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Sunday, August 27, 2006

NAIS OP Ed Piece

Contact information; Bob Parker 417-457-6111

To the Editor

Most of us small farmers are just finding out about the National Animal Identification plan or NAIS as it is being called. I'm referring to the USDA draft plan which can be seen on the USDA website along with the technical supplement that describes the computer coding and requirements of reporting and such. When you read it, you realize what Farm Bureau has planned for all of our horses, cattle and sheep, 27 species of animals in all.

Our animals are to be micro-chipped, processed, computerized, and verified. They are to be reported when they are born, sold, die, and relocated, all within 24 hours of the ''event.'' There is even a code for turning in your neighbor if you see he isn't complying with the program! Every time you trail-ride with your friends you are required to report where you went. Think I'm kidding? Read the plan. We have yet to be told the cost of the tags, databases, tag readers, computers and computer programs. How many people do you think will be required to handle the data on all of this information?

This ID plan begins as a ''Voluntary'' system and then moves to ''mandatory, with enforcement''. Several states have already gone mandatory with animal ID. The first step is the registering of your ''Premise'' and getting a premise number. In January of 2008 all animals will be required to be electronically ID'd, and in January 2009, all movements of such animals will be mandatory according to the plan. Secretary of Agriculture Johannes said in his April 6, 2006 teleconference that this system wouldn't need to be made mandatory if 100% of livestock owners comply with every piece of this draft plan. He also claims that he has been authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill to implement a mandatory system and that no further votes or congressional action are required to make this system mandatory! You can read this on the USDA site also. Click on the news conferences link.

Where did this come from you ask? Because of 911? Terrorists? Disease control? In 1994 there was an organization called the Livestock Conservation Institute, or LCI. This meeting was attended by Ken Olson from American Farm Bureau, Beth Lautner, National Pork Producers Council, Neil Hammerschmidt, Holstein Association and currently the number two man in USDA, also Fred Bower, International Llama Registry, Chuck Sattler, National Association of Animal Breeders, also eartag and electronics manufactures Magtag, Allflex, Trace-em, as well as the USDA, starring John Weimers, and others. Ninety percent of those present said they wanted a national Identification system for economic reasons. The transcripts of this meeting show that it was determined at that time that the system must be mandatory, it must be standardized, it must be computer chips, and it must be a unique number for each animal. Remember, this was 1994!

This organization was later re-named the NIAA, the National Institute of Animal Agriculture [] NIAA?s membership includes 13 state Farm Bureau Associations, American Farm Bureau, The American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Horse Council, as well as Cargill, Elanco, DFA, Monsanto, Pfizer, Schering-Plough Animal Health.

The membership also includes the USDA, American Veterinary Medical Association, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, Livestock
+Marketing Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and numerous state departments of Agriculture.

Additionally, the following ear tag and electronics manufactures are members, Allflex USA, Inc, Bloodhound Animal Identification Systems, Digital Angel and Electronics ID Inc, E-merge Interactive, Inc, EZ ID Systems, National Brand and Tag company, Optibrand Ltd.,LLC, Science Applications International Corporation, the list goes on and on. [See the full list on their website.] As you can see this is a real cozy club of the big Ag organizations, big corporate interests, and the regulators. Where were the small producers at these meetings?

As you can see, the agencies have conspired together when they developed this system. Millions of dollars are currently being handed out to animal organizations across the country promising big bucks for handling the data bases. Don't be fooled when they tell you this isn't so. The draft plan was entered into the Federal Register and has never been replaced or removed. Ask for documentation from those that disagree with what I have said here. Ask them what they are basing their statements on.

After several public meetings in Missouri, USDA and the State Vets won't even show up anymore because they look so bad when challenged with the documents. A Missouri Farm Bureau State board member showed up at the last public meeting in Belle Missouri in August but when I asked the crowd to raise their hand if Farm Bureau needs to do a 180-degree turnaround on this issue all the hands went up. Farm Bureau has covered up the truth about this system to their membership, as have many other organizations.

Missouri Farm Bureau told the USDA last year in a letter dated July 6, 2005 and signed by President Kruse [contrary to Missouri FB policy at that time] that;

· They believe a Mandatory System will ultimately be necessary.

· Producers would be willing to pay a fee.... for tagging.

· Both seller and buyer should report animal movements

· Animals [should] be identified prior to entering commerce or being commingled

· The suggested timeline for implementing NAIS is realistic.

