Only a few from what were many bullet points where Simon Farlie, author, described characteristics a low-carbon mixed (omnivorous and vegan) agriculture.
- A highly reruralized society would see a revival of fairs, not unlike the growing number of festivals that embellish the modern English summer, but with stalls that purveyed the practical as well as the fanciful, and plenty of dealing in horses, livestock, cheese, and the like. ‘When fairs were frequent shops were not necessary,’ says Cobbett with characteristic hyperbole, and he goes on to explain:
A manufacturer of shoes, of stockings, of hats, of almost anything that man wants, could manufacture at home in an obscure hamlet, with cheap house rent, good air, and plenty of room. He need pay no heavy rent for a shop; and no disadvantages from confined situation; and then by attending three or four or five or six fairs in a year, he sold the work of his hands, unloaded with a heavy expense attending the keeping of a shop. He would get more for ten shillings in a booth at a fair or market than he would get in a shop for twenty pounds.
Anybody who doubts the ability of society entirely dependent upon animal traction to shift large volumes of material, or who thinks that country life before the motor vehicle must have been boring, should read Defoe’s description of Sturbridge fair, an event the size of Glastonbury Festival, but with no entrance fee or security fence, and lasting many days longer.
- In some circumstances it might be more economic to employ a shepherd/cowherd to guard ruminants, rather than to fence them. This has advantages for animal welfare (disease is more readily spotted) and for land management (grazing of different areas can be calibrated by the shepherd, and overgrazed areas such as riverbanks avoided).
- Some herd of ruminants would be returned to barns or folded on fields at night to supply manure.
- There might be a return to the formerly widespread practice – still found in Eastern Europe – of family-owned dairy cows being collected by the community shepherd after milking in the morning and returned for milking in the evening after a day in common pastures. There are great advantages to this system: it uses economies of scale where they exist (in grazing and bull provision), but spreads the burden where scale is a disadvantage (in handmilking and veterinary care); it distributes milk to every family participating in the scheme; and gives every participating family a stake in the management of village lands, and the economic and emotional satisfaction of owning a cow. The same system was used on the Eastern coast of the United States, prior to the days of barbed wire. Defoe describes this system operating in Cheddar where ‘the whole village are cowkeepers’ and ‘before the village is a large green, or common, a piece of ground in which the whole herd of the cows, belonging to the town, do feed’. Milk not consumed at home was turned into a single huge cheese at the co-operative dairy (another operation where economies of scale are a great advantage); but families were paid, when they had contributed enough gallons, with a huge cheese weighing up to a hundredweight. which it was their responsibility to sell: “Thus every man has equal justice, and though he should have but one cow, he shall, in time, have one whole cheese’.