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Wordless Wednesday – Tradition, Technology

April 23, 2014

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10 Hats We Wear Every (Earth) Day

April 22, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALike many in agriculture, Earth Day isn’t just one per year. It’s every day. In the process of day to day life we wear many hats. That can make for a busy day, and sometimes rushed weeks. Sometimes we don’t seem to get much done, but the reality is there’s so much to do it’s relative!

So what are some of the hats we wear?

1. Animal care specialist. Obviously animals need tended daily. Feeding, watering, collecting eggs, cleaning pens, monitoring health, arranging breeding, observing babies, insuring they all have what they need is daily and ongoing. It doesn’t matter if it’s Earth Day, Thursday, Christmas or pay day every day they need tended to.

2. Environmentalist. Keeping manure from contaminating water, monitoring trees, watching the birds that surround and share our world, monitoring the windbreaks and the big world outside of ours is important.

3. Educator. Teaching others is ongoing. Most don’t do what we do, and sharing the why and when and how of what we do is important to helping others understand not only our world but theirs as well. We’re surrounded by products of agriculture, even in urban areas.

4. Communicator. Not all communicating is educating. We not only teach those we know and don’t know, but must also communicate effectively with a variety of other people from the feed dealer to the fellow farmers online.

5. Marketing. With direct marketing this role comes to us. OK, me. Coming up with ideas through updating websites and listings through advertising and social media can all fall here.

6. Photographer. Most of the photos used on the blog, website and other pages originated here. Taking the photos may be one task, but then watermarking them, creating memes from them and other things all takes time.

7. Financial controller. From budgeting to finding new streams of revenue, it’s critical to have funds when needed.

8. Small business planner. Many don’t think of farms as small businesses, but they are. With all that it involves, some are medium sized and even large businesses.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9. Farmer. Yes there’s the planting, weeding, watching for pests, harvest, maintenance and what many picture being a farmer’s life. Only part of the picture, but definitely part of it!

10. Human being. Yes we’re part of our communities. We help folks with food when we can, go to church, buy supplies at other stores and go about our day to day life. It’s not flashy but it’s real.

It keeps things from being boring, but can add a tremendous amount of things to do.

Every day, not just today!

Food, Genes and Culture

April 21, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf we take any 100 readers of this blog and put them in a room, chances are we’ll find similarities and differences. Chances are there are foods we like, and don’t like, in common. Chances are there is a certain percentage of us that have health issues, some that can be altered by diet.

Every year a new diet book, or solution to all your problems book or magazine comes out. Like many that have gone before, it’s not really for all but fits a certain part of the population. Recently, I came across on NetGalley a book called Food, Genes and Culture.

99.9 percent of the human genome is shared by each and every one of us and all of our ancestors, regardless of how we self-identify our racial heritage.

With DNA testing as reliable as it is, the common ground there is incredible. Within the genes, according to this book, is a web of traditional diet. He examines the way foods, and alcohol, affects Native Americans much differently than other races. Throughout the world, many native populations are healthier following a traditional diet rather than a modern one. Yet this may not be enough for those from another part of the world.

While some of the information here is older, a great deal of research was done, some to the point that more recent notes are lacking. Still, there are some interesting points, particularly in the standpoint that agriculture is but a blip on the time scale, yet takes the blame not for abundance of food but the downfall of the global diet.

When several of these scholars looked in detail at 229 hunter-gatherer societies, one in seven of these foraging cultures clearly consumed more plants than animal foods. In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, Loren Cordain and his colleagues concluded that “our data clearly indicate that there was no single diet that represented all hunter-gatherer societies.”
Mr. Cordain stated in his popular cookbook in 2002: “The Paleo Diet is the one and only diet that ideally fits our genetic make-up. Just 500 generations ago – and for 2.5 million years before that – every human on Earth ate this way.”

Really? The information seems to conflict there. While paleo is but one way to eat, many have embraced it with false information, and some ‘leaders’ don’t care that it’s false as long as people follow. That isn’t about food choices, or about the best way for everyone.

How do Cretans eat three times the fat, but have much lower coronary disease than Americans? These and other questions are explored and worth taking the time to read. It’s far more in depth than a blog post can cover, but is incredible in that genetics really can shape health and nutrition.

That seems a good place to start food choice options. Food choices are for all, but not all can – or should – choose the same!

Happy Easter – Kevin Sharp

April 20, 2014

Easter is a time of renewal. Of hope. It’s ironic then, in several ways, that singer Kevin Sharp passed away on Easter.

He was given a time limit, and defied it.

Life. Music. Hope. Persistence. Happy Easter. RIP Kevin Sharp.

Price, Cost or Value

April 19, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cost of living gets mentioned often. The price of food and other things gets attention.

As I gathered bags at a store, the man behind me questioned the price of eggs. The cashier noted they were $2.45 and both agreed everything was going up.

A year ago I tried raising interest in beef for a locked in price of $3.75 – and heard “Oh that’s too high!” I shook my head, knowing prices would be going up and now that is a good price. We’re trying to get interest on pork – $4 is “too high” but it’s approaching that at the store,and before the influence is felt of PEDV.

Now consider it’s delivered to a pickup point near you AND isn’t the high volume produced item – raised outdoors as so many say they want. So I wonder – “too high”?

