Trautman Family Farm

  (stoughton, Wisconsin)
The Grass-Organic Life in Wisconsin!
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Risk factors I see

I have gotten a number of responses about 'risk factors'.

There are some patterns amongst them.

I think you'll find patterns in my risk factors, consistent thought processes.

Today I'll start on what I believe the major risk factors are. For us. Not others; us. Because ultimately, all I can do is here. I can suggest, I can influence, but I have found, others are going to do what they're going to do & justify it to themselves however they are. Walking bubbles of perfection; far too many of them.

I'm finding it interesting that not a single sanitarian has bothered/graced us/whatever any kind of response to risk factors. Funny how lazy they are. Relying on dogma; I wonder if you asked them just how well they could explain - well - anything - how much they've truly thought about any of it. Lazy thinking. Just rely on what someone else told you, then keep repeating it, maybe that will make it the truth. We shall see!

These are the top 5 risk factors I have identified. I will give my solutions to the risk factors that others have sent me; a lot of them are beyond themselves, things others need to do. I wish more would have focused on themselves and what they could do, not what everyone else needed to do, because they just aren't going to be able to do much about it. Like our healthcare. Sit around and bitch about how everyone else ought be doing something. There is no progress there until we take it unto ourselves and start with us. Folks, it is a habit, hard to establish but worth it.

Well, I am starting with us.

#1: Cows as carriers of pathogens and putting them out in the milk

a) I question the basis of the premise. With any of 'their' talk, WHAT cows are they talking about? Confinement, poor immune system, stressed animals. I want them to pony up the hard data that says any cow under any circumstance will shed pathogens in the milk at any time. That is ridiculous.

We're talking "Typhoid Mary" type of situation. Scary stuff. So let's even examine Typhoid Mary - a long long time ago, she spread it around a lot. Funny though, why isn't there thousands and thousands like her; if there were, why aren't we all dead. So: being a carrier without being ill is exceptionally rare. Have any of our sanitarians examined this, for relevance? Very very doubtful, as what they would find, in a healthy, not pushed herd, the probability of them being a carrier is very, very low. Fluke low; hit by lightening and less low. So even though it is number one on my list - it's there because of my perception in what is being said, this is the major 'cause' of potential outbreaks.

So, I reject the premise, but so what if I accept the premise. What can I do?

1. Healthy animals would have very reduced probability of cause. HOW much, is the debate. The enemies of family dairy farmers don't want you thinking about the probabilities; they throw up their hands and say it's just too risky, then refuse to talk or think about what that risk is, and how it compares to any other risk.

Healthy animals: As in track history. If you were looking for raw milk, what do you know about the track history of your farmer. The cows look fine today when I'm out there looking at them; with that, what would I really know (as an uneducated consumer) to know the difference. What would I look for? If they're standing around in crap and looking very miserable, that is obvious. I would hope any idiot could figure that out. But who is going to show you sick cows? Who is going to pull out the health records and SHOW you just how healthy their animals are?

I am.

And I'm going to have it confirmed by those in the know.

a) my veterinarians. They know healthy herds. They know good management. Early on in this whole 'thing', I had my vet out to look at our cows, giving each a thorough examination. Only thing she could find is feet need trimming (I agree).

b) my organic certifier. Some say, I don't need to be certified organic, I let my customers 'certify' me. Well, yes, that is great. But what sophistication are those 'certifiers'. I am here to tell you - you wouldn't have to be that smart to completely pull the wool over the eyes of 99.9% of consumers. Organic certifiers are professionals, and have ways of figuring out if you are cheating.

I for one WELCOME the scrutiny by professionals of what we are doing. Bring it on. Teach me something in fact.

I have a story about that from back in the Internet days. A person calls me, owner of the company to tell me how thrilled she was with tech support person x. "They stayed on the phone with her for hours solving this problem". Okay, thank you much. I checked into it. That poor person did not need to be on the phone for hours - my tech was under trained and put her through a whole bunch of unnecessary stuff when the solution was but a few moments of her and our time away. So I did NOT just sit and think, boy do I have great support, I examined further to REALLY give good support. That's the same type of thing we get with farms. What you SEE, what you are TOLD sounds really great. But who's going under the hood to find out what is really going on. That organic certifier is. The paperwork will show it. The rules insist on it. I like that a lot.

Regular non-organic dairies? Let me show you some "Grade A" dairies - in fact, I'm certain I will - because our DATCP Food Safety simply cannot allow a hell hole like our farm to be Grade A, when the truth is they know damn well that we beat out 95% of ALL Grade A dairies in the state. This is them using their power for evil, period. Well, we shall see about this, we really will, we'll get a clear view of the level of professionalism Food Safety shows, and what that coveted "Grade A" really means. Me thinks you'll want to throw the bums out and start fresh.

