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OKC 4-19-95 – In Memory

April 19, 2015

It seems another lifetime ago, and in some ways it was. Sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, horses filled days. There was a different struggle and sometimes we don’t get second chances. On April 19, 1995, 20 years ago this morning, many never got that second chance.

I don’t have to pull up the images to see them. Had made a run to town to get something and chatted for a few minutes with a better friend than I deserved, Stuart Craig. I don’t remember what about – ordinary things in passing. The morning was about to become not ordinary, as getting home the images and breaking news dominated the screen. Right there in Oklahoma was ground zero for a horrific scene.

Living in Oklahoma at the time it was the beginning of the end. Things are forever changed. America moved on but for many it’s still thisclose.

Today Timothy McVeigh has long since been executed for his actions in bringing terror to Oklahoma. My mom had visited a few times and sent photos of the Memorial. She, too, is gone and I’ve not been able to return to Oklahoma City. Maybe someday.

Words are tough. Garth Brooks found some words to music that captures the underlying feeling of many.

“This heart still believes…”

Twenty years ago right now. Never forget. Some can’t.

SlowMoneyFarm A to Z – Dogs, Debt, Delaware, Decisions

April 17, 2015

What a dilemma…D words! What words associated with SlowMoneyFarm can be found? Many come to mind, but narrowing to four has a couple obvious and a couple not so obvious.

Diva is easily cold in the winter time, and extra warmth is appreciated.

Diva is easily cold in the winter time, and extra warmth is appreciated.

Dogs are a big part – from Diva’s Domain to Missy’s humorous poses to the ordinary day in and day out tasks, the dogs follow and are a part of life here. Growing up in a rural area, there were always dogs around, usually dogs that chose us, rather than dogs we chose. There were a few deliberately brought home – a beagle, a lab pup and a border collie come to mind, as well as a few Irish Setters and Australian Shepherds over the years. But more often than not, it was dogs that were dumped and wandered up needing a meal. Today’s pack is a mix of the same – some wandered up, some taken in, a couple deliberately acquired. All have a place and, for a couple that place is holding down a cushion, but for others it’s helping outside, being a visible warning that there are safer places to take things. They’ll help catch loose animals sometimes, and sometimes just sit and be a buddy. There’s been dogs around the farm since I was old enough to know what dogs were, and as long as I’m able there will be dogs around.

Debt is something we try to avoid here. Not always possible, but avoiding debt is a big reason we crowdsource, barter and pay cash – we might have a down month but don’t lose something because of it. That doesn’t mean we don’t have obligations and current bills – both are a weight that is suffocating, even though lower than many carry. Having a bank loan would bury us. Add a fickle market to a fickle financial ability to move forward sometimes and getting those ends together is a challenge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADelaware refers to the chicken, not the state. The Delaware is a white feathered bird with a little black feathering on the tail and neck. They are an heirloom breed, and so successful at crossbreeding it was nearly their demise. Years ago the Delaware was crossed on New Hampshire hens for broiler production. They have also been known as “Indian Rivers” and were replaced by the rise of Cornish crosses in the broiler world. The Delaware is a good sized bird, and lay brown eggs. Hardy and calm, if not independent, the Delaware is a good choice for many situations. They are considered threatened by the American Livestock Breeders Conservancy – fewer than 1,000 in 7 or fewer breeding flocks.

Decisions are many. Seemingly endless. What do we plant in this area? Which rabbits do we breed now, and to which bucks? Which ones are ready for weaning, which will be kept and where do we put them? When do we need feed? Bedding? Does cages or waterers need cleaned? Is seed ready for planting? When can we plant next and what do we need to get this week? What will we have for sale and will it be live or dressed? The decisions are endless! Making it through one more month, one more year and sometimes one more day is a challenge sometimes. Wrong decisions cost lives. Beyond here, consumer decisions what they’re going to buy can have a huge effect on what we grow to have available.

