot of blogging

how to communicate it

We were at a mother earth news conference and someone saidĀ whereā€™s the book?

The Independent Farmstead

The Independent Farmstead: Growing Soil, Biodiversity, and Nutrient-Dense Food with Grassfed Animals and Intensive Pasture ManagementĀ So we ought to try and do it. We went to the website and looked at their submission guidelines.

created a document

expecting to get

within 24 hours

this sounds likeā€¦

what we were proposing

what they want in a proposal

included sending a description of the book

a tentative table of contents

a couple or 3 chapters

had written a more narrative book

anybody was going to publish a book telling you how to do

how do you do all that work

tell stories about mistakes and things we’ve learned but it will beĀ full of hints

The got back to us right away and saidĀ we want you to write a how to book

chapters and proposals

honestly it was a blessing of god

right place at the right time

they had already published some books on intentional rotations and grazing…Ā 



accident and sincere of grassing

1 1/2 after we started writing

family scale – homestead scale

presented not just the grazing but all theĀ permutations down the line

  • pigs
  • chickens
  • garden
  • pasture
  • soil
  • and the kitchen and how that all works
  • background again

we were incredibly blessed to be in the right place at the right timeā€¦

we have not idea how you sell a book because ourĀ first shot they picked it up ā€¦ and said.. we like this.

How long did it take then?

about 6 months our first contact was in Aprilā€¦ busy busy busy for next 6months


projecting 2 years in the future

several monthsĀ of coming up with a proposal for this different book andĀ generating things and they would sayĀ change it this way, then it was probably November that we would. We hadĀ one yearā€¦ from signing the contract to turning in the finished book.They would probably have given us extensions but we look at a deadline is a deadline. It’s a lot of hours of work. AĀ lot of work we had done a head of time

things we had done at conferences

sit up for hours in the evening,Ā when the kids were not disturb us

work on an outline for a chapter. Then we’dĀ shanghi the kids at that point and they helped with the morning milkings.Ā 

5-6:30 I would write

shawn and I were doingĀ lots of driving

back and forth to Iowa and ok. car times were wonderful. I’dĀ plug computer into the car andĀ hammer out outlines andĀ write, write, write.Ā 

I always laugh when I’m driving and editing my podcast I can’t type the shownotes like I want to… but if it has to get done it has to get done.

The Independent Farmstead

The Independent Farmstead: Growing Soil, Biodiversity, and Nutrient-Dense Food with Grassfed Animals and Intensive Pasture Management

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