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Unexpected Dangers of Farming

March 17, 2015

Remember how I said I wanted to get more involved with local farms this year? Well, I guess it pays to be careful with your wishes.

A few weeks ago I met Joshua Rockwood for the first time at Bella Napoli in Latham. He’s the owner of West Wind Acres, a small but growing farm on the edge of Schenectady County in the town of West Charlton. Josh didn’t grow up a farmer. He has a background in construction, but he has gotten into farming for all the right reasons.

He wanted to grow healthier food for himself, his family, and his community. And he wanted to do it all in a sustainable way. So all of the animals are raised on pasture and the manure is converted into nutrient-rich soil. He raises chickens, sheep, pigs and cows and all of them are bred to thrive on pasture and endure our harsh winters.

Except this winter was harsher than most. How bad was it? Well, the city of Troy found parts of its main water line frozen several feet underground, and some Lansingburgh residents were without fresh running water for over a week. What does this mean if you have a bunch of pastured animals? Well, as it turns out, the animals are totally fine.

Farmer Josh on the other hand is trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare.

It’s a long story, and you can read the whole thing on his blog. Fundamentally, Josh is a big believe in transparency. He has nothing to hide. Raising animals for meat isn’t always pretty, but if you want to see what goes on, Josh will gladly show you. That an admirable trait.

So when a police officer came by and asked Josh to show him around, he agreed. From there it gets a little complicated. Here’s the timeline.

Wednesday, February 25: Police show up and inquire about unlicensed working dogs, and Josh shows them around the farm. Uninterrupted, Josh would have been off to do afternoon farm chores. So the authorities observe the animals only have frozen water. Hydration tests are given and passed. Still, Josh is given a ticket for “failure to provide proper sustenance.”

Thursday, February 26: In an attempt to get ahead of future problems, Josh calls his veterinarian and makes an appointment for a farm wellness check.

Friday, February 27: The vet comes out, and files a report that all the animals are fine.

Tuesday, March 3: Police return with search warrant for the farm and the house, and Josh was informed that more charges might be brought up against him at court on the following Thursday.

Thursday, March 12: Josh finds himself facing 12 charges in Glenville Town Court that cover problems with drinking water in various frozen states, the lack of available feed, and absence of adequate shelter for the animals in his care. Because Josh still believes in transparency, you can see them all here.

Sunday, March 15: I wanted to drive up to the farm and see this operation for myself. Plus I wanted to buy a couple of chickens and help provide a little more income to the farm in order to defray some legal costs and increased vet bills. But when I arrived, there were more police, and a trailer. Without a trial, and with a clean bill of health from the vet, the authorities seized his horses.

The police want to seize his perfectly healthy pigs, but right now have no place to put them, so they have remained on the farm…for now.

You may be asking yourself, “What the heck is going on here.” I had the same reaction. So I asked a fourth-generation farmer who is also a lawyer (and who was not previously involved with this dispute). Aparently, Josh isn’t the first farmer of pastured meats who is facing this kind of challenge.

This whole thing is a problem for smaller scale farmers that pasture their animals and often have animals sheltered outdoors during the winter. There are many studies showing that animals can actually thrive outdoors in winter conditions so long as provided with adequate shelter and food. I can see this is baby calves who live in hutches outdoors. They actually are very bright and grow well and strong in calf hutches where they are protected from germy indoor barn conditions, drafts. Yet, if a non-farmer sees a calf living outdoors in a hutch during the winter, they freak out.

There are also some proponents now of keeping herds of dairy cows in semi-shelters and outdoors. So, if this is done, will we then face easy prosecution by local busy bodies who think animals should be indoors all the time? We also have the pastured pig movement where it might be an option for farmers to make some money and some good local meat. I saw Stephanie Strom of the NY Times tweeting a few weeks ago about how great it was to see pigs on pasture using their snouts to break ice to get water. OK, [but the] same comment in Schenectady County could land the farmer in the prosecution situation!!!

The irony of all this is that Josh is being charged with cruelty to animals and not providing them proper sustenance. Yet in many states it’s perfectly okay to keep pigs in gestation crates. Here in New York, it’s standard practice to keep chickens in unthinkably small cages. And I don’t even want to get into what passes for animal feed. The care and feeding that Josh’s animals get don’t seem to be the issue.

It would appear that what’s happening here is that his way of farming doesn’t look like the way it is conventionally done.

I don’t know if you are outraged by what feels like government overreach and a miscarriage of justice. But if you want to help, you can do a few things.

