The Grass-Organic Life in Wisconsin!
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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.
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.
Posted by Scott&JulieTraut
@ 05:29 AM CST
This post from August 5th, 2005. Any of you out there that knows what happened in August of 2005 in the Stoughton area know what's coming up.
I mention "Authentic Happiness" by Seligman. That is a great book that effectively makes the case for optimism; it opens the door. The books that help me practice optimism are The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer & now Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff. I had the Power of Intention for some time, but could not get into it. When the time was right. And here recently with the economy, I needed to re-listen to the Power of Intention to get out of my funk.
Here it is 2008 and I still feel the same way. Generally positive, with my moments of despair. Think about the good things, and forget the bad other than to learn from our mistakes. Have a great Thanksgiving, and do give thanks. - Scott
I've certainly had enough downer things here lately to bitch about, but
I do believe I am a positive person, and in so, need to search that
positive out. So this is that; things I am thankful for, and are truly
1. Getting by with a little help from my friends. In a
time of need, you find out who's really a friend and who's not. I've
had several, and some unexpected, that have given of themselves
selflessly. Thanks Dan, Mike, Bruce, Mike, Dale. You guys live the
faith beyond Sunday service. Thanks.
2. Healthy family, healthy
animals. The worst of the pinkeye is over, and every calf is looking
pretty darn good, even with this hot muggy weather.
3. More rain
than most have gotten. A hard year could have been so much worse, and
is far worse for so many. As dry as it might be, we have nothing to
4. New customers and friends. It is so revitalizing to get to know you. I am fed by your positive energy and hope.
5. Always something interesting, something to learn. Never a dull moment.
6. For all the equipment that does work. Seems like it's always something, but so far, been able to keep the balls in the air.
For God to give me the strength to get through the tough times. As bad
as I might think things are, I know so many have it so much worse. God
has been kind to us in every way possible.
8. For my wife and children that bring me so much joy. They ground me and show me what is truly important in life.
For my health. A stubby finger slows me down. A fellow I know has been
laid up on his back for four days now, getting nothing done. That would
be devastating for us.
10. The wonderment that is nature, and the confidence that what we do and how is the right thing.
credit some of my framework for positiveness to "Authentic Happiness",
the book by Dr. Seligman, which put into focus strategies, such as this
very effort, to keep a positive attitude, even when one could easily
fall into despair & be just another whiner complaining about just
how crappy everything is. It isn't, but I'm the only one that can make
me live and believe that.
All the very best to all.
(now surely back to my whining...)
Posted by Scott&JulieTraut
@ 05:17 AM CST
This was a posting to my original blog on blogspot, on July 9, 2005. This is the "way back machine". I will keep posting these until I'm out of them -- upon rereading them, it is amazing we're as upbeat as we are. There's some good farm history here. 2005 was our 3rd season. - Scott
Hi, it's me!
Scott (me), Julie, Ian (7), Quinn (5), Lilly (2), are organic farmers by Stoughton, Wisconsin. Our farm is 40 acres.
We moved here May 17th of 2002, Settendmai weekend.
I owned a small ISP (Internet Service Provider) company from late 1994-May 2004.
We started farming early spring of 2003, with some rainbow mix laying hens (50) & 4 started Jersey steers.
I planted the entire farm into pasture in late April, a little heavy on the red clover.
worked agressively on soil life, following Gary Zimmer's program in his
"The Biological Farmer" book, loading up on lots of calcium, while we
have the money to do it, money from a modest payout on selling the
First season, we harvested those 4 steers in
the fall, but during that summer started what ended up being 16 Jersey
calves from a near big conventional dairy. 2nd season, we ended up with
31 big calves, and having purchased 2 others, have 33 grazing right now
for fall harvest.
Now being the season where it's been 3 years
since anything artificial put on our ground, we're a few days away from
our final organic certification. We've gotten over 40 weaned
Jersey/cross bull calves so far, with all but four so far being
certified organic, on our way to 50.
April-May-June have been
incredibly busy, had to re-seed about half our pastures due to
winterkill, and mistakedly starting some big projects in late May.
Won't be doing that again, May-June is pure farming, no projects for
next year. Live and learn.
I'll keep adding to this post for more background, as I have time, along with the daily stuff.
love farming, and although the posts might reflect setbacks, know we've
got a very positive attitude, I'll try and make sure that gets
reflected & not just the bummers along the way. Such as it is,
gotta do some grousing along the way.
Posted by Scott&JulieTraut
@ 05:37 PM CST
So how's this economy treating ya then there Scotty my boy?
Well, not so very great; it's a tough time to be something other than the "Walmart" of food, especially when you've focused your energy on getting your food to real people, and not just people of means.
Great food costs more to produce. I'm always amazed at how cheap a pound of ground beef is, when you consider
- it has typically been driven around 1500 miles
- the trucking company got what they needed out of the deal
- the wholesaler got what they wanted
- the grocery store got their markup
- the farmer that raised it? Hmmm. Not so sure whether he got his. Maybe he had to cheapen up the product quite a bit to have it all make sense.
Then you have our farm: Raised here, processed 35 miles away, the 35 miles back to our farm, 70 miles total. No trucking company, no wholesaler, no grocery store markup. The farmer? Us? Still arguable as to whether we're getting ours!!! And that with our very lean ground beef sold at $5.25/lb, and being grassfed & from an organic farm. Ask yourself not why ours is so "expensive" but why theirs is so cheap!
Some more differences -- think of the carbon footprint of all the items above on your "cheap" beef. Your grandkids will pay for your cheap beef today, right? At least you get a deal today. Well our beef, you're paying for a better world and better health for you; the whole cost.
