16 October

The Persecution Of Joshua Rockwood: “They Used To Arrest The Horse Thieves, Josh.”

by Jon Katz
Joshua Rockwood
Joshua Rockwood

In the days after Joshua Rockwood was arrested, booked, photographed, fingerprinted, and asked to post bond as a flight risk, he decided that he did not wish to hide like the criminal he was being portrayed as being by the police and the media, he decided he would hold his head high. He would not be ashamed because his mug shot had been broadcast by local television stations as an evil abuser of the animals in his care.

And it was hard to go out and face the world after that, he didn’t know what to expect. But Joshua does not run from struggle, and does not back down from principle.  He took a deep breath and walked into his local supermarket. A local farmer was sitting at table across the market floor drinking coffee, and when  Joshua came in, he shouted: “they used to arrest the horse thieves, Josh!” In the movies, they often hung them.

Our ideas about the taking of horses has evolved since the days of the farmer’s memory. Increasingly, taking someone’s horses for no compelling or proven reason without a hearing or process of any kind is not seen as theft, but as an affirmation of animal rights, a noble gesture on the part of heroic people who love animals.

And when it comes to animal rights, it seems that conventional rules of justice no longer apply, even to people who work with animals and love them  dearly – like Joshua – and make their living by raising them well and treating them kindly. This new idea of abuse and cruelty is the work of an Orwellian world of ideologues and fanatics, not animal lovers seeking the promote the welfare of animals. The animal rights view of the human-animal bond is harsh and extreme, many people support the idea of animal rights but know little of the movement’s true ideology. Read the founder’s own words: Peter Singer and Tom Regan.

Animals should not be eaten by people, work for people, entertain them or be owned by them. Anyone who holds a different view is an enemy.

The movement’s enemy list grows and grows.

Farmers are enemies. Carriage horse drivers are enemies. Pony ride operators are enemies. Circus elephant trainers are enemies. Poor people who want companion animals are enemies, old people who want dogs are enemies, people who work long hours are enemies.People who breed dogs or own them are enemies. Pamela Rickenbach of Blue Star Equiculture is an enemy.  People who believe working animals should work are enemies. Medical researches are enemies. I am an enemy, my border collies herd sheep.

And Joshua Rockwood is an enemy. If you are judged by the enemies your keep, I am in good company.

Our notions of justice are malleable and curious.

A hundred years ago, no sheriff would have dared or even thought to arrest Joshua Rockwood because his horses hooves needed trimming or a pig had a  (possibly) frostbitten ear in -27 temperatures, or because a water tank had frozen in the worst cold wave in generations or because the horses had eaten their hay from the night before and it was scattered over the ground. A mob would have stormed the jail and run him out of town. Most of the country lived on farms, and they knew what farms were like, and what animals were like, and what was cruel and what was not, and what was  avoidable and what  wasn’t.

Until World War II, most Americans lived on farms. Today, 90 per cent of Americans live in cities along the coasts, and have lost any sense of what a farmer’s life is like or what an animal really needs.

If a farmer was in trouble generations ago, and struggling through a brutal winter, the police didn’t raid his farm and take his animals and arrest him and seek to destroy his livelihood, they helped him get through the hard time. So did his neighbors.

Joshua’s arrest tells us that we no longer understand any of these things, especially what a farm is like or what the real lives of animals are like. That is the point, I think. We have lost any sense of community or compassion in a polarized and fragmented world.

Joshua Rockwood will soon be entering the second year of his awful ordeal, a mindless persecution that has threatened  his personal life, his well being, and West Wind Acres, the healthy food farm he has been working so hard to establish in Glenville, N.Y.

Motions are being filed and considered, there is no fixed date set for the trial he is determined to have.  Joshua has said repeatedly he will not plead guilty to a single thing he has not done – he has already refused at least one deal offer. One thing he has not ever done, according to veterinarians, friends, fellow farmers – and me –  is to be willfully cruel or abusive to any animal. He has, like every farmer, run into the buzzsaw of life and reality. Farms are hard places, life happens all the time.

