Monday, March 30, 2009

Some bits and pieces

Last week Kelli and I transplanted a few dozen onion starts into the green house as an experiment and they are still doing well. We weren't sure how they would do because the night time temperatures still get pretty low. The spinach and lettuces are sprouting and they seem to be doing well also. This is all new to us so we are unsure as to what the results will be. Is it too soon? Should we wait until the nights are a little warmer? But, so far so good, the results are encouraging.

We have some maple trees tapped. A couple weeks ago the sap was running good but, then it got cold again and it slowed down substantially. As it turned out we didn't get any sap boiled from that initial run because we've been busy with other things.

I've started building a mobile hen house from some of the green house parts we disassembled last year. I hope to build three or four units and segregate some of our various breeds so that we can hatch out more of those kinds if we want. Otherwise as things stand now we have a smorgasbord of chicken breeds all in one area and any offspring are all mixed.

Things are beginning to come together for this years CSA activities. It looks like we are going to try and grow twice as much as last year therefore taking on twice as many shareholders. I don't think we'll have any trouble filling those spots as we are already getting more interested folks giving us a call.

Until Next Time

Monday, March 23, 2009

More about the war for food freedom - HR 875, NAIS, Raw Milk

Here are some excerpts from a NewsWithViews article by Sarah Foster about the proposed bill HR 875.

By Sarah FosterPosted 1:00 AM EasternMarch 23, 2009©

~The Internet’s buzzing about a bill in Congress its sponsor and supporters say is vital for protecting consumers from food-borne illnesses, but critics claim would place all U.S. food production “from farm to fork” under control of federal bureaucrats, effectively destroying family farms and farmers markets in the process and hijacking the burgeoning organic food movement. ~

A “Major Threat” to Local Food
~But in an extensive analysis the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund – a DC-based advocacy group that champions locally grown and organic food production – foresees HR 875 fueling “a tremendous expansion of federal power, particularly the power to regulate intrastate commerce” and warns:
“While the proposed legislation tries to address the many problems of the industrial food system, the impact on small farms if the bill becomes law would be substantial and not for the better HR 875 is a major threat to sustainable farming and the local food movement.” [Emphasis added]

If enacted, there would be a reshuffling within the Department of Health and Human Services. The Food and Drug Administration, a division of HHS, would be split into two agencies – one to deal with food, the other with drugs and medical devices. This second agency would be titled the Federal Drug and Device Administration and keep the acronym FDA.

Food-safety functions would be transferred to a new Food Safety Administration, headed by a food tsar (Administrator of Food Safety) appointed by the President for a five-year term, with Senate approval. The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the Center for Veterinary Medicine – both presently part of the FDA -- would move into the new Food Safety Administration, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service from the Department of Commerce.

That’s for starters. ~

~Here’s a taste of what farmers and other food producers can expect from H.R. 875 if it becomes law:
• Each food production facility – no matter how small – would have to have a written food-safety plan describing “the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards.”
• Farmers selling directors to consumers would have to make their customer list available to federal inspectors.
Federal inspectors would be authorized to:
• inspect food production facilities to make sure the producer is “operating in compliance with the requirements of the food safety law;”
• conduct “monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products, or the environment, as appropriate;”
• access and copy all records to determine if food is “contaminated, adulterated, or otherwise not in compliance with the food safety law or to track the food in commerce.” ~

“Traceability” and the National Animal ID System
~Under Section 210 – “Traceback Requirements” – the Food Safety Administration is charged with setting up a national traceability system requiring farmers to keep extensive records that would enable inspectors to track “the history, use, and location of an item of food.”
This system is to be “Consistent with existing statutes and regulations that require record-keeping or labeling for identifying the origin or history of food or food animals,” including “The National Animal Identification system (NAIS) as authorized by the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002 (AHPA).”
The problem is that NAIS was not authorized by the AHPA; it’s never been authorized by congressional legislation.
Jim Babka, editor of, a political action website, regards this as a “bureaucratic initiative,” a “de facto authorization” of NAIS.

“This false assumption gives NAIS the aura of congressional approval,” he writes. “Instead, this is another step on the road to converting NAIS from a voluntary program to a mandatory one. This is exactly what we predicted three years ago when we launched our anti-NAIS campaign.” ~

Could “Raw” Milk Take a Hit?
~Many critics are wondering whether they'll be able to buy "raw" milk if HR 875 becomes law. According to the FTCLDF it’ll depend on the regulations, but the future doesn’t look good. Right now it’s illegal to sell unpasteurized milk across state lines, but some states allow its sale within their boundaries, albeit grudgingly and with heavy restrictions. HR 875 puts even this limited market in jeopardy.

