Goats are wonderful about eating brush, shrubs and weeds, but you have to control where they graze. I've tried to grow blueberries without success for the past several years. One year my friend mowed them down with his bush hog, he thought they were scrub trees. I replaced them. When they started to flower the goats escaped and ate them down to the ground. Again, I replaced them. Despite fencing them in, surrounding them with electric wire, and doing my best to protect them, the goats have ruined them several times. Once the goat problem was solved rabbits took over. But, I haven't given up, someday I'll grow blueberries.
Staking goats in areas with scrub brush and weeds eradicates the problem within a few days. We've remedied a giant rag weed crop and controlled burdock by grazing goats and sheep.
For a second year O'Hare International Airport, in Chicago will control brush by grazing goats and llamas grazing the 120 acres surrounding the airfield. The animals will eat brush, reducing and destroying the habitat of nesting birds and other wildlife which can cause serious danger to aircraft. The grazing will begin in August when the birds are finished nesting and beginning to migrate. When the birds return in the spring they'll find their nesting area destroyed. Without nesting space they'll relocate off the airport grounds.
In 1999 Carson City, Nevada experimented with grazing herds of sheep to reduce the risk of wildfires. They didn't continue the program until the benefit of grazing became evident. In 2004 a wildfire threatened the west end of Carson City, but slowed down when it got to the area where the sheep had grazed five years earlier. Carson City resumed the grazing program in 2006. Starting this April, 780 sheep and 900 lambs will begin feeding on Cheat Grass. They'll eat it down before it gets dries and adds dangerous fuel for wildfires.
When our friend Hal returned home from WWII he was searching for something. He had a variety of jobs, nothing felt right. Then he started helping a friend farm. He also started gardening. He began to feel his worth again. He'd found a challenging occupation. Keith's dad enjoyed growing tomatoes. It was a rewarding experience. Are you a veteran interested in farming? The Farmer Veteran Coalition is holding a series of 4 farmers -Veterans workshop to help veterans interested in starting a farm business or finding agricultural related employment. Here are the dates and locations of these workshops in Iowa:
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse... Monsanto is receiving the Nobel Prize for agriculture! In June 6500 genetically engineered sugar beet plants were destroyed in Oregon by unknown individuals. The sugar beets were the property of biotech giant Syngenta AG. The FBI is investigating. There's a backlash to big agriculture, consumers want to choose what they eat and how it's been grown. The 'Just label it' project is still collecting signatures, if you haven't signed their petition yet, now is a great time.
BUYER BEWARE! At the recent Grassfed Exchange Conference buyers and producers of "Grass fed" cattle defended their policy of selling steers who've been fed distillers grains and soy hulls (these aren't non-GMO or organic grains by the way. There's no reason to feed any grain to grass fed cattle!). You might be surprised who is selling this beef in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and at many co-ops in the area. At Forest Hill Farm we don't source our beef steers, we raise them. All the beef sold by Forest Hill Farm is 100% grass fed, rotationally grazed, dry aged and is raised on this farm.
If you are interested in finding out who's selling this beef? I'll send you the article, email me, you might be surprised! You might be even more surprised to find out who buys these steers and sells it as 'grass fed beef' direct to consumers.
This summer we've had a beef shortage, for that, we apologize. The demand has outpaced production. This fall we bought a few heifers from a friend who bought one of our registered Red Angus bulls, 'Combine' a couple years ago. The Heifers have outnumbered the bull calves born on the farm. The good news is the herd is growing steadily. The beef shortage will be resolved next summer.
Warmest wishes and food for thought.
Friends of the Earth has releases a new study by The Pesticide Research Institute. In the study they found that many “bee friendly” plants sold at Home Depot, Lowes, and other large garden centers contained neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids which could harm or kill bees and other pollinators. 7 of 13 sample garden plants purchased at top retailers contained these toxic compounds.
The EPA is taking action to protect bees by developing new pesticide labels that indicate ingredients that may harm bees. The new labels will have an advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. The labels will contain warnings for products containing the neonicotinoidsimidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
Here's a great TED Talk by Marla Spivak - Why Bees Are Disappearing
Omega 3 fatty acid is essential for human and animal health. It plays a vital role in boosting immunity, disease resistance, creating anti-inflammatory responses to infection, and reduces the risk of heart disease and blood clots. Leading British ruminant nutritionist Cliff Lister says, “Grass-based diets encourage lean muscle development rather than fat, meaning that grass-fed beef and lamb is typically leaner than meat produced from silage or grain-fed stock and contains a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids.”
Croatian researchers are developing a new tool to locate the estimated 250,000 mines buried in the war torn region: honey bees! Honey bees are too light to trigger the devices and they can be trained to hunt for TNT. Read more
USDA officials are investigating the discovery of Genetically engineered wheat found in Oregon. Monsanto was authorized to field test the Roundup Ready wheat in 16 states from 1998- 2005 but Monsanto withdrew it’s application in 2004. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services emphasized that this wheat doesn’t pose a food safety concern. The FDA stated that the GE wheat variety was as safe as any non-GE wheat currently on the market.
Monsanto issued this statement:
“The glyphosate-tolerance gene used in Roundup Ready wheat has a long history of safe use. The gene that was used in Roundup Ready wheat also produces the same protein that has been and is used widely in corn, soy and several other crops by millions of farmers throughout the world.”
My wise and wonderful grandmother use to say, “Right is right even if no one does it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone does it.” I think those words perfectly apply here. Just because millions of farmers world wide are using a product doesn’t mean it’s a safe or that it's a good product.
There's a new family of bacteria resistant to ALL known antibiotics. It kills nearly half of the patients infected with it. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls this a "nightmare" bacteria. CRE stands for Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae. It's not found in the general population, yet. One-in-24 hospitals in the United States are infected with the CRE bacteria, it's also found in nursing homes. The truly frightening progression of this bacteria is it's ability to spread resistance to other bacteria.
“These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat,” said Thomas Frieden, director at CDC, “They’re resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria.” One of the insidious behaviors of this bacteria; It's evolving. It’s “the biggest threat to patient safety in the hospital we have,” said Costi Sifri, an infectious disease physician at the University of Virginia Health System, “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anything is slowing their spread.”
Could antibiotics in animal feed have contributed to this? So far, a connection hasn't been made. In my opinion logic and common sense would lead to this conclusion. The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) urged for the banning of antibiotics in animal feed. They're also calling for stricter guidelines regarding the human use of antibiotics. The OMA in a report titled, "When Antibiotics Stop Working" explained that doctors are facing the extinction of one of the most fundamental and life-saving tools in medicine - effective antibiotics.
Seventy percent of all antibiotic consumption in the USA is used up by the farming industry - most is used in livestock feed. In livestock production antibiotics are used to promote growth, not health. Combined resistance to multiple antibiotics has been found in E. coli and Klebsiella pneumonia. When will the excessive use end?
"More than a generation has passed since FDA first recognized the potential human health consequences of feeding large quantities of antibiotics to healthy animals. Accumulating evidence shows that antibiotics are becoming less effective, while our grocery store meat is increasingly laden with drug-resistant bacteria. The FDA needs to put the American people first by ensuring that antibiotics continue to serve their primary purpose - saving human lives by combating disease."
Here at Forest Hill Farm we don't use antibiotics in feed. Cattle and sheep only eat grass. Pigs and poultry aren't fed ANY antibiotics.