Karen Davidson: The Way The Whole Cypress Grove Thing Went Down Would Get Anyone’s Goat – July 15, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

I am writing this as one of those opposed to a 1,400 goat building on the pastureland on Q Street, suggesting a do-over would not change the essential problem. While I am not sorry about Cypress Grove backing out of the project, there are several things I wish I could do over.

• I wouldn’t have yelled, “Get a permit!” at the meeting. Not a good example to the kid who asked so politely if maybe they couldn’t split it into several smaller farms.

• I’m sorry that their wording “plan to spread manure on the property next to Janes Creek” became “stockpile manure, and/or liquefy and spray the effluent” in one woman’s flyer. Stockpile (compost) turned out to be accurate.

• I apologize to the pedestrians who had to walk around the protest poop. For those wondering, that’s what a goat does in 15 minutes of posing for photos.

I think many neighbors would have liked the process to go differently, but I would like to consider the question of whether we were a misinformed mob or a large and well-informed group of neighborhood leaders with a hundred supporters. I think timeline would be helpful to explain how difficult it was to get the information, what we learned and when:

On Tuesday, May 31 a neighbor spoke with the CFO of Cypress Grove about leasing their cheese factory farm land. He was told no, it was planned for haying and manure spreading for a proposed goat farm and dairy. The CFO was surprised he hadn’t been told because he was a neighbor, and explained the project was 1,400 goats in a building that they would live in full time.

On Thursday, June 2, this same neighbor spoke with Mary Keehn to get more details, and told her he did not support the project. He was told there was still time for them to reconsider, but the project did not require a use permit and they closed escrow the next Wednesday.

On Friday, June 3, he spoke with Bob McCall from marketing and got more details, and they disagreed about the appropriateness of the project. That evening he told his family what he had learned, and as a family we felt that the neighbors should be told.

Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, I walked door to door to explain what we knew, and I carried a petition for people to sign opposing the project. I was joined immediately by other neighbors with their own petitions, including the former head of Humboldt County Enviromental Health, who in 2002 was one of the health officials who investigated a rash of nearly fatal E.coli infections.

Some had breathed fecal dust in the goat barn at the Lane County Fair in Oregon. 75 were sickened, 12 hospitalized, five of them children with complete renal failure. The youngest was two years old. I retired here to help raise my grandchildren, who just turned three.

That weekend we learned the church and only one other neighbor had been contacted by the dairy. That neighbor felt the project had been misrepresented to them as a small farm with animals that lived outside and had a barn although Mary told me her representatives had said a “very large barn with a lot of goats.”

On Monday, June 6, more than one immediate neighbor to the project met with Mary Keehn to get more details, express their concerns and deliver signed petitions. These better informed neighbors were only more upset after their meetings, as details came forth: 1,400 goats, four acres of parking and buildings, quarterly bulldozing of three to four feet “deep bedding” into three-sided, 36-foot-tall buildings to air dry in the Arcata Bottom wind before being loaded and hauled away.

I genuinely believe that Mary meant well with her proposal, but a factory farm is still a factory, and people had a right to be concerned about pollution.

On Tuesday, June 7, I met with Cypress Grove to explain the classic protest methods we intended to use including a goat, children with signs, clever slogans on signs, the donated satirical logo. I talked about the plan and my concerns with Bob McCall who told me the closing was postponed so I said I would cancel the planned protest for that day. I then returned a call the the Eye left while I was in the dairy and Kevin said the press would be there at 3 p.m., even though we were calling off that day’s protest.

Cypress Grove had postponed it, after all, so no signs were painted that day. But I wanted Bob to understand I was being honest and up front, so I returned to the dairy to explain the press couldn’t be called off so more information would be helpful. I then met with Mary Keehn. She was really polite and I liked her, but she was very angry about our information-gathering methods.

In our conversation, she explained that the plan had been to buy the land, get the building permit and then show the finished project to the neighbors. No use permit process, but she was sure the finished project would be received well.

From Tuesday until the following Monday we continued researching. We met with county staff, we talked with our elected officials and we had a lot of experienced, smart people involved from the neighborhood.

On Monday, June 13, I attended the neighborhood meeting and spoke about my worry that once they built their herd to the planned 1,400 goats, the Right to Farm Act would allow them to expand even more. After the meeting the architect answered my question, explaining that he’d been asked to leave space for expansion towards Q Street.

