Published Jun 9, 2017

On-Farm, Episode 005: Phil Specht – Pearlmaker Holsteins

By Nick Ohde
Phil Specht

Phil Specht

Phil Specht of Pearlmaker Holsteins was our guest this week on the show. Phil farms with his wife Sharon near MacGregor in northeast Iowa. He’s been running a grass-based, rotationally grazed dairy in the hills of Clayton County since the 1970s, and conservation has always been important to him. In 2013, his brother Dan passed away in a farm accident, and Dan’s friend Mary Damm purchased Dan’s farm. Since then, Phil and Mary have been conducting on-farm research on the links between pasture management, plant and soil diversity and grassland birds. On the show, we range from the practical to the esoteric – talking with Phil about the politics of conservation, grazing management, Facebook poetry, ways of knowing and much more.

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On June 22, Phil Specht and Mary Damm will host a field day at Dan’s farm focused on grazing, grassland birds and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). You can RSVP for the field day, which will include dinner and camping for those interested, and learn more here.

In the episode, Phil shares this poem, “The Delta” (originally published on his Facebook page in March of 2014.) The poem is part of his “tagging a railcar” project on Facebook, contributing ephemeral art to an online community. He explains more in the podcast episode. Here’s the poem:

The Delta
We all live on the delta
of Noah and care
soil washed from the mountain stream
blues in the air.
Garden growing, grown
bounty, blessing, sorrow and pain
Gifts given and taken
by flood and the rain.
Earth, the dirt warming
arms open waiting seed
and the rains will soon come,
regardless of need.
We are here in the Garden
It came before Time
Offer pipe all directions
for seasons in rhyme.