A Pasture-Based Rancher is Caught in the Crosshairs | Civil Eats

A Pasture-Based Rancher is Caught in the Crosshairs

A sustainable farmer faces animal abuse charges, and fights back.

Update: Charges against Joshua Rockwood were dismissed on January 12, 2016. Read a detailed update from one of Rockwood’s friends here.


In March, a police officer and two animal control officers showed up at Joshua Rockwood’s farm in upstate New York. They found frozen drinking water in the barn and spotted a steer sticking his nose through the snow to access running water, Rockwood reported on his blog. Despite testing and confirming that his dogs were adequately hydrated, the officer ticketed Rockwood for failure to provide adequate sustenance.

The next week brought another official visit, this time from three police officers, a dog control officer, and a vet carrying a search warrant. A few days later, the officers returned to seize two horses and a pony. Soon Rockwood learned he was facing 13 misdemeanor charges, including: keeping animals in an unheated barn with frozen water; keeping horses, cows, and pigs in a fenced-in area with a natural spring that had frozen over; and frost-bite on a pig’s ears. It is unclear who or what precipitated the police raid or the charges.

Rockwood, his lawyer, and the local Police Department did not respond to requests for interviews. But Rockwood has responded to the charges by continuing to do what he’s been doing all along: telling his farm’s story online.

So began a remarkable grassroots movement that has highlighted the divide between pasture-based rural farmers—whose practices can look rough around the edges—and their non-farming neighbors, whose notions of well-tended farm animals can clash with that gritty reality.

Since then, Rockwood has launched a crowdsourced legal defense fund that amassed over $57,000 and a Friends of West Wind Acres Farm Facebook page “liked” by close to 9,000 people. It’s a movement that has united old-guard farmers and young, conventional and sustainable. Their immediate gripe is against town officials, but those officials in turn appear to be caught between a growing sustainable farming movement—whose practitioners don’t have the capital to invest in expensive infrastructure—and locals critical of Rockwood’s practices.

When Rockwood wrote his first blog post as a new farmer in May 2011, he was thrilled to report that he had successfully leased 75 acres of pastureland and acquired 300 farm animals.

He began charting his transformation from nervous, aspiring farmer to an experienced pasture-based agrarian offering beef, chicken, and pork CSA subscriptions from his farm, West Wind Acres. Rockwood, who was only 30 at the time, bought movable pens for his Cornish broiler hens, posted pictures of his Scottish Highland cattle, agonized over whether or not to treat an injured boar with antibiotics (he did, to improve his herd and keep from having to slaughter the boar), and patiently explained to a patron who owned pet rabbits why he chose the Silver Fox breed to raise for meat.

A Different Model

Unlike farms systems that confine animals to high-density indoor living spaces, pasture-based farmers allow their animals to graze freely outdoors. In one 2012 post, Rockwood described how he and his wife Stefanie prepare for storms, writing, “We take the weather serious and do whatever we can to protect our animals while still following our model.” When tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued, they kept their piglets in a portable paddock, but let the other animals decide whether to shelter in their paddocks or not. “After all,” Rockwood wrote, “Animal instincts are much better than ours.”

Unlike many large factory animal farms, which are far removed from residential areas and invisible to most consumers—small, pasture-based operations are designed to be closer to customers. They also often rely on direct marketing, so their operations are much more visible to consumers. But, as a result, they can also raise the ire of locals, who are either opposed to animal agriculture altogether, or who are uncomfortable with its complex realities when they see it up close.

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“We have people screaming that they want pastured pork,” says Lorraine Lewandrowski, a dairy farmer and lawyer in Herkimer County, New York, noting that they don’t always know what that means. “If a pig is outside, it can get frostbite. These are things that touch boundaries.”

After the storm Rockwood described, an irate neighbor complained that some piglets had eaten some of her horse’s grain. They claimed that the animals had escaped because they were starving. Another neighbor expressed concern about his dogs being “underfed” and living outside. Rockwood wrote in response, “These guys get the best dog food around, liver, heart, ham, chicken, pigs feet, hocks, and occasionally we force them to eat dry dog food.” He also pointed out that they were Maremma sheepdogs, which require minimal shelter.

Over the years, Rockwood has faced other complaints by neighbors. In one January 2013 post, he told of a visit by the S.P.C.A., and noted that an anonymous person had called “to complain about the care we give our animals.”

Community Support

When the news of the charges against Rockwood hit, Shannon Hayes, who is a farmer and the author of several books, including The Radical Homemaker, wanted to see the farm for herself before blogging about it. She visited with her animal scientist father and grazing expert Troy Bishopp, and says what they saw at West Wind Acres, “wasn’t a picture-perfect farm, but was exactly like any of us would have had in March, and just what every farmer faces at the end of a hard winter, especially if they give animals some freedom to choose where they want to be.” Hayes adds, “It was just shocking to see that there would even be legal ramifications.”

At one of several procedural hearings that have been held so far this spring, Hayes says over 200 people showed up to support Rockwood and at another, she “stopped counting after 135.” In attendance, Hayes adds, were “hippie farmers, really salt-of-the-earth farmers, and ‘don’t-tread-on-me’ Harley bikers waving their flags.” Everyone, adds Hayes, “Was very respectful; you could hear a pin drop.”

Asked to comment on the controversy from an animal welfare perspective, Adele Douglass, Executive Director of Virginia-based non-profit organization, Humane Farm Animal Care (which issues the “Certified Humane” food label), declined to speak to this specific case, but notes, “Animals on pasture and raised outdoors are used to winter conditions.”

She adds, “The best thing any farmer or animal scientists can do, is to prepare educational material for consumers, the press, and law enforcement to understand the life cycle of different farm animals; when they are raised outdoors or indoors, what their needs are, how different housing and weather patterns affect them normally and whether they can adapt or not adapt.”

Washington County farm owner and blogger Jon Katz, who has defended Rockwood on his blog, says the charges are part of a larger issue of “people losing touch with the real life of farms,” and an animal rights movement whose latest target is often small farmers.

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In 2011, another upstate farmer, Greg Casalaina, found himself the subject of criticism after buying four retired dairy cows to process for dog food over the winter. A neighbor who ran an animal rescue operation obtained photos of the animals, including a cow Casalaina says he butchered himself. Casalaina admits that to someone not raised on a farm, “after hard winter on dairy farms, things are not pretty,” adding that animal rights activists became “excited and upset” at what they saw in the photos.

“The next thing I know, cops are at my house,” recalls Casalaina. Despite his remaining cows being given a clean bill of health by a large animal vet, and the apologies of the policemen, Casalaina says the police received “several thousand calls” from animal rights activists and he was arrested. Casalaina says he went through “several months of hell” before he was exonerated in court.

“It really kind of derailed my life in ways I can’t describe,” adds Casalaina. “I was getting death threats, and my kids were getting actual snail mail letters saying, ‘We’re going to get you.’”

Though stories like these of farmers whose livelihoods have been damaged by the complaints by extreme animal rights activists abound, Douglass cautions against blaming an entire movement. “Most of the animal rights movement wants animals on pastures and small farms,” she says. She adds that to protect against baseless claims of abuse, small farmers would be wise “to think about having emergency plans (for contingencies such as frozen pipes and inadequate heat), and to look at and operate their farms as if they were always giving public tours.”

Rockwood’s active social media campaign has amounted to just what Douglass recommended: a virtual public tour of his farm and his practices. Rather than quietly paying the fees imposed for the alleged animal abuse and neglect and moving on, he has chosen to fight the charges online. On July 14, his next  court date, Rockwood and his supporters will find out whether or not he made the right decision.

Nancy Matsumoto is a freelance writer and editor who covers agroecology, food, sake, and Japanese arts and culture. She has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Toronto Globe and Mail, NPR’s The Salt, and TheAtlantic.com, among other publications. She is the co-author of Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth, and blogs on that topic here. Read more >

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  1. Jazherah MacMornna
    Could someone please tell the animal rights people that sheep dogs are SUPPOSED to be outside . They can't herd or protect the flock if they're indoors watching TV.
    Remember, cows , sheep, and pigs have been used to being outdoors for thousands of years.
    • R McWilliams
      Yes - animals have ALWAYS lived OUTSIDE. It is NOT NATURAL for animals to be locked inside a barn or building. In fact, doing that can cause a lot of health issues, many that can lead to death, (like pneumonia, colic, stress, etc) especially if that building is heated!