Join us again next week for continuing the A to Z. What will E bring? F? Can you guess? There’s a couple other posts coming up for the weekend, but we’ll be back to the alphabet for SlowMoneyFarm references next week!

SlowMoneyFarm A to Z – Chickens, Christians, Community, Crowdsourcing

April 16, 2015

For those who think that agriculture and C would be cows, cotton or corn, well it can certainly be that. My friend Janice has an awesome blog about cotton, and Brian Scott has corn in front of many. I do grow some corn, have worked with cows, love my cotton shirts and jeans…but we’re, well, different. I could have easily put chinchilla, with two of the chinchilla breeds here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChickens are an often overlooked but common enough to be forgotten food. Be it eggs for breakfast or fried chicken for dinner, chickens can be a contradiction. They’re raised by those wanting a few eggs, and by those raising tens of thousands of birds for eggs and meat. White chickens are commonly in the news, but with our beautiful rainbow of colors, some folks truly don’t know chickens come in other colors. Further, not all white birds are the same. We have white Leghorns, the queen of the laying world, as well as white rocks. We have Delawares, that are mostly white. Barred birds and partridge are other variations of the Plymouth Rock breed. Buff, red, silkie feathers and black also live here. We love rainbows, and chickens are the start of variety!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristian is more than something written about in the Ag in the Bible posts – it’s something personal. Many don’t believe and that is their choice, and not meant as offensive to write about it here. When there is hope in the words, when someone does something amazing to help it’s not something to just cast off in the closet and dust off when I want something again. Christian is every day, and I’m not perfect. In no way do I meet perfect – that’s why I’m Christian! I don’t have to be perfect – I’m forgiven with grace. I don’t post to convert others, but to share what I see and have learned. If someone wants more details, happy to connect but it’s not about “you must believe the same way.”

Community can take many forms. It’s neighbors and those we’re near. It’s those we went to school with, those we work with, those we know professionally and those we deal with at local businesses. Community can be found in, literally, Community Supported Agriculture – CSA that we’re working hard on. We have several sponsorships that provide food to those in 430px-Homeless_-_American_Flagour community who can’t afford it though our Hand Up much as Grandma Hoadley used to do by offering a plate of food to those who needed a meal, and in the Depression there wasn’t a lot to share. These things help others, but help us too as we can’t afford to do it for nothing. By insuring our costs our covered, we’re covered and those who need a hand up get food.

Crowdsourcing is an important way we can reach others with what we do and teach what we do. Crowdsourcing is a chance for those who like what we do to participate from where they are in our programs. It’s working with those we know to do small projects, and work on bigger ones, without having a bank loan, for which we don’t qualify for. Yesterday I was driving to meet someone to deliver a rabbit. As I drove I thought about friends with larger farms, some that needed millions of dollars to cover expenses each year. In comparison, I sold a $40 rabbit to buy feed and put some fuel in the car. Years back, when working at a hostel, it wasn’t uncommon for travelers to be on a tight budget. When many pitched in $2-3-4 we combined the money, went to the store and bought spaghetti, sauce, salad fixings and dessert then as a group cooked the meal. It was more than a meal – it became an experience. It became a memory. Most of us today, when times are good, really don’t miss $5, $10, $20. Crowdsourcing makes use of that $5, $10, $20, or in some cases more, to accomplish more than that $5 provides, much like the meal. With a dozen people, it makes possible the impossible, financially. It reaches people beyond ourselves. How can you help? Who do you know who can help us? Those $10 and $20 sales are huge for us – it’s not millions but makes a memory, just like those pasta dinners of long ago. Who do you know?

Yes, our ‘c’ words are a little different. They reach beyond me, because that is needed for what we do. Community. Crowdsourcing. Christian. Connected. Thanks for connecting!

