And We Are Now A Gated Community

After finishing the raised beds and their hail guards, one thing remained…. fence it all in. After having the neighbor’s goats wreak havoc on our garden and apple orchard last year, at least having the gardens fenced in with permanent fencing, has been hanging over my head. Also, because of the current Zombie Apocalypse, I was not liking that the entrance to the farm was as open as it was, so I wanted to put up some gates just to make things a bit more private.

More to the point with the gates though, we don’t have haying equipment. In order to be able to hay our land, it would take around $100,000.00 to purchase the equipment to do so (I don’t buy used crap – too much repair work and I hate mechanical stuff). Our northwest field has been open since we moved here. The southwest is all fenced in from having our barn built. So the thought dawned on me, because I have gotten pretty good at stringing fence (probably half a mile’s worth), that if I spent the money and energy to fence in that 5 acres, I could bring the animals to that field to graze. This would give them about 8 total acres or more to rotationally graze on. Thus, bring the animals TO the hay instead of bringing the hay TO the animals. We will still need to buy a fair amount, but this will help heal the land and provide us with dairy after it is all up an running. Goats turn weeds into milk and pigs turn grass into bacon… what’s your super-power??

The gates were a desired addition, but they would have been standing there all by themselves. So the goal this year was to get the north road side fenced along with the gates, and to get the entire garden fenced. As of last week this has all been accomplished. This is a good thing, because I have been informed by my doctor that I need to rest my shoulders as I have severely stressed the deltoid muscles from pretty excessive over use. This is such fun as I have had to contend with back issues for some time now. God said…. here have some of this too! After all, if you are going to credit the almighty with good things, you need to blame her for the bad as well (You know, omniscience and omnipotence and all that rot). I have some happy pain pills so that helps, but today we finally put up barn fans to help keep the does and donkeys cool and to suppress the flies, but afterwards I couldn’t even lift my hands up on to the kitchen table. It is time to rest and heal. When you come from a life that always told you that no matter what you do it is never enough, it is hard to decommission yourself from self-destruction.

So here is what Aaron and I managed to accomplish. This was 1000 feet of fencing with seven new gates, wood corner posts and H-braces, 48 T-posts hand sunk, an auger that drilled through the main power lines to the house, plus seriously physical work in 95 degree heat. You think going to the gym is important? Cummon out…. we’ll show you what it is all about. We are very proud of this.

Next fall, I will finish off the rest of the northwest pasture. But because of doctor’s orders, as well as being seriously burned out on construction projects, the post auger is off the tractor so I can’t even think about finishing the fences to the north until fall. The tools are in the garage and after Aaron and I finish the goat breeding pen next week, I am pretty much going to just weed, harvest, can and pet the critters. It is immensely satisfying, but I am SOOOOOO tired (You know it’s bad when you wake up exhausted). Time to get out the telescope and chill. Maybe take the ATV up into the mountains for a bit. Anything, just don’t make me build anything else for awhile. Stay tuned.

Goats Iz Amazing…. most of the time.

Now that the big garden is completely moved over by the house and greenhouse, we have opened that field up to the boy goats. You have probably heard that goats make good lawn mowers. That couldn’t be more true… as long as it is weeds (they aren’t real grass fans). Tank and Dozer (our bucks) have had pretty much free range over the remnants of that old garden this season. Evidently, they liked it because the transformation has been pretty amazing.

When I hurt my back and was out of commission for awhile, that field seriously over grew. I don’t know what the weed was that took it over but it was three feet deep.

Now granted, I did remove the fencing and knocked down a lot of the weeds myself so as to avoid a wildfire, but here is what it looks like after one season of them munching:

They grazed this down so fast that the weeds never stood a chance. In fact, there is so little in there that we have had to resume hay feedings. This is over an acre….. TWO, count em, TWO dwarf goats!! If you ever need a field cleared, find a goat rancher…. your problems will be solved in short order!

The Potatoes Don’t Seem To Care About The Weather

One of the back breaking projects this year was to finish the move from our old garden, that was simply hilled, long beds, to something closer to the house and greenhouse. They all utilize wood-framed raised beds to help make weeding easier. The three HEAVY beds, were the 6 foot by 50 foot beds for some of the more intensive row crops. This year they contain a new Asparagus patch (doing awesome), a Sweet Potato patch (The jury is still out, but doing ok) and regular potatoes (so far doing amazing).