· All livestock listed in the draft standard plan should be included, [e.g. cattle, bison, swine, sheep, goats, horses, poultry, alpacas, llamas, deer, elk, and aquaculture.

Missouri Farm Bureau President Charles Kruse is also on the American Farm Bureau Board that does favor a MANDATORY System. The NAIS will suck billions from the pockets of producers over the next several years unless it is stopped. This can be stopped if we get our legislators to refuse to implement this program on the state level. The states must stop taking money from the Federal Government for this program! This will be devastating for the last of our independent small farmers and ranchers as they struggle to remain viable. This is a violation of our constitution. This is a violation of our freedom. This is a violation of all that we in the country hold dear, and it must be stopped!

Bob Parker and his wife Karen have farmed in Missouri since 1977. They continue to run registered Corriente cattle on their 700 acre farm near Raymondville, Missouri. Bob has served on the Texas County Farm Bureau board for many years and continues to travel across Missouri and Arkansas speaking at public meetings about the National Animal Identification System.

Bob can be reached at

Tomato Seed Saving

Been doing some tomato see saving this week. So far we have saved seed for GL-18, a big red hybrid, a striped mater we are developing, persimmon/Dr. Wyche's Yellow (not sure which) and yellow taxi.

Still have to save for a tasty pink saladette that appears to be a brandywine/sunsugar cross. See what we get out of that next year.

Opalka, a great sauce tomato and one of the parents of the striped tomato we are developing (in our 4th year with these seeds and soon enough should have a stable OP striped tomato with great flavor).

Red pear, a cherry type heirloom that we are breeding the cracking out of.

Yellow pear another heirloom like the red pear 'cept it's yellow and does not crack.

saving tomato seed involves several steps. first you got to ferment the seeds and goo that accompanys them. To do this cut a tomato in half along its' equator. Over a bowl or other container, squeeze the seeds out of the mater. You will have to stick a finger up in the cavaties to extract all of the seeds. Put about a 1/4 of water in the container with the seed goo. Mark the container with tomato variety. Now its' ready to ferment for a few days. Put the seeds out of the way and somewhere where the stench will not disturb you. The concoction if everything is going well will develop a nice film of mold and scum in 24 to 36 hours. Daily, stir the goop lightly and than leave alone. Do this for 3 to 5 days until all the tomato goo has broken down into a liquid slurry. The concoction will reak and likely have a population of fruit flies hovering around it.

It is ready for step two. Take a fine screened sieve and dump the seeds into it and run under cold water to remove the tomato goo. Use your fingers to gently rubs the seeds and release all the goo from them. when clean put the seeds on a coffee filter or cloth (again remember to mark the variety(ies)) and put them in a place out of direct sunlight where they will not be disturbed for several days and let them dry. When they are dry and stuck to the paper/cloth put them in a marked seed envelope or regular envelope and store in a cool, dry, dark place

Comair Flight 5191

Comair flight 5191 out of bluegrass Airport in Lexington, KY crashed around 6am this morning killing 49 people, 4 crew and 45 passengers. Full flight.

The plane reportedly crashed 1 mile west of the airport on a farm than exploded according to witnesses.

The Fayette county Coroner reported all burned to death and the scene was the worst he had ever seen. He was concerned about the first responders as they apparently encountered the plane engulfed in flames and the people still alive.

There is one survivor in critical condition in a Lexington hospital. Burned over 80% of his body. It may be the pilot of co-pilot according to unconfirmed reports.

I am watching the live news feed from Lexington that has preempted local programing because Cincinnati is where Comair is based and local enough to Lexington to be a major story. I get Cincy stations.

Raw news is a rare commodity these days. Most news is sanitized for our protection.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Check Out this Farm Blog

I have known these guys virtually via several small farm based email lists/groups for going on a decade and now they have a swell blog. Good writing and good pictures. A farmers' story is always facinating so check them out. Glen Eco-Farm

late Summer garden

5 pictures of the garden shot in a panoramic way from west to east looking northward. The first photo shows the melon and squash beds plus the spring hoophouses (sans plastic) that still have cukes, zukes, basil and maters. The 2nd shot is pretty much the same stuff 'cepting you can see the asparagus a bit better. 3rd shot is more of the same. I don't know what is under the row covers in this shot, I think fall carrots. The hoophouse to the right has early cantaloupe and Charentais melons. The 4th shot has the melon house plus the start of the fall garden under row covers. These beds have late beans, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli and some herbs. The 5th shot shows more of the same plus Eugene weeding or harvesting and the tomatoes and peppers (the area with the stakes).

