What Is a Local Farmer?

I’m starting out with a warning: This is my blog and therefore I am expressing my opinions.  You probably disagree with me, and that’s OK.  I believe in that American ideal that we are all entitled to our own opinions.  And, I would probably enjoy a discussion with you about those opinions, as long it is respectful and not personal.  We may disagree, but I still love everyone. 

I’m a Jersey girl.  My idea of a farming community is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Lancaster County is in central Pennsylvania and is the heart of Amish country.  It is a mere 90-ish miles from the Jersey border.  There are many many farmers.  These farmers are Amish, Mennonites and others.  Lancaster County is abound with farmers markets, stores and roadside stands that feature produce, yummy cheeses, jams, pies and such other unique fare.  Granted that I knew they catered to the many tourists that come to gawk at the Amish, but in my Jersey mind that is what a farming community was.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Enter Laura the Jersey girl into Lincoln County… Lincoln County Colorado is also a farming community.  My first arrival here was after driving straight through from the Poconos, a 1600 mile trip.  I was coming out of one of the most frightening experiences that I have ever had in my whole life: driving through western Kansas in the middle of the night.  I had never seen anything so desolate.  I had never seen a place so open, so treeless, so… frightening.  And then, when I crossed the border into Colorado, which is merely the unastounding 37th Parallel, it felt like I had never left Kansas.  Another 100 miles or so found me in Hugo, Colorado: Wow!  Yeah, I thought, if I wanted to film a horror movie, Hugo would be ideal.  (Well, that was when I was an Eastern Colorado greenhorn.  I now know that there are a lot better places to film a horror movie in Eastern Colorado, like Genoa or the Genoa tower, or Ramah, or Boyero.  Hugo is actually a mecca compared to them. )

Well, you get the point: I was astounded by the farming community of Lincoln County compared to what I thought a farming community was in my mind.

So let’s talk about Lincoln County… Well, let me start out by saying that the people here are great.  I mean really wonderful.  Strangers have literally shown up here to fight fires.  I can count on my neighbors.  They’ll help me to round up my cows when they get out.  They’ll take care of my children in an emergency.  They’ll pick things up for me in Colorado Springs.  They support me, even though, well, I’m a little different.  I truly feel that the Lincoln County residents “got my back”.  So, then what, Laura, is the problem, you say?

My problem is that if I climbed to the top of my roof, I would see fields and fields and pastures and pastures.  I mean talk about local farms:  my locale is surrounded by farms.  So what’s the problem?  Let’s say that I wanted to buy a cow from my neighbor for beef.  Well, good and local, but the closest custom processor is forty miles away.  Let’s say that I go to that local not-very-super-supermarket in town and want to buy flour.  It comes from Pillsbury, and not that farmer-down-the-road’s wheat field. Let’s say that I wanted to buy some grain from the farmer.  Well, there are no longer any organic farms in Lincoln County.  Well how about corn?  Can we say GMO-yeah?

I support my local farmer, as in I support all of my neighbors.  I got their back in the same way that they got mine.  They are wonderful, great people.  But seriously, if I see one more Support Your Local Farmers urging, I may resort to violence (or at least scream).    You know, Local Farmer, I would love to support you.  But you don’t want my support.  You grow GMOs.  You sell cattle at the auction at least 80 miles away.  You sell your commodities to the grain elevator.  Some of your crop is patented, so it would be illegal for you to sell it to me since they make you sign a contract that you won’t.  You grow all the uninteresting things that the local grain elevator takes, even though perhaps other things might grow here also.

I guess what I am trying to say is that for me, my local farmers aren’t local.  Sure they are nearby.  Sure they are wonderful wonderful people.  But, they are not ‘local farmers’.  Thank you, Monsanto.  If you happen to be a local (as in nearby) farmer and I am wrong, please tell me.  I will do my best to support you.  I want to buy your chemical free crops.  I want to buy your non-GMOs.  If I am mistaken about you not wanting my support, please let me know.

My wonderful husband, who grew up out here, doesn’t even see the irony here.  Am I crazy to think it’s ironic to be surrounded by farms, yet not have anything local available to buy?  And even if I wanted to let’s-say-buy-a-cow from you, I must take said cow 40 miles to be processed.    Maybe my husband is right and there is no irony here.  Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Hugo, Colorado are nearly 1600 miles away from each other.  I should just get over it.


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The Fallacy Of Locally Grown

What does locally grown mean? Locally grown is an adjective to describe agricultural products that were grown within a close proximity to you.

