My Favorite Things

On the eve of my 27th birthday I’ve taken a moment to ponder what I love about this life. My list is long but I thought I would share 50 of my favorites, in no particular order:

First rain
Fresh air
Healing
Laughter
Music
Sharing food
Growing plants
Raising animals
Family time
Flowers
Leaves falling
Learning
Compliments
Volunteers
Date nights
Pets
Boats
Holidays
Fresh baked goodies
Random kindness
Peace
Good health
Giving
Coffee with a friend
Things kids say
Hand-me-downs
Warm drinks
Fire on a cold night
Mittens
Fireworks
McDonalds fries
Sweatpants
Gravity
Swimming
Letting go
Naps
Respectful children
Ice cream
Wide open spaces
Green lights
Clean sheets
Finishing a project
Dirt roads
Cows
Freedom
Costumes
Finding treasures
Starry skies
Sunshine
Creative minds

Antibiotics: Doctoring Food Animals

Giving antibiotics to food animals is a hotly debated topic.  I’ve spent a fair share of time giving vaccinations and doctoring sick calves on our ranch and others.  I would like to tell you first hand that people producing animals for food are not just administering drugs to animals all willy-nilly!  Food animal production is a careful science and to many farming families it is their income and purpose in life.  Raising animals is often a rewarding experience and lifestyle but it is also hard work and it takes a special breed of person to do it!

The FDA and other regulatory bodies regulate the types and amounts of drugs that can be administered to animals.  There are even more stringent regulations and withdrawal periods for livestock raised for meat and milk production.

Treating sick animals is expensive!  No rancher wants a calf to get sick because it directly effects their productivity and bottom line.  Ranchers also have compassion and don’t want the animal to suffer. When an animal is sick it is not gaining weight and developing like its contemporary group.  Just like humans, when animal disease and sickness is not treated, it spreads.  The vaccinations given to animals throughout their lives are to help them, not harm them.

Generally, calves raised in the beef industry are treated with antibiotics when they get sick.  The antibiotics and other medications have specific withdrawal times.  See the Beef Magazine article below for more information about withdrawal times.  An animal cannot be harvested until the applicable withdrawal time has passed.  The FDA and USDA have done many studies on withdrawal times and the length of time antibiotics stay in the animal’s system.  They also consistently do testing in harvest facilities to make sure producers are following the rules and keeping our food safe.

My main point is that it is good to know where your food comes from and monitor it’s safety, but stay informed and don’t believe the scare tactics put forth by activists groups.  The American food system is safe and highly regulated.  Farmers and ranchers struggle every day to meet the strictest regulations and put a safe product in your grocery store.  Be thankful you have high quality, safe food!

“According to the CDC, the most urgent threats are posed by antibiotic-resistant infections that have emerged in hospitals, as a result of heavy antibiotic use there.”

Repost from The Salt

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/16/223109560/cdc-deadliest-drug-resistance-comes-from-hospitals-not-farms

Beef Magazine – Understanding Animal Drug Withdrawal Times

http://beefmagazine.com/blog/guide-understanding-animal-drug-withdrawal-times

Cooped up

WHY RAISE CHICKENS?

 

chickens

 

As a backyard chicken farmer, you and your flock will do a lot to support the health and wellbeing of our environment:

  • Chickens help eliminate household organic waste by eating everything from vegetable scraps to garden and lawn clippings, saving it from the dump and turning it into something useful
  • Chicken manure serves as an excellent organic fertilizer for your lawn and garden, eliminating the need for harmful chemical alternatives
  • Unlike most store bought eggs, backyard chicken eggs do not require industrial cleaning, packaging or shipping, making them much more environmentally friendly

http://getcoopedup.com/why-chickens/

 

 

The above descriptions are true. Additionally, they don’t take up much space and are fairly low maintenance. My personal favorite is their entertainment value. Each time I enter the pen to feed and water them or give them food scraps I giggle at their reactions. They make funny little noises and move their heads around checking out whatever I have with me. So far I have at least one egg per day and I’ve had three chickens for a week, then got two more a couple days ago. Like any animal, stress decreases their production. It is very likely that their production will increase once they get settled in their new coop after being caged, transported and released into a new place.