FTCLDF explains:
“FDA has long wanted a complete ban on the sale of raw milk. The agency’s mantra is that raw milk should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any reason. The agency does not consider this subject to be debatable…Under HR 875, FSA is given statutory authority to unilaterally impose a ban.” [Emphasis added]

“Under HR 875, FSA has the power to adopt “preventative process controls to reduce adulteration of food” [Section 203], and to issue regulations that “limit the presence and growth of contaminants in food prepared in a food establishment using the best reasonably available techniques and technologies” [Section 203(b)(1)(D)]. FDA has long made it clear that in its opinion the best available technology to limit contamination in milk is pasteurization.”
Even if the FSA doesn’t issue an outright ban, raw milk producers could be harassed out of business instead. HR 875 designates dairies and farms processing milk as Category 2 Food Establishments – and these are to be “randomly inspected at least weekly.” ~

Click the below link for the full article;

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tuck and His Shadow

I came across these pictures from almost a year ago. My kids had taken them and I never saw them till now. This is Tucker one of our golden retrievers and Shadow our little rejected black lamb from last spring. It was a hoot watching Shadow chase the dogs around. Here he's sticking to Tucker like glue.

Check him out in this top picture hurdling the bottom board on our hoop house that was under construction. We had lots of laughs seeing him tear around the place. These pictures were taken in May of 08.

Tuck and his shadow!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The continuing war on food freedom

Lose your property for growing food?Big Brother legislation could mean prosecution, fines up to $1 million
Posted: March 16, 20098:56 pm Eastern
By Chelsea Schilling© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Some small farms and organic food growers could be placed under direct supervision of the federal government under new legislation making its way through Congress.
Food Safety Modernization Act
House Resolution 875, or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in February. DeLauro's husband, Stanley Greenburg, conducts research for Monsanto – the world's leading producer of herbicides and genetically engineered seed.
DeLauro's act has
39 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 4. It calls for the creation of a Food Safety Administration to allow the government to regulate food production at all levels – and even mandates property seizure, fines of up to $1 million per offense and criminal prosecution for producers, manufacturers and distributors who fail to comply with regulations.
Michael Olson, host of the Food Chain radio show and author of "
Metro Farm," told WND the government should focus on regulating food production in countries such as China and Mexico rather than burdening small and organic farmers in the U.S. with overreaching regulations.
"We need somebody to watch over us when we're eating food that comes from thousands and thousands of miles away. We need some help there," he said. "But when food comes from our neighbors or from farmers who we know, we don't need all of those rules. If your neighbor sells you something that is bad and you get sick, you are going to get your hands on that farmer, and that will be the end of it. It regulates itself."

Click here for the rest of the story

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Did some planting

We've been preparing some of the raised beds in the big hoop house and yesterday planted some salad greens in two 4' x 8' beds. We planted spinach, kale and various lettuces, mostly as kind of an experiment since we've never started anything this early before, other than inside our house.
We plan to start alot of our outdoor crops in the hoop house to be transplanted outside after the last frost.

It's been nice puttering around in there this winter on the cloudless days. It can be zero outside and between 40 to 50 degrees in the hoop house. Or like today it was in the 40's outside and in there it was 82 degrees before I opened the doors. My family works in shorts and T-shirts. But, not me. My long johns stay on until it gets at least 65 out and stays there for a few days. In side the hoop house I got down to a T-shirt but, the long johns, there staying on for awhile yet. Not that anybody gives a rip about what kind of underwear I have on or that it's even a very appropriate subject nonetheless. But, that's how I survive and stay comfortable in this northern climate.

Well, this is about the time of year that I do my annual gripe about the time change which happened last weekend. I sure wish they'd just leave it alone. Messes me up every time. But, as much as I complain I don't suppose it will do any good. The high and mighty's who make up the rules could care less if it disrupts my delicate system.

We've been getting together with some friends and watching movies about agriculture. Last week we watched an independent film called King Corn. It was an entertaining yet informative look at how much of a role corn plays in American agriculture and society. Also it shows the role the government plays in farm subsidies and how all that works, at least from an introductory perspective.

One thing they did not touch on, which I wish they would have was about GMO's (genetically modified organisms). But, the bottom line was that most corn is either fed to livestock or turned into high fructose corn syrup which is in just about everything. Our addiction to corn it would seem is nearly as bad as our addiction to oil. Both being extremely cheap energy, in regards to corn, be it energy for living things and people or in regards to oil, energy for the machinery that makes our system possible. The documentary isn't an exhaustive study but, a pretty enlightening film nonetheless. One I would recommend.

Until Next Time

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some news related to NAIS and beyond

RFD America
News and Conservative Commentary From the Country

Smart Grid: Government spying targets Rural America
By admin
I’ve been reading the stimulus bill. When I saw the term Smart Grid on page 232 of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” I stopped reading so fast I almost gave myself whiplash. If you haven’t heard about Smart Grid, listen up. Smart Grid is closely related to the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) , and both programs are designed to spy on Americans. Even more disturbing than the purpose of these government-condoned intrusions into our lives is the fact that the Obama Administration feels that Smart Grid is so important that it had to be funded in the stimulus package—which is supposed to be used for emergencies only. What’s the emergency? Why does Smart Grid need to be implemented within 60 days of the bill passing? Here come the answers, and none of them are good.

Click here for the rest of the story

More related to "smart grid".
"Internet of Things"

Ubiquitous Computing: Big Brother's All-Seeing Eye

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Jim Rogers Buys Land, Starts Farming

Interesting video on this CNBC news story about Jim Rogers buying land and starting farms. Plus other tips about what he is doing as a rich man to weather the current economic storms.