Value is a big factor here. We like to buy on value and try to give it. When we price rabbits, or ducks, or other animals be it dressed out or breeding stock, we all like a good value. We like to feel like we get what we pay for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs prices rise, ours is staying the same. The time gap is closing when we *are* cheaper but don’t have enough hens to keep up. If we ordered 100 pullets right now, it would take roughly 5-6 months to get them laying well. Good hens are $10-12 each. Raising pullets we start at around $2-3 then it’s about a quarter per week per bird…so 100 is about $500-600 in feed alone plus the $200-300 cost to purchase them – not counting housing, water and anything else they need (including heat for the first few weeks!).

The farm shares, packages and pre-orders help cover that cost, but we still have the labor feeding, watering, cleaning and caring for them. Covering the cost and having a ready market does mean a better value for you too! It would mean another 100 people get fresh food.

We’re not going away. What we’re not looking forward to is turning people away because we don’t have enough, because there’s not enough demand right now. Growth is frustrating!

For now – there’s some cages to clean and chores to do, because every day has something to do.

Even when no one is looking!

Success, Failure & Learning Experiences

April 17, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t think I’ve met anyone that has said “I got into farming to make money”. The reasons are many but money, holidays off and expensive bonus plans aren’t among them!

On a too-frequent basis I get phone calls from financing folks wanting to finance us. I’ve stopped wasting my time with the hope of talking – we’re too small and too different. After one insisted *he* could help he then backed off when I said no we didn’t have $8,000 per month in sales. Shocking isn’t it?! I guess if we had that I wouldn’t be working on the crowdsourcing project!

That winds up tonight, and without a major turnaround we won’t get near the $3,500 goal but I don’t think it’s failure. A smart guy once said failure isn’t failure if a lesson is learned, and the lessons are many. Seeing projects for snails, kosher sushi, school trips and other projects earn more is interesting. Seeing people clamor for slow food, organic, small farm, sustainable and many other labels that number thousands of people seeing the links but not responding indicates we really are a small peon in a big ol’ world.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe we need more spit and polish. Maybe it’s too transparent. Maybe people just aren’t ready for what we’re doing! It’s not the first time I’ve been pushing something to see it succeed for others 8-10 years later!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADiscouraged? A little, perhaps. But at the same time determined. Quitting isn’t an option. We’ve dealt with broken promises, lies and people who aren’t what they seem to be. We’re dealing with that right now! It increases the determination to do better.

I see it as a challenge. There IS room for those who keep their word. There IS room for those who don’t have to lie and scam their way along.

At the same time the outside support is now gone…the outside income that has been limited but covered bills is eliminated as of today, and in a way that underscores merely saying one is a Christian doesn’t make it so. Things have a way of coming around – each to their own – both good and bad.

We’re striving for good. Thank you to all who shared, tweeted and – huge thanks! – contributed to this. There were some interruptions in time, some things that didn’t go just right but every dollar will be used well.

The last few hours isn’t the end – it’ll continue on the website, because lessons are learned and because it matters. Thank you.

Better Than Easter Bunnies

April 16, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery year many bunnies, chicks and ducklings become living symbols of the Easter holiday. For many children, it’s a beginning with animals, an introduction that begins an interest. For too many bunnies, chicks and ducklings, it’s the beginning of an unhappy situation they don’t understand.

While our Rabbit Hole and Name a Doe perks can be an alternative, it might be seen as too expensive. Here’s a good illustration why it’s not.

Many pet shops will have too-little bunnies for $25-30-40 or more. Let’s say the bunny is $30. Let’s say it’s a small breed, not one weaned too young and apt to get sick (as too many are). Then you have to buy a cage ($30-50 or more, some outdoor hutches can run $150), bottle, feeder, feed, sometimes bedding…and you’re quickly over $100 and easily approaching twice that!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen the bunny gets bigger. The child and parents don’t know proper handling, so the bunny begins scratching, then biting. He’s no fun anymore so the drudgery of daily feeding and watering is done, but it’s easy to let other tasks slide. Then through carelessness or deliberate action a door is left open and the bunny is loose.

He’s learned people are food and protection, to some degree. He may have seen the family dog, so doesn’t know other dogs eat rabbits. So do cats, owls, hawks and a host of other animals. People can eat them too, but we can’t have Johnny’s bunny end up in the freezer so turn him loose. Have a nice life. If he avoids the cars, predators, toxins, storms and other dangers he might live to adulthood. He might be caught in a trap and taken to a shelter, or taken in by a breeder who doesn’t want to see any rabbit left in survival mode.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToo often, bunny doesn’t get a happy ending. With alternatives, it’s easy to learn about rabbits (and other animals) without the expense of housing, feeding and caring for them. Then, if and when the child (and parent!) is ready for the responsibility of a rabbit, it’s with a full awareness of the good and bad things that can happen. It prevents some of the already too many bunnies turned loose in the weeks after Easter. It teaches responsibility, not dumping your problems. You don’t even have to take a loss on those unneeded supplies you don’t need anymore!

Rabbits aren’t just Easter decorations for us. It’s all year ’round. We love sharing them – and these perks are a way to do that (some still available on our website after the campaign!). A $25 subscription is a great way to learn about not only rabbits but other animals around agriculture.

Not just at Easter and Earth Day!

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