Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Presidential Election through the Lens of Agriculture

This week's Farm Side sent me searching for where the two combatants, and I use that word intentionally, stand on various issues of importance to agriculture.

For the first time since I have been writing the Farm Side....1998...there exists more than enough information on their stances on ag to put together a meaningful column on the topic.

There is little question in my mind that pretty much everyone has made up theirs, so this is just for information if you are interested. Don't be whipping on me for what you find here.....I only report....I did not write these stories, nor did I sort them in manner that would skew the results. This is what there is.



Farm Futures


A Senate committee report on WOTUS. Note that the Army Coprs of Engineers sees furrows from plowing as "small mountains". You can't make this stuff up.

Estate Tax

These are only some of the sources that I perused in making the Farm Side possible this week. However, there is naturally a lot of duplication and these seem to cover many of the major issues.

Happy reading.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pod Day

Ma Nature's original podcast

Have I mentioned that I hate pod day? Perhaps not.....we normally just have pod week or pod month. Those are bad enough, but at least the pod-slaught is spread out over a longer time....fewer pps...that's pods per second...it makes it easier to withstand the deluge.

However, every now and then we have a blustery fall day at the same time that the honey locust pods are ripe and ready to fall. Travel in the back yard becomes downright perilous for those who are tender of head.

And that's me. I cringe and flinch my way out with dogs and back in with same. I want to do yard work, but only last a couple of minutes before I've had enough pods to the head and hurry back indoors, out of the podstorm. Ack! It gets downright crazy!

There are so many that one even blew into the house through TWO doors and a porch a little while ago. There are windrows of pods!

Yesterday there were a few down but most of them were still on the tree. Today the wind is ripping them off and flinging them about with wild abandon. I have been hit a couple-three times already.

The pods are bad enough on their own, but the small loose branches and twigs are even worse.

Bah humbug. Enough already

Plenty more where those came from

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sustainable my left......toenail.....

The kids' new Call Ducks. Note that eagles can't get to them

I subscribe to farm publications and birding publications galore, via the wonders of the web. Sometimes the blindness I see on both sides, but mostly on the birdy side, is downright painful.

If you happen to be a farmer, take a read of this article. What the heck.....even if you are not a farmer, give 'er a go. Better than a cup of coffee for getting your blood boiling on a cold November October morning.

It's long, but it's chock full of valuable organic fertilizer, AKA BS about conventional farming and sustainability.

I mean, seriously, how is letting 75 Bald Eagles dine on your goats, chickens, and turkeys, to the tune of thousands of bucks of loss daily, sustainable?

Um, you know what? It isn't.

Losses to wildlife like these are among the reasons why farmers invented hen houses. If you leave tasty poultry outside wild things eat them. Some of the wild things are glamorous like eagles.

Some of them are a little less exciting like coyotes and foxes. However, if it tastes good on our dinner table, the wild ones like it too, from cabbage to cow.

Talk about inaccurate.

I absolutely cringed at the line about cattle being injected with antibiotics regularly...

No, no, and no again. No farmer in their right mind would inject medicines with long withdrawal times just for the fun of it. 

And how telling is it that the business run as a conventional beef farm was profitable...and thus sustainable from the point of view of staying in agriculture as opposed to being made into a shopping mall....until some wheel-reinventing took place and the eagles came to call?

After the wheel was reinvented the article author admitted that the place has yet to be profitable enough to justify the huge investment of going "sustainable."

The mortality rate on the farm, and not just from eagles either, is 11% higher than that projected for confinement housing. My dead computer has a link to a study showing the comparative health of hens in various housing situations. It ain't what you think.....

How I love the proposed solutions to the eagle problem. Ask the government to help and/or everybody farm in this same magical way so the eagles will go eat everybody's animals instead of just concentrating on one free buffet  er, farm.

Too bad only 1% of people try to make a living farming and actually understand what works and why...as well as what simply doesn't.

 I love birds, but sometimes it is hard to identify with others who also do.....

Stained Glass Window


On the Dacks.....

Alan and I did a leaf peeping trip yesterday to Malone and back, with many side trips along the way.............

Really we were looking for moose, but the only one we saw was on the side of a brick chimney. 

Alan did see a White-tail buck near the town of St. Regis that could easily have passed for a moose. He declined to even try to count the tines on its antlers. Wrong side of the car for me, but it takes a biggun to make him exclaim like that. Bet that's a deer not too many people have seen in its lifetime.

The trees in some places were nearly bare, but up around Tupper Lake and points north even the maples were flaunting red locks like a girl with a mirror. 

In this autumn season and early in the spring the forest reveals the secrets of its species makeup. The rest of the time you have to look closely to tell the trees apart.

In summer everything is green. The evergreens make themselves known by the darkness of their needles, but everything else looks pretty much the same. In winter greys and browns rule, stark against the snow.


However, now in this time of decline, even the beech trees, which tend to blend, have turned the rich brown of a doe's pelt, only shining as if each leaf had been polished one-by-one. They stretch pointy fingers toward the road as if waving goodbye to passing humans.

