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Sustainable Steps

Knowledge is power to the people

Knowledge is power to the people

I often get frustrated when I listen to the daily news. It seems as though common sense is lost and downer news prevails. I am however “the glass is half full”-type person, which is why I try very hard to stay on the sunny side.

In farm lingo, a “downer cow” is bad, bad news. If a cow goes down for whatever reason and cannot, or will not, get up they often get bloated and that can kill them as much as the reason they went down to begin with. We had a cow go down this past week: Ratty, she is a farm favorite and we were all pulling for her. She had a calf on Sunday and went down on Tuesday. Cows can get milk fever, which is caused by low blood levels of calcium and nowadays can be treated with intravenous, subcutaneous or intramuscular calcium.

In days past, farmers would “inflate” the udder using a pneumatic pump, which would push the calcium from the udder back into the bloodstream — crude but often effective. Modern techniques have changed and giving calcium right away often changes things quickly and very effectively. Treatment has changed and more cows are saved now. People have gained knowledge and used it correctly for the benefit of all.

Where am I going with this? Industrial agriculture was, in my opinion, not using gained knowledge correctly and we the consumers were led down the wrong path, but the glass is half full! I am thrilled with how many people have gained knowledge regarding local food and are understanding so many more things about our own local agriculture, like seasonal eating, grass-fed, pesticides, GMOs, and folks are working hard at locating and buying local and asking informed questions about their food and knowing what they want! I am blown away! It is and will continue to have an impact on all our lives for the better.

By the way, Ratty is up and grazing in the fields with her calf, thanks to a lot of hard work by Farmer Silas and Farmer Josh!

Ruth Holmes is one of the principal farmers at Sunnyfield Farm, a nonprofit community farm in Peterborough.

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