On January 29, six years ago, we bought this farm. It wasn't a decision made in haste, we'd been preparing for the previous seventeen years. It wasn't a leap of faith, a bold adventure, or a risk. It was a confident step in the right direction. Farming started as a dream and three and a half acres. Later ten additional acres were added the farm grew steadily from there. Eventually expansion became impossible due to rising land values and housing developments taking over farmland in our area. The decision to move to Iowa wasn't difficult, it's been rewarding.
This farm was planted fence row to fence row with corn. The soil wasn't healthy, it was washing away with erosion. The land had been over used. The barnyard was overgrown with giant ragweed and the house, which we didn't see until we took possession, was horrible. Somehow we saw past these deficiencies and a bigger picture unfolded before us. Years of raising chickens, pigs, goats, turkeys and eventually cattle prepared us for growth. It was a culmination of dreams, plans, and knowledge. Six years later we've managed to halt the erosion, plant a couple hundred trees, replenish the soil, and plant a garden.The land is recovering, it's rewarding us with beautifully rich pastures. The wildlife is returning also; pheasants and wild turkey roam the fields. Hawks, hunting for snakes and field mice, fly above the baler while we make hay. Rabbits are abundant, aren't they always. They eat the trees, shrubs, and garden believing they were planted especially for them. Occasionally they're spotted nibbling the blueberry bushes. The dogs see them too, but, neither bunny or dog makes a move. Unfortunately, the dogs aren't menacing enough to keep the vermin away. The bunnies know it. Our pet rabbits, George and Popeye were viewed as protected pets and now all rabbits fall into this category. It's the same with raccoons. The dogs remember playing with Sammy, who was included in all of their farm adventures, to them, all raccoons are acceptable. The chickens strongly disagree.
Walking through the apple, peach and cherry trees I noticed chew marks and stripped bark on the youngest trees. The rabbits, sitting on top of snow drifts, ate the trees lower branches above the mesh wrap that was supposed to protect them. On winter afternoons a walk through the farm reveals areas that still need attention. Year by year these areas are shrinking. Eventually improvements will be made by desire instead of necessity. That day doesn't seem as distant anymore. However, one more improvement needs to be added to the never ending "to do" list; rabbit proof fencing.
Sunday, February 3, 2013 is Souper Bowl Sunday. Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday is more than the day of the big game; it’s a game changer in your community. Local churches across the country ask you to remember the hungry with a $1.00 donation. Soup kettles will be placed at participating church entrances. All the money collected goes to your local food bank. If your church would like to participate or if you are hosting a football party please feel free to register and ask guests to donate. Click the logo to register
Politically Correct NFL
The National Football League recently announced a new era. From now on, no offensive team names will be permitted. While the owners of the teams rush to change uniforms and such, the National Football League announced, yesterday, its name changes and schedules for next season:
The Washington Native Americans will host the New York Very Tall People on opening day.
Other key games include the Dallas Western-style Laborers hosting the St Louis Wild Endangered Species, the Minnesota Plundering Norsemen taking on the Green Bay Meat Industry Workers.
In week 2, there are several key matchups, highlighted by the showdown between the San Francisco Precious Metal Enthusiasts and the New Orleans Very Godly People.
The Atlanta Birds of Prey will host the Philadelphia Birds of Prey, while the Seattle Birds of Oceanic Prey will host the Phoenix Male Finches.
The Monday night game will pit the Miami Delphinus Food Fishes against the Denver Untamed Beasts of Burden.
The Cincinnati Large Bangladeshi Carnivorous Mammals will travel to Tampa Bay for a clash with the West Indies Free Looters in week 9.
Week 9 also features the Indianapolis Young Male Horses at the New England Zealous Lovers of Country.
- Grass-fed, organically raised cows produce milk and beef that have significantly higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and other important nutrients. source: Food Chemistry
-More than half of supermarket multi-buy promotions are for high-fat or high-sugar foods, despite the fact that health advice dictates these should not make up more than 7% of our diet.
source: National Consumer Council
-In the United States Livestock consumes more than 7 times as much grain as is consumed directly by the country's entire human population.
source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
-Mice fed genetically modified food experienced significantly reduced fertility. source: Australian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
What's in the Water?
The EPA released a 307 page report, noting that all wells downstream from five dairies in the lower Yakima Valley in Oregon are significantly contaminated with nitrates, bovine antibiotics and other pollutants from confinement dairy runoff. These dairies create as much pollution as 3.1 million people - more than 13 times the entire population of Yakima County.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit... Wisdom is not putting it into a fruit salad.
For the first time in human history, overeating is now more of a global threat than hunger. More than 3 million deaths in 2010 were attributable to excess body weight, three times the death rate due to malnutrition, according to the medical journal The Lancet. The Times (UK)
Every now and again we're amazed by one of our animals. This time it was one of the Bourbon Red Turkey hens. She appeared with two chicks beneath her last week. These aren't turkey chicks, they're chicken's chicks. Apparently she found a nest of chicken eggs in the back of the hayloft and she's been sitting on them. A very distinct peeping sound was coming from underneath her. Among the broken eggs were two newly hatched chicks and a few who didn't survive. This is unusual for two reasons: 1. We don't keep roosters. 2. We were wrong about reason number 1.
During the summer months our chickens follow the cattle and sheep through the pasture. They eat plants, seeds and insects. Among this group of hens was a Barred Rock rooster who we separated and moved into the timber. Later in the summer we were given a Buff Orpington rooster who was also moved into the timber. Late in the fall we brought the Buff Orpington rooster to the barn but he's been kept separate from the hens. We couldn't find the Barred Rock rooster, figuring that he'd become prey to an owl, eagle, or coyote, we dismissed his absence. When we were cutting wood a couple weeks ago we spotted him scratching up grain along the side of the road. He'd survived predators, freezing temperatures and a blizzard. One of our neighbors spotted him and tried to catch him. It was impossible and she declared him, 'Too independent for capture". A few days later Keith discovered him in the barnyard, strutting and crowing. When our son was on his daily run the rooster followed him but then turned into the timber. A few days later he was back in the barnyard again. This back and forth must have been ongoing. He's been making regular visits, or at least regular enough to court our hens. The turkey, acting as a surrogate, seemed very surprised herself.
There's something about getting up at 5 a.m., feeding the stock and chickens, and milking a couple of cows before breakfast that gives you a lifelong respect for the price of butter and eggs. - Bill Vaughan
There's one major problem with a turkey hatching chicken's eggs; she's too big for the chicks. They need to be able to free themselves from their shell and be kept warm without suffocating. A turkey hen is too heavy. She's designed to hatch her own eggs which are larger. Her poults are heavier. Also, the hayloft isn't the best environment for new chicks. They need food, water, and safety from falling out of the loft. The turkey is mad that we stole "her" chicks (but they're safe now). The turkey bonded with these chicks even before they hatched. While still in the egg the chick peeps through the shell and talks with the hen. When they hatch the chick recognizes the hen as it's mother. These conversations go on for about three days before hatching. If you ever have the opportunity to hatch chicks you'll be overjoyed to hear the soft chirps and peeps coming from the egg. It's a beautiful sound.