Bright maples look as if someone had taken a carton of construction paper from a kindergarten closet, snipped it into leaf shaped pieces, and tossed them into the sky. You couldn't name all the colors even if you tried.

Yellow poplar and silvery-gold tamarack glow like candles, especially among the dark pine groves they often augment. Yesterday even the lichens shone bright pewter on the banks along the highways, all puffed with the importance of getting pumped for winter.

Oaks are more subtle than the big name trees, but their reds and browns shine like burnished metal. Sometimes each leaf has as many colors as any maple, stippled in bands of red and gold and brown. 

It was cloudy and rainy in some spots, but that just made the bright trees pop.

After a few hours of such largess, eyes are nearly sated with it all, until a tree watcher is ready to be home asleep, to dream all night of dazzling colors. 

Today a cold harsh rain is falling, and even walking the busy doggies is a misery. So thankful to have memories of yesterday's fire of autumn leaves to warm the corners of my mind and keep the cold at bay.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Holy Beaver

Was my late boss's favorite exclamation back when I worked as a vet tech. Whatever happened with the dogs or cats, it was "Holy beaver," every time.

That was pretty much what we said when we saw this luxury beaver condo up in Franklin County today. I figure they watch lumberjack competitions and curling from Canada on it.....


Some of our big trees for Merri. On the right a Colorado Blue Spruce
On the left the Honey Locust The tower on the house is seventy some feet high....

It's not hard to get out and about before the sun comes up these days...in fact it is harder to wait for sunrise to walk the busy doggies. It comes up so darned late and so far to the south now.

Honey Locust. Lots of pods this fall

This morning, although a few crickets buzzed and whined of winter soon to come, no birds were awake yet, not even the crows or robins. (It is odd this warm, weird autumn, to stand in thickly humid weather and hear White-throated Sparrows whistling up Old Sam Peabody out in the bushes.)

As I put Finn on his short term tie...he barks if I leave him in the house while I take Mack out to his.....I heard, down in the neighbor's brushy jungle, a coyote pup singing a short and thready song. Hmmm....might be a good idea to leave the yard lights on this morning. Mack needs time to run on the cable or he goes all Jack Russell terrier in the house, which is never a good thing. I just as soon he didn't turn up on their menu though.

I heard more howls from the east faint but not far, while the roosters began to crow in the old heifer barn to the west.The guinea fowl were calling buckwheat long before the sun came up. I stood a long time under the Winesap apple tree, just listening to what was happening so early in the morning.

It was as wild and countrified a wake up as anyone might desire.

And yet.....to the east where the coyote pups were trying out for chorus, some implement of man's work was beeping a warning as it backed up to something somewhere.

I had to listen hard and sharp to even hear those coyotes calling....trucks grumbled one behind the other up and down the Thruway. Trains squalled warnings at every crossing to the north of us and there are very many trains. Only to the south was it quiet. Only there did the sound of commerce going at it hammer and tongs not quite drown out the dawn.

We are so betwixt here in the valley....surrounded by all things natural and comforting...besieged by all things metal and mercenary...and needing both to survive the days.

I would shrivel away to nothing without the wild and the gardens and creatures.

And I would get awful hungry without food, and cold without clothing, and tired of not traveling without fuel, and really, really miss all the other goods and services carried by the trains and cars and trucks that roll past in an unending river of stuff.

Guess we are required to have it both ways in the modern world.....oh, well, we need never get bored, that's for sure

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I have a Confession to Make

See these guys? Back in the day I had dogs that would put them right in your lap if you so desired, and sometimes even if you didn't desire. Mike would work the worst bulls and meanest cows we had...except number 171, who had it in for him...and he did the best he could with her. We had dogs that got 'er done. Even Gael, who was pretty much a wienie, at least wanted to work, and tried her darnedest.

However this guy.....this cute, fluffy, nicely housebroken little leg breaker....butter wouldn't melt in his mouth and all, but he will knock you over in a heartbeat.

Yeah, he is scared spitless of them. Good thing I don't need a good stockdog, because I sure don't have one.


One by one the porches on this place...this house has more porches than a toad has warts....and pretty darned warty porches at that....are being rebuilt and painted and made all spiffy and nice, mostly by Alan with help from his dad.

This rebuild was somewhat more exciting than is necessary from a mother's point of view.

I didn't get photos, but before this was started the porch decking was completely rotted and falling off the house and there wasn't a whole heck of a lot holding the roof up. At one point an inopportune movement of the skid steer tore the roof loose from the house and nearly dropped it on the kid.

Not good.

It is pouring today, so the mostly finished....some flashing needs to be placed...photo looks kind of grim. However, it is a gigantic improvement over its previous state.

They had an extra railing post and set it on the front like the figurehead on a ship so I can hang plants on it next summer too.

Ain't it handy having a guy who works construction hanging around with nothing to do but fix our stuff? And a handy dandy assistant too.....