There is a big push to “support your local farmer” and “eat locally grown”. I am here to tell you it is all a fallacy. Pushing locally grown foods fails to take into account one big fact: the factory farms and the commodities must be locally grown to somebody. Even those farms all have neighbors.

My little isolate little patch of heaven way out west is surrounded by farms that use chemicals. They grow GMOs. They send their cattle to feedlots. So if I consumed “locally grown” what would I really be consuming? I’d be feeding my family the same things that the “eat locally grown” proponents are against.

LincolnCountyFair

Ha-haha-haha!
The Lincoln County Fair featured a booth of local foods. What a good laugh!
Surefine GMO corn flakes? Can we do better than that? Those corn flakes were made of GMO corn that was taken out of the whole commodity system. The cereal was put through an extruder and manufactured someplace far far away. It was then shipped to a warehouse and eventually found itself on a shelf in the supermarket in town. I would say the chance that some of the corn used in that cereal box came from Lincoln County would be like the chance of finding a needle in a hay stack. Can’t we do better than that, Lincoln-County-Fair-booth-putter-togetherers? The truth is that we probably can’t. It’s pathetic, really. It’s the irony of being surrounded by farms and not being able to find anything locally grown. There’s probably some law that all county fairs had to feature some kind of similar booth.  This is sorry.  Even the little “Rocky Mountain Farmers” poster is funny.  Lincoln County is the prairie.  It ain’t no mountain.

 

I think perhaps the eat locally grown movement needs another name.  I’m not sure what that name should be, but I really think that the name is not appropriate.  Look at Lincoln County…


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GMO Wheat And GMO Misinformation

 

I just wrote this whole post about how I’m against GMOs to give a little background on them.  I really intended these two posts to be one, but once I get going, I guess I can’t shut up.  One post would have been too long… So please go back and read Monday’s post to get some background on GMOs.

 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when so-called against-GMO people don’t have their facts straight.  It seems to happen all the time.  There is a lot of misinformation out there about what exactly are GMOs and what crops are GMOs.  If you’re going to be “against” something, know what you’re against.  No offense, but otherwise, you just look stupid.

 

So here, in this post, I am going to talk about what GMOs are and hopefully clear up some common misconceptions.  Please keep in mind that I am writing this now in August 2013 and things change quickly.

 

GMO stands for genetically modified organism.  This means that scientists actually alter the gene sequence of certain species.  That’s right- the scientists have modified the genes of GMO varieties, hence the term genetically modified organism.  They insert genes of a different species into the GMO.  It’s new resulting GMO will be a grain with let’s say a bacterial genome in it.  In current approved commercial production, there are only a handful of GMO crops.  These crops are alfalfa, corn, soy, papaya, cotton, zucchini, yellow squash and sugar beets.  Let me repeat that, in current approved commercial production, the only GMO crops are alfalfa, corn, soy, papaya, cotton, zucchini, yellow squash and sugar beets. That is it, as of this writing.  (If you want to read about this from some great folks who actually know what they’re talking about and not shooting from their hips like me, you should check out the non-GMO project here.)

 

There are mad experiments all over the place of other GMO crops.  They destroy these harvests and they are not in our food supply.  Sure these experimental crops could be cross-pollinating and contaminating the actual commercial production crops.  Sure some of the people involved in these experiments could be unscrupulous and sell them to the unknowing grain elevators to make a quick buck.  But for the most part, unless you are consuming alfalfa, corn, soy, papaya, cotton, zucchini, yellow squash and sugar beets or products derived from them or animals that ate these, you are safe from GMOs.

 

About 90-some-odd percent of the corn and soy grown in the USA is GMO.  Corn and soy are in everything.  For example, these common food and cosmetic ingredients are all derived from corn: ascorbic acid, baking powder, calcium citrate, cellulose, citrate, citric acid, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, decyl glucoside, dextrin, maltodextrin, dextrose, ethanol, ferrous gluconate, artificial and natural flavors, golden syrup, honey, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, iodized salt, lactic acid, lauryl glucoside, magnesium citrate, magnesium stearate, malic acid, malt, malt flavoring, maltitol, maltodextrin, mannitol, methyl gluceth, modified food starch, MSG, polydextrose, polyactic acid, polysorbates, powdered sugar, saccharin, sodium citrate, sodium erthorbate, sodium starch glycolate, sorbitan, sorbitol, starch, sucralose, tocopherol, vanilla extract, vinegar, vitamins, xanthum gum, xylitol and zein.  And that’s just corn.  If you want to avoid GMOs, you need to avoid all these common ingredients in processed foods.  There are many more that are derived from soy.  Avoid them to avoid GMOs.