The summer garden has past its' peak. The melons, winter and summer squash are waning but they had a good run and we have gotten some very nice melons and squash. The onions are just about over. I believe we have 2 1/2 beds left to harvest. The leeks are just now coming into their own but will have to be harvested in the near future before the onion maggots ruin them for selling purposes. The peppers are full of peppers and several types are beginning to get ripe. The heirloom, red ruffled has 3 or 4 full ripe peppers as of yesterday.

The green beans have been surprising. We did not remove the first beds of beans planted way back in May as was planned and now they are more productive than they were in June. The plants look like hell but the beans are beautiful. This is a relief because the 3rd bean succession planting was a bust-the european bean beetles (they look a lot like a cuke beetle) got on those plants and pretty much ruined the beans for selling or freezing. They was sum butt ugly beans and you cannot ask a premium price on your Roma and French filet beans if they are shot full of bug bites. We have several more beds of beans under row covers just about ready to blooms. Looks like this fall we will be picking bushels of beans for market. It's a shame here at the farm the vast majority of folks who stop by the store want 1/2 runners, an old time string bean that is difficult to harvest and whose fan base do not want to pay more than $20 a bushel for (because that is what their parents and grand parents paid back in the 1960's. I have a personal vendetta against 1/2 runners-they are hard to pick, I personally do not the taste and the way they are traditionally cooked offends the gourmand in me deeply so I won't grow the things-but I do have a friend, Don Schwab, at the Oxford Saturday Market who does so I have been able to supply a few folks with a few 1/2 bushels.

The fall garden has been started. Back in early July we put in a small patch of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers to be put in a hoophouse. We also planted brussel sprouts (few things better than a well grown fresh brussel sprouts, BTW) and another bed of Kale. This past week Eugene tilled about 7 beds for zucchinis, lettuce, spring mix, arugula, cantaloups all of which will end up under plastic by late fall/early winter. We still need to order some strawberry plants for a fall planting so we have berries in early May next year. After a season of picking we have decided that we will no longer be growing Tri-Star berries any longer and will switch to Tribute which makes a far larger and sweeter berry (the catalogues all say Tri-Star is a superior berry and we have grown it for the past 5 years with good success but the Tribute has been consistently far better this year on this farm).

The plan is to have fresh home grown veggies for sale at our farm store as well as at the Oxford farmers’ markets well into the winter. it is tricky to have things from the garden to sell in January but we have been working on growing for winter for the past 6 years or so and generally have a good supply of onions, garlic, various winter squashes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, plus greens such as kale and arugula out of the hoophouse. This year we are adding more dried herbs to the mix.

But for now we still have the waning summer garden to deal with and a market to attend this afternoon.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Second Circle of Tomato Hell

We have reached the second circle of tomato hell. The place with rivers of boiling tomato juice with glass jars floating in them. Where there are crates of tomatoes with just a few rotting in the bottom of each crate attracting fruit flies and stinking like rotten maters. Where there are mazes of vines to nowhere, falling over from the weight of all the not quite ripe maters hanging on them. where the giagantic hornworms roam freely through the maze of vines devouring all in their path.

Soon we will delve into the 3rd circle but not just yet.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What to Do with Too Much Produce

It is nearly mid August and that means the market garden is in full swing. we are harvesting literally tons of food out of the garden right now. We are harvesting onions, cantaloups, watermelon, acorn squash, green peppers, eggplant, zucchini, basil, cukes, kale, chard, etc..

Things like onions are pretty easy to deal with. Harvest, put on the drying racks and ignore for a few weeks while they cure. Clean them up by removing the dirty layer of skin and the roots than store and/or sell. The winter squashes are also easy to deal with, harvest, wash off any dirt and let cure for a week or two than store.

The tomatoes are not so easy. They are easier to harvest than the long keeping crops but they also are a whole lot more perishable so that means if the sales are slow (and they are) they either have to be composted or made into something. We much prefer to make them into something rather than let them go to the compost. So today I made my first batch of tomato juice out of a wide variety of maters I found either sitting on the kitchen table (they were well on their way to conquering the table for all tomato kind) or going on their way towards compost material in the store about a bushel of tomatoes to be made into juice. The juice has brandywines, basinga, persimmon, moscovich, sunsugar, yellow taxi and big beef maters in it.