1) Reach out to Josh and West Wind Acres over social media just to voice your support. This is an incredibly difficult time for him and his family, and it’s reassuring to know that people are behind him.
2) Visit the farm this weekend and see the animals for yourself. Just call ahead to make sure there isn’t another police action on the farm.
3) Buy his meat. Amazingly, though all of this, the farm is still making deliveries to Delmar, Latham, Rensselaer, Troy, Clifton Park, Schenectady, Malta, etc. Of course, you could also buy some while at the farm.
4) Finally, Josh is hoping some people will show up to his hearing at the Glenville Town Hall March 24 at 5:30 pm.

Farming can be dangerous. Mrs. Fussy grew up in a farming community. People lose eyes, fingers and limbs. Tractors roll over and crush their riders. And let’s not forget all those deer ticks. Lyme disease is no joke.

But this legal handwringing isn’t the kind of thing anyone signs up for when they make a commitment to honor the land and try to improve the health and wellbeing of us all.

Talk about a thankless job.

– – – – – – – –
3/18/15 Addendum: The From Scratch Club dug up a podcast about West Wind Acres in their archive. If you want to hear farmer Josh talk about his farm, his animals, and what he does, you should listen.
– – – – – – – –
3/19/15 Addendum & edits: The From Scratch Club has shared another story on West Wind Acres from their archive. Also while the days of the week in my timeline above were correct, I had the dates a little jumbled. Wednesday, Thursday & Friday are February 25, 26 & 27 and not 23, 24 & 25 as previously posted. Thanks to @upstateashley for the catch.
– – – – – – – –
3/21/15 Addendum: West Wind Acres has begun a GoFundMe Legal Defense Fund. I could make an appeal for your support, but this blog has done a much better job of that than I ever could.

80 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2015 9:48 am

    Done. This is a pretty ridiculous bit of big-brother-ism. Guess there isn’t enough real crime in Schenectady (or is it Glenville?) to keep the police busy.

    • thenslee permalink
      April 13, 2015 4:04 pm

      Didnt they have speed traps to run?THis is the same nonsense that has run truckers out of truckdriving

  2. Dominic Colose permalink
    March 17, 2015 10:30 am

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    • March 19, 2015 1:49 pm

      They deliberately took the animals because they wanted nice things away from people. It has nothing to do with any concern for the care of the animals.

  3. March 17, 2015 11:05 am

    The police didn’t just show up on a whim. Someone is probably egging them on, someone with a major chip on their shoulder against the farm or farmers, and, no doubt, a crackpot. I hope the horses are ok.

    • John Sturgess permalink
      March 21, 2015 5:32 pm

      You hit the nail on the head, either a lobbyist from a Meat Plant / Company or some irate luney tune who thinks all farm animals should have tempurpedic sleeping mattresses. Yet these same goody doers buy their meat wrapped in plastic from behind a glass counter at a strip mall loaded with antibiotics and growth hormones. Or their say they are against killing animals yet still wear leather shoes and carry leather pocket books He should have a smart lawyer and inquire who PLACED the COMPLAINT. I know in my county you have to sign a complaint before animal control goes out to check.

    • Baba Booey permalink
      March 23, 2015 7:48 pm

      As someone who knows Josh and the neighborhood the farm is in very, very well, i can tell you with 100% certainty it is one of the neighbors who is reporting him. Hopefully, maybe thru the Freedom of Information act, he can “out” them and put them in their place.

      • Aimee Romberger permalink
        March 24, 2015 3:19 pm

        Sad situation, when there are so many people and farms that truly are abusive to their animals…West Wind’s animals look happy and healthy. From what I’ve read, the mini with the overgrown hooves that so many are griping about, was taken in by them as a rescue- it takes time and several trimmings to get foundered/overgrown hooves back to where they should be. I wish I was in a position to do more than offer verbal support for these people…I hope they eventually get their animals back. Was glad to see it posted that Julius is doing ok…he shouldn’t have been taken either.

    • thenslee permalink
      April 13, 2015 4:07 pm

      Probably some real estate type who wants to get rid of the animals because it makes selling houses easier plus hoping he might sell out so they can put his place in housing.

  4. David Nardolillo (DEN) permalink
    March 17, 2015 11:12 am

    If he has not done so already, he needs to find a good lawyer with expertise in that area of law. I am sure the local farming community will have a referral. If animals are getting seized by the authorities, it is not the time to be handling things pro se.