 

Animals eat corn and soy.  All animals, pretty much.  Even fish are fed corn and soy derived food.  So unless you buy organic meats, raise them yourselves, or know the farmer really well, GMOs are in your meat.  Of course there are GMO animal feed alternatives, but they are few and far between and hard to find (for the rancher).  Even if you buy “pastured” or “grass-fed” meat, you should further inquire about the animals consuming corn and soy.  Those terms do not necessarily mean GMO-free.  Going meat-less is unhealthy, in my opinion.  So do eat meat, but do eat GMO-free meat.

 

Well what about wheat, you ask?  There is currently no GMO wheat presently under commercial  cultivation.  That is worth repeating.  There is currently no GMO wheat under commercial cultivation.  For some reason, (and I blame Dr. William Davis) people are under the assumption that wheat is currently GMO.  No, it is not.

2011… No, wheat is not GMO.
2011… No, I wouldn’t let them do this if this was GMO.

I’m not saying that the commercially produced wheat is good for you. Commercially produced wheat is intensely hybridized.  It is bred and bred so much through conventional breeding methods that the resulting common wheat bares little resemblance to its wild ancestors.  It is also a lot higher in gluten so that commercial bakeries can make a loaf of bread with more rise and less actual wheat.  These differences of wheat varieties are just the result of breeding, not inserting new genes into the genome of the wheat, not yet anyway.

Eatlocalgrown.com?  Eat local grown dot com?
Sites like this crack me up because if I ate locally grown, I’d
be eating GMOs. Anyway, this meme is a good summary of
the difference between hybrids and GMOs.

In June 2013, a farmer in Oregon noticed some volunteer wheat in his field.  A volunteer crop is basically a cultivated crop that wasn’t planted there- a weed but of a cultivated crop.  So the farmer, being of the conventional sort, sprayed Roundup on the said wheat.  The wheat didn’t die.  He sent it off for testing.  The reason that the wheat didn’t die was that it was GMO Roundup Ready wheat.  Experimental GMO wheat plots hadn’t been tried in Oregon since like ten years before this incident.  How did the GMO wheat get there?  This one incident of this one farmer finding GMO wheat in his one field set off international mayhem.  A bunch of countries that don’t allow GMOs said they wouldn’t take imported American wheat.  Monsanto says it’s all sabotage.  Even if it was, Monsanto, when you play with fire, you get burned.  There is a farmer in Western Kansas that is suing Monsanto for making his wheat worth less on the commodity market.  Of course this is just one incident.  How many others go unnoticed or get hushed up?  For whatever reason, whether this incident, the weather, or just life, wheat has dropped drastically on the commodity market in the last few months.  As for our part, we didn’t even have a wheat crop this year because of last year’s drought.

2011… It seems that every year there is an extra baby in the harvest
photos.  My Vince was born less than 12 hours after we took this picture,
which is sideways because I still don’t know how to work a computer.
2012…

 

So let me sum up what I am saying…
1.  There is a lot of misinformation out there about GMOs.
2. The only current GMO crops (as of this writing) are alfalfa, corn, soy, papaya, cotton, zucchini, yellow squash and sugar beets.
3. Corn and soy derivatives are in about all processed foods, so if you want to avoid GMOs, you must avoid corn and soy derivatives.
4. About all conventionally raised animals eat corn and soy.
5. Wheat is currently not GMO.
6. There are tons of experiments all over the place with tons of different crops.  They’ll be a lot more GMOs soon.  Yes, it is possible for these experiments to sabotage our food supply.
7.  If you’re going to be against GMOs, at least know what you’re talking about.  Read up on them, here

 


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I Am Against GMOs

Be warned: This is one of those posts where I am talking about my passions from my point of view. I will have a lot of facts in here, too, but also a lot of my opinions. Don’t read if you don’t want to. If you do read and we have a different opinion, that’s fine. This is my blog where I state my opinions. We can still be friends. You can still get your own blog and write your opinions on there. But for the facts part of it, at least get your facts straight. Also know that I am writing this post in April 2014. Things change quickly. My information is current as of this writing.

GMOs? Let’s start with what they are… GMO stands for genetically modified organism. This means that scientists actually alter the gene sequence of certain species. That’s right- the scientists have modified the genes of GMO varieties, hence the term genetically modified organism. They insert genes of a different species into the GMO. That new resulting GMO will be a grain with let’s say a bacterial genome in it. Most GMOs are impossible to detect with the naked eye. They look, feel, smell, taste and touch just like their non-GMO counterparts. These new genes in the GMOs give the said GMO traits that they wouldn’t normally have in nature.

