Whether with people or animals there’s going to be times they get hurt. They eat the wrong thing, like Diva recently streeetching to get a box of chocolate she wasn’t supposed to get and paid for it with an upset tummy.
So this morning I get an email about functional safety…and if it’s *safety* then it should be functional, otherwise it’d dysfunctional safety and not safe. While we all strive for safety we can’t control everything in our world. Minimizing the risk helps insure safety, of course, but we can’t wrap ourselves in bubblewrap.
In one of the trees here Connor has a tire swing, and another has a rope swing. Recently he observed it looked a little frayed, but didn’t do anything about it. The pressure of a launch on the rope one too many times meant getting the wind knocked out of him – and a lesson about safety that will be remembered far longer than my cautions to keep things in good order.
Yet how often we all put off those safety updates. It’s easier to deal with big ones – most of us don’t go out of our way to create injury! But the little things are easily discounted.
This can be sharp edges on the corners of cages, or that door that doesn’t shut just right or the post that needs replaced someday or pounding that nail all the way in – those things we’ll get to next weekend or the next rainy day that doesn’t seem to happen.
Those little nicks or scrapes can get infected. The snagged clothes get torn and need replaced sooner than they would otherwise. It costs time and money. As spring comes to the US, and we’re outside more, may we all spend that extra few minutes and be safe in the little things too. Fix them while they’re frayed, before it breaks!
Because Bubblewrap isn’t for life.
That’s not us. We’re solidly in between, and like most people we know sometimes more one way than the other. It varies. But the quest for perfection is long over.
Perfection died years ago. Everything about farming doesn’t read the perfection handbook. Equipment breaks, animals don’t do what they’re supposed to and plants grow productive but disheveled. Not perfection.
If we don’t do things because it doesn’t stay perfect we’d never start! We started knowing many things are far from perfect. Not that many years ago there were rabbit cages on blocks under tarps or under the mobile where they’d be dry. We now have the hoop and wing, and it’s a lot better, but isn’t where we want to be. There are imperfect times but it passes if we strive to make it happen.
Today I worked on shredding a partial older bale of hay that had some quality issues – in the chicken pen it was shredded for bedding, where it provides seeds and bugs for the birds to scratch through,and bedding for the tire nests. I had to prop the net up that doesn’t ever stay up as high as I leave it. Someday…! If someone had walked up during that – it’s messy! Afterwards, with the birds happily scratching through the hay, it seemed a peaceful scene. We can’t do much without getting through the messy.
But we can’t wait for someday to provide for now. I watched a clip from Brendon Burchard that talked about the perfection excuse. There is no perfection with animals…or with us.
When we’re moving manure it’s a mess…until it’s in the compost bin. Then it can be messy when taking to the gardens. It’s messy when unloading supplies and changing things around. But if we don’t nothing gets better.
Sometimes we all need to address the messy to get to the better. Those picture perfect yards don’t look lived in. Sometimes things aren’t always what it seems. Sometimes it doesn’t look perfect for a while – sometimes a work in progress is imperfect.
Perfect is not realistic. We’re not perfect but it’s real. It’ll get better in time…but it’s in motion!
It’s not an unusual question when talking to fellow ag folks. It’s something often misunderstood by potential customers. It’s not even in the knowledge of those railing against “factory farms” and condemning all production.
Why heritage breeds? The modern large white breasted turkey can produce meat much more efficiently, more consistently, than a Bourbon Red or Midget White or Royal Palm. The modern Holstein is no question without equal for her milk production that raises the bar every generation. The commercially popular breeds across the species spectrum do what they do better than the breeds we use – in their system. So why persist with breeds that will be extinct without intervention?
Because these breeds are the definition of food choices. It’s true that in a commercial barn, with automated systems of water and feed the modern “industrial” bred turkey will produce a Thanksgiving bird bigger, and cheaper, than ours. The key point is in that situation. Outside, in a non confinement situation, there are other factors at play. We don’t inseminate birds as our birds can breed naturally.
Our chickens are eager to dig and if feed isn’t delivered at 5:01 they dig for missed scraps. Our rabbits can make use of hay better than efficient, modern lines…and right now hay is $25-30 for a large bale, the price of but 100 pounds of pellets. Nutritionally,they need pellets too but using less is good.
For us, these qualities are also a measure of efficient. They offer a specialist of survival, of outdoor characteristics that may not be needed by modern large scale farms, but would be a shame to lose completely. The food choices provided by these breeds support their existence.
These are breeds developed for small farm situations. They provide different visual characteristics as well as, arguably, invisible ones. For example, while most rabbit is described as nearly tasteless similar to chicken, ours often has a hint of pork taste. It lends itself to spicy dishes, where the lean meat and spices are a heart healthy meal.
The animals alone aren’t the only traditional option. Heirloom plants also offer different characteristics than found at the grocery store. Combining that tradition and modern can be a challenge, but we feel conservation is important for food choices. We never know, also,when some characteristics may be needed.
Like farms,these heirlooms have their own uses and solutions. We hope folks will continue to embrace them, so they don’t end up like the Jersey hog, Narragansett horse or Irish Grazier hogs. You see, there are no more of them. Now, as many want hogs back outside, those breeds are gone. The Jersey hog it’s believed was absorbed into the Duroc breed.
Our Delaware chicken, too, was a successful crossbred breed. In the 1950s they were crossed on New Hampshires to produce the broiler of choice for meat chickens. When the focus shifted to Cornish cross broilers for the larger breast white meat Americans wanted, it nearly became the end of the Delaware. Today fewer than 1,000 Delawares remain, in less than 7 flocks. A storm or other disaster could spell the end of a flock. They’re kept alive in small situations like ours. The numbers are low, but Delawares are twice the numbers of the Midget White – just 500 remain. When people say they’ve never seen turkeys like ours, we smile and nod – and know that even small flocks are important when numbers are so low. Additionally, these are uniquely American breeds so the global population isn’t any larger.