  5. Angela permalink
    March 17, 2015 11:29 am

    See, this is part of what spurred farmers to indoor farming (or “factory farming” if you’re ignorant). My uncle can remember when PETA and other animal rights groups were up in arms about raising animals outdoors. It was cruel to have pigs outside in the summer because they can get sun burned and don’t sweat. It was cruel to have pigs outdoors in the winter because they don’t have hair. Now it’s cruel to raise them indoors whether you’re using the usual combination of group and gestation housing or if you’re completely group. Maybe everyone should just raise their own apartment pig every year if they want bacon.

    Our cows and horses both spend the year in similar circumstances to this farmer. When the waterers freeze we carry water out to them with buckets a few times a day, yet if the cops came out we too could be dinged for same things he was dinged with. We also have friends who constantly have people pulling in their driveway to yell at them for keeping calved in hutches, thinking they’re veal crates!

    Too many people don’t know a thing about farming but still want to tell farmers how they should do their job. Every farm manager has different techniques that work with their individual farm to give their animals great care. Trying to turn every farm into an “ideal” farm just won’t work.

    • March 18, 2015 10:27 pm

      Nevermind the REAL problem with the feral pig population. Guess they haven’t gotten the memo. I’d love to see those PETA folks chase ’em down in, say, Texas, for example, in the summer….

      • wildrosebeef permalink
        March 19, 2015 2:31 pm

        You won’t see it, Tikk, because PETA feels the need to protect the feral hogs from hunting. Talk about a double standard…

      • March 19, 2015 4:11 pm

        Of course. Nevermind them running roughshod over the land…. I’ve actually written about this. It’s a problem. PETA is anti-animal.

  6. March 17, 2015 12:08 pm

    This February was brutally cold. Our cattle (all 4 of them) had access to a barn for shelter. They chose to spend most of their time hanging out by a tree in the field. Day and night.

  7. March 17, 2015 1:15 pm

    This was a great post, and I will be trying to get out to the farm this weekend – thank you!

  8. Sympathetic Urban Resident permalink
    March 17, 2015 1:51 pm

    I don’t know if it could be helpful here, but the state Department of Ag and Markets will sometimes run interference for farmers facing harassment by local government. Maybe Josh would find this useful? Information is on this page: under “Sound Agricultural Practices.”

  9. Betty permalink
    March 17, 2015 1:59 pm

    Sure glad I read this before the media report and comments I just saw – real example of two sides to every story

  10. Bettyjean permalink
    March 17, 2015 3:47 pm

    Never let the police “have a look around” without them bringing a warrant. Dumb to ever trust them. They have ONE JOB: make a case against you.

    • March 17, 2015 10:28 pm

      They have ONE JOB: respond to complaints made by your fellow citizens….

      • March 18, 2015 12:32 am

        They have ONE JOB: generate revenue for the state by stealing it from citizens using infractions of unfathomably complex layers of laws from Federal, State, County, and City regulations as the excuse for such theft.

      • Fred P. permalink
        April 1, 2015 12:39 pm

        Correct, Mister Dave. But Gabriel, you are sadly mistaken. Cops don’t generate enough in fines and court costs to cover their own salaries, much less their vehicles, jails, judges, utilities, etc. It is a complex world we live in , but just because you don’t understand it doesn’t make it government theft. The Cops or Animal Control Officers are trying to keep your community safe and there are laws that help insure that. If you have bad intentions, but follow the law, you are fine. If you have good intentions, but violate the law, you have trouble. Easy to broad brush the government regulations. But, if you are really concerned, find a law that is not needed and learn about why it is in place. I think you’ll find the local government is working to keep the community safe and revenue generation through regulation is much farther down the list.

  11. March 17, 2015 5:20 pm

    Tell him to go to this web page and joint that group. It is NOT all that expensive and they have lawyers that handle animal cases. Only problem is you have to be a member for a certain period of time before it takes effect. Joining will help once the grace period is over as these animal people do NOT stop they keep hounding you to death.

  12. avatar12 permalink
    March 17, 2015 6:09 pm

    Gestation crates are terrible, horrible, unethical and should be banned.

    Raising animals on a pasture is much, much better. However, you still have to provide appropriate shelter from harsh weather and appropriate access to food and drinkable water. I don’t know the details of this case, and so can not comment as to whether that was happening or not… but just because this is a small pasture farming operation does not, on its own, mean that animal cruelty laws were not being violated.

    Have to wait for the facts to be presented.

    Additionally, from personal experience, unfortunately, I can tell you it is extremely, extremely hard to get the authorities to charge farmers with animal cruelty. Even when there are egregious violations going on it can be a fight to get them to investigate and prosecute. They do not do it on a whim or for the heck of it. It is generally a very low priority for law enforcement. I will say, the fact that they went back multiple times, and drew similar conclusions each visit, tells me they were seeing something that didn’t seem right to them. But again, we won’t know until they present the facts.

