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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Landfill Farms, Waste Management's clever plan to buy off the local organic crowd

It was just a few years back that some farmers in the neighborhood were shocked to find strange deformities on their animals. There were open lesions, chickens were dying, cows quit milking, calves died. No one could figure out what the problem was. Then one farmer started filling a water tank at our farm and using it to water his animals. Wonder of wonders, they didn't die, In face they did quite well.
There was talk of lawsuits against the owners of the local dump, which had just started a new site directly across the river from the old site, and was making a lot of money accepting out of county garbage.
(Back then, the trucks were red and white, not green, and they didn't talk much about recycling.)
Then, all of a sudden, no one would talk about it... It was sort of like nothing had ever gone wrong. (Aside from a few folks who didn't get the cash, and didn't sign the nondisclosure agreement.)
Shortly afterwards a couple farms sold and the nice fellow whose father had sold his farm to the local landfill with the agreement that as long as there was land owned by the landfill that was being farmed, his descendants would farm it, started farming on our side of the river.
Today, I just heard that my friend, the landfill farmer has been evicted, (but not from him) and that the farm is now going to be part of a partnership between Waste Management and the local organic crowd. The plan is to offer four acre plots to local organic farmers who don't have land.
I find this quite hilarious, people who are so terrified of Genetically Modified seed that they became farmers are now raising delicious crops on land that was once considered as a potential Superfund site. 
Here is a quote from the News Register which is a link to the Waste Management site.

It just goes to show you what a little public relations, nondisclosure agreements, a lot of money, and twenty five years can do for your image.
Just to keep this in perspective, the local dump is located on both sides of the Yamhill River, in a flood plain. The old dump may have leached into the local water supply but Western Oregon Waste bought up all the land surrounding the dump and part of the deal was nondisclosure agreements.
The person who started the local farmer's market used to be very opposed to Waste Management's expansion plans but has "seen the light."

You can find her name repeatedly in this "press" release. You can see the "rehabilitation" Waste Management from the green typeface to the change from "sanitary landfill" to recycling company. It is absolutely amazing. The dump is a nasty place which concentrates "regional" garbage in one location. A location in the "heart of wine country," just off of Highway 18 on the way to scenic Oregon Beaches, surrounded by filbert Hazelnut orchards, and now... Organic Farm to School programs. AND these are the folks that are opposed to Fluoride.
I also find it somewhat amusing to be reminded that selling one's soul to the devil often is not as good an idea as it seems at the time. Take this example, My friend lost a good chunk of farmland but can't do anything about it even though they violated the agreement with his father because, 1. He can't fight Waste Management because that have the resources of Mordor, 2. He gets enough money (I think have heard from a former family member) from Waste Management that he can't afford to do anything that may result in the loss of that income. He can't even tell what he knows about the contamination of the old dump due to confidentiality agreement issues. Pretty funny...

Note: The views expressed on this blog are solely for entertainment purposes are recollections on the part of the writer. They may or may not be as accurate as the News Register. But, you can't read the News Register because they have put it behind a pay wall which only makes it more irrelevant than it already was. Old articles in the News Resister can't be accessed through a Google search so for the casual researcher, the News Resister is truly a throwaway newspaper.

Oh Poop!

I It was a s.... Job!
And here's to mud on your eye! Yup, that
Is what happened next! And when I exclaimed, "oh shit!" Was i swearing?

Of course something went wrong!
I had a crappy day! Literally... See the puddle behind the tire? Not vanilla pudding!
I really did go up poop creek!

Please feel free to pun further...

Monday, November 17, 2014

The sun was out and it was a nice day

I needed to make skids for my remaining grain bin so that I can fill it with barley and not have it tip over. My brother suggested an old truck frame of which we have more than two.
It really seemed like a good idea. I roughly calculated that it would take at least $25 per foot to make skids out of 3/8" flat bar and have it formed.
It took me a good solid day to cut and trim two 11 foot chunks of truck frame. (Well, I did take an hour to load some hay and have a nice chat with Mr. MuddyValley.)

After dark I spent some time figuring out what I was owed and who owed me. I did twice as much stacking as last year but only planted a small fraction of the acres I usually plant, I got 25% less hay yield and I lost my main pig feed customer. It would be ok but I spent a lot of money on things like tractor tires and a better rake thinking I would do my usual 500 acres of no-till. I'm not going to starve but I'm feeling just a little annoyed about a number of things that there is no point in discussing.
I do think I would have been better off spending the $25 per foot and just buying the steel. I have real work to do.
Perhaps I'll post a photo...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lies that we want to believe and the useless internet which doesn't really give you answers

The latest paranoia that has going around FaceBook is the "revelations" by farmer Keith Lewis that farmers drench their fields with "Roundup" to make the wheat get ready faster and more evenly.

