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Throwback Thursday – Horses & New Ventures

September 18, 2014

Many who have read the blog for some time and those who ‘met’ us recently know about the rabbits, chickens, turkeys and other things.

MemorialDayParade1977WMFewer know about a degree in horse science many years ago. The social media posts about horses are from more than a passing interest. It’s also given rise to ebooks about horses and now a stream on Tidbitts.com for those interested in a new venture. I’ll also have special content about food and farm also. This goes beyond the blog. I don’t often write about horses here because there’s not room to properly (to my view) have them. Someday I hope! Each of these is just 99 cents per month. I hope you’ll go sign up and support this. Twice a week each one will bring information to your email.

Spread the news. We need the community support! Thanks!

 

GaryAprilMeJoeJuly1977JoeJanJerryApril

When the Truth Isn’t Enough…Lie

September 15, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdmit it you’ve seen it – GMOs are evil. It’s affecting fertility of us and our livestock. It’s making young girls mature faster but in three generations we’ll be sterile. No GMO! March Against Monsanto. The world’s going to end tomorrow!
The world probably will end soon, from a Biblical perspective, but that’s not the fear factor anti GMO point. And although food safety isn’t a funny thing I can’t help myself today. There’s the disturbing, twisted guy in California who killed his girlfriend’s dog, fed it to her and…well yea it gets worse. There’s the surgery on a goldfish – I’m all for doing what we can for our pets but the fear of death seems to have reached a fever pitch.
So what happens when the truth isn’t enough? How far will people go to insure people believe what isn’t true? It comes down to a few points for me.
First was a friend who commented on someone who sent a friend request. Poor guy – he works for Monsanto and has no friends. Someone else said who would want to be friends with Monsanto. I said maybe he’s a psycho that has nothing to do with Monsanto. Call me jaded. Then I went and looked up the name – Dr. Atticus Noyle. Sound familiar? It didn’t to me.
On his Facebook page he posted news of food collection Monsanto did in Colorado. With this note:

Monsanto and the corporate executives, in tandem with the rich elite, have been working on this for some time. Depopulate the poor through the genetically modified foods (some of which I worked to develop) with gene-switches inside them, killing those who are unworthy humans. Our political elite, from Monsanto to government and back again, know what they are doing.

So someone from England goes to Facebook, as a DOCTOR, makes a page, has no friends (including among Monsanto?!)…why? There’s a claim to develop food that people can switch and kill people. So if 10 people eat – for example – corn flakes (which may or may not use GMO corn) then this guy can click to kill only those 7 deemed unworthy? The other three are ok? A bit far fetched.  I did a search…are you ready for this? Dr. Atticus Noyle is a character in a movie. The Manchurian Candidate.

So it looks real, slams Monsanto and does so under the name of someone who doesn’t exist. Why? To warn of dangers of GMOs? OK here’s the thing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf straight talk about GMOs doesn’t change people’s minds why does their choice mean less than ours? If it takes this big of a ruse to be believed, then how much of what they claim is true to begin with? Isn’t it enough to say “I don’t trust or understand the technology so I don’t want to eat it?”

Because that’s what choice is. Choice needs to be harnessed with action – ok if you don’t like that – go buy nonGMO corn flakes. They exist, and are labeled and tested. If enough people do that the GMO “issue” that a minority of people (really – a million out of 300million + is a minority!) have whipped up. If it was 100% true, #foodbabearmy would not exist. All would HAVE their choice by buying it now.

But…but…sorry. No buts. People are buying diapers by mail! Dog food! Don’t tell me you can’t get nonGMO cereal by mail order a couple boxes per month. Cheerios is in almost every grocery store and saw no increase from going nonGMO…so are not maintaining the switch. You have to buy it folks! It’s about money? Yep it is because we all have to pay our bills. How many hundreds of dollars does it cost to drive somewhere to protest against Monsanto? Here’s a thought. Take that money and invest it in a farm that needs some extra sales. Finance the competition. Insure demand.