I got them built and filled, but the weight of the soil has kind of bowed them out. I think that this winter, when I have nothing better to do (laughs hysterically), will be to shore them up with T-posts and be able to hang shade cloth on them; for reason’s I’ve already explained previously. I got the drip tape to them all so we are officially all automated with irrigation, including the new fertilizer dosing gizmos I put on everything this year.

Here is the potato patch as it first started to push up through the soil:

This was about 2 days ago with the new Asparagus in the foreground:

Other than having to contend with a bumper crop of grasshoppers, all is going very well. It looks like we will be well set for the potato carb crop come the fall. Fingers crossed!

Always Looking For a Good Solution

Gardening on the edge of the desert is a task to not be entered into lightly. Being a mile in elevation, the sun is certainly something to contend with. What I have found is that most books on gardening are written for low elevation, relatively high humidity, “regular” rainfall, and a somewhat consistent cloud cover. NONE of that applies out here. We have seriously intense sun, very high temperatures, most often we are on the edge of, or (like now) in a deep drought. Constant hot wind desiccates everything, the clouds are mostly non-existent and if we do get rain, it is violent, windy, full of hail, and can level anything you plant. I should write a book on how to eek out a garden on the High Eastern Plains. We live on the geographic edge of where the dust bowl took place and have a profound respect for those who came before us. Only two percent of the arable land in the U.S. is used to actually grow vegetables at scale. I can assure you, out here, ain’t any of it.

As you have seen previously, we have covered our raised beds with hail guards and shade cloth. However, the harsh weather wreaks havoc on greens no matter what you do. Most salad plants like lettuce and spinach will do ok in the early spring, but as soon as they realize that they are living on Mars, they bolt up, go to seed and thus endeth the salad crop. We did have a pretty good crop this spring, but in the last couple of weeks we have torn out the bitter stuff and fed it to the chickens, pigs and the worms in the worm bin. Now that our Cauliflower has headed (it did awesome this year), I will be starting another lettuce patch to go into the fall. But! We strive to grow virtually all of our own food! What does one do for the rest of the time? … after all, those crops, if bought in the grocery store are covered in antibiotic laden manure sprayed on them from factory farms! ICKY! For those of you who don’t follow such things, Spinach CANNOT get eColi. It comes from the bacteria of animal gut. The reason Spinach gets recalled for eColi, is from having sh.. sprayed on it as fertilizer so they can get rid of the manure from confined feeding operations. So we want to grow our own salad year round.

The answer we are currently using is a rolling greenhouse table. I can grow 60 heads of lettuce on this contraption. When the weather is too hot and or too violent, I have it under my seedling lamps (Like you can see below). When the weather is nice outside, I roll it outside and let it use the real world. This way nothing gets destroyed or over heated or blown all over the back yard. Previously, I was using hydroponics tables to grow the lettuce, but I have found that to be much messier and not nearly as consistent as good ol’ dirt. In fact, we may start growing some crops in the basement throughout the year, because, ya, that’s how we roll. So going into the fall we will have some lettuce and spinach growing in the greenhouse. The first frost will take out the lettuce unless I catch it with row covers, but the spinach always over winters. The rolling table will take over with the lettuce and we should have virtually all we need. We froze 2 bushels of Spinach and Kale this past spring and use it a lot in spinach, mushroom and Swiss omelettes for breakfast.

They say out here in Colorado that if you can ski back in the northeast – where ice is really ice, not hard pack – you can ski in Colorado. I don’t ski anymore, but when I did, I would say that that is a truism…. except of course the dizziness you will feel from the wind you will be sucking from the much higher altitude. Likewise, I would say that if you can garden here on the plains, not only can you garden blindfolded anywhere else, you should get the Olympic Garden Gold as a result. Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. After all, it appears, life may depend on it sooner than later.

Before The Flames, The Harvest

The annual July wheat harvest is well underway. Farmers keep their fingers crossed as this staple crop approaches maturity and then dries itself out. Hail storms can knock entire fields down in minutes. Too much moisture and they can’t get the combines in the fields. Or this year, when it is so dry that I can dry our clothes on the line faster than a drier can dry them…. the world can go up in flames. The parade of grain trucks usually begins around the 4th of July. The harvesting will proceed day and night until completed. This year was a close one. The fields are bone dry but the heads are mature. Almost a perfect scenario. However, the drought has made things almost too dry. Up north of us a few miles, a 100 acre field (about 2.5 times the size of our place) caught fire and caused evacuations. So far the local elevator is filling up…. Diabetic White Bread and Wheat thins are safe again for another year! We lease out 30 acres to the farmer across the road from us. Evidently we are getting either Milo or Millet put in after he recovers from the marathon tractor session.