Back to the issue - cows carrying pathogens. Rebuke the idea that their is any reasonable evidence anywhere to show that healthy - long term healthy - cows, not as they stand right this minute, but long term healthy cows - do not carry pathogens and shed them.

What can cause them to shed pathogens, presumably? Situations - generally of stress - where their immune systems are lowered or otherwise taxed. For a cow - directly after she's fresh for that first month or so is a stressful time. Any environmental stress, or herd stress. Solution? Minimize the stress; strong immune systems (as shown through long term health) and the possibility of testing during these stressful times. Test randomly all the time? Silliness. It will be suggested, and the purpose won't be to find solutions, it will be to drain the farmer of money to make the milk more expensive. It will solve no problems. You will find that absolutely consistent amongst our sanitarians, especially as is concerned with raw milk. Bleed the farmer to death. FDA has tried that with Mark McAffee at Organic Pastures. They will try it with us.

I would propose:

1. establish just what probability there is that any given proven healthy over time cow will carry and shed pathogens. That is study. What we'll find though, from our University, is a complete lack of interest in this study. Alright, then let's take a closer look at what they are interested in studying, and who that benefits. Look - very - closely. Maybe not just their leader ought go to the dairy industry. Maybe the whole lot of them should work for the dairy industry, since they are already and we are paying for them to do so and have this lack of curiosity about anything WE the PEOPLE care about.

2. Assuming there is some kind of reasonable probability and circumstances, when should testing be done. Most likely in times of stress. Post-fresh would be the best time. I would look at ways to put milk samples together over time and test them to get the highest probability of finding any pathogen. Not just on one particular day. A sensible testing protocol with the highest probability of finding a problem with reasonable certainty.

3. Establish just what is considered a healthy cow. Today? This week? This year? Our calves, for example, have never been sick a day in their lives. Our very first, born here on the farm, has now come into the milk line. NEVER - BEEN - SICK - A - DAY in it's LIFE. Someone explain to me how it is reasonable to believe that cow would shed pathogens. That's right, it is not reasonable one bit. So we won't have a conversation with our sanitarians about that, now will we?

Major risk factor #2: "crap in the milk" - I will talk about that next time.

Notice a pattern from my side - and 'their' side. We are about solutions and sense. They are about fear and 'can't get their from here'. Would you hire any of these people for a job? "Can't be done" is what they say. Ahh, you will make a great little worker there, won't you? Nope, they sure wouldn't. Chances are if they weren't working where they were, they'd do what? Dig ditches? The ground is simply too hard, not worth even sticking the shovel in there. Ahh. That's the kind of Food Safety people we have. Real beauts.

PROUD Wisconsin Dairyman - Scott Trautman

 
 

Risk Factors

We all talk about it. A lot.

They all talk about it. A lot.

Time to focus the attention on the problem. I want opinions.

I want to know what a good cross section of people think on this. I bet it's real interesting. And I will let you know the results.

Please indicate to me some idea of who you are. Health official, University researcher, farmer, consumer, activist, nutcase, oddball, weirdo, fascist, idiot (okay I'm getting a little off track here and amusing myself)

But really. What is your source of inspiration for your opinion.

Rank for me your idea of what the largest to smallest risk factors in raw milk are. For those of you that think there are no risks, well, you are fools. For those of you that just say don't drink raw milk, the same. Fools. You've got an opinion - risk factors that make the possibility of raw milk making people sick - rank them. Start with 1 as the highest risk, and end with 5.

Five reasons is all; anyone's that thought about this at all ought be able to come up with five risk factors.

Drop me an email at scott@trautman.net

Please include "Raw Milk Risk Factors" in the subject line. Don't bother sending me a bunch of garbage. Don't go on forever about it. List out the risk factors, and if you feel like you need to explain it, then great, but no War&Peace epic. And indicate your place in all this, what perspective you have.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Scott Trautman - despite the very best efforts of the State of Wisconsin - STILL proud Wisconsin Dairyman
 
 

Risk factors

We all talk about it. A lot.

They all talk about it. A lot.

Time to focus the attention on the problem. I want opinions.

I want to know what a good cross section of people think on this. I bet it's real interesting. And I will let you know the results.

Please indicate to me some idea of who you are. Health official, University researcher, farmer, consumer, activist, nutcase, oddball, weirdo, fascist, idiot (okay I'm getting a little off track here and amusing myself)

But really. What is your source of inspiration for your opinion.

Rank for me your idea of what the largest to smallest risk factors in raw milk are. For those of you that think there are no risks, well, you are fools. For those of you that just say don't drink raw milk, the same. Fools. You've got an opinion - risk factors that make the possibility of raw milk making people sick - rank them. Start with 1 as the highest risk, and end with 5.

Five reasons is all; anyone's that thought about this at all ought be able to come up with five risk factors.