      These were Maremma Livestock Guardian dogs, whose ancestors o have lived, 24/7/365 out on pastures and mountain meadows with the herds of sheep and goats for thousands of years - probably as long as humans have kept sheep. Their thick coats are weatherproof, and they often choose to sleep curled up in the snow where they can remain alert to any intruder. LGDs of many breeds are well-known for NOT using doghouses, or even barns or shelters. They want to be where they can see, hear, or scent the approach of danger.

      The traditional LGD breeds, like the Maremma, instinctively protect the livestock from predators - which is much better than the way this was always done in America, which was to eliminate the predators. In Europe and Asia, certain breeds teamed up with humans to keep their food source safe from wild predators.

      Most Americans are unaware that ONLY in the USA do people have barns for sheep. Or beef cattle. In fact, in many regions west of the Mississippi, if cattle have access to a windbreak, that is shelter. If there is snow, that is water. Those are normal winter conditions for these animals. *Being shut inside a building is NOT NORMAL for animals.* (Or humans, but that is another issue...)
  2. i would rather have roaming farms than what they put into our meats and eggs and anything else they can ruin with chemicals and what not.
  3. Mariann Pepitone
    After reading this story I believe he doesn't care about his animals just himself. His farm should be taken from him and the animals given to another farmer. People like him deserve a prison sentence of 5 years to teach them a lesson. He needs to be sitting out in the cold for 5 days and see how he likes it. His supporters are just like him and no doubt do the same. I never did like farmers to begin because I think many of them abuse their animals and don't get caught.
  4. Carolyn Freeman
    My ancesters were farmers - they didn't have heated barns - lucky to have heated houses. They provided shelter, pasture (food), etc. for their animals. Until the 50's we didn't run to a vet every time one of our pets stubbed its toe - we helped as best we could with care taught by our other ancesters. I am not advocating neglect or ill treatment of our animals, am saying nibby neighbors should quit trying to run evryone else's lives and take care of their own. Don't these interfering fools realize that these animals are income for this farmer - the loss of one is a real hit in the pocketbook. PETA to me is disgusting. Sometimes they do more harm than good and I will not send one penny to support them.
  5. Evelyn
    God Bless you in your fight against ignorance. People r always going to not understand things they do not participate in. Farming in most people's minds, is like watching a Lassie movie. Reality, however, does not enter into such lives and they always find a way to be critical of someone else's life. I am an animal lover, yet I eat animals. Most people can become insensitive to what is really happening in other people's everyday life, because of media. They can even look at WAR as a form of entertainment, so I just want to let you know my prayers are with you to uphold your rights and your animals rights to live the way you choose. It is real and honest and not cruel. Farming is also not for sissy's to try and live. Good luck
  6. once again animal activist's going after the wrong people. If they put their energy into going after the ones abusing our cats and dogs and the dog fighters and cock fighters or these creeps that starve their horses to death instead of the small farmers there wouldn't be a problem. get your priorities in order go after the real abusers. I am glad there are farmers out there that have chosen an all natural approach to raising their animals and not using antibiotics or growth hormones
  7. Tracy
    Come on, people, gimme a break. How do you think things used to be in the early days when NO ONE had heated barns, heated water troughs, or maybe didn't even have a barn? The animals survived back then, even thrived. We had a small farm when I was growing up, our barn was open-sided where the cattle went in and out of their own free will. None of them ever got frost bitten. In fact, the only cow we bought who had been frost bitten, was born in an enclosed barn where she was left on a cement floor, rejected by her own mother. Try looking in a history book before you denigrate a man who is trying to fill a niche that the demand for PASTURE FED meat. GET REAL!!
  8. Lee
    I'm very glad to see people heading back to the soil! An agrarian neighborhood is much better to raise children in, promotes unity among the neighbors and takes back what this country was built on--blood, sweat and tears!
    The cities themselves have gotten far too large, too congested and have NOTHING to offer the people at large! Start keeping developers out, and encourage more small farms.
    The country will be better for it!
  9. Jeff
    People loose touch of reality and only want to ORDER their food yet not see or even hear of any animal killed to get it. I guess when you only eat vegetables it messes with your mind.
  10. John
    Total Government Over Reach, Welcome to the new America.
  11. Gary Troyer
    Nothing worse than a damned uneducated zealot all up in your face about what your doing wrong. Most of them haven't a clue where their food comes from and how it's grown and what it takes to be a good keeper of the land, also most have no clue as to animal husbandry and what it takes to be a responsible farmer.
  12. Douglas MacArthur
    No sympathy from me !
    I am a retired dairy farmer from Minnesota who rotationally grazed his dairy herd ( son is on the Minnesota dairy farm now )

    I do believe it ..........IS......animal cruelty to not provide water in both summer and winter. When I read words like "frozen water pipes"..........." natural spring that had frozen over "........I really get upset

    A ..........good........farmer ( one who cares for his animals) would know whether you are farming in New York or Minnesota you should have a way for animals to get water.

    No excuses !
  13. David Bishop
    The Federal Government leases hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of acres of public lands for the purpose of grazing cattle. They do not require that the leases provide shelter, running water nor adequate fodder. Perhaps the Animal Rights Activists should demand that the BLM and all other Federal lands commissions require all the comforts of home to those free range animals.

    Or maybe the Federal Government should require that all schools in the country teach a course in what Free Range and Pasture Farming means so extremists will know that farmed animals are going to be slaughtered at some point in their lives.
  14. Rosemary
    When someone raises animals for food it is all DISGUSTING!! Pasture or not!! When, in God's name will people wake up and stop eating animals!!!!
  15. Bruce Eide
    I am familiar with both the view of city folks and farm folks-I am also a believer in a humane way of caring for livestock and other farm animals and do feel everything should be done to provide adequate water and feed sources for all animals regardless of weather conditions because as long as they (the livestock) have enough feed and water they can take on a pretty low temperature.
  16. FMM
    Sounds like somebody had a grudge. As a small farmer myself I support this farmer and all other small farmers. Industrial farming is the reason we have so much problem with livestock today.Commercial poultry has been bred to the point that they have to be fed antibiotics and growth hormones continuously. A 'home' farm raised chicken takes several months to reach butchering size, commercial raised is six weeks. Figure it out,who's being cruel.With the avian flue problem in the U.S. and over 40 million commercial birds killed because of it I think people should thank the small farmers, after all is said and done it will be us who teach the rest of you how to raise your own food.
  17. Michael C. Fulghum
    Obviously these people have no idea what "Farm" means and where their sustenance comes from. Farm animals are breed and raised for one purpose and wouldn't exist for any other reason. It's like the Woman that was asked what she thought about a Farmer's strike back long ago and she replied " I'll just go to the Grocery Store", no idea where the meat and produce comes from total disconnect.
  18. Beth
    Farm raised is the humane way of farming. Yes things need to be watched so the animals have all their needs met. Look at what factory farming is. That is torture. Then the transport and slaughter. Do the investigation and you will be supporting farm raised. We need more farms and good farmers if people are going to continue to eat animals. They need us to help them as the animals deserve this.
  19. kelli cline
    good morning South Bend. I often wonder if all the people screaming about the welfare of animals know where their pet food comes from.
    I have free range chicken in east Tennessee. it gets cold in the winter. my chickens sometimes get frostbite on their combs. they live through it. it's just part of life for them. they have a hen house if they choose to use it. if it gets below 20 I put a heat lamp inside. I sometimes loose a chicken to a fox, or eggs to a opossum. life goes on.
  20. T
    They would have to arrest & charge the entire states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, etc., etc....
  21. Danny Lane
    When will the activist go after the state who control all wildlife. Are the activists not concerned about deer, elk, moose, bear, beaver, fish, birds, wolves,etc. who are under the care of the government. Should not these animals be sheltered during extreme weather? Perhaps the real concern of the activists is not the animals afterall.
  22. George Stickel
    I grew up on a farm and wanted to farm when I was old enough BUT was unable to do to economics. MY thought is the animal rights activists NEED to GROW up and realize without farmers they would be DEAD. Farmers grow everything that this country needs to survive. Farmers will be the first ones to make sure an animal is properly FED and nourished before eating themselves.