Understand that most people want those ‘big food’ brands. They’re convenient. There is variety. It tastes good. They don’t want to pay for special pastries at $18 when the others are $2 and it’s a once a month treat. There’s also cereals for $4-5 shipped right to the door. Plan ahead…instead of driving to that next protest order nonGMO food. Increase the sales of it so it’s more than a niche no one really wants. That’s the reality folks – it doesn’t do any good to protest, tag #foodbabearmy and gush about the latest in choices if you don’t make use of those choices.

If it was as horrible as people say, GMO would not exist. It wouldn’t need fear factor, it wouldn’t need Facebook pages of a character from a movie about the Korean war to make you believe it’s true. There wouldn’t be so much time twisting words, covering up, banning those who question or don’t agree, screaming I HAVE THE ANSWERS and manipulating the media.

No one yet has grown three heads or had aliens shoot from their chest because of eating food that has ingredients that were grown with GMO technology. We don’t use it, but it doesn’t change the truth. Many don’t like it…awesome.

Use the truth. Preference. Opinion. That’s enough as no one can challenge that. Own it. No more deception and fake names, fake stories, fooling people to believe that which is not true. What it really comes down to – if you don’t want it, don’t buy it. Finance an alternative. Manipulation to get the masses to seem to agree with you backfires. Every…time. It did in California. It did in Washington. People saw that not all the claims were true and decided nothing needed to change.

How much difference if those millions were put to a real solution? We’re waiting.

Transparency, Manipulation and Internet Games

September 12, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’ve been anywhere around social media the last 5 years you’ve heard buzzwords like transparency. And it’s met with reasons companies can’t do that, why farmers should and platforms of various sizes that sometimes work and sometimes, like Luke Bryan, results in stepping off the edge of the stage.

There has sprouted up a whole industry of experts willing to take your money and leave out one little detail so that, like that awesome recipe, it doesn’t turn out *quite* like the one you’re trying to produce. I don’t play games…what you see it what you get. And I see there’s an awful lot of people trying to look like me, but ‘better’ so hey…why settle. Except it’s not quite me. This is probably going to be a love it or hate it post. When some said there were groups using small farmers I thought the opportunity on that bigger platform was good. It is, if you’re honest. Unfortunately not all are.

I know a lot of farms out there telling their story that are what they are. No games, no fuss. Then there’s the political players that any industry has. The ones that suck the life out of everything because there’s another motive in play. “You’d be perfect for this” I guess to pad entries because the cynical part said done that once, went nowhere. More encouragement. OK so maybe there’s a chance…maybe there’s not as much interest and what I have to say actually matters…beeeep. Sucker. It only matters if it’s for free defending their interests, silly peon.

The large scale organizations don’t, really, want small farms. They might have a token person involved to say they encompass all but buying the small or mid range story detracts from the one they don’t want to show. Cynical? OK let’s say I am. Fair Oaks does a great job showing and telling what they do – dairy and hogs. They’re a destination with a restaurant open and a chance to put faces on agriculture as well as see a large scale operation work – doing things that here we can only dream of. It’s awesome.

How many others? Why aren’t they featured because for the most part that is what is feeding the masses, is it not? Volume. Nothing wrong with that – it’s demand. But you can’t be large scale and small scale at the same time. Selling at multiple locations in multiple places isn’t small scale to most.

What sticks in my bonnet is using a story like ours to represent that – because it’s not honest, it’s not transparent and it’s manipulation. It’s the same reaction I have with Chipotle using the images and cartoons of the small guy with a few pigs putting a few boxes in the truck to go sell in town…while at the same time demanding volume and not buying from the small guy they use to represent. Transparent would be following that imported beef from down under to the Chipotle warehouses then to restaurants. Maybe I missed that video release.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI do believe in food choices, including those different from us. That drives farm choices, which I’ve long defended even when it’s not gone both ways. Even when it results in being dismissed. Do not mistake that acceptance of all choices in agriculture for passive doormat status…wipe your boots on that rug and it might leak the next time you step in water.

Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability. I put things out there on social media and the blog and it’s what it is. Sometimes there’s a little poop in the corner of a cage (until it’s cleaned), sometimes a weed in the raised beds (before weeded), sometimes a stain or something that some would say don’t show…but it’s open…animals can get stained, they get dirty, they get sick, sometimes they die. Like many farms of all sizes, we show that because that’s reality.

I strive to communicate with others and don’t always do everything perfectly. I touch on things bigger ‘experts’ recoil and vow to never touch. Oh we can’t tell THAT! We can’t talk about THAT! Why not? Show anything but talk about it – isn’t that communication with openness? Isn’t that what many companies say they want to do?

So often it’s manipulation dressed as marketing – not transparency. Don’t confuse the things. There’s nothing wrong with marketing but be honest about what it is. I do this to communicate, to tell what we do and maybe by stroke of luck sell something now and again. I don’t take direction from anyone on what to say, or what to present because we have to make this topic look good. That’s not transparency that’s manipulation. If you can’t explain it and share it maybe it shouldn’t be done.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATransparency is there’s a little poop in the corner sometimes. Manipulation is there’s lots of poop everywhere but we’ll show the one that’s clean. How much is that done? Not nearly as often as the public thinks. Is it done? If you look symbolically at the ‘poop’ companies don’t want to talk about while they’re trying to relate as small business that cares about that dollar you’re spending with them…what do you think? Will you see and hear $1,000 results here or at Ag-R-Us? Does it pass the sniff test?

Each farm, each business, each industry has a story. Remember when reading that’s one story of many – don’t let others apply it to their <non-transparent> story by default. Yes there are many things that can be taken and misunderstood – a clip of someone hitting a cow may be cruelty or may be to get her on her feet and save her life (without hitting her nearly as hard as it might appear!). Context does matter.

Most people wanting to know things aren’t looking for trade secrets. They want to know about spotted chickens or grey rabbits or what is <this>. Judge Judy coined a phrase and book don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. That’s pretty much what using someone else’s story does, or redefining what we do to be like all farms. They have their story – and after several years around the AgChat Foundation it’s more clear than ever that everyone has a story. Agribusiness, large scale has theirs. We’re a part of a bigger community but not the majority.

Some don’t even want us there on the edges of the platform unless it makes them look good. See…she said food choices for all. Yep, I did. And do. And will.

Don’t make me regret it. And don’t mistake it for a doormat.

You’re Such a Niche!

September 12, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently on #agchat non-food agriculture was the topic. Yes we’re a niche. Some folks seem to think it’s bad, it’s expensive, it somehow takes away from more popular products in agriculture. Others just accept it as a choice, an option, another part of agriculture. Some want to insult – I’m such a niche!

And that’s ok. I don’t have room or finances for thousands of acres of corn or thousands of head of cattle. I don’t have to pretend to be what I’m not…because I’m a niche. A specialized market, a smaller part of agriculture that won’t overtake beef or corn, nor do I want to. Because I’m a niche I can be happy with what I *can* do. I can embrace the niches!

Among them – angora! It won’t replace cotton for things that cotton is good for. It won’t replace wool for carpeting and house fixtures. But it’s oh so soft and “lightens” a wool fleece. It has fibers that do something that cotton and wool can’t – and it’s a niche. If you’ve ever kept angora rabbits you’d understand why it’s a niche – and not complain about the price of angora items!

Then there’s the niche of birdhouse gourds. Not everyone needs or wants them – but for those who do, we have grown some every year (sometimes self sown!).

There’s the niche of feather arts – handmade artwork of any kind is a niche all its own, but many buy the feathers. We use feathers from our own chickens, ducks, turkeys and even the pet macaw! Use everything…a niche! It’s also a way to use fur from the fryer rabbits we use for meat.