Drop me an email at scott@trautman.net

Please include "Raw Milk Risk Factors" in the subject line. Don't bother sending me a bunch of garbage. Don't go on forever about it. List out the risk factors, and if you feel like you need to explain it, then great, but no War&Peace epic. And indicate your place in all this, what perspective you have.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Scott Trautman - despite the very best efforts of the State of Wisconsin - STILL proud Wisconsin Dairyman

 
 

Reflections on the International Raw Milk Symposium

No matter what happens - all is as it should be. It is up to us to learn the lessons we need to such that there is efficiency - learning - growth - adaptation in the lesson. Otherwise when bad things happen, it is just a bad thing.

This past weekend nothing but good things happened. And yet we do not rest on our laurels and decide that we nailed it, just do that in the future. And this is good training in our minds to adapt and grow as we need to.

The enemies of raw milk sure will. We need to be smarter, more agile, less ego bound, less delusional, more committed than them. You mean we are not perfect? Of course we are not. We are human. We have motivated extraordinary people: Now let's cultivate them, feed them - grow them. And all signs I see - everything I would be a part of - show that.

I've now had some time to reflect on what the symposium was, how I feel about it beyond the feel-good of it.

The thing that struck me is the differences between what is the 'us' and the 'them'.

Our 'us' - healthy, enthusiastic, optimistic. And this is important for those that would look at us and wonder whether they should become involved. Look at us closely. Would you be more like us - or more like them. Yes indeed, proximity - you will catch our energy. It is impossible for me or others like Michael and Mark not to 'infect' or to 'send' you our energy. But - what is the source of our energy? We feed from your energy - we create energy in you - and we feed from the energy you create for us. As much as our enemies would have you believe otherwise - health, hope- independence - happiness - follow us.

What follows them? Project out into the future what lives their followers will live.

Look to the people even here in Wisconsin that would be our enemies. A lot of not all that healthy people in not that healthy families. And getting worse. Not gaining energy or momentum. Subtly in time - they are being drained, as we gain energy. More doctors, more drugs, more of a system that is not working. Who up there will break? Who there that sees us - and is secretly envious - that wants what we have - even despite all that is done to us - we refuse to give in to fear. There is a future for us. What we do is not just our job - it is who we are. They have to separate themselves from 'what they do for a living' and who they are. To not: They would go mad. So one wonders across that group compared to ours. Just how many doctors visits, how many drugs they take, and then us. None of my family takes anything. We don't claim perfect health. But we are thriving - as are those that believe as we do. They don't - they won't look at our group because they know what they will find.

And what you saw from the crowd at the Symposium - if you were an insurer there - a guy that makes risk decisions - you would say to yourself - I can make money on insuring this group. We will make out like bandits in fact - vs. "them". Add it up. These people don't give into the easy give-me-a-pill for whatever symptom I'm addressing. We solve problems - we seek true health - and we have found it.

Our challenge is how to get to the people most effectively. Those that are sick, in fear - under the influence of those that would keep them in bondage for their entire lives. On drugs, taking their good money and shifting it to 'their' pockets.

Where on our side - we create wealth - when, for example, we farm right. We create incredible wealth out of nothing - out of sunlight, water, air.

'Them': Healthcare: it is shifting YOUR wealth into someone elses pocket. Not efficient. Not supporting a brighter future. Cynical. Parasitic. Ultimately evil and destructive.

As we go forward - our opponents - as we see here in Wisconsin - will see the truth - see the danger in what we represent to them - and they will use their money - their resources - their lies ever more to crush us. But that's where I wonder about their 'soldiers'. The people they rely on to do their dirty work - good people - trying to convince themselves they need this job more than they need their pride. Some drink it away. Some need pills to live with themselves. Entertainments to distract those nagging thoughts in their heads. And some - some will say enough - and know there is right and wrong, good and evil - and they cannot continue - survive - or say the empty words - that they love their children while they themselves are soldiers in the destruction of their own children's future.

Any time they choose - one here - one there - then more - paradigm shift - a stripping away of cynicism - you are welcome here. Come to us. It will take courage - but as I evaluate all of this and look at the costs: Is it worth it? It is the only thing I have ever done truly worth it. The rest has been training, the rest has been baubles, amusements, distractions to the truth.

All of you: Come join us. Be free, be healthy be happy: It is the most radical thing we can do.

I am Scott Trautman: Despite the very best efforts of the State of Wisconsin, STILL A PROUD WISCONSIN DAIRYMAN

 
 

The work is just beginning: Countdown to Legal Raw Milk in Wisconsin

It's out of committee. It's being readied to vote on the floor. Then signed by the governor. Exciting times. Nerve wracking times. Time to farm: And I am distracted from the task at hand which is to seed hay, pasture, oats, oats&peas, spread compost, fieldwork, long days. And yet here I am.

The hard work has yet to be done.

How important the next 20 months are - to getting the permanent law we really want - NOW is the time we need to come together like never before - in safety, with pride and confidence.

Wisconsin's Proud Family Dairymen.