It is hard for me to believe this folly will ever come to trial, the town fathers seem as embarrassed by it as farmers everywhere are up in arms. It could have been me, it could have been them, and if you have an animal and live in a cold climate, it could just as easily be you.

Joshua’s arrest earlier this year on 13 charges of animal cruelty has become a sensation, especially to embattled farmers who have never felt more vulnerable in a culture that seems to have forgotten what farms are for and what farms and animals  are like. A culture that has permitted the the idea of animal rights and abuse to mushroom out of control and beyond reason, mercy or rationality.  And that is really at the heart of this painful story of a young and idealistic farmer caught in a brutal and unexpected winter cold.

What are farms really like, and how can farmers be supported rather than misunderstood and persecuted?

In March Joshua, who is married with two young children,  was arrested by local police after a raid sparked by one of the new battalions of secret informers, a kind of private and extra-legal militia created by the animal rights movement to spy on the animals of private citizens on a wide range of charges while generally ignoring the nine billion animals living in controversial and often brutal conditions on industrial factory animal farms. He was accused of failing to provide sustenance to his horses, cows, sheep, pigs and chickens,  failing to have a heated barn and adequate shelter and of not having water sources that were not frozen.

Before the police raid, two different veterinarians came to West Wind Acres and reported that his animals were well fed, hydrated and cared for. That did not seem to matter. Rockwood’s three horses were taken from him even though he was not even charged with abusing them – the police decided there was not adequate feed visible to them. The horses were fed every day from round bales of hay, the hay was scattered all over the ground. The vets found no evidence of hunger or starvation. If the horses were not hungry or starving, how is it possible for them to have been deprived of food?

The horses hooves were apparently overgrown, I’ve talked to several farriers who told me it is common for horses hooves be overgrown in the winter, it is often difficult to get farriers to travel to farms and work in the cold. Unless the growth is extreme, it poses no danger to the horses or their hooves. My own farrier, Ken Norman, looked at the photographs released to the media by police as evidence of the poor care of the horses, and he called the charges “bullshit misdemeanors.”

In order to get his horses back, Joshua is being asked to pay tens of thousands of dollars in boarding and feed bills. If his healthy horses had stayed on the very good grass they were standing on, they could have eaten all summer for free.

It is clear from the arrest that the police, animal rights authorities and many private citizens no longer have any idea what a farm is like, even as we depend on farmers for our food and have more healthy and inexpensive food to eat than almost any country on the earth.

Farms are not clean and neat places. Farmers work brutally  hard,  have little money, struggle against complex machinery, changing weather, and fierce competition from corporate and agribusiness lobbies and farms. In the winter, tanks freeze all the time, animals are fed irregularly, they get sick, stumble and fall, pipes burst, fences collapse,  hay has to be hauled and driven and stores. Even in enclosed barns, animals can get frostbitten ears when temperatures plunge, it happens all the time. On a farm, almost everything that happened to Joshua Rockwood happens all of the time.

Farms are unpredictable places, they are not neat and orderly, they do not look like the calendars from Vermont.

At his first court hearing, a score of farmers turned up with T-shirts they had whipped up quickly, they said. “It could have been us.” It could have been. I was at Joshua’s farm soon after the arrest, and saw animals ranging freely, with adequate shelter, big bellies, shiny coats.  You can check out his philosophy and nutrition standards and sales program here and decided for yourself if this seems like someone who would neglect or mistreat his animals. He is an honest and idealistic young man, he does not deserve to be informed upon by ignoramuses and hysterics and to have his life threatened by the police and local government, institutions that are sworn to protect him.

His wife and children do not deserve to live in fear. His wife is now afraid to let her children play alone in her back yard for fear that one of the informers driving by will call the police, she is afraid that if Joshua’s horses can be taken for no reason, they could well come after her children. In any totalitarian environment, the experience of being informed upon is central to stifling freedom and frightening people. Every ugly and dictatorial regime uses informers. It is alien to American democracy, it is central to the new culture of so-called animal rights.