Grass fire:

Amber Waves Of Grain

Gardening, Critters and More Fence Building in the Zombipocalypse

So how is everyone doing during the quagmire that is 2020? It has been a while since I got an update written down and posted. Mainly, because we have been pretty busy gettin’ it all done. Other than the fact that Aaron is home from CSU and Zina has been working from home part time, not much in my life has changed. However, I didn’t realize that these people actually think they need to eat every single day! That, plus the fact that I have been hot and heavy getting the outdoor spring projects done, has at times, made meal prep a little tough. I am the family cook and while I have a pretty good repertoire, coming up with new things, especially when going to the grocery store had felt like venturing into a biohazard zone, has been a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, we live pretty rural so much of the no contact and distancing hasn’t really been too bad. I’m afraid, though, given how infantile our fellow citizens are being about this, not distancing, not wearing masks, demanding to be able to go to the bar and restaurants, thinking it is all over, is going to prolong this nuisance for a very long time. I have little hope for rationality in a world of Karens and infants parading as adults. If one has half a brain, it isn’t too much of a stretch to understand that if quarantine and social distancing reduces the number of infections, doing the opposite will do the opposite. Shazam, that is just what we are seeing.

We are pretty self-sufficient out here. We raise our own eggs, meat and dairy, so having to worry about shortages hasn’t been a thing. Shoot! We had months of toilet paper even before this was a problem! As they say, “Two is one and one is none.” We didn’t really bulk up on food items. What groceries I did get were just the usual things you can’t really produce yourself: Orange Juice, Coffee, fresh produce on the off season, etc. I ventured out for these things just to be able to not have to feel like we were having to make major changes and, so far, we have really not noticed much change in our day to day.

While the world burns, crumbles, gets mis-managed and in all other fashions, ripped off during all of this (Never let a good crisis go to waste) I have been outside getting the garden in place and finishing up some last fencing that, for me, will make the place feel balanced. As I have mentioned, we don’t have the equipment to put up our own hay. So I got us out the better part of a year in hay storage for our goats and donkeys. One of the fences is to provide for more grazing area. Instead of having to hay the fields and spend upwards of $100,000.00 for the gear to do it, I am spending far less and fencing in our north field. It will be another 4 acres where we can move the animals to. The donkeys eat the grass, the goats eat the weeds and instead of bringing it to them, we will bring THEM to IT. Being one of those folks that like symmetry and balance, having it fenced off will feel balanced as well. Also, if you will recall from previous posts, we had issues with the new neighbor’s goats. They got loose and did a bunch of damage to our trees and fence netting. The new fence around the gardens is to prevent this from happening again. Lastly, we have put up entrance gates to the farm. Given the current climate, having a deterrent that doesn’t allow for someone to just drive up to the house seems to make sense. It also creates a bit of a sense of security.

I’m getting pretty good at this!

I am happy to report – and also received – that all of the hail and shade cloth additions to the garden have worked great. In addition, in order to make the move to the new gardens complete, I built, filled and planted 3 new 50 foot raised beds. This year they contain potatoes (which have sprung up with a vengeance) Asparagus – a permanent planting as they can live 15 years, and an attempt to grow a passel of sweet potatoes.

The animals continue to entertain. I am in the process of building a couple of breeding pens for the goats. In order to provide the yogurt and cheese we like and need on a more regular basis, we need more than one goat in milk at a time. Folks have asked why we don’t get a cow. It’s a fair question and the answer is that a Jersey cow will give you upwards of 2 -3 gallons of milk a DAY! We don’t drink milk much so that would be a Tsunami of moo juice. We could turn it into cheese, but 2 gallons a day would be a pound or more of cheddar a day. Way too much! So with a couple of our Nigerians in milk we would get around half a gallon. Between yogurt, milk for my coffee and various cheeses, that would be plenty.

Neo just hangin’ out in a water bucket

We raise turkeys for meat. Again, why not a cow? There are two and sometimes three of us. A half a beef is a few hundred pounds of meat. Way too much for us considering we raise our own chickens and pigs for meat as well. Turkeys, while perhaps the dumbest farm animal ever bred, provide a good deal of meat for burger, soup, stews and whatever else comes to mind. This year, we had a few hens go broody so we let them sit their eggs. So far we have had a momma hatch one chick and we have two others sitting on about 20 eggs. We shall see how that turns out. Usually we put the eggs in incubators, it will be fun to see how the mommas fair.