There were many concerns raised that Cypress Grove couldn’t answer, but what really drove the meeting was the question, “After all we’ve said tonight, are you still going to shove this down our throats?” Cypress Grove said “yes” in front of 126 neighbors.

After the meeting I learned from Supervisor Mark Lovelace that the closing had been delayed until the coming Wednesday, two days away. The next day we made good on our promise: the neighbors met at the gate at 4 p.m., but there was another press release, this time saying that Cypress Grove had cancelled the purchase.

In the weeks since that happy and sad moment, I haven’t liked seeing my neighbors being derided as uninformed. As others have said, the neighbors weren’t uninformed, they were purposefully not told about the project.

The secrecy of the plans led to a lot of unknowns, but we got our information directly from Cypress Grove, and we were not unfair in our portrayals of the information given us.

But here’s what alarmed many neighbors – more than one Humboldt County planner told Cypress Grove that their operation was exempted from a use permit. They told Cypress Grove that the zoning language was overruled by a 1995 approval for a three acre confinement feeding building, attached dairy and unlined manure lagoon down in Ferndale. The approval was appealed to the Supervisors, and with a split vote it was allowed to proceed.

I think the question of how, and if, Humboldt County allows factory farming to proceed deserves a much better discussion. I want it to be less rushed, more polite, and more accurate. But it should be had legally, following the Ag zoning, with review under CEQA and a public hearing.


Karen Davidson is a Bloomfield-area resident who helped spearhead initial resistance to Cypress Grove’s goat dairy project.

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88 Responses to “Karen Davidson: The Way The Whole Cypress Grove Thing Went Down Would Get Anyone’s Goat – July 15, 2011”

  1. Bonnie MacRaith

    I’m very sorry this didn’t go through and if I lived in the immediate neighborhood of the CGC I would have been an advocate at the meetings for the proposed project. It sounds like a wonderful business proposal but then I do love goats and tend to support just about anything that has to do with them!

  2. lisa

    You are still spreading lies and misinformation.

    “Factory farm” is a meaningless term. If you are opposed to dairy farming, then be honest. This would have been the same management system that almost every dairy in Humboldt county utilizes. Please visit some dairys, preferably in winter.

    The Lane County outbreak was never proven to come from goat manure and fecal dust.


    Again, are you against this project or all animal farming? Your argument is weak. If you have a problem with dairy farming and practices, then why start with this? What about the huge cow dairy only 2 blocks away?


    Please educate yourself on dairy farming, goat dairying and local farming practices. You are digging yourself a deeper hole. By trying to clean up your “reputation” you are showing even more of your ignorance and unreasonable emotional response.

    PS They didn’t have to get your permission for this.

  3. Michael Welch

    Sorry Lisa, but “factory farm” is a much more meaningful and accurate term for this project than your apparently preferred “dairy farming.”

  4. Michael Welch

    Bonnie, if you really loved goats then you would not be OK with the inhumane treatment they would receive in a factory farm atmosphere.

  5. Paul Damburg

    lisa wrote: “You are still spreading lies and misinformation” Absolutely

    “Factory farm” is a meaningless term.” In this case, absolutely correct.

    Karen wrote: “I haven’t liked seeing my neighbors being derided as uninformed.” That is their own failing. Sorry, but conjuring a boogeyman to do battle with doesn’t count as critical thinking.

  6. Ian Ray

    Michael Welch, any dairy that uses intensive or semi-intensive methods can be called a factory farm by people who loosely use that derogatory term.

    Humane is also a very relative term, especially when used by lay persons. Some people think keeping single goats as pets is humane, but this is clearly untrue. Some people think just allowing animals outdoors from April-October is humane regardless of if the animals have windbreaks and shade.

    This project was to be specifically engineered to meet established humane standards. Goats would be in loose pens and allowed to socialize. Bedding would be kept clean and fresh. The trade off was the buildings would have to be quite massive in order to allow enough space to satisfy humane requirements. These goats would have had far better accomodations and exercise than is the norm.

    This is a different issue than chicken sheds or spent fuel pools. I asked you before what environmental concerns you had. What specific concerns about humane treatment do you have?

  7. We live in a time when slogans and labels supplant dialogue. “Death panels” and “job-killing tax hikes” elevate fear over fact-finding and conversation.

    It’s simple. Think of the worst possible thing you can, maybe E. coli or lying to a priest, for example. Then repeat that over and over until you have made it synonymous with the issue at hand.