SlowMoneyFarm A to Z – Border Collies, Buckeyes, Bunnies, Books

April 15, 2015

As we continue the alphabet version of SlowMoneyFarm, today’s stop includes four new – or not so new – things. Buckle up for a bus ride as we charter through the B.

April on Joe, me and Jerry, taken at the Bureau county fairgrounds 4-H fair.

April on Joe, me and Jerry, taken at the Bureau county fairgrounds 4-H fair.

Border Collies have been a fixture in my life since Jerry walked up when I was barely in kindergarten. Sometimes one, sometimes several but there has been perhaps a year out of 45 that there hasn’t been a border collie in the household. Jerry, Duke, Luke, Jake, Gael, Freckles, Fly, Eine, Abby, Bess, and many more. Missy is Gael’s granddaughter, out of Freckles. Belle joined us not too long ago and has settled in well. Some have more herding talent than others, each one has their quirks that are maddening at times and charming in others. I’ve long said border collies need a job – without one they will find something and you probably won’t like it. They can be creative. Jerry was somewhat a legend in his own right as my near constant shadow. Gael was also many years later. Belle has figured how to open the front door if I go out without her being in her crate. I’ll continue to have a border collie or two around as long as I’m able. It’s as natural as breathing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABuckeyes are, in our case, a type of heirloom chicken. Deep red in color, they have the distinction of being developed by a woman. Although we are down to a couple of hens and need new blood this year, the Buckeyes are a calm, personal breed that lay plenty of brown eggs. Originating in Ohio, which is the source of their name, the Buckeye is considered threatened status with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. This classification is determined, in part, with fewer than 1,000 breeding birds in the United States, with seven or fewer primary breeding flocks, and estimated global population less than 5,000. Additionally the ALBC focuses on those breeds that breed true (not hybrids) and that have been maintained since 1925. The Buckeye has a long history, indeed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABunnies are a given, with show and meat rabbits. We breed with a purpose, with intentional, planned crosses to develop our own lines of meat rabbits. While our purebred lines are treasured for the same reasons old breeds of poultry are, the use of Giant Chinchilla, Silver Fox, Champagne D’Argent and New Zealand figure in prominently. Good mamas having and raising good sized litters that grow to be long, well muscled *meat* rabbits is goal. Development for meat and fur is the backbone of several purebred rabbits, and this continues with a practical function in producing meat.

Books are important. Not only the ebooks we have available to help finance projects here, but the ongoing learning from books is also a big thing, and sharing some of those books on the blog. From not only factual how to books to things like Brendon Burchard’s Motivation Manifesto. Books have long been a way to escape, to learn, to ‘visit’ other areas and times that we cannot otherwise do. Like many, I was transported to another world with the Black Stallion series, Little Black and Billy and Blaze books in school.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABooks are a way to learn history, if only from the perspective of those living it. Through books I was transported to Iraq, Afghanistan, England, Australia and America in the 1700s. Through books I learned about Man O’War and coonhounds (Where the Red Fern Grows) and the Alaskan Iditerod. I’m waiting to catch up on my ‘serious reading’ to ride along with Eclipse, the horse that changed horse racing forever and one of the founders of the Thoroughbred breed. I’ll relive Personal Ensign, Genuine Risk, Cigar and Smarty Jones. Some of us never outgrow horse stories! These days, my reading list can also consist of Jimmy Wayne’s awesome book Walk to Beautiful, Kim Cross’ “What Stands in a Storm” and The Pocket Man. I’ll be learning about Spelt, Lesser Beasts (pigs), Persuasive Copywriting and Leading Women. Reading time is never boring!

Learning need not stop with graduation. Keep learning…learn something new this spring and summer. The only thing stopping you is you!

Whatever will C bring? And D? You’ll have to stop back!