For example, the varieties of GMO corn that commonly planted here in Lincoln County are “Roundup Ready”. “Roundup Ready” means that the gene sequence of the corn is modified to include the gene sequence of another organism or organisms (I’m not sure which) and the resulting corn is now resistant to the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate). A farmer will have corn growing in his field and he can spray that field with Roundup. All the weeds and any volunteer crops will be killed by the Roundup except for that said Roundup Ready corn. The genome of the Roundup Ready GMO corn has been altered to not be killed by the Roundup. Weeds are particularly a problem in corn fields because corn is a big plant and each must be widely spaced from its neighbor. This gives weeds large places to grow in corn fields. [Initially this GMO corn was just feeder corn, as in the corn fed to animals, made into all kinds of food additives or used as corn meal. 2012 was the first allowance of GMO sweet corn. Now sweet corn is GMO, too.] Although not commonly planted in Lincoln County, there are also GMO varieties of corn that have their own insecticide built right in. Known as Bt-Corn, this GMO insecticide corn expresses an endotoxin protein which when ingested by certain types of caterpillars will cause their stomachs to explode. (But it’s “perfectly safe” for us.) There is also currently LibertyLink corn which is resistant to Liberty herbicide, in a similar way that Roundup Ready corn is resistant to Roundup. I use corn as an example here because I have done more research on corn since we have considered planting non-GMO corn and GMO corn is most relevant to me personally since my neighbors all plant it. And there is also a new kind of GMO corn now which is supposed to be more drought resistant.

Currently 90-some-odd percent of corn, soy and sugar beets are GMO, of one type of GMO or another or combined. I am personally less familiar with these other crops since they are unable to be grown in Lincoln County. Currently (as of this writing) in commercial production in the USA are GMO varieties of alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, yellow squash and zucchini. It is pretty safe to assume that those said crops are GMO. If you are in the supermarket looking at labels, assume that these crops as well as the many food additives derived from corn and soy are GMO.

Now for the opinion part where I’ll talk about why I’m against GMOs and will not grow them. The proponents of GMOs say they’re perfectly safe. They say they allow better crop yields and will solve the world’s hunger crisis. They say they actually lead to less usage of harmful chemicals. I’m going to now explain why they’re wrong.

– “GMOs are perfectly safe.” – You know, they could be right. Look at one study and it will show GMOs are safe. Look at another study and it will show GMOs aren’t safe. I’ve done a little bit of grad school research in my biology field (although not a corn field) and I can tell you that for the most part to have a premise that is scientifically testable, it’s probably not real science. You can make a study turn out how you want it to. I discount the studies, because some are funded by Monsanto and other GMO-advocates and some are funded by the non-GMO crowd. I don’t think the studies right now are conclusive. So, yes, GMOs could be safe. I haven’t seen any credible evidence saying they definitely are or aren’t.
But here is what I do know about GMOs: 1. The scientists have inserted genomes of other species into the genomes of the GMO. That is not natural. These gene sequences will never exist in nature. 2. Plants are always cross pollinating. These new genomes are now in places where they shouldn’t be. 3. GMOs have only been around since the 1990’s. Twenty years is really not enough time to study the generational effects. 4. Roundup Ready crops are ready for Roundup and therefore are grown with chemicals. I do not know of one farmer who plants Roundup Ready crops and doesn’t actually use Roundup. If you do, please tell me and I will stand corrected on that. Even if the crops are safe, are the chemicals?

-“GMOs allow for better crop yields and will solve the world’s hunger crisis.” Again, the studies are ambiguous. Some have showed an equal or worse yield with GMOs. Some better. For example, here in Lincoln County, there are so many other factors besides weeds that contribute to the yield potential of corn. Really weeds are the least of your problems. Water, nitrogen, carbon, etc. are all a lot more problematic than weeds. People are hungry now because they lack sufficient economic resources to purchase food. The crop yields have nothing to do with it. People need local independent systems to produce food, food that is affordable, food that is local for them, food that is not in the whole ‘system’. GMOs are not going to provide people with economic resources or independent local food sources.

-“GMOs lead to less usage of chemicals.” I’ve touched upon this in my first point. Especially for the GMOs that are herbicide ready, they lead to the use of herbicides.