    Now we have the undefined but compelling term “factory farm,” and an accusation that a locally operating company has a plan to systematically mistreat animals on a large scale.

    If you think an allegation like that requires some substantiation, you are hopelessly old fashioned. C’mon, get in sync with our idiocratic times. The project has already been labeled a factory farm – what more proof do you need?

  8. Ian Ray

    Kevpod, labeling every dairy farm of a certain size as an “inhumane factory farm” is equivalent of labeling every hobby solar panel installation as “green bling”. There are times when derogatory terms like these match the situation. I only want to know specifics as to why the term factory farm makes sense for a small-time goat dairy with a proposed manure spreading rate lower than that which existed two months ago.

    Call me old fashioned if you will. I genuinely want to know the reasoning behind the labels. The AWA person provided specifics when he objected to the term “magic water”. Those specifics revealed what that group considered to be reliable evidence.

  9. lisa

    Ian Ray wrote:
    “These goats would have had far better accomodations and exercise than is the norm.”

    I really want to point this out.

    In fact, these goats will have better accommodations, be better cared for and have a much higher standard of living than any other commercial dairy goat in the county.

    This will be a very very good thing for dairy goats as an industry here in Humboldt. Get a clue.

  10. You’re right, maybe we’ll see some specifics. Hopefully more than the AWA guy provided.

  11. diane

    Ian, they consider every farm with animals a “factory farm”. That’s how ignorance works..

  12. The goat dairy has also been likened to a nuclear power plant.

    If this is the state of our local dialogue, we shouldn’t expect anything better from the characters in Washington.

  13. Karen Davidson

    Dear Lisa, Ian, Diane and Kevin,

    I’m experienced with farming. I am a little tired as I write this. Yesterday I had to call in help to remove 11 escapee pigs from our farm from the kind neighbor’s yard. Two boys and their Dad parked their car and joined my friends in the chase. Those young legs turned the last 5 sows away before they entered the church yard. Yes, we are talking about the same field that some feel could house 1400 goats.

    I went home and fed the twins (thanks stand-in Babysitter!) from the CSA food I got that morning at Deep Seeded farm. Desert was fabulous peaches from my Neukom family farm CSA, mixed with Eddie’s strawberries and whipped cream from my daughter-in-law Shail’s cows at Tule Fog Farm, a CSA. Last night, I midwifed seven pigs being born. This morning was our farm’s chickens eggs were breakfast with bread made from Kevin’s locally grown wheat.

    Then I fed the hen who lives on the washing machine. She’s gaining strength from being on the bottom of pecking order. Next I welcomed the intern who was off to water the 100 or so livestock we pasture on Foster Ave.

    And when I had a break, I reminisced about living quietly alone on my 221 acre farm in Wisconsin. It was quieter! I sold it in the economic crash of 2008. Wow, that was peaceful as I had the “small farm” surrounded by 3 families that had managed to acquire larger farms during the economic crash of the early 80’s. They rented extra land from me, which helped with my mortgage.

    I had started with rented organic farms in Wisconsin in1971 and Washington State ( my birth state ) in 1972, finally owning one in 1974. Divorce in 1990 left me with three teens and no farm, but my friend had one and kept my horse. Then I bought my amazing , wonderful “always organic” farm in 1994 and struggled to pay for it. I named it after Headwaters Forest here in Humboldt because my son and Bonnie Raitt had been arrested together trying to preserve Headwaters. I was on the board of the Sustainable Woods Co-op of South West Wisconsin because I wanted to manage my 80 acres of woods correctly.

    So Lisa, I am not opposed to farming. My favorite goats were Dahlia and Ace, though River and Tree were my grandson’s favorites. The 3 mini donkeys protected the goats and sheep from the coyotes, and they were lucky about the bobcats and bears.

    Lisa, perhaps you do know more about local farming than I do, but I feel confident I could hold my own. I learned a lot at the Midwest Organic Ag conferences. My best friend sells the Video Salad Gardening for Profit and inspired my short-lived organic salad gardening business. Alas, believe it or not, a career as an artist is more lucrative than being a farmer but I believe in organic, pasture based farming so I always tried.

    OK, so that should answer your question about if i disliked all farming, I hope. I certainly have no problem with the Foster Ave organic farm that previously rented the land, although I am really excited about the concept of a small farmer incubator farm. Let’s sell municipal bonds to finance that! Troy gardens in Madison did great things with a small area.