So I hope everyone is dealing with this strange year without too much turmoil. We are doing well and the farm is performing admirably. Here is hoping that we actually all pull together and help one another. Given our current climate, that would be a refreshing change. Farm your yard, help each other and fight the powers that be. Peace ya’ll.

Re-Stocking The Aisles

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I had a strange feeling this past New Year.  It felt like the twenty teens were somehow the last “normal” decade we were ever going to see.  Forces have been arising that seemed to have enough clout to really rock our world through the 2020’s.  The markets were too long in the tooth, being held up by rubber bands and paper clips as well as massive amounts of money being fed into the system by the fed and companies doing the same thing that helped cause the Great Depression (Buying back their stock).  This, and the fact that over half of this country didn’t participate in the recovery from 2008 and are incapable of handling an emergency that would require them to come up with $400.00.  If you have read this blog for any time, I think Climate Change is the ultimate trump card.  There is no escaping it and if the IPCC is correct, the talking points say that we only have this decade to turn things around (I am not of that camp.  I don’t think it can be turned around at all).  So the clock is ticking and the doomsday clock was pushed closer to midnight than it has ever been.  I just didn’t think we would see it all happen in the first quarter of the first year of the new decade!  I had been calling out warnings for a couple of years now that a life changing event was coming.  I just didn’t know the catalyst was going to come from a bat.  Welcome to the jungle.  And you thought Mother Nature could be controlled and wasn’t in charge.  Baaaa, baaaa, says the sheep.

(As an aside, it is remarkable to me that we could mobilize all of these logistics globally to fight a bug because it is killing and maiming people, but human extinction due to climate change?  Virtually nothing.  Save ourselves from the bat bug, so we can die from accelerated habitat loss.  Humanity, if nothing else, is certainly a conundrum.  But I digress).

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Vacuum sealed and stored Black Beans.

We, like everyone, have been pretty scope locked on this infernal virus.  But, because we live the way we live, we have been prepared for just about everything for many years.  As I have some pretty hyper-vigilant situational awareness senses, we were out ahead of this thing.  We filled in the gaps (Not Toilet Paper – because of where we live, you ALWAYS have extra) and instead of having to freak and scramble for basic daily rations, I went out and filled in the more comfort items:  snacks, drinks, chips, etc.  For any of the more long-term food storage items we simply add to it as a matter of course.  My spidey senses told me that the window was closing fast to get prepared, so I went when all the others still seemed to think all was normal.  Friends, relatives, neighbors at the cafe’, as usual, poo poo’d it because that thing we call media, was convincing everyone it was “over there” and it was just a bad case of the “flu” and those bad government doobies were just trying to scare us.  We in the prepper and homesteader – verse were not convinced for a minute.  Most of those I follow and are friends with were on the same page we were.  The mantra was “get prepared now before everyone else suddenly realizes how serious this is.”  And, of course, here we are.

It was the week after I did all of this that the hoards descended en-masse like the pictures and videos everyone is now familiar with (maybe you were even featured in them).  We have always had some masks and gloves around (we use the masks to clean the chicken coop).  We have always had an extensive first-aid supply so all I really did was pick up a bunch of cold, flu, nausea and cough meds for possible first response needs (Oh ya, and a new thermometer and finger mounted Pulse Oximeter).  The weekend AFTER the first feeding frenzy was entertaining.  I went to Costco to get some meat I needed for some canning I’m doing.  I got to joke around with the staff amidst the empty shelves and cardboard boxes.  They said that past weekend was worse than Christmas.  The photo below is a clerk at our closest grocery store.  She is a friend.  She and I had gone to physical therapy together.  The woman she is checking out had 3 carts loaded to over-flowing, and every check out aisle was similar.  All I was after was some whole milk that we make yogurt for our pigs with!

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Keep in mind this is a full size grocery store out in the sticks in a town of 2500 people.  They did this to the shelves in 2 days:

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Because we produce so much of our own food and because we always keep the things we don’t grow stocked up in the pantry or freezers, we were fortunate not to have to go out into the freak show for very much.

Our virus prepping was quite a bit different from the norm.  Some of our food walks around and eats grain.  In addition to this little pandemic surprise we are now confronting, climate change hasn’t gone away.  Last year, for the blissfully unaware, was a terrible year for grain crops.  Severe flooding prevented many farmers from planting.  Many had their grain stores ruined or washed away and the freak freezes in the mid-west this past fall made harvesting a challenge.  As a result, there have been warnings about possible grain shortages (potatoes too).  We are expecting an El-Nino this coming summer which, at least here, usually means drought conditions and heat.  Should we experience another poor growing season for crops, animal feed will get expