Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking Forward

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted something on this blog. We’ve made it through Christmas, and are approaching the new year. I’ve been meaning to resurrect this blog for a while, and this seems as good a time as any.

A lot has happened since my last post. We moved the farm from Kentucky to northeast Illinois last spring. We are now operating under the name Equus Oaks Farms. We were living on and farming a place until conflicting expectations between us and the landowner caused that situation to dissolve.

We are currently living in town, and the horses are at a relative’s farm just outside of town. We did pretty good making hay this past summer and feel we should have enough to keep the horses fed without having to buy any. We still have the chickens, and we were able to expand the laying flock to over 60 hens this year. We have also added a few meat rabbits to the mix.

The goals moving into this next year include expanding capacity for raising feed for the chickens, rabbits and horses. What are your sustainability goals for the coming year? What projects do you have planned? What have you been putting off that you can start with the new year?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What is “Sustainable”?

It will benefit us, in terms of this blog, to first get a handle on what we mean by sustainable, whether we are discussing farming, lifestyle, energy, economy, whatever.  We should at least start at the same working definition and move forward from there.

I find “sustainable” a difficult concept to define in these terms.  The reason for this is that I view sustainability as being on a sliding scale.  I mean really, just by living in the modern world we are inherently unsustainable.  Unless you’re living a strictly Paleolithic lifestyle, foraging your food, natural shelter for housing, local small scale gardening, natural clothing of leather or fibers gathered naturally, using no petroleum or products derived from petroleum, dying and allowing the carbon and nutrients sequestered in your body to return to the earth, you’re not living a truly sustainable lifestyle.  So if you are not willing to go to that extreme there will be no point in your lifetime that you will be able to say, “Ha! I am now living a fully sustainable lifestyle!” 

This is actually good news.  This means each and every one of us can make improvements.  We can each make changes today to live more sustainably tomorrow.

But anyway, we should have a working definition of sustainable that is achievable and that allows us to envision what it is we are talking about.  Let’s try this on for size.  Sustainable means to me, living, performing or operating in a way that maintains or enhances productivity without the use of artificial inputs and does not deteriorate the working environment over a person’s working lifetime.  That’s the crux of it, isn’t it?  We have to produce something to live successfully in the modern world.  Whether that production is food, a service or a widget, if we want to succeed economically and live a decently comfortable lifestyle, we have to produce something that earns an income.  Sustainability in the here and now means we can maintain that level of production into the future without any inputs that reduce sustainability elsewhere.  And I think an important aspect of sustainability has to take into consideration the working environment.  We have to maintain this productivity without deteriorating the economy we’re working within, the community or neighborhood, and the environment and resources we need to live and produce in.

So in terms of this working definition, where is the Sustainable Farmer in his Journey?  Ha!  Well given my statements above, that complete sustainability is impossible short of cave man living, my title is a contradiction.  Well, I felt I had to title this blog something, and I figured that the only people who would read a blog titled “Lane Linnenkohl’s Blog” are my parents and maybe my wife.  But, I am on a journey, and the process is often more interesting than the destination. 

I do farm with horses which reduces my dependence on petroleum.  But then I also purchase oats (planted, harvested and transported with petroleum fueled equipment) for the horses during the working season.  And while I do make hay with the horses, I have not gotten through a winter yet without having to buy some hay from neighbors, hay made with tractors.  I do raise the vast majority of our food, and do it without fertilizers or pesticides.  That’s environmentally sustainable and about as local as one can get.  But, we do still supplement our groceries with items that are not always organically or locally raised.  While our economic sustainability has improved every year, we are still not where we want to be.  We are making some significant changes in the coming year which will improve things on that front, and I will discuss those changes in future posts.  So while I’m probably doing better than most, I have a lot of room for improvement in terms of sustainability.

How about you?  What does sustainability mean to you?  Where are you in your journey?  What changes can you make today to live more sustainably tomorrow?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Journey of a Sustainable Farmer

My name is Lane Linnenkohl and welcome to the Journey of a Sustainable Farmer.  I began farming in 2003, and began using horses full time in 2005.  Before then, my wife and I had no experience farming, conventionally or sustainably, beyond growing a backyard vegetable garden that never seemed to produce more than some extra flavoring for the evening's salad.  But we decided that we wanted to raise our own food and do it as sustainably as we possibly could.  And then we found a way to get started, and we did.  Just how we did it will be discussed in future posts.

This blog isn't about me.  This blog is about you and your journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.  I'll be using my journey, past, present and future, as well as journeys of friends and people I find interesting to illustrate what's possible.  The one common theme throughout these blog posts will be to start now.  There is no good reason to wait until the time is right.  The time is right now.  Start small or start all at once, but for goodness sake, start.  I would never have gotten to where I am now in my journey if I hadn't taken the first step.  One thing all successful people have in common is a willingness to get started.  A willingness to take a chance.

There isn't time to wait.  We have oil in the ocean, fish aren't fit to eat, air not safe to breath, water requires filtration to drink, soil and food bathed with chemicals, obese people nutritionally starving to death, the economy is being propped up by fancy policy maneuvering.  We as a society need to make changes and we need to make them now.  My hope for this blog is to encourage and inspire, to poke and goad you into a more sustainable lifestyle.  Come along with me.  Start your journey today.  You won't be disappointed.