A culture that loses it’s understanding of the people who feed them, of the food they eat, of the lives of animals, that nourishes a culture of informing and cruelty,  is broken and lost. Joshua Rockwood needs to be free to help repair the damage done to his farm and his life.


Joshua is receiving support from all over the country, but for those people who live in the Saratoga Springs/Albany area of New York State, you can help Joshua by going to his farm meat store this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2884 West Glenville Road, West Charlton, N.Y., 12010, and buying some of his much loved meat.

28 August

Joshua Rockwood’s Winter: A New Way Of Understanding Animals

by Jon Katz
Joshua's Winter
Joshua’s Winter

Joshua Rockwood is not one to enjoy the limelight, to look for controversy, to ask for help. It was difficult for him to ask for $16,000 to help improve his farm and get it ready for this next winter. He got the money in just a few days.

Joshua was reluctant to do it, and then surprised and humbled by the response. I told him it will probably not be the last time he needs help, he has yet to resolve the 13 counts of animal cruelty and abuse charges still pending against him, charges a lot of good people believe are false and unjust at best.

It is still surprising to me that someone like Joshua was raided by the police and had his horses virtually stolen from him. It was wrong.

Under the law, animal abuse occurs when animals die or are grievously injured due to neglect or physical harm. No one has even accused Joshua of that. But in recent years some elements of the animal rights movement have arbitrarily – and well outside history, science, or the law – redefined abuse to make it anything the new army of animal police secret informers driving by think it is. Sadly, the animal welfare organizations founded to help animals – the A.S.P.C.A. and the U.S. Humane Society have become politicized, corrupted by big money now dominated by the most extreme ideologues in the animal world.

If they come knocking at your door or your farm, as they did at Joshua’s, do not expect fairness, rationality or compassion. They are not impartial arbiters in the widening conflict over the future of animals. There is now only one side to them, as the New York carriage trade has learned, as Joshua Rockwood has learned, as thousands of others are learning all over the country.

If you have a dog, a cat or a farm, all it takes to get a police raid is someone driving by your house and deciding snow on an animals’ back is abuse. If you look hard enough on any farm, you will find something, farms are rough, chaotic, dirty and unpredictable environments.

On Joshua’s farm, they found frozen water, unheated barns, two pigs with gray matter on one of their ears, horses whose hooves were a couple of months overdue for trimming. In the modern context of the new abuse, that was more than enough to threaten Joshua’s freedom, his farm and his family, and his means of earning a living.

Hundreds of people from all over the country decided enough was enough, this was not going to stand. Joshua will, I think, prevail. There are far too many Joshua Rockwoods out there.

None of Joshua’s animals were abused or frozen or starved last winter – and it was an awful one – but with this money, he can make sure that no one can ever accuse him of that again. He is building four tire water tanks and a large Greenhouse Shelter. Both are eco-friendly, Joshua raises is animals humanely and cares about the environment. They ought to be giving him an award for the care he gives his animals, not a court date. The money  will also help him improve and expand his farm. He sells healthy food to local people. If the prosecution is foolish enough to take this rice-paper think case to trial, Joshua has bigger victories ahead of him.

His are  not the animals being abused. More than nine billion animals live and die on awful corporate industrial animal farms, nobody is raiding them or seizing their suffering animals.

So what is the significance of this case, of this gofundme project?

Joshua is not looking to be anybody’s hero, he wants to fuss over rotational grazing, hay his fields,  live with his family in peace, run a good and healthy farm, make a living on the land, sell good and healthy food to his community. Nonetheless, he is a hero, even if he is an unwilling one. He is part of a new social awakening, a new way of understanding animals in a rational way, a new way of treating people and animals both with dignity and respect.

Joshua is part of the new farming movement in America. He has an awareness of the gravity of today’s cultural and ecological crisis. In  his encyclical on climate change, Pope Francis calls upon the young, “who have a new ecological sensitivity and a generous spirit,and some of them are making admirable efforts to protect the environment.”

Joshua is what Francis calls an “ecological citizen,” his animals are pasture-fed and free range. He uses natural and soon, solar power to run his farm. He does not use chemicals or pesticides in the preparation of  his food. The people who buy his meat know where it came from and how the animals have been treated. He is transparent about every aspect of his farm and food production.

