Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Community of Interest › Community › Community of Interest
- June 13, 2008 at 2:43 pm #39640Gabe AyersKeymaster
This is a move of the evolved thread on young horse predicaments to the community page. Complex issues.
I truly appreciate the work that this site is for our community of interest and want to continue that thread. This is an update and response on/to the thoughts by Carl and Neal.
First, the Horse Progress Days event. We had asked for 500.00 to travel to Ohio for the four days it would take to fully participate in the event. I was hopeful that this money would offset some of the fuel cost of taking our first string team to demonstrate in the logging portion of the event. I was also planning to announce the event, just as Lynn Miller announces the new farm equipment part of the field demonstrations. This is what we did the last time HPD was in Ohio.
I just learned last night that the last board meeting of the organizers (mostly Amish) resulted in the decision to not pay any support money or accommodations while on site. This is sad, as we simply don’t have the money to afford travel at this point. One would think that a big organization like HHFF would be well funded and could conduct public educational work anywhere there was an interest. Not the case. We are not a big organization. We have a small budget based upon private donations mostly and some other innovative approaches that are resource related that we will discuss later in some format. So we will not make it to HPD this year unless something changes in the financial reality of traveling hundreds of miles and giving four days of our lives to an event that we don’t sell anything at to pay for the time and cost. The event will be well worth attending whether we are there or not. I will leave that there for the moment and will keep this forum abreast of any changes. We may figure out how to get there cheaply and camp out somewhere.
There is a correlation between poverty and being sustainable that is seldom discussed or included in the “green forestry” or green movement at all. I agree with Carl about Walmart and the barrage of “Green Spins” coming from every angle, bombarding consumers with nothing less than a confusing smoke screen hiding the message that consuming is the goal, like Carl says, just consume “green” and everything will be alright…. Honestly sometimes I hear this green spin stuff and nearly gag, followed by a definite feeling of nausea.
Real change will include a culture of true conservation and less consumption.
This is the core value of this site as opposed to some larger community of interest forums.
Now, on the issue of the large event we have been planning for some time to occur the week before the NEAPFD event. We have recently postponed the public educational event we were calling the: Restorative Forestry Summit and Biological Woodsmen’s Week. The reasons are many. Each reason being more about the landowner’s attitude than about our groups ability and willingness to work with them. However given the many years of our public educational work in the forested communities we have learned through our experiences.
The primary reason for postponement is the lack of a long term management agreement between the parties involved. The board of directors of this large tract of forested land says “they move slowly in making decisions”. So they offered to allow us to conduct the event as a “trial” of our services. We have been doing this work for nearly a decade in a public way. We have thousands of acres of forest available for inspection and a long list of references including world class foresters, writers, landowners and practitioners to vouch for the quality of our services, safety and resulting improved forested conditions. We have tried to conduct such events on a trial basis before and it hasn’t worked out to continue the work after the trial, so we have chosen to not begin the work until a long term commitment is expressed.
We are not hurting for forestry work. We have more private forestland before us to work than we can currently do in my lifetime. In fact the demand for our services is overwhelming. So we try to pick and choose the ones that have the best long term attitude about our services and the attempts of man to age the forests. There has to be an attitude of understanding the biological power systems we use, meaning having the horses on site during the work is crucial. We wish to iron these needs out before going 50 miles away from home and camping out to do this very hard dangerous low paying work of restorative forestry.
We remain dedicated to conducting this event and practicing the improvement forestry we promote on this site. However we have experienced that if you don’t have the respect and regard of your landowner’s from the beginning it usually doesn’t get better despite the quality of services provided or money paid for stumpage. Some environmentally concerned folks fall on the preservationist side of the community of interest and don’t want to “cut timber” anyway, but they like the notion of the warm fuzzy horselogging approach until they have to go out of their way to support the best forestry we know. This is not the kind of arrangement we are interested in pursuing. This is not a novelty act or a casual involvement by our group of practitioners. This is serious work that has a very high skill level and ethical commitment that earns the respect of anyone lucky enough to engage our services.
There is an interesting aside related to earlier threads by Luke Saunders about “working with foresters”. There is a very good forester that has been working with this property for over twenty years. This forester attended the meeting that we presented our proposal for a long term relationship between the two NGO’s. His comment in the parking lot after the meeting was “good luck working with these people”. He prepared a great forest management plan that detailed the need for basically salvage level harvesting of low quality individual trees and the accompanying timber stand improvement that will have to take place simultaneously to create the result of true improvement of the quality of the forest ala – “Restorative Forestry”. We proposed to follow that management plan to the letter. So even when you do find a “good forester” it doesn’t mean you will be able to implement good science unless you have landowners with a similar vision for the long term nature of this work.