    Perhaps everyone complaining about farms NEED to remember when you point a finger there are 3 other fingers pointing back at you.
  23. Joyce Oleksy
    Living in the Midwest we have some harsh winters. My horses going into winter are, not fat, but they have extra weight on them & in the spring they are thin, (not skinny w/ ribs sticking out) but are thinner. They don't get any less to eat in the winter, more in fact, then in the summer and are still thinner. they have shelter if they want & 95% of the time they are out in the cold. I have a heated water tank outside. If I didn't blanket them in the winter some would say I'm abusing my horses, others think blankets do more harm than good. leave the guy alone, the pic of the cow does not depict an abused/starved animal. The rescue horse I took in was starved(skin and bones) that cow is not suffering from what I can see.
  24. Rob
    We loved the story from a rural living friend who went to the town meeting of local farmers and landowners. One lady who wanted to register a complaint explained that she and her husband had moved from the burbs of a city to the country here for the beauty of rural life - but they were continually annoyed by the odors of manure from the neighboring farms, and could something please be done about this bad situation? There was a stunned silence in the hall followed by an outburst of laughter. The poor lady fled the meeting in embarrassment!
  25. Steve
    A heated barn in the winter is one of the quickest ways to give livestock pneumonia. The animal either dies or is given antibiotics to clear up the pneumonia. Oh but wait, antibiotics are on the "no no" list.
  26. dave
    sounds like any other typical open range ranching that is done in the west like my State of Wyoming. Cattle graze thousands of acres on open range and tend for themselves. They usually do just fine through the harsh rocky mountain winters. The environmental wack jobs need to lighten up
  27. Brian
    This is what happens when a population becomes so separated and detached from the basic realities of life. Urban people are delusional and have absolutely no idea just what it takes to sustain life on this planet because things are so easy for them. I can't believe not supplying a heated building for livestock is a crime in NY, even Alaska doesn't require that as far as I know.
  28. June
    People should mind their own farms and let this man farm the good old fashioned way...the food tastes better when raised this way...
  29. stuart
    I do believe that in our justice system we are entitled to face our accuser. It is also incumbent upon law enforcement to have evidence before a search warrant is issued. The evidence issue is doubly important and necessary for a judge before signing a search warrant. I wonder who is really at fault here. And oh by the way...for the anonymous complainer...spend your own time and resources and file suit. Leave our Tax supported institutions alone to do necessary work.
  30. people don't understand a small farm. they would go nutts if they saw some of the farms and ranches out west in the winter.
  31. I lived on a dairy farm until I was 17. If the outside world had any idea how much work is involved in keeping even a small operation running and the expenses involved they might appreciate the farmers a whole lot more. Most farm animals, as long as they have some type of structure
    to get under to keep them out of the direct weather, snow, rain, wind etc they are fine.
  32. Paulguad
    The country has gone insane, one must suppose that the pastures will have to have air conditioning in summer etc. The general population is stupid
  33. Chris Pierson
    Flat Landers think they know better than the rest...sickening!
  34. Anna Warren
    I grew up on one of these in Virginia, and believe me, I lived very WELL doing so. The fact is that I won't buy meat in a grocery store any longer unless it is ORGANICALLY raised. You would not WANT TO. I, for the life of me, can't figure out what the problem is with people who stick their noses into other people's business (when they have no right to do so). Get over yourselves. Does every one have to have their name in the local paper or something??? If you can milk an entire herd of cows, then call me and we'll discuss your lack of intelligence!
  35. Robert Steinberg
    This is just another case of stupid do-gooders without farming experience sticking their noses where it doesn't belong.
  36. The animals are where we found them hundreds of years ago. In the west millions of cattle, horses, pigs and others are outside for the entire year. If they are raised outside they become prepared for such weather. Just like sled dogs.
  37. mark
    Before the advent of heated barns, etc. how was livestock cared for during the winter? Sounds to me like the local government is in a "new age" fantasy world with revenue as an added bonus.
  38. marc
    I feel you brother. I had a mini farm of about 7 acres of pasture. I had 2 horses on that pasture when I took a call/ multiple calls from the sheriff. People were not concerned with them eating as they had round bails, but lol that they were "lonely" and neglected from attention. Say what????
  39. Gary Jablonski
    The Rochester,NY area has lost it's way.The whole basis for this area has been farming.I live in a rural area that has baffled me why there isn't more live animal farmers.It is mostly produce type farming here,but yet you see the remains of barns that was surely for live animals.I am gratefully to those small live animal farmers who carry on with there hard work to provide us with the best there is.
  40. notaliberal
    Really? A heated barn? They are animals how have they survived for centuries without heat? The animals where fit and hydrated yet still got fined. This is pathetic government intrusion. Animals are not people fools.
  41. margaret halpin
    We support small farmers and agree with Mr. Rockford. The Animal Rights People which has the good intentions of its beginnings has become such a farce in the real world of animal abuse. You show me one barn in this entire state that is heated for cattle. Cows produce enough heat to warm a barn above freezing. Read the state regulations on proper shelter for animals.
  42. Mary DeForest
    Only super rich or delusional people can claim that they have a heated barn for a herd of cattle or range horses when it's below zero----wild horses have been surviving for a long time- here, in Europe, and Asia. It gets darn cold in Scotland, where Angus developed in snowy pastures. Scots haven't been known for good heating for humans. That's why they wear all of those sweaters.
  43. Danny Leader
    I can't think of anything more cruel than the huge cattle feedlots throughout the southwest and central US. Cows may be warm and in house and not get wet by rain, but they have little room to move, NEVER see a blade of grass, are fed huge amounts of antibiotics and steroids, walk around in ankle deep manure. Then after being force fed to gain as much as possible as quickly as possible, they are put on trucks where if they fall they are trample to death, and shipped off to the slaughter house. Just so these screaming liberal "RIGHTS" people can have a nice CHEAP steak, before they go out and jump on an innocent farmer who names his cows and walks through the pasture with them.
  44. As an ex-farmer and milk-cattle person that had to tend to 28 different cows, we never had heat in the barn, and those cows were milked every day (twice), rain or shine.
    These animal activists should put their head into their hands and stay away from the farmer.
  45. Bob
    Are these people crazy or just stupid? Cows, horses and many other animals have winter coats and do fine in sub zero temperatures. Ever see a wild deer or elk or grizzly bear in a heated barn?

    They take more food of course to stay warm or even hibernate at times but if you want a steak to cost $1000 assuming you might be able to buy one just insist that northern tier (MT, ND, MN, NY, WA, ID, OR, WY etc.) ranchers have heated barns in the winter for their 1,000 - 10,000 steers.