Beyond that,  Joshua is part of the new social awakening, now evident in the New York Carriage Horse controversy. Across the spectrum of the animal world, people are beginning to see that the notion of animal abuse has been perverted and distorted beyond reason and reality. That – tragically for animals – some elements of the animal rights movement have lost their way, become more like hate groups than animal welfare organizations. If you do not know that it is not cruel for big draft horses to pull light carriages in Central Park, then you have no business trying to decide their future.

We have begun to worship animals at the expensive of people, granted them rights that people do not have, use them to promote the hatred of people, to make it difficult, dangerous or expensive to keep animals in our every day lives. The movement that goes by the name of animals rights is driving animals away from people at an accelerating  rate, removing them from the world.  If the earth is at a crossroads, animals are even more so. They are vanishing from the world at a horrific rate. According to the World Wildlife Fund, half the animals species in the world have vanished since 1970. Farmers everywhere are under siege from activists and regulators who no longer understand them or the real lives of animals.

Joshua and his ordeal remind us not to be bleak or pessimistic. You can fight back. There is support and assistance. The wheel turns and turns. Farmers and animal lovers everywhere are rising up in alarm and compassion at the idea that animals cannot live with us in our every day world. They are part of the new and more mystical way to understand animals – not as piteous and abused dependents but as our partners in the joys and travails of the world.

“I am humbled by the outcry of support,” Joshua wrote on his blog this week, “and will do everything in my power to make your proud of the support you have given.  As we grow and get out current legal situation behind us I will seek ways to pay you kindness forward to other aspiring farmers, and to the community as a whole.  I am compiling thoughts, and ideas now.  Please let me know if you have any.”

He means it. I hope to go and visit Joshua next week, I hope to help him celebrate, I expect he isn’t good at that either.

So Joshua’s tire tanks and shelters are important, his case is a kind of Lexington and Concord in the new struggle to keep animals in our world and to treat them and the people they live with decently well. One of the first skirmishes in a long and necessary conflict.

26 August

Triumph: Joshua Rockwood’s Victory For Truth, Justice And Community

by Jon Katz


Joshua Rockwood has triumphed, a great victory.

In just a few days, he has raised the $16,000 he needs to prepare and improve his farm for the winter. I imagine he will end up with more than that, Joshua is important to me and to many other people. He is a humble and brave man, he has won a great victory for truth, justice and community. Champagne tonight on this farm.

This is the second true victory for the rights of animals and people in just a short time. Last week, the unthinkable happened in New York City, the mayor dropped his ludicrous effort to ban the New York Carriage Horses. Joshua’s ultimate victory might be unthinkable to some people as well. I believe it will happen.

Just after noon, the fund passed $16,000, his goal, and I am proud to celebrate. This is the sixth day of the funding project, I suspect will continue to rise, 371 people have contributed so far from all over the country.

“Joshua, I am a vegetarian and have been for 41 of my 58 years,” wrote Leslie Exeter, who donated $40 this morning. “However, my respect and regard for animals transcends that personal choice. People like you – who raise, care for, and house animals humanely and appropriately, in as healthy and natural an environment as possible and with the utmost regard for their well-being, even if for the meat they ultimately provide – deserve my respect and support as well. Good luck to you and to your family.”

Aleen Thomas donated $25 and wrote: “Could have been me – horses lived out 24/7. They stayed healthy until late 20s-early 30s and I stayed healthier tending to them and breaking ice/hauling water in the winter . . . thoughts are with you. Keep looking forward.”

Joshua did not win a victory for the “left” or the “right” in his successful and ongoing gofundme project. He won a victory for the idea of treating people and animals with respect and dignity. And for the beleaguered farmers of America. forgotten and abused.

Nearly 400 people from all over the country and from every part of the political spectrum donated small amounts of money to help him buy the tire tanks of water and eco-friendly Greenhouse Shelters he needs for the winter and has painstakingly researched and chosen for his farm, West Wind Acres.

