Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Introduction and Mission

A few years ago, my wife (my high school sweat heart) and I decided to shift gears from a high-tech high-stress lifestyle in New England and move back to our roots in Eastern Kentucky. We bought her father's 1,000 acre farm where she grew up and have since expanded the farm to 1,200 acres. It sounds like a big tract of land, but please realize that this is hill country and it's too steep to drive a tractor on all but 80 acres of the farm. I took the picture at left from a helicopter while the fog was still laying in the bottoms. ("bottoms" = hill speak for the scarce but valuable flat land that lays at the bottom of the "hollers.") For the most part, the hills are too steep for anything but logging roads, so you won't find anything built on the ridges around here. I like this picture because this is probably what our farm looked like 1000 years ago. It's my opinion that the rugged topography here has served to protect this corner of the world from over exploitation. But how to overcome the commensurate economic isolation without spoiling it all? That's the question I want to answer some day soon.

Because my wife's father managed the forests responsibly (selective timber harvests), the bulk of of it is still covered in old growth hardwoods like white oak, maple, poplar, and hickory. Except for the occasional rattlesnake and copperhead, it's an ideal place to raise our four children. Rather than join the campaign to "save the rain forests," we're trying to take good care of a little piece of North America's original forests. From time to time, I hope to touch on some "environmental issues" in this blog, based on my own factual observations here on our farm. I feel that there's too much shouting on both sides of this issue, with very few folks introducing real facts into the discussion.

For the most part, this blog will be about our journey to find a profitable, ethical, and sustainable way to farm in Eastern Kentucky. It may be the biggest challenge that I've ever faced. Our hope is that we can combine tradition (the family has been raising cattle on this farm for almost 50 years) with some new ideas (Wagyu cattle from Japan, natural methods, etc.) and subtle marketing (this blog?!) in order to build something worth passing on to the next generation of farmers (our kids?). If nothing else, I hope you enjoy the stories and pictures you'll find here.

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