Filed under: Ag education, Animal care, Corn, Farm, farm animals, food, Uncategorized | Tags: Corn, Food, Inc
Writing about something you do not really understand leads to mistakes. Such is the case of the book/movie “Food Inc.”
There are many mistakes in “Food Inc.” but I would like to focus on one. The statement that cows are supposed to eat grass, not corn. Hello, didn’t anyone tell you that corn is a grass?
Now I could understand that maybe they meant the seeds from the corn plant were not meant to be fed to cows, but does that make it alright then to feed barley or wheat? Both are seeds from grasses that can and are used to fatten livestock in the same way that corn seeds are. Both have very similar effects on a cow as does corn.
Part of the complaint that is made of feeding corn is that it causes acidosis in cows and thus is bad for cows. The problem is that acidosis happens in cows when you make a big change in their diet. It can happen when cows are put out on fresh spring grass.
There is also a comment made that when cows are put on grass after having been fed grain they “shed bacteria.” This is meant to make it sound like bacteria are eliminated totally from cows. The problem is that cows need bacteria to operate their rumen. The shedding of one type of bacteria just means that another is building up to deal with the changing diet.
If cows are only supposed to eat grass, should they be kept away from alfalfa and clover? Both are legumes and not grasses, but are excellent food sources for cows. Cows are not just grass eaters but eaters of plant materials. Thus most plants are fair game for them to eat. They can and do even eat cactus after the spines are removed.
So there you have it, cows are meant to eat corn, grass, alfalfa, clover and many other plant materials. Amazing, but true. They are no more meant to eat only grass than vegans are meant to eat only veggies.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, hunger, Ice, Minnesota, planting, rain, spring, time, Uncategorized, weather
I’m not sure what it is, but all of a sudden I’m very tired. Several long days with little time off and not much food may do it.
Rain was forecast for tonight. I’m not sure if we’ll get it, but just in case we’ve put in a few long, hard days. We’ve got just 80 acres of corn left to plant. I can easily get that done in one day if things hang together. When things go well, I don’t stop for much. Grab something from the fridge as I go by the house. Usually something fast like fruit and some crackers. Time of the meal is not relevant, if I’m near the house I grab something, if I’m not, forget it.
I’ve found a jug of ice water to be a good substitute for food. Put enough water in me and I forget that I missed a meal. Then when I do eat, I don’t need so much to eat. I tend to lose weight if I can stay away from any source of food.
Well, if it rains tonight I can sleep. If it doesn’t rain, I’ll finish planting corn. we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, spring, tillage, Uncategorized, weather, wood heat
After the rainy days that started last friday we’ve been kept out of the field. My rain gauge showed an inch of precipitation. It was a nice rain that took four days to come down.
The temperatures have turned a bit more normal and I actually fired up my wood heat for a bit. Mornings and nights have been cool with really nice daytime temperatures.
We spent yesterday hauling in seed beans that Monsanto will not need. At the pre-foundation level where we are they only use about one in four fields. Anything rejected is still the property of Monsanto and we send it where they tell us. These beans are headed for soybean oil and meal.
We’re hoping to be back planting soon. Maybe even today. There are a few things to do first, but we’ll be checking out field conditions and will start planting if they are right.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, Minnesota, science, travel, Uncategorized
Again today the news is of 16 year olds killed in a car crash. The news asks “Is 16 too young?” Yet our American society will continue to accept that children will get behind the wheel and leave home never to return. Where is the outcry to ban motor vehicles?
With the proven safety hazards of our autos we calmly accept that we must drive, yet a much smaller percentage of deaths from other sources produces bans. When a possible food contamination sickens a few, we ban or recall that product immediately, even though the wrong product may be recalled. When a report says that genetically modified corn may harm a few people whole countries ban their use. When vaccines help so many but might cause problems for a few, the news trumpets the story. Where is the balance here? Where is the common sense?
Yes, I understand the sorrow of those hurt by the maybe, but I also grieve for the dead and injured that are a reality. No one said the world was safe. No one said the world is fair. Everyone dies. Getting hurt is a part of life. Let’s just get our priorities straight and take care of the big problems before we sweat the small stuff.