We have been, and we will - make all of Wisconsin proud; all the world, when Raw milk becomes legal.

We can do this safely. We can save farms. We can help people.

Stay tuned here. There is certainly more coming. There is leadership, there is more farmers, better farmers, a time like none you've seen before: Happy farmers, happy Wisconsin

PROUD WISCONSIN DAIRYMAN

Scott Trautman

 
 

Fooling Yourself (angry young man)

Styx "Fooling Yourself"

Written by tommy shaw
Lead vocals by tommy shaw

You see the world through your cynical eyes
You’re a troubled young man I can tell
You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand’s wet with sweat and your head needs a rest

And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
How can you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re killing yourself if you don’t believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

 
 

The hens are here! Hooray for AWESOME EGGS

It was about 2 weeks ahead of what we thought, but as usual, Team Trautman got the job done and got the hens situated in the hen house. Some times it seems it's just as well for us to have it happen all of a sudden. Things get done.

Eggs for the next two weeks will be $4/dozen. After that, $4.50/dozen. Why cheaper right now? These will be standard issue organic eggs for now until the gals get out on the grass and the egg quality goes from good to awesome.

How we do eggs --

We buy what are called "spent hens" from a local organic laying operation. They supply Organic Valley. The way the commercial operations work, is pullets (young hens, girls that is), start laying at about 6 months old, and by about 16 months old, they are ready for their first molt, a molt being when they lose most of their feathers (they look pretty rough that's for sure), but important to the commercial grower, they stop making eggs. And however that economic works out, it's time for them to go. We call them "rescue hens" because otherwise it's off to the soup pot for them. Our pickup yesterday preceded the semi taking the other thousands off to just that fate.

These hens, prior to here, have never been outside. Let's not really get into the whole organic thing on that, I know. Point is, it's going to take them about 2 weeks to a) figure out what this "outside" thing is b) start eating grass/bugs/being what we think of as chickens....before the eggs rise to our standards of AWESOME.

What's an AWESOME egg as far as we're concerned? One who's yolk is a deep orange, that stands up tall and proud, a nice firm white, but most importantly: Tastes just absolutely great: and doesn't need salt/pepper to give it 'taste'. And great nutrition goes with that great taste, too. High NATURAL omega 3's, beta carotene -- and many more things science hasn't gotten around to finding quite yet (and when they do they'll try and put it in a pill and make a zillion off it). Chickens being chickens, yep, on greatly fertile ground and high quality organic feed, not a 'least cost' ration.

These hens will molt on us at some point this summer, and when they do, they stop laying for 6 weeks or so. But the price on the initial bird is right, but more important, is our whole schedule of things here.

We don't think it's terribly productive, for us, to keep hens over the winter. It's cold, they're inside, no greens, the poop builds up, it smells, they eat way more to heat themselves and they lay less eggs and the feed is typically more expensive, and maybe the most important, we are exhausted from the season and we need a break. So we will take them in and have them made into soup hens sometime in December. Since they were 'rescue hens' to begin with, they had a great spring summer and fall beyond what they would have had, and everyone gets good out of it. If we used pullets: we would surely have to keep them over the winter, and for all the above reasons, in our situation, that just wouldn't work out.

Our hens have a 'hen house' which is part of the lower level of our hay barn. They have perches in there, and nests, and most importantly, we feed them in there, which means after a long day of scratching & pecking for who knows exactly what in the grass (worms, bugs, grass and sometimes I wonder what), they come back to the henhouse, and hopefully find a spot on the perches and settle in for the night. This to keep the predators from having a chicken dinner.

"nests": If we could sit down, have a good meeting with the hens, and all come away agreeing that it would really be to everyone's advantage to lay the eggs in the nests all the time, that would be really really super. Well, that "if" in reality is an ongoing game of hide and seek with Julie as to where the eggs might be. In the haymow somewhere, this corner with straw in it over there. Find their spot before the eggs go south. Man v. Hen. We don't always win. A little too free range for our practical purposes.

We don't care to use any more of our time scooping up poop than we absolutely have to; so this works well that they're in there to eat & sleep, and otherwise are spreading their poop out over the grass where it will fertilize the soil. The chickens are also great at keeping the fly population down. They'll eat the fly larvae and that is really great. Everything around here has multiple purposes and works symbiotically with our other enterprises.

While we're on the subject of poop -- or shall I be couth and say 'manure'. I know the egg quality is going to start getting good when I start seeing green, rather than brown, manure. The green is the clorophyll in the grasses and legumes they eat, and that is a really good thing. Interesting, too, is that you won't get much bad smell from a green poo, where the brown will smell pretty nasty toot quick. You'll find that with all the manures out on the farm -- the animal gets their proper diet and the manure is properly distributed and no bad smells. For us, bad smells = bad things going on. So enough already on poop.

