Entries in the Category "Agriculture"

Ag report

It's time for pictures from Black Water Farm! This is the cleanest garden I've ever had, if not necessarily the most productive. Cold weather crops are doing fine; the tomatoes and peppers, OTOH... Ignore the time stamps on the pictures; the setting was off and I couldn't figure out how to change it.


Here's the same thing from the back:

Closeup of those cole crops:

Here's the potatoes and sweet corn in back (not so pretty):

"I got some Golden Comets real cheap at the auction!" Uh, because they're boys? 'sawright...they're just waiting to be meat:

And here's a tragedy: the hen duck was murdered. Hubby has been hanging put near the chickens, just for companionship. So sad...


Last, I was going to bring you a photo of my favorite farm hand, but she vetoed it because it makes her nose look big. And she wonders why I never take pictures of her...

The Quick homestead: a pictorial biography

"Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go..."

Henry Quick and others.jpg
That's my great-great-grandfather, Henry Quick the sailor, on the far left. It's about a century ago.

Quick homestead 1950.jpg
Aerial view, ca. 1950. From left to right: barn, machine shed, chicken coop, kettle house, house, garage. Ma Quick's garden is at far right, along Geiger Rd. Small shed in lower left was the pumphouse. I don't recall the shed in upper center; it may have been gone when I was old enough to remember.

Old age:
George Quick Homstead.jpg
The farmhouse, about 5 years after Pa Quick died (ca. 1982)

Quickhouse 2007.JPG

Side of house, and garage:
Sidengarage2 2007.jpg

The chicken coop. The folks who own this live there.
Chickencoop1 2007.jpg

Where the kettle house and Ma's rock garden were:
Rockgarden1 2007.jpg

The barn:
Quick barn1 2007.jpg

Here's Grandmother's (and Grandfather's) new house:

Don't build a rabbitry in Powell, Wyoming

Folks tell me about how the West is such a free place. But all it took was one apparently powerful person to get bitched off for the Powell City Council to limit rabbits to 3 breeding pairs.

It's not Hardyville. But not even Hardyville is Hardyville anymore.

Farm subsidy database

Thanks to my bud Andee (who I don't usually think of as being into ag issues, but she's dirt poor and bitched off about this), I discovered the Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database. I'm not prepared to render judgement on the 15 people in Windham who collect farm subsidies (esp. Carletta Bervish's $189.60...how lame is that?) except for the usual observation that these people are recipients of stolen goods. But I was pleased that nobody on the list was named Yoder, Byler, or Miller.

No comment yet on the new ag bill; that's a turd it's going to take me awhile to pass. But I'll say it again: the only problem with American ag policy is that we have one.

Animal rights terrorists none too successful.

This week's Farm and Dairy had the story of the Wiles family's all-but-acquittal on cruelty to hogs. They got the son for tossing piglets too energetically, but the other charges were dismissed. A disgruntled former employee had narked to an activist organization who sent a spy in (without an Ohio PI licence) ....who appeared in court in disguise as he's spying on somebody else now. The big charge was that they hanged hogs, mostly because many of their employees were convicted felons barred from using firearms.

Joe Wiles was charged for euthanizing a hog with a shotgun.

Now...I pulled 3 homestead-butchering books off my shelf, and they were unanimous in recommenting a .22 shot in the head. But a shotgun slug would be faster and surer...and is the only legal way to kill deer in Ohio, so why not pigs?

Meanwhile, the non-farm pigs did more damage than they prevented:

Wiles expressed disgust with the way the November raid was handled. During the search, employees were in a "lock-down" situation for 10 hours, Wiles said, which made them unable to tend to the livestock and facilities.

Wiles said while authorities searched the property, he and employees couldn't move sows to farrowing pens and an unidentified number of sows delivered litters of piglets that were cannibalized.

"Everything died, died, died, just like that, and it didn't seem to matter to anyone," Wiles argued.

"When you come in here at 1 [p.m. for the raid] of course you won't see the work we've done all morning," he said, noting some hogs' feed pans would be empty at that time and that feces and urine would undoubtedly build up in pens during the 10 hours his employees weren't able to do their normal cleaning and feeding chores.

Meanwhile the idiot prosecutor didn't know what he was talking about:

Forchione mispronounced the word 'sow' as 'so' several times when referring to the hogs before one of his own witnesses corrected him, and also referred to the animals as having arms and hands.

In the same issue, a followup on another dud abuse case, this time against horses. The "animal rescue" was a rescue from the (cold) frying pan into the fire:

Beard and Swaney said together they visited all the horses in foster care approximately two to three weeks after they were seized, and did the same examinations on them at that time.

Both veterinarians agreed that while those who cared for the horses during the investigation had the best of intentions, "some of their facilities were not appropriate to house horses, let alone a Thoroughbred."

The vets also noted in their October reports that some of the horses seized were in good condition and should not have been taken.

And last...in Californistan, they use incendiaries instead of paper terrorism, but they're no more competent, fortunately for UCLA Professor Arther Rosenbaum.

Simpler times

I like the ideal behind this, particularly the idea of creating a planned village without anti-animal zoning (though apparently they are under a broader zoning law). But simplicity comes at a price:

The cost for lots in Simpler Times Village ranges from $20,000 to $80,000, with cost estimates for homes between $100,000 and $500,000. Lot sizes range from one-sixth of an acre to one and a half acres. Lots with more acreage were available but have already been purchased. The community is scheduled to be built in 2008.

And it's a planned community, which means somebody somewhere will have veto power on your livelihood or taste in landscaping. Anybody who enserfs themselves to a Homeowner's Association deserves what they get.


Just minutes after the last post, I saw 2 deer standing between my apple and pear trees, 20 feet at most from our back deck. I hadn't seen deer on this property until this year. My theory is that when Jeff Wells logged and cleared his woods, they went to mine for cover.

More garden in today, in spite of the intermittant showers. But back to work tomorrow.

Farm report

I've been taking some time off from work, getting things straightened around at home..and totally ignoring the outside world...hence the paucity of political rants here of late. But I need to post something. I have friends (and you know who you are) who add something to their LiveJournal page once a month whether it needs it or not. This is not the way to build readership.

This has been my best growing year yet. Things aren't drowning like last year, I'm moving the soil in the direction I want, and I'm getting a clue on what I'm doing. It's being a bit droughty, but my soil is tolerant of that, and it's easier to put water in than to take it out, even if one then has to worry about whether the well will hold out. What I'm really seeing is that, for most people, the idea that "when the shit hits the fan, I'll grow my own food" is a delusion. It takes awhile to get a system going and to even begin to get the necessary skills. The most important skill is to pay attention. It's been hard to do that on top of work and all (and composing has suffered), but I'm on top of things more than I have been.

Fruit is doing fine. The summer apple tree is overloaded...yes, I really should thin, and maybe prop up one branch. Asian pear and grapes have fruit for the first time. Blueberries are loaded. Strawberries need renewal.

So far, there are no disasters in the garden...well, germination was spotty on sweet corn, mouse melons and mangels. But it looks like my first successful cauliflower and kohlrabi. Broccoli is bearing and is beautiful, tomatoes nice and stocky, eggplant coming along. I planted melons and sweet potatoes in black plastic, so we'll see how they do.

Critters? Egg production from the old girls is off, but they'll get help soon. We have two roosters, who are a bit importunate. Joe is relatively gentle about it. He's our oldest surviving fowl, saved from the ax because I was not convinced he was male. "If that's a rooter, he's gay." Which is why we named him after one of my wife's gay (former) friends. Well, he wasn't gay, just a late bloomer. Obama, in contrast, is no hen's favorite, and isn't too suave about taking what he wants. Hey, he's a teenager...we don't even think his sister is laying yet. the ducks are incredibly consistent layers, but it seems that Rusty is allergic to their eggs. Rabbit production is haphazard, because I didn't keep records and had a surprise delivery, something I've changed since. We killed 2 the other day, and there were at least 2 more that needed it, but Rusty is convinced they are pregnant, even though neither of us have bred them. She was convinced of that 2 weeks ago; I suppose we'll have to wait out a whole 31-day cycle before she's convinced that the Savior of Bunnykind will not be born of a virgin. She swears up and down that it isn't sex but alcohol that makes babies, proof being that she was drunk when she conceived hers.

we've been laying in a bunch of wood, thanks to Rusty's old neighbor in Niles who had some trees chopped down. Since Rusty has been unemployed, she's had time to keep the yard spiffed up. I've been playing with fencing and last night I hung an 8' gate I'd repainted. the pole moved in the ground though, so it wasn't a successful operation. Next project will probably be to rebuild my little wagon (de-rust, paint, rebuild deck).

And it's now 6:30, and I really should get to work out there.

Po widdle cwabbies!

Aftenposten's food writer is in, er, hot water with Norwegian animal rights activists after describing how to cook crabs.