Here is how the pro-GMO crowd may be right on this point. People don’t like GMOs. In the current USDA organic standards, there is no allowance for the use of GMOs. There are many many consumers who choose organic because the organic products are non-GMO and not because the organic products are grown without the use of chemicals. The demand for organic food has grown by leaps and bounds, in part fueled by the ever more widespread use of GMOs. These organically grown crops do not have chemical use. So sure, as GMOs are more and more widespread, more and more consumers opt for organic. The organic demand increases The organic cultivation increases. The chemical usage decreases. So, yes, GMO proponents, you are right here when you say that GMOs result in less use of chemicals, but I don’t think it’s in the way you meant it.

True that I'm only throwing this picture in for some color in this post. This is a field slightly north of Karval Colorado in which the dirt is blowing away into the road ditch. This is May 2013. I'm sorry, but GMOs ain't gonna help your yield here.

True that I’m only throwing this picture in for some color in this post.
This is a field slightly north of Karval Colorado in which the dirt is blowing away into the road ditch. This is May 2013.
I’m sorry, but GMOs ain’t gonna help your yield here.

So let’s say that GMOs are safe. Is there any harm in still staying away from them? Even if I’m wrong to say they’re harmful, I’m not wrong to say they’re not better. Am I wrong to keep them away from my family, my animals and my land (which has been farmed by my children’s ancestors)? I don’t think so. In the best case scenario, they are equally as safe. I’m just not going to risk it with my family. I don’t do GMO.

And even if there is nothing to the non-GMO crowd claims, there is a market demand for non-GMOs. As a matter of fact, there is a big push for certain products to be voluntarily labeled as non-GMO. The food processing companies cannot find enough non-GMO raw ingredient sources to certify their product as non-GMO. (You can read about this here.) So even if I’m wrong, at best non-GMO is a niche market and a growing demand. Farmers, even if you are the most pro-GMO guy out there, you should pay attention to that demand. It could make you rich.

And here is where my Catholic two-cents comes in… should we really be messing with the genes God gave us, or gave our corn? Did God say it was OK to remove genes from His creation and put it into His other creation? What does dominion mean?

And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.

So, yes, I am against GMOs.


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Saturday Smidgen Series, Part Two: April 12, 2014

I think that I would loose my head if it wasn’t attached to by body. I cannot find the camera AGAIN! I seem to always loose my camera… ugh! Here is even a smaller smidgen than I had intended since I still have some great pictures on the camera, the camera that I can’t find.

We spent most of this week working on the basement and the chicken house. Those pictures are on the camera… I guess you get the first half of the week at least…

BABY

This is my youngest daughter last Saturday. She is 18 months.

This is Vince last Sunday in his Sunday best.  He is healing well, miraculously really.

This is Vince last Sunday in his Sunday best. He is healing well, miraculously really.

This is Kuzco just because I love Kuzco.

This is Kuzco just because I love Kuzco.

Vince is cute, if I do say so myself.

Vince is cute, if I do say so myself.

pearl

Pearl had her babies Tuesday.


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Remembering the Pallet Man

I have been working a lot this week on making goat corrals in the chicken house.  I am using pallets to make them.  Using pallets as a building material has made me remember the Pallet Man, known here in this blog post as ThePalletMan.

I knew ThePalletMan for the four years that I lived in South Jersey and worked as an assistant manager at that retailer that starts with B.  South Jersey seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only about nine years, five kids, two states and too-many-pounds-than-I-care-to-admit ago.

Since a sizable portion of the stock came palletized, the store generated a lot of extra pallets.  The warehouse was lukewarm about receiving the pallets back. It was better for us to dispose of the pallets ourselves, dispose of them at store level.

And that’s where ThePalletMan comes in.  ThePalletMan and I had an agreement.  I would leave the unwanted extra pallets outside behind the store.  He would take them away for me. ThePalletMan would never announce that he was coming, but my pallets were gone and gone quickly. He would keep the area behind the store tidy for me.

I had run into him a few times over the years working there.  I honestly don’t remember his name, and I don’t think I’d even be able to identify him by sight.  He didn’t have teeth, but he had pallets.  “I take care of your pallets for you,” ThePalletMan said.  “I live right here in [this town].  I come with my pickup and take away your pallets.  I clean it up for you.”  ThePalletMan went on further to explain.  “If the pallets are broken, I put them together to make new complete ones. I use the leftover wood to heat my house.”