Does it matter if the Beltsville Small turkey or Milking Shorthorn or American Chinchilla rabbit becomes extinct? After all, there are other turkeys, cattle and rabbits – what difference does it make. If they can’t adapt end it. What if someday the adaptation is to their domain…and they’re gone?
Using a screwdriver for a hammer usually doesn’t make sense. It might be what’s on hand but it’s not the right tool for the job. The rare breeds are the right tools for the job of small farm food choices. Each customer contributes to their survival. They’re a living, breathing connection to history that would be precious if an inanimate object.
Many of these heirlooms were kept by early American presidents. For many reasons, we think they still have a place today.
When we think of consumer choice, we think of what most consumers want. Here at SlowMoneyFarm we remain a niche producer for niche customers and we’re ok with that because we like what we do. I don’t aim to be the largest in the southeast. The fact is of over 308million people in the USA most will not ever purchase a single thing from us.
And that’s ok! That leaves a great deal of demand for other farms to fill those choices. Everyone makes food choices. How much do others make food choices for you? Consider this comment, in an email this morning announcing a “campaign” to get Starbucks to use only organic milk from cows fed nonGMO ingredients:
GMO Inside’s campaign is launched on the heels of the consumer victory to get GMO ingredients out of original Cheerios. GMO Inside mobilized 50,000 people to post comments on Cheerios’ Facebook wall and mobilized over 35,000 consumers to write to and telephone the company.
Consumer victory? 50,000 people flooding their Facebook wall – hardly enough to be considered the majority of 308million consumers. The kick in the teeth here? Of those 50,000 people so concerned with food choices they wanted everyone to have Cheerios altered to suit them, not only had many said they wouldn’t buy Cheerios even if they changed but not one of those 50,000 took the time to come over and actually buy something from the nonGMO small farm style operation they claim to support.
Consumer choice or harassment campaign? Do you want food choices determined by the loudest, most vocal group harassing food processors to change something you buy but they don’t? Maybe it’s good but if you’re buying something that you like as is, shouldn’t that be enough?
“Starbucks already serves soy milk that is organic and non-GMO. Consumers also deserve dairy milk held to the same standard and level of quality,” stated Green America’s GMO Inside Campaign Director Nicole McCann. “Consumers will put pressure on Starbucks to serve only organic, non-GMO milk. And the reality is that the process Starbucks put in place to remove rBGH from its milk source can be used to source organic milk.” GMO Inside
Now, to be straight I don’t really care if Starbucks uses organic milk or not. It’d be good for my friends at Zweber Farms who produce organic milk, and are Starbuck’s customers. I don’t buy Starbuck’s…in my opinion too much money and I don’t drink coffee. But recently when I was waiting for others to get their Starbucks fix, I wondered how many of the people walking up really cared enough to give any thought to everything on Starbuck’s ingredient list. Most at airports, malls,etc are grabbing coffee on the run and, from the appearance of some of the drinks, calories and health aren’t as high on the list of concerns as a treat.
Does it mean throwing out all we don’t like? Of course not. But less than 85,000 people harassing companies for change that affects all can be a bad precedent. Many things there’s not enough production to fill the requirement set – that’s why we’re niche markets! The majority in action don’t care, and don’t want to buy what we have. The corporations of the world just aren’t going to buy from small farms being ‘represented’ by 85,000 people who can’t spend $1 let alone $5-10 or $100 in funds to help those small farms get a better market share (no matter what corporations do).
How is demand met if there’s not enough farms that can afford to expand for the market? Well we either adapt or don’t – we sink into debt (for lack of up front consumer support) or don’t. I think of some points I read yesterday.
Swift, for example, had taken advantage of North Carolina’s relatively cheap land and labor and built a packing plant there but had trouble buying enough hogs to keep it running at capacity. To encourage local farmers, the plant’s managers leased sows to farmers who agreed to take at least fifty of them and to sell the offspring to Swift. “Inherent in all this are the principles of the industrial production line,” explained a reporter in 1959. “The businessman at one end of the line ships out standardized pigs to farmers who’ll feed them according to a set pattern.” Regular production schedules would stabilize supplies and prices,and consumers would get “cheaper, better pork.” Maureen Ogle – In Meat We Trust.
Note – 1959. Now in 2014 the very same kind of situation – supply/demand,consumers wanting plenty but at cheap prices – is being worked for organic production. Should everyone have healthy food? Sure – but should a minority dictate what healthy is? Should a minority of people harass companies to comply with something that there may not be enough supply to cover?
It’s done with every restaurant and food processing company, it seems. There’s more questions than answers. I hope that you, dear reader, will give thoughts to these questions. Choose your food, including how it’s produced, and give thought to what’s behind the scenes. Does it matter?
Should a minority dictate to the majority through company harassment? There’s many facets to the question. Thoughts?
Today started with getting to town to renew my driver’s license, which technically expired yesterday. Stopped for feed, Scoutman had some errands to do, mailed a car part to someone…ended up back home. Connor handled morning chores and started on his classes. Watering, collecting eggs, cleaning, cooking, feeding animals, answering email, making and returning phone calls and a long list of other things make for long days.Even when it’s cold and drizzling.
Spring isn’t here yet. We haven’t added weeding, planting,building, breeding, handling bunnies. There’s always more to do – some angoras to comb out, forms to get off in the mail and a host of other things to do. It’s 10:30 p.m. and the house is quiet.
Sleep is calling before another whirlwind day tomorrow. There’s a hoop house to build and a host of other plans to make. By the time we fall into the pillow it’s not hard to sleep.
No sleeping pills or other aids needed.