  46. It's a shame that the people of this country have "discarded" so much knowledge of what it takes (entails) to live off the land. God put all the necessary survival instincts into HIS animals and when we domesticate them, it's good to "interfere" the least amount possible. They are NOT human and city folk seem to forget that!
  47. mike
    Certain breeds of animals have been bred to live outdoors through harsh winters..The Scottish highland cattle are a perfect example. as are many stock protection dogs.. In any case.. realistic farming like this is much more humane on the animal than the natural life of any of these animals still wild relatives have...
  48. Regarding all this boo hooing over critters left outside, the breed of cattle are used to the weather, we had all of the usual critters when I was growing up, cows , ducks, guineas, hogs. some of them were inside but most were outside and found their own shelter which was made available to them. Like the story says some "city " bred folks are not used to seeing animals outside of a meat counter, they need to be on hand during slaughtering time or breeding time, they would get a quick education.
  49. Stosh
    Really. Has Ms Douglass ever been on a farm in mid winter? Would she acquiesce to random invasions of her home privacy in order to "look and operate...as if they were always giving public tours"?
    I didn't think so!
  50. leave the farmer alone, and keep your nose out of his/her ass. they know what they are doing a hell a lot better than you do. most farmers pay a high price to keep their livestock healthy, than some dumb ass so call cop wants to sticks his/her nose right where it dose not belong. The laws of this land are there for all of the people ,not for you high side people who think your shit dose not stink
  51. Brian
    Once again, anal retentive Liberals who know NOTHING about farming, trying to force their views on others. 50 years ago the majority of animals lived outdoors or in unheated barns, 100 years ago few if any had shelter........Strange they survived, and did not require massive amounts of antibiotics, hormones, or chemicals. I PRAY Rockford not only WINS but SUES everyone involved in this FARCE.
  52. Ralph
    There are two sides to every story! Both have a point, it's just a matter of what is right and what is wrong! Old ways still should be allowed but as long as it is not harming the animals. New ways should not be enforced on farmers unless the animals he is a stake otherwise leave them alone! You see 2 sides...
  53. S Lynn Macmillan
    This is another example of those who know nothing about farming deciding that there's animal cruelty going on. I'm from & in upstate NY. This guy is sound in his judgements in choice of animals for the weather found in upstate NY. Farming isn't a Disney scene & people had better get used to that. Animals spent hundreds of thousands of years out in the elements, long before humans got their hands on them--and they've survived very nicely without heated barns & running water. Leave this guy alone and go helicopter parent your kids.
  54. Eddie Cintron
    The only animals that are subject to cold are arctic animals they are built for that but farm animals you have to provide shelter, food , water heat. No excuse if you have animals take care of them or they animal control will remove them for you.
  55. Douglas MacArthur
    It stated officers came.........."in March"
    Rarely is March the coldest month. If there were frozen water pipes and a frozen over spring in March, I'll bet that was the case many times in January also.
    Depriving farm animals of water .....IS.........animal cruelty and should be reported.

    No real farmer, who cares about his farm animals, would allow this to happen !
  56. Tina Stewart
    Ignorance is bliss they say, however in this case stupidity can be the death of you. This man's neighbors are ignorant of farming and need a wake up call. Take them to feed lots or hog, turkey, or chicken houses and let them look upon the faces of real animal abuse. I myself have faced similar issues with my neighbors and they have cost me more than 26 of my dogs that were subsequently euthanized at the pound. They were
    taken not because they didn't have food, water, or shelter. Them being taken was suppose to help me out from having too many making caring for them less a burden. All were strays and roads side pickups some just showed up. I was assured at the time most would find homes but within 48 hours all 26 were dead. MY NEIGHBORS.
  57. Eddie Cintron
    Cattle get frost bite has well no animal can endure that frigid cold . More awareness is need in what animals have to go through in the winter under these conditions.
  58. Patricia Prior
    If officials are truly concerned about animals they should visit the cattle on feedlots who have been forced to live in corrals where they don't have enough room to turn around, are forced to eat corn, antibiotics and hormones, that would kill them from liver disease if we didn't slaughter them first. Try visiting a chicken or turkey farm, where they would all die of respiratory illness if they were not pumped with endless antibiotics, that make their way into human bodies by the way. Providing meat from animals that have access to fresh air, a normal life and are not poisoned with hormones and antibiotics should be encouraged not punished. To quote the bible: You are swallowing a camel and choking on a gnat.
  59. John Coffelt
    And yet everyone of those concerned citizens will sit down and have their steak tonight without a thought of where it came from or how the animal was treated by the large corporate farms.
  60. Warren Walter
    It's going to take 'war' against these goody idiots that have no concept of farming nor animal raising and butchering. What in the world would happen if a bunch of these animal rights idiots got to a good old fashioned southern hog killing? The first one to open their mouth would probably be well educated on animal butchering and sustenance by the time they healed up. I mean by the time they left the hog killing. Some people have no idea in hell where food comes from. The can't tell you if an item is row crop or tree grown. They can't tell you where a steak comes from nor what part of the HOG has the T-Bone cut from. They can't tell you how hamburger meat is made, nor tell you how many hog hams it takes to make a pound of hamburger.
  61. C.J. VETTER
    The nuts really want everyone to stop eating meat. They don't like small, pasture-fed cattle operations, and they don't like antibiotics and large confined operations either.
  62. Rosemary
    If you keep animals, you are responsible for that animals welfare, that means providing free choice clean water and regular feed and shelter from the elements. There is No excuse to not do this other that of sheer laziness.
    You can pasture raise and free range farm animals and fowl, but for GODS sake, it does not mean that it gives you A right to starve and not provide them with decent shelter. So many many people do just that.
  63. Wayne A. Biszick
    I was a farmer for a long time and FYI, farm animals NEVER stayed in a heated barn. Living in the outside environment keeps the animals' HVAC system tuned. This makes it less likely that they will contract respiratory illnesses due to the constantly changing temperatures they face by going into a heated space.
    I lived in a northern NY home with no heat and I was so used to it that I didn't even notice the cold. One night in a heated place made the cold hurt again. It took 30 miserable days to acclimate myself again. I suspect that the animals are the same way.
    If you disagree, build a big barn. There are a lot of animals that live outdoors.
  64. from texas well for the neighbor ,s an there yard art or horses that they don.t ride they are well how can i say this with out hurting there feelings they are assholes we have some here they stop an go there is some thing wrong with your horses ya they call that laying down to sleep go away it some times freezes here to you can chip ice all day an night, we no what we are doing don,t tell me how to raise my cattle they are 2500 lb, bull 1200cattle if it happen here they would not make it through the gate 30-30 or my 380 it don,t matter if they don,t have the faintest idea about horses or pigs what ever they just need to go away an the spca just needs to keep getting the cat,s off the streets an thats there job good luck from ft worth tex
