Did you know that there is a Contrary Farming movement?
It's not necessarily a practical or systematic movement, but rather a moral one. It is a refusal to accept the 'conventional wisdom' of industrial farming; wisdom that tells us that bigger farms are better, more efficient farms, that cows and chickens and pigs are merely food-stock and not in fact animals, that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are necessary parts of agriculture. The Contrary Farmer is a small-scale farmer, a farmer that cares for his animals as animals, and understands that it is better to work with nature as opposed to working against it.
Wendell Berry is a Contrary Farmer.
Gene Logsdon, I discovered, is also a Contrary Farmer. Here are some of his thoughts:
"Nature is a vast killing field. No bug, plant, or animal including humans can live unless other bugs, plants, or animals die. All we do is trade corporeal forms around the gaming table of existential matter."
"It seems to me that the garden is the only practical way for urban societies to come in close contact with the basic realities of life, and if that contact is not close, it is not meaningful at all. To feel the searing heat as well as the comforting warmth of the sun, or to endure the dry wind as well as the soothing breeze; to pray for rain but not too much rain; to long for a spate of dry weather but not too long; to listen to the music of nature as well as the rock beat of human culture; to know that life depends on eating and being eaten; to accept the decay of death as the only way to achieve the resurrection of life; to realise the diversification of species, not multiplication within a species, is the responsibility of rational intelligence – nature will handle that latter activity much better than we can; to grow in personal simplicity while appreciating biological complexity, so that in the garden there is time to sit and think, to produce good food for the mind – these are all part of an education that the industrial world hungers for but cannot name."
“Domestic animals enjoy much more tranquillity than wild animals. My two hogs live a life of comparative luxury, snuggled in their straw, deigning to roll out occasionally to eat the food I put before them…If these animals are slaughtered for meat in the end, so too do the wild ones die.”
“Which death is worse really: the old buck, half-starved, stiffened with arthritis, torn slowly to pieces by wolf fangs, or the buck in its prime, shot by man? In the wilderness the only unnatural death is a natural death.”
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