Life on a family farm
in the wilds of
Upstate New York
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 hay....it'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 more...you 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 along....it 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 this....so 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 tools.....farm girls....ya gotta love 'em.