  65. Mike Dionne
    I live in Texas!! Cattle country every where. I see cattle in the hot, cold, rain, snow, ice, storms etc. I have never heard of any Texas ranchers getting ticketed for letting their cattle range free. To all you animal rights activists. You are the most ignorant, stupid people on the planet!!! This is why we have laws to stop you from interfering with Ranchers , Hunters and Fishermen who are legally doing their thing.
  66. They are ANIMALS!! for GOD'S sake let them be, so many people think they are people!!! they are NOT!! they are ANIMALS!! I know some people act like animals, but animals do not act like PEOPLE!! They know what to do by instinct!!
  67. Kathy Lauretano
    The ignorance of the public about farming, and the history of how domestic farming animals evolved out in the wild, subject to all sorts of weather, is astounding and leads to this very kind of nonsense and legal abuses. The animal rights folks need to educate themselves before the express and opinion or make accusations. And they need to decide if animals are better off int he natural outdoors or cooped up in restricted indoor facilities - they cannot have it both ways. And just because there is ice over a stream does not mean the horse or cow cannot/does not break it with a hoof to access the water, or that the farmer does not break the ice daily for the animals. Heck, I used to have to do that to my horse troughs daily every winter.
  68. frank skeen
    I am in support of Mr. Rockford. Had people like him and farmers like him been subjected to this same climate of assault from some few in the public and by government officials well in our past history, our society would not have advanced as it has. You would have never seen stories about cattle drives, those people would have all been in jail serving time for pushing cows across the plains in deep snow and cold temps with only what ever food the herd found to eat along the way as the cows did not have a chuck wagon with food waiting on them each day. Chicken farmers would have been arrested also for letting foxes and wolves get to the chickens since they did not provide security for the chickens by being armed to the teeth with guns.
  69. Clint
    Like all the rules and regulations that apply to all of us, farmers get the added extras of even more govt. agencies piling on. One that I still find ridiculous is cow autopsies after an obvious death. You have to bring a cow that was struck by lightning, found on its back with all four legs straight as arrows and all hooves pointing to heaven and have an autopsy performed to make sure it didn't die from mad cow disease. And be darn sure you cover it up in the back of the truck, or all the little city children that see it will cry and their parents will call the SPCA and the law.
  70. Gaynor Henry
    There is a fine line between pasture-based farming and borderline animal abuse. Leaving pigs outside so that their ears get frost-bite, is just wrong. Yes, animals have great instincts, but they also rely on their humans for help and care. Keeping dogs outside is NEVER acceptable, no matter how good their diet is. Leaving cows outside with no access to running water? Well, why didn't you go out and break up the ice? I get it and no, I am not a vegan or even vegetarian; I despise factory farms and consider the demise of teh family farm a tragedy. But I also believe that treating animals - especially food animals - with care, compassion and dignity, should be the norm that everyone strives for. There is a middle ground - find it.
  71. Sara Sota
    People are stupid. Pity the city dwellers who humanize their animals and have never even petted a cow. When the EMP strikes it's the country folks who will survive.
  72. Joseph Cassetti
    Why don't authorities find something better to do with their time? ITS A FARM!!! What is wrong with the people that think they should tell others how to do things. WEATHER or not is the question?? Arrest mother nature and see if she can be prosecuted for no control over the seasons. It all seems just so silly. Overlap of seasonal weather should be considered not animal cruelty.
  73. Tom Coleman
    What do the no nothing liberal animal rights people want animals in climate controlled,large confined buildings or pasture raised animals you know what I say the perfect answer is they don't no period, what's good or not??? As for "factory farms " this term is totally abused in the animals rights world most large confined farms in this country are run by the same type of families that run small farms except they do it on a large scale ,the public needs to understand this is a fact of life!! As an example the largest dairy farm in the US is run by a father 4 sons two daughter in laws and several cousins with support staff,not uninterested unionized factory workers,if they don't take care of their cattle no profit interesting theory isn't it?
  74. Rhett
    My uncle farmed in VT on a dirt road well outside of town. Over the years, the road was paved and 'city slickers' moved in. They complained that they could smell manure, that the sound of the tractor was annoying, the barn wasn't attractive enough. On and on. The farm was there long before them. He never had to go to court, but was subjected to nasty comments. Sad.
  75. Sheri
    Hobby farms and small time sustainable farms are not for the faint of heart. Going back to the basics is not a bad thing either. I just raised meat chickens for the 1st time, our set-up was not state of the art, but it did the job. Our chickens were well taken care of, and even got a bath once; they were well fed both with crumble bought from a local farmer who makes his own feed, and free ranged on my property with the help of a portable chicken tractor that my husband and I built. At the big chicken factories, those poor chickens exist in cramped quarters getting antibiotics and growth hormones never seeing the light of day. Ours chickens felt the sun on their faces and the earth under their feet. Happy chickens taste better too.
  76. My grandfather was a farmer at a time where pork price's were so low that all the farmers got all their hogs together and shot them and then burned them all, because it was cheaper than feeding them. My dad as a plumber used to get calls around 4am, from farmers that their well wasn't working or pipes were frozen. When I was a kid, no farmer had heated barns. The animals survived. Of course there was always a loss of some kind, and will always happen, even with the new hog farms, which I think is worse than being allowed to go outside. If the animals were truly starving, that is one thing. But if they are well fed, the animals know how to survive. And that's what you need a sturdy stock that will survive the elements.
  77. Mike
    Does livestock on ranches in Montana, Wyoming, or any cold area of the country have heated barns? Of course not. Somebody is nuts. Must be city folk coming out to the country.
  78. untill they try to raise there food they will never know what to aspect is the right thing to do each person has their apinion on how diffrent animals need care mine are all nataual feed and shelter with no heat or air they are provited shelter if it chooses and water if they choose to
  79. Phyllis
    I have been following this story since it began on Mr. Katz's blog..For those of you spewing ill wishes and misinformed opinions you have it all wrong...if YOU had been following Mr. Katz you would have the real story. This poor farmer needs to be exonerated and left to work his farm and not worry about what these so called "animal rights" activitists have to say. winter is cruel to everyone not just animals...where does this nonsense stop..will it come to sheltering all animals in the winter even the ones in the wild...people need to start minding their own business and stop worrying about what other people are doing. I am all for animal rights but not when they tread on human rights.Please let this man go free to tend to his farm.
  80. What right do those Aminal Rights people have to enter someone elses property, and then complain about what they, the farmer, does with their animals?