Another niche – compost. We provided compost this year to home gardeners, greenhouse and a blackberry farm. It’s not something we have a lot of although there is an ongoing supply! Along with the compost – worms. Yes big, beautiful earthworms that help gardeners improve their soil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother agriculture niche is homemade soaps. I don’t have a milk source right now to do these, but it may be coming in 2015! There’s only so much time in the day and – say it with me now – I’m such a niche!

In many ways the meat rabbits are a niche – a small section of the meat market in comparison to beef and pork and chicken. Outdoor poultry is a niche. Herbs are a niche. Next year we’ll branch into berries – another niche.

I’m sorry for those who think these things are somehow against other parts of agriculture, or aren’t supportive of ‘commercial agriculture.’ I don’t think I’ve said such a thing. But then again, being such a niche I watch what I’m doing more than what others are doing. From specialty cheeses and independent label beer and wine – it’s all niches!

It all relies on agriculture. I think we’d all be less satisfied if not having the choices it brings, but many would not even know about it because we don’t matter. If someone wants to run 30,000 cattle or chickens or other things great for them! Not everyone can do what we do either.

That’s what makes us an agriculture niche. I’ll wear that title. Niches are never so independent to not need and engage others. Niches are just one piece and have to reach out to get noticed.

We even do clinics…and teach others things that can empower them…because I’m a niche. But you know what I find funny? With sharing what we do, how and why – I’ve noticed a funny thing. Some of those big ‘too important’ for little places folks try to connect and share…just like niches. We all have a story, and all sizes and types of agriculture are needed to provide the diverse points of agriculture.

We don’t have to pretend to be small and personal. I’m a niche…it’s what I do. Thanks for understanding.

Pray For Peace

September 10, 2014

As another 9-11 approaches, images and replays take us back to that day. Like a jumbled collage there are heartbreaking images etched on the hearts of millions.

We vowed many things in the wake of 9/11. We’d be kinder, spend more time with family, respect the heroes that were first responders and one by one so many of those get put aside.

We’ve had losses. We’ve seen hatred revived. Some believe we’re in the end days. Some believe there’s no hope. Some believe we should stay firm and pray.

Painful memories are something we often want to shut out. The towers falling. The planes hitting the towers. The smoke from the rubble. The lives torn apart. The people trapped that in a final act of desperation jumped to their deaths. People from around the world died without consideration to ethnic background or skin color because of how we think.

There are still those who want to kill because of how we think. They will come again. There will be more horrific attacks both on our soil and far away – things those who signed a blank check with their life in Iraq and Afghanistan were trying to prevent. Their repayment has fallen so, so short.

For families, communities, leaders and enemies. Pray for peace.

It’s needed more than ever.

It’s Not Fair! We Want THIS…as Long As You Pay For It

September 9, 2014

SlowMoneyFarm:

Today’s contribution from our sister blog – go on over and have a look if you haven’t before. Food issues in the news are in the blog!

Originally posted on Slow Money Food:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you heard about the organic company that was purchased by an established food giant? It seems Annie’s – beloved by the organic nonGMO crowd – has sold out and was purchased by General Mills. The heat coming from the screen is intense.

Comments. Oh so many comments. Angry people “it’s just about money”…”the profit is most important”. Some nasty, ugly, horrible comments I won’t repeat here (nor allow in my comment section). All pointing fingers.

It’s a funny thing about pointing fingers. You point and there’s three pointing back at you. Point all five and it’s a handshake – a discussion and a chance for, maybe, finding solutions. One critic lists working for Bob Evans – they don’t use GMOs? So if he works for something he doesn’t believe in is it just about money?

I’ve been following the public demand on many levels for a few years. It’s…

View original 931 more words

Protest or Protect – Shipping Chicks

September 8, 2014

blogchicksIt’s not unusual anymore to get requests to sign some petition on Change.org or elsewhere. The topic varies and usually comes with someone, or a group of someones, who just learn of something that sounds horrible. Rather than going to ask, they gather with others who may or may not have preconceived views that are more opinion than reality.