Conservatives and  liberals alike – farmers, housewives, ordinary people, farriers and truckers,  horse and dog animal lovers – bristled at the heavy-handed overreach of the police and local government in their disruption of his life and livelihood, and at the Orwellian contempt for human rights shown by the people who claim to support the rights of animals, but do not. It is not progressive to take away the freedom and property of innocent people in the name of loving animals.

When I step back and think about Joshua Rockwood and his story – hard to to do because I cannot claim to be completely objective about it any longer – I think it is really a story about how Americans no longer really know one another, and the institutions who govern and police our lives do not know us.

Animal rights activists have sharply criticized me for not respecting the decisions of law enforcement and animal rights police in this case, but the real difference between them and me is that I know Joshua Rockwood. So do the hundreds of people who have come to his hearings and supported him. They are correct when they say it could have been us, and it will be us if this witchhunt and hysteria over so-called animal abuse is not stopped.

I hope the people who persecuted Joshua in such a cruel and unthinking way never know the awful experience of having one’s home and farm invaded by the police and various strangers who claim to love animals but seem to know nothing about them.

His work on his farm, his life and family, his peace of mind have all suffered or been shattered by this unwarranted ordeal. Three of his horses were seized – in my mind, stolen would be a more accurate term – and are now being held ransom for tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t know if they will ever get back to him.

The American experiment – our Revolution – was, in so many ways, an experiment in community. Our legislators were us, we lived side by side with the farmers who fed us, we lived with the animals who worked with us, our police and prosecutors knew us, what we were like. Our laws were passed by neighbors and fellow citizens, they reflected our needs and concerns.  That isn o longer true. The secret informers who nearly ruined Joshua’s life did not know him or meet him or have the courage to look him in the eye, the police were strangers, the animal rights activists who supported his arrest did not know him or his animals, had no idea what he was like.

One of the most interesting realities about this case is that no one who does know Joshua believes he  mistreated or neglected his animals. No real farmer in the world would have arrested him for having an unheated barn and frozen water in temperatures that fell to – 27 degrees. Hundreds of farmers have sent him money and driven long distances to attend his hearings. Neighbors, friends and customers have rallied to his cause – the most important testimony there could be.

His arrest and persecution is a profound failure of the justice system and local government.

Joshua’s community – Glenville, N.Y. – is a prototype of the new American community in so many ways. A fast-growing mix of new housing, surrounded farms and endless malls have created an ugly and prosperous mix, people do not care for farms. The animals sometimes gets loose, they smell the manure spread on the fields,  real estate developers drool over the land for new housing developments.

Joshua’s arrest was more like an invasion from an alien world than it was a justifiable exercise to protect animals from cruelty and abuse.

The real community emerged after his arrest to support him, raise $48,000 for legal fees and now, another $16,000 or more to help prepare his farm for the winter, and from the secret informers who seem to now be an integral part of our criminal justice system. If someone accuses you of murder, you will have the right to confront him or her in court. If someone accuses you of not having running water for your animals for a few hours in a brutal winter, you will not.

Joshua was arrested even though two separate veterinarians came to the farm to inspect his animals just before the police raids, both found them to be healthy, hydrated and well cared for. Every one of his hundreds of pigs, cattle, sheep and chickens got through the winter, not a single one died or was malnourished or seriously injured.

Joshua stands accused of 13 counts of animal cruelty, after six months of anxiety and legal proceedings, of interruptions of his farm business and staggering legal fees, there is still no trial date even scheduled. He is determined to stand and fight against this wrong, me and many others are just as determined to stand and fight with him, however long it takes.

It is good and useful to know that social media can be used for good as well as bad, to support people as well as attack them.

Joshua is a good man, a loving father and husband, a conscientious and serious-minded farmer concerned about healthy food and Mother Earth. He does not deserve to be persecuted, or driven off of his farm by secret informers, animal extremists, and ignorant and self-interested ideologues. He is not alone, there are many victims of this new Inquisition.

It is a gift to be able to support him. He can thank you himself for your help, I wish to say that you all have lifted the spirits of many in the world and given hope to many people.