    • Fiber Farmer permalink
      March 17, 2015 6:30 pm

      avatar12…. That all depends on where you live and who’s in charge. People DO call complaints out against farmers because they don’t understand how the animals live, how they thrive, and what they actually need. Too many folks, these days, think farm animals should have insulated stalls with central air and heat. They have no clue that having free choice access to the fresh outdoors is so much healthier. And as for the police? Low case load and ignorance is all it takes for them to run amuck with a case like this. Know-it-all “do gooders” are making life difficult for a lot of good people.

      • March 17, 2015 8:39 pm

        Fiber farmer- agreed re: “do gooders” but I think there’s a difference between someone calling to report a dead horse at my farm (sleeping in a field while laying down) or a blind horse at my farm being abused (fly mask on while being ridden) and a complaint about the condition of animals supported by documented police witness reports of lack of water/contaminated water supply.

        While I doubt these cops don’t have enough to do and/or are excited over the amount of paperwork this case is going to generate, if it turns out that boredom is the reason for the removal of the horses I’m sure the local farming community would be glad to let the police spend some of their downtime helping muck stalls, clean water troughs, and repair busted fences.

        Again, thanks to Daniel for bringing the other side of the conversation to the table because I think we’re going to see more and more of this.

    • Cmaxby permalink
      March 17, 2015 8:28 pm

      Agreed Avatar12- After reading Daniel’s post I went to the Windy Acres fb page and read through the complaints. I didn’t see anything listed about why the horses were taken but did see multiple witness statements of animals with frozen solid water buckets with feces in it. Also of note, the farm’s own veterinarian’s report states “the animals that were able to be handled were in adequate health.” which means they weren’t able to do a hydration test on at least some of the animals. That does not mean all the animals were actually fine at the time of the Windy Acres vet visit, just that visually they didn’t appear to be in distress. While a thin layer of ice is relatively normal on ice buckets this time of year, frozen solid water buckets are not. If you keep livestock upstate you either invest in heated water troughs, insulated buckets, or you lug fresh water all day.

      As more and more people decide to become farmers that have no background with animals and no experience with the difficulty of the northeast winter, I’d hazard a guess that we’ll see more instances of ticketing for poor animal husbandry and neglect, not out of willful abuse, but due to ignorance.

  13. Heather permalink
    March 17, 2015 7:02 pm

    [REDACTED. Please try to keep it civil. -The Profussor] What do you think that DEER do, over Winter? They eat the SNOW and lick ice for water. They dig under the snow for the fallen leaves and dried grasses that GOD put there for them to eat in Winter.

  14. Don Schwarzkopf permalink
    March 17, 2015 7:46 pm

    I hope you have a good lawyer, When this is all done, turn around and sue [REDACTED. Please try to keep it civil. -The Profussor] for your losses, mental anguish… and make it a big enough number that they don’t have the funding to do this to anyone else! Then pack up your animals, and equipment and move out of New York!

  15. Robert Y. Burns permalink
    March 17, 2015 8:12 pm

    What about all of the wild animals who live outside all of the time? Who waters them and feeds them in the winter. Government – back off and do something productive once and awhile rather than harass honest hard working people.

    • KBE permalink
      March 20, 2015 10:43 am

      They often die–especially this particular winter. If one is a true practitioner of animal husbandry one make sure that there is clean drinkable water available. I agree with Cmaxby–ignorance is often the problem in situations like this

  16. Jtd permalink
    March 18, 2015 12:32 am

    I have solid frozen buckets daily.p in MN winters. My animals are given all they can drink each evening. It is perfectly acceptable that animals not have heated buckets…it is a luxury, not a necessity.

  17. ron axtell permalink
    March 18, 2015 7:57 am

    there was an agricultural attorney in nyc,a woman from out west,don,t know her name…

  18. March 18, 2015 8:54 am

    This is a great article…except for the conclusion that bashes “conventional” ag. I wish people could see that it is anti-animal-ag forces versus the rest of us. I take good care of my animals, too, even though I do it differently from you. Private property — ownership of animals and land — leads to different ways of doing things and to the best aggregate outcome imaginable.

  19. March 18, 2015 10:56 am

    Somebody wants his land or his farm, or wants to put him out of bushiness. This is good ol boy politics at work, or some damn animal activist. Mr. Farmer needs to get a good publicist and blow the lid off this bullcrap. quick! They need to put this out there nationally, on the news, everywhere and anywhere. the only way to get get the dirty thieves to stop and run, is to throw light on em

  20. Leigh permalink
    March 18, 2015 11:27 am

    I’m a farmer out in CA…so do not have a handle on what it is like in harsh winters, so will not comment on that – tho I can say such animals (those not adapted to living in the wild) need gallons of fresh water every day – providing that when everything is frozen must be an incredible challenge! I’m picturing the kid from that Christmas movie with his tongue stuck to the frozen flagpole (?). My only exp with authorities was several years ago when a passerby called animal control because (I swear) my ducks were out in the rain. The woman who responded literally could not stop laughing but said she is obligated to respond to every complaint same day. We had a nice visit and she left after explaining to the onlooking complaining party that ducks like rain. As for interested passersby – they are frequent as my farm is visible. My lgd and one of my sows are best friends, raised together and have never been apart in over two years. People pull in and knock on my door urging me to call off my dog “it’s killing your pig”…and while I appreciate the concern – it wears on me sometimes. So I walk the down and we watch and they see it is playful interaction…they now wave and say good morning when riding by. Point being – non farmers don’t get it – not all are malicious, some just concerned, others busy bodies – we have to be open to educating them as we try to have our voices as small farmers raising animals the right way heard. The numbers are not on our side – still a long fight ahead to end cruel and unhealthy raising of animals.

  21. March 18, 2015 12:24 pm

    No police department is going to let a received complaint concerning animal cruelty (real or imagined) go without a significant response. Remember that guy who left his dogs out last winter (in Fonda I think)? That hit facebook on a national level, local PDs/NYSP were hounded by callers from all over, and if I remember correctly some animal rights activist lawyer was trying to file a lawsuit against the State Police. Instead of dealing with this sort of fallout, I guarantee the authorities involved went in and overcharged as a “cover our asses, it will get sorted out by the court and we won’t be left holding the bag” situation. No one wants to deal with a pack of frothing animal rights activist types…

    This is what activist culture gets you. We are beholden to the wants and whims of whackos with keyboards. I blame social meda.

  22. Patricia Parkhurst permalink
    March 18, 2015 1:42 pm

    this is insane….. where are they for the industrial neglect and abuse…. oh that’s right its all legal….SMFH

  23. Diane Kennedy permalink
    March 18, 2015 2:55 pm

    I think some folks have forgotten that people were farming before rural areas were wired for electricity (in many areas, post-WWII). Somehow those animals survived without heated water buckets. Some farmers used sledge hammers to break ice on farm ponds, some lugged water from a hand-pump well. Some people still farm without electricity (the Amish, for example). I know that vet who came to his farm. She is very experienced and knowledgeable, and has great compassion for animals. She would not approve of someone neglecting their livestock, let alone file a document falsely stating that animals were OK if they weren’t. My own sheep have a lovely barn, but they climb over the snowbank next to the door to get outside in even the coldest weather.

  24. Shari Fill permalink
    March 18, 2015 4:53 pm

    It’s terrible that people have become so out of touch with Nature that they think that animals belong indoors. I hope this family can persevere against this harassment and continue to provide pastured meat for the community.

  25. March 18, 2015 5:14 pm

    There are lawyers who are committed to supporting local farmers who are being unfairly treated and harassed: . I’ll also send this situation to a group of grassroots folks who go out of there way to rally with farmers like Josh.

  26. March 18, 2015 6:52 pm

    I would like to see this police department sued into extinction. I’m pretty sure New York has more pressing matters to worry about.

  27. March 19, 2015 12:05 am

    Clearly the average person no longer has any clue about acceptable animal husbandry practices or the natural behavior and needs of livestock. This is a dangerous situation for those who work with animals because they are being presumed to be abusive when they are not. Frankly, this farmer must have a lot of patience with the situation. I would be outraged! Then some of the examples given by commentors are just great…like the comment about a complaint filed with AC because “ducks were out in the rain”….just incredible! Apparently many individuals are so far removed from nature that they have no clue about even the very basics with regard to birds and animals, whether wild or domestic livestock.

  28. catijoefarm permalink
    March 19, 2015 6:04 am

    Does anyone know if a Kickstarter has been started to help these folks out with legal costs?

    • Sarah permalink
      March 22, 2015 5:58 pm

      Yes. There is a gofundme

  29. March 19, 2015 12:52 pm

    HOW could they just remove his horses?? ON what basis? Where are they now?
    It takes a lot of complaints and proof to remove horses here in Wisconsin. Almost impossible without court orders or owner’s consent.
    We had a situation here this winter where there numerous complaints brought on the owners of horses on a main hyway who were “out in the cold’ with NO blankets. OMG just think of it? no blankets! The complainers did get laughed off finally but not without a lot of discussion of the need for education.
    I tell people all the time that my horses do much better in the winter than in the hot summer when it’s buggy and there is no relief.
    I will post this and pass this on.. This story needs to be told!!

