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


Edible Forest Gardens, Volume II

Edible Forest Gardens, Volume II

By Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier

Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the basic ecological principles that make it work. In Volume II, Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier move on to practical considerations: concrete ways to design, establish, and maintain your own forest garden. Along the way they present case studies and examples, as well as tables, illustrations, and a uniquely valuable "plant matrix" that lists hundreds of the best edible and useful species.

Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening--one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.

Available in: Hardcover

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Hardcover $75.00

Food Not Lawns

Food Not Lawns

By Heather Flores

Gardening can be a political act. Creativity, fulfillment, connection, revolution—it all begins when we get our hands in the dirt.

Food Not Lawns combines practical wisdom on ecological design and community-building with a fresh, green perspective on an age-old subject. Activist and urban gardener Heather Flores shares her nine-step permaculture design to help farmsteaders and city dwellers alike build fertile soil, promote biodiversity, and increase natural habitat in their own "paradise gardens."

But Food Not Lawns doesn't begin and end in the seed bed. This joyful permaculture lifestyle manual inspires readers to apply the principles of the paradise garden—simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, mindfulness, and community—to all aspects of life. Plant "guerilla gardens" in barren intersections and medians; organize community meals; start a street theater troupe or host a local art swap; free your kitchen from refrigeration and enjoy truly fresh, nourishing foods from your own plot of land; work with children to create garden play spaces.

Flores cares passionately about the damaged state of our environment and the ills of our throwaway society. In Food Not Lawns, she shows us how to reclaim the earth one garden at a time.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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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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Part of the NOFA Guides. Includes information on:

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  • Choosing appropriate tools
  • Making a framework to test decisions

Including examples and statements from practicing farmers, and more holistic resources and alternative business models.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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