Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Read the rest of the story here: http://www.press-citizen.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009909290312
Thus far no one has come forth with any photos of the birds, although a couple of pictures of eggs laid in shrubbery are posted. No reports that any of the chickens were injured. They were all captured and taken to the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center. I'm sure they will all find good homes. If they are unusual breeds, it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out where they came from.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
"They will examine legal doctrines and jurisprudence and current economic learning, and will provide an opportunity for farmers, ranchers, consumer groups, processors, the agribusinesses, and other interested parties to provide examples of potentially anticompetitive conduct. The workshops will also provide an opportunity for discussion for any concerns about the application of the antitrust laws to the agricultural industry," according to the release.
This is an invitation to influence policies, extended to all of us out here who raise, buy and eat food. Some of the workshops are planned for Washington, DC, but some will be held around the country.
They also want to know what other issues need to be examined: "The Department and USDA are also inviting input on additional topics that might be discussed at the workshops, including the impact of agriculture concentration on food costs, the effect of agricultural regulatory statutes or other applicable laws and programs on competition, issues relating to patent and intellectual property affecting agricultural marketing or production, and market practices such as price spreads, forward contracts, packer ownership of livestock before slaughter, market transparency, and increasing retailer concentration. "
USDA responded when small producers spoke out at NAIS Listening Sessions. NAIS may not have gone away, but it has receded from view, and is unlikely to be imposed as a mandatory system as a result of the impassioned statements presented at those meetings. This administration is willing to hear from those of us who were not at the table before.
They ask that suggestions be made in both paper and electronic form to the Department of Justice by Dec. 31, 2009. All comments received will be publicly posted. Two paper copies should be addressed to the Legal Policy Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 5th Street, N.W., Suite 11700, Washington, D.C. 20001. The Department's Antitrust Division is requesting that the paper copies of each comment be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible. The electronic version of each comment should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detailed agendas and schedules for the workshops will be made available on the Antitrust Division's web site at www.usdoj.gov/atr.
I'm excited about the possibilities this partnership represents. The lobbyists for Big Ag have not packed their bags, but this is an administration that sees that Corporate Farming is not the best path to feeding America. We can be part of the change we hope to see.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
One change that I see in the future for Joel’s operation is to raise traditional dual purpose breeds rather than the industrial Cornish/Rock crosses he now raises for meat. Although they convert feed to meat far faster than traditional breeds, they do not contribute to a sustainable, humane farm.
Audrey E. Kali, Ph.D., who teaches in the Communication Arts Department at Framingham State College in Massachusetts, is making a documentary on the subject, exploring whether the Cornish/Rock cross is innately inhumane.
Joseph Marquette of Yellow House Farm in New Hampshire, http://www.yellowhousefarmnh.com/, says “We are a heritage poultry farm, which would therefore be the polar opposite of the Cornish X. I should say, to orient you to my point of view, that I have little or nothing positive to say about Cornish X. Of course, from a rather compartmentalized point of view, I can recognize the scientific achievement represented in the breeding. However, as a food source, they go against everything I feel should be the nature of good farming.
“Indeed, in our classes on poultry homesteading, they are what I offer as the clearest example of industrial poultry cruelty, in conjunction, of course, with broad-brested white turkeys and factory layers.”
Harvey Ussery has written on alternatives to Cornish Rock crosses, http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/issues/4/4-2/alternatives_to_the_cornish_cross.html, http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Cornish-Cross.html.
The central issue is that Cornish/Rock crosses can barely walk, because of the rapid muscle development and poor bone growth, they are unable to forage for themselves, and their immune status is unclear but unlikely to be very vigorous. They are pathetic living creatures, suited really only to sit by the food dish and eat until they die.
I didn't have any experience with them until my daughter was in high school. We'd always had traditional breed chickens, but the school had done some kind of experiment with chicks and when it was done allowed the students to take the chicks home. One of my daughter's friends wanted to keep some, but she lived in an apartment and didn't have a place for them. So we invited her to keep them at our house, in with our chickens.
I was astonished to watch them. They literally hobbled over to the food dish, ate all day, got very large and died within months. I'd never seen a chicken do that.
[It occurs to me that the problems we humans face, of being sedentary and eating to excess parallel the animals we raise for food.]
Traditional breeds take longer to reach table size -- four to six months -- but are able to forage, are sprightly and active, take an interest in their environment and generally are more well-rounded as livestock animals. Many chefs and consumers prefer them for their flavor and the texture of the meat.
Three Cheers for Joel! Now, about those chickens…
Thursday, September 10, 2009
"Who knew that a dozen eggs could bring such delight," she writes. She discovers that other people she knows in her adopted city of Portland, Oregon have chickens, allowing her to meet and admire them.
Expanding the experience of the many ways chickens contribute to our lives is as delightful to me as those eggs are to Lizzie.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
They aren’t. They are a historic breed, tracing their heritage back to the area around the Danube River and the Black Sea in Eastern Europe. They were selectively bred for their lovely feathers, so warm for quilts and clothing. Their soft feathers lack the barbules that make other feathers adhere. They fall between Silkie feathers and Frizzles. These geese are photographed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, www.albc-usa.org.
They are medium sized, adults weighing 12 to 14 pounds. Their feathers do not permit them to fly, but they develop their breast, thighs and legs by running. They make good table birds, but their lovely feathers are so attractive that they are usually kept as ornamental birds. They are also known for their mild and pleasant disposition, highly desirable in geese.
White is the most common variety, although gray and buff are known. Back in 1905, when Harrison Weir edited The Poultry Book, grays were more common. He writes, “The white are those most fancied, and certainly on a lake or pond with varied verdant surroundings, and in the meadows or tangled bush environments, they thus present a most pleasurable appearance.”
Although geese don't necessarily need water, Sebastopols benefit from having water to bathe and keep their feathers clean. They will also appreciate more shelter in harsh weather than their cousins with harder feathers need.
A beautiful breed for a small flock, and you will be the envy of all who see them!
Monday, September 7, 2009
"Our home burned to the ground," she wrote in an email. "We had a very short notice of the firestorm, but were able to get our animals and us out. I grabbed the computers, my six animal paintings, brushes paint and palette. Robert got three guitars (out of seven) and we got a change of clothes and our vehicles out. We were lucky to get out with our lives."
"We drove through fire, but we're OK. We're staying with my folks for now. This is what's left of our home."
Fortunately, she saved the six animal originals. However, all her prints and other original art were lost.
"I had 3,000 notecards and 100 Giclees lost. Robert lost about 200 paintings and 25 years of Medical Illustration work. I also lost all the original art I had at home and our extensive art library. We know it's just 'things,' and we will be fine, but it's sad and devastating."
My condolences, Carolyn. Keep me posted.
Friday, September 4, 2009
This book, priced at $19.95, will be joyously received by any poultry fancier on your Christmas list. It would also make a good gift for anyone involved in exhibiting birds. I look forward to more and better from Applewood. Available soon, but not yet listed on the web site.