Friday, May 01, 2015

A Banquet of Food for Thought

First, a rancher's take on  a concept credited to Temple Grandin.....that we should breed wild instincts back into our cattle to protect them from predators. Dairy cattle are considered to be far less motherly than beef breeds, but ours were fierce in protecting their babies from coyotes...and sometimes from us. They would also protect our children if they thought it was necessary. One of Alan's show cows, Balsam, saw yotes hanging around, and scooped him against her shoulder with her head and pushed him down into the relative safety of the barnyard. Old Mandy did the same with Liz once when predators lurked in the fields.

However, all the herding or grouping or bunching instinct in the world isn't going to make a cow stick with the herd while calving...they are very vulnerable then...and predators are smart, persistent and capable. I don't think we are going to breed our cows to be better able to protect themselves very successfully. And as one of the commenters on this story said, we have all been breeding cattle for kind temperament for generations. Why would we want them to be wild and dangerous to ourselves? This is a good read and the comments are interesting.

Next, should farm kids be forgiven their student loans because farming is a public service? I have no real opinion on this, but I do believe that the will to farm is bred into nearly all of us. We just express it by nurturing pets and house plants rather than by growing food for our neighbors and the world. We feed our Jones for the outdoors in parks and camp grounds rather than by tilling acres and baling's in there though.....

Congratulations to the Capital District Dairy Bowl team. We did Dairy Bowl and Dairy Judging when the kids were younger. A lot of hard work, but both build character and teach kids an amazing amount about a plethora of subjects. As someone who didn't grow up on a farm and didn't even work on one until my mid-twenties, I learned a lot sitting in the back of the room waiting for the kids to be done practicing and driving them to regional meets and waiting some do a lot of waiting when you are a parent. 

Later I had fun coaching the novice team for several years. It was amazing to watch kids who barely knew a Holstein from a Swiss go on to clearly understand and explain how the esophageal groove works, and all about rumen function. Three cheers for this fine group of farm youth, representing some of the iconic farms of our region. Their families and coaches can be very proud of them.

A little birding. Those regional song variations will drive you nuts if you start second guessing yourself. A little whistler has been whooping up a storm around here all week. I have always thought that this song, which always begins to occur in mid-April, belonged to a certain common sparrow that passes through each year...usually a couple weeks earlier than this year though.

However, I started listening to the songs accredited to this bird online.....hmm....not right...not right at all. Not even almost right. It took me days of trotting out at first light trying to get my tired old eyes to focus before I was really awake to discover.....that I was right all was indeed a White-Crowned Sparrow.

This morning the binoculars gave me a clear picture of its little yellow beak parted in cheerful song right in the old Winesap apple tree. Give a listen at the link. Except for the chip notes, which match pretty well, ours doesn't sound anything at all like much for birding by ear.

Ask Liz about driving to where her husband's truck was laid low by a blown radiator hose and fixing it herself with her own girls....ya gotta love 'em.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I didn't read the article, but I have to say as much as I like Temple and some of her ideas, I would not want my cows any wilder or more protective of their young than they are. My current milk cow was raised by me, never knew her mom or saw any other cow mothers...she's a fierce one when she has babies and the "wolves" are near. When we sold her 7 month-old calf that we also bottle raised and she only shared a fence line with...she looked for him for days. She's about as high bred as I can afford for a dairy cow, and she's still a cow with all her instincts.

jan said...

I have a house full of dogs and cat and a yard full of tomato plants, zucchini, and herbs. I hadn't realized it was my will to farm, but you are right.

Cathy said...

So much here . . . so much engagement with life, nature, the precarious and precious. Predators and white-crowned sparrows . . and the dangdest colored kitty - ever.

Terry and Linda said...

I think Throwback really said everything I was going to say.

Love that cat! All soft and purry!


ellie k said...

We have a lot of birds since our yard is fairly safe with no cats. Our bird bath has three birds at a time splashing in it. I have a crow that I put out a slice of bread each morning, if I am late he sure let's me know when I go outside. When I mow or work outside he follows me around from place to place.

threecollie said...

Nita, I agree with you!

Jan, lol, I have always meant to write a newspaper column about that opinion of mine.

Cathy, Life is not dull. Today Alan bought a tractor, we got new gold fish and new guppies, the rototiller is coming in for the garden and a second load of hay is about to be sold after one went out this is good not to be bored. lol

LInda, that is Pumpkin. She is about as smart as a bucket of stones, but she is a nice little kitty just the same. I was holding gate while the boss took hay down to a customer and she came to keep me company.

Ellie, sounds like fun! I love when the birds come around. I work hard to discourage the couple of cats we have left from coming to the house so they are safe.