EweLineFall is definitely here, with cool nights, and finally, some rain, after a long drought. In August, I weaned all the lambs, and put the ewes in drylot on hay for the short term. This saves the green grass for the lambs, giving the fields a rest until fall rains refresh them. It also gives me a good opportunity to walk the line and look at the condition of all the ewes, survey their udders, and spot any problems that need addressing before breeding season in November.



Valley view. Hillside = blackberries, lower field = dead RCG.

I want to point out a really amazing TED talk that came out recently, about using ruminants to restore the land and offset global warming. But before I link to it, I’d like to set up the topic with my own observations of running ruminants in the microclimate of our farm. My friends were just discussing on Facebook how different our farm looks from when we began (picture above). I believe the video partly explains why.


First of all, apologies to our friends to the East, who have this:


Here in the Pacific Northwest, things look a little different. About this time of year, Mother Nature says, Ding! Your grass is ready to eat!


imageI cannot claim to be well-read enough on the GMO debate to have a well-formed opinion. I, like many people, feel skittish of the unknowns: of the possibility that we may let some Genie out of the proverbial bottle, and never be able to put him back. Maybe we should take it slow, with the reverse knob held tightly in our fists, ready to engage in a rapid back-up maneuver if something goes wrong. Big corporations are not always my favorite thing, their capacity for good often seems to be canceled out by their capacity for idiocy. I also feel some romantic sentiment about the old ways of farming, some tenuous connection to my great-grandparents and the very hard lives they lived. And, for most of humanity, there is some comfort in sticking with the “devil you know.”

But I also work with scientists and engineers in the biotech industry, witnessing the creation of breathtaking new technology which saves lives every day. I am grounded in math and science, in invention, innovation, and technology. I can’t ignore that a lot of very smart scientists in the world are saying, in more than a whisper now, we have to move forward. Rapidly. There isn’t a lot of time left, to reverse the trends, to literally save the planet.

And, so, the debate continues to flare. I am torn between the two extremes, as I usually am in any debate. A curious proposal seems to be emerging: what if the people who are worried about global warming actually need to partner with the people doing GMO, in order to address this scientifically demonstrated problem with scientific solutions?

Mark Lynas, a well-known author and environmentalist who used to be anti-GMO, has switched teams. And gave a bomb-drop of a speech about it three days ago. You may have already heard it or read it, given that it’s gone viral. But if you haven’t, it’s worth consideration. A very compelling speech indeed.

What do you think about the points he raises?