A moron or a liar, but certainly a racist, plays to a cheering crowd.

A friend posted on facebook a link to Hank Williams Jr. bashes Obama at Iowa State Fair, and added,

“We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S., and we hate him!” (and the crowd goes wild with applaud)

Hank Williams Jr can’t seem to get it right. In order to stay relevant some people will say anything to get attention. This guy’s top venue–is performing at “state-fairs”. He (along with a select group) are still on the “President is a Muslim” trip. Let’s not laugh at little Hank-hank, maybe he will go away.

Personally I don’t think hoping he’ll go away will be enough. I’d rather call the miserable low-life and his peers out on their lies and their warped beliefs.

First, Obama and Democrats have done plenty to support the military, while Republican leaders talk about supporting the troops while voting against military benefits, pay raises, and jobs programs for veterans. Republicans in congress love the military the way McDonald’s loves cows, and I’m getting sick of military members being lied to about their “support”.

Second, as a commenter on the article asked, “And who is holding up the Farm Bill?…”

Third, I wish we could move from “Obama isn’t a Muslim” to “It doesn’t matter if he’s a Muslim because the United States Constitution is absolutely clear about ‘No Religious Tests‘”.

Hank Williams is a moron or a liar, but certainly a racist, and hoping his type will go away isn’t going to help this nation break out of the gridlock caused by bigotry and ignorance.

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Progress on the Tomato Starts

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Here’s an update on those tomatoes that were spending the nights in the oven. Sasha “pricked them out”, which means she moved them from the big community trays to the apartment trays shown here. We no longer take them in at night, and lately the biggest problem has been overheating. Overheating happens when Sasha leaves in the morning and says, “Make sure my tomato plants don’t broil”, I say “Ok”, but then I start working on some other chore, and well you know…

Little Greenhouse, Plastic Raised

Depicted here is me lifting the plastic off of the little greenhouse in an effort to release some of the super-heated air that built up in the fifteen minutes or so when my attention lapsed as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds during an overcast day.

Cinder Block Smoker

There’s plenty of information out there about building a cinder block smokehouse, and we’re still experimenting with ours, so don’t use this as your definitive guide

We’ve built a pretty small one and dug down the depth of one block to make it easier to reach the top.

Cblock Smoker: Basement

We offset some of the blocks to make ridges on which we place crossbars for hanging meat.

Cblock Smoker: Offset Blocks

Here’s a full view.

Cblock Smoker: Full View

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The fire goes in the channel at the foot of the smoker. The cinder blocks between the channel and the smoker are sideways to allow smoke to pass through the openning. With the channel covered with a piece of metal, the smoker becomes a big chimney and draws the smoke into the chamber where the meat hangs. We’re having a little trouble controlling the temperature, so I’ll post some more info when we get all the bugs worked out.

update: Fixed spelling error in the title.

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm

I keep meaning to write about the farm but a combination of our slow progress towards getting anything done and my obsessions with politics and macroeconomics have been preventing that. So here’s some quick updates:

Sasha has been making little mounds in the garden, and in the middle of each she placed a blackberry bush, which at this point is just a little stick. Also, she put some broccoli along with the berry bushes on three of the mounds. Our timing was, as usual, lousy. Immediately after putting these in a storm blow through. It dumped some rain in Norfolk but here in Suffolk all we got was wind and tornado watches. Small mound (about 4ft diam with stick poking out the top.

But none of the little sticks blew over, and it happens to be raining now, so I expect most of these will survive.

By Sasha’s command, I’ve been digging trenches for potatoes.

Me, with shovel

In the the trenches we drop potato pieces, each of which is about a 1 inch cube containing at least one eye.

Trenches, about 8 inches wide and deep, and 3 feet apart

We had Bill dig a basement for our smoker. I’ll describe this in more detail as it progresses.

Square hole, about 16x24 inches, and 8 inches deep
And Sasha’s been growing tomatoes, peppers, and ground cherries in the oven.

2 Trays of tomato starts in the oven

We keep them in the oven at night and put them outside in a tiny plastic greenhouse in the morning. For four days we kept the light on in the oven at night, for warmth, but now that the seedlings have grown a bit we stopped doing that and will soon stop taking them in at night. And of course, they’ll soon be planted.

My method of axing a chicken.

Today I helped two friends, Gail and Trish, dispatch two problem chickens. One was a rooster who was too rough on the hens and one was a hen who developed a taste for fresh eggs. My method of killing is a little different from anything I’ve seen before but this works for me and I think it’s pretty quick and painless for the chicken.

What will be surprising about the diagram below is I used to draw pretty well. But I stopped drawing a long time ago and now I’m using a touchpad instead of a pencil.

Still, here’s how I hold the chicken. I kneel and hold its feet back and on the ground with my left hand. I keep the hatchet in reach of my right hand while I gently try to position its head across a small log just big enough to allow its neck and chin to lay across it. Once positioned they usually stay still long enough for the kill. When its head is in the right position, I quickly grab the hatchet and aim for the base of the head.

I know a lot of people perform rituals to thank the animal for giving its life and to ensure a safe passage for its soul. That’s a whole lot better than showing no regard for its life and feelings, but I think it’s best for the animal just to get it over with as quickly as possible.

More on the Rat (Piglet)

When we (by ‘we’ I mean Sasha) decided to take the piglet in, we were afraid that he would have to be bottle fed, but fortunately he immediately took to slurping up formula from a bowl. The formula was a multi-animal milk replacer that we got from Farmer’s Feed and Seed.

