Re: Large animal policies
From: John Beutler (
Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2008 08:15:35 -0800 (PST)
I also don't like viewing food production activities as hobbies. And it isn't dabbling, we take it pretty seriously. The production of our community garden and chickens is a substantial part of our diet, even if it's outside of the cash economy for the most part. Unlike Pioneer Valley, our chickens are my individual project, with a coop approved by the design review team, funded and built by me, and with a limit on numbers of chickens, as well as a probationary period for the rooster (which he passed). However the main complaint these days, after 3 years, is that there aren't enough eggs to go round. People really like the eggs. We haven't done broilers, though one neighbor has expressed interest in doing so. Food scraps are recycled directly to the birds, they forage in the garden in winter, and their manure goes into compost.

We have a total of 23 acres, 8 with houses, so use of the remainder requires some squeezing, since several acres is forested wetlands. One resident wanted to have a dairy cow, but this became an unfortunately contentious issue, with concerns over smell, poop, etc. The most strongly opposed person had been raised on a dairy farm and didn't want any more of that stuff. Admittedly it would have been a tight squeeze. The cow proponent ended up leaving with her family and now has a cow, pigs and chickens on a mini-farm in the next county. I think we all would say that the issue was not handled particularly well, especially considering that we're in a pretty rural area, with dairy and horse farms in all directions. My dream would be to acquire a few more adjacent acres to permit more animal husbandry.

Hobbies to me are activities that are not productive - model trains for instance, which I like (my father was a big model RR person) but don't do myself, or radio controlled airplane models, scuba diving, etc. Woodworking is productive. Flower gardening is productive. This doesn't mean that hobbies are bad, they're just not productive.

Our society devalues anything that doesn't return cash. But we've heard from Craig on that.....JAB

[tail trimmed]

On Feb 1, 2008 2:55 PM, J Boerst <julieb [at]> wrote:

> One concern about larger-scale agriculture (in terms of land use--1 acre+)
> engaged in by individuals, not the community as a whole, is that it uses a
> significant piece of land for what would essentially amount to an individual
> household's hobbies.  I know at Dancing Rabbit in Missouri they do have a
> lease system, and I'm wondering if anyone else has something similar.
> People dabbling in growing veggies would probably use less land than people
> dabbling in raising dairy cows, so it does become more of an issue when
> animal agriculture is on the table, as does the expense of fencing, barns,
> etc.

Craig Ragland
Coho/US Exec. Dir.
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John Beutler
Liberty Village, MD
jabeutler [at]

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