Right now the gals look pretty rough: not many feathers on them, and what we notice, too, is  their combs (the floppy thing on top of their head) go from pale and almost white -- to a deep red as they're here longer, also denoting great health and surely great quality eggs.

So come on out and pick up some awesome eggs, see the hens in action all around the yard, and watch a little where you step so you don't take home more of the farm than you intended.

Happy springtime to you!

Scott, Julie, Ian, Quinn, Lilly, 2 dogs, like 10 cats (estimate), 200 hens, and 90 bovines.

 
 

Spring!

I have several drafts awaiting one button click to have "the world" view them. Yet I hesitate. Heavy on the sermon, too doomy gloomy. And that's not me; even if what I say needs to be said. And then I think, are those that need to see it going to see it? Probably not. Change any minds? Nope. And who needs the preaching to the choir?

So at this point I won't preach. (well, much....)

I won't suggest what you can do.

I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do. And maybe you'll decide to tell me what you're going to do.

1. We are going all out this year; I am a contrarian in my entrepeneurial nature and rather than hold back -- as I can, mind you -- with the soil work I've done -- I have earned the right -- I am going all out. We desire to sit on one heck of a pile of hay come winter. Opportunities will be coming. The other side of the coin to having the ability to say, "no, I don't need a lot of fertilizer this year - yet I will still be fine" is "I am going to put down the fertilizer and reap the rewards of our soil stewardship" -- without damaging the soil, in fact, continuing to build the soil. We are rich friends. Soil rich. We have the freedom to do or not do. Most farmers do not have that choice. You and I both know what happens when you don't pound on the fertilizers and chemicals. You get jack squat. We do quite well, thank you very much. That's 6 years of excellent investment and soil stewardship.

2, Communicate with our neighbors. Yes, you folks just to the northwest of us. The truly Local. We have and continue to desire to be "your farmers". We would and could take less, give more, turn away far off customers to keep it local. Yet you continue to almost completely reject us. There is a certain matter of a Highway Bypass right through our farm and your neighborhood that may be the 2x4 upside the head for you to listen, even if it still is 100% in your self interest. Does it take a 2x4 -- or a tornado to pull this group together, or are we civilized, advanced enough to come together as a community? I will attempt to provide leadership. There will be resistance. There may well be a big fat highway right through here.

3. Continued learning. The more I learn the less I know. The more in wonder of it all I become. We will discipline ourselves to not run around like automatons and just do the work, but think about what we're doing. Activity is not Action.

4. Work towards energy independence. Our "5 year plan" must include our ability to say "NO, I don't want that, I don't need you." That is one heck of a bargaining position to be in. Solar (uh, beyond the huge grass solar panels we already have, 70 acres worth....) Wind, possibly geothermal, and conservation -- and a fundamental rule of our farm, let the animals do it, let nature do it.

5. With ANY success of #2 - work towards creating a community - here -- that would invite in farmers; change our thinking and welcome real farmers.

With that -- the physical and intellectual farming will come to some sort of level of comfort. The next levels of knowledge move into the ideas of community, and money. Think Woody Tasch and "Slow Money".

It is not audacious, it is not egotistical for me to think we are changing the world. We are; in some small way, and I believe for the better. The thing is -- so is everyone, everywhere, every minute of every day in the choices you make just in living. But is it for the better? Are you sure you can wait for "better times" to start?

Spring -- renewal -- second chances -- all of the hard winter is forgiven and forgotten in a few short days of warmth. The past is the past, what are you going to do NOW?

All the very best from Trautman Family Farm

http://www.trautmanfarm.com

Come check us out on Facebook as well -- Fans and Supporters of Trautman Family Farm, and "be my friend", Scott Trautman. I'd love to get to know you.


 
 

It doesn't matter....

It doesn't matter what Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical and the ilk do, that there's a giant conspiracy to control the seeds, the farmers for their profit.

There's nothing I can say that will change any of that. Beyond educating myself, it is a waste of my time to work over the same ground again and again.

It matters  that I am doing something about it in the small way that I can. As an organic farmer, I am proud -- and on purpose -- not supporting these companies in any way; as a farm producer or as a consumer. That is the only language, the only action that will end up mattering.

It doesn't matter that I can't make consumers see what I see, to really look to the long term and beyond "what about me and what about right now". Me screaming about it isn't going to change them.

What matters is that intelligent, thoughtful and caring people do eventually come to the conclusions themselves, as they do push away from the numbing TV, newspapers, radio, mass consumerism that is designed to control them, and ask themselves, is any of this making me happy?

We will be here when they do; to help and to guide their journey. Through real health, and real concern for our future -- especially our children -- that we will act and not complain, do and not excuse ourselves, take responsibility and not blame. We get what we ask for. Our words must match our actions. All of us build illusion in what we say but build conflict within ourselves by not matching words with what we do; the words cost nothing, action has a price we are often not willing to pay.

It doesn't matter every conspiracy, every effort at control, every evil is out to get us; as far as I can tell or care, every conspiracy is true.