In my part of Oregon we grow soft white wheat which goes for pastry and to Japan for noodles and we are very sensitive about GMO or anything that would upset Japan and cause them to stop buying wheat.
I will state absolutely that I have NEVER heard of anyone in my area using glyphosate to make their wheat get ready sooner and more evenly. I did a search for this practice on Google and found some discussion on using Glyphosate for this purpose in areas where wheat is swathed instead of combining standing.
I really don't see the point in doing it as most places in the USA have a long enough growing season that there really is not a problem with wheat ripening evenly.

I quote,"It appears that standard, recommended wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as withered, dead wheat plants are less taxing on the farm equipment and allow for an earlier and easier harvest." This takes you to the Greenacres blog which has the story. It will also show up on your facebook page from the usually sources.

In another post I found an amusing comment from Mr. Lewis decrying the future use of "Roundup-Ready" wheat and, oh the horror's, more use of Roundup. This is funny because if the wheat was resistant to Round-up then the only reason to spray it on before harvest would just be to poison people. Which is exactly what us evil Monstanto-loving farmers like to do...

However, I could be wrong. Perhaps someone would comment?  In can see it as perhaps a regional practice, but I never thought it would be used on a regular basis in major wheat growing regions.

I will add that if it is a standard practice than by all means keep doing it! Then I will break down and buy those ten bags of Fife Wheat they my neighbor wants a lot of money for, and I'll start growing hard red wheat myself!

And, who is Keith Lewis, is he really a farmer? Who seeds these stories and how do you make money off them...

I've got my own, I know a certain farmer who pooped in a truck load of pumkins. Keep that in mind when you have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!  Oh well, at least it wasn't Round-up...

UPDATE: Ralph pointed me to NewAgTalk and sure enough, it has been discussed there. Yes the clever farmers are using Round-up on their wheat so they don't have to swath it to get it to dry down for harvest. It is not an issue of if Glyposate is bad for you are not, it is an issue of whether people think it is. However, it does open up business opportunities...

Friday, November 14, 2014

A duck for lunch

This year has been a good year for duck hunting in our area. Our landlord has shot more than he can eat and so is passing sharing the wealth.
He cleans them and cuts them up for you as well. I could not turn down a couple duck breasts and decided to try my hand at cooking them for lunch.
I've never really developed a taste for duck, although I do admit to a certain occasional longing for the sometimes elusive Tubetopped Bar Duck, lightly pickled in Coors Lite, or Perhaps the occasional Red-headed Double-Breasted Bed Thrasher served with a hint of shame and the aroma of Arandas for a little spice.
But, I digress...
My lovely and gracious wife is not a fan of Duck citing a long ago Thanksgiving celebration as an bad memory, but she found me some bacon and the cast iron skillet and kept me focused as I do tend to drift from time to time.

I cooked up a couple strips of bacon for a little grease and to make sure the skillet was heating evenly. When the grease was hot enough to think about smoking I dropped the duck breasts into the hot skillet and turned it to a medium heat.
The plan was to sear them on both sides as you can overcook wild duck easily and it may turn tough on you.  I seasoned them with Everglades Heat, a spice we bought at the Pigglywiggley in Bloutstown, Florida last year and sprinkle on a little garlic because you can never go wrong with garlic.

They appeared to be browning too fast on the outside and not getting hot enough on the inside so my wife "butterflied" them by slicing the breast open and turning them over so the inside would cook faster. This was an excellent idea.

I used a meat thermometer to make sure the center reached 165 degrees.

I found some homemade potatoe salad in the refrigerator and also one of these very excellent dill pickles.

My wife made me up a cup of coffee. It was a good lunch. The duck taste was not overpowering. Wild duck is much better than tame duck. Plus, a little bacon improves just about everything.

Patching a leaking fuel filter

Baling wire is somewhat of a legend. However, baling wire is but a metaphor for "whatever is at hand."
It reminds me of the time the rotor came apart in my brother's Ford Ranger going past Mt. Shasta at night and we fixed it with chewing gum and the aluminum wrapper the gum came in.
A couple days ago I had several sales for pig feed. 
As soon as I discovered my customer was on his way things started to go wrong.
First of all the forklift would not start, secondly I got a call that a truck was on the way to collect 780 bales of straw, and it all sort of continued from there.
I started with fixing the forklift.
It would seem there is a second fuel filter that has never been changed. It was somewhat covered in oil and it was leaking. 
Diesel fuel is horrible nowadays. Has water and alcohol and whatever other crap the clever folks put in fuel to make our vehicles run badly.
We did not have the filter.
It had a rather large leak which caused it to spray diesel on the fan belt.