    • March 22, 2015 1:54 pm

      This article right here. Everyone going off about how this is the local police overstepping their boundaries knows nothing about horses. Those ponies feet show months of neglect. You CANNOT let a horses feet get that long. That pony likely is going to have serious physical issues for the rest of its life because this guy didn’t pay a farrier $30. The fact that people are getting behind this man and showing him support just shows how little everyone knows about caring for livestock. Think of it like this- if you weighed 400-600lb pounds and had to spend 6 months walking on your heels, what would this do to you physically? That’s what this man did to that pony all because he didn’t pay a nominal fee to get it resolved. That is basic horse ownership.

      • Sarah permalink
        March 22, 2015 6:01 pm

        Where are the pictures of the feet?

      • March 22, 2015 7:33 pm

        Sarah- I’m sorry, the blog isn’t letting me reply directly to you. The photos are on the news10 website in the link Shannon posted; there’s a video at the top of the article. I don’t know Peaceful Acres as a rescue but I have every respect for the vet clinic that is overseeing the care of the horses. If they say there was a problem, I believe them.

      • March 22, 2015 11:36 pm

        So what about wild horses. Who does there feet?

      • Diane permalink
        March 23, 2015 4:27 pm

        Someone who knows the family said they had recently rescued the mini with the long hooves, and the mini wouldn’t let the farrier do the trimming. The family was working patiently with the mini to get him used to being handled. Hooves that long have to be trimmed gradually.

      • Cmaxby permalink
        March 24, 2015 5:48 pm

        Harold, wild horses hooves wear down naturally because they are allowed to move about freely in open space across loooads of land. This will not happen on a pastured horse. No one is saying horses need to be shod, but kept horses, even on pasture, need to be trimmed.

        Diane- There has been no farrier work on that pony in months so unless he got that pony a day before the cops came, he’s culpable. Those are not the feet of a pony getting a slow trim to get back to a normal hoof length. If the pony wouldn’t let them do the feet, yes you “work with them” to get them used to having their hooves touched, but first you address the glaring hoof issue by tranquilizing the pony to make him comfortable. That is his job as a horse owner. I’d bet money that within a week of being removed from that farm, the pony got his feet taken care of at Peaceful Acres.

        Stop making excuses for ignorance and neglect. Just because it wasn’t intended doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

      • jellen permalink
        March 26, 2015 5:22 pm

        The pony was a recent rescue and has founder. IF you know anything about founder you know you don’t start chopping off the hooves. If Peaceful Acres does that then they’re the neglectful ones. Know your facts before you talk.

      • March 26, 2015 9:08 pm

        Jellen- the experience I have with founder never resulted in any farrier not trimming the hoof to a length that is comfortable for the horse. In fact, everytime has resulted in corrective shoeing or trimming that removed pressure off the heel. I had a mare that estrogen foundered post foal a few year ago and she had a nice pair of wooden wedges superglued on. It was actually really cool!

        Obviously all cases are different and I’m always open to learning something new, but I’ve yet to meet a farrier that said the answer to founder was to not trim, let the toe overgrow and curl up, and foster underrun heels.

  30. March 19, 2015 11:00 pm

    Omg, firstly, let’s not confuse local officials with “government”. Civil rights would have never advanced without the Feds. I could go on and on in this vein, but won’t. Instead of offering help, they are doing this.? On a local level, one would hope for the opposite…. It’s very discouraging.

  31. March 22, 2015 6:30 pm

    I grew up taking care of animals, and while we had some chickens and horses, it was mostly small animals like cats and dogs that were a daily part of my life. Animals prefer to be outside even in sub zero temperatures for a short time. It is their decision, because as a good farmer does, he has shelter provided for them and checks on them every day. The animals are smart and they make the choice If an animal is used to the temperatures, they will be fine. They weren’t flown in from Florida and subjected to a massive change in temperature. I have a dog that prefers cold temperatures and doesn’t like the heat. He thrives in winter. Water freezes very fast in sub zero temperatures. It is a constant job to make sure there is feed and fresh water during a tough winter like the one we are still in the midst of. All the animals in the pictures look fine to me – healthy and well fed. You do not see their ribs. They have been checked out by a vet. Let this family farm survive.