SlowMoneyFarm A to Z – Agriculture, Australorp, American, Access

April 14, 2015

As a means of getting more information about what we do, I’m exploring an A to Z approach, with up to four things on each letter. This can be a means of introducing something unique in our animals or varieties, or a view or something we’ve done. Shall we get started?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgriculture is an obvious. A life of agriculture touches from dairy to beef to sheep to horses, poultry, rabbits, hay and so much more. Agriculture is much of who we are and the food choices connected to it are important. We have an old fashioned diversity following the adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket. When things go wrong with one thing, perhaps something else is there to pick up the slack. Agriculture is a passion from early on, when being with the cows or horses was preferred over dolls and other little girl interests. Through 4-H and FFA I learned many life long lessons about life, and about agriculture.

Australorp hens

Australorp hens

Australorp refers to our big black chickens, an old breed. From Australia origins, the Australorp gathered attention at a time before modern poultry management. “It was the egg laying performance of Australorps that attracted world attention when in 1922-23 a team of six hens set a world record by laying 1,857 eggs for an average of 309.5 eggs per hen during a 365 consecutive day trial. ” Remember this was before lighting systems, timers, modern barns. The Australorp today is a good layer of brown eggs, and well developed for the outdoor life. Their dark coloring stands out less than white birds, making them less apt to get the attention of predators. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has the Australorp listed as recovering – their numbers are coming back after being very low. These are active, but personable birds. I’ve found that while they’re independent, they also like to be nearby and take to pens well. We have some birds that are 3-4 years old and still laying well enough to keep.

 

Oxen are a novelty today, with most people never seeing a working pair or even knowing they exist.

Oxen are a novelty today, with most people never seeing a working pair or even knowing they exist.

American heritage, history, traditions are strong. From heirloom varieties of vegetables to the heritage breeds of livestock, the American agriculture of 100 years ago was a much different look. There were still many oxen used, as well as horses in the fields. A big focus for many was providing for a family and selling the extra, rather than growing to sell as many do today. That is not necessarily better or worse – depends on your perspective – but it IS different. American breeds, and those which American farmers changed, made it possible for Americans to not have to focus on their food production, as breeds were developed as specialists. The Leghorn hen, Angus steer and Holstein cow are prime examples of this – they’re good at what they do, in the environment they were bred to do it in. Many, like the Australorp, are also excellent at what they do in the environment they were bred for, but that isn’t a modern confinement system. They are larger and the wrong color for modern markets, but still provide well for the market they were developed for – small farms.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAccess – I see many large companies trying to ‘build brands’ by consumer engagement. They strive to put forth a personal, small time feel and yet they aren’t small and sometimes aren’t really personal. We have access – want to know what your chicken or rabbit ate? Ask us. Want to know how something was done or what that variety of pepper is? Ask us! Are we certified organic? No. Want to know what we use? Usually organic remedies – ask us! Want to know what I think – ask! (Be ready for an honest answer!) For those who want access to their food production, without doing it themselves – we have that option. Food choices are something for everyone, and that’s something I’m pretty passionate about – even for the majority that will never buy anything from me. Of course making a living is important, and our customers are important! But not everyone is just like us…and that’s ok!

 

Join in as we go A to Z – maybe learn some new things, share a perspective and find some trivia tips!

10 Things That Don’t Make Sense

April 13, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes the farm side of the world has a conflict with the non-farm side of the world. This can be minor things, but sometimes major things too. It comes up that many things don’t make sense, or are so far apart there’s no bridge to understanding, it seems.

For example, although the list is long, here’s a light-hearted look at just 10 things that are cause for pause!

1. If big is bad and corporations are evil, why do we not use homemade go-carts for transportation? (Ford, Chevy etc are big corporations!) Why not give up email, computers, cell phones – all products of large corporations and serviced by large corporations!

2. If I plant a small plot of corn, interplanted with beans and squash (the ‘three sisters’) in a raised bed, why is it assumed that the person with 3000 acres can do the same thing if they just tried harder?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. Why is agriculture the biggest punching bag for success? If a small business grows to serve more people it’s a good thing. Many large businesses today started as small business. However, if a farm gets over a certain acreage or a certain size of production in the quest to be more efficient, it’s a bad thing and “evil.”

