Our Farm and New York City

Over the years, I have made a couple of trips to New York City to visit college friends as well as to do some volunteer promotion work for the Beef Check Off.  My perspective of the world broadens a bit every time that I venture into the Big Apple as it is incredibly different from my family’s farm in Nebraska.

This week, as I traversed the Cornhusker State attending my oldest daughter’s basketball games, I did some math calculations with my favorite blonde cowgirl exploring population density using both census data and information from our farm.


Meg and I in the field that makes up our “back yard”…

Here is what we found…

New York City, NY spans 302.64 square miles and is home to 8,405,837 people (2013 census) = 27,775 people per square mile

Manhattan, New York spans 22.96 square miles and is home to 1,626,159 people (2013 census) = 70,825 people per square mile

Our total farm spans 8.17 square miles where we grow alfalfa, corn, prairie hay (grass), soybeans, and cattle.

The Feed Yard (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) part of our farm spans 0.156 of those 8.17 square miles and is home to 2772 bovines = 17,769 cattle per square mile on the feed yard property.

An aerial view of the feed yard...

An aerial view of the feed yard…

The population numbers per square mile paint an interesting picture. 

The vast majority of the New Yorkers that I know are intensely loyal to their home city, and feel completely comfortable in the relatively crowded environment that makes up the Big Apple.  In fact, New Yorkers are often quick to brag about the unique blend that their city has to offer.  I have a similarly intense loyalty to my farm  — the crops, the cattle, the CAFO that houses my cattle, and the diverse harmony that they all create together. All of the different pieces of my farm come together to make a unique and sustainable whole.

I spend my days watching my cattle thrive — playing, resting, eating and living what I believe to be a humane life.  It is certainly true that they are more confined in a feed yard pen than they would be on a pasture, but I would argue that it is still possible to offer a decent life to an animal within a more crowded environment.

All living creatures adapt to their home environments, whether it is a loyal New Yorker living the city life or a calf living in a feed yard pen.

March 26, 2012 070

We all have the unique ability to acclimate to our surrounding environment in order to live in harmony.


Filed under CAFO, General

12 responses to “Our Farm and New York City

  1. Kelli

    And those same New Yorkers seem more than happy to demand that you give more space to your animals without considering the fact that they are far more crowded in their own living space. You need to get these numbers printed in NYC so they can have a chance to consider both sides of the issue and realize that we ARE doing what is best for our animals.

    • Somehow, Kelli, we need to find common ground and shared perspective with out customers from the city. This post was my attempt to accomplish this — I don’t know if I was successful or not, but I tried 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  2. Bobbi

    LOVE this post especially the analytical side of me who likes numbers!!! This brings about a new perspective about the lifestyle of people and cattle.

  3. This is a great post and a great perspective!

    Thanks for sharing. Good luck in the basketball!

    • Thank you, Janeal. I am glad that you enjoyed it — it was a fun one for me to think about and put together.

      Basketball is going well — fun to watch the kids have fun, compete, and develop good skills. Although, I have to admit that I look forward to track as running is more my speed 🙂


  4. Adele Hite, MPH RD

    “We all have the unique ability to acclimate to our surrounding environment in order to live in harmony.” So true. We are adapted to adapt. Fascinating perspective & excellent point.

    • Thank you, Adele. I appreciate your kind words and am glad that you enjoyed the post. We are all truly adapted to adapt — we just need to find shared perspective at times to recognize the best ways to sustain together.


  5. Again another good point 🙂

  6. I thought I had left a comment here asking if I can quote you in my Growing the Land column in the NY Hudson Valley Register Star. I also was hoping I could visit the feedlot for a bit of an interview March 22 or 23 or the morning of the 24th as I’m traveling from southern Illinois to Sioux Falls and am staying a night in Firth. Not sure how far you are from Firth. My email is agrite@ptd.net if you prefer to respond there. I’ve been an ag journalist over 30 years and used to do beef market reports. I am a member of North American Ag Journalists. I’ve contributed articles to Progressive Dairyman and Progressive Cattleman, Farmshine, Country Folks plus this consumer-focused column mentioned above. Hope this time my comment / question goes through and to hear from you. Thanks, Sherry Bunting, (@agmoos / agmoos.com)

  7. Pingback: The Truth About Feedlots | The Truth About Agriculture

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