  32. Julie C permalink
    March 22, 2015 9:41 pm

    My neighbors parents own the land Joshua’s animals are on. He told me about josh so I went there to buy some meat. His house is an absolute dump. Garbage everywhere, his dogs left outside to roam with no fence and they were eating food with colors in it which means it’s some garbage brand – red flag to me because my dogs eat only the best food I can afford and he is promoting good health? Why are you feeding crap to your dogs? He claims to be raising organic meat but isn’t certified and then I find out his pork is cured with nitrates and other additives. I bought a ham from him anyway for Christmas because I figured it was still better than supermarket. Next day I found a farm in fort plain that is certified organic and had a ham with no nitrates. I called and asked if he would take it back and I would just take eggs and other meat that wasn’t cured in place of it. He then became ridiculously hard to get a hold of and one of the times he emailed me back and said he would be home come anytime and I sent him another message to say I was on my way and he didn’t answer. I went over to his house anyway and no one answered the door but his dogs were outside alone and loose. He then stopped returning my calls and emails. I gave up and decided to just make the ham for another day. It was the fattiest most disgusting ham ever. It is my understanding that fat like that can only come from pigs fed a ton of grains but I am not a farmer so I can’t say for sure but it’s what I was told. The certified organic farmer I go to now explained to me that it really is not that difficult or even expensive to be certified organic and he thinks the ones that say it is are hiding something. He said he easily makes up the cost by raising his prices a few cents and his prices are still way less than what Joshua and other local non organic farmers are charging. I received a generic email from Joshua a long time after asking for donations to his farm. My point here is something is not right with Joshua and I really don’t feel this is a government attack at all.

    • Kathy permalink
      March 24, 2015 2:16 pm

      I don’t know a thing about nitrates, but I can tell you I have had Josh’s ham a couple of times and it was the best ham I have ever ate.

  33. March 22, 2015 11:31 pm

    Another example of our government taking an idea and running off the end of the earth with it. Humans are Humans, Animals are animals and don’t need us to survive.Stop treating animals as humans.And people should mind their own business.

  34. Vital Rights permalink
    March 23, 2015 3:27 pm

    NEVER EVER Let the PUBLIC Servants come intercourse with you in THE PRIVATE.

    This is all color of law BS that doesn’t apply to a man who self governs at the common law.
    Who has a contact for this man, we may be able to help.
    Contact me

  35. Mitiq permalink
    March 23, 2015 5:15 pm

    I don’t know much about farming , but I do understand living off the land. People have forgotten where food comes from. Good luck, not everyone has these ridiculous ideas.

  36. FussyOldHen (no relation) permalink
    March 23, 2015 6:14 pm

    Somebody is behind this. Find out who — backtrack it. Personally, I would suspect some local politician is involved, or someone who is close to one that has an axe to grind.

    When the authorities come to your place and say they want to look around, ask two questions: WHY? And DO YOU HAVE A WARRANT? And then say NO. People need to have at least a small sense of self-preservation. IOW, don’t be such a dumb dolt. The day of the flower child is long over.

    I hope this turns out okay, and if it does, I hope the farmer turns around and sues the pants off the originator for defamation and interfering with business, and anything else they can think of.

  37. Dawn permalink
    March 23, 2015 6:34 pm

    For 1 there is no shelter law for livestock animals in NY, people that provide shelter do it for concern of the animals.. Second its winter water freezes yes there are ways to stop it from freezing, but animals don’t drink all day. As long as you provide water in the am and pm what’s the issue and animals don’t need food 24/7 as long as they received a good bill of health from the Vet then he is doing things properly. Its people being nosy and causing issues where there is none. If they were to go and work on a farm for a while maybe they would understand how things work. But no they just want to buy there food and not think about where it comes from. Farmers bust their butts to provide for you and all you want to do its cause problems. Shame on you……

  38. March 24, 2015 2:54 pm – home schools, small farms, are not under attack for any of the popular reasons suggested. They are under attack because such lifestyles fall outside the will of the sick so called “ruling elite” which really are the scum of the universe, who systematically deceive, brainwash and enslave and even slaughter the masses at will. As long as the scum of the universe are in places of power and authority that only the most righteous and honorable should be in, the rest of mankind will suffer.

  39. Agnes Fiacco permalink
    March 24, 2015 6:08 pm

    i am writing this for my husband Al. He said that he has read all of the material here that has been written by everyone. He is very experienced with raising animals and farming. My husband says some of the people have attacked the family on a personal level, which has nothing to do with the care of the animals. Another group is comparing what happens to animals in nature. Another group is concerned with law. He sees it this way, that the only evidence so far is that he Veterinarian said that everything is okay. How did it go past what the Veterinarian said? My husband says that some unknown issue is going on here.

