Filed under: Ag education, Animal care, cats, dogs, family, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, friends, Uncategorized | Tags: Agriculture education, animals, dog, family, farm, farm animals, Food, nature, pig, pigs
I am constantly amazed at the folks that turn up their nose at the slightest smell, and those that cannot stand the least bit of disarray, life is messy, deal with it!
We are conceived and born in a rather messy way. That’s how life starts out. We eat, and the leftovers leaving our bodies are anything but neat. To top it all off, for anything of any size to live, something must die, it’s a fact of life. When we die, despite the nice cleaned up corpse the undertaker provides for our friends and relatives to see, we decay, it’s a fact of life. We must join the circle of life, we are born, eat to live, perhaps pass on a few of our cells to create a bit of life to follow us or two, then we die.
Where is this all going? Back to the farm of course. We who are left on the farm are being told how to do our job by folks that turn up their noses at the least smell. We have a messy job, and know how to deal with it. Some famous person, with a fur person in their house, thinks all farm animals are just like their furry companion. Folks, a cow is not a cat, a pig is not a dog, a chicken is not a baby.
It seems all too easy for those with extravagant life styles to make the world better. Out of guilt for the huge amount of money they have, they promote legislation that is supposedly better for farm animals, all the time putting farm folks out of work and making food more expensive for those who cannot afford it. Because of “feel good” regulations, it is getting harder and harder for young folks who love the farm, to stay there.Those of us who love the farm know what to do with pigs, cows, chickens and other livestock. We want them to be healthy and happy despite the fact that we know we will eat them. Leave the mess to those who understand the mess. If you want to know how things are down on the farm, please ask a farmer, not a news anchor.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, dogs, Farm, genetic modification, GMO, history, Soybeans | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, dogs, farm, Food, GMO, gmo debate, GMO's, history, mule, plants and animals, Soybeans, triticale
The GMO debate is on because of the prop 37 vote in California. Everyone seems to assume that genetic modification is new, or bigger than ever before, but it’s not. Here are some groundbreaking modifications in plants and animals that happened before we were able to move genes around in a cell.
Changing for humanity
Somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 years ago, mankind started changing plants and animals around him. You see, mankind was a thinking animal such as had never before walked the earth. Men and women started noticing that certain kinds of plants were better than others for food. They started protecting the ones that they found easiest to harvest, or producing more food. As time went on the protected plants changed. More and more they started showing the characteristics that people wanted. The grain heads became bigger, the fruit became tastier. Changes were coming because the need to protect themselves from those who ate them were no longer needed. Man became the protector, the spreader of the “best” seeds, fruits and tubers. Those plants that man wanted spread to new areas and became dependent on mankind.
One of the most changed of these plants was maize, corn here in the Americas. Corn had made dramatic changes before Europeans found this continent. The placement of the grain head had moved to the center of the plant and become larger. Seeds also changed size and shape. But the changes were not over. When Europeans started to pick larger ears in a more organized fashion the yield per plant increased. Then people found that if they cross-breed certain types of plants, you could get even more grain from each plant. Corn was easy to cross-breed. The male and female parts of the flower were separated from each other and by plucking off the male part you could force a cross between types. Inbreed lines were developed and the hybrid seed business was born. Maize became a tame plant that could no longer survive in the wild.
Other plants have also changed with human help. The modern banana does not exist in the wild. Wheat, barley, rye, peas, beans of all types changed to suit human needs. Most grapes and apples, if grown from seed will not look anything like the parent. If humans eat it, humanity has or will change it to suit our needs.
Animals also changed to suit our needs. The village dog of Africa is perhaps the most true to type of all dogs, yet even it is like nothing in the wild. Yes, you can cross come types of dogs with wolves, yet they are genetically different.
Consider the Terrier. Chosen as a rat killer to protect a farmers grain, it is small, energetic and savage. It’s large neck muscles are designed to shake a rat to death. It is the best for its job.
