August 29, 2009

Embarrassed by a Tomato

Leave it to my dear husband to find this tomato in our garden. Some kind of weird mutant butt fruit. (As I think to myself, "Sure you think it is funny now but what kind of Google searches is this blog going to turn up in after using the term butt fruit in it". Eww)
Butt...err but how does it taste? I figured since our fresh garden zucchini is proudly goat approved I would let the bucks put this tomato to the taste test as well.

The bucks took their task of farm food critic seriously and tried that first bite of tomato.

video
As you can see on the video, the bucks tried the tomato. They are clearly contemplating this tomato a great deal with that first bite, trying to decide if they really like it. They don't rush to judgment. In the end I think their verdict was this particular tomato tastes about like what it looks like.

Goats have a false reputation for eating anything and this is simply not true. They can in fact be quite persnickety about their food and water. It must be clean and fresh as it should be and it is common for goats to prefer one type of grain or mineral over another. Our spoiled goats even prefer certain colors or types of water buckets over others. These goats love their green and blue buckets but will only drink out of the same type of clean red or pink buckets if they have too and they hate to drink after the slobber monster Dudley the dog. You can practically see the disgust on their faces if they walk up to the water bucket after he has dripped drool in it while slopping up a drink. So if you see us at the farmers market, don't judge our tomatoes too harshly by these two food critics, they are after all quite picky but I do promise there won't be any mutant butt fruits at our farmers market table.

August 26, 2009

August 21, 2009

Talking Turkey

We have had some new visitors to the farm lately. Wild turkeys! Of course turkeys are no new thing on the farm and we have seen them quite often in the past, but usually we just see them from a distance. They might be crossing the road or every once in awhile out in the pastures. I even saw one being stalked by a coyote in our hay pasture one time. The lucky turkey saw the stealthy predator in time to fly away, with some help from me and the coyote went hungry that day.

These wild turkey encounters have always been from afar though. Well, except for that one really close up, from out of nowhere, in my face at 50 mph by way of the windshield of my car turkey experience. I can't really count that one, because between the flying feathers, screeching brakes and shattering glass, that turkey and I didn't exactly have time to say hello to each other. He ran away and neither one of us or the sheriff deputy that responded could find him. I left that turkey encounter feeling very sad, needing a new windshield and almost a new pair of pants.

Lately though there has been a few brave turkeys that have been hanging around quite close to the house. At first it was just one turkey. I noticed her the first time when I happened to look out the living room window and caught her strutting around the back yard, bobbing her head and eyeing our vegetable garden. The next bob of her head she happened to see the curtains move and she quickly sort of ran and flew away. Turkeys are not the most graceful fliers.

She came back a few times and pretty soon she brought a friend. Now there was two turkeys hanging around the house almost every day. They hang out in the driveway first thing in the morning and then they like to come up to the back of the house mid morning after the goats and horse are done eating to pick up any grain they have dropped. It wasn't long until they stopped running away when I opened the backdoor and now they just walk away. The picture above was taken through the window. Jeez, I need to wash the windows but they are only about 20 feet from the back door here.

Up until yesterday it had just been two turkeys hanging around the house. They were hanging out by the backyard again. Now apparently the word is out and it is a turkey party up in here and we have three turkeys at least. I suspect they are roosting on the brush pile in the horse pasture not far from the house. Until yesterday I had not heard them make a sound. Yesterday I was in the house when I heard a strange, soft "pip" sound. "What is that?" It is hard to describe, but it sounded like pip....pip..pip. It took me a minute to realize it was the turkeys making that strange sound. So we grabbed the camera to try and get some pictures of them.

video

If you turn up the sound on this video you can hear them. This was the turkeys early in the morning after a heavy overnight rain shower. They walk away if they know I am watching them so this was filmed by opening the backdoor a crack and sticking the camera out. It worked for awhile and then Joker the goat had to give us away. Yes, that is hay on his head. He must have been eating out of the hay rack. He gets so much hay on his head because he likes to ram the hay rack with his horns. Maybe he would stop if he knew how silly he looked with that hay on his head all the time. (The constant clicking sound in the video is the electric fence charger)

The turkeys know we are watching them so they start to walk away. They don't do the panicked, head bob and run anymore. They just sort of mosey on back out to the pasture when they realize we are watching them.

"Oh Wait! I see a kernel of grain I missed!" Can't leave that little tasty treasure behind. Apparently she is the "just one more" chick at the turkey party.

The other two girls don't wait on her and head back home, down the horse path.

She catches up though and they walk single file back out to the brush pile together, going "pip" "pip" as they go.

August 08, 2009

Little Gems

Isn't this cutie just a little gem? His name is Tracy and he is my new nephew! He was three days old in this picture if you can believe that. Just look at all that hair! I realize this doesn't really have anything to do with goats or farming but I am just so proud to welcome little Tracy to the family, and to be a first time aunt!


