Chelsea Green Publishing

Mad Sheep

eBook: 9781603580267
Pub. Date September 05, 2007

Mad Sheep

The True Story behind the USDA's War on a Family Farm

By Linda Faillace
Foreword by Ronnie Cummins

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
September 05, 2007

$17.95 $14.36

In the mid-1990s Linda and Larry Faillace had a dream: they wanted to breed sheep and make cheese on their Vermont farm. They did the research, worked hard, followed the rules, and, after years of preparation and patience, built a successful, entrepreneurial business.
But just like that, their dream turned into a nightmare. The U.S. Department of Agriculture told them that the sheep they imported from Europe (with the USDA's seal of approval) carried a disease similar to the dreaded BSE or "mad cow disease." After months of surveillance--which included USDA agents spying from nearby mountaintops and comically hiding behind bushes--armed federal agents seized their flock. The animals were destroyed, the Faillace's lives turned upside down, all so that the USDA could show the U.S. meat industries that they were protecting America from mad cow disease--and by extension, easing fears among an increasingly wary population of meat-eaters.

Mad Sheep is the account of one family's struggle against a bullying and corrupt government agency that long ago abandoned the family farmer to serve the needs of corporate agriculture and the industrialization of our food supply. Similar to the national best-selling book, A Civil Action, readers will cheer on this courageous family in its fight for justice in the face of politics as usual and the implacable bureaucracy of the farm industry in Washington, DC.


"From the hearthside warmth of children farmer-entrepreneurs to the arrogant, hardhearted, tyranny of government bureaucracy, Mad Sheep touches the soul with tears and righteous anger. Though it reads like a fiction political thriller, this story of intrigue, bureaucratic falsehoods, and tyranny is true. Linda Faillace gives Americans yet another reason to mistrust every official announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture."--Joel Salatin, founder of Polyface Farm and author of Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal

"If you think your government wouldn't really lurk in the bushes to spy on you and use its police power to bully you--get ready for a rude awakening. Mad Sheep sounds like a crime thriller Agatha Christie would dream up, but it's a real life nightmare lived by the Faillace family."--Jim Hightower

"Mad Sheep is one of those books that makes going to sleep at a decent hour unthinkable."--ACRES USA

"Mad Sheep will enrage you. The real crazies in this true and tragic tale are the bureaucratic bullies who tortured and tormented heroic Vermont farmers while allowing a deadly dementia--mad cow disease--to emerge in America. The sheep are dead, lives destroyed, mad cow disease here, and the worst is that these bunglers are still running the show."--John Stauber, co-author, Mad Cow U.S.A.

"[Mad Sheep] shows how far a corrupt government agency will go to protect industry. This is a truly Kafkaesque story."--Dr. Tom Pringle, founder, Sperling Foundation

If this were a novel, you probably wouldn't believe it. But the story of a Vermont farming family driven out of business by a government agency is true--and truly frightening. When the Faillaces (author Linda and her husband, Larry) went into the sheep-farming business, they followed every USDA guideline. Then, once their operation was running, that same agency told them their sheep would have to be destroyed because they might spread "mad cow" disease. Despite the Faillaces' abundant proof that their sheep were disease free--and, moreover, posed no risk whatsoever--the USDA forcibly shut the farm down. The agency's actions ultimately had nothing to do with the health of the Faillaces' sheep but much to do with the health of the American beef industry, which could be adversely affected if people believed there was mad cow in the U.S. The author has every right to be bitter, but she maintains an even tone, presenting us with the evidence and letting us see what happened and why. But if you can read the book without getting mad, you're not reading it carefully.

David Pitt


Linda Faillace

Linda Faillace is a writer, shepherdess, songwriter, and owner of a country store dedicated to supporting local farmers and locally grown food. She has studied mad cow disease since the early 1990s. A champion of organic and sustainable farming, farmer's rights, and strong local communities, Linda lives with her husband, Larry, and their three children in East Warren, Vermont.


Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep, discusses the NAIS (shorter)

Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep

Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep, discusses the NAIS

Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep (extended)

Sacrificial Lambs: The Story of Mad Sheep


A Sanctuary of Trees

A Sanctuary of Trees

By Gene Logsdon

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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A Sanctuary of Trees

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $19.95

The Seed Garden

The Seed Garden

By Jared Zystro and Micaela Colley

Filled with advice for the home gardener and the more seasoned horticulturist alike, The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving provides straightforward instruction on collecting seed that is true-to-type and ready for sowing in next year’s garden. In this comprehensive book, Seed Savers Exchange, one of the foremost American authorities on the subject, and the Organic Seed Alliance bring together decades of knowledge to demystify the time-honored tradition of saving the seed of more than seventy-five coveted vegetable and herb crops—from heirloom tomatoes and long-favored varieties of beans, lettuces, and cabbages to centuries-old varieties of peppers and grains.