Right now it is heating up on the stove and soon I will add some balsamic vinegar, home made garlic powder, worcester sauce and a bit of salt to the juice to finish it and than get out the canner, quart canning jars, rings and lids and can it all up either tonight or tomorrow morning before market. Looks like I will have about 8 to 10 quarts of juice in the end.

Melons present many of the same challenges of the tomatoes, though they do not go bad nearly as quickly and right now are selling a lot better so there are rarely any that need processing this time of year. But a couple of weeks ago that was not the case and I was freezing melons about every day. Of course it is far easier to cut and freeze melons than it is to make tomato juice or sauce. For freezing melons all I do is cut the rind off and than cut the melon into 1" cubes and put them on a cookie sheet and put that into the freezer. When the melon has frozen I put the cubes into a plastic freezer bag and put that back into the freezer.

Basil has been another thing coming in heavily. The volume of the basil has been very very heavy, so much so that even with brisk sales I still have a lot left over. Last Friday I harvested about 6 pounds from one bed. Out of that I sold about 3 pounds and the rest I dried for winter use and sale. The next harvest I am thinking of making a huge batch of pesto and freezing that for winter and maybe even sell some.

Soon I will be dealing with a lot of ripe peppers and will freeze pounds and pounds of them as well as selling as many as possible.

This is the curse and the blessing of having a market garden. At times it produces well beyond what you can sell and than you get to put up food for the winter months when it is really hot outside

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Bridge is Now Open!

The big news of the week is the bridge construction that has been going on for the past 4.5 months or so is now complete and the stop lights outside our driveway are now gone. It is weird to have normal traffic patterns after so many months of stop and go traffic outside the house. I am not sure if this will be good or bad for business. Right now it seems to be bad for business because over the months many people stopped using 127 and have found other ways to get where they are going. I am sure that most will come back once they know the bridge is open, since there are no good detours for 127 north of Eaton (though several are very pretty and peaceful).

We had the farm store open yesterday and got only 3 people stopping and two buying. I don't know if this is because of the change in traffic patterns of the fact it was cloudy and rainy which always seems to have a negative impact on our sales (despite the fact we are all indoors and weather proof unlike many farm stands around here which are pretty exposed to the weather).

Because it was cloudy and rainy Eugene decided to put another coat of paint on the porch. He got about half the job done working about 5 or 6 hours. I opted not to help him and did house cleaning, cooking and some harvesting. Oh and opening and closing the store. This involves a lot of moving of produce from big fridge in the barn to the store where the produce is taken from big crates and put into smaller baskets. I also have to make sure we have change in the cash drawer, a sheet to record sales and proper labels that tell the customer what things are and how much they cost.

This morning it is rainy again but much cooler than yesterday. We have to harvest some items for tomorrow's farmers' market and open the store. Other than that we don't have much to do. Of course now that the main tomato and peppers are coming on along with melons, eggplant, green beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, the older maters, kale, chard, basil, etc,. Etc., harvest time takes a lot longer than it did say 2 weeks ago. But more to harvest means more to sell, freeze, can and dehydrate

Monday, August 07, 2006

World's Longest Yard Sale: Days 3 & 4

The yard sale is over. All that is left is a stinky port a john and a small pile of junk between the barns that still has to be put away.

It went very well. Saturday was the busiest day by farm. We had 10 to 14 vehicles in the lot constantly from around 10 am 'til around 6pm. And even after six we still had steady, though, lighter traffic. We were hopping all day long.

We picked up another vendor on Saturday who had boxes of things you would find in a drug store like balloons, antacids, notebooks, hand lotion, hair dye, etc,. etc.. All items for a buck, he did well. Just about everyone who stopped bought something from him. I got Claritin, antacid and a few other things for a buck. Way cool.

We would have made more money and sold a lot more produce going to the Saturday farmers' market in Oxford. But by staying home we introduced ourselves to the community by having this event. I'd say over 100 people walked in the store that had passed by the place but never stopped. Now they have and now they know who we are and what we sell. Many will be back and will become regular customers.