Ekern was saddened by the charges and will meet NOAH at the Conciliation Board on Monday.

"I think on should turn up and hear what NOAH has to say, and I am especially looking forward to hearing an alternative method of boiling crabs, because they are traditionally boiled alive," Ekern said.

Senior researcher Stein Martinsen at the Institute of Marine Research does not have good news for NOAH.

"It is difficult to kill shellfish in other ways than boiling. I know some who hack lobsters in two, but they have a tiny brain that is not so easy to hit," Martinsen said.

Somewhat like your typical PETA member.

John Stossel takes on ethanol

Surely, ethanol must be good for something. And here we finally have a fact. It is good for something -- or at least someone: corn farmers and processors of ethanol, such as Archer Daniels Midland, the big food processor known for its savvy at getting subsidies out of the taxpayers.

And it's good for vote-hungry presidential hopefuls. Iowa is a key state in the presidential-nomination sweepstakes, and we all know what they grow in Iowa. Sen. Clinton voted against ethanol 17 times until she started running for president. Coincidence?

"It's no mystery that people who want to be president support the corn ethanol program," Taylor says. "If you're not willing to sacrifice children to the corn god, you will not get out of the Iowa primary with more than one percent of the vote, Right now the closest thing we have to a state religion in the United States isn't Christianity. It's corn."

It's a choice between cheap meat and cheap fuel...or more likely given government involvement, both being expensive.

CAFOs and zoning

I'm of two minds on this law. On one hand, I do not think it possible to operate a CAFO without it being a problem for the neighbors. You just can't have that many animals on that little land and not have stenches, flies, groundwater contamination. OTOH, it's DeHaan's land. I despise zoning in general, and laws aimed at specific people. The ultimate solution, I suppose, would be for people to quit buying cheap filthy milk, but that isn't going to happen.

The Mugabe of Venezuela

URACHICHE, Venezuela — The squatters arrive before dawn with machetes and rifles, surround the well-ordered rows of sugar cane and threaten to kill anyone who interferes. Then they light a match to the crops and declare the land their own....

The government says the goal of the nationwide resettlement is to make better use of idle land and to make Venezuela less dependent on food imports.

You'd think that Hugo would look at how well this plan worked in Rhodesia Zimbabwe. Looks like we'll have another Oil for Food program Real Soon Now...assuming that the oil wells are still pumping by then.

Farm report

Until last night, everything was going just perfectly at Black Water Farm. The garden was going in ahead of schedule, the trees we planted were doing well, lots of fruit set on trees and bushes (and, apparently, our first grapes). It's been dry, but that's far better than last year.

We're looking at a couple of major projects. One is to alter our fencing to provide a secure pasture for goats. We need to set up a gate and build a back and side fence to protect the garden and orchard. The other is opening up a new plot for field crops. I was out yesterday with the tractor and plow. The new plot is way too big to break with a tiller, but too small for a plow. I had to keep lifting the plow and turning around. No weights on the front wheels, and inexperienced plowman, no disk; it wasn't pretty. Now I have a decent patch covered with slabs of sod that my back blade won't remove, that I'll doubtless carry off by hand.

As for last night? First, there was frost. Not a biggie; I figure I have maybe 6 plants I could have lost. Most are in Wall-o-waters. I'll find out when I get home. Worse, something hit the pullet coop and killed most of them. It sounds like a weasel, from the description my wife gave. Looks like I'll be ordering more chicks tonight. Rusty picked up a few Araucanas.

Japanese "poodles" actually sheep

I don't know what is stupider: paying $1600 for a poodle (and considering it a bargain) or not knowing that your $1600 poodle is actually a sheep. You'd think the hooves would be a giveaway. But urban Japanese are pretty distant from the land, and sheep are rare in Japan.

They could always eat their investment...in either case, even if they aren't Korean.

Blush is off the organic apple for Wal-Mart

It appears that Wal-Mart's organic strategy isn't working too well...as I expected. There's a sizeable part of Wally World's clientele that hasn't yet learned to buy produce, let alone organic produce. People who shop W-M are shopping price-first, and while it would be lovely if they saw the value in organic-at-10%-premium (if W-M could ever deliver that), there's no guarantee they will...or that the people who do would get off their liberal high horses and shop at the eevul exploiting Wal-Mart. Nor are organic farmers in a hurry to let their deal go down; this is not a business based on volume. And let's not even get into "China organic."

Unlike many slow-fooders, I'm not a Wal-Mart basher, though I don't shop there much. But turning their business model 180 to go upscale doesn't make any sense to me at all.

Roll away the shell!

We had to move the incubator out of the bedroom and into the kitchen Saturday night, as the eggs were hatching, and the chicks' intermittant peeping was like a malfunctioning smoke detector. It wasn't the sound that made it hard to sleep, but waiting for the sound. I hadn't planned the hatch for Easter; it was just the soonest I could get one going after the dog incident, and since I don't have a church gig, I tend to get fuzzy about the liturgical calendar. But there was something symbolic and fitting about awakening on Easter morning to three new chicks. When we returned from Michigan yesterday, 7 were hatched. The eighth had made an attempt but wasn't moving and may have been stillborn; we'll look closer tonight.

Friday I got my One Green World order. I like OGW because they take care with their roots and have come very interesting plants. But alas, they had screwed up my order. The shipper was correct: one compact Stella cherry, one Jubilee fruiting rose. But instead of the rose, they shipped a Jubileum [Morello] cherry. It was mildly understandable that somebody had pulled that. But the same person shouldn't have been pulling and packing, and the difference between a rose and a cherry tree is pretty dramatic. I called Fri. night, but everyone responsible had left for the day, and the lady said that I would be called in the morning. I wasn't, so I called again ca. 2PM Pacific on Sat. and still didn't get anyone authoritative. But I was told I could keep the Jubileum, that they'd put in a reorder and that she'd let me know when it shipped. I didn't plant them Sat. because snow was covering the place where they were to go, but I got them heeled in last night.

It's spring at Black Water

...and the new chicks arrived this morning: 25 Golden Comets, mixed run. Here's my granddaughter Morgan showing one off:
 4-07 Morgan002.jpg

Strickland calls ODA dogs off Schmitmeyer

GREENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Gov. Ted Strickland ordered the state Department of Agriculture to stop its effort to prevent a western Ohio dairy farm from supplying raw milk to shareholders.

Strickland told the department to drop its appeal of a judge's ruling that overturned the state's decision to revoke farmer Carol Schmitmeyer's milk-producing license.


In related news, Good News, our local advertisement paper, last week printed an ad soliciting sale of raw milk. I was surprised it made it into print, and would be even more surprised if anyone answered the ad. I mean, would you respond to an ad saying "Looking for marijuana farmer to buy fresh homegrown from"?

Jeff 'n' Rusty's auction adventure

Since it was a University Holiday, on a Friday (usually Stephen's day off, so hard to arrange off), we thought we'd go to the Rogers auction and flea market to try to rebuiild our flock. There were several problems with this. One was that it was snowing badly enough that people were running off the roads. I misread the map, which put us on Hwy. 7 instead of 11, so it was a slow 2-lane trip. And we left at 2, figuring that we'd take in the flea market. Rogers in the summer is quite impressive; you could walk all day and not see everything. Rogers in the winter is not that, and such venders as there were had already started to pack up. We had considered bringing Sara, our granddaughter, but we didn't want to wait for her to get out of school, and as it turned out, there was no room in the car once we got the chicken cage in. We might have taken the pickup, but it's traction on snow is dicey at best, and its shocks are dead enough that it bounces all around; making a hour-each-way trip, loaded, in snow didn't seem like something I wanted to try.

We killed enough time and went in to the auction. I hadn't seen anything too impressive, but things started coming in last-minute. There were some fencing materials outside that Rusty had her eye on; she bought 15 6 ft heady steel fence posts for $20. After going through apples, chicken waterers for too much, pigeons, pheasants and bantams, we got to the heavy hens, and there were some barred rocks that looked good. fortunately, they were sold "choice" instead of, as usual "bid by piece, buy by coop". Rusty kept on whispering "stop" as the bidding got perilously close to "meat value", but I won at $7.50 and took all 5 Barred Rocks. There was later another coop of 2 BRs that we didn't bid on, and we didn't take any of the New Hampshires. Nothing against them, though they can be a little volatile, but we want to bunk these in with the "old girls" and be able to tell them apart, and those NHs looked a little spent. we stuck around for the little 4-leggeds. A bunch of Jersey bull calves went for $13, goats in the $30-50 range.

The adventure came when we went to load the car. The only way the fence posts would fit is if part of the back seat folded down so they would extend though the trunk. This meant taking down the cage and reassembling it to cover the posts and folded down seat. All this was complicated by the presence of a child's wagon in the trunk, which Rusty had insisted on bringing to transport the cage (which would only fit through the door disassembled anyway). Then there was this teenage girl who had gotten the other coop of Barred Rocks and wanted one of ours, and was willing to trade her one plus $8 for that particular one. As Mr. Beck reminds us, values are personal, individual, and her love of Ms. Perfect Hen equaled my love of cheap chickens, so the swap was made.