The many types of shepherds are also chosen for their jobs. They are gentile with sheep and cattle, yet know when to put a bit of snap in their jaws to get a stupid lamb to move. Shepherds are considered to be the most intelligent of dogs, and why not, they work daily with mankind and must be able to understand commands given by had gesture, word or whistle.
Greyhounds, wolfhounds, dachshunds, bull dogs, poodles, every type of dog you can think of was chosen for a specific job, the hunt, or protection, yet they all came from the same ancestor. The dog is molded to the needs of man, and because of that, they are everywhere.
Many seem to think that crossing species is a new thing. They have forgotten the mule and the hinny. Mules are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The hinny is the offspring a male horse and a female donkey. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. A donkey has 62 chromosomes, whereas a horse has 64. Hinnies and mules, being hybrids of those two species, have 63 chromosomes and are sterile. The uneven number of chromosomes results in an incomplete reproductive system. This is a cross that goes back thousands of years.
Another newer species cross is triticale. Triticale (× Triticosecale), (/trɪtɪˈkeɪliː/) is a hybrid of wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale) first bred in laboratories during the late 19th century. The grain was originally bred in Scotland and Sweden. Commercially available triticale is almost always a second generation hybrid, i.e., a cross between two kinds of primary (first cross) triticales. As a rule, triticale combines the high yield potential and good grain quality of wheat with the disease and environmental tolerance (including soil conditions) of rye. Only recently has it been developed into a commercially viable crop. Depending on the cultivar, triticale can more or less resemble either of its parents. It is grown mostly for forage or fodder, although some triticale-based foods can be purchased at health food stores or are to be found in some breakfast cereals. When crossing wheat and rye, wheat is used as the female parent and rye as the male parent (pollen donor). The resulting hybrid is sterile, and must be treated with colchicine to induce polyploidyand thus the ability to reproduce itself.
These are not the only species combinations that mankind has helped produce long before modern GM methods were available.
Modern genetic modification started with tobacco. Tobacco seems to have been a gateway crop that modern GM testing began with in 1982. In 1994, a herbicide-resistant tobacco was approved that was developed in France. Herbicide-resistance was developed in soybeans the next year. Since then many companies and universities have used GM methods to try to change many of the plants and animals important to people.
With the advent of GM soybeans mankind started eating modern genetically modified plants. Those who balk at eating GM plant material have unknowingly been eating them for over 15 years now. There has never been a scientifically proven human health problem that can be traced back to GM products. In fact, if you look, you will see that all of the health problems that are blamed on GM food products had their advent before GM foods were introduced.
GM products are nothing new. Humans have been changing plants and animals around them for thousands of years. The modern methods of genetic modification have accelerated the process, but not produced the most dramatic changes seen in the history of our companion plants and animals. Humans will continue to shape the plants and animals that travel through history with them. Our modifications have assured that more and more people are fed on our little planet, and that is good, because every year there are more and more of us.
p.s. Some parts of this blog post were lifted verbatim from Wikipedia.
Filed under: Corn, dogs, history, weather | Tags: change, Corn, dogs, history, weather
I’ve recently been in a conversation on technology in agriculture with another blogger that has started me thinking of all the way we humans shape the land, plants and the animals around us. Humans are the only creature that has affected so many parts of the world that they live in. Our actions have been far reaching, but they are not all recent.
We wonder at the modern marvels man produces, but some of his greatest marvels are not at all recent.
Perhaps the most changed animal on the earth is the dog. The dog most likely started out as a small wolf like animal. Once it took up residence with man, he began to shape it’s destiny. Today the multitude of dog forms from huge to tiny can all trace their way back to that same ancestor. And yet, if the dog was allowed to live in the wild, it would return to something very like its ancestor. We have created an artificial creature, in an artificial environment to meet our needs. Truly amazing.
Man’s shaping of plants is no less amazing. For millions of years mankind has chosen the best of the plants around him, nurtured and protected them, and changed them. Perhaps the most changed is Zea Maize, what is known as corn in the U.S. Maize comes in many forms, some suited to different climates, some to different uses. When people in the U.S. think of corn they usually think of sweet corn, that wonderful vegetable of summer. Another type of corn they think of is pop corn, a theater snack and household staple of the pantry. There is also, flint corn, pod corn, and the most common of all, dent corn.