With clear instructions, lush photographs, and easy-to-comprehend profiles on individual vegetable crops, this book not only teaches us how to go about conserving these important varieties for future generations and for planting out in next year’s garden, it also provides a deeper understanding of the importance of saving these genetically valuable varieties of vegetables that have evolved over the centuries through careful selection by farmers and home gardeners.

Through simple lessons and master classes on crop selection, pollination, roguing, and the processes of harvesting and storing seeds, this book ensures that these time-honored traditions can continue. Many of these vegetable varieties are treasured for traits that are singular to their strain, whether that is a resistance to disease, an ability to grow well in a region for which that crop is not typically well suited, resistance to early bolting, or simply because it is a great-tasting variety. In an age of genetically modified crops and hybrid seed, a growing appreciation for saving seeds of these time-tested, open-pollinated cultivars has found a new audience from home vegetable gardeners and cooks to restaurant chefs and local farmers.

Whether interested in simply saving seeds for home use or working to conserve rare varieties of beloved squashes and tomatoes, this book provides a deeper understanding of the art, the science, and the joy of saving seeds.

Available in: Paperback

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The Seed Garden

Lee Buttala, Shanyn Siegel, Jared Zystro, Micaela Colley

Paperback $29.95

Farming the Woods

Farming the Woods

By Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel

In the eyes of many people, the practices of forestry and farming are mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are primarily reserved for timber and firewood harvesting. Farming the Woods invites a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other non-timber products. While this concept of “forest farming” may seem like an obscure practice, history indicates that much of humanity lived and sustained itself from tree-based systems in the past; only recently have people traded the forest for the field.  The good news is that this is not an either-or scenario; forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes, and in shallow soils. It is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes more and more important for farmers.

Many already know that daily indulgences we take for granted such as coffee, chocolate, and many tropical fruits, all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America. Farming the Woods is the first in-depth guide for farmers and gardeners who have access to an established woodland and are looking for productive ways to manage it. Authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel describe this process as "productive conservation," guided by the processes and relationships found in natural forest ecosystems. 

Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamental ferns, and more. Comprehensive information is also offered on historical perspectives of forest farming; mimicking the forest in a changing climate; cultivation of medicinal crops; creating a forest nursery; harvesting and utilizing wood products; the role of animals in the forest farm; and how to design and manage your forest farm once it's set up. This book is a must-read for farmers and gardeners interested in incorporating aspects of agroforestry, permaculture, forest gardening, and sustainable woodlot management into the concept of a whole-farm organism. 

Available in: Paperback

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Farming the Woods

Ken Mudge, Steve Gabriel, John F. Munsell

Paperback $39.95

The New Cider Maker's Handbook

The New Cider Maker's Handbook

By Claude Jolicoeur

All around the world, the public’s taste for fermented cider has been growing more rapidly than at any time in the past 150 years. And with the growing interest in locally grown and artisanal foods, many new cideries are springing up all over North America, often started up by passionate amateurs who want to take their cider to the next level as small-scale craft producers.

To make the very best cider—whether for yourself, your family, and friends or for market—you first need a deep understanding of the processes involved, and the art and science behind them. Fortunately, The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is here to help. Author Claude Jolicoeur is an internationally known, award-winning cider maker with an inquiring, scientific mind. His book combines the best of traditional knowledge and techniques with up-to-date, scientifically based practices to provide today’s cider makers with all the tools they need to produce high-quality ciders.

The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is divided into five parts containing:

  • An accessible overview of the cider making process for beginners;
  • Recommendations for selecting and growing cider-appropriate apples;
  • Information on juice-extraction equipment and directions on how to build your own grater mill and cider press;
  • A discussion of the most important components of apple juice and how these may influence the quality of the cider;
  • An examination of the fermentation process and a description of methods used to produce either dry or naturally sweet cider, still or sparkling cider, and even ice cider.

This book will appeal to both serious amateurs and professional cider makers who want to increase their knowledge, as well as to orchardists who want to grow cider apples for local or regional producers. Novices will appreciate the overview of the cider-making process, and, as they develop skills and confidence, the more in-depth technical information will serve as an invaluable reference that will be consulted again and again. This book is sure to become the definitive modern work on cider making.

A mechanical engineer by profession, Claude Jolicoeur first developed his passion for apples and cider after acquiring a piece of land on which there were four rows of old abandoned apple trees. He started making cider in 1988 using a “no-compromise” approach, stubbornly searching for the highest possible quality. Since then, his ciders have earned many awards and medals at competitions, including a Best of Show at the prestigious Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP).

Claude actively participates in discussions on forums like the Cider Digest, and is regularly invited as a guest speaker to events such as the annual Cider Days festival in western Massachusetts. He lives in Quebec City.

Available in: Hardcover, eBook

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The New Cider Maker's Handbook

Claude Jolicoeur

Hardcover $44.95