Okay, here we are on our imaginary Covid-Induced Homesteading Fever inspired acreage, week three, and we’ve got beans sprouting in our raised beds, half-a-dozen chickens turning compost in our combination compost bin/chicken run, and a small cow (how did we get here?) tethered in the back yard, mowing down drifts of tall grass, clover and weeds and turning them into a couple of gallons of milk a day.
For dinner last night, we had baby salad greens from the garden, young sugar snap peas, and an omelet. Thanks to our cow’s daily solar conversion, the peas were drowning in butter, and the omelet was oozing melted mozzarella. We make a note to get grapes planted, because this meal next year needs to include homemade wine.
Only, something is wrong with this picture. If we’re three weeks into harvesting local sunlight in the form of milk with a lactating ruminant, why aren’t we drowning in milk? How could we sit down to dinner, or even find the stove, with all the pots and jars of milk we must have stacked everywhere? By the end of week one the house would be bursting with milk. Who has time to make cheese and butter when they’re completely overwhelmed by milk?
Ah, but what is that down in the future garden patch, fenced in by a single strand of white polytwine powered from the same electric fence charger that keeps the cow in? That’s the dairywoman’s second-best friend, the pig! (the first is her cow) Pigs partner so well with humans because they love to eat downstream of us, consuming surplus, overripe and waste nutrients from our food sources, and they LOVE dairy products. Skim milk, buttermilk, and whey are the foods that have traditionally supplied the protein needs of our partner species on the farm, and pigs can eat (drink) a whole lot of it.
Parked where we want to put a garden in the future, they can also till soil, devour weeds, and leave valuable fertility, farm-derived energy that will stay on the farm and continue to feed you, your partner species, and your ecosystem. Your ground covers capture sunlight, which you harvest with a ruminant, which feeds you, while the surplus is converted to bacon and fertilizer. How do you improve on that?