The problem was, we couldn’t get him off the formula to start eating solid food, which would be a requirement for putting him back out with the other pigs. We figured it would only be a week or so before he started eating but with a bowl of pig food handy he’d scream for hours demanding milk.

So Sasha asked the world of Homestead Hogs what to do, and got this reply from Jerry:

Oh… another piglet with a well trained “Mom”.

Give him some hog food top dressed with milk replacer (clean water available also)…

I flat out guarantee, he will NOT starve to death with that bowl of food in there … He may (WILL) bitch loudly about mom changing his feed program, but he will figure it out as soon as he gets hungry enough.

Question is can you handle it? He will be screaming bloody murder….

The person who first said “Squealing like a stuck pig” didn’t just pick an animal at random. Lots of animals scream when they’re upset but I don’t think any other animal in the world screams like pig. The piglet (who we named “Kauai” at the request of Sasha’s sister) makes horrific blood curdling squeals and can keep it up until he’s satisfied.

But Jerry’s advice seems to be working. Kauai finally started eating pig food today.

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On another note, cleaning up after a piglet is a whole lot of work. I heard that you can train a pig to a litter box but we quickly decided that he had to go out. Good thing it’s been so warm lately.

There’s a rat in our house.

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Actually it’s a little piglet.  It’s one of our American Guinea Hogs. None of its siblings made it and the mother wasn’t likely to be able to care for this one so Sasha took him in.  We don’t know how long he’s staying.  We have another mother with piglets that we might try to give him to but if that doesn’t work out he’ll stay with us until he can eat regular feed.

The Hay Bale

Ben turned his pickup around carefully because Wayne’s dog was barking and running circles around it. When the truck was in a good spot, Ben got out while Wayne, with a hay spear on his tractor, picked a large round bale of peanut hay from his warehouse. The dog watched Ben carefully. A large, black cow chewed quietly nearby, and three other’s slowly walked along a hill in the distance. Ben didn’t know how far back Wayne’s farm went.

The Dakota sunk a bit as Wayne carefully dropped the bale in the bed. Ben reached into his pocket and pulled out two twenties, which the big dog sniffed at. Wayne backed his tractor up and turned it off. “How you doing, Ben?” They hadn’t spoken since an earlier phone call. “Fine, how about you?” Wayne climbed down from the tractor and they shook hands.

“Have you gotten any bad bales?”, Wayne asked.

“Well the last one was a bit moldy”, said Ben.

It was understatement. The middle was dark, moist, and embedded with white mold that broke into smoky dust when it dried. Had it been the first bale Ben ever got from Wayne he wouldn’t have come back for a second. But it wasn’t the first. Ben had been getting hay from Wayne ever since Mark and Tina mentioned him, and that must have been at least two years before. Ben was happy enough with Wayne not to make a fuss over one moldy bale.

“I ran into a few like that”, Wayne said, “I couldn’t tell from looking at them, but when I got into them I saw they were bad.”

Ben agreed and said, “It was O.K. on the outside. They ate most of it.” Ben was referring to his goats. He had given his goats most of the hay but eventually decided he just couldn’t give them any more. Mold can kill livestock.

Wayne said, “Why don’t you just take that bale.”

Ben was surprised. “OK”, he said. “Thank you. Very much”.

“Well I just want to do what’s right”, said Wayne.

They said goodbye and Ben got back in his truck. As he drove off he thought, “Huh, I should mention this in my blog.”

Wayne Byrum is one of the last American farmers not to be consumed or run off by food factories. His farm is in Gates, North Carolina. He sells high quality pastured beef from cattle that aren’t confined in feed lots. He also sells goats and, of course, hay. His number is 252-357-1742.

Feeding Goats during a Drought

Except for Winter, when we buy peanut hay, we feed the goats by moving them around. We can usually leave them in one spot for about three days but there’s been so little grass growing lately that there isn’t even enough food in a paddock to last a day. So we’ve been augmenting with trees and branches. The two strategies involved are 1) to put them in woody areas and 2) to cut trees and branches and toss them in.

Putting them in woody areas means going in with an ax and a machete to clear a path for the electric net. It’s a lot of work and running the net through the woods is a pain because it gets caught up easily. We put them at the edge of the woods, so their area is half in and half out. That leaves a clear spot for the shed. It’s a lot of work but it’s good for a couple of days.

Tossing in small trees and branches is quicker but has to be done every day. We do this when we run out of woody areas that we’re willing let the goats clear-cut. I can go into the woods and select straggly trees and branches to prune.

Either way it’s a lot of work but the fact that I can do it is one of the things that I like about goats.

Cute but Stupid




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Originally uploaded by bnmng

Ducklings will drown in a container, even if you’ve ensured that they can get out of the container by waving your hands around and scaring them out. After you leave, they’ll hop back in and, without the wavy-handed boogie-man threatening them, will swim around until they get too tired to hop over the wall. To keep the adorable dumfucks from drowning, you have to make sure their exit path is as easy to cross as it is to walk out of a natural pond. This hardware cloth ramp seems to work. I know it will get rusty soon so I’ll replace it as needed or come up with something else, but there has to be something there.

Another note: don’t use poultry netting to enclose chicks or ducklings. The 1″ hexagonal holes are perfectly sized and shaped to let them get stuck halfway through. Use hardware cloth.