    To me, that is Trespass, which is a violation of the law in most states, especially in New York State, maybe bordering on Criminal Trespass, where they intend to commit the crime of Falsely Reporting an incident. "Animal Cruelity".

    Is it not true that man is a hunter and gatherer? Do we not grow and raise our own food for our existence? Therefore, is it not our right to raise our own cattle, for our own consumption and the consuption of other within our own people for their survival? if they so, then why aren't those who report these crimes arrested for their crimes?
  81. MommaB
    To the people who reported him for not having a heated barn, you are ignorant. An animal in a heated barn, would have to stay in a heated barn, exposure to the cold would make them sick, but then, being in a barn all winter could make them sick as well. It was an unusally cold winter in NY this past year. Even with heated waterers, the -40 deg. temps in the morning were enough that it couldnt keep up. Even putting the water inside a (not) heated barn, which is a recipe for frostbite, would not really alleviate the frozen water issue.
  82. tslate
    God bless the small farmer. All you have to do is educate people on the realities of not only farming but what they can also do to be good earth stewards.How many people that complained have roundup laying around their house to kill evil weeds or worse hire chem lawn care co's to maintain their pristine lawns futher polluting everything, air, water and soil.I could go on but the point is everyone can be better stewards of what we have been given. That said, they can outlaw veal any day, it is just cruel.I'm an engineer but in my early years someone talked me into actually looking after their veal calves.I lasted about a week or less, having those poor creatures chained to stalls in a hot, stuffy barn. That can be outlawed anytime.
  83. Peggy Platt
    The animal rights fanatics(I used to be one) are so far removed from the reality of the real world.
    We need to care for our animals, not worship them. They were created to serve us, not the other way around. These people are neurotic, caring more the welfare of animals than of people. Society cares more about animal welfare than a child in a women's womb.
  84. Tom Burdess
    I was raised on a farm in Nebraska with all sorts of livestock and my dad treated them like pets, but they were pasture raised which means they survived in all seasons. They had shelter from storms but didn't have heated sheds in the winter and made it through healthy. Farm life isn't anything like city life so those that have lived it don't understand the complexity of what goes on day to day. Too bad for those people since all they have to do is complain about those farmers who made this country what it is today with sweat and hard work. I dare any of you who complain to take a year off and try to become a farmer then you will see where your food really comes from. It isn't nicely packaged or on shelves in the grocery store.
  85. Patricia
    The authorities need to investigate the big corporate farms; who are really abusing animals. There are tons of undercover videos by animal right's groups showing the horrendous abuse of calves, cows, chickens, pigs, etc. So called workers using cattle prods on the udders and genitals of downed cows already suffering. The cows were screaming in pain as they were being tortured to death with cattle prods, pitchforks, beaten, etc. Little newborn calves thrown in back of trucks like sacks of potatoes crying. New born calves beaten to death. One video showed a cow who was swollen up so big from a dead baby it couldn't stand. It was left for days screaming in pain. Our government made it illegal to film this.
  86. Imonetoremember
    A lot of this is the city slickers sticking their nose where it doesn't belong. However, never, never allow your animals to go without water. The barn doesn't need to be heated but you better make sure they have access to water 24/7. I'd like to see the condition of the horses that were removed. Horses with very limited access to water will go off feed and can colic. Animals should have shelter, even just tree cover, in severe weather or have the option. In nature, animals take cover but don't necessarily go under/in man-made structures without human persuasion due to confinement fears. The dogs are LGD's and should have shelter but they are bred to stay out with the animals they are guarding. Diet is fine, don't mess with kibble.
  87. One of the main reasons many people are opting for "free range" farm goods is to stop the mistreatment of animals in the large corporate farms. That is why people are looking for a higher standard of care for the animals from these "grass root" farmers. It seems we have simply traded an evil on a large scale, to a rural one...and as always, it is the animals that suffer.
  88. So why are people on this guys side? Animals freezing to death outside, including baby calves that are born and freeze to death. This guy is a POS he can't even heat up his barn for his animals, pig with frost bite. Lets give all the supporters frost bite on their ear see how they like it!! Scums
  89. Norman Wrensch
    What I am hearing about his farming practices is exactly what I would expect. These goofy people that have no idea how a farm is operated should keep the idiotic noses out of the farmers business. All they are doing is costing the poor guy a lot of money, for their stupidity. I sure hope they end up paying for his defense and expenses when it is all over.
  90. Why oh why people do not mind their own business?
    Hope that he wins his case in court!
  91. Rose
    Why aren't these outraged people complaining about the big factory farms, whose people are regularly cruel and abusive to all farm animals under their care?
  92. Susan
    What has happened to people!!?? Has everyone gone nuts?? Animals, children, elderly , etc , no one should be abused. Animal Rights people probably started out with good intentions and some are still sane, but many have gone off the deep end. Farming is a hard job, long hours in all kinds of weather and they do this seven days a week. If people want animals to eat, yes, I said eat, isn't that what we do when we go into the store and buy chicken, beef, pork? and they want the animals to be healthy and not filled with who-knows-what kind of drug then the farmers who are trying to do this with Pasture raised animals(isn't this what people are saying they want) then the cattle are outside in PASTURES!!!! ran out of room to say more.
  93. Steffney krah
    We don't need to kill any thing to survive. Animals are always the ones suffering. Go vegan.
  94. Millie
    Having grown up in rural North Dakota, I can only sympathize with Rockford. The cattle would often be huddled together from the cold when temperatures were sub-0 because there was no other recourse. I don't remember anyone losing a cow or a bull to the cold. Also, remember, bison were free-range and survived. This is called, appropriately, survival of the fittest. Would you want to eat meat from a sick of frail animal; I don't think so.
  95. Goat
    Don't let Vegans have cell phones or computers. Explain to them that they contain animal products therefore they can't use them.
  96. paul obrien
    People just don't understand.. even those giving advise like operating your farm as if it was for farm tours. .. be reasonable. Do you want your home to be ready for the white glove inspection 24/7. If your furnace, water heater, or sewer give you problems... can you have them fixed with-in the hour? and do that every time? Do you have backup electricity source for an outage?
    Apply the same to that animal water. An all weather water cost thousands of dollars to install and anyone of a number of reasons for it to fail. Plus some of the repairs will cost more than the original install and yet may NOT fix the problem but only be temporary. Common sense and practicality cannot be legislated.
  97. Shirley McCullough
    I think there is too much interference in our lives by people that do not understand farm life. I lived on a farm for 46 years and often times we would have sick cows, goats and especially in the winter and spring it looked dirty and muddy in our corrals and pastures. But the animals were well fed and watered. And once the weather broke, everything looked cleaned up and green. People need to just leave us alone and keep their money and mouths out of farm life.
  98. since when does a farmer have to have a heated barn? if not having one is a crime, we have thousands of farm owner criminals in the u.s.
  99. Avril
    I want humane raising and slaughter of the animals we use for food. I've watched the various "Animal Cops..." shows and I didn't grow up on a farm. Skinny/unkempt dogs and cows w/ their ribs showing would alarm me, as would not seeing a source of drinking water. I know a working farm is not picture-perfect but the animals should look cared-for.
  100. craig wortham
    The world has lost their fucking minds! I was raised and worked on a farm all of my life. Our job is to care, house and feed the animals. Farm animals adapt and instinctively weather the environment, that's what they do. The government and these tree hugging vegans need to keep their heads out of our business, and find something useful to do with their time. We provide meat and produce for stores, that people want and need. Hell, I have been butchering our foods for my family all of my life, and wont change... so don't go kicking a sleeping bear unless you wanna get bit.
  101. bob sheets
    For the love of God, leave these farmers alone!!! They're self supporting, earth caring and life giving people. I'm an urban person who appreciates the outdoors and tries to respect nature as much as possible. I'm also an avid hunter who eats what I harvest. These farmers are the salt of the earth, they harm no one....
    The only down side to "free ranch" products is the cost to the consumer is near double the price of contain products, I'll pay the price....
  102. kathy
    While I get overzealous with the care of my animals, especially in the winter months, I do understand now that they ARE animals and have been living outdoors forever. Having said that, I also make sure they have shelter if they want it and, always , water. I had a spigot in the barn freeze for the first time this winter and carried buckets of water from the house to the barn. Damn near killed me, and then guess what! That afternoon, when the sun hit the spigot, it thawed out. But I always made sure they had drinking water. It took me a long time, about 8 years to stop locking my ex-racehorse up in the stall in bad weather. And guess what? He always chooses to be outside with the other horses in the snow - and the pouring rain! Go figure.
  103. Brian
    Not many realize that cattle are ruminants and that their food digestion creates enormous amounts of heat. How do Bison, Elk, Moose.. etc survive the winter? They convert that frozen vegetation into heat. Growing up I watched as 10 old milk cows kept an un-insulated 40x40 barn at 60+ all winter. [they physically only occupied a 12x30 area when stanchioned] And this barn had holes! If it had been "tight" like our homes now, water would have been dripping off of the ceiling and all of the cattle and baby calves inside would have been sick with pneumonia. ... ... Animal husbandry requires a lifetime of experience to do right! This poor farmer guy is just now learning that... cut some slack!!
  104. Our country is so worried about animals the are used to this type of weather,so why aren't we more concerned about the homeless living in cardboard boxes. I guess animals are more important.
  105. David J. Conklin
    >an anonymous person had called “to complain about the care we give our animals.”

    Par for the course--always some coward who won't face you head on.

    Had a tenant complain to the admin of the apartment house that my cat was "running" (he walks/dawdles everywhere!) around loose. I got written up and responded with a detailed letter listing 6 people, by name, (like the caretaker?!?) that they could have asked--but failed to do--they would have been told that Max was always on his leash and that I was always with him. They never apologized.
  106. Brian
    While it's commendable to allow these animals more space and freedom to move than most large, commercial facilities, they need and deserve protection from the elements. Some of them grow heavier coats as protection from the cold, but they still need water and a heated barn. Winters can be brutal, and it's cruel to let them freeze to death. If he can't get it together, he shouldn't be farming.
  107. Mark Los
    I was a full time dairy farmer with my wife for more than ten years. We raised all kind of animals, cows, pigs, chickens and rabbits for food or dairy. I can tell you that many types of cattle would rather be outdoors 12 months of the year even in central New York where weather can get to 30 below. Almost all raised animals are better off in very cool surroundings as bugs and bacteria don't live in the cold. I can also tell you that many dog breeds are happiest outside even when it is really nasty out. Unfortunately today we have been taken over by the liberal left that wants to dictate every facet of life even when they know nothing about it. I hope these people keep farming the way they want.
  108. rod meyer
    keeping animals in an unheated barn? what kind of stupidity is this charge. Most animals are kept in unheated barns. they need to be dry and draft free and fed and watered.
  109. Paul Smith
    It does not matter if farm animals and dogs are somewhat used to harsh conditions. There is no good reason to let them suffer and not have enough food and fresh water.
  110. Linda Wahrer
    Too many "animal activists" are people who NEVER grew up on a farm or around farms and are city people who want to make animals "like people"...this insanity has to stop!
    These same "animal activists" who are trying to invade the privacy and lives of their farmer neighbors are the very same idiots who will cry that there isn't any food to buy from America!
    STOP trying to demonize the very people who are "feeding" you and your family. You want to know about the farm life of animals then for god sake, no excuse, pick up a dam book or get on the internet and educate yourself before you crucify some one!!!
    You ALL owe this farmer and others a sincere apology!
  111. Tina Cartwright
    I back this farmer 100%. People that don't have a clue what tradtional farming is need to mind their own business.
  112. Lewis and Harris
    Dear Sir:

    I think that we have so many citizens today who think that we cannot exist without their input. After all, we all have an opinion and for some, theirs must be heard (whether it makes sense or not).