As we got to the southern 'burbs of Youngstown, it was 8, and we were hungry, so we hit Bob Evans, with me in my bibs and chore boots. Rusty did her usual trip to the young man who was seating, "Two...smoking please". He twitched, I burst out laughing, and when he took us to our table, I said, "They're so cute when they twitch," which had Rusty rolling on the floor.

chores were done and we were in bed by 10:30. The new girls are in quarantine in the little barn; besides, we want to see how they lay. There's still soup weather...

Update on the chicken massacre

It turned out that the black Lab was microchipped, and the pound called the breeder, who called the owner who, living across our side street was calling the Trumbull Co. animal officer, looking for his lost dog. He's getting it back, after paying $300 in fines and paying for our chickens, which Rusty valued at $400. I'd sent her on a difficult mission last night, and she said, "You owe me", so I guess her payback was to tell him to call me tonight. He was glad that we didn't shoot his dog...something that won't happen if there's a next time.

Congress is horsing around

I have a few questions about proposed legislation to ban slaughter of horses for human consumption:

1. How is this different from Saudi law on selling pork? Aren't both fundamentally religious taboos? Isn't this an example of Congress establishing early Celtic paganism as a national religion? Isn't that why I can't BUY horsemeat?

2. Why are they arguing that this will cut down on horse theft when horses will supposedly all be chipped through NAIS?

3. Isn't this a tax on the Amish? What are they supposed to do with old horses?

4. Doesn't Steve LaTourette, one of the bill's sponsors, represent a district with many Amish? Has he ever eaten horseburger so that he could say with authority that hamburger is better?

5. Steve LaTourette doesn't think people should eat horses. Dennis Kucinich doesn't think people should eat hamburger. Why is LaTourette's opinion more valid and worthy to be made into law? Would it have something to do with horse eaters and horse owners being a minority? Or are both shilling for Big Ag?

6. Does Kucinich think that transport conditions for horses are worse than transport conditions for beef animals, or is he cynically working the issue to set a precedent for banning beef? If he is such an eco-ag guru as to have been interviewed by Acres USA, why is he trying to destroy draft animal farming?

7. Who cares what Hollywood stars think?

8. Why is John Boehner the only Ohio congresscritter to oppose this?

9. How many horse-lives will this bill save?

10. Whose horses are they, anyway? Why are we de-facto nationalizing horses.?

UPDATE: here's a good picture of life without horse slaughter, from Kentucky.

Tragedy on the farm

Rusty got home just before me, and I started dinner while she went out to do the chores. I saw a dark something on the back lawn and thought, "What's that? I'll have to check it out." Suddenly Rusty burst in. "Get your gun! There are 2 big dogs out there and they've killed about a dozen chickens!" There in the pen were the 2 criminals, looking serene and a little sorry. (Click here for popup ; WARNING: graphic content.) "If we shoot them, we'll have to bury them," she said. "Go call the animal warden." I got the sheriff's office, who put out a call for the animal guy. When I came back, Rusty had locked down the remaining chickens. Apparently they knocked one gate loose, and broke an inner gate. They couldn't make it into the coop, so anyone who was inside or got inside was safe. Outside was one mauled but ambulatory silkie, and 3 hens that looked like they would need to be put down. I gave Rusty my coat, went in for another. She suggested I do the chores. After I got the eggs from the carnage house, she suggested I bring her cigarettes. As I went to do that, I saw an Ameraucana walking on the road down to Mary Ann's. Its butt was chewed, but it was ambulatory, so I guided it home. "She put up a hell of a fight," Rusty said, "No, it knew to run like hell."

Around 8, as darkness fell, the dog warden came. He called the dogs, they came, he put 'em in the truck. Went out and took pictures of the dead. We counted 14 dead, (including our one White Rock rooster) and 2 injured. Rusty is filling out paperwork as I write. Per the warden, you can kill animals who are killing your stock, and the warden will pick up the bodies. I had thought that you could kill trespassing animals but had to pay for them; evidently that's just trespassing, not stock killing.

I set aside the eggs from the old girls (who were fine) to set...didn't want to set new girls because male silkies have been jumping around and I didn't want any half-bantam chicks.

PETA picks on Trappists

The monks at Mepkin Abbey are being harassed by PETA for, well, following industry practices in egg farming. So why isn't PETA picking on, say, Ohio Fresh Eggs? Because monks are "supposed to know better", so it's more newsworthy.

Now, I don't like caging chickens. And I've never forced a molt; it seems to happen naturally all too easily...which makes this statement:

Molting was banned last year by the United Egg Producers.
...more than a little ridiculous.

If Trappists were given to words, I'm sure they could find some choice ones. But I have only two words to say to political organizations which interfere with monastic life: "cluck, you."

ODA appealing Schmitmeyer ruling

It looks like last week's bleating idiot got his wish: the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture is appealing the ruling in favor of Carol Schmitmeyer. Yeah, I know, Democrats don't believe in private property. But I was hoping that Boggs would do something to distinguish himself from his predecessor. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."

Sheep may safely graze

Farm and Dairy is such a popular little paper that even the sheep have taken to reading it:

Continue reading "Sheep may safely graze"

Kim Jong-Il's hare-brained scheme

...is to feed his people by raising German grey giant rabbits, which can grow to as large as 23 lbs but are usually 15 lbs.

Rabbit is a good choice for impoverished nations, as they can subsist on things people don't eat (clover, alfalfa etc.) But generally, the giant breeds show poor feed conversion. Even New Zealands (the meat industry standard, and what I raise) are butchered way before maturity, as the conversion ratio drops off after about 8 weeks.

The ideal solution would be to let Party members Serve The People in an ultimate sense, with the Glorious Leader the first to become what he has turned North Korea into. Without that little impediment, I'm sure the Norks could feed themselves quite easily.

Dailey's gone!

Fred Dailey, shill for Big Ag, is undergoing a "forced separation" at the hands of Ted Strickland, after 16 years. This is hardly unexpected; department heads generally turn over with a new party in power. But it's nice to see in print anyway. I hope Lee Ann Mizer goes with him, and that they both find suitable employment...like picking up dead chickens at Ohio Fresh Eggs.

I hope that Strickland is creative in finding a replacement, avoiding both raving environmental lunatics and CAFO fans. Personally, I'd like to see a Mennonite ODA head (I don't think the Amish would serve.) Chances are good that a Democrat ODA would quit persecuting cow-share arrangements, but we still need legislative solutions to farm-freedom issues.

Urban sprawl for Homeland Security

Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, home of Joel Salatin and lesser poultry raisers, is seeing land prices go up...so that jack-booted thugs can live and work outside the blast zone and still make it to Dee Cee upon occasion.

Screw the border wall...build it around the District of Columbia instead.

Bird's eye of the farm

My early Christmas present:

This scan is nothing like the original photo, which is incredibly detailed. Also my color is screwed; in the original one can definitely tell that the coop on the right is pink. A few honored souls will be getting Christmas cards.

Not shown: The pasture, orchard, and woods.

Whoop...the sidebar cuts a huge chunk of it off. Click on the image to get the whole thing.

Happy Thanksgiving from Black Water Farm

Our travel plans got changed at the last minute due to host illness. So the project for today (besides cooking a feast for ourselves) was making bunnies be dead. We killed 3 boys; should have killed more but ran out of gumption (and the roast duck had to go in). The first rabbit was slow going as we were learning the knack of peeling the skin off. The book talks about it being like taking off your socks. Well, maybe if you haven't taken your socks off for the entire year, and your hairs were growing through them. We hung them by a bungee cord over the utility room sink to bleed out. I was surprised by how much liver they have. (over half a pint container between them). We tossed the kidneys and abdominal fat (surprisingly plentiful in the older one; yes, Skydiver is no more.), wasteful beings that we are; the hearts went into today's dressing. I've salted down the 3 pelts and we'll see if I can make them be OK. They're in the only cool dry CAT-FREE place I could think of, my truck. We packaged up 4 packages of 2 lbs or so big pieces for the freezer. We took all the backs and cooked them down...got 2 pts of loose meat, and the stock. This rabbit tastes better than any commercial rabbit I've eaten.

Just got done with dinner: tossed salad, molded salad (the only disaster; I set it in to loosen and forgot about it), cranberry orange relish, broccoli, sweet potatoes baked in pineapple juice, duck with stuffing. Made a pecan pie and a squash/sweet potato (don't open a can, clean up the leftovers instead). I added extra pecans to the pecan, which may have been a mistake, as 1 1/2 cups was enough. It's lighter than the usual, and sugar free. Dressing was made from day-old that Rusty buys for the chickens.