    Lisa, your question “If you have a problem with dairy farming and practices, then why start with this? What about the huge cow dairy only 2 blocks away?” is easy. I just moved here in 2009, and the only other similarly sized farm locally was approved in the 1990’s. No one has previously suggested a goat farm this size in America so how could you expect me to object previously? Do I like the giant feed lots selling cow milk in the El Paso area? No, but that is too far away for me to be of effect.

    Oh, and about that NIMBY talk. I look out on a 1950’s turquoise trailer owned by a sweet 90 year old. It is not pretty. But, yes, my grandkids and I share a 1920’s home in the backyard of the proposed 1400 goat dairy, and the proximity was a huge factor in my willingness to risk my “image” in the area to stop the “proposal.” That is a compromise between the euphemistically worded “dairy” and the PR disaster wording “factory farm”.

    It seems odd to be writing people who may not be local or may have financial gain in the project, so it would seem fair if you identified yourselves. Lisa, are you a former CG employee who lives out of the area? Ian Ray, do you work for CG now? It is ok if you do, I just wondered.

    Any more questions?

    Karen Davidson

  14. lisa

    “No one has previously suggested a goat farm this size in America ”

    And with this you show your ignorance.
    This is not the first goat dairy of it’s size in America, not even in California and there’s one almost this size here in Humboldt .
    This isn’t a huge goat dairy, but I will say will be a large one. But it’s not unusual nor earth shattering nor protest worthy. There are cow dairys in the county with this many animals.

    Again, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

    Saying you understand commercial goat dairying because you had some goats once is so unbelievably ridiculous I don’t even know what to say about that. I guess it’s like saying I understand about being the president of the United States because I have a desk.

    Please please educate yourself on commercial dairying. Please, do us all a favor.

  15. Karen Davidson

    Hi Ian,

    I’m sorry for not just checking Linked In to see that you get paid as an Information Systems Specialist by Cypress Grove to write.

    Karen Davidson

  16. Ian Ray

    Karen Davidson, I do work for CGC. I am not interested in this issue for financial gain. I am the only one there who still cares that I know of. I may be wrong

    I live adjacent to a large animal operation surrounded by other such operations to the south and west. To the east is a new subdivision formerly occupied by a dilapidated barn. If given the choice, I would rather have manure smell, hundreds of moos, early morning tractors, and anti-Canadian goose gushots than houses.

    For full disclosure, I also follow a plant-based diet and abstain from wearing animal products. I do not think goat factory farms are a good thing nor do I think a few tied-out goats are a good thing. I try to maintain a practical outlook on these things without letting my views be clouded by my objections to the entire practice.

    The only way I envision our landscape being protected from urban sprawl is high-value agriculture from profitable farming practices. I don’t want to discount hobby farms and small farms as a way of preserving space, but unfortunately I just haven’t seen that happen.

    I don’t really understand the point you are trying to make in your comment. You seem to be engaging in a logical fallacy of argument from authority by describing your farming experience. You don’t address specifics anywhere or why you use the term factory farm besides not being afraid of what it will do to your public image to describe things with derogatory terms. You then end with an ad hominem circumstantial by insinuating that it is not worth discussing with people who have vested interests in the topic.

    From my perspective,

  17. Karen Davidson

    I was only quoting Mary Kheen who told me that in her office. Where is the really large goat dairy similar to the EMMI Roth proposal? Is Mary aware of it? She said hers was a unique proposal and told the 126 people at the meeting there was nothing similar in America.
    So you have a desk. Any more info you want to divulge about your experiences as you call me “unbelievably ridiculous”. I was not saying I was a successful dairy farmer but I am a person who’s going away party from Wisconsin was mostly dairy farmers who lived near me.
    Be well, Karen

  18. Ian Ray

    Sorry, from my perspective, you are not considering why you use terminology and make insinuations which lump this proposal in with mega animal feeding operations.

  19. Karen Davidson

    Ian, I appreciate your calm reply. I did try to not imply that your employ rendered your views less than worthy. I just wondered what your interest was. Thanks.

    I shared some of my farming history to answer Lisa’s questions about if I hated farming in general. I love farming.

  20. lisa

    As previously stated, more than once, Summerhill Goat dairy is a similar operation in California. There are other very very large dairys near Turlock that supply Meyenberg that milk thousands of goats.

    I am not a CG employee and never have been. I have been involved in the dairy industry in Humboldt county for over 20 years.