    The present case calls for no input. These farmers have skin in the game, and are working the farm as those in America have done for centuries. Their results are probably better than seen in the past, and they probably make money at it, too. Thus, you kibitzers should butt out. Why add cost and intimidation to their lives - just leave it!
  113. Linda
    ALSO~ there are certain breeds of dogs that HATE being in doors, they have double coats and they actually become ill being indoors, they were bred for harsh weather but they love being out doors. Try doing this to a farmer in another country where people understand farming...
    There is so much cancer in animals because humans insist on treating them like humans instead of educating themselves about the breed they own and how to care for it to be at its healthiest. There is absolutely NO excuse for people to not educate themselves on "real life" of a farm, the farmer, the animals or even their own pets. People are the problem as to why so many "pets" have cancer today, respiratory problems, skin problems etc. How do u think wild life survive
  114. Don Fowler
    I grew up in a rural farming area, and I remember most farmers taking better care of their animals than what this fellow has/is. Animals do not manage well with frozen water, unless you give them ice pics to pick it apart. And of course you must teach them to just suck on an ice cube, or they could eat it like a treat. And if barns were not heated in some manner they were well insulated from the direct cold and wind so the animals generated heat. This farmer has a lot to learn and it sounds like he is relatively new at farming. He really needs the mentoring of a wiser more mature farmer or rancher. In reality he may not be to far off course, just a little tweaking, as it were.
  115. Hoofinit
    The way to stop the debate on animal rights/ abuse is simple. Every American should be required to live and work on a family owned farm for four seasons. No "hobby farming". Real farms only. Do this when a person reaches the age of 16 and they will be happy to go back to school and finish their education after that year and they will have a new appreciation and understanding of what it takes to provide this country with food and hundreds of by-products.
  116. John
    I'm a former small farmer and race Standardbred horses. I deal with the Amish because they drive my breed of horses and I've had them build barns for me. To hear that a charge was having an unheated barn is ludicrous. Go visit any and I mean any Amish farm if you want realistic charges. For some reason people admire and respect them for what they do but I'd bet that most of the pasture based farmers treat their animals immensely better. Go visit an auction where the beef buyers buy cattle and see what you feed your children. The American public is so uniformed that it's embarrassing. Stay strong Mr. Rockhold. What you're doing is admirable, especially to those of us that are in the know and actually do something other than complain.
  117. Don Fowler
    WARREN WALTER, you make it sound like meat comes from animals that are slaughtered with blood everywhere. No No No, meat is nicely wrapped and comes from places like Publix, Food Lion, Von's, , and a thousand other grocery stores like those. True Story: An acquaintance of mine who had just moved to SC from NY City was offered some fresh vegetables out of a friends garden, literally freshly picked, she had not even gone home. My acquaintance shrugged his shoulders in disgust remaking that they were dirty, and that if he wanted vegetables he would buy them at the grocery store where they were clean. He was about 35 at the time and had never seen dirty vegetables since he had only seen them in the grocery stores around NY City.
  118. Bobby Vest
    A heated barn? I grew up on a farm. We used to run anywhere from 35 to 50 head of cattle and 25 head of hogs. We had a feed barn to feed in and they could come in to a shed if they wanted. Never heard of anyone with a heated barn, not practical anyway. Both of my grandfathers had dairy cattle. Most people these days have no idea what farm life is like. These goverenment idiots make me sick. Just because the animals are outside does not mean they are abused. Everyone I know now that has cattle are all outside in a pasture.
  119. LA
    IT IS SIMPLY COMMON SENSE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE FOOD, WATER and SHELTER for living creatures. NO EXCUSE for why those animals DO NOT have those, all of the time, in every season.
  120. Norma Hurt
    I was born and raised on farm, A free roaming farm. I want eat any meat from factory farms ever again. if I can't buy free roaming meat I eat no meat at all. God bless you and keep up the good work. Don't let them stop you from running a great farm. thank you, sure wish there were more like you
  121. Nancy Wright
    i grew up on a farm. Never had a heated barn. Animals wintered outside just fine and the cows drank from a pond. I chopped a hole thru the ice twice a day.
  122. City people think their meat come to the stores by magic they have never lived or worked on a farm or ranch. They have been protected from how the real world works. These police and others don't know where their food comes from or how it came to be food. Before they complain ot take action they need to see how life really is.
  123. carol
    i was raised in the city, but friends had farms. life on a farm is hard, the reality is they are outdoor animals, Our fore fathers farmed this way, the natural way. So I hope the courts have a brain and use it. You should not be found guilty. these days people are so far removed from nature and natural things that they don't really understand how things work. I fully support you. People get a clue.
  124. I am willing to bet that the very same people that are complaining about the farmer and his farm, are lined up down at the local farm to table restaurant waiting for the great food they want. Don't these idiots realize that farmers are the true backbone of this nation. If we didn't have hard working farmers we would be scrabbling in the dirt looking for bug protien.
  125. Darlene Roberrts
    This is so insane. Rockford has done nothing wrong. He's continuing to do everything right by talking to people in the same business, getting opinions, continuing his education of farming. Heating barns and heating water is expensive. When we had horses we did heat the water. In Colorado and 20 below, the ice can get mighty thick. But no barn warmers. They had shelter from the biting wind and rain and snow, if they wanted. Rockford has the right by law to face his accusers, and then someone needs to educate these townies. There are times when it's appropriate to complain, times when it's not. This was one time it was not. I hurt for the police, too, but there were just doing their jobs. Put the blame where blame is due.
  126. Gene
    Upstate New York, Wow, I live in South Dakota. Livestock in this area all live outside. Farmers put up Wind Breaks for livestock but do not use heated barns. If the farmers in South Dakota had to do this no one would be eating beef in this country. What a joke......Animal lovers your area a ignorant as to where their food comes from. Its not born in a Store.....
  127. Jeff
    I applaud Joshua Rockford's efforts of a sustainable farm. If people think factory farms treat animals more humanely then they really need to go visit one and see for themselves before attacking and threatening a small farmer. Nobody wants to know where the meat in the supermarket comes from. It is a shame that so many small farms of any variety are being put out of business by people that have nothing better to do than harass and instigate. And of course it is all done anonymously. My guess is if people have to leave their name to register a complaint they won't do it. Stay Strong Joshua.
  128. Western Horseowner
    Well all I can say if these animal rights extremists ever travel out our way they are going to be in for one hell of a shock. Hell keeping animals in an unheated barn would be the least of their worries as we keep our livestock in the field year round, the barn is for keeping equipment in not livestock
  129. steve mahac
    What you are seeing here is the Bambie syndrome. The uneducated thinks steaks grow on trees and cannot imagine killing and bleeding out a cow for their meat. There have been reports near our farm that dead animals are left to rot in the fields, not realizing that many animals like to sun themselves after filling their stomachs with hay or grain.
  130. Frank Kelly
    Nice piece. We have friends who are farmers and their relationship with their animals - including their barn cats and outside dogs - is different from folk who have "pets" ... of necessity; particularly, when a good percentage of their animals are destined for the dinner table. Crowding, forced feeding, cramped pens and other practices common on large factory farms are, arguably, more inhumane than some mentioned here -- especially if animals~breeds are chosen with pasture in mind.
  131. alicia hullihan
    I was raised in the city but my grandparents raised horses and cattle on thier 200plus acre farm in rural Va. Never was a barn heated. The horses were stabled @ night and during bad weather...but most of the other animals and livestock pretty much roamed free. Yes sometimes animals got sick, we even had to put down a horse that developed colic. I never once thought that the animals were abused because of a harsh winter etc. This is the nature of the farm business. My grandfather was a decorated army col. who retired to farm. I cannot imagine him being charged for cruelty due to the fact that a hard winter for the livestock caused naturally occuring frostbite and or possibly death. Free range means just that America!
  132. Ellen
    You folks have to remember, this was an unbelievably horrible winter. February had record breaking cold and blizzard after blizzard with record breaking snow. This was not your average run-on-the-mill winter. This was historically bad. This farmer probably wouldn't have had a problem if it hadn't been so extraordinarily cold and crazy. Frankly I'm surprised this farmer came through it so well, not so poorly.
  133. Excellence Salazar
    I am appalled at what has happened to this young man I am praying that all charges are dropped and that he gets his horses back and his life back the way it should be.
  134. Lawrence Travers
    F the "authorities".
  135. KIrby
    It is truly un believable what some people will do to try and force others to live the way that they think is right. Animals deserve to not be abused but they are not human and never will be. People, mainly due to social media now believe that they should champion causes that are none of there business.
  136. Ron
    I was raised on a small dairy-truck farm. Almost all farmers love and want the best for their animals. Their income and livelihood is dependent on the livestock. Good care equals healthy animals, equals more pocket money.
  137. Daddio7
    I guess my brother in law would be put under the jail. He pastured his cattle in north Colorado. Once a week during the winter he would ride a snowmobile out to the fenced in hay storage and dump a few bales over the fence for the cows to eat, otherwise they fended for themselves all winter.
  138. philip goble
    I was raised on a farm and I see notthing wrong with his operation.Extreme animal rights people are crazy. Animals are just that; they are NOT people. Get over it, folks.
  139. philip goble
    Another case of some folks who know notthing about what they are talking about.I was raised on a farm and this man is doing notthing different from whats been done for 100's of years.
  140. Liz Cyran
    As a person who has her horses in pasture year round, with a large vat of water, that sometimes freezes over, but with access to run ins only, these so called animals enforcement officers are full of bull crap, and there seems to be some do gooders with no knowledge of animals sticking their nose into this farmer's business. What do this do gooders think - that meat comes wrapped in a package and doesn't come from that cute cow int he field? Animals have been living outside for longer than people, and they actually do BETTER when they are out. A heated barn? Really? What do you want to pay for that steak - $100 a pound? Because that's what it will end up with fools like this sticking their noses where they don't belong.
  141. I sure hope he beats this. We need these small farms to provide healthy stress free meat. Large factory farms,, not so much.
  142. Jim Jacobson
    There almost seems to be a hidden agenda in these cases. By whom and for what reasons is never really brought to light. It's light trying to fight a ghost who can raise as much hell as it wants and the little guy has no recourse. Even the articles seem to keep a respectful distance from making any accusations. For sure, if it's a government agency, the little guy doesn't stand a chance. Possibly this crowdsourced legal defence fund strategy may at least tell those hidden in the shadows that there will be a fight.
  143. JO
    Thank heavens these "offended" neighbors don't live near the Kansas plains where cattle, chicken, dogs, pigs and a lot of times kids run "free range".
    They (the 'offended') would have heart attacks and be laughed out of town with local law enforcement pointing the way back north.
    People just amaze me with their foolishness the older I get.
  144. don
    I find it apalling how these animals were treated in this day and age. I dressed mine up and took themto the theaters and bought popcorn. Sadly they died from the tofu diet I put them on
  145. A Farmer
    Those saying, "Well back in the day we used to freeze outside with one log burning and that's how animals were treated and we liked it! We loved it!" Um, ok? Well wake up, it is 2015. Not 1940. We do not NEED to keep animals in those conditions based on necessity. Don't blindly defend a farmer because you are a farmer, as I am. This guy was NOT taking proper precautions to assure his farm animals were comfortable in a frozen environment. This past couple of years, especially in New York, it has been exceptionally cold. As a farmer, if you are not prepared to adjust your common practices based on the CURRENT weather conditions regarding the care of your animals, you shouldn't be a farmer. Farming is not a one-size-fits-all occupation.
  146. David T Pressley Jr
    I think it's great people care so much about the welfare of animals but, these people are the same individuals that want GMO free, antibiotic free foods! I think they need to be educated in the traditional farming methods. These traditional farm methods should be paired with modern innovations. Give some tours of the farms. I love the sights and smells of a real working farm! Educate the people!! They will come. Watch Alaska the last frontier.