In the age of the billionaire SuperPacs, individuals matter. Community matters. Truth and justice matter.

You have all helped score a victory for all of those things. Thanks and admiration to you. A great and important victory.

Joshua can use every penny he receives.  You can continue to contribute to his fund here.

23 August

Helping Joshua Rockwood: A People’s Uprising. The New Awakening

by Jon Katz
People's Revolution
People’s Revolution

In two days, as of noon today, 225 people from all over America have raised $11,005 to help Joshua Rockwood keep his family and his farm and his animals healthy and safe in the face of a cruel and unjust persecution by local authorities and the new and Orwellian hysteria spawned by the movement that says it is for the rights of animals. We are more than halfway there.

Joshua needs $5,000 to meet his gofundme project goal

“Never give up,” wrote Laurie Martenson on his project page as she donated $15, “a lot of people are pulling for you.” This support is touching to see. The contributions are not from the powerful or the wealthy, the big media has no interest in Joshua, politicians have run away from him, secret informers have targeted him and frightened his family, the police have raided his farm and taken his horses away, the town government of Glenville, N.Y., sleeps through this travesty, obliviousness to it’s implications.

Joshua has touched many people in a profound way. He is fighting for his farm and his freedom and his life with dignity and restraint. He has turned down a deal that would have dismissed 12 of the ludicrous charges against, he will not plead guilty to something he did not do, he says.

The contributions are coming in steadily,   mostly for $5 and $10 and $25.  And from everywhere in the United States and a number of other countries. The $100 contributions stand out, but this awakening is a people’s revolution, farmers, fathers and mothers, animal lovers, even some teenagers. We all sense something of ourselves and our own lives in Joshua and his struggle. It could have been our farm raided in the bitter March cold wave by police officers who know nothing of animals or farming. Our water tanks that froze. Our barns that were unheated. Our horses – or dogs or donkeys – taken away, held for thousands of dollars in ransom by people with staggering conflicts of interest. Our bank accounts depleted by enormous legal fees.

Joshua was arrested on charges of animal cruelty and abuse in March, he is not yet even close to a trial date or resolution of his case, and winter looms. He is studying and planning and thinking about how to prepare for it, he seeks funding for four tire water tanks and a large Greenhouse Shelter his pigs, cows and cattle. That will help him to grow and improve his farm and perhaps also keep him safe from the prying eyes of the secret informers who upended his life and who spy on their fellow citizens and neighbors and look to report them for the new and arbitrary notions of animal abuse.

I have come to know Joshua and am proud to call him my friend. He worries about me as much as I worry about him. And he worries about a lot of people – customers, fellow farmers,  friends, neighbors, his children, and his wife, who is terrified to let her children play outside in case the informers claim they are being abused and try to take them away.

It is a beautiful thing to see this people’s uprising against an obvious injustice, an obvious overreach of government. In a democracy, wrote John Locke, it’s inventor, government exists to protect freedom and property. When it seeks to take freedom and property away, it is called tyranny. Here, and in many other cases around the country, the movement that says it is for the rights of animals has lost it’s way, lost perspective. Animals are not better than people, they are not entitled to more rights than human beings have. They are our partners, not our dependents, they share the joys and travails of our world, they cannot be given a perfect life any more than we can guarantee that to ourselves and our children.

The billionaires will not be writing checks to Joshua’s gofundme project, will not step in to fund his farm improvements. They are out buying their next presidents.  It seems the people will come stand with Joshua, and they are making themselves heard. He is on the right side. We are helping to save one life, one at a time. Our one kind of powerful Super Pac.

“Stand strong,” Joshua Miller, who gave $10 this morning, “the folks are  rootin’ for you and yours. Your case impacts us all. Best thing that could happen besides you being completely vindicated, would be for your efforts to be wildly successful. I only wish I could give more.”

In a way, the small amounts mean more than the big ones, although both are surely welcome. It will take a lot of people to get Joshua over the top, to the $16,000 he needs for the winter and beyond. I am confident now that we will get there, and grateful to be part of this new social awakening.

