Not my rural


Over the past 30 years we’ve heard comments about how we live a rural lifestyle. Some people envy what they consider a “simpler” lifestyle, others wonder if by increasing the number of businesses will detract from the ruralness that we experience.

Mostly it depends on how a person defines rural versus what rural really means.

My comments here are based on the article “Where is ‘rural America,’ and what does it look like?” by Kenneth Johnson, Professor of Sociology and Senior Demographer, University of New Hampshire and my personal experience of living and working on our farm.

Rural means agriculture

If you think of open fields when you say rural, those fields better be planted with crops Montana Highriseor be home to cattle. We look longingly on pastoral settings as calm and almost devoid of life. But pastoral is really the life of a sheepherder who lives with and for his herd, moving them from place to place in search of food and water. And the “Amber waves of grain” that we sing about in “America the Beautiful” need to be harvested and processed if anyone is going to eat.

Cattle, sheep, pigs, hens, all need food, housing, and care. All of which mean a lot of work and machinery; none of which are cheap.

Rural mean low population

Another draw to country living is the population. There are several different ways to determine if an area is considered rural or urban. The easiest is to measure the number of people in a square mile. The Census Bureau states the urban areas have at least 1,000 people in any given square mile where highly-urban areas have less than 7 people living in a square mile. Anything between those numbers are considered rural.

But even in a rural community, there are still areas of dense population and places where you can neither hear nor see your closest neighbor. If you want a rural setting but like neighbors, you will have to look for a more developed area within that municipality.

Rural means industry

Bottling plantA rural area cannot be devoid of industry. Factories billowing smoke should never be part of a rural community but, areas where the food is processed, stored, and then shipped, would certainly be part of the community. Some rural communities remain rural (low population) because of the industry that supports that community. Coal mines come to mind as well as other ore mines.

Trees are an integral part of home construction, furniture manufacturing, flooring, and paper. It only makes sense that timber and pulp mills dot the landscape of the rural forests. The trees are harvested and milled on site, then shipped to the manufacturing companies.

Rural – a place that many urban dwellers dream of, but rarely understand all the aspects that encompass the rural lifestyle. So if you are looking for a place with open spaces, few people, and nothing else, you may be thinking of a ghost town – and that’s not my rural!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Wine Waste and the Environment

chicken food

You just can’t make wine without crushing some fruit or veggies. And the pulp waste that is left after the first fermentation was a concern of ours. The fruit of choice would be bagged, crushed, and covered with water to form the wine must. At the end of the first fermentation period, usually five to seven days, we would remove the pulp and have to dispose of it. For one gallon of wine, the amount of waste is negligible. But if we considered that, on average, one gallon of wine produces about a half pound of solid waste, when we start making 25 gallons of wine at a time, we are looking at over 10 pounds of waste. Yes, we could dispose of it into the garbage, but, we needed to see if there was a better way.

We realized that most grape wines are made from pressed grapes, so, why not press the fruit, extract the juice, and use the juice for the wine. We borrowed a juicer from a friend and discovered that although it added a step before making the wine, there was no messy bag of pulp, and when we tasted the wine several months later, it had a cleaner and crisper taste than the wine that was made the traditional “home wine” way,

Our next step was to purchase a fruit press. The volume of juice that we got when we pressed the fruit was about the same as when we juiced the fruit. The must of the wine was clearer so we don’t need to rack the wine as many times before bottling it.

But, what about the pulp? We still have to dispose of the pulp somehow. Putting it into the garbage was not the way we wanted to go. So, we decided to treat our hens with the fruit pulp. This is a win-win for us. We can eliminate tossing the pulp into the garbage and the hens enjoy the change of pace with the fruit pulp.

The only thing we need to consider now is the liquid waste during the racking process. The amount of alcohol in the waste is minute and it is diluted by the water used to clean the carboys. Again, the waste and water disposed of from one carboy is negligible but we needed to think about the amount we will have when we are doing hundreds of gallons of wine. The liquid waste can be caught in a reservoir and further diluted and spread on our fields. Although this may not fertilize the ground or be of great benefit to the plants, it is environmentally safe for the fields and will keep this waste out of the water ways, septic fields, and ground waters.

All in all, we feel that this process is an environmentally sound practice for our future winery.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.