So back to the economy----
We have always focused our energy on feeding real people. It's that important that real people are healthy, full of energy, and making good decisions in their lives from health and energy rather than sickness, fatigue and frustration. But that maybe was a bad bet on our part, because we've seen altogether too many that slink back to the grocery store for the cheap beef and leave us out to dry. In a trying/stressful time like this, one would hope that the very best of health and energy and decisions are made, and an excellent diet is sure a good place to be with that.
But maybe this is a good thing for us, too, in that we have to sharpen our pencils, put our minds to work, get creative and find new ways to get the word out. What we aren't going to do is give up, or cheapen our products, or now all of a sudden stick our noses up the butt of the rich and tell them how great it smells. Our food is for all people, regardless of income, it's for people that want to be healthy, but also help change the world for the better.
And who is doing their darndest to change the world for the better? Why, Scott Trautman & Trautman Family Farm is, that's who. How then? The very first and most important way: Being a radical revolutionary and daring to be a successful small family farm. Not giving into the "conventional wisdom" and laziness of thought and action that the family farm is dead. The idea that you can farm and do any damn stupid thing you want and someone will give you a living from it: That is Dead. That creative, hardworking people can still farm and keep the humanity out on the farm: Alive and well in a new breed of farmer that doesn't make excuses for themselves, and challenges each and every idea of what it is to be a farmer.
It would make some people feel a whole lot better about purchasing from the farm if the farmers lived in a doublewide, were unkempt and had bad teeth. That way you could be sure they weren't TOO profitable; it's okay for everyone else to make money, but not farmers, we have to keep them close to the bone. That's the conventional wisdom, and I've now said it. You cringe in hearing it, but isn't it the truth? You don't want to see us succeed and have a nice house out here, if you think somehow that might be at your expense. Yet Kraft, ADM, Cargill, Monsanto, the grocery store, it IS okay for all of them to report record earnings year in and year out. You say you want farmers to succeed, yet bitch about food prices. Words/action disconnect. Words easy to say: real convictions take money and action.
How again are we changing the world for the better?
Other farmers drive by this farm every day. And they all know we're one weird breed here. Organic? Everyone knows you have nothing but weeds and poor yields. Yet, that doesn't seem to be the case driving by here. How is that? As the years go by, 6 seasons now, the excuses they give THEMSELVES as to how we can be doing it -- have to drop away. And one day, they finally give in to themselves and pull in the driveway and ask just what is it we are doing here. And I am there to help, to make real farmers out of the chem-miners.
What's that about changing the world for the better?
I instigated, I lead, I teach the Introduction to Organic Farming course at MATC in Madison. I put in significant hours -- for free -- promoting it and getting the word out to farmers about how NOW is the time to be thinking about organic farming, and to be successful, they need to change how they think, and they need to fill their heads with knowledge, and not just the Coop's phone number to call in the chem bomb when they screw up.
With as screwed up as our farmlands are, our farmer's heads are far more screwed up. They question very little, and they are convinced of ideas that are just not true. If we all went organic we'd starve. That has always been bullshit. That organic farmers see nothing but low yields and weeds. Nope, bad organic farmers see low yields and weeds. All ideas propogated by those with everything to lose if farmers said NO to all that chemical and genetic crap. Those scum have mastered siphoning money from farmers to themselves; they have a captive audience as long as they continue to buy their bullshit ideas. A lie repeated often enough becomes accepted as the truth. And there are a whole lot of lies in conventional farming, friends.
So, back to this economy of ours....
The bigboys in foods over the last few years have all jumped on the organic bandwagon. Good for them. They've brought their ideas of success to organic, too -- domination good, competition bad. Suck up all the competitors, you get to do what you want. We've seen that. Mine the good out of a good word like organic. Fine. They are watching now, and I can tell you they are grinning ear to ear -- they would be happy to shut down the organic lines and fill you back full with their processed, high margin crap once again. If all it takes is a jag in the economy to put real people off the good food.
So NOW is the time for you to show them they are WRONG. When you're looking around at a smaller pot of money -- give up the damn cable, give up the extra recreation, you don't need the extra plasma TV, you don't need to eat out as much as you do, you need to eat right and spend more time with your family; not just in proximity to them but WITH them. And a family meal of great food is but one great idea on how to do it. Maybe this economy is your queue to re-assess just what's important. Stuff? Or people, family, values.
We have put our heart and soul into this farm. We currently work for NEGATIVE dollars per hour in the here and now. If we spread our labors and investment out over 20 years -- well, still less of a return than most of you would work for, but we love what we do, and know it is important work and we are willing to make the sacrifice.
It means so much more for us to feed regular people, that have made hard choices, and this food isn't out of the luxury pot, but the how are we going to make this all work pot, yet they choose us. That means something to us and we are humbled and grateful to those people.
We are suffering along with this economy. We are disappointed to see some customers make choices that lack courage, but we'll be okay; we'll work harder still, be more creative, and never ever become cynical.
We continue to lead by example, and to speak out for what's right. Please join us in that, fuel our engine of change, fuel your engines of change, support our farm, support your bodies, buy our great food, feed the gift that is your body.
How's the economy treating us? Let me be able to say it's treating us GREAT because real people are stepping up everywhere to let us know what counts.
I now step down from my soapbox, and get back to some real work. That checkbook won't reconcile itself you know---
Really piss 'em off: Be happy, be healthy
Trautman Family Farm
2049 Skaalen Road
Stoughton, WI 53589
Mr. Bull, "Shim", and our clearly emaciated half dead 100% grass dairy girls. Wait -- they look happy and healthy, how could that be? Could it be that 99.9% of dairymen are wrong? Nah, they must be getting grain somehow.....
Posted by Scott&JulieTraut
@ 05:01 AM CST
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