Fortunately someone has been drinking a lot of Coors Original Banquet in the neighborhood and I found a can nearby. Equally fortuitous was that it was empty, otherwise there would also have been the job of pouring it back into the horse... 
I'm imagining that the can probably came out of the back of the my neighbor's pickup. He picks up cans alongside the road.

A little work with my pocket knife and an extra big hose clamp out of the scrap barrel and I was back in business. 
Which is not to say, that things improved all that much.
After dumping boxes of wheat screenings, peas, flaxseed, and a random half a ton of buckwheat, into a powerbin which I have semi – permanently borrowed from Wilco, I discovered it would not feed out the auger.
So, my customer ran the auger while I poked the mixture through the intake with a long piece of PVC pipe. I discovered he is quite a safety conscious guy.
He moved really fast when I fell into the bin.
It was ok, there was a screen over the auger... AND I had eye protection!
have a nice day!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Freezing rain, meadowfoam, the usual randomness of my life...

Yesterday the sun was shining. There was a pretty good breeze and the ground was drying out. The temperature seemed to stay a little above freezing. I didn't check a thermometer but the ice in the buckets didn't melt, but the mud puddles didn't freeze.

This morning we have freezing rain.
I was scheduled to haul manure today. The pile at the dairy is getting pretty high and the dairy fellow called to see if my little helper wanted to drive truck. 
"Well," said I, "our little helper is off for the winter,"
"Couldn't you call him to come in for a day," said the dairy man.
"Yes, But, I just can't handle the crying," said I.
Here is the deal...
The helper took the silage chopper apart as he didn't want to work on the old White 7800 combine. This was in October when we were trying to combine the last five acres of flax.
I asked him to clean out the White and remove the hangers for the concaves as they were broken in some sort of catastrophic plug up. This is not a terrible job, but not a great job. The feederhouse comes off pretty easily. 
The helper thinks the White should be scrapped and so doesn't want to work on it. He cleaned out some of the straw, removed the feeder house, discovered both hangers were broken and sat down at the coffee table for an hour waiting on instructions, then took off early.
Out of frustration I told him to work on the silage chopper and we hired the neighbor to combine the flax. 
This was on a Friday, on Saturday he asked to take the day off to spend with his grand daughter. Monday he was sick, for a week, Sunday he texted that he would be in Monday.
It rained and he didn't show up.
He showed up the last day of October, walked in at coffee time while I was sitting at the table attempting to balance a feed ration using Buckwheat, Flax, barley, peas, and filberts hazelnuts. I was a little uptight. 
He announced that his little vacation was over and he was ready to come back to work, then he inquired as to, "what shit jobs do you have for me to do?" He was attempting to be light hearted but it was just not the right time.
I looked at my brother and my brother looked at me and my brother said, "We are out of money and won't have work this winter..."
Later, I got a text asking if the little helper was being punished for not showing up. I replied in all honesty that if he would have been working during the nice weather we would have kept him on, but since he was gone we spent every cent we had on paying rent and paying off the loan.
I have not heard back from him.
I am worried about him but I know that he will do what he always does, he will talk his landlord out of three months rent, he will borrow money from someone (with the full intention of paying it back), and he will come back in the Spring, get a substantial advance, and complain about all the things that we didn't get done in the winter time.
But, this wasn't what the post was about...
This morning there is freezing rain and the dairy fellow texted me that it is not a good day to haul. I'd figured that...
There is a two hour delay for local schools so I made Lulu and I cheese omelettes and stoked up the fire.

But, I digress,
the point of this post was to show you the nice weather from yesterday and to show you a photo of MeadowFoam which I no-tilled last month. It is looking good. Has a good population for a seed rate of 40lbs per acre.
Meadowfoam makes really good honey and so I saved what I vacuumed out of the drill for MuddyValley. Unfortunately, someone got a little wild loading hay out of the farm and knocked the five gallon bucket over into a mud puddle, so all that is left is a handful of seed, which I forget to tell him about.
Meadowfoam in bloom produces a starting white flower and 40 acres is a beautiful sight.

Invoice Manager for iPhone update #3 This morning I attempted to look at yesterday's individual invoices. Not as easy at one would hope. Not really enjoying this learning experience...