Sunday was not nearly as busy as Saturday but the people who came were coming for produce not the yard sale/flea market. So we sold a lot of produce. Sunday started late. I don't think we had a customer until after 9am-the other 3 days had people arriving at 8am-and until after 1pm traffic was very intermittent. Than it got very steady for a few hours but by 5pm we were getting no one and all the vendors either were gone or tearing down their tents and putting away what they did not sell.

Mark, the dulcimer maker, left us a table, bunk beds that would make nice bookshelves, a working window air conditioner and some thick beveled glass. All so he could reclaim his wood working shop in his bus (A win, win situation) before he took off. We also agreed we would be carrying his instruments in our store for Christmas time/winter.

We did not come anywhere near selling out of corn and ended up taking a loss of the corn, beets, melons and cabbage we bought. We did sell all of the cabbage and all but one melon (and it's gonna have to be frozen not sold) which off set the loss taken on the corn and beets some what. because we bought muskmelons we did not sell many of the Charentais and Galia melons we grow but we did sell some. We probably would have sold a lot more of them if we did not have the muskmelons. C'est la vie.

All in all it was a really fun and intense weekend and we will be doing this next year. It is my plan to have more vendors, a few improvements in the parking situation (we could handle the traffic this year easily but if it increases more than 25% we may have some problems), trash cans, more banners/balloons/flags/signs and perhaps not as many yard sale items and stick with renting spaces and selling produce (yeah...right, we will have yard sale items to offer too)

Friday, August 04, 2006

World's Longest Yard Sale, Days 1 & 2

The World's longest Yard sale has started. We started setting up for it Wednesday and the other people, Jules, Rosie and Mark who have rented spaces came out Thursday morning and spent most of the day setting up and showing the early birds what they had.

I'd say we had about 40 or 50 car loads come by on Thursday. Most were locals from Preble, Darke and Montgomery Counties but some were serious yard salers and came with large vehicles and trailers from places like Northern Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, maryland, etc..

People were doing more looking than buying on Thursday but I did get interviewed by Tana Weingartner for WMUB, the local NPR station (and a station I give both time and money to each year) about the yard sale and also about having a road side farm stand (she was thrilled to be able to do a twofer). We got a thundershower around 2 pm that put a damper on sales but it also cooled us down and it did not last more than 45 minutes. It could have been worse, just to the north and east they had sever storms with 70 mph+ winds. We do not need that kind of weather for this event-too hard on the tents and canopies.

We all shut up our stands around 8pm and than shared some beer and conversation and went our separate ways. We stayed home and made and ate dinner (squash lyonaise, corn on the cob and a cuke, tomato and onion salad with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar) the rest went to the local truck stop or perhaps a Subway to eat and they also got us 8 bags of ice for the 75 dozen ears of sweet corn we bough that is NOT selling well at all and will not fit into our fridge (and this is causing Eugene and I more stress than it ought to).

This morning (Friday) dawn clear and cool with much lower humidity than we have had in about 2 weeks. We got up around 7am and slowly got going. By 8am the first yard saler was on the promises and we were no where close to being open. By about 8:30 we were open and ready for business and for us it was slow but for Jules and mark things were going well. the rest of the day was filled with waves of traffic coming in. looking around, maybe buying a few things and leaving. there were several people who were doing the whole thing from Van Wert, OH to Alabama (or at least as far as their money would let them go).

We got reports of lots of sales from Van Wert to Camden but south of Camden, OH they pretty much stopped (C'mon Butler County get your ass in gear!). Had many people stop and buy produce who had driven past us for the past year but never had a reason to stop in. Hopefully most will be repeat customers.

It is evening and the pace has picked up. I do not know how the folks are faring out there because I chose to do a lot of cooking this afternoon. Had a huge pot of cooked apples in the fridge awaiting to be made into applesauce than canned. So I got out the Victorio food processor and made apple sauce and than got out the canner and jars and canned it up. Than I decided to make a strawberry cake out of some berries that were going bad, froze some peaches in the same state and than made a cole slaw out of a huge head of cabbage that has been sitting in the fridge for 3 weeks (and it is a delicious slaw-great cabbage).

At last look there were 5 cars in the parking area. One was jumping the other so I don't suppose they are buying much. Mark, Jules, Rosie and Madeline (who is selling jewelry she has made with Jules and Rosie) have been playing music. Nice bluegrass music.

From what I have seen so far (and the weekend isn't even here yet) this 127 yard sale is a huge success and will only get better. Hey, it's only the first year here in Ohio