We often think of think of how things have been made in or formed by fire, but I don’t think mankind often sees how his whole species is made by and for fire.
When scientists talk about tool making as the thing that sets us apart from other species they often find that we are not the only ones who use tools. Chimps, ravens, sea otters and other species all use tools of some kind to catch food or open hard shells. Man is the only one who uses fire.
For man, fire is both tool and enemy. We fight fires that threaten homes and forests. We use fire to clear land and to dispose of unwanted items. Fire is both a friendly source of comfort at night and a destroyer of what we hold dear, but it is in the way it has shaped our food that fire has shaped us the most.
Fire can destroy harmful organisms that would grow in our food. It helps to tenderize food to make it easier to digest. Fire has helped man move from hunter/gatherer status to the modern city dweller he now is.
Fire makes it possible for us to live better than any other species on earth. Fire is our helper, our god and our creator. No wonder so many ancient peoples worshiped fire.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, organic, science, Uncategorized
Ever since the genome was tinkered with by man, people have been concerned about the unintended consequences of the meddling by man with DNA. For us on the farm this genetic revolution has lead to the creation of some very useful products.
One of the concerns of corn farmers was the effects of the corn borer. This larval stage of a moth likes to munch on corn plants. This munching has a bad effect on the corn yield.
When science figured out how to insert a gene into the corn plant that caused it to produce a protein from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) they made a built in insecticide. Now when the corn borer munches on a corn plant with the Bt gene in it, they die.
There has been considerable concern about possibility that farmers could lose this natural insecticide and because of this concern, farmers have kept a refuge area so that corn borers would not develop a resistance to the Bt protein. After all, when you have a natural insecticide as good as Bt you want to keep it working for as long as possible.
As the years have gone on, the lack of corn borers have allowed corn yields to increase. The unintended consequence of the Bt protein is that organic growers have also benefited from this GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). Now because of the lack of corn borers in the corn belt, organic corn producers do not worry about these munching insects. That is a really great unintended consequence.
Filed under: Ag education, Farm, fertilizer, food, organic, science, tillage
The green revolution promoted by many as a way to cut agriculture’s green house gas emission’s took a hit with a report from Finland. The study finds that tillage of the soil releases the most green house gas emissions, not livestock or fertilizer. This also causes some concern for organic producers with their focus on tillage for weed control. Food wastage was also cited as a concern for feeding the world with the resources we have.
Read the article here.
Patrick Moore, ecologist and co-founder of Greenpeace, says that “the campaign of fear now being waged against genetic modification is based largely on fantasy and a complete lack of respect for science and logic.”
Moore joined over 3,000 scientists from around the world in signing a Declaration in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology, saying that, “In the balance it is clear that the real benefits of genetic modification far outweigh the hypothetical and sometimes contrived risks claimed by its detractors.”
Moore, who is now an environmental consultant, was a founding member of Greenpeace. He served for nine years as President of Greenpeace Canada and seven years as a Director of Greenpeace International. Recently, however, he broke with Greenpeace, accusing it of abandoning science and following agendas that have little to do with saving the Earth.
Reiterating comments he made to the New Zealand Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, Moore said, “Genetic modification can reduce the chemical load in the environment, reduce the impact on non-target species, and reduce the amount of land required for food crops.” He added, “There are so many real benefits from genetic modification compared to the largely hypothetical and contrived risks that it would be foolish to ban genetic modification.”
Other signers of the Declaration of Scientists in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology (www.AgBioWorld.org) include Nobel Prize winners Norman Borlaug, James Watson, Paul Berg, Peter Doherty, and Paul Boyer.
We got our first full day of corn planting in today. Things went well, but problems can and do still develop. Today the exhaust pipe broke off on the tractor is such a way that the exhaust fumes went into the tractor cab. I turned off the fresh air intake and drove with the windows open. That makes for a dirty ride.
The weather has been dry for about a week. Several of the neighbors have been planting for several days. We ran into a problem with a critical piece of the planter and until we found a way around it had to wait to start planting.
I still consider this an early start to planting. Optimum planting is from now until May 8. The soil temperature is a bit cool yet, but modern varieties can handle that cold better. So since the weather and the soil are right we have started planting corn.