When you give money to Joshua’s project,  you are donating to larger things as well. To keeping animals in our lives rather than driving them away. To our wish for people as well as animals to be treated with dignity and respect. To the idea that we are all part of a common community, we sometimes need help and guidance, but honest and caring people do not deserve to be persecuted because our feckless governments and political leaders have forgotten their duty, and forgotten as well what it means to be a farmer and live with animals.

An animal rights movement that exploits the love of animals to treat people with horrible cruelty is bankrupt and doomed. Every dollar that goes to Joshua is a step towards a better understanding of animals, the treatment of people with compassion, to a better way and a better world. You can contribute to his gofundme here. Joshua Rockwood is standing strong.

20 August

Help For Joshua Rockwood: Moving Forward, Strength In Distress

by Jon Katz
Help For The Winter
Help For The Winter

Thomas Paine wrote that he loves the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. It is the business of little minds to shrink, he wrote, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct will pursue his principles unto death.

Paine would love the man who is Joshua Rockwood.

He smiles in trouble, he has gathered strength and dignity from distress, and grown brave by reflection. He and  his family have been sorely tested this year, and his heart is firm, and conscience determined. Joshua is not a man who asks for help easily or often, but he needs some help now and I am proud to offer some and to encourage others to do the same.

He is fighting for his reputation, his family, his farm, his future. I believe every farmer or animal lover in the world has a personal stake in helping him to triumph in the time that tests his soul. I ask the hard-working farmers of the world and my brothers and sisters in the animal world to see themselves in his story and join the new social awakening for a better understanding of animals and a greater love of animals and people.

Joshua is struggling to move forward with his farm and his life and is seeking help and support for improving West WInd Acres this winter. You can help support his new gofundme project here.

Joshua  has decided – after much reluctance – to move forward with his plans for improving West Wind Acres farm. He wishes to build  four energy free tire-tanks  and build an eco-friendly, inexpensive and innovative Greenhouse Shelter for his pigs, horses and cattle. He is asking for $16,000 to be raised through the crowd-sourcing site gofundme to move ahead with his farm before the next harsh winter.

As always, Joshua is fully transparent, he offers a detailed accounting of what he needs the money for and what he needs to do with it on his gofundme project page. Earlier this year, he raised more than $58,000 in legal fees to help contest the accusations against him. Much of that money is already gone, justice is expensive in America. If he goes to trial, that money will all be gone in a heartbeat. I believe it is essential that Joshua not be discouraged or defeated by his struggle to clear his name and return his attention to farming.

Joshua wants to expand the facilities on his farm and make sure that he is prepared for the coming winter and for what meteorologists say will be increasingly brutal winters in the Northeast United States for the foreseeable future, a result of climate change. This will enable him to have more animals, house them efficiently and comfortably, and to grow his food business, something that has been disrupted and challenge by the assault on his farm and life.

More than 200 farmers and friends and neighbors showed up at Joshua’s preliminary hearing to support him. Almost to a one, they said it could have been them. I know it could have been me. I don’t have a heated barn, and my water tanks and water lines froze during that hard time. I have had sheep whose ears were mildly frostbitten in severe cold inside of a barn.  In a rational world, Joshua might have been helped, rather than persecuted.

I will be honest. I suggested this project to Joshua some weeks ago, he seemed to be discouraged. I sensed he was struggling. He resisted, several times and for some time. He said he had already asked for help, he didn’t want to do it again. I am relieved he changed his mind.

Joshua is a victim of the growing national hysteria – at times an Orwellian inquisition – over animal abuse. The term has lost any real meaning as it is being arbitrarily and ignorantly redefined. There is a growing disconnection separating many Americans from the natural world, from farms, and from the real world of animals.  At times, the animal rights movement has gone too far, lost touch with perspective, reality, and humanity. Animals are paying for this with their lives, the people who live and work with them are being persecuted. We need a better understanding of them than this.