But I always ask at the end of hearing about it, so what are you going to do about it? And the reaction is almost always the same. More talk about it, no action. It matters that life is short, and where we put our minds matters. If I have been given by God a beautiful brain with which to think, I do not honor God by using it to think angry inconsequential thoughts. I must use it to think constantly of new ideas for action -- to tirelessly work towards the change I want.

I have found that when I am frustrated with myself, when things aren't going that well with me, is when I allow my mind to "go there" and to massage, turn over and over, to dwell in the hopelessness of lack of control -- these powerful people, entities, governments, businesses, consumers, these stupid, evil -- you put the negative words to it, it's been thought a trillion trillion times, but how often are the thoughts put where they can do some good? Not a trillion trillion times.This putting of my mind in this place -- I take responsibility for it in recognizing that it is me I am angry with, that I project it out into the world and blame the world rather than take ownership of what I can within myself.

And it takes work to recognize these thoughts. And they are destructive to ourselves. And they are constantly reinforced all around us. See or read the news: What a terrible world we are in. In the advertisements we see every day: We cannot possibly be happy with whatever it is we have, no matter how much or little, it is and will never be enough.

It matters that I control my thoughts; that I control what goes into my head through my eyes and ears, and that I choose to surround myself with the positive rather than the negative, that the universe is a good rather than bad place. I choose to turn off the TV, put away the newspaper, turn away from people that only know how to complain, I am drawn to people of ideas, even those that differ from my own, I am not afraid of conflict, of honest discourse, I am not afraid to say I was wrong but now I know better. Pride makes us a slave, humility sets us free.

It doesn't matter that people will read this and laugh, think what a fool you are Scott, to think how you do, you just don't get it. You will get walked all over with this naive, wide-eyed optimism.

And you'd be right -- I have been walked all over in trust to those that don't deserve it. But I remember so clearly in my head; I don't remember when or where or who, but I do remember, a youngish person who had obviously just been yelled at by a boss, this person saying to me, "I can't wait until I'm the boss so I can be an asshole to everyone", and me thinking then -- and now, you so did not get the right message from that. And so I am tested -- do I become that which I detest, because then I'll get something more that way? The cynic pretends to be happy, content, their actions show differently. It will never be enough, you would never be treated well enough, respected enough, have enough.

It matters that I don't care what anyone thinks, and although I will be weak and give into anger and frustration, and lash out, I will always come back to this place -- in strength -- in my mind and in my heart, that the universe is goodness, that goodness is winning.

It matters that my intentions are to surround myself with like-minded people of hope and energy and that we will work together to do all we can do -- in our small way, we do big things. If it is only to change within ourselves, our family, our neighborhood, our town, our state, our nation our world. How do I really know that what I do won't change anything? That person I encourage today encourages someone else that encourages a group that gives hope to a nation and so on.

It matters that every moment of life matters, that life is too short. Use your time wisely, keep your mind on the positive. Do you own your thoughts or not? You do if you choose to.

It matters that we here on this farm in this moment are doing what we can -- in action, not words -- to make the world a better place, in whatever small way that is. We are being tested -- is this really what you want? Are you really willing to work that hard for this little? Don't you know how foolish you are to think you can do this? Don't you know how little people really care?

No I don't know any of that. It matters that we attract and surround ourselves with beautiful people that are making a positive difference in this world. And that our numbers grow with each minute in every day. That whatever happens is meant to be, that we are meant to learn the lessons of life in the way that we do; we can receive them willingly and early, or resist them and have them be loud and hard.

Scott

 

Postscript:

I choose to use my time in putting these words here. As a matter of fact, it is as much for me as anyone else. To put these words here is to take my mind there, and to write it down is to organize it in my mind. We struggle right now, I struggle trying to keep the "internal conversation" -- the thoughts going through my head -- to the constructive, to ideas that will help our farm, help my family, help the world, and not give into the destructive thoughts or the prevelant attitudes of the day, what about me, what about right now.

I've been blessed in so many many ways to have the defining experiences of my life that I have had; to be put in front of so many important and wonderful people, and have so many opportunities. I have, I will continue, to struggle as do each of us towards some ideal of happiness and contentment. And my next post I hope to spend the next couple days thinking about; in my travels, in my chores: while I milk the cows, while I fill the water, while I drive to here, that I'll fill that time with this vision of what will be. And I believe it will be: A paradise on earth, right here at this farm.


 
 

Team Trautman

"Family Farm" has, like so many other good things, had the good mined out of it for purposes of selling you something. Monolithic companies want you to be convinced that they are some warm fuzzy collection of family farms, when they have merely taken this good thing and used it only for their marketing -- hoping people will not check too closely, and just buy the warm image. Meanwhile family farms keep being eroded away by these same companies and their predatory practices. That's not what I want to talk about. But keep that in mind -- family farms are not dead -- but they need YOUR HELP NOW. - Scott

Well folks, ours IS that family farm you have in your mind -- it's me, Scott, wife Julie, and our kids - Ian 10, Quinn 8, Lilly 5 that are the heart&soul and labors of this farm. Here's the farm, here's the family, debate over.