    Some information for you to get started on;

    Information on goat dairying and a model for a 500 goat dairy on 5 acres.

    “The San Joaquin Valley of California has approximately 40 commercial goat dairies that sell for
    fresh milk and for cheese. There are some long established goat farms and some new ones. The
    sizes of herds range from 150 – 1,200 goats. A single processor buys most of the milk. This
    processor sells fresh and dried milk throughout the nation.

    The Santa Rosa area has about five commercial producers; the herd size ranges from 30 – 2,000

  21. Kaimo Ter

    Hello Karen,

    So as I understand Tule Fog Farms was also interested in leasing or purchasing the land that Cypress Grove was seeking to install their dairy on. As I understand, your daughter in law, Shail Pec-Crouse is the owner of TuleFog Farm. I also understand that your son (Sean Armstrong, who works for the city of Arcata in development projects) and Shail Pec-Crouse were extremely active in trying to shut down the proposed Cypress Grove Dairy. I know it was their goats that defecated on the sidewalk in front of Cypress Grove as a “protest” and it was Sean Armstrong who was reported in the Eye to have pursued Mary (former owner/consultant for Cypress Grove) to her car after the meeting screaming at her that she was trying “kill his kids”. I am wondering, Karen, if you all had your own vested interest in stopping the proposed purchase of the pasture because you were trying to get control of the pasture for yourselves. I am wondering if you cloaked your selfish intentions under the veil of a grassroots campaign “to preserve a neighborhood”.

  22. Kaimo Ter

    So now that the proposed Cypress Grove deal has fallen through, what next? I heard Tule Fog Farm had expressed some interest in leasing or buying the parcel and putting it into organic ag production?

  23. Ian Ray

    Karen, given the example of the Summerhill Goat Dairy and the tens of thousands of registered dairy goats in California, do you still view the project as a factory farm out of step with regular dairy practice?

    You also say you love farming but one of Lisa’s points was specifically our local agricultural practices. What do you think is appropriate for our landscape? Are you willing to support your vision or does this issue only matter when it is immediately adjacent to you? (It is okay if it just adjacency, I know I would care most if the issue were a subdivision plan adjacent to my neighborhood.)

  24. Karen Davidson

    Hello Kaimo,

    I will be happy to answer your questions about my family in the order you asked them.

    No, Tule Fog Farm did not ever express interest in the pasture the Masons leased for cows. We all agree that they should not be deprived of pasture they farmed organically. Sean did ask about leasing the land EMMI Roth/ CG already owns near the cheese factory.

    Yes, Polly, the milk goat, couldn’t find a public restroom while at the protest and we neglected to bring a poop bag for her. I regret that.

    Sean has apologized to Mary for yelling at her. He was wrong but the meeting angered even people who went in pleasantly. A New Yorker cartoon that week seemed to capture their plan for the meeting. A man at a podium says ” That’s a very good question, which is why we’re going to move on to the next question.”

    We had hoped for answers but they wanted to collect our concerns . I was very surprised that they had no figures for how much a goat eats and defecates. No estimates of how many truckloads of food would be trucked in from other counties. No estimates of how much composted feces would be trucked away. It angered many people who felt they were obscuring things. Were any of you at that meeting?

    Tule Fog farm is owned by a young farmer and her energy consultant husband with no spare money to buy a half million dollar piece of land. They would love to see small organic farmers on the land or the Masons who were there.

    I help watch their twins and have no plans, hopes or wishes to control the land on my small social security payments. I am living with my son, after all, not someone who sold her cheese company for lots of money.

    Any more conspiracy theories? I was a long ways away when JFK was killed…………


  25. Karen,

    What did you think about Planwest/CGC’s offer at the meeting to incorporate the neighbors’ suggestions and reshape the project accordingly?

  26. Ian Ray

    Regarding manure/feed,

    Goats eat different amounts depending on how much milk they are producing. While dairy cows produce about 4% of their bodyweight in milk, goats can produce 10%.

    Goats not giving much milk or no milk can eat 1-2 lbs of food per day. Goats producing milk eat 5-7 lbs. On average a goat produces 5% of its bodyweight in manure per day. 5% for an average dairy goat is about 5-6 lbs or about 0.08 cubic feet per day. Housed goats put on pasture to exercise tend to produce about 1-1.5 lbs of manure outdoors leaving 0.05-0.07 cubic feet of manure to compost from bedding and wash from feeding areas per day.