ThePalletMan was the ultimate recycler and entrepreneur.  Although he never admitted it to me, I know he sold his pallets back to a pallet wholesaler.  Pallets can generate anywhere from $2.00 – $5.00 per piece.  He fixed the broken ones so that they were useable and sellable, generating even more of a profit for himself.  And then he used the leftovers to heat his home.  And that’s not to mention that he regularly cleaned up the dock area behind the store for me.

Pallets are already in their nature the ultimate wise use of resources.  They are made of the less desirable types of wood, wood that might be a waste product anyway.  They are used again and again until they fall apart. Pallets are a good system.

I have frequently read online about how to use pallets to make things.  I’ve read how it’s good to use these pallets, which would otherwise be a waste product. Um, no.  Apparently the people who have written such things have never met ThePalletMan. ThePalletMan would take what was left for trash and send it back into America’s great warehousing system.  These pallets would go to warehouses unknown and be used again and again and again.  But the link from that store’s dock to the warehouses unknown was ThePalletMan.

I have a feeling that there is a Pallet Man in just about every community.

So when I make my goat corrals from pallets, I know that I am not really recycling.  I am taking pallets out of the whole “system”.  Sure I’m using already used pallets.  Sure the pallets were free.  But I am taking the pallets out of warehouses and trucks, where they would be used until they just wore out.  I am not using the already worn out ones, since the worn out ones would be unusable for me, too.  I am actually doing a disservice.

Remember that the next time you see some great blog post about building a chicken house or deck or bed or widget from pallets.  You are not doing anything great but finding cheap building material.  It is ThePalletMan who is the true recycling hero here.  You should remember ThePalletMan and honor him.

ThePalletMan is a much better steward of resources than I am.

ThePalletMan is a much better steward of resources than I am.

 


Posted in Feeling Nostalgic by with 2 comments.

X1W007

I took this picture today.

I really don’t think that my son’s hand is in his nose. It just looks that way.

Of course my children are cute, which is why I took the picture. These are my three oldest. But as I was looking at the pictures as I was loading them on the computer, I remembered that this red fiberglass Loomix tub has a history, a history that I’ll share with you.

Right now the Loomix tub is serving very well as a photo prop and tumbleweed catcher, as you can see above.

I save it for use as my brooder. While I don’t think it is quite waterproof anymore, it serves as a fine brooder and has over the many batches of new baby chicks here at Laura’s little farm on the prairie. I have even received compliments on my brooder when I have sold some baby chicks. (A brooder is a container to keep baby chicks warm and contained, just an FYI.)

babychicks

This is a view inside the Loomix tub brooder the last time we had baby chicks, February-ish 2013.

So, where, you might ask, did the brooder come from? The previous owners of this property left a lot of junk useable farm things on the property. The Loomix tub was one of them.  Loomix is a company that makes vitamin and mineral supplementation (just known as “mineral” around here) for livestock.  I suppose that the previous owners once upon a time had this tub full of mineral.  The livestock probably ate it up and the tub remained.  Sounds fair, right?

Except that they left it upside down.  I found it shortly after we moved here out by the barn.  I was still a city slicker.  Remember that.

“Kevin,” I asked. “What’s that big red thing?  It says ‘X1W007’? What does that mean?”

Update 7/10/17: Apparently since this post starts with an “x” certain spambots have tried to stop this blog from being family friendly.  I have now disabled comments for this post.  


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The Fifty-First State?

If you are not aware of it, there is a movement in northeastern Colorado to secede from the rest of Colorado and become the “Fifty First State”.  The movement includes a few nearby counties.  Although when put on the ballot in November 2013, the Lincoln County voters voted the proposition down, I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a ballot issue again here.  Also, our neighboring counties are still considering this, so it does remain an issue for the citizens of Eastern Colorado.

The main argument that the proponents of secession are using is that they feel “unrepresented” in the state legislature.  The majority of those in favor of secession would self-identify as “Conservative”, and there seems to be a gradual “Liberalization” of the state policies.  The proponents of secession believe that if they had their own state they would be more represented, since the majority of the population of the secession areas have a similar ideology.

Let me give you some background on the current state of Colorado.  Colorado is a big square, pretty much, as a matter of fact all of its borders are latitudinal and longitudinal lines, with no “natural” borders.  The eastern third-ish of Colorado is the prairie land.  Going west, the area roughly at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and in close proximity to Interstate 25 is known as “the Front Range”.  The majority of the population density is concentrated in the Front Range.  The Western Half-ish is all mountains.  These are very distinct geographical areas.  The mountains and the prairies are just different.

