Out of ’10 and into ’11


Salatin’s machines:
“In just ten minutes I can show visitors a dozen things that Grandpa could not have even conceived: computerized, dependable, 1-amp, 10,000-volt electric fence energizers; PTO-powered manure spreaders; hoop houses with UV-stabilized, laminated 15-year plastic; magnetically charged foliar sprays applied while stomata listen to calypso music and open wide for big gulps of biologically-enhanced nutrients; PTO-powered, hydraulically-fed three-point-hitch-mounted chippers that can handle an inch of wood per 10 horsepower; a real biomass accumulator. Wow! And power steering, four-wheel drive shuttle-shift diesel tractors with automatically leveled front-end loaders. Baby, I’m levitating.
”Oh, don’t forget 800-pound, 20-horsepower Honda-powered bandsaw mills cheaper than an old used car that puts any farmer in the self-sufficient lumber business. How about polyethylene, stainless-steel filament, built-in fiberglass post netting for poultry, sheep, goats and children. (That was just to see if you were awake.) Good gracious, folks, this farm is nothing like Grandpa’s.”


Joel Salatin is something of a rock star to those who believe in such a dream, for he lives it. He doesn’t abjure technology but uses it [see box] in such way that serves his enterprise. It can be a tricky act to know where to draw that line; ‘how much and what technology’ could be debated but ’no-technology’ is a position that will be difficult to sustain. One does not undertake to eliminate the bad evil world out there, but to subvert it by picking out the useful and essential from it and living a life ignoring its frills. Never let machines get on top of man, but couldn’t man on top of machine be the new missionary position?!

Four years after this abandoned part of India was adopted as the place for the pointReturn experiment, its care and nurture is today assured by the commitment of people half in age of the 69 year old man who began it. The potential of this development – the most significant event of 2010- cannot be overstated. That is an incredible magic in itself.

At such a juncture it is hard to resist the temptation to over-imagine the scene, so forgive me. We are poised as horsemen on a ridge to swoop down and conquer. Many in place of one is awesome strength; but numbers also spawn challenges. We are not an army but a band of idealists; we need rules too, but a different set, an egalitarian one. How do we carry out discussions, sustain communication, stay open to innovations, be willing to listen to suggestions, evolve consensus for strategies, eschew indifference to ideas that is not one’s own, share the hard work, consciously nurture one another, manage anger when it does arise, express disagreements respectfully, record experiences so that kindred spirits elsewhere may benefit from them as we ourselves have from theirs, evolve systems, rules, routines and practices that will enable easy assimilation of others who may join us… these and tens of similar issues, need to be addressed because we will be a bigger community one day.

Those explorations and formalising a legal structure for the continuation of pointReturn for decades to come, will engage me and others, the whole of 2011.

If the fox shows up again a year from now, its quizzical look may break into an approving smile.

2 thoughts on “Out of ’10 and into ’11

  1. Dear DV,

    Great work done in 2011…congratulations to the whole team. Best wishes for 2011 and ahead…

    Did not go thru all updates so don’t know…you might have given a thought to silkworm and honeybee keeping..


  2. Ah, but DV perhaps Inari has visited your village. I believe Inari is similar or the same entity as the Buddhist guardian deity ‘Dakini’ who is often made reference to through statues at the Zen Temples. I remember often the meditations in The Green Gulch Zen Center, where I attended years ago, had the fox figures displayed at the entrances. The Inari or Dakini deity, has been drawn in the history books riding a fox. Farming families revere the fox, considered a kind of good luck animal. Inari Shrines marking sacred sites are quite common aren’t they? Often there are two foxes on either side of a red gate as protection from all evil? Your visit by the fox, certainly is a good sign that all will be well for you in the new year. Wouldn’t a pair of red gates be wonderful……or am I getting too artsy for you? I loved reading your article as always and wish you prosperity and abundance this new year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *