Fair Weather Farm

Volunteer Work

Fair Weather Farms

On Saturday April 22nd I volunteered at Fair Weather Farm in Elkton Maryland for Earth Day. Gray skies, light rain, and a cold chill racked my body, as we stepped out of the nice warm car and into the frigid outdoors. We wandered towards the first person we saw, introduced ourselves, and got a quick rundown of what we had to do.

The Poster Boards were very informative.

We would have to explain to the children and parents that wandered to the garage about the numerous things presented. Such as the plants on display, composting, recycling, as well as the board about the sheep. There was also a game on the recycling board where children could sort out through the trash to see what went to where.

Since we had some time, everyone had gone over to watch the sheep being sheared, we were allowed to go watch as well. For a little while, we watched as the farmers chased after a black sheep that charged away. Four no five people took on different corners, trying to block the sheep from escaping. They finally managed to capture the sheep and lead it into the pen, ready to be sheared in front of the awaiting crowd.

The poor sheep tried to escape. It failed.

This one woman, slightly tall, thin, blonde hair tied in a ponytail, was the first to start up the shears. I would’ve thought one of the more muscular men would’ve been the one to grab the sheep, but I was proven wrong. She walked over to one of the sheep, dragged it over, and flipped it onto it’s back and between her legs. The woman was able to keep the sheep in place as she started to shave the thick wool off. I watched her complete two sheep before I noticed children were starting to walk towards the garage. Show was over for my friend and I so we walked back over to the garage and quickly took our places.

We talked to a group of kids and adults, all interested in the displays. Some of the children were really shy, or were really interested in playing the games set up. After that, the rain started to pour down, and everyone who came to visit had disappeared. Drove off in their cars so they didn’t have to deal with the sudden downpour.

After everyone had left, there was still an hour or so left on our volunteer work. There wasn’t much we could do. So we spent a good amount of time sitting in the garage adjusting the pack of seeds. My friend put one sticker I put the other. Back and forth until the large pile of seeds were wrapped up.

Throughout our stay, we talked to visitors and the farmers enthusiastically. We learned a lot about the sheep, how they farm, their chickens, and how they try to keep their farms environmentally safe. Overall it was a good time and I’d even think about visiting again to volunteer some more.

Now it’s at this point I want to say, that Fair Weather Farm is nothing like the industrial factory farming. Factory farming is one of the many causes that harm our environment. Where as Fair Weather Farm was a beautiful landscape, large open spaces for their sheep to run, and a safe home for the chickens, industrial farming is…well…not.

GRACE communications in their Sustainable Table had two categories for the definition of Industrial Farming. The one I’ll be focusing on will be their second half, in which it is defined by a dense population of animals which are raised in a limited land. They also require large amounts of water, food, and medical attention. Some more notable issues with factory farming is due to this dense population of animals. Because there are so many animals in a limited space, the animals live in a cramp environment. This can provide little movement area and also increase the chances of illnesses spreading. Animals are pretty much packed side to side like canned foods.

In another article I had read on the National Center for Biotechnology website Carlton Gyles wrote about the effects of factory farming as well. With public health, the environment, and climate change, when it comes to factory farming it has a strong roll in making things a mess. The reason it’s a health concern for humans is due to these dense populations of animals being close to flood plains and drinking waters. Which is usually near just as dense human populations.

When I went to Fair Weather Farms I noticed none of that. If anything, the area was nearly perfect. They weren’t near any flood plains or drinking waters, far from most people in general, and their animals were lively and well. Their sheep had wide open spaces to run around and there aren’t an over abundance of sheep either. Maybe twenty or maybe even less.

Overall I think Fair Weather Farms provided a refreshing look at a more natural farm. Far from the cramp factory farming where we get most of our meats and eggs.

http://www.sustainabletable.org/859/industrial-livestock-production

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2808277/

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