    For comparison, cows produce 100-120 lbs of manure per day.

  27. Ian Ray

    More goat manure…

    General information on goat manure

    Goat manure compost as a nitrous oxide biofilter:

    Nitrous oxide and methane emissions from livestock:
    http://www.ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/public/gp/ bgp/4_2_CH4_and_N2O_Livestock_Manure.pdf

  28. Sean Armstrong

    Hi Ian,

    Nice to see your research. I don’t think you’re reading deeply enough on the E. coli risk from fecal dust. Find a friend who has had really bad food poisoning and talk about the symptoms. Imagine if it was an 85 year old grandparent suffering. Or a baby.


  29. Ian Ray

    Sean I posted some links earlier about E. coli among species, reservoirs, organic and conventional, etc.

    This study is a bit dated but speaks to the spray application of manure


    I didn’t see any indication that the dairy itself would spread E. coli. The only association I’ve read of with physical farm operations having E. coli problems have been dust management inside the barn area. Outdoors, dust problems would be unlikely given the amount of rain we get.

    As far as fairs, I have a distrust of those but I hope the employees are better trained these days with regards to safety. I’ve never trusted petting zoos.

    I had bloody food poisoning before where I had to take an array of pills. One of the last hamburgers I ever ate. I pretty much stayed away from packaged salads and salad bars after that as well.

    There would be some risk from goat meat. I’m not going to say the risk is zero but I have not heard of open-air pasture bacterial infections. Maybe you have some research on that. There is the risk of viral infection, but that is also mitigated by water.

  30. Ian Ray

    Study suggesting E. coli distribution related to feeder-age cattle. Compares pasture-based to confined cattle.


    From what I understand, E. coli has to do with age, time between application and consumption of fodder sprayed with manure, diet, and antibiotic consumption. The link between less humane confinement operations and E. coli growth may be due to a combination of all the problems occurring at once. E. coli is likely more common if an animal is subjected to inadequate nutrition supplemented with freshly sprayed graze while being regularly drugged with antibiotics.

    I apologize for not italicizing or writing _E. coli_.

  31. Sean Armstrong

    Hi Ian,

    Glad to see that you have some personal experience with the risks of E.coli infection. As you know, feces is the vector, sprouts and tainted meat are just the substrate.

    As you note, concentrated animal populations are more likely to harbor dangerous versions of E.coli. If you work out the fecal production math you provided (it matches our experience), 1200 135 lb milking goats are producing 5% of their weight: 8100 lbs of poop each day. Mary told us it would sit for 3-4 months in the 1 acre barn, 4 tons of poop a day. Mary said the barn’s curtain walls would be “opened up on sunny days” which is when the wind blows most days in Arcata.

    She explained that after 3-4 months, the poop and bedding would be bulldozed out into 36′ tall, 3-sided buildings to “air dry” and “compost.” She said after 6 months it would be loaded into trucks and driven to local soil amendment companies.

    We, the parents and grandparents of small children, are not interested in being human subjects in Cypress Grove fecal dust control experiment. Factory farms are major polluters, and one the least regulated factory types in the U.S. Our Regional Water Quality Control Board doesn’t have regulations yet for the 1500 cow CAFOs in this district. They don’t even have plans for regulating goat CAFOs.

    You avoid eating hamburgers to minimize your risk of bloody diarrhea. We avoid eating goat feces carried on the wind from the local factory farm. I think we understand each other.


  32. Sean Armstrong

    Hi Ian,

    I think we should have a common definition of the word “dairy.” Even if I wasn’t a farmer who grew up on a farm in the heart of dairyland, Wisconsin, a dictionary would clarify that a dairy is a building where animals are milked, and it is a dairy regardless of how the animals are housed and fed.

    Nobody is talking about the dairy building next to the feedlot building. we’re all talking about the feedlot building.


  33. Ian Ray

    Sean, I can define use of these terms more accurately if you wish. Goat keeping comes in two generic types: extensive and intensive. Here we are talking about intensive, specifically loose pen confinement. You have said “a feedlot is a feedlot”, but to most people that describes a yard or building containing animals getting little exercise in order to fatten them for slaughter.

    Your post about protecting yourself from fecal material is one post hoc fallacy after another. I do agree that stressful practices engaged in “factory farms” can contribute to lowered animal health an susceptibility to infection. However, if you read the link (do you have any links?) I posted comparing pasture-based and confinement with regard to E. coli incidence, you might agree that the no significant difference conclusion reached may have some validity. Te point I was trying to make is it is not the overall style of pen or pasture, it is a number of management factors contributing to bacterial infection.

