“Mr Salatin, may I ask you…”

I’m starting to get excited about my impending visit to Foxglove Farm to attend a workshop with Joel Salatin (you know – Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Inc) , the featured topic being pastured livestock.  Foxglove Farm is owned by Michael Ableman also a well known author, speaker and farmer.

I got to attend a workshop with Joel Salatin once before when he came to Duncan BC three years ago.  It was a packed hall, and we enjoyed his presentation thoroughly.  When he opened the floor to questions in the afternoon though, I was disappointed as people got mired in the minutae of deep bedding (how much, how long, materials, floor area, etc) or how often sheep should be rotated when they graze in a forest.  We probably spent half of a two hour Q and A on deep bedding.  Seriously.  Is there even grass in a forest ?  Turns out not, making the question something else entirely.   I do respect his willingness to take any question and run with it though, and there is no such thing as a silly question right?

That said, I do want to make the most of my opportunity to ask him a question or two.  I’ve read all of his books, some more than a few times (Pastured Poultry Profits is falling apart).  Pastured livestock is an area we want to get into, probably with sheep, but perhaps with smaller cattle like Dexters or something.

He’s really big on mob grazing these days, but we’re talking 14 acres here and both of us working off farm.  So could my question be about stocking density?  He often says he doesn’t use straight lines for his fencing, but follows the keylines and contours.  Again, 14 acres – in a very straight line L shape.  No pond, no hill, no forest.  What would he do with that?  I’m starting to get why we talked about deep bedding and arboreal sheep for so long at the last workshop, I think I’m a little mired myself here.

So maybe I should keep it general and not be irritatingly specific to my own situation.  I could ask about how to adapt his grazing strategies for small acreages  as most people there will likely be from places like mine – the average farm on Vancouver Island is between 10-30 acres.   I’ve always wanted to know more detail about Theresa’s part in things, especially in the days before apprentices and significant income – following the maxim that behind every good man, there’s a better woman 🙂 – which might be of interest to others in the same boat.

Or I could keep my mouth closed and just listen. Always a good strategy.

What do you think?  What should I ask?  What would you ask given the chance?

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