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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

DOL (Department Opposed to Labor) Strikes Again

My son helping change water.

I received an email the other day from a friend…an email that at first I thought was a joke, a spoof, one of those emails that once you read part way down says something to the effect of “Gotcha! Things aren’t really as bad they seem.”

I read through the synopsis…waiting to come to the “Gotcha” part…it wasn’t there…this was a legitimate proposal by the Department of Labor.

I was dumfounded at first…then a state of disbelief…followed by a wave of legitimate anger.

How could anyone seriously propose these new regulations for agricultural employment of children?

What is even worse, is that it will negatively impact and make illegal, many of the routine activities considered by the department to be “work” that occur on a daily basis on all farms and ranches. Read more…

Food Dialogue…Boom or Bust?

September 23, 2011 15 comments

Was the USFRA sponsored “Food Dialogue” successful?

That is the question.

I set aside the time to watch and listen to the entire dialogue, as well as follow the discussions taking place on the Food Dialogue website, Facebook page and on Twitter with #FoodD (the hashtag for the discussion).

It was my intention to listen and observe as an objective person…a challenge…but this was my take on day. Read more…

Family Friday – Stop Thief

Stop Thief by Parker Brothers

This past Family Friday, my son chose to play a game…’Stop Thief‘, (Link to a review by the Retroist) by Parker Brothers.

Not a “modern” game by any means, but one that I hung on to from my childhood. Amazingly, my 4 (soon to be be 5) year old son, latched on to it and has surprisingly picked it up rather quickly.

Play the part of detective “Sheerluck Homes,” “Lester Lose O’,” “Mavis Marvel” or “Nanny Harrow.”

Catch criminals like “Bunny & Clod” the petty thieves, “Saul Teen” the safecracker, and “John Doe” the buck passer, by following the clues.

A wonderful game of deduction and laughs for the entire family.

First Family Friday

September 12, 2011 4 comments

This past summer has been crazy….

Due to long hours haying, my wife being gone for eight weeks in CO to become a Two-Star Parelli Professional we have had very little family together time.

My wife and son went on a camping trip for four days…but I had to stay home and hay.

My son and I spent three days at the county fair, showing sheep and horses…but my wife was helping put on a clinic in OR.

Upon my wife’s return from CO last week, we sat down and decided that we needed to set aside some family time and came up with the idea of Family Friday.

Being able to do things together as a family is very important to us and with our son about to turn 5, it is setting in that time waits for no one.

Family Fridays have now been designated as the day or night that we will do some activity together as a family, without distractions, just focusing on us as a family…having fun!

Last Friday was our first, with the entire family back home at the same time.

To start our new tradition, we headed to the mountains for a few hours with the horses. There is nothing better than a peaceful ride as a family, dogs bouncing through the Manzanita, breeze blowing through the trees and the smell of pine in the air.

It was agreed by all, as we headed back to the truck and trailer…Family Friday was a great idea.

Looking forward to this coming Family Friday….

Side Note: We took our ride in forest managed by Sierra Pacific and they are doing an excellent job of maintaining forest health. Nice job Mark Lathrop (@sustainablewood on Twitter)!

H.U.D. – Horrifically & Unbelievably Dissipative

Years ago, my grandfather put a two bedroom, single bath mobile home next to the barn. It has air conditioning, a working fireplace, stove, oven, refrigerator, free water and free trash, a large yard and is nestled underneath six large oak trees. It was his desire to offer this domicile to folks who were down on their luck, strapped for cash, on a fixed income or simply needed a place to get their feet back under themselves. Over the years we’ve had individuals, young and retired couples live in the home for a few months at a time and as long as 11 years. Many people have been able to catch back up and move ahead. It has also served as a benefit to have someone living in the barnyard to keep potential deviants away.

Since my wife and I have taken over, we have continued to honor my grandfathers wishes. A retired couple was in the home, until the husband required more immediate medical attention. We then had a newly married couple live in the home, have a daughter and they have now been able to afford a bigger home. This brings us to the past week…. Read more…

Size Is Relative

Big is bad, small is good, organic is healthy, conventional kills you, grass-fed is better for you, grain-fed is wasteful, families are good, and corporations are evil…..

The pontificating purveyors of perpetual rhetoric have been rather vocal lately.  Once again, discussion is swarming around the issue of the size of farms and ranches; the proverbial “good vs. evil.”  To most farmers and ranchers, who rely on the productivity of their farm, ranch or forest to maintain a living, it is clear; size is relative.

For decades, individuals and groups have attempted, sometimes successfully, to fracture agriculture; to divide and conquer. Recently, in the past few years, agriculture has begun to come together, setting their differences aside and working together as one, for the benefit of all. This unity and healing of old scars has positioned many, who have relished in conflict, to encounter unknown waters and uncertainty.

Size

In California alone, there are regions where a family can make a living on 1 to 5 acres. In other regions, it requires several hundred and for others more than a thousand acres for a family to survive. Climate, growing days, soil fertility and water availability are a few factors that heavily impact productivity of a farm or ranch. For example, my cousin-in-law has a 4.5 acre flower farm near San Diego, does very well for his family of four and is considered “big.” On the other hand, a good friend of mine, who lives in North Eastern California, is surviving running cattle on more than two thousand acres and is considered “small” compared to his neighbors. When it comes to size, relative productivity is what matters. Irrigated pasture might be able to carry three to five head per acre, while desert range might require 100 acres to carry just one pair. A twenty acre farm in the Salinas Valley might be able to grow three different crops in a year and be financially viable, while a shortened growing season in the Scott Valley, limited to one crop per year, will require three to four hundred acres of grain or hay to be viable.  

Practice

Throughout the day, I could not help but picture the agricultural industry as a circus, each size and type of operation an act. Every act has its moment in the spotlight, just as trends, fads and niches do in real life. That does not make one act or operation good or bad. It is the collection of the diverse acts that makes a show successful. A one-act circus would be hard pressed to sustain business. It is the diversity of agriculture that provides choices to the public. It is the diversity of agriculture that provides choices to producers. Each act or operation offers something unique that meets the needs of a different segment of society. Diversity and variety are what helps keep the marketplace healthy and aids in growing the economy.

Productivity

Furthermore, it is high time to move beyond the belief that all farms and ranches are solely focused on maximizing production. Times have changed. Modern agriculture is about optimizing production. It is about finding balance with yield, profit, input costs, the welfare of livestock, keeping the soil healthy, enhancing wildlife habitat and conserving resources.  The mentality of “get big or get out” is from the past. We must move beyond the idea of preservation and embrace conservation.

The continued labeling of practices and the portrayal of one practice as better than another only serves to perpetuate animosity. Prejudice must end. Minds must open. Listening for understanding must occur. It is time to recognize the importance that all aspects of agriculture play. Small or large, organic or traditional, the ability for families to make a living, while conserving and managing the resources is essential.

Results: From Unity, Caring and Sharing

Over 6,000 family farmers and ranchers converged in Atlanta, for the 92nd Annual American Farm Bureau meeting. Each individual represented a unique ingredient of what collectively makes up American agriculture.  Over the course of four days, old acquaintances were reunited, new friendships were forged, valuable information was gained, lessons were learned and the policy to guide Farm Bureau through the next year created through the ingenuity of grassroot family farmers and ranchers. Read more…

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