19 eggs today! Yet one more thing to be thankful for, that and nice weather today.

Sweetie, a rescue cat, used to be somebody's inside pet, and is a regular cuddle glutton. She likes to follow when we're doing chores, but she's been forbidden by Rusty because she used one of the laying boxes as a litter box. Well, why not, that's what they are. "But Mommy, I did the right thing; why are you mad at me..."

More on hunger in America

The prize for My First Liberal Troll goes to the commenter from Adelphia-Cable-6:

I got the picture. "Let them eat cake.", right? Food is cheap? Where do you shop? For a variety of reasons, many children arrive at school HUNGRY and food programs are the only substantial meal they receive for the day.

"Let them eat cake?" Well, that's a lot of America's hunger problem right there...they DO eat cake, cheap cake yet, instead of real food.

Where do I shop? Lots of places...Aldi and Save-a-lot and Marcs on one end, the Co-op and Mustard Seed Market on the other. I DON'T tend to shop at place requiring loyalty cards in order to get "sale" prices higher than other people's.

Is food expensive? OK, quality food is expensive. If you want to live on grass-fed beef and organic produce, it's going to cost you. But the majority of non-hungry Americans don't do that, and nobody expresses shock about it. In 2004, the average American household spent 10% of their disposable personal income on food, the lowest percentage of any industrialized country.

Is food cheap? Well, it depends on what you eat. Whole grains are incredibly cheap. White rice is cheaper yet, but if you're poor, you can't afford to go without the vitamins and fiber. Beans and eggs are cheap sources of protein, as is canned mackerel. There are consistently inexpensive fresh vegetables (onions, carrots, cabbage) and fruits (apples), and frozen vegetables in bulk are a good buy, as are canned tomatoes. And that's even before we discuss foraging possibilities, like the nutritious and tasty purslane. (Yeah, now you're going to say that I said, "Let them eat weeds." Well, I do, and I can afford not to. So that's exactly what I'm saying; deal with it.)

One problem with food is that many people insist on hiring servants when they aren't working themselves. If you are poor, you can't afford to have somebody cook for you. This includes McDonald's. You can buy a loaf of bread and half a pound of bologna for the price of 2 items off the McD dollar menu, and it will go farther, and be of equal nutritional value.

"For a variety of reasons, many children arrive at school HUNGRY". Bullshit. There is only ONE reason for children to arrive at school hungry: parental neglect. Well, maybe two: parents who figure they can foist off the responsibility for serving a good breakfast onto the school...which is still parental neglect, but neglect enabled by the schools. Now, 'scuse me, but if parents are neglecting their children, why are we enabling them instead of taking the children away and putting them in foster homes? If the government is going to act in loco parentis, why not go all the way? If the parents have money for drugs, they have money for food, and if the food money goes for drugs, take their kids away. And if they really can't afford food, they can't afford to make babies. I'll bet you're pro-choice; well, the flip side of choice is responsibility for your choices.

Now, here are my credentials: unlike Marie Antoinette, I've been there, done that. I've run punch presses with illiterates from temp agencies for minimum wage. I was even (mea maxima culpa!) for a short time on food stamps. I always had some left over at the end of the month, and I ate better than I did when I was working. I've even been known in the past to dumpster-dive. And I've never had cable, something that probably can't be said of most of the "hungry" in America. So spare me the crocodile tears "for the children."

Americans no longer hungry

The USDA has finally admitted that there are no hungry Americans. "Anti-hunger advocates" are of course outraged. But this should have happened long ago. Food is so plentiful and cheap in America that there is no excuse for anyone to experience physical hunger if they don't wish to...well, maybe if you're a quadriplegic who has been abandoned. Food prep and storage is hard for the homeless. And there's much malnutrition. Most of that is deliberate (if the word can be used for "choosing not to think"), but not all. An intelligent person can eat a very nutritious diet on almost nothing, but the intelligent generally aren't poor either.

The formerly hungry now experience "very low food security."

Tragedy on the farm

Our one mature doe rabbit has been expecting. I put the nest box in last weekend...a little early maybe, but these days I have to do what I can do, when I can do it. I went out to check on her yesterday morning, and she had pulled fur and made a nest...in the corner of the cage, not in the nest box. I freaked, as cages are no impediment to baby rabbits. I scooped up all the fur I could and put it and the rabbit into the nest box. I saw that she had built up the floor of the nest with wood shavings from the box. Then she started taking the hair out. "OK, you win," I said. "Maybe you know something about this that I don't."

The lousy weather got worse at night, with wind howling. "In diesen Wetter, in diesem Braus..."

The sun was bright when I checked on them this morning. A nervous pacing mom, and a small pile of fur, not moving. Blood on the bottom of the platform she had made, so she'd given birth. In the next cage, two very dead baby rabbits. Uh-oh. I found the other 6 in back of the hutch, equally dead.

Naturally, I am kicking myself for romantic notions of animal instincts. "Dumb bunny" isn't just an expression. She guessed at "the place most like a burrow", and guessed wrong, and I, as the intelligent human, should have corrected her. She knew what a nest box was for, as she'd used it last time, so what was her aversion? Oh well, next time. But now that won't be until March. She needs 6 weeks recovery, and with the hutch outside (enclosed on 3 sides, soon 4), I don't want to breed until Frebruary at earliest.

I went out and dug turnips, a job I will finish when I post this, now that I'm warm. That hose water is way too close to freezing. If I get the daikon, and a few oddments of greens, harvest will be over.

Taxpayer-funded suburban farming?

Heroes of American capitalism are stiffing banks on government-guaranteed mortgages. I'd normally object to that, but given that the houses are being rented for commercial ventures that the government will not allow to operate in a normal way, it seems like fitting recompense somehow. As for the neighbors, they seem not to be bothered until after the bust, and then it's because nobody cuts the grass.

Allen kissing black farmer grits

George "Macaca" Allen wants to prove he's not a racist, so he's introducing a racist bill. Go figure.

Since when is "financial assistance through USDA" a "civil right"? Yes, equality under the law is important. But these guys had their chance, and missed it. And you 'Pugs touting Allen as the great conservative hope, tell me what is conservative about bending the law to allow more government handouts?

Dailey and Mizer at it again

They're going after herd-share agreements for raw milk production. And why should anyone need a licence to produce milk to begin with? If pasteurization is so effective in removing pathogens, there's no legitimate state interest in controlling sanitation, and if it isn't effective, why the big push for it?

Bill Peirce gets it.

Bunny killing a felony in Kansas

As if the evolution brouhaha weren't enough, animal cruelty is a felony in Kansas. And what is animal cruelty? Well, according to the authorities in Lawrence, it is cruel to put your rabbit in a plastic bag and then break its neck. Never mind that breaking necks is one of the recommended procedures in the literature for killing rabbits for slaughter. Austin Newport doesn't seem quite all there, and his female "former roommate" seems to have had an agenda. But I'd like to see this go to trial, with a crapload of expert witnesses. And if the jury decides that Newport was cruel, then the judge should make them decide just what methods of rabbit slaughter are not cruel.

Story is here (8/30/06)...trackback and permalik URLs only bring up empty pages.

Grass-fed or not?

Producers who keep cattle on pasture began asking the Agriculture Department in the late 1990s to set standards to help sell their beef as truly grass-fed.

That was their first mistake. Now the USDA is proposing rules, and nobody is happy about them. The cavil about silage is irrelevant; in much of the country, you aren't going to have grass to feed all year long. But if they don't have to be on pasture most of the time, you're developing an irrelevant label. In any case, why can't grass-feeders get together and start their own certification? Why should it be government's job, and specifically a branch of government bought and paid for by agribiz?

World fat blamed on Western ag policy

I don't much like the righteous tone of this piece. But it's spot-on about the nature of American farm subsidies, which are centered around grain production, either directly used or fed to cattle, and that the world (and us) would be better off without them.

Spying on farmers

Via Wolfesblog, this tale of agri-cops photographing the entire country. We got an offer for aeriel pictures this summer, and I wonder if the company was subcontracting for the government, and just trying to make a little extra.

I'm not as excited about this as Claire is. I believe that any farmer who takes subsidies DERSERVES to lose his privacy. It's just too bad that the rest of us lose ours as well.

Beautiful day on the farm

The barn side is now 40% painted. It's all I had prepped and ready, given that I kept getting rained out yesterday. But that was good, because I got to work in the garden after the painting. And after half an inch of rain yesterday...no puddles, no crusting, seeds up and happy, surrounded by baby purslane that I could wipe off the face of the earth with my bare hand. In other words, real soil. I don't know how it happened, but I'm happy.

Goats for ADHD OK for now

BATAVIA, Ohio (AP) — A 13-year-old boy can keep the two goats he uses to help treat his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, under a settlement with a township that claimed the animals violated zoning codes.
Good news, but why should he have to settle?
Mary Makley Wolff, who voted against the agreement, ... said she also was troubled that the agreement allows a goat to be replaced if it dies.