Albeit, we remain open and dedicated to the process of continuing this development in the future. But we have found that we have better results
when we stick to our principles from the beginning. This work will be a life’s work for someone and will never be complete as that is the nature of true sustainability. It is not easily understand by most. We understand it and will continue working in our geographic communities (meaning within a reasonable driving distance from our homes) and continue to educate the public as to the benefits of this approach where ever possible.
Unfortunately that doesn’t mean we have funding to travel long distances to do the cultural missionary work of restorative forestry. It would be great if we did have a budget for our non-profit public charity to afford such outreach work. The battle for support mong non-profits is furious. There are so many lines in the fishing hole of grant makers that getting funded for practical work is unlikely. Our story is not as appealing in getting funded as those that talk a good game but don’t actually do any work. We have not written a grant proposal in the last two years.
I personally give my time to this cause in many ways including posting on this site, (which I am thankful for), our web site and others. I don’t get a salary for being the President of HHFF board of directors. My personal income is from selling forest products from restorative forestry that we practice daily in our own small community geographically. It is admittedly marginal – which may be a definition of being sustainable in itself. This is expressed well by the bumper sticker on our old horse trailer – Make a living, not a killing!
We are constantly working on other ways of supporting the mission, goals and objectives of this small organization. That is something for another thread and possibly a panel at some point. Development of duplicable groups in other geographical communities may be our best success.
We do have many years of experience invested in this endeavor and enjoy an opportunity to share those experiences and to learn from anyone else’s experience, insight and observations.
I would be delighted to consider attendance and participation in any event anywhere. I simply can’t afford it from my personal meager income. It simply cost to much to travel these days, so we just go back to the woods and do what we do, right here around home. Yep, that means basically giving logs away into a commodity driven system that is unsustainable. We simply can’t sell enough “green certified” wood at this point to consume all the wood we produce.
On that note I will also admit that just like Lynn Miller and probably many other well known folks in this community of interest….. we are not great businessmen. Profit and personal gain are not our primary concern. We are folks that put a high personal value on the work, the lifestyle and human dignity dividend of living the way we do. Meanwhile, the forest around us (that we work in) are getting better. The time is coming where these services are rewarded for the whole value they yield for the public and private good. Until then we keep working to sustain ourselves economically and appreciate the interest of everyone on this forum.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts.June 14, 2008 at 1:59 pm #46816Carl RussellModerator
There is a strange energy affecting us these days. Like you, I have spent the last several decades working. Working at efforts that make me feel alive, involved with the life around me. I thrive on the coolness of early morning, the tack of pitch on my forearms, feel of sweat, and sound of soil and wind, and the smell of manure. I have invested countless hours and calories on brain power to refine my perspective, initiative, and emotional commitment to the lifestyle , skills, and techniques of animal-powered sustainable land-use. This is what I want to do more than anything else.
On the other hand, I have always been extroverted, gregarious, motivated toward helping and educating others, and invigorated by networking. More and more these days there is interest from so many sectors. It is so important to assist people in our community of interest. There are so many real and large values associated with their efforts. We need to answer the questions we can, we need to show them what we can, we need to connect them to others who can offer what we can’t. We definitely need horse and oxen loggers and farmers, but we also need support people who can assist with the education, administration, and networking.
I have potatoes to hill, logs to cut, management plans to write, T-ball and softball games to go to, horses to train, workshops to plan, and worms to drown, as do you and many others as well. I just feel both feet in different worlds. It is impossible to sell enough potatoes, or logs, or write enough man-plans or articles, to finance the 1/2 hour phone calls about draft animals, or the hours involved with pulling off workshops, or travel, etc.
What I need is a young forester who is ready to embrace ecological animal-powered forestry, a couple of administrative assistants, grant-writer, marketing specialist, and partner/associates to cover the exposure. I know you do too. I also know that we all pull these things together by the graces of incredibly capable family members and friends.
The thing is as we are encouraging people toward their interests to get real and dirty, we also need to share the reality of the cost of the responsibility. We have skills to share because we have an undying drive to practice them ourselves. I know from conversations with Lynn Miller that as he is working as an international icon of animal power, he is also thinking about the young stallion that needs his attention. All of us in this community of interest can relate, but it needs to be part of the discussion now, in earnest.
If people are motivated toward raising their own food, or working animals in the woods, or powering a dairy farm with horses, then I think that part of the equation needs to be that they be willing to share what they learn. Part of our interest has to be to share, and I know that it is, but I’m not sure that it is as upfront as it could be. Inexperienced people rightly hesitate to promote themselves as potential educators, but let’s be upfront about it, educating and networking doesn’t hill my potatoes, but it has to be part of what I do, and it has to be what we all do.
