The Nature Model™
I raise my animals according to nature, and I’ve described this as my Nature Model™. A detailed description of this model is outlined in my book, One with Nature, One with Love. For those who haven’t read my book yet, I’ll describe exactly what I mean by “aligning with nature” and using nature as a model to raise animals.
My Path Back Home (to Nature)
I started off in conventional agriculture. I learned all the technical terms, principals, numbers, and equations when I attained my Bachelor of Science degree in soils and land management (2007), as well as when I officially became a Certified Crop Adviser (2011). I followed the herd and practiced all the rules of conventional agriculture working as an agronomist for a decade: pesticides, commercial fertilizers, manure applications, tillage, planting, harvesting, blah blah blah… But throughout these ten years in conventional, large-scale ag, I felt dead inside. I felt bored. I felt really….low. I was never really interested in the work I was doing for these large farms.
I have always had an intense love for animals and nature. When I started college, I had no idea how I would create a career out of my interests, so upon graduation, I did the obvious: worked for one of the largest dairies in Wisconsin. I thought, “Cows are awesome! The more the better!” I was thrilled about being able to watch 3,000 cows get milked every day, right outside my office door. I was proud of my role in determining where millions of gallons of liquid waste could be applied to 5,000 acres of cropland. I was so naive back then.
My awakening began after my first child was born, when I was still at the dairy. I didn’t have a clue as to what was happening inside of me, but my world began to shift. All I knew was that I felt increasingly uncomfortable where I was and that I needed a change. After my second child was born (and my awakening grew in intensity), I left the dairy and was hired as an agricultural specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). I began inspecting and issuing permits to other large farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: CAFO’s) all over the state. This position threw me deeper into the pits of my internal hell. In my short time at the DNR, I witnessed an immense amount of environmental degradation caused by conventional agriculture (farms of many sizes), and was astounded at the lack of true environmental protection by a governmental body whose sole purpose was to protect our natural resources. I felt disgusting. I felt like I was pretending my life away. So I quit my job and went home.
Earth Day: MooPoo Ranch was Born
I have been raising animals for food at home since 2009. My methods have changed over the years, but I’ve always raised my animals on pasture. My purpose, when I started raising cattle, wasn’t necessarily to produce food. I was actually interested in managing the health of my pasture, through the use of grazing cattle. I didn’t begin raising grass-fed beef because of the health benefits of the meat. I wasn’t paying attention to animal product quality at that time. The grass-fed beef was a beautiful byproduct of my simple desire to create a healthy ecosystem.
This little “hobby” I had going on at home was a strange contradiction to my professional career, which was happening at the same time. I’d wake up in the morning and drive 30 miles north to my job, where I would help the factory farms push out more product, and then I’d come home at the end of a long day to walk in nature through my beautiful pasture with my tiny herd of happy cattle. It’s as if I was hiding my true self from the rest of the world.
Coincidentally, I quit my job on Earth Day 2016. This day has since become incredibly significant to me. Earth Day 2016 marks the day I quit working for Big Ag and began working for Mother Nature. I decided to put all my energy into the type of food production system that I believed in. I decided to stop referring to my passion as a “hobby.” I decided it was time to promote small-scale food production where the animals are raised with love and according to nature. I named my life’s passion MooPoo Ranch, and I began putting it out into the world for all to see.
Aligning with Nature
I have always struggled with remembering facts, numbers, and definitions, as they relate to science. I know it’s because they are insignificant to me. Rather than using the scientific jargon and guidelines that were drilled into my brain throughout my educational and professional career, I simply look for the purpose behind something. When I know the purpose of something, I can determine how to get that purpose fulfilled. When raising animals, I look to fulfill the purpose in each animal. Why is that animal here? What does that animal need to be itself and fulfill it’s purpose?
The problem I have with factory farms and conventional agriculture is their purpose. The purpose behind this type of system is to get a lot of money and become profitable off selling animal products. To me, this is asinine. Animals are here to fulfill a purpose on this earth. They are part of a food web in the eternal ecosystem. Focusing on money and creating this type of system produces an outcome that is detrimental to the earth and all the species that inhabit this beautiful web of life, including humans. The focal point of my small ranching system is on the entire experience of raising animals. It’s not entirely about producing product, although that is one reason I raise my animals (to feed my family). It’s about enhancing the lives of the animals being raised, enhancing the entire ecosystem in the process of raising these animals, as well as enhancing the lives of the humans raising these animals. So much is lost when you focus only on the end product (meat, milk, eggs). Life isn’t about getting to the finish line (getting more product pushed out). Life is about making the most out of every moment by sharing your love through the process.
When you share your love with your animals that you raise for food, you feed them nature’s most important ingredient in life. Love is what is most important: love for oneself, love for the earth, love for nature, love for animals, love for each other. The greatest gift of love we can give our animals is what they innately desire. Allow them to fulfill their purpose here on this earth. Animals thrive when they are able to carry out their natural animal desires. Nature provides the perfect example of what an animal needs. By aligning with nature, I am providing my animals the type of environment they would naturally have if they were free to roam the earth. When I use nature as a model to raise my animals, I am attempting to mimic nature as closely as possible within the confines of my ranch.
Aligning with nature (using nature as a model) is extremely simple. It involves taking cues from the animals to determine what they need. It involves using one’s own intuition as a guide, instead of the internet or a county extension publication. It’s using heart-centered feelings, instead of cognitive thinking and reasoning. It involves offering and surrendering to Mother Nature when problems pop up.
Pharmaceuticals and dietary additives are not routinely necessary when aligning with nature. Animal numbers remain low on the landscape, so that stress remains low to the land, ecosystem, and animals. When animals are given a natural environment (rotated on healthy pasture), they thrive. When animals are allowed to express their natural animal instincts (ex: pigs rooting at the earth, chickens scratching and pecking at the earth, cattle harvesting their feed directly from the earth), they are happy. They naturally thrive. Allowing animals the space to be themselves is love. Nature is love.
If you desire to learn more about raising animals according to the Nature Model™, check out Stacy’s offerings.