 

 

 

Consider this one -

A post on Facebook today had me livid and I felt compelled to start a petition.

The original post is here

1-DAY-OLD CHICKS SHIPPED BY MAIL

Yesterday I was at the post office and heard the familiar sound of newly hatched chicks. They were calling out from inside a pair of cardboard boxes on the counter. No mama. No food. No water. Yes, the shipping of live, day-old baby chicks is a booming business in the States. I noted that the boxes had a website address for MyPetChicken.com. Here’s what the company has to say about the ordeal the chicks go through:

“When you get them home, be prepared: one or two may have died in shipping or may be on their way out. Some chicks are born less hardy than others and can’t withstand the stress and cold temperatures involved in transporting them around the country. Most hatcheries, in fact, prepare for that by including an extra bird or two for free. Care for the weak birds as best you can, and bury the dead…”

The site goes on to warn parents not to open the boxes in front of their children because of the trauma of seeing dead and dying baby animals….

It’s quite hard to believe that this business is perfectly legal.

This company *is* transparent – sometimes chicks die. They prepare the new owner for the possibility that a chick might have died. MyPetChicken caters to the backyard chicken movement. If you order from Cackles, Murray McMurray or others they have a minimum shipment of 25 chicks…the reason for this is warmth. Unfortunately, sometimes chicks die, sometimes they fade out and that happens if home or in transit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“No mama. No food. No water.” Horrible! But wait – let’s stop emotion just a moment and think – just a moment. If you are ordering baby chicks do you expect the mama? Do you have a mama at home to adopt them? Experience here is not all older hens are welcoming of baby chicks and many attack them. They are hatched, raised, live and die without knowing their mother. Within a couple of days they eat, drink and survive , with luck, under a heat source that keeps them at 95* for the first week, decreasing 5 degrees per week until they can handle cooler temperatures.

Before a chick hatches, they draw up the yolk which provides the nourishment needed for the first day or so. Most chicks at home don’t eat that first day (I’ve had a couple of exceptions but not many!) Even if offered water, most don’t drink that first day, sometimes two.

Not all babies live. Even humans, as well as cattle, foals, lambs, puppies, rabbits – and chicks. Sometimes they seem strong then die. Sometimes they live. Sometimes there’s no explanation.  The fact that chicks are mortal offends the delicate sensibilities of those whom, it seems, think if they love it enough it will live. If they love small farms enough they’ll thrive even if they do nothing, when in fact this is protecting us to death.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout shipping many rare breeds will cease to be – extinct. If breeders cannot transport chicks to other breeders, the breeds die.

Without shipping small farms that order chicks can no longer do so without driving to the hatchery – which will no longer be able to survive just the small local areas.

Those large scale operations that hatch hundreds of thousands of birds and distribute to barns of 30,000 – what some call “factory farms” – they don’t ship birds postal service so aren’t affected by a ban on shipping. Small farms ARE affected.

Sometimes birds die. Sometimes there’s a delay on an airport runway and they get cold, or sometimes a box gets lost and it’s too late when found. But for tens of thousands of birds, they go to their new homes by fast shipping – post office. It fits the birds most of the time they arrive safely.

These demands that no birds die aren’t realistic – perfection isn’t. In most city commutes there’s an accident and often someone dies – that doesn’t mean we ban the automobile. We can restrict phone, texting, drinks, distractions but have not yet eliminated all risk.

We can’t eliminate all risk on raising animals either. Elimination of breeds is not an answer to some birds that die – and may or may not be due to shipping.

With infinite information at their fingertips, why is the first reaction “I need to start a petition and end this” rather than “I need to learn if this is true and the whole story”? The whole story matters. Details matters. Food choices matter.

Elimination of food choices matter.

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