    Dave Pressley
    DJP Handmade
  147. Joyce
    I was raised on s small farm. I think people who don't farm should mind their own business and find something else to use their time on.
  148. Terry
    Better watch out, seems to me the city, county or borough want your property. so they figure you will not sell. They will bury you with legal debt. Look up Expo 70 in Pa. Government took family farms for state parks, paid way less than what they were worth, and even the mineral rights. These farms were third and fourth generation farms.
  149. As a small farmer I stand in solidarity with mr rockwell and all other farmers big and small who face the modern bureaucracy. ive had people call the animal control on me and they found nothing wrong. People who report farmers either have no idea about the reality of farming or are just in it to destroy someones character. False animal right accusations should be a punishable crime. The sentencing could be one season free labor for the accused farmer. Now that sounds good to me.

    Also people forget that the farmers are the ones out there in the cold and elements with the animals everyday, while everyone else sits inside. Ive been out in gail force winds and storms standing with my animals, do the animal rights activists see this? NOPE!
  150. Aaron
    For those of you commenting and saying that he should have provided water, and food, etc... The fact is in this case he DID. It just happened that the police visited between chore times when the water had frozen, completely normal when temperatures are -20. That very morning he had provided the animals with water, broken the ice so the animals could drink. Animals were tested and passed all hydration tests. None were malnourished, actually quite well fed from the pictures. Many farming experts and Ag instructors have visited the farm, looked at the facts, and so far no one has said there is anything wrong.
  151. Peter Hickey
    I believe there is some greed from the squawkers. For example the rescue farm wanted thousands of dollars for board! Not all animal activist are really looking out for the animal but looking out for their profit margin.
  152. Carolyn Rice
    Now please explain the costs, to the animals and humans, arising from factory farm practices. Antibiotics wasted on keeping the entire herd from health issues vs. treating a sick animal. And, explain to me, again, why we have e. coli in our food and meat constantly pulled from shelves? I grew up eating absolutely everything pasture raised. I could name breeds of chickens, pigs and cows (dairy & meat on 4 legs). How many current city kids even have a clue what a pig looks like? Or even better, what does a sheep look like?
  153. Carol Cannon
    Fight on Joshua Rockwood ...... I hate when over zealous, uneducated morons decide to "Save the World." The animals on the Pasture Based Farms and Ranches are stronger and healthier than the ones raised in sterile, antibiotic saturated barns, never seeing the light of day or feeling the grass beneath their feet. This is the way our forefathers farmed. It is a tried, tested and proven way to farm or ranch. Joshua Rockwood has my full support and respect.
  154. Jim Carroll
    Yes but the real question is, will we really find out on July 14th....? Seems like the ADA and the court have been dragging Josh and his family through the mud for several months now while they scrape and scrape to find something, anything to justify their intrusion on to his farm and into their lives. It is what is is. A miscarriage of justice. Just admit you made a mistake and drop all these charges and return ALL his animals back to him and let him and his family move on with their life. Do the right thing!
  155. Alfred
    If humans still lived in the natural environment that we evolved in these activists would be among the first to win the Darwin award. Many of them do not understand life at the basic level.
  156. Sarah Fields
    Regardless of what happened here, why is a pig with a frost-bitten ear animal neglect but an factory farm comprised entirely of ill-treated pigs in horrid living conditions is not?
  157. RLM Williams
    It used to be common knowledge that locking animals inside barns in winter, (or for extended periods any time of year) is dangerous to their health. Heated barns, aside from being both financially impractical and environmentally unsound, are even more dangerous.

    Building a deep bedding pack that is biologically active is a practice used to keep livestock warm and comfortable for hundreds, even thousands, of years - but this is another practice often condemned by members of the public who live lives very disconnected from the natural world. As the manure, urine, and bedding create active compost, heat is generated, giving the animals a warm place to lay down - but the air in barns and animal shelters should be kept unheated, and as fresh as possible. In most cases, a three sided shelter facing away from prevailing winds is better than enclosing animals.
  158. RLM Williams
    By the way, Joshua Rockwood is not a rancher. West Wind Acres is not a ranch. Joshua Rockwood is a farmer, operating a farm.

    By the way, he won his case.

    However, cases of harassment of small farms, especially farms using sustainable and regenerative practices, are continuing - even increasing - across the USA.

    Many involve the abuse of power by police and other officials, and/or non-governmental organizations given power like SPCAs. Non-profit 'rescue' groups are often given the animals taken WITHOUT DUE PROCESS.

    Some of these 'non-profit' groups charge sly-high fees for owners to buy back their own animals, even though they run on donations andn volunteer work. Some have become skilled at collecting donations in the form of sponsorships - often several for the same animal - as well as the sale of animals they were given by owners facing hard times, or taken from their owners, often WITHOUT A COURT ORDER.

    The more of a 'tear-jerker' the story behind the animal, the better- regardless if it is true, twisted, or greatly exaggerated.

    Anyone who values basic Freedoms and Rights should thank Joshua Rockwood for standing up against these violations of those freedoms and rights we all hold dear.

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