  40. March 24, 2015 10:48 pm

    i ve left a comment on off the grid but well, i live far away,never mind i would like to show my support, this is totally incredible what is happening! free range farming being considered as a bad thing. it doesnt make sens and there must be some thing else hiding. I felt very angry reading your story and am really sorry for ur ordeal i hope things will get better, there is always possibility of selling all and moving to Ireland no one is gonna bother u there :-)
    Dont the government has any thing else to do ?????????????????

  41. Amber H permalink
    March 25, 2015 2:47 am

    Has there been a fund set up to help defray legal costs? I would love to show my support but living in Washington state, it would be hard for us to buy meat or go to the town meeting. I would be glad to donate to cover lawyers fees or vet costs to help this man get his horses back and get these ludicrous charges dropped. Please let me and others know if there is a place to donate and show our support. Also, if there is a letter writing campaign, please spread the word. Thanks.

  42. Fred P. permalink
    April 1, 2015 12:22 pm

    Cops didn’t just “happen upon” these concerns. I have no doubt they got a call.There are laws in place that protect animals, both pets and farm. He had unlicensed dogs. Nearly every county in the US requires rabies shots and licenses. Rabies kills 40,000 humans each year, but uncommon in US due to strict laws. Bad Joshua. That got them on the farm to look at the other stuff the nosy neighbor called them about. When responding to animal abuse calls, measuring body condition is often done, but the lack of food and water are easier to determine and easier to prove. ” Let ’em eat snow” is abuse. Sure, everyone’s bucket freezes up, but if you want to care for animals in winter, get a tank heater or prove you run out there four times a day with fresh water. If animals look a bit thin, but have hay or grain available, that isn’t generally a problem. But a bit thin and no feed on the farm, that’s different. A Vet might say your livestock is healthy, but malnourished. Hard for me to believe the Vet thought no water was fine. But the Vet was hired by Joshua, how critical would he be? More to the story that explains why someone without any feed on the farm rushes out to get a Vet to do a farm call. He knew something that he isn’t sharing. So, what are the Cops to do? They get a call about unlicensed dogs and no feed and water for livestock. They look and find no feed and water. Law requires feed and water. Government’s fault?
    People have heightened awareness about animal abuse. Many people, that know little or nothing about commercial agriculture hate it. Many that embrace backyard farming overlook the increased disease problems and well intentioned farming attempts, often underfunded, result in other forms of abuse.

  43. Fred P. permalink
    April 1, 2015 1:06 pm

    In the police report and first news report, the horses weren’t in bad body condition, but had hoof problems. Any equine expert will tell you that if horses don’t get plenty of water, they colic, an impaction in the gut. That leads to founder, an incurable hoof disability. They only took a few horses and felt Joshua was feeding better. Initially, frozen water buckets and moldy hay was all they had.

  44. April 8, 2015 3:53 pm

    Your story reminded me of one that I read awhile back…Its been going on a lot longer then most people think..sad but true.

  45. May 11, 2015 12:35 pm

    It’s been interesting to see the progression of this story. The original story in the Times Union painted an entirely different picture. There’s a whole lot of anti-government sentiment across the country, driven, I think, by paranoia hounds like FOX News. Don’t you think that sometimes lax media in search of viewers and un-vetted internet sources like this one driven by fear-mongering headlines take advantage of this fever and create false heroes — ala Cliven Bundy? There is nothing inherently holy about somebody just because they buy a hat, a pair of boots, and a few animals and live on a farm. I know. I grew up a Catskills farm kid, and I saw some great farmers. But I saw my share of ignoramuses and jerks… and, like is possible in this case, there are also some lazy and/or ignorant people who started with a cherished, city-boy idea about farming until they find out it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s hard, nasty work. It takes money, planning, and stewardship. Animals suffer if you don’t know what you’re doing. Let’s not rush to make him a hero… not just yet.

  46. June 22, 2015 4:33 am

    Why are the ponies hooves not recently trimmed? That did not happen overnight. I’ve seen various excuses such as the pony has a “condition” that causes excess hoof growth (new one for me) and that he just acquired the animal. How long has he owned this particular equine? In the video it is indeed having trouble standing/walking due to the length of the hooves.


  1. {FSC PODCAST} Episode 5: Raising Animals (for food) | FROM SCRATCH CLUB
  2. Government Attacks Small Family Farm in Schenectady County New York | Living For Longer
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  4. No farm is perfect. | NY Animal Agriculture Coalition

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