Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Gobblers Knob Controversey

In our previous post on compost, I was explaining how my father was very innovative in the making and use of compost. He often used compost to rebuild areas with poor soil, Dad called one of these spots that the glaciers messed up "Gobblers Knob", because they would see turkeys in this area of the field. It is a bit of a local land mark with the neighbors and he had a colorful sign commission that he posted out in the field to show how to get there. (No one ever went there except my Dad or his family, this was kind of an inside joke, and he thought that was great.) But I digress...

It was kind of steep on "Gobblers Knob" and so Dad had it growing local prairie species like "Big Blue Stem" and volunteer clovers. It was very pretty in the early summer when everything was blooming but later in the season the organic matter from these native species was massive. So he got the idea that he should compost all this organic matter and return it to the soil. Gobblers Knob was a little thin on top, kinda like my Dad's hair, so Dad thought it could use a little enrichment. No not his hair, "The Knob".

"The Knob" was in the farm program as "set aside acres" so you couldn't harvest it, but one year it was dry and they release the acres for grazing to help the farmers get a little extra forage for their livestock. Dad wanted to petitioned the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) to make compost from these 2-3 acres. He asked me to write a "white paper", which is a fancy name for a report, for the USDA based on data from the "Rohdale Book of Composting" so they would know what he wanted to do and what the benefit would be.

Today they called this carbon sequestration (sequestering carbon to build up the soil) and this is all the rage in environmental circles. 20 years ago they called it common sense. I thought writing a petition to the USDA to do something "organic" was a cool thing to do, so within a few days Dad went to the local county agent with his paper (that I wrote) in hand. Dad's idea was so weird at the time that the local SCS guy didn't know what to do with it, so he sent it off to the folks at the state level. Now why "Soil Experts" at the state level didn't know what compost was is beyond me, but I think they ended up sending it to Washington. They turning Dad down, not because it wasn't a good thing to do but because they didn't know what to do with his very innovative idea. There must not have been a department of compost at the USDA or something.

I really like that about my Dad, in his younger years he was usually about 20 years ahead of his time on new ideas in agriculture. He was really big in conservation and we will talk about that in our next post.

My father Lynn went to heaven to farm with Jesus this week on March 30, 2014. These are some my farming memories dedicated to Dad's honor and God's glory.

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