    This site discusses manure management best practices. It briefly outlines the risk of bacterial, protozoan, and viral infections using different management methods.

    Note that the practices you cite as a problem are actually among best practices for eliminating E. coli. Keeping the manure in an aerated pile for months kills the bacteria. The proposed vegetative filters and berm reduce the possibility of spreading. You are essentially saying that the best practices for minimizing fecal danger are what will harm you.

    Aside from barnyard waste, humans can expose themselves to E. coli through their own waste and that of their pets:

    Do you own pets or carpets? How do you mange that bacterial load?

    In any case, it might help your position if you back it up with some information other than your opinion on farm terminology and appeal to authority due to your having grown up around farm animals. Please cite some specific examples.

  34. I’m told there are five major goat herds in Humboldt comprising roughly 2,000 animals.

    Do we know of any E. coli issues having occurred?

  35. Citizen

    So wait…. when you bought a house next too or around the farm land, did you not think to yourself…. well maybe someday there will be a farm there again? I grew up in that neighborhood and they used to have a lot of cattle on that land and adjacent parcels. come on people wake up, thats what its zoned for, let me setup.

  36. Mark Sailors

    I would argue that the majority of fecal contamination that occurs in the ground water and streams comes from pet waste that is not properly picked up and disposed of.

    Please pick up your dogs crap.
    Thank you.

  37. Sean Armstrong

    Hi Ian,

    I think we have a difference of approach. You’re working on self-educating by reading websites. That’s fine, we did that too. But our neighborhood includes the former Director of Environmental Health. He does Third World sanitary development as a volunteer. He personally investigated the Lane County Fair E. coli epidemic. He’s concerned about the two day cares, one downwind, one next door. He’s worried about the groundwater contamination when that entire field floods (we have pictures), as well winter wet seasons on Iverson when the groundwater is above ground. I trust his expert opinion, so I guess I’m “arguing from authority.” :)

    Regarding animal farming practices, I grew up farming. I’m an animal farmer right now. So I have an informed opinion, even an “expert” opinion on this subset of farming called “sustainable, organic, pasture based, humane” farming. I was a vegetarian, Shail was a vegan, and we both care deeply, personally about animal welfare, and we work crazy hard for their sake. And we’re totally transparent as a CSA–come on over for a tour, and we’ll talk about every farming practice we employ. And we’re not perfect, so if you have a concern we want to hear it. But don’t assume, walking into the conversation, that we don’t have a good reason. :)


  38. Ian Ray

    Sean, I am interested in what your neighbor has to say. Did they provide you with quotes, preferably ones that reference objective evidence? I hope these concerns take into account an accurate portrayal of the manure management and not the spraying/knifing-in rumors. If so, were there any suggestions for better practices or was the land in your neighbor’s opinion unsuitable for agricultural development?

    It still arguing from authority when a person claims to be an expert in a subject, makes a claim about that subject, and the argument is intended to be taken at face value. To analyze the basis for this claim, we need to know the specifics. Unless the facts can be flushed out, you stating that your expert neighbor has identified insurmountable bio-security obstacles is hearsay. If you have the goods, by all means bring them out as it may settle this issue.

  39. steve

    This arrived in my mailbox today forwarded from an Ag friend…

    From: Tule Fog Farm [mailto:tulefogfarm@gmail.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 1:30 PM
    To: undisclosed-recipients:
    Subject: Save ag land!

    Dear Tule Fog Farm Friends,

    As a grass based farmer and an agricultural land activist, I am writing to you to ask those of you who believe in preserving agricultural land to attend the City Council meeting tomorrow at 6pm to show your support for preserving the Ghilardoni property as UNPAVED prime agricultural land. When Emmi/Cypress Grove went into escrow on that property, the organic cattle dairy that has been grazing their cattle there for years was kicked off with no notice. Emmi/Cypress Grove’s farm plan was to pave a large portion of this property and build a goat milk factory. The city has the opportunity to buy this land and preserve it as agricultural land forever.