 

We used a friend’s old chicken coop and put a dog kennel around it to keep our dogs out. When you have more dogs than chickens and they aren’t used to each other it is recommended to keep them separate. Also, if the chickens are roaming free they poop everywhere. I prefer containment and they don’t seem to mind it. Even when the dogs are locked up and we let them roam free, they don’t go far from their home. Giving chickens plenty of food, water, shade and shelter is critical to overall health and production.

 

Having fresh eggs is great and the chickens are fascinating. I’m enjoying every minute of this new venture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furry Friday: Gus Gus & Boots

Barn cats

We adopted Gus Gus (kitten) to keep Boots (cat) company. They have gotten very spoiled and are now used to our move. We hope to relocate them to our new barn soon! Until then, they just hang out and listen to law school lectures, play inside and attack my feet from underneath the bed. Darn cats!

20130830-102424.jpg

20130830-102435.jpg

20130830-102448.jpg

20130830-102500.jpg

Waiting for Harvest

20130826-100345.jpg

Rice farmers all over the state wait patiently to drain their fields and start harvest. I took this picture from my garden yesterday of the neighbor’s field. Rice farming is a huge industry in California. Farmers harvest more than 2 million tons of rice making it the second largest rice growing state in the nation behind Arkansas. California’s ideal climate and water supply make it perfect for growing high quality rice crops. An average of 60% of the rice produced annually goes on tables across America and the rest is exported. Rice is a staple for many other industries as it is used in restaurants, made into beer and pet food.

Hump Day

086

Whenever I see the camel in the Geico hump day commercial I think of my llama. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWBhP0EQ1lA)

Yes I have a llama…who doesn’t? By the way, this is my first non-food blog.  I’m hoping to share a little bit about the rural lifestyle and my quirky personality in this one.

How I ended up with a llama
Let me start by giving a brief background on my dear llama, Kuzco.  I was a member in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school and bought a few goats to raise.  Shortly thereafter I bought Kuzco to guard my goats. Llamas are excellent guard animals and have been used to guard livestock in North America since the early 1980’s. They protect sheep, goats and other small animals from predators like coyotes. Coyotes are a great threat to livestock, especially during and shortly after birth when the animals are most vulnerable.  Baby animals are easy targets for packs of coyotes.  Having a guard llama is a viable, nonlethal alternative for reducing predation, requiring no training and little care.

Fast forward a few years… I sold the goats, but Kuzco had no desire to leave our property! It was impossible to get him loaded into the trailer without either sedating him or having him hurt himself.  I had even found him a couple of new homes where he could guard goats and sheep, but he just didn’t want to leave.  Eventually I talked my parents into keeping him with a speech along the lines of “he doesn’t eat much and isn’t hurting anything”.

Llama kitty love
While I was away at college my mom adopted a large cat named Tucker. Tucker was previously a house cat but decided he liked to be free and live outside in the barn. One weekend I came home to visit and noticed Kuzco and Tucker were hanging out together in the field by the barn.  My mom explained that they had struck up a relationship and were inseparable. Mind you, they are the only animals in this field.  I guess Kuzco was happy to have something to guard.

Image

Llamas are magestic creatures!

I think llamas are quite fascinating and worth their weight in entertainment value.  The other day my husband, Cory, witnessed Kuzco’s many odd behaviors (not odd for a llama).  Llamas take dirt baths to stay clean.  This seems counter-productive, but it keeps Kuzco’s wool healthy and fluffy.  They are remarkably clean animals.  Another strange behavior is dung-piling.  Llamas mark their territory with dung piles and only defecate and urinate in their designated piles.

Image
A few more fun facts about llamas
Like horses, neutered males are called geldings. Their average lifespan is 17-23 years. A baby llama is called a cria (from Spanish for “baby”). Adult male llamas weigh 300-400 lbs and stand about 6 feet tall. Like a cattle, llamas have more than one stomach compartment. Cows are ruminants and have four compartments. Llamas are incomplete ruminants with only three compartments. They do not spit unless they are mishandled or stressed out.

Image

Until next time, save the drama for your llama!