Speaking of gems, I am humbled and honored that Kathie over at "My Net Finds" would see fit as to give me her special "You're a Gem" award. Thank you Kathie! If you are interested in a great blog you should check her out!

August 07, 2009

Goat Meat Growing in Popularity Across the US

It looks like the good taste and value of goat meat is finally starting to get noticed at restaurants and even in the news.

Goat, the healthy red meat.

For anyone interested in the nutritional value here is a link to an interesting chart comparing different types of meat.

http://www.geocities.com/shilohprairiefarm/Goatmeatnutrition.html

August 06, 2009

A Step in the Right Direction on NAIS


http://www.r-calfusa.com/news_releases/2009/090804-group.htm

Press Release: Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator R-Calfusa
August 4, 2009 e-mail: r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

77 Groups Laud Senate Subcommittee for Unanimous Vote on Tester/Enzi Amendment to Slash NAIS Funding

Washington, D.C. - R-CALF USA is pleased that the U.S. Senate, through a unanimous consent vote, supported an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., that slashes funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) National Animal Identification System (NAIS) by one-half in the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill.

".perhaps most important, USDA has pursued NAIS without working in cooperation with the very industry sector that would be directly impacted by the agency's radical new proposal. Instead, USDA has proceeded to implement NAIS despite overwhelming opposition from the men and women who comprise our U.S. livestock industry, and particularly from those involved in the largest segment of our livestock industry - the U.S. cattle industry," wrote R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry in a letter sent to Tester before the vote.

"As evidenced by USDA's numerous listening sessions held throughout the U.S., this overwhelming opposition arises from those individuals who have the greatest stake in ensuring that our livestock herds remain protected from the introduction and spread of disease - the individuals whose very livelihoods and businesses are dependent on preventing, controlling and eradicating diseases," the letter continued. "This, above all else, should demonstrate to Congress that USDA's NAIS program is wholly inappropriate and unsuitable for the United States livestock industry."

Thornsberry pointed out that USDA already has spent about $140 million of taxpayer money on NAIS, claiming the program would allow animal disease traceback within 48 hours, but such an arbitrary timeframe would not appear to prevent the spread of diseases with long incubation periods, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or bovine tuberculosis. Nor would NAIS appear to prevent the spread of diseases that incubate very quickly, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which would necessitate more immediate containment actions to prevent disease spread beyond an infected animal.

Additionally, R-CALF USA signed on with a letter to the entire Senate from a coalition of 76 other organizations that oppose NAIS.

"Contrary to its stated purposes, NAIS will not address animal disease or food safety problems. Instead, NAIS imposes high costs and paperwork burdens on family farmers.In this letter, we will touch on just a few of the reasons that NAIS is fundamentally flawed:

1) No analysis or quantification of the alleged benefits. USDA has made unsupported assertions that our country needs 48-hour traceback of all animal movements for disease control. Yet USDA has failed to provide any scientific basis, including risk analysis or scientific review of existing programs, to support this claim. USDA has also asserted that NAIS would provide 48-hour traceback, but has failed to address the many technological and practical barriers. Existing disease control programs, combined with measures such as brand registries and normal private record-keeping, provide cost-effective traceback. A new and costly program such as NAIS is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive.

2) High costs. The costs of complying with NAIS will be unreasonably burdensome for small farmers and many other animal owners. The costs of NAIS go far beyond the tag itself, and include: premises registration database creation and updates; tags and related equipment, such as readers, computers, and software; 24-hour reporting requirements, imposing extensive paperwork burdens; labor for every stage of the program; stress on the animals; qualitative costs, from loss of religious freedoms, privacy, and trust in government; and enforcement.

3) No food safety benefits. NAIS will not prevent food borne illnesses from e. coli or salmonella, because the contamination occurs at the slaughterhouse, while NAIS tracking ends at the time of slaughter. Thus, NAIS will neither prevent the contamination nor increase the government's ability to track contaminated meat back to its source. In addition, NAIS will hurt efforts to develop safer, decentralized local food systems.

4) Unfair burdens placed on family farms and sustainable livestock operations. In addition to the costs, NAIS would impose significant reporting and paperwork burdens on small farms. In addition, sustainable livestock operations, which manage animals on pasture, would face higher rates of tag losses than confinement operations due to animals getting their tags caught on brush or fences. NAIS essentially creates incentives for CAFOs, with the accompanying social and environmental concerns.

"NAIS epitomizes what government should not do: it should not impose costly and highly intrusive regulatory burdens on private industry and private citizens without first considering alternatives, without first establishing a critical public need, and without first determining the effect that a significant government mandate would have on the culture and economy of the U.S. livestock industry," said Thornsberry. "We view the Tester/Enzi amendment as an essential step towards requiring USDA to begin cooperating with U.S. livestock producers to prevent the introduction and spread of animal diseases and pests in livestock without violating the rights and privileges of the individual owners and caretakers of those livestock."

# # #

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.