    · Cypress Grove is proposing a FACTORY not a farm!
    -1400 goats in a one acre building is a feed lot factory.
    -a sustainable stocking rate for goats on pasture is at most 10 goats/acre
    -most of the goat feed will be imported from out of county
    -factory farms employ a lot less people than standard farms
    · Cypress Grove is NOT a local company it is a MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATION
    -you can not talk to the owners without calling Switzerland in the middle of the night
    · Cypress Grove plans to PAVE at least 4 acres of our very best agricultural land
    -a family run produce CSA can thrive on 4 acres while employing many people and enriching the surrounding community
    · Cypress Grove does not have a plan for containing their E. Coli contaminated dust
    · Cypress Grove would be feeding mainly conventional alfalfa. Conventional alfalfa is one of our nation’s most heavily sprayed crops. The pesticides in the alfalfa will be in the urine and 5 tons of daily feces (and milk) produced by the 1400 goats. Factory farms are notorious for contaminating ground water with feces.
    Please come to the City council meeting tomorrow at 6pm to show your support for sustainable agriculture and OPEN agricultural land.
    Thanks you.

    Your Farmer,

    Tule Fog Farm
    (this is also my home phone so please do not call before 11am on weekends or after 8pm on any day)

  40. Ian Ray

    I meant fleshed out, my mind was still in the toilet.

    Sean, I would like to add that I think we agree on most of the basic animal welfare aspects as well as the hazards of bacteriological contamination..If we were talking about a bacteria-infested animal factory, I would be on the same page as you. I am only unsure why the E. coli conclusion is still drawn when appropriate measures are proposed to stop contamination.

  41. E. coli is the new fluoride.

  42. Sean Armstrong

    I understand you are trying to say that e.coli is a boogyman or false fear, but, when did you ever hear of numerous fluoride deaths? Or about a large fluoride contamination in bean sprouts? Or a huge fluoride contaminated batch of hamburger? Or that we in America only test a small number of the fluoride ( E.coli) that sicken people. Only the “popular” ones. Perhaps you meant the “new mercury”. Remember rolling it around in your hand back when we thought it was safe?

    I did want to complement you on the headline you gave my letter/article. It was clever and punny but mostly, it was accurate. “Getting one’s goat” comes from stealing the companion goat of your competitor’s racehorse to take away it’s peace of mind before a big race. The way EMMI/Roth USA handled it did not produce peace of mind for anyone.

  43. lisa

    “-factory farms employ a lot less people than standard farms”

    What the hell is a “standard farm”?.

    In fact, what is a factory farm?

    You all are so stuck on that 1400 number, when in fact the dairy was planning on starting with only 400 goats. How many is too much?

    Meet the new foody sub group “Loca, but not too loca vores”!!

    Shail and Sean; you are animal farmers? Have you had your animals, who I imagine sometimes come in contact with your children that you are so concerned about, been tested for e coli? Do you not let your “farm” children anywhere near your animals in case they get wind of some horrible farm dust? Why pick out this one thing and base your entire protest on that? What is the real reason for your anger here? Seems pretty likely a straw man argument, especially since you yourself own and farm livestock.

    You are not animal farmers, you are hobby farmers. Try making an actual working wage living for your family on your farm and then come back and we’ll talk about farming. Clearly Sean has a regular job so he is not supported by your “farm”. Do you own your farm property? Pay property taxes? If not, what is the lease on your farm?

    You say you are farmers, but you are not, certainly you are not dairy farmers. You completely lack any actual dairy experience. Calling yourself farmers and raising a few animals does not give you any credibility. Sorry.


  44. Sean,

    Wait, you mean you wrote this column, with the “get anyone’s goat” headline?

    It was submitted and signed by Karen Davidson, and published under her name.

    Please advise.

  45. Ian Ray

    Kevin, they were using the same computer and did not change the name field.

  46. Well, someone typed Karen’s name under the text.

    It’s just that the readers deserve to know whose thoughts they are reading on the Opinion page. Kind of basic.

  47. Karen Davidson


    Ian is right, I was watching the twins and Sean used my computer to write you folks. I sent my note about fluoride before I noticed that. I figured people would notice my signature but I do understand the confusion.

    Sean and I have very different writing styles and often have different ideas as well although we agree about this goat proposal. I will be really careful in the future to check my computer for other addresses.

    As an aside, I Wisconsin they had farms with homes over the “cheese factory” and long after the cheese was gone people lived in “cheese factory” homes. Does anyone disagree that it is accurate to call the place where they make cheese a cheese factory? Isn’t factory a neutral term when used accurately?

    Karen Davidson

  48. Karen Davidson

    typo, I meant IN Wisconsin Karen


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