For example, one such city on the Front Range area is called Boulder.  Boulder is a beautiful city with a reputation for very liberal ideologies.  For the most part, these Boulder citizens are very different from your Joe-Schmo-Prairie-Dweller.  They have different ideologies.  We share a Congressman, Cory Gardner, with part of Boulder County, but not Boulder itself.

I stole this picture from Wikipedia to show you
where Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District is.

 

Becoming the Fifty First State would give these prairie areas their “own” state government, as well as their “own” Congressman and Senators.  The hope is that the prairie areas will “feel” represented, that they will be able to elect politicians who share their ideologies.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m ubber-conservative.  It seems that the majority of those in these areas in question calling themselves “Conservative” or “Republican” are in favor of the “Fifty First State”.  I disagree.  I wish this area to stay as part of Colorado.

The main reason that I am against secession is that I don’t believe it will do anything to solve our problems.  The main problem with Eastern Colorado is Depopulation. 

While I don’t think the birth rate in Eastern Colorado is particularly lower than any other area, Eastern Colorado, unlike most other areas of the Colorado does not have a population growth through immigration.  (OK, I might venture to say that the birth rate in actual Lincoln County is pretty low since there is no place to have a baby in the actual county.  As a matter of fact, I would bet that my babies may be the only babies actually born here some years since I have home births.)  By immigration, I mean immigration of people from other countries and immigration from people in other areas of the United States.

No one gets off the boat and says, “Oooh, let me come to the prairie.  Lincoln County, here I come.”  Really, no one moves here.  As a matter of fact, the prairie is bleak, ugly, sad and depressing, not to mention that it has few opportunities for socialization and economic activities.  So, yes, the prairie has a net exodus of people moving away, coupled with a birth rate below the rate of replacement.  The net result is no one here.

I can give my Catholic editorial here about how the low birth rate is caused by the use of contraception, but regardless of the whys and wherefores, it suffices to say for the purpose of this blog that the prairie areas have experienced a depopulation. The depopulation is caused by the low birth rate and no population increase through immigration.   Plain and simple.

 

This is stolen from Wikipedia, and shows
the population of Boulder County.
Boulder County is 752 square miles.
This is stolen from Wikipedia and shows
the population of Lincoln County.
Lincoln County is 2587 square miles.
In 1991, the Limon Correction Facility
opened which houses nearly 1000
inmates, about 17% of the total population.
To give a fair comparison, you really can’t
count the inmates or the seeming “population
growth” caused by them being incarcerated here.

The reason that the prairie peoples feel underrepresented is because there are hardly any of them to represent.  I mean, really, compare those population numbers above between Lincoln County and Boulder County.  It’s almost like it’s a different state. (Ha!)  I understand why the Fifty First State Proponents feel so unrepresented.  The Front Range areas have a different terrain.  Their birth rate is probably the same as the prairie areas, however, the Front Range has population growth through immigration, whereas we do not.

Shh!  I’ve been to Boulder because I have an
unhealthy obsession with the Monkees.

 

I do have a solution to the “underrepresented” prairie of Colorado to make them represented.  The solution is people.  If we could increase the population, we could get our own congressman and a bigger voice in the state legislature, too.

So how can we increase the population of the Colorado Prairies?  I have a solution!
1.  People should have babies.  I know it’s old-fashioned, but seriously, have babies.  The prairie people have contracepted themselves into oblivion.  If there were more babies being born into familes residing here, there would be more of a demand for obstetric care here and maybe one day, you may even be able to have a baby in actual Lincoln County again. And we can increase or at least maintain our own population.
2.  Public Relations.  We should launch some kind of public relations campaign to show how cool the prairies are.  We should make people want to live here. We should market our area in other areas of the country.  We shouldn’t stand for it when books like Colorado For Dummies or C is For Centennial: a Colorado Alphabet don’t even mention the prairies.  Like maybe we could sue them or something.
3.  Get rid of Monsanto.  Seriously.  We farmers need to stop growing GMO and copyrighted seed.  We need to put ourselves on the map, that the prairie of Colorado is a beautiful area where they grow wholesome grains and organic yummies.  If we take the middlemen (grain elevators and the whole Big-Ag system) out of the picture, we can actually have smaller farms to support ourselves.  Imagine that.  And then businesses to grow out of those farmer business.  Maybe a cheese-making shop. Or a butcher.  The possibilities are endless.  People will move here for the wholesome food, or the favorable farming environment, or to start one of those businesses.
4.  Pay student loans.  OK, I know I’m against government intervention and spending tax dollars.  But even the homesteaders initial draw out here was free land, free land given to them by the government.  Maybe student loans are the modern day version of that.  Kansas has a program where they will payoff student loans of new people moving to their rural counties and exempt them from state income taxes for a few years.  We should copy them.  Nebraska did.