This farm does not work if not for everyone pitching in. There is simply too much work to be done, too many things where one person cannot possibly do the thing alone, nor be timely enough to keep all the balls in the air. Each of us has our competencies, and our roles. We back each other up, we can do certain of each other's jobs, and there are those things that only that person can do. And the very best of things is "Team Trautman" jobs -- all of us together.

Team Trautman Jobs: Rounding up cattle that have gotten out of their area. We use polywire electrified fencing to keep groups of cattle in their areas. This fencing is easily moved from place to place for fresh grass or shelter. But on occasion something happens and that group of cattle gets out.

I can remember back to our first year with cattle: 2003, it was only 4 steers, and they were out A LOT, and we were complete nincompoops in handling them. Now, here 5 years later, it just isn't a big deal, and it's fairly rare that they're out at all. WE have changed most of all, not the cattle.

So we look out the window of our house and see some cattle outside their area. The call goes through the house, " OUT!". Might be "Little Steers!" or "Cows" or "Heifers", or horrors, "Pigs OUT!" (pigs aren't really that difficult but they aren't herd animals like cows, either). Whomever is there jumps to get their coat/boots on, we grab a roll of polywire string. It takes 2 people to operate a string -- one on the spool end, one on the end. We let out the spool, up to several hundred feet -- and get behind the group of out cattle, and then walk them back to where they belong. They respect the string, even if there is no charge on it. If we catch them early, they aren't very far from where they belong. The worst case is when they aren't even together as a group -- but have broken off in small groups. This is when it takes awhile to get them back in. Or get in the woods -- ahem -- a string is not possible in the woods, you need open spaces.

So minimum 2 people to operate a string. If only one? And it does rarely occur, well, different tactics necessary. Very difficult. 3 people is better, and 4 is great, especially if it's the crack Team Trautman group. Ian, 10, is now of a maturity and experience where it is effortless for him to join the group. Quinn, 8, is pretty good, but needs more guidance, and his personality is such that he can drift off into Quinn-land (just like dad can find himself in Scott-land). And even Lilly -- 5 - can help handle string.

Two people -- two points make a line -- we move the cattle next to the area they got out of. If some are still in, we have to leave it closed, so a person there to open the existing area string when we get the cattle back over there is useful.

"Be a post" -- we can get the animals next to the area where we want them, and either we have a plastic post in hand, and create a triangle (with area -- remember a line has no area -- very small geometry lesson here), attach each end of the string on the existing area string, open the old area up, and the cattle go back in. Be a post is that third point in the middle that makes it a triangle rather than a line.

We also use that triangle if we need to herd animals across the farm, to create a pathway, a big V, with which they stay in and we can navigate that wherever it needs to go. Otherwise, if only that line, we'll often use existing structures -- be they the perimeter fence, or a line of bales, or another string, to keep a wedge going.

We can always make it work with however many we have, but the more we have, and the better we're coordinated, the better it works. "Cattle out!", the orders fly -- Julie, you go get the string over by the shed -- Ian, go close the front gate and meet your mom back by the barn -- Quinn, you go over and put their old fence back up and prepare to open it, Lilly -- you unplug the fence and then find me. Lilly -- you're in the middle, Ian - go bring those two around back to the group. You get the picture. And bang -- 5-10 minutes later, everyone's back where they should be, no problem. A non-event.

We work together often -- so we know the job, we know how to communicate. Often it's a subtle hand gesture, hand signals we've practiced to know what to do when we can't hear each other, like around tractors. Could your family work together if they had to? Would they be in practice to be able to do it efficiently? Ours is, and it's because we have to be, and, because I think it's so very very cool and pleasurable.

Some of the warmest feelings of pride I have are when our family works together -- Team Trautman -- and I do say that on occasion to give the troops the reminder that we need to work together ("hey guys, I need Team Trautman today!"). In my upbringing, and many family's lives, there is probably teamwork between mom and dad (or not), but the kids, probably not. We cultivate and it is fact that we need each other, there is no point to individuals, we share, we work together, we're a team, and there is joy in our work. I take a special pride that my wife and I can work together - efficiently and effectively, without a whole lot of drama. (sure, some drama, but it's not MY fault, ha ha ha, oh yes it is)

A farm is good for that -- a family farm -- a farm like ours -- where it is designed from the ground up that we CAN work together. A giant grain farm, confinement operation -- are you kidding me? Keep the kids AWAY. Mom probably has very little to do with it. Hire someone as "labor". Man that sounds like work to me rather than the vocation that a family farm is to us. By design -- small tractor that our sons can operate, small animals like chickens that young children can safely be around, very mellow animals and teaching from an early age to respect and handle, say cattle and pigs. The Amish are experts at this -- training from an early age -- and we have learned this from them, and in the history and stories of what the family farm used to be -- is for us and others - and can still be.

