Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeNotes From KathyIs a Bigger Grazing Operation Better?

Is a Bigger Grazing Operation Better?

“Bigness is pervasive in America as nowhere else in the world. It is as much a part of the American system, the American way of thinking, as the capillaries are a part of the vascular system.”  

 ~ Kirkpatrick Sale, “In modern America, bigger is not only better, it’s the best.


Big government, big business, big everything: Kirkpatrick Sale wrote about it in his 1980 classic, Human Scale. Rewritten to interpret the past few decades, Human Scale offers compelling new insights on how to turn away from the giantism that has caused escalating ecological distress and inequality, dysfunctional governments, and unending warfare and shines a light on many possible pathways that could allow us to scale down, survive, and thrive. Click to purchase and send a small percentage to On Pasture.

For half a century, Kirkpatrick Sale has been studying “giantism” (our focus on bigness) and how its pervasiveness in American culture means we don’t question our assumptions and end up with practices and policies that are often detrimental to our environments and the quality of our individual lives. In his latest book, Human Scale Revisited, he looks at how the “bigger-is-better” paradigm has defined modern times and how we might create communities that function at a more human scale, and bring our critical services—from energy, food, and garbage collection to transportation, health, and education—back to human scale.

Now I’d like to bring all that big thinking down to a scale that all of us can relate to: the size of our individual grazing operations. In this month’s Thinking Grazier, we’re looking at this “bigger-is-better” paradigm at our own, smaller scale. We started this discussion last December with John Marble and Troy Bishopp sharing their stories about the process of down-sizing their grazing operations so they could have more time for other important things in their lives. This week, they’re talking about why they thought bigger was better in the first place.

I think we can all agree that bigness in itself is not all bad. For example, Greg Judy has benefited from scaling his operation up with rental properties, with the profits helping pay off the mortgage on owned land more quickly. He’s using size to meet one of his business goals. Right-sizing just depends on what you want to accomplish and what it takes to get there.

Having a strong vision and set of goals in place is the best way to know what you want, and that’s why we ended 2021 and started 2022 by providing you ideas and resources to help you develop your own. (Many of them are open access so do check them out.)

But, given that the bigger-is-better paradigm is almost second nature for many of us, you might not have considered its impact on how you think about your goals. So, to help you with that, John and Troy were kind enough to be very open and share some very personal thoughts. As you read, please be respectful of their vulnerability. Then consider how it relates to your own experience.

We hope it will help you create the grazing operation and life you truly want.

Thanks for reading!


Your Tips Keep This Library Online

This resource only survives with your assistance.

Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

Welcome to the On Pasture Library

Free Ebook!

Latest Additions

Most Read