Dent corn is the most misunderstood of the corn types. It is mainly used for animal feed, and as an industrial feed stock. One of its larger uses in recent times is for the production of ethanol. Dent corn itself is amazingly flexible. It can be changed easily by mixing specialized stocks to fill all kinds of industrial needs. It is also one of the easiest plants to bio-engineer. Despite all of this, dent corn will readily mix with other corn types and revert back to something more like what the Europeans found when they came to the Americas.
Mankind has shaped the land, sometimes to his detriment, by pushing back water and digging out minerals. We have done so much to shape the world, but like the dog, and maize, if mankind turns his back, it will go wild again. When we are most comfortable, there will be an earthquake, volcano or flood to remind us that we live in a wild world. Just thinking.
Filed under: Animal care, cats, cold, dogs, family, Farm, farm animals, Minnesota, school, snow, travel, weather, wind, winter | Tags: car, cars, cold, farm, machines, Minnesota, snow, travel, weather, wind, winter
The temperature was eleven below as the school day started this morning and some high school boys were coming to school in shorts and no socks, they did have a long sleeve sweatshirt on. I know of several men who will not wear long pants unless they have to, no matter what the weather. Today’s high will be 18 degrees, and for some, coats are optional in Minnesota. Minnesotans have been known to leave home for a three hour or longer drive in the winter and not even bring a coat or boots. Yes, we raise them tough here … or do we?
I also see cars warming up outside houses for ten minutes so that the owner can make a five minute drive to work. Heated garages are a requirement for any new house built today, and apartment buildings with underground heated garages are common. Most folks here in the north are able to go from heated house, to heated car, to heated business and rarely do they experience the weather. Are we tough in Minnesota, or have todays modern conveniences made life so easy for us that we do not have to dress for the weather.
We take pride in Minnesota in our good roads. Our winter road crews are second to none when it comes to keeping roads open in nasty weather, but this has lead to the illusion that you can drive anywhere at any time. I grew up on the prairie, not in town, and I know better.
The last few winters have taken a toll on snow removal equipment on the farm. There are days you seem to be doing nothing else other than moving snow, and if you have livestock it can be worse. The animals have to be cared for. Free range is not possible when the wind blows snow into the yards every day, our animals need shelter. Larger cattle and horses can survive cold up to a point, but pigs and poultry need to be indoors. Sheep, goats, dogs and cats will make it in the cold, but will benefit from a place out of the wind and food and water every day.
The real tough one here in Minnesota is the livestock farmer, always making sure that his animals are cared for. Newborn calves in the shower stall, baby pigs warming on the oven door, these are what the livestock man does to keep his animals alive. Waterers freeze and he has to fix them despite the temperature. Feed must be delivered and if the tractor does not start, or something breaks, it can mean many hours of unexpected labor even if there were family plans. Yes, the tough one here in Minnesota is not the kid who comes to school in shorts in below zero weather, no, it’s the guy bundled up until only his eyes show, out feeding his animals. His sacrifice for the animals he raises is a true sign of being tough.
Filed under: cats, dogs, Farm, farm animals | Tags: cats, children, dogs, farm
For non farmers pets are a member of the family. Some consider them children and treat them as such. Farmers have an interesting relationship with their farm animals. Consider….
Farm cats can be a real comfort when you have a chance to sit down and they snuggle up to you. They are wonderful with children, with life lessons at so many stages of their life. Cats keep vermin on the move. But to me a cat can never be a dear friend. You can say you own a cat, but they really own you and stay at their pleasure. I’ve never known a cat that was truly domesticated. They stay for the easy food, but when other urges lead them to wonder, they seldom come back. Cats on our farm are transients, coming into our lives for a while, then leaving before they can make too big of a space.
