Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A very productive weekend

This weekend we got a huge amount done around the house and have a lot to thank people for. Unfortunately in the press of getting things done and the business of everything else at the beginning of this week I don't have any photos to share at the moment for which I apologize. So for now I'm going to list what got done because I'm a bit tired still from this weekend and early week. All of the work from Saturday was done by a group of people that I thank very much for their time and work. Also below the cut, further crazy use of our poor Fit.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chicken wanderings, and night alerts

Did you know that smoke detectors fail to false positives? I was reminded of that last night around 2 in the morning. Just another adventure in day to day life. On the topic of adventures the chickens have progressed from living in their coop, to going out into the run, and last night we gave them their first 30 minutes out of the run free wandering. Good lord can they tear up ground fast. They're also far more interested in putting things in their mouth than figuring out whether they're good to eat.  This is particularly relevant to making sure there's no random plastic around on the ground, they will eat it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Walking through what's left in the garden

Our rabbits are convinced they are abused, ignored, and mistreated. After all, we haven't given them enough pellets to be round in their obesity. Given that it isn't healthy for any creature to be as fat as they want to be they won't be getting every thing they want. Actually in rabbits it's particularly bad because when obese female rabbits won't produce kits beyond other health problems that come with it, thus rabbit weight is something we focus on.

Side note, the Lady of the House is now 36 weeks pregnant, and at any time we may go radio silent for a few days to a few weeks to address, well, having a child born. But for now, we're still here, and focusing on the final stages of the garden and winter prep.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Times of transition, preparation, and change.

Sorry for the late post today, I didn't get things done last night, so I had to wait for having breaks at work to get things done, and the Lady of the House was kind enough to get me some photos to share with you all. Right now is sort of an awkward time as we among other thing wait for the last litters of the year to be born, continue to try to breed Twilight, and the garden dies down. Digressing for a moment, let's talk about Twilight before we get back to everything else

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chickens, rapid blight, and dark mornings.

Meet our new chickens! I know, it's a horrible blown out picture, but it's getting dark in the morning, and I got home after dark last night. So, for the time being photos are going to be fairly meh for the blog since it's camera phone in the dark, but anyhow. Chickens. After the moving of the coop over a week ago Saturday, this past Thursday night we went and got our new hens. We were given 4 Cinnamon Queens for our wedding, and our friends generously held on to them until we could do more to secure the chickens, and another friend gave us a trio of layers that were older and thus leaving her farm one way or the other. Those are a pair of Black Australorps, and a Rhode Island Red. Hopefully when we start letting them out the Lady of the House can get some photos of them that are worth sharing.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pensive on a rainy morning: Food ethics and farmers

There are no good photos to share right now due to being busy yesterday and waking up with the speed of a glacier this morning, but that's ok. This is going to ramble a bit because it's a train of thought, so bear with me please. While I obviously am focused on our homestead I've been thinking about food ethics in a broader perspective. One of the critiques of the food movement that I can't really discount is that not everyone has the opportunity to grow their own food, and if you've been around the USA you know there are places you can't get fresh produce. Not you can't get organic, you can't get fresh anything at all. Now the food deserts can change, but there are things that can't change.

Barring a catastrophic rearrangement of the world, people are going to live in cities. As long as people are living in cities there will be a large number of people, perhaps even a majority of people that can't grow their own food in sufficient quantities to survive. This is especially true if we build our cities to discourage car use, and focus on public transportation which I happen to believe is an ethical and practical necessity. The consequence of the existence of cities is that there are going to have to be farmers that are larger scale to produce, and if we want it to be more ethical there are going to have to be ethical farmers.

We think about the ethics of animals, and the ethics of our own food a lot. The thing we need to think about is how to improve the ethics of readily available food, for everyone. The catch is, there are costs to that, and we can't push those costs solely off on the farmers. Farmers are already in a precarious position, and to get changes in the practices of farming there is going to have to be money available to help with the changes (note, there is some), accessible training made available to everyone that wants it, a lot more farmers, and people are going to have to be able to make money doing it.

I suspect many of you have seen this article from the New York Times.  It's not a new article titled "Don't let your children grow up to be farmers". Some of the interesting information comes from this USDA report which points out that most farms have significant off farm income, and this USDA farm income forecast that shows that most farm income is in the negatives, the median, not the mean. Now some of this certainly comes from the increasing number of small farms that as the USDA notes, "barely has enough agricultural activity to meet the requirements to be considered a farm," which includes homestead farms, owning horses, and similar situations. The other thing they noted is that most of the off farm incomes were high, often in management. To me this is part of an increasing divide between the rich and everyone else in terms of food access. I'd link to an article about that, but there's a lot of them to read through and have opinions on. Suffice to say I think that a food gap relating to health, and safety of food rather than luxury food items can't be sustained.

Coming back to the topic at hand, how do we make sure that as we transition to more ethical food, that we don't rely on slave labor to execute. There are a lot of examples. This NPR Article has some basics, this article from Take Part has some interesting information about the prison labor use which I'd call slave labor, and an article from the Guardian about migrants living and working in criminally bad conditions just scratch the surface of the truth of slave labor in our food. That's discounting the issue of a lot of our imported food coming from areas with water shortages, effectively exporting water.

To that end we as a society need to recognize that sufficient, and healthy food is and should be considered a necessity. We should be dedicating public funding to insuring that our farmers are not living in poverty. This needs to come with the recognition that farming is risky both in terms of safety and financially if you have a bad year, or two and can't sell crops. Now, food is one of the most profitable businesses out there, everyone needs it. We just need to figure out how to transition the money from large, monocrop agriculture megafarms to smaller farms without putting the entirety of the burden of paying for the costs of more ethical farming on them.

I do wonder how changing how antitrust laws see farm conglomerates would change things.

I think the short of it is, beyond personal, local support we need large scale government support for ethical, more sustainable farming that's ecologically and personally focused. We also need to stop supporting slave labor practices forcing lower prices on those who do the work themselves. I don't have all of the solution, but in the end, to get ethical food, we can't do it for free. We have to recognize that the costs come from somewhere, and that it can't all come out of the farmers.

P.S. We also need more than 0.1% of our population to be farmers in the USA.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lots getting done thanks to help, also Chickens!

Sorry about the low quality pictures, but we've been keeping busy and I really didn't want to miss another blog post today. Last wee was a consequence of me not understanding just how exhausting first week of college would be from the perspective of being the phone tech support guy. It's still very busy at work, but I am not quite as fried in the evening which is good for actually getting things done. Speaking of getting things done, as you can see Above you see that we've managed to move the chicken coop and run near the house instead of behind the studio barn. That's thanks to a group of friends coming by and helping out Saturday letting us get a lot done!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Delayed post

Things are very busy right now so we are going to have to put up a post later tonight, or tomorrow hopefully. Things are going alright, and we are still doing as well as we were. Update will come as soon as we can! Thank you for your patience.