Logsdon maintains that pasture farming is perfect on small farms for people who want to make only part of their living on the land. Pasture comes from the Latin ‘pastor’ meaning care, and relates to raising livestock. Logsdon says, ‘Pasture farming recognises that our survival depends on our ability to stand by patiently and work in partnership with nature not in domination over nature.’ Hence raising livestock on pasture in theory allows the animal and land to exist in as unmanipulated fashion as possible and also allows the farmer to pursue other pastimes if he/she wants. Growing industrial grains (as is now de rigueur) for animals is really extravagant compared to pasture farming – which only requires moving animals around. Rotational grazing, timed to depend on how the pasture grows and what needs to regrow before being grazed again, is an age-old method that does not seem to fit with industrial livestock farming.
Rich and Val at Mossback Farm seem to typify the kind of small scale, part-time pasture farming Logsdon talks about – raising cattle in the foothills of the Coastal Range near McMinnville. They have three steers at a time on 33 acres of land. From April through June they rotate grazing every day so that their animals have between half to two acres to feast on. The steers are bought at one year old and kept for almost a year more before slaughter in early summer. They are fed purely on grass and hay in the winter – no grain. They are slaughtered onsite by a local butcher, not sent away to ensure the animal is not stressed in any way. Rich confesses to enjoy ‘tapping into the productivity of the land’, and spends time on land restoration and conservation projects as well as raising beef cattle. His method seems about as pastoral as it gets, and we can vouch for the tasty meat it produces too!