Joshua loves his animals and treats them well. None of his animals died or were taken ill during this winter, which saw the worst cold wave in modern times. Almost any farmer or animal lover in the Northeast could have been charged with similar crimes. He is a victim of government and police overreach, the secret informer system of the so-called animal rights movement, seeming conflict-of-interest and blatant opportunism.

The American legal system is hard on ordinary people. It is long, chaotic and very expensive. Joshua and his family are struggling to deal with the cloud hanging over his head. He could go to jail, but he is fighting back and he is confident he can come through it with some assistance. I am committed to helping him to get through this ordeal, for as long as it takes and as often as he needs assistance.

I am confident he will  emerge victorious and vindicated, he is not animal abuser, he is no criminal. He is a good and conscientious farmer, an idealistic young man living in a world where the government and people who say they support the rights of animals are abusing human beings in their name.

What more can we ask of our young people than they return to the land, run an honest business, grow healthy food in a humane and ecologically sensitive way? Do we really wish to persecute them,  put them out of business and sent them to jail?

I can tell you from the heart that I know Joshua well, I have spent a considerable amount of time with him, been to his farm a number of times, seen  his animals more than once in many different contexts. I see how serious Joshua is about farming, he is up all night studying books, watching videos, browsing online, he could bore the hair off of a dog talking about rotational grazing and nutrition, he spends every waking minute thinking of how to improve his farm, make it stronger, more efficient. His dream is to produce healthy food from well cared for and pasture fed animals for local people.

We can help him keep that dream. I have written a dozen books about animals and lived with them on a farm for years, I can assure you he does not deserve to be in this position, and every citizen who cares about justice and freedom has a stake in helping him. I would not support anyone who treated animals cruelly.

By now, the government and prosecution should have long realized it’s blunder and walked away from this case, they have already offered to drop almost every one of the counts against  him, Joshua has refused, he says he will not admit to doing one thing he has not done. Since the raid in March, the animal police have not once returned to his farm, a strange decision if they believed the animals there were in danger.

In March, his 90-acre farm was raided by the secular and the animal police, three of his horses were, in effect, stolen from him as I see it, he was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty and neglect, almost all of the charges relating to the bitter cold wave that swept the Northeast in late February and March and sent temperatures plunging to -27 or, in some cases, lower. Joshua was charged with having an unheated barn, the police thought two pigs might have some frostbite on their ears, and having water bowls and streams that had frozen.

Since much of his food and feed was stored a mile away, he was also charged with not having enough food on the premises.  Three of his horses were impounded for having mildly overgrown hooves, also common in winter,  and the rescue farm that took them is seeking tens of thousands of dollars in boarding and administrative fees for their return. The prosecutor wanted jail or a high bond, Joshua was initially deemed a flight risk, a man with a farm, hundreds of animals, a home, two children, and a wife.

Six months later, Joshua has yet to have a hearing on the criminal charges or a trial. He spends much of his time in meetings, worry and preparation. His life has been upended. His wife refuses to let their children play outside alone, for fear someone will photograph them and try to seize their children. The arrest has interrupted the steady progress West Wind Acres was making and distracted him from his ambitious and careful goals for improving the farm.

I am not a lawyer or a prosecutor, I was not present when the police raided his farm, although I was there soon after. I imagine he may have made mistakes and was not fully prepared for so savage a winter. If that is the criteria for animal cruelty, they better built much bigger prisons. The town of Glenville, N.Y., which is prosecuting him, saw their own toilets frozen, raw sewage spilled over the Town Hall and police departments during that same time. No one was arrested or charged. Two veterinarians visited his farm just before the raid and pronounced his animals fit and hydrated.

This is a gross injustice, and I hope we can help remedy it. We need to save the animals in our world, most would be fortunate to live under Joshua Rockwood’s care. While nine billion animals suffer and die in corporate industrial animal farms, it is Joshua who has been targeted by secret informers and who stands to lose his dreams and his sustenance. I believe we cannot and should not let this happen. You can help him here.

I believe in the social contract, put forth by John Adams and John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. As soon as any man says of the troubles of another, “what does it matter to me?,” then the state can be given up for lost.  Joshua Rockwood does matter.


Bedlam Farm