That would be me.
Are you surprised? A lot of people seem to be, when I admit what a total wimp I am in one unlikely area.
Generally speaking, I love a good debate. I will debate organic vs. conventional agriculture, the wisdom and sustainability of petroleum-based farming (though I’m not a peak-oil type), the proper diet for cattle and ultimately, people. I will go toe-to-toe (partly in an effort to learn) with an honest vegan, and talk about the fascinating opportunities for symbiotic farming, where cattle + chickens = lush pasture. I’ve seen it done, I’ve read all the books, I’ve journaled my plans…
But I haven’t done it yet. Not really; not enough. I might believe things, I might know things, but I don’t have the resumé to prove that I’ve put it to the test.
Stand me out in my weedy field, with the unfinished irrigation efforts and bring a farmer. Someone with boots and a hat. Have him ask me if he could lease my field…
I have about as much conviction as a bowl of Red #40 jello. I mumble plans about a rotational grazing plan with daily paddock moves.. our new 3hp pump which we haven’t had a chance to really put to use yet..
He says things like, “needs to be farmed,” and “need at least 25 hp pump to irrigate that,” and “are your steers vaccinated?”
I nod and smile and do my best to be non-confrontational. And I sound like an idiot. “Twenty-five horse? Wow, someone told me…” “No, we haven’t vaccinated our steers yet.”
He has the tractors, implements, pipe.. He wants pasture or hay field. Why can’t I just speak my heart? I could write my heart, but good ol’ farmers have cell phones, NOT email. Maybe I should print a pamphlet. “Sir, I would love nothing more for this field to be farmed. I want to do some of that myself, but obviously it’s a lot to manage, and I’m not sure how I’m going to do it. However, I have some pretty deep convictions that aren’t very popular around here, and that might be a deal-breaker for you. See, this land hasn’t had chemical treatments (fertilizers or -cides) in at least 20 years. I don’t want that to change. I’m interested in increasing forage and soil fertility through the use of rotational grazing, diversified species, things like that. I worm my cattle with Basic H, NOT ivomectrin. If this sounds like something that could work for you, that you’re interested in talking about, we might be able to work together. But these are things I can’t compromise on.”
See? That flows from my keyboard without a hitch. But in person it sounds like, “uh, um, yeah, well, maybe, I’ll think about it.” With such a glaring lack of real-life experience, how can I say that to someone whose expertise is in this area? Too, what kind of a person could just say to a new acquaintance, “I just don’t believe in doing things the way you do.” [to be fair, he didn’t mention fertilizer or pesticides, though others have]
There must be a happy medium, where I could state my boundaries without feeling like I’m attacking the personhood of the listener.
Seriously, I disgust myself.
Maybe I could write him a letter.