It is sad that HPD can’t see past the marketing opportunity, but that is where NEAPFD can really fill the void. We are committed to more than hooves and harnesses, as you all know. I hope that as we pull together this community that sharing truly becomes apparent. We are blessed by skilled and motivated volunteers and presenters.
The truth of it is, it all costs a lot of money. We are committed to passing around what ever wealth we can come up with, to ensure that capable people can afford to participate, while still trying to present an affordable event. A big part however is making an event that is worth going to, and that takes content, which has a price tag, as it should. It is pretty scary though when we do the math.
I would like to see this thread get some feet, because this is an important discussion. Potatoes are calling. CarlJune 22, 2008 at 1:52 pm #46817Carl RussellModerator
Jason and I were discussing the possibility of making some of the discussions from this site available to members of our community of interest who are not web users.
I have considered approaching SFJ, and other possibilities include a pamphlet, or some such, that we can make available at the NEAPFD, etc….
There is the chance that there may be some income associated with it that would help to offset the costs of maintaining this site, and other education/outreach activities, not to mention the time required to edit and organize the content and contributor info.
Please let me know what your thoughts are. If you do, or do not, want your thoughts published outside of this forum.
I would also like to get your preferences for particular threads that would be important to share.
Please feel free to post your responses here, or contact me personally.
CarlJune 23, 2008 at 2:30 pm #46819Jim OstergardParticipant
I want to thank both Carl and Jason for posting this thread. Its a heavy one to think about and hard to add much that is useful I’m afraid. I for one am will to share any of my words with anyone for what they are worth. Sometimes one word is the seed.
I see a lot of what is happening on this site as sowing as well as contacts and think that something in a printed format might be a good expansion. If we are to pass on anything the more contact any of us has the better to widen the circle.
I have often seen myself as a conector of people and ideas. Done lots of unintended training in my day and sometimes its not just skills but joy and energy one has for the subject which helps move folks to another level within themselves.
So go for it if you can, keep me in the loop and I will see if I can be helpful.
Peace….Jim OJune 24, 2008 at 12:50 am #46818Rick AlgerParticipant
You have something special going with DAP. The focus is clear, and the site does what it proclaims to do – support practitioners. It would be a shame to dilute the integrity of this project by letting it become just another reprint in the back pages of the SFJ. SFJ, and RH for that matter, are long on dreams, but they are woefully short on the kinds of specifics DAP is dealing with.
As a practicing horse logger, I am already sold on the dreams. What I want is in-depth material on ways to log/farm more efficently and make more money while I’m doing it. I also want well-researched articles on specific ecological benefits of horse logging.
I would gladly drop my subscriptions to SFJ, RH and DHJ and put that money toward a subscription to a magazine/newsletter/webzine that tackled the problems I deal with everyday. I urge you to go in that direction. Stand alone, produce excellent content, forget about format, and charge a lot. If you do find a way to follow this path, I’ll support you as best I can.
RickJune 24, 2008 at 12:02 pm #46820Jim OstergardParticipant
I agree with Rick in that if we have to charge for the very important threads that DAP provides for all of us we should do that. I hope I wasn’t suggesting that we dilute and just give over content. However, I do think that some expansion in that direction (and I think SFJ is a good place for that) which then would lead new practioners to the site or something like that.
I really agree with Rick that as we are pretty spread out and often I feel operating in a vacumn this site has provided a connection for to others who depend on their horse(s), chain saws and hard work to pay the bills. It gets discouraging a lot of the time (like this morning when I am having a hard time finding energy to work on current job) and this site is a bit of an arm around the shoulder, an encourgement and support. Lets keep this thread alive.
jimDecember 16, 2008 at 4:16 pm #46821GuloParticipant
I don’t think trying to make a living in a pre-industrial fashion in an industrial world and engage in extravagent travel is a reasonable expectation. Better to put your energies into local events and local people.
My partner and I experimented running an animal powered CSA this past summer. As you all know, one’s income can drop precipitously when making these sorts of lifestyle choices. In the meatime, i spent most of my equity on horses and equipment, etc. So i’m checking out some stuff in central Alberta at the place of this fellow who’s an enthusiast and has gone to great lengths to accumulate old iron, yet has an industry job, hence the vast hours he can afford to spend at obscure auction sales. He’s 4 hours from my place, in my “horse-farmer” perspective already a major trip.
He says, “What you really need to do is go to the Waverly sale – everything is there!” I think, great – i’ll go to Waverly – where in Alberta is that?! Then he tells me it’s in Iowa, and i fight a brief impulse to throttle him. Might as well be on mars, as far as i’m concerned.
This is the disconnect at work. Of having your feet in one world while everyone else’s are still in another. Even those of most of your peers.
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