4. Why do people believe a link on the internet vs someone who has actually DONE what they’re talking about? Likewise, why is a site that has an interest in eliminating certain types of agriculture seen as less biased then those supporting that type of agriculture?

5. How do people seriously think tying an animal down for months makes it more tender – and think people actually do that?

6. If GMOs are so distinct and bad, why can people not tell what they are? And how is it that folks that think popcorn, sweet corn and field corn are all the same are experts, while those who grow those things don’t know what they’re talking about and need ‘educated’?

7. Why is it that when we list a $25 or $30 rabbit, it sells without issue, but the $10 this weekend only takes 2 hours of discussion and much effort later is still sitting in my barn? This seems true no matter species. Connected to this, also no matter species, the animal that is 2-3 states away is assumed to be more valued that those in the local area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA8. Why is it that if 90% of the consumers want nonGMO food, that so many nonGMO farmers don’t have enough market for their crops? If people actually bought as they want, agriculture would change.

9. Why is it that saying folks should invest in what they want is a bad thing? If people don’t invest in nonGMO, or organic, or other as they want, then it’s limited as to growth. And if Monsanto or other companies invest in organic, then it’s a bad thing too because they’re corrupting it rather than investing in what people say they want, on the scale that the people can be provided what they want? Hint – Monsanto, ConAgra, Smithfield and others don’t have a problem with people investing with them. If you object to “big ag” investments, invest, beyond purchasing, in small agriculture and the processors we need to survive.

10. Many trumpet every farm should be small. Yet many consumers don’t want a garden, livestock, processing, etc so what do those people eat? One hundred years ago 44 hours per week was spent on the preparation and creation of food for the home. Today it’s as often a matter of a drive-up window and if we wait 5 minutes it’s an unspeakable inconvenience! The time spent preserving, preparing, cooking is unseen.

Imagine if everyone drove these, no airports/flying, no 75 mph high performance turbo charged anything.

Imagine if everyone drove these, no airports/flying, no 75 mph high performance turbo charged anything.

Most really don’t want to go back 50, 60, 100 years ago. Do we really want agriculture to? Why can’t it be like 100 years ago? Statistically the USA had 100,000,000 people then. It’s three times that now, on less land, with less time devoted to growing and processing food.

Which 200,000,000 plus people are leaving? Where do they go? For those who won’t wait five minutes for food – will you drive a few hours to pick up food you can prepare at home?

We are incredibly blessed, some say to the point of spoiled. May we know that, all the way through.

Are You Smarter Than a Goose? Ag in the Bible

April 12, 2015

Recently the young goslings have started getting outside, eating grass and weeds with supervision. Like youngsters of any species, their view of the world is innocent and limited, and they need protection to stay out of trouble and from those things that would harm them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was watching them learn to navigate the world, and pondering the story of following a goose. One of the youngsters distressed peeping brought me back to present. The gosling had fallen backwards off a block border, and was stuck on its back.

As the gosling tried to right itself, one leg was tangled on a weed. It stopped fighting for a minute and allowed me to help by removing the weed. Once the barrier was removed, the gosling righted itself and protested the unfairness of life. In the unprotected life, it’s a very dangerous situation. The gosling was helpless from a predator looking for a meal of gosling.

How often do we get stuck, thinking that we can’t make it because it’s too hard? Do we let someone remove the weeds binding us?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes friends can’t help us. Sometimes we need to rely on more than ourselves to get out of a situation that we’ve gotten ourselves in to. Sometimes we think it’s worse than it really is, and we get up safely and carry on.

The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. ~ 1 Timothy 5:5

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.Proverbs 11:25

Are we smarter than a gosling? Asking, calling out for help when needed need not be a bad thing. It’s people who think it’s weak, a reflection of their own issues.

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