We work in small teams -- like me & my oldest son Ian. Giving bales. One on the tractor (me), and Ian opens the electric fence to let me in. Rather difficult to do alone, given the cattle are standing just on the opposite side of the fence, and on the "out" side of the fence is their food, which they definitely want, and now. Loading straw bales in the bale chopper on the back of the little loader tractor, building up the bedding pack. Recently Ian was pleased to find out that he could do the most pushups -- by far -- of anyone in his class. Guess why? That's right, physical activity out on the farm -- moving bales around -- often about as big as he is. He's really good at using his weight to lever the bales where they need to go. What is your kid doing? Exercising his thumbs on the dumb machine? (computer games). Yes, our kids do that too, but we limit it. And it isn't kick them off that go sit in front of the dummy box -- the TV. I feel bad that too many kids don't have the opportunities ours do to be physically active, nor the will of the parents to have them be physically active. They will pay for it throughout their life.

Having a relationship with your kids is about spending time with them. We don't have the money or the inclination to purchase our fun, nor shuttle them to umpteen "activities" here there and everywhere, what we have are things to be done on the farm that need more than one person to do. I need help (which you may well take meaning beyond). It's in those moments that we work together that we talk about stuff -- what's going on, the questions of life, that just naturally occur. I can't make them happen, stuff them into a vacation or allocated "quality time", they just have to happen. And we get stuff done -- a very, very efficient operation the true family farm is.

Julie does the same -- she has a special bond with our daughter, Lilly. Lilly was born on the farm, she has been a little farmer all her life. That first summer she was born -- 2003 -- she was strapped to the passenger seat of the gator out doing chores with her mom. She helps mom gather eggs, hold string, whatever thing she can do to help. And as you can imagine, she is, for her age, quite good help, and is beyond many of her age group in her ability to understand and act on instructions. And because she has been around it all, I would wager she will pick up activities a good 2 years before where her older brothers would have.

Both Julie and I will "grab a child" and go to our chores. Or more than one. We'll split it up. Or send a couple children out with some chores they can do. They know they are important to our operation here. They are a part of it, and I dream of a day that they choose to be an adult part of this family farm. I admire any family that can work together. I know they must have done something right along the way to make the environment such that they can. That relationship can be many things; boss-employee, partners, and the boss can be the child or the parent. I dream of that day, way far away, when it's "Oh dad, we've got it covered, go play with your grand kids, we'll get this done".

Before you think this is some extended online bragging Christmas letter -- these relationships and activities have taken work, and haven't been without their frustrations and failures and conflicts. It is a work in progress. They get better in time through practice. I hope I get more patient and better to work with in time too. I have much to learn about patience and control (of myself).

This farm is a family farm by design -- on purpose for a long term goal.

This farm is an organic farm - supporting the long term purpose of sustainability - a hopefully multi-generational farm that through our success, our happiness, our ability to happily work together, our children will be drawn to this life.

This farm is a small farm, where children can be involved. We knew this was a startup business, and startup businesses of any kind -- much less the known work of a farm -- are long days. I've done it before, and I know it's 16 hour days. I was unwilling to do it at this time without my family - and miss out on those moments that pass so quickly in a child's life. Poof -- they're adults, where did the time go, where was I. I am here -- they are here -- we're together as much as is possible.

The work towards all this started on day one and was not an afterthought. I hope and pray for your family -- that you will find purpose, purpose in good, and find ways to work, live, love and laugh together as we do. May you have your own "Team Trautman" and know the life pleasures of your family.

Scott

Postscript, 12/6/08, 6:45am: Parenting in action, I just had a conversation with Quinn our 8 year old. I'm having to work on him to get him to be a willing and enthusiastic participant, in farm and home life and especially school. Nothing new there -- same issues at about the same age with his older brother Ian.

So Quinn has lately expressed that "Dad likes Ian better than me", and this morning, when I asked him specifically to be my "Right hand man" this morning, he tells mom "I did it the last couple times". So I had a parenting moment and went up to his room to discuss it with him -- and made my points of, No, I don't like our brother better than you, but that he's older and can do more things than you can and he has a good attitude, and "who cares?" if you did it the last couple times, we don't keep track around here of who does what when to keep even, we ALL help out as we can whenever we can, and finally, I asked YOU to help ME because I want to spend time with you and work with you so you can do the kinds of things your brother can.

So then I come here and write this -- while making some oatmeal, and the small act that proves the value -- his brother Ian hears the timer go off, rushes into the kitchen and takes it off the burner. No one asked him to, he just did it. That's the kind of team we're building here, and these are the moments of joy in paradise I am grateful for -- Scott

 
 
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