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“Test-Tube Hamburger”

A friend of mine on Twitter sent me a link to an article titled “First ‘test-tube’ hamburger to be produced this year” and wanted to know my thoughts, so…

The idea of being able to take bovine stem cells, growing muscle tissue in a lab and then taking that tissue and turning it into “hamburger” is an intriguing idea. It makes me think of a science fiction movie or even Star Trek.

Those who know me and have followed my blog also know that I am a supporter of utilizing technology to improve the ability of agriculture to provide safe and wholesome food in the most efficient manner possible while also being environmentally friendly. This endeavor could potentially provide an option for people to choose, when it comes to choices of “meat.”

After being intrigued by the initial presentation of the idea, I then reached the point in the article where the author begins describing the “benefits” of having being able to create “hamburger” in a test-tube. Yes, I am putting the word hamburger in quotations…I just have a tough time calling something hamburger that comes from lab.

Some of the benefits listed included:

“Conventional meat and dairy production requires more land, water, plants and disposal of waste products than almost all other human foods.”

It is important to realize that most of the land utilized to raise cattle is of very poor quality and not land that is favorable for growing “human foods.” Particularly in the west, cattle run on mountain and dessert range, where elevation and length of growing season limits production to grasses. Additionally, where cattle have been managed properly, beneficial grasses actually increase, for both the cattle and wildlife, fuel loads are reduced and organic material in the soil is increased. Read more…

Death, Maiming, Wolves and the HSUS

The Wolf Known As OR7, photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS

It has been a while since I posted and for that I apologize. The primary reason was that I did not want publish a post that was not uplifting and positive, so close to Christmas.

Four weeks ago I helped bury a dear friend and had to put a mare down who broke her leg, in the middle of the field, with no holes around, apparently from running, or being chased. Then, three days later, one of our mares, who had just foaled, was killed by either a mountain lion or bear and a cow was killed on the same night, perhaps by a pack of coyotes or the same lion or bear. Read more…

Field Rotation – Phase I

One of our hay fields is due to be rotated this year. It has been producing alfalfa-grass mix hay since 1998. Thirteen years of production is fairly substantial, especially considering that it was seriously damaged in flood of ’96.

McBride 6 After 2nd Cutting

It finally reached a point this year where the production fell below five ton per acre and it is inundated with undesirables; weeds that we are unable to spray to eliminate without also killing the alfalfa, the fescue or the orchard grass. Read more…

Siskiyou County Farm Bureau v. CDFG

I have had several inquiries regarding the ongoing lawsuit between Siskiyou County Farm Bureau and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). As it is an ongoing lawsuit I am limited to what can be shared. However, since the hearings have begun, I am now able to share some background. Read more…

What’s Wrong With the EPA…

A lively #agchat discussion on the EPA last night prompted some further discussion on twitter during the after party. 140 characters was just not enough so I have thrown together some further thoughts here.

First, I have no doubt that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), CEPA (California Environmental Protection Agency), CAQCB (California Air Quality Control Board), CWRCB (California Water Quality Control Board) and the NCWQCB (North Coast Water Quality Control Board) were all implemented with the best of intentions. However, we all know where the road goes that is paved with good intentions.  My comments are on all of these agencies as they overlap and often work together to address the same issues that I have been involved with. Also, these thoughts are from my personal experience in dealing with these agencies as they relate to my area: National Forest, private timber, irrigated and non-irrigated ag land, water quality and salmonid habitat. Read more…

2011 Irrigation Starts

2011 pivot turned on

Day 1 of Irrigation for 2011

Due to nice spring rains, we were able to hold off turning on the water until May 3 this year. Long range forecasts had shown another front coming in, but was adjusted on Monday to show upper 60’s and low 70’s without chance for rain.

While the alfalfa could have made it another five to six days without irrigation, I made the decision to stay ahead of the draw down and lay down an inch of water now to make sure that I was ahead of the water level for second cutting, so the plants do not get stressed. The master plan calls for starting 1st cutting in 12 days. We’ll see if the weather cooperates. 🙂

It was a pleasant morning flushing the mainline and discovering that for the first time in years, no risers were cracked or broken due to winter wear, livestock and wildlife.  Not so pleasant is knowing that the power bills are going to start coming again…

Earth Day, Every Day, On The Ranch

Every day is Earth Day on our ranch, that is part of the reason we do what we do. We take a holistic approach to management.

Riparian Zone


The Scott River flows through the middle of our ranch. Over the past several decades we have stabilized and fenced two miles of river and planted over 10 acres in mixed riparian vegetation. We then manage grazing to maintain the health of the zone and manage the weeds. The river has high quality salmon habitat and is frequented by bear, beaver, deer, ducks, elk and geese.

Fish Screen

Also, we have installed fish screens at each of the four diversions we operate to prevent fish from entering the irrigation ditches. At each of the diversions we have also installed fish friendly rock weirs so that we no longer have to utilize push up dams.

Soil


When it comes to managing the soil, we test regularly to insure that the soil remains healthy and productive. Fields and pastures only receive soil amendments when they start showing depletion. As nutrients are needed, we utilize a variety of replenishments including manure from our cattle, horses and sheep, as well as naturally occurring commercial additives. Most of our pastures maintain productivity solely on the natural deposition of manure from our livestock as we rotate from field to field during the summer and harrow after the critters leave a field to evenly distribute the manure so that it can be incorporated into the soil.

Water


We utilize a variety of methods for irrigation. Early in the season, we predominately flood irrigate, which insures the aquifer is charged for summer pumping. We continue to flood irrigate throughout the summer in specific fields that allow surface water to quickly percolate and help maintain a balance with pumping so that water does not have to be lifted as far with the pumps. Additionally, flood irrigation applies water that will slowly flow subsurface to the river, returning cooler to the river than the existing surface water, creating quality habitat for salmonid fingerlings. We have also installed a central pivot irrigation system on our hay fields to be more efficient and utilize wheellines on pastures that are higher in clay. In the winter, we continue to flood irrigate part of one field to provide additional habitat for the Canada Geese that migrate through each year. It is not uncommon to see 10’s of thousands of geese during the winter months.

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