I don't know about you but the term "Sustainability" seems everywhere.
(yes, there is a website)
...in the simplest and most fundamental is "the ability to sustain" or, put another way "the capacity to endure".
Sustainability is an idea, a philosophy. Sustainability could apply to the economy or society. It's sustainability of our environment that I am most often focused on.
As a farmer, my day to day is spent in and with nature. Mother Nature speaks to me with visible signs. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm special (don't ask my husband that though) I believe her signs are all around all of us. Working, immersed in the great outdoors, I am highly exposed to those signs. Nature is so sensitive to everything we do and her responses are so obvious.
If we pay attention, she will tell us when she doesn't like something.
The real challenge is honoring her requests!
Sometimes the required action goes against our normal way of doing things.
As farmers and more specifically livestock farmers, we're dependent on the grass. I have seen with my own eyes how grass responds to chemicals used to kill it and chemicals, readily available and highly marketed synthetic fertilizers, used to make it grow. When those practices are used grass grows green, grass grows fast and grass grows tall or grass dies, as you wish.
When synthetic products are used the natural cycle is interrupted.
I've seen many a farm that has applied synthetic fertilizers for so many years that the grass will no longer grow unless those synthetics are re-applied. I've seen many a fence line saturated with
better known as RoundUp, that we know requires us to become dependent on more RoundUp in order to achieve that "manicured" look.
Which one of these isn't sustainable?
Our fence line
"Manicured" has become the norm for most of us. We have practiced it for so long it's difficult to see the beauty in "out-a-control" growth but, we must.
I have learned I must change the way I think and see.
This didn't come to me overnight. I too have had to wean myself from the "old" habits. It takes time to change a habit and we become accustomed to a familiar look.
Along the way I've also been enlightened to some facts that support my observations. When we mow our pastures and take the grass for hay each year, we remove nutrients that cannot be recaptured. The natural process of grass going fallow in the winter actually feeds the soil.
I did not know this!
We luckily had the required "need" for successful grass production that made my observations possible. We realized the long term success of our grass depended on mother natures natural cycles and processes. We realized our dependence on the products to make the grass grow faster and taller and greener or not was not only financially unsustainable but environmentally not so either.
Honoring her requests requires action on our part.
Often, the requested action is uncomfortable.
The easiest (but most expensive) thing we could do on our farm is apply synthetic fertilizer. We realized how
that decision would be for the long term success and health of our operation.
We are now doing what our ancestors did before synthetic fertilizers existed...we compost and give it back to the soils. It's not an overnight solution but it is the only
And this folks is a perfect example of SUSTAINABLE practices in play; environmentally, financially and I would argue socially.