Let me sum up the reasons that I am against becoming the Fifty First State:
1. Our underlying problem is depopulation.  Becoming our own state ain’t gonna make people move here or have babies.
2. It would be a logistical cluster, excuse the term.  Seriously, don’t we have enough bureaucratic rigamarole?
3. The State Prison would close in Lincoln County.  That provides 300-some-odd jobs and would ruin the little bit of non-farm economic activity we have here.  The results would be decimating, plus we’d loose not only the inmate population, but the population of the staff and inmate families.  Becoming the Fifty First State would further depopulate Lincoln County and therefore drive us further into the hole.
4.  It’s unprecedented.  The last state to do this was West Virginia in 1800-something.  The government is so different now than it was then.  It is really a different time.
5. Do we really want to spend our time and energy trying to secede?  It’s not going to work.  And it’s going to make enemies in the Colorado legislature.  Forget about passing a law like Kansas has to encourage people to move to the rural areas or something else that would benefit us.
6. And what’s to stop those with different ideologies from moving to said-fifty-first state?  Will we close our borders?  We may just get a repeat of the same problems.
7. More selfishly, in my particular school district, the voters just approved a new school expansion project (which makes total sense in a depopulating area).  A large chunk of the school building costs are going to be paid for by a BEST grant, a grant through the state of Colorado.  If we seceded from the state, I’m sure that grant would be gone.  Our property taxes would climb up so high that I might as well move to New Jersey.

We’ve made our bed here, a bed of Monsanto, contraception and no public relations.  We need to lie in it, or fix it the right way.  Seceding is a bandaid, really.

 


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Low Times On the High Plains

I recently came across this article, here called “Low Times on the High Plains” from the Denver Post.  It is a photographic journal article featuring pictures from the last few years of some of the different prairie areas here in Colorado.

 

Oh, Karval, I’d like to give you a hug.

The article beat me to the punch actually.  The prairie is really a boulevard of lost dreams.  These dippy little towns out here are all very sad.  I actually wanted to do a blog post or blog series about the depressing prairie towns and all the lost dreams. Some day I might get to it.  Of course I’d have a bit of a different spin from the Denver Post article, but I think they did a terrific job of painting part of a true picture of life out here.

 

Even though we are close to the Kansas border, unlike in the Wizard of Oz movie, the prairies of Kansas and Colorado are actually in color.  That is one critical point that the Denver Post missed.  Even though the Front Range area of Colorado is in color also, it ain’t no Oz.  It’s color out here, too.  Anyway, DearBlogReaders, definitely take a look through this Denver Post article, here.  Two places mentioned- Wild Horse and Karval- are pretty darn close to here, and Karval is even in my county.

Karval Colorado is a community of truly awesome people.

 


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Saturday Smidgen Series, Part One: April 5, 2014

In the Saturday Smidgen Series, I hope to give you a couple of small smidgen glances into life around our homestead (mostly from this week)…
This week we pretty much spent trying to get some of our spring homestead work done.  I’ve been getting back into the swing of things after two of my children had hospital stays in the month of March.

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Wednesday night into Thursday we had snow. It was a decent amount. We need all the moisture we can get.

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This is someone’s pasture. By Thursday afternoon, the snow had mostly melted.

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Friday, one of our chickens decided to be queen of the haystack.

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She could not figure out how to climb down, so she flew down. Chickens don’t fly very often, so they are pretty funny when they do.

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I’ve spent the later half of this week trying to perfect my fodder techniques. Here you can see a Home Depot bucket full of soaking wheat berries on the back porch with a tumbleweed in the background.

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Apparently it is fun to hold tumbleweeds, stand by Mommy’s minivan and touch the side mirror.
Also notice how muddy my minivan is. I took it to town Thursday afternoon through the newly melted-snowy-turned-muddy roads.

These are bean seedlings on my kitchen counter next to the sink.  I have started them off in little egg cartons.  I am trying to have a kick butt garden this year, again.  I've never been successful before.  Maybe the seventh time's the charm.
These are bean seedlings on my kitchen counter next to the sink. I have started them off in little egg cartons. I am trying to have a kick butt garden this year, again. I’ve never been successful before. Maybe the seventh time’s the charm.

 


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