Posts Tagged ‘pigs’

Marshalling Our Resources

Our world is finite. That makes the resources within it, technically, finite. Those that don’t regenerate within a human lifetime are simply more finite than others. Even those that regenerate within amounts of time that we can truly understand run the risk of being made finite. When you harvest more salmon than they spawn, when you cut down more trees than you plant, you make a resource that should have been regenerative, finite.

What matters in the here and now, though, is not when (let alone if) a particular resource will run out. What matters is what we are doing to make sure that we aren’t squandering it for our children and their children. This is everything from how quickly we are extracting and frittering away precious ores to whether we are building or poisoning the soil in our yards.Will we need precious ores in the future? Maybe we will have figured a way around them, but let’s not use them all up, just in case. Will we need healthy topsoil in the future? Yes. So let’s not screw it up any more than we have.

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This is what you get when you have an overabundance of a resource. If it costs more to harvest an apple than it will sell for, then it doesn’t get harvested. There was a bumper crop of apples in 2015¬†in every part of the country, driving the price down so far that it simply wasn’t worth it for this farmer to harvest his full orchard. So they stayed on the trees until they fell of their own accord.

Now, leaving the fruit where it falls isn’t all bad. It feeds the small critters on and in the ground. It returns nutrients to the base of the tree itself. However, each harvest that doesn’t come in puts the farmer one year closer to selling out to something else. Something like a strip mall or a “house farm.” (Where I grew up, I saw a lot of farms become just bunches of suburban houses. The most disturbing ones were when they kept the farm name but replaced the crops with lawns.)

So, using an apple farm as our example, what can we do to truly marshal our resources? This farmer already has a couple of sidelines. He sells both apples and cider. I took this picture at a mush bowl, which was awesome. And potential income using his acres that are dormant in the winter. This is how you have to think when you’re a farmer. “This is what I have, now what can I do with it?”

Let’s look at the apples in particular, though. What we tend to be taught is that something is good for one thing. If you grow apples to sell, then that’s what you use them for. If you grow corn and the price falls through the floor, tough luck, right? The same with pumpkins or pork. But let’s talk about pork for a minute. Could you fatten some pigs on the harvest you can’t sell? Pick up half a dozen suckling pigs as soon as you figure out that you can’t sell enough to make ends meet. Run them in the orchard under the trees to pick up the apples as they fall. You have fenced in the orchard, right? Or, if you haven’t, what about chicken tractors worth of broilers? I’m sure you can fatten chickens right up on all the sugar that’s in apples. Just hope they don’t eat the seeds.

(Since starting this post I have learned that the current overabundance of commodity crops- particularly wheat and corn- are causing grain farmers to buy small numbers of cattle to fatten up on what it isn’t worth selling. This will have an unknown effect on the price of beef in the coming year as those cattle aren’t included in the national headcount. The things you learn at stock expos . . . )

What about that cider thing? Fresh cider you have to sell pretty quickly. Even if it’s pasturized, it doesn’t have that much of a shelf life. Hard cider became a thing, though, because when you take all of your unpasturized cider from the fall harvest and stick it in your root cellar to drink all winter, by spring, it has fermented into small cider. (Small cider or beer being alcoholic, but to a lesser degree than “regular” cider or beer.) If you’re more deliberate in the fermenting process, it probably won’t take as long and will yield something with an alcohol content that’s more in line with what we expect these days. Fermenting also has the side benefit of prolonging the shelf life. All of those apples that you couldn’t move in the fall? You’re selling in liquid form well into the next growing season, easing the cash flow.

If we really want to prolong the shelf life, then we make apple wine instead and freeze it to make applejack. I’m not sure if this counts as “distilling” since it’s cold, not hot, but you might want to check the laws before you go and sell it. However, this would have the potential of spreading an unsellable harvest over maybe two or three years.

We are trained from kindergarten on up that 1+1=2. What we need to relearn is that sometimes 1+1=pigs. Or 1+1=applejack. We need to relearn how to take what’s in front of us and instead of seeing how it won’t work for us, being a little creative and figuring out how it can work for us. We have enough resources. We just have to be smart about it.

 

If you’re thinking about this from the perspective of the justice system- check out this TED Talk. If you’re thinking about it from the perspective of gender, check out this one.

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“Food Processing Unit”

I really feel the need to share this new technological break-through with you.

So what they did was invent the backyard pig. A pig that no doubt runs on fossil fuel.

They invented a backyard pig that doesn’t produce bacon!

What are your thoughts on this?

National Western Stock Show- Part 1

This is going to be mostly a picture post, again. However, I took so many pictures, that I need to split my one day at the stock show into four parts. This one will be the critters I saw in the Expo Hall.

According to the back of my National Western Stock Show Bar and Grill menu, this stock show started in 1906. It is the largest in the world by number of animals. The proceeds are used for scholarships to schools in Colorado and Wyoming for studying medicine and agriculture. Pretty cool, huh? Through my wanderings, I figured out that they weren’t kidding about the “national” part of the title. There were farms from as far away as New York and¬†Massachusetts.

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The first event I wanted to see was Urban Farms: Fabulous Farm Animals.

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I was hoping for something like a lecture, but it turned out to be kid-oriented.

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That’s ok, though. More kids need to meet animals.

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Not that he thought so.

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The next spot was the shorn fibers . . .

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and their former wearers. (There had to have been alpacas and llamas somewhere, but I never did find them.)

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Pork butt. Also known as “Happy as pigs in . . . sawdust.”

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Pink with black spots.

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Black with pink spots. (It’s so much easier to be sure than with zebras.)

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Oreo pig! (Probably a Wessex Saddleback, but I didn’t check to be sure.)

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Chocolate pig! Is that where chocolate-covered bacon comes from?

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I have now seen a steer with a blowout. And so have you.

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How cute is she?

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Highland cattle are very hardy, coming from the Scottish Highlands, and produce lean meat.

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Also, they’re cute.

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And sweet- he was asking every passer-by to pet him while he was being groomed. Although I’m not sure how he saw them.

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Ha! I found the basis for the ton-ton’s heads! (Sorry about the picture quality.)

Unless I change my mind before I put up the others, the rest of the series should be horses, stockyard, and everything else.