"I was concerned about the precedent we're setting when we allow multiple farm animals in people's yards," she said.

Well, I'm concerned about the precedent that says you can tell people what to do with their own property. But unlike you, I don't get a vote on it.

Zimbabwe South?

They're moving more carefully, "under color of law", as it were. But racism under the guise of eminent domain rears its head in South Africa. If they rush this thing through, watch for South African agricultural productivity to go down the toilet.

All kinds of thankfulness

The farm stuff continues apace. Friday my darling surprised me by excavating the berry patch. And behold things were growing, even the blueberries, though the the pH was as high as 6.1. I took stock of tree fatalities, and yesterday True Value was selling their potted tree stock at 50% off, and the Granny Smith apple and Asian pear that didn't appeal at $38.99 were just the thing at half that to stick in the orchard holes, mounded up this time to protect against sogging. We'll see if they take. Weeds are under control in the garden, we've begun (but only begun) harvesting elderberries, and I got a start on priming the barn wall. It's slow, because there's lumpy white rust that needs to be wire-brushed away. But this place is now breathing a sense of order. It's really "all good". In spite of a wedding reception Sat. evening and a do late this afternoon, I got lots done. And maybe some rain tomorrow!

Order on the farm

It was a great weekend...two whole dry days, and 2 more in the week .Weeds have been dealt with, most late plantings in. Now a little rain wouldn't hurt (first time I've said THAT this year).

Saturday I bought a 2-bottom plow and and back blade at Chalkers, for the princely total of $70. Got them home in the back of the pickup, which was fine for the blade but a bit trickier for the plow as the plowshares kept digging into the bed liner when I tried to move it. But I got it off at last. Haven't tried it, futzed with the blade a little. Really need a box blade, but for $25 instead of $275 I can see what can be done with a simple blade. And I got a subsoiler at TSC. So I'm pretty much set except for a post hole digger.

Sunday I finished sheathing the side of the barn. Now the old steel needs to be cleaned and painted. But it's still satisfying not to have insulation board facing the elements.

And the weeds in the garden are pretty much caught up, thanks to good weather and Travis, local kid who's been grubbing out the strawberries for $5/hr. Vines are producing, though some squash was showing signs of disease. 1st okra is blossoming, peppers and tomatoes coming on. The beans were weak though, and so bug-eaten that I decided to just let them go to seed. There are still a few things I want to plant, but if they don't get in this weekend, it'll be pushing it even for mustard greens.

Rusty has been weed-whacking. The place looks picture-perfect, or as close as it's ever come. Now I have to pay attention to music.

Ag policy: peeling the onion

Rightwingprof riffs on a new Jonah Goldberg piece (which regrettably comes up empty, both from the link and from the LA Times link). We're all pretty much in agreement, but a few things need to be said.

First, Goldberg said:

Meanwhile, our system — chiefly the Senate, which gives rural states outsized power, and the Iowa presidential caucus, which forces politicians to whore themselves to agricultural welfare — is rigged to prevent real free market reform.

I find it odd as all hell that a conservative is complaining about the function of the Senate as representatives of the states. One might as justly complain that the House gives urban states outsized power. Now, senators would not pander so cravenly to Big Ag if they were chosen by the state legislators instead of the people.(One could bribe an entire legislature for less than the price of one TV ad.) But the chances of getting 17th Amendment repeal past the Senate are nonexistent. As for the Iowa caucus, it's a red herring. It isn't presidents (or even the whole handful of wannabes) that drive ag subsidies; it's the congressional rank-and-file, which have nothing to do with Iowa (unless of course they are rank and file FROM Iowa).

Agriculture has never played on a level field in this country. We're not at all unusual in that; most nations are protective of their ag sector. We started with tariffs. Unfortunately, the ones for manufactured goods tended to clash with the ones for ag commodities, with results to the agrarian South that helped lead to the War for Southern Independence. Canals were transpoprt subsidies. The Homestead Act could be considered a subsidy. The railroad subsidies were indirect ag subsidies, aimed at providing markets for Western farmers. And that was just the beginning. The pace of this nonsense picked up drastically during the New Deal.

The problem with current ag policy is that it is designed to help big farmers at the expense of small farmers. And it is the minutiae of those policies that help bring out the conditions where subsidies appear to be needed. Looking at milk, you have a thoroughly regulated industry. In most states, all milk must be pasteurized, and can't be sold directly to the end user. Minimum butterfat content becomes maximum butterfat content, since there's no way of telling in homogenized milk whether you are getting more. The producer tax milk check-off forces everyone to pay to advertise "milk" as if all milk were the same. If the government has its way, soon we will have NAIS, which has different rules and effects for large producers. There are ways for small farmers to compete, but Big Ag's minions in government do their best to block them.

None of this excuses subsidy. But it shows that ag policy is like health policy or practically anything else government is involved in: the government creates a problem, then creates another problem to fix that problem, which then needs a fix of its own. And we won't fix the broken system until we address the fundamental premises: whose farm/milk/body etc. is it?

Expensive chicken

My wife interacts with the USPS:

Mail man came to the door with a package from Stromberg's chick and game birds... I greeted him at the back door and told him that I was killing chickens. The front of my wet - see though white T-shirt was also splattered with chicken blood, my hair was dripping wet with my Rambo tie across my forehead. The front of my jeans were also covered with chicken blood splatters. If he was looking for some afternoon, air-conditioned delight, I scared him off. Like I said, you owe me dinner.

For letting some of the birds out this morning, not for her preserving her virtue. I thought the chickens a little small (3-pounders), but she did a dandy job on them, all by herself

Judge to Arlie: kiss my boots!

Farm and Dairy's lead story was about the Stutzman case. No new news, but this quote was revealing:

"[Stutzman] expressed no remorse for his violations and indicated no desire to bring his conduct into compliance with the court's orders or Ohio law," White wrote.
Ohmygod, a sociopath! Could it be, Judge White, that Arlie felt no remorse because he had done nothing wrong?

It seems (as I experienced in this case) that the Law is not content unless you feel guilt.

NAIS for vegetarians?

Per Reuters, Beijing News says that China will track every vegetable for the Olympics. I doubt this. The thread on ClaireFiles calls this "NAIS for vegetables". Of course, it isn't. It's only NAIS if the growers have to report the demise of every broccoli seedling within 24 hrs, and if they have to pay to implant RFID tags in the daikons.

It sounds like a Great Leap Forward to me.

Something's growing at Black Water Farm

It might as well be buildings, since it isn't crops. :-(

First, the new coop. Decoration is Rusty's.

And the new bunny hutch, designed and built by Wondrous Spouse (with a little help from me and granddaughter Sara):

Rabbits breeding like rabbits

Our doe apparently had her first successful pregnancy last night. The nest box was full of fur, and it's been seen moving. Mom was out of the box, taking a break. Meanwhile, her neighbor (father of the kits) has just earned the name Skydiver for knocking his cage to the ground (5 feet) with him in it. Rusty is building a rabbit hutch, with the help of granddaughter Sara (who has actually been working, be still my heart), which will have 7 cage spaces in it.

Coop and fencing is done (I've got to post a picture) except that we need to run electricity out there. All is good with animals; wish I could say the same about plants. I should have planted rice...

Arlie loses

Arlie Stutzman (last discussed here) lost his raw milk case. On the basis of the law, it couldn't have been otherwise. Judge White found that accepting donations was a subterfuge for sales, but said (strangely enough given the wording of OH law) that it was OK for Arlie to GIVE his milk away; I suspect this was to nail down the religious objection.

On to the legislature, I guess...

Breast high by the 4th of July

Here's my wife, for comparison, in the little patch of Silver King field corn. Even the replants are almost knee high. It's one of the few bright spots...that, and baby summer squash. But the garden is under water again.

The witchery of hitchery

My implements came at around 1:30 yeaterday.

The man who delivered them had helpful hints about maintaining the gearbox on the brush hog, and how and why an 8N drives a tiller (fast 1st gear and no live PTO make for a skimmy job). But the basic stuff seemed just too stupid to ask about, and there's no "Tractors for dummies" book out there. I hitched up the brush hog ... not all the way, because Rusty was out and both PTO shafts were still in her trunk. But I could see I was missing a few things; for one, the implement was only hitched at 2 points. So when she returned, I went to Tractor Supply and got some lynch pins, 2 PTO shaft pins, a bar for the top of the hitch, and a drawbar so I can tow my wagon. After dinner I put it all together...and it wouldn't raise. I finally figured out that the PTO had to be engaged for the hydraulics to work. The problem with that was that I didn't have control figured out and would either take the implement too high or would ground it, either of which would cause the PTO pin to shear and the shaft to dance around like a cobra ready to strike from the inertia of the brush hog blade (a steel bar with steel bars loosely pinned at either end, to club to death anything that gets in its way, sort of a weed whacker on steroids). Having used up my supply of PTO pins, I'm out of business until after the holiday.