Dogs on the other hand are more than a friend. Dogs live to please. Dogs are helpful. Dogs will fill your heart and stay their whole extended life. I have enjoyed the company of many dogs when I lived at my parents home, but none where I live now. You see, I think dogs belong out doors, and we live too close to a major highway. Dogs need the space and freedom to run and I never have seen a dog in a kennel or at the end of a chain that I did not feel sorry for.
I’ve buried more than my share of cats and kittens, but only one dog. I’d like to keep it that way.
Filed under: church, dogs, food, friends, house, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel, weather | Tags: ELCA, ELCSA, friends, Kwazamokuhle, South Africa, travel, weather
Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31, 2011. We were based out of the Kwazamokuhle Diaconic Centre near Loskop in the Zulu Midlands. The centre has a guest house that can be used in many different ways.
Josh, who was there for a year had a small suite on the east side that gave him a kitchen as well as toilet and sleeping area. The rest of us had access to a kitchen, a small indoor sitting room, and several bed rooms from a common hallway. We had one toilet and tub at the end of that hall. All of the bedrooms were about 12 foot by 12 foot. What was in them determined their use.
There were three bedrooms off of the hall, with two having two beds in them and one with three. These rooms were for the couples. Their windows faced north.
The sitting area was rarely used in the evening since leaving the light on drew mosquitos. It did do duty during the morning hours if you did not want to sit outside. It also became planning central when projects were being planned.
The girls room had a bunk in one corner, a bed under the window and two bunks in another corner. this made a total of 7 beds. The bunks were make of dimensional lumber and were fastened to the walls so that only 3 legs were needed for 4 beds and one leg for the two person bunk. This corner 4 some was built right across the door to the sitting room. They also had an outside door facing south that they kept locked so that they ended up crawling across a bed to get out. Outside their room was a room with a tub in it. Their window faced west.
The guys room had it’s own door around the back on the north side of the building.
The mens room had 2 bunks secured to the east wall and another on the south wall. Thus only three legs were needed for 6 beds. It had one bed under the west window and another in the middle of the room for a total of 8 beds. We slid the one in the middle of the room under my bunk to make more room. The mattresses were thin and you could feel every slat. I doubled my mattress after the first night. We also had a wardrobe in the corner and a table by it on the north wall. Several small benches were available and I used one for a nightstand. Two ladders were standing in the corner, we used them for towel racks.
On the south side of the building next to the veranda was the door to a toilet and to a shower/wash room. There were three showers and two sinks in this area.
Most of our evenings were spent on the veranda and it was here that we entertained guests and held our evening decompression sessions and devotions as well as our planning sessions for the next day.
Sometimes our guests had 4 legs. Sometimes more. Here lady and the tramp came in to see how we were doing. Lady usually held back and was quiet, the Tramp was pushy and insistent on getting attention. When one dog came alone there would be quite a battle as they vied for our attention if the other showed up. We figured they were both just puppies. Most of the time they stayed over by the other houses in the office area.
We spent our evenings by candle and flash light to keep unwanted insects away. We drank a beer or two, ate popcorn, mangos and pineapple, caught up on our journals and shared the day. Frustrations and joys were shared and a lot of laughter made the evening go fast.
The kitchen was small but useable, since all of our meals were prepared in another building, we didn’t need much. It was the hub of our mornings and evenings.
This was our home for most of the two weeks we were in South Africa. It was humble but it was very comfortable. Since the weather is always near perfect there was no heat in the building. There were also no screens, but there were bars on the doors and windows to keep large animals and intruders out. We learned to live South African style quite quickly.
My next post will be about our bible school experience. Stay tuned
HSUS has it’s own brand of vegan diet for your pet, but for some pets this diet is a form of animal cruelty. The dog food brand called “Humane Choice” is made in Uruguay and shipped 5000 miles to feed American pets. It’s not even USDA approved. But the real kicker is that it is short two essential amino acids that can only be attained by eating meat. The absence of these amino acids causes an enlarged heart and the potential for heart problems in dogs and cats.
It’s obvious that America’s farmers care a lot more about the animals they raise than HSUS does. Who would feed an animal a diet like that.