Lets All Join The Amish!

I love the video “The Power of Community”. It’s all about how when Cuba lost its source of oil (and money!) when Russia pulled out, it had to ‘go it alone’. And that was particularly in the area of oil driven industry…which ones are not!! But the video focused on the food/farming industry mostly. A great watch.

But I was just reading a blog I look at from time to time called Organictobe.org. They have some good (and obscure) articles on there. I like it. Here are some great thoughts on economics … and horses –

The modern pet craze is not limited to cats and dogs but embraces many animals, especially horses. [ ] Statistics say there are 6.9 million horses in the U.S. involved in various activities from racing, showing, pleasure riding, polo, police work, farming and ranching. The horse business or hobby adds about $112 billion to the GNP. Horses generate more money than the home furniture and fixtures business, and almost as much as the apparel and textile manufacturing industry. In other words, while we generally think of Old Dobbin as a step backward in time in agriculture, horses are very much a part of our modern economic and social lives today.

Why this is pertinent to garden farming becomes apparent from what happened a few months ago. At the time when the national banking fraternity was on its knees in Washington, begging for money, news all over the media reported that Hometown Heritage bank in Lancaster County, Pa., was having its best year ever. Hometown Heritage may be the only bank in the world, surely one of the few, that has drive-by window service designed to accommodate horses and buggies. Some 95% of the bank’s customers are Amish farmers. The banker, Bill O’Brien, says that he has not lost a penny on them in 20 years. They obviously don’t have auto loans to pay off and do not use credit cards. They might not need bank loans at all except to buy farmland, which especially in Lancaster County, has risen almost insanely in price. O’Brien says he is doing about a hundred million dollars worth of business in farm loans. To further make the point, an obscure law does not allow banks to bundle and sell mortgages on farms and homes that are not serviced by public electric utilities.

There is plenty in this situation for economists to contemplate, but what struck me the most was the fact that these farmers are buying farm land that can cost them ten thousand dollars per acre or sometimes more, and paying for it with horse farming. And because of their religion, the Amish do not accept farm subsidies that keep many “modern” farms “profitable.” Facing these facts, it is very difficult to see how economists or agribusiness experts can claim that farms using horses or mules for motive power are any more backward, or any less profitable, than farms using tractors.

If you study the great debate that raged in farm circles from about 1920 to 1950 over the economics of horses and mules vs. tractors, (a good recent book on the subject is Mule South To Tractor South, by George B. Ellenberg, Univ. of Alabama Press, 2007), you will learn that the experts never agreed. Both sides finally admitted that it didn’t matter anyway. There was a rising kind of younger farmer for whom tractors were just too alluring to resist. These farmers were going to use them, no matter how much more they cost than horses. Farmers who loved farming with horses wept while they watched trucks haul their teams off to the the rendering plant. They did not get rid of their horses because of the supposedly harder work involved but because they were afraid that if they did not switch, the farmers who did switch would eventually take all the land.

Full article here

Sabath Economics & Living Organically

Here is an extract from a great article Harry from Peace Tree put me on to, I loved it.

It dawned on me that what I was witnessing was a near perfect example of a local economy in action.  And when Andy started talking specifically about economics, which he will do if pressed although normally he is quiet and reserved, he “brought home” the significance of what I was looking at. He and Jan delight in their frugal life style which is the main reason they can afford to keep on being such small farmers producing such high quality food. Their house, partly underground, is modest and environmentally sane. They heat it with their own wood cut and split from their own woodlot. Parts of the house and of other buildings are made from salvaged  materials. They raise most of the food they eat, obviously. They are keen practitioners of home medicine. They are very artful recyclers of material our wasteful society throws away. And they are content with their lives. “We would rather do without many things that modern society strives for,” Andy says, “so as to have the time to grow really good food while enjoying the natural and spiritual world around us. We could expand, work ourselves to distraction and make more money. We choose to avoid that trap.” I have used Andy’s observation about their life style before: “It is rather easy to live comfortably below the so-called cost of living because the government keeps raising the index.” This is something that today’s society needs to hear, especially now that the international economy has come near to collapse because so many people are so unwilling to live sensibly and have therefore borrowed  themselves into bankruptcy.

Full article here