I need to order an operators manual for the 8N ($15-$20 online). Given how many were sold to Southerners converting from mules, it should tell me everything I need to know.

New stuff!

The tractor.

That's all you get tonight; this connection is just too slow.

I got out early and began to dig the garden out from the weeds, while Rusty went out for chicken coop supplies. She came back with stair materials plus 5 gallons of Killz 2, tinted PINK. Well, it's her chicken coop. After brunch we went to Chalker's auction...way too early as it turned out, as they didn't get to equipment until well after 1. I bought a 5' Woods tiller and a brushhog. The tiller was $125 more than I was going to pay (though still about $500 less than a new King Kutter) and I'm not even positive the Ford will run it (8N is about 22 hp, KK's 5-ft tiller wants 25-40). If not, I'll have to sell and buy a 4', or none, or sell the tractor. The 'hog is older, painted Deere green (obviously not by Deere). They are to be delivered on Monday. I could have gotten them home myself, maybe. They could get them in the pickup for me, but I doubt I could get them out with my equipment. Or I could drive the tractor the 9 mile round trip, twice, with the stuff on the hitch, at 13 mph tops. It's $30 well spent.

One I got back home, I decided to go to Ravenna to TSC to get the stuff I didn't find. It was all way too much money, and I can wait on a post hole digger and a box blade. Then to Marc's which pissed me off by having NO sugar free ice cream, leading me to the self-limiting sin of Ben and Jerry's. I got home, saw the chick feed and galvanized metal primer, but NO Ford manual or 5W-30. Crap; must have left it in the cart. And their phone was busy. So Rusty and I piled into car and made the longish jaunt to Ravenna again; TSC staff had recovered the bag and were happy to give it to me. By that point it was near 8 and rapidly crashing sugar sent us to Taco Bell, after which I felt human

Big day

Well, the new chicken coop is almost done, and the builder is still working in the dark. It's quite the structure; we could use it for a mother-in-law suite. We'll have to paint it, and wire it if we wish.

And I now have a tractor: a 1950 Ford 8N. I drove it home 3 miles, my first tractor driving ever. It shifts backwards from a car, and it doesn't seem to want to shift while in motion, so it took me a mile to find 4th. I eventually got up to 13 mph, according to Rusty, who was driving behind. No tie on, let alone a suit, but I still had my work clothes on and felt quite Oliver Wendell Douglas-ish. Now all I need are some implements so I can actually DO something with it.

With all this excitement, and the long weekend, I completely forgot that I had a choral rehearsal tonight. I feel so bad...mea culpa, mea maxima culpa....especially because I was conducting part of it.

All this work...I suppose that on some level, I'm just a bit too much like French royalty playing nymphs and shepherds. But I'm sure the Sun King never did anything the slightest bit physically dangerous, though his music director certainly did. As I do. But if it were really the case that this is just an extended fête champêtre, we'd need mzwyndi and airrelic to offer the proper degree of authenticity. BYO sheep.

Pictures when it's daylight, if I get a fast enough dialup connection.

Farm report

After the 2.3 inches of rain Thurs., we got another 5/8 inch Friday. In the short respite between showers, I repaired the chicken tractor, which had broken under the weight of accumulated water (leaving Rusty to run out in the rain in her nightie to rescue Silkies), and redesigned the top to shed water. It still collects a little in the corners if they're left bungeed; if they're loose, the water runs down the inside corners.

Continue reading "Farm report"

Too much of a good thing

We'd gotten all caught up last weekend, everything planted and weeded. The last several days we got about an inch and a quarter of rain...just enough, and everyone was happy.

We got about 2.3" here since 1 PM. It's stopped now, but there's more on the way.

The other side piece on the chicken tractor cracked as well as the 2x2 crosspiece. Rusty caught the Silkies and moved them in with the White Rocks, where they have formed two seperate camps, eyeing each other warily. At least the ducks are happy; their pond is full again. And the tree frogs are in full cry. Half the garden is under water, and slugs are all over the plants, to keep from drowning. Half the elderblow is off the tree...hope they got pollinated first.

Good thing I took tomorrow off, though I don't know how much I can do. The CT has to be redesigned to shed water. I thought I could get away with my last attempt, but Rusty isn't able to dump the water as it amasses. Anything I do will add weight and shakiness.

By the looks of the news, I should be thankful that it's ALL we got.

My kind of bureaucracy

Maybe the Department of Agriculture needs to be more like Britain's Rural Payments Agency:

Staff at a government agency office have been reported leaping naked from filing cabinets and carrying out stomach-churning pranks.

Civil servants are said to have had sex in the lavatories, taken drugs, used foul language, brawled in the reception area and held break-dancing contests in working hours.

Sounds like a fun place to work, eh?

Last month Lord Bach was moved from his post as farms minister after a week in office because of the Rural Payments Agency's failure to pay £1.5 billion of European subsidies on time to English farmers and landowners.

The fiasco has pushed many farmers to the brink of bankruptcy.

Now, I'm not generally in favor of anything that interrupts the economic planning of farmers (God does a good enough job of that). But failing to pay subsidies? That's MY kind of government!

Farm report

Great weekend for working, and if I hadn't had obligations late Sunday, I might have gotten the field work caught up. As it was, I cleaned out and mulched the trees in back and applied Tanglefoot against slugs. I hoed and fertilized the corn, replanting the holes in the stand. Not sure what I will do about the mangels, which are spotty at best, with only one section where I could identify plants well enough to hoe around. I put some more plants in the garden, and started clearing up the mess from my first too-early plantings. Don't trust the books, trust the weeds; they'll tell you when things will germinate. I had my first official crop failure, the German Butterball potatoes, which are packets of watery white slime, and are being replaced with Red Pontiacs because that's what I can get locally. Rusty gave up on the idea of using the pop-up camper as a chicken house, and sold it cheap to get it moved out of there. She's also planning on selling most of the Silkies.

I also bred the rabbit Sat. I put her in again several hours later "to make sure", and again Sunday morning, and she wasn't having any, so I guess she's settled.

She gets NAIS

At last night's circle the topic of NAIS came up...and everyone knew what it was and just what the problem with it was. I haven't discussed it there, but sposa mea might have. But it was the new girl who nailed it: "But they're your chickens!"


Not that that stops a hundred other outrages, so why this one?

It seems that a good question for those upcoming candidates nights might be, "Given [specific candidate position that flagrantly violates private property rights], what is your position on the right of private property?"

With luck, it might be enough rope to hang themselves.

Houdini da wabbit

One of our male rabbits has figured out how to open the latch, pull back the door, and escape his cage. He's done it 3 or 4 times now, even working through a twist tie that I'd thrown on to keep the door shut. Little does he know that he's pretty much blown his chances of having a sex life. I refuse to breed a rabbit that's smarter than I am; I haven't found my way to freedom yet.

Recreational auctions

The weather has bit the big one all week, the garden is a rice paddy, and we were supposed to be on vacation. So we took in a couple auctions. Friday night was the livestock auction at Rogers. We have enough poultry for now (if not too much), but the prices were nice (lower than hatchery, for bigger birds). Then there were rabbits (which I'm not paying for unless my doe has a problem) and some little ruminants...4 Jersey bull calves, a few sheep and a bunch of goats. We had a number, and I asked Rusty to sit on my hand, which kept on jerking up. Some very nice prices, including an expectant La Mancha doe for $90.

Sat. was the tractor, equipment and stuff auction at Chalker's, just down the road. The weather was crappy (nice downpour in the middle of the tractor auction) and furniture was being rained on (including a grand piano with a totally delaminated top). Prices for old stuff were good: a nice Farmall cub for $850, a small Massey-Ferguson for $1500, 3 old Deeres for $2300-$2800. But none of the nice stuff made reserve (a nice little Deere with loader and backhoe, and a '99 Kubota). We didn't stick around for the equipment because we were hungry and I had a headache from breathing fumes and hearing a dozen tractors running with an auctioneer blabbing over them.

The thing for a person of my ignorance to do would be to buy new and get dealer support. But I've never bought a CAR new, and I use those a lot more than I would a tractor. And I'm really sick of indebtedness.

Of jail-making and jail-breaking

Well, I went out this morning to find Adam and Eve (or Adam and Steve or Ada and Eve...I'm not sure yet) were doing OK, so the rest of the ducks went in and are doing fine. Rusty took all the chickens out and was cleaning the brooder house. She had hers in a chicken wire circle and my little ones in a cage she found on a treelawn (maybe a ferret cage by the looks) and had me working on rehabbing the chicken tractor. I put a door in it. Got my plastic tubes up but the weren't rigid enough. I need to invent a better system. She left for a dental appt. and to get more bedding. I put Rusty's birds in the CT and put some of mine (which were smaller) in the wire enclosure (because they were WAY overcrowded in the cage). I went back and was weeding strawberries. It was getting hot and humid and I figured I should go in for water. Lo, there were about 4 chicks running loose. I caught some but then one of the Araucanas went straight up out of the cage like a helicopter. Couldn't catch it, and then it started to storm. I got the birds inside (no bedding down as Rusty had wanted things to air out). We got about 1/2". By the time Rusty got home I was in a funk because of the weather. She set up bedding in the brooder (without the strategically-placed feed bags, "which were all poopy") then went off again. After dinner she had me tearing down fencing and reconfiguring it. We quit for the night about 8. I went to feed animals and called Rusty out because almost all the chicks had worked their way into the rabbit room (from which they could get outside easily.) We got them herded in and their holes fixed. I also spotted the escaped araucana in the hen house, but he escaped again. Hopefully he will have the sense to stay with the big birds.

Brush fields

I really hate fields full of brush. They're neither fish nor fowl. They bespeak an improvident owner, and wilderness raped to no good end. Yes, they're a necessary step in Nature's reclamation process. So is pus. My aging female neighbor has a field almost taken over by multiflora rose (quite the invasive species here). I've got it on my fences, and need to get rid of it.

Meanwhile, another neighbor has organized several others to get logged by some Amish guy. Supposedly I've been offered $6K for the wood in my woods, even though the previous owner had it logged fairly recently. We're not biting. That's our retirement account, and it will be far better ecologicaly to let more trees get some decent size. And I don't want things torn up...even if the guy is logging with horses, it won't be pretty. We're considering getting the place surveyed, as the lot lines aren't at all clear back there. I'm not saying that an Amishman would poach a particularly nice tree, just that clear markings will reduce the temptation to sin.

Farm report

Sorry (to both my faithful readers) for not blogging; I was out of town for the weekend on vacation with m'lady, and since then have been on vacation with m'lady at home, trying to catch up on the farm work. It's been a struggle because it's been so stinking hot and humid (high 80s), and because Rusty's priorities have been "pretty" while mine have been "functional", and women have a habit of making their priorities their husband's priority. Yesterday was mostly about side yard cleaning, as the ground was still wet. I took away the old pallets and made a compost bin from them, put brooder-house bedding in it and the sawdust from the spot that would grow no grass (because it was sawdust), cleaned out the open side of the barn. Rusty pulled weeds from the gravel turnaround and took up big stones from an ex-parking place that is being returned to grass (she got 5 cubic yards of topsoil today). I took a mid-day break and bought plants from Angie at Always in Bloom, and the hardware, and got wood at Paul's in Garrettsville. I lost a mess of time because the pickup decided to die 2 miles from home. By the time I got a ride and got back with my car, it fired right up; go fig. I finished out the day by rototilling the garden.

Today Rusty was mowing and weed-whacking, and working on poultry fencing for the new birds, while I was planting. Beans, curcurbitae and some okra are in. The only reason I'm writing now is that a thunderstorm hit around 3 PM and put us out of business outside. The roof got a good test; I'll check for wet spots in a bit.

First strawberries yesterday. Snow peas are blossoming. Today was the first crow from one of the Silkies. None of the potatoes I planted are up, but there's a volunteer, right in one of the rows.

The lovely thing about this vacation is that I am so out of touch with the Ongoing Collapse of Western Civilization. I'm sure that all kinds of horrible things have been happening; I just haven't had the time to find out about them, and what I have heard of hasn't pushed any buttons. Earthquake in Indonesia? riots in Afghanistan? Ho hum...

Meat without animals

Scientists are working on growing meat in the laboratory, feeding muscle cells in Petri dishes. The advantage will be that:

scientists can control levels and types of fats (such as omega 3 fatty acids), protein and other substances and produce a product less likely to be contaminated with such food-poisoning culprits as E. coli.

"Suddenly a McDonald's breakfast sausage patty could protect you from heart disease instead of giving you heart disease," says Robert Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Taste may be a factor in acceptability. But nobody really knows:

Collaborator James Gilchriest, also a researcher at Touro, marinated a batch of the cultured fish — which the researchers said "resembled fresh fish fillets" — in olive oil, lemon and garlic before breading and deep-frying them.

"It smelled good," said Benjaminson, but neither researcher subjected the results to a taste-test. They didn't want to run afoul of Food and Drug Administration food safety regulations.

What a bunch of wimps! The researchers of the late 19th-century were willing to experiment on themselves. Some paid a price (e.g.,the Curies) but science was advanced. If they're afraid to eat this stuff, why should we?

I'm skeptical of this whole idea. Even if it is economically feasable and produces as good or better a product than the best current agricultural practices, it centralizes food production too much. If we're down to one breed of cow, raised only to produce cells for meat labs, what happens when (not if) society collapses? When this meat can get up off the dish, boink another dishful of meat and produce more meat all on its own, then maybe I'll feel safe about it.

And what does PETA say? If there is no consciousness to the growing protein, do they have any moral objections to eating the meat, esp. if the cells can be extracted humanely from living or naturally-dead donors?

Barn roof is done!

Here is the view from last night. The wall you see is in the process of being redone.

And here is a different angle from this morning. Note the frost, on May 23; good thing I didn't plant my sweet potatoes. Global warming, my ass.

Rural renewal

In spite of the strange earlier 'tude, the boys are working hard, comporting themselves professionally, and seem to be doing a good job on the barn.

View picture of barn

New chickens

We got 4 more chickens hatched last night. Here are the first 4:
And here is the brooder house with the mail chicks and Rusty's silkies:

Priced out of farming

Nationwide, the percentage of farmers under 35 is the lowest it's ever been, said Mike Duffy, director of the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State University.

That means production is being concentrated in fewer hands, which deters innovation and makes addressing environmental issues more difficult, Duffy said.

"We'd better be concerned about it, or we're just going to lose a whole generation," Duffy said.

Farming is too important to leave to a handful of people.

Mothers Day on the farm

Friday we got our chicks in the mail: 25 White Rocks, 5 Ameraucanas, 5 Pekin ducks, 5 Khaki Campbell ducks. We lost one (a Pekin, at twice the price) but the rest seem to be doing fine.

And yesterday we hatched 4 eggs, our first hatch. Daddy is a buff Orpington; moms were black Australorp (2) and apparently another Buff Orpington (2). More to hatch in the next several days, we hope.

Pictures to follow...uploading on a dialup SUCKS.

Weekend on the farm

Saturday, Rusty and I did up 11 chickens. It took most of the day.

I was going to take an "after" photo to go with the "before", but we were wrapping as we went, and there's nothing intrinsically interesting about seeing a bunch of shopping bags. (The roasters were 6 lbs and wouldn't fit whole into gallon freezer bags, so we wrapped with cling wrap and then put into plastic shopping bags.) And as for "during", well, there just isn't anything nice, sweet, and cute about butchering chickens (not even the pretty barn kitties dragging off the heads), and I really didn't want my office firebombed by ELF.

"Gimp" was the first to go. He'd broken a leg early on, and was about half the size of the others (harder to fight his way to the feed). We had to respect his struggle, staying alive against odds while so many more healthy chicks keeled over and died. He got barbecued for dinner Sat. night, and we said grace and thanked him for his sacrifice.

These were our mistakes:
1. Per the book, and as we did last year, we didn't feed them the night before, in order to empy their crops. Unfortunately, that didn't mean they didn't eat. Last year they were in an empty outbuilding room; this year in the chicken tractor. So they ate their fill of grass and got bloated, making things a bit more unpleasant to work with.

2. Last year we were saving feathers, and dry-plucked until it got hard, then hot-water dipped. This year we didn't save feathers, but continued to dry pluck until the last several birds. Dipping from the get-go makes things much faster. We also decided to not save gizzards this year. They're a lot of work to clean for meat that nobody really likes anyway.

3. We've been bleeding them out by holding them by their legs in a 5 gallon bucket. The problem here is that they splatter blood all over their wing feathers, which are hard enough to pull out. Next time, we'll just let them go free to do their final Chicken Dance ("taka taka taka tuh....ta ta ta taaaah ta ta ta"), morbid entertainment though it be.

4. No more Cornish Cross. With the mortality we had, I estimated our meat cost at $1/lb, exclusive of labor. While it's worth paying more for cage-free pastured birds, we lost our shirts. And examination of the entrails was unsettling: large livers, flabby big hearts with fatty deposits all over, tiny gizzards. These were not really healthy birds, and one has to wonder if it's really kind to raise such animals.

Sunday I got the corn and mangels in. For a break, I decided to mow some...and the belt on the mower broke. Fortunately, Windham True Value had one, and I got it on before my wife got home.

It's a long slow struggle getting things together...but it's happening.

Death row


Here are the meat chickens, last weekend. You can probably notice major problems with their home, particularly the roof. These will get fixed once it's vacant...which should be tomorrow afternoon.

Another corpse

I came home to another dead chicken. It might have been dehydration, as they were out of water (though I'd filled it in the morning). It wasn't even stiff yet, but we weren't interested in salvage. They got a 5 gallon waterer this morning.

I'm losing my butt on these Cornish Cross, and the next batch will be White Rocks. Cornish are just not bred to be raised outside. They don't know enough to drink water when they're hot, or eat grass or bugs. They'll inhale all the chicken feed you want to give them. It's the only thing that motivates them; they're so like the typical American that it feels like cannibalism to eat them.

My maldesign of the chicken tractor didn't help. It needs a roof that will shed instead of collect water, a door, better wheels, and someplace to hang the feeder, which the chickens knock the top off of when it's on the ground. Almost 2 weeks ago I made the mistake of reaching over the 3-ft wall (instead of under) to pick up the detached bottom of the feeder. At one point I was almost upside down, when I heard and felt a crack...which was probably my rib. Doc wouldn't x-ray it as it wasn't relevant to treatment (which is pretty much nonexistent). I'm only now starting to feel halfway functional.

Arlie Stutzman update

Per Farm and Dairy, Arlie Stutzman got his milk licence back. Lee Ann Mizer (what an appropriate name!) says he isn't going to get any more scrutiny than any other dairy farmer. Yeah, right. But they're seeking a permanent injunction against him selling raw milk. Uh, if it's illegal, why do they need an injunction? So they can pop him for contempt of court without the niceties of a trial? Somebody with legal chops please explain this to me.

Evidently it wasn't simple entrapment; supposedly Mrs. S. said they had to be careful who they sold to. And it was a neighbor who dropped the dime. May he rot in hell. And supposedly Arlie metioned somebody else who might be selling. If so, may be r- ...eh, that's why the Amish have Jesus.

Alls well that ends (sorta) well. I don't know if it was the bad publicity, or Fred Dailey & Co. realized that it wasn't in their long-term career interests to put Ohio farmers out of business.

Bunny rescue

Local animal rescue organizations are inundated with pet rabbits.

Why don't they place them with the local food bank?

More on NAIS

I particularly like this:

[Liberty Ark Coalition] compares firearm regulation to animal tracking, saying, "A gun owner will be able to transport their gun almost anywhere they want to go, without reporting such movement to anyone. But, if you take a chicken to a livestock show, you will have to report it. The NAIS would actually subject the owner of a chicken to far more surveillance than the owner of a gun."

Watch out! I have an unregistered assault rooster!

The Easter Bunny comes

Yesterday we had the rabbits out for sunshine and fresh grass. We had bought a buck and two does. We hadn't done short-arm inspections, because it's hard to tell when they're young, and it really takes two to keep the beast under control, and it's spring and there's just so much to do. But the two "does" have been very snuggly and affectionate, like something you'd see at a Womyn's Music Festival.

Well, we caught one going thumpa thumpa.

I freaked. That doe wasn't supposed to be bred for another 2 months; teen pregnancies are no better for rabbits than for humans. So I put Romeo in with the other buck, trying to keep a close eye on who was who. Meanwhile, Rusty had a scheme to mark Romeo...she ran out with some food coloring and began dabbing him with green.

Then the bucks started to fight, with the green still wet.

So we moved Romeo back in with Juliet, who now has a green ass. Wonder why that is?

We're getting another cage today...and I'll be getting a tattoo set, to distinguish the variously-green rabbits. And I guess a nest box, to be put in a month before...oh hell, how long have they been doing this?

Rusty passed a dead rabbit on the road, on the way to work. When she passed it again, somebody had left a spilled Easter basket next to it. R.I.P.

Black Water Farm report

Two more chickens died. The cleanup and the antibiotics were too little too late. The remaining 15 were moved into the chicken tractor Monday; I figured it would either cure them or kill them. Everyone seemed fine next morning, after a frosty night. They didn't even use the empty barrel I put in as a draft shield, but huddled together. I used the box they came in to move them...and solved the mystery of the missing 20th chick when a yellow furball fell out of the box. Either it had been crushed in transport, or (more likely) I just missed it when I dumped them out, and it starved. I feel like shit about that. We lost another Tuesday but the rest look great and are even showing some personality and getting "cocky". ("Eh, Vinny, get outta my face!")

The barn roof work continues. I have 2 more boards to replace on the bottom, and have installed the dripedge on the restored portions. Then it will be time for shingles. :-( I want to fill in knotholes and cracks on the doors and paint them green.

Trees came yesterday (a dozen or so) and I got them all planted in 2 hours before dark and the invasion of the Windham Air Force.

Fire, death and disaster

I saw the smoke a mile before I got home.

There were the folks at the little car lot on Silica Sand, feeding a fire in what used to be a garage. Their actions were obviously purposeful, but the building was gone and a burned-out van was next to it.

Then I got home, and checked the chickens. Two broilers dead, of natural causes, one on the small side. Coccidiosis, most likely. I recalled that we'd started them on leftover turkey feed (non-medicated) then gone to (non-medicated) meat maker, and they'd been on the same litter for 4 weeks. Duh! Picked the corpses up with a feed bag, threw them outside and eventually into the trash. They were the size of Cornish Game Hens...worth plucking if they weren't dead already, but the idea of eating something dead of god-knows-what is pretty trayf, even for a goy like me. Even worse than roadkill, somehow.

Rusty was gone, and right after I finally got around to calling her, she came come. She'd had a tragedy of her own...the VCR didn't get the end of Lost, so she had to go to a girlfriends'.

So there was no dinner, and no inclination to cook any. So out we went. I took her past the fire, and since we were headed that way, off to Cals.

Coming back, on the road to Nelson, a mushroom of black smoke to the left. It was late and I had crisis practice to do for a concert Sunday, but we went to check it out. 2 story house in the woods, totally engulfed. We did out distance rubbernecking, and turned to home. Stopped by the first fire to chat. The place had actually burned Monday night, and I had passed it THREE TIMES since then, and not noticed. I've been doing rectal-cranial yoga a lot, and it's been dark in the morning, but I was pretty flaming oblivious. I remembered that I'd heard sirens, and not far away, but I was in bed by then. The owners suspected arson. We'd had the big dairy barn fire at Klingensmiths, which was set, so everyone is suspicious.

This morning, one small chicken was flopping around, passed a turd that looked like its whole digestive system, then went to eat. Not laying bets on survival. Tomorrow I get different food and a coccidiostat, and probably finally put them out of range. I also need to do a spring clean in the layer house; it's pretty strong in there.

Stopped by the house on Hopkins Rd. on the way to work. It's still standing, incredibly, a 2 story hulk. There's what looks like a newly-taped "no trespassing" sign on a tree, and a couple not-burned cars. I didn't get a close look, as I WAS trespassing by sitting in the driveway.

Poor devils.

First spring day

This morning I started repairing the rotted roof of my barn. It went slowly, as I kept zoning out and enjoying the sunshine.There's a fair bit of decking to replace, then the one side needs to be shingled. Bunnies were out getting sun, peas and spinach were planted, everything beautiful...except I had to go to WORK this afternoon. As if shlepping 4 x 8 OSB wasn't work...

Chicken people band together

...in Ontario.
This is what's coming here. I hope my neighbors are that good, if the time comes. And that Cal's delivers pizza with Ex-Lax.

tip o'hat to Billy Beck

NAIS Lite in New Zealand

Only dogs, so far. But that has farmers mad enough.

Taranaki Federated Farmers president Bryan Hocken...said farmers might take their dogs to Parliament to protest.

"Our dogs will piss on the steps to Parliament. . . and we won't clean anything up," said Mr Hocken, of Tarata in North Taranaki.

"And if we end up in jail, then we'll take our dogs with us and they'll do their business on the floors there as well."

Gotta love that spirit.

Spring at Black Water Farm

Some big-titty Cornish Cross meat chicks. Take that, Pamela Anderson!


The layers love honeydew seeds!

Bunnies! These are the girls (New Zealands). The boy is in another cage. Daddy says they aren't old enough to date yet.

Somebody asked me, "Are you going to eat them?" No, I'm going to let them screw and then I'm going to EAT THEIR BABIES, mwahahaha!

Why even PETA members should oppose NAIS

Reasons PETA members should oppose the National Animal Inventory System:

Inserting RFID chips into animals will cause them pain.

Enforcement of NAIS will of necessity mean killing many lovingly-cared-for pets.

It's a violation of the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

If you don't want to be chipped, then you don't want animals chipped. And you WILL be next.

If I need government permission to raise chickens, you'll soon need government permission to raise zucchini.

NAIS will force confirmed meat-eaters to eat feedlot beef, battery chicken, etc., thus increasing aggregate cruelty to animals.

Note: a search for NAIS on the PETA website found nothing. "National animal inventory" got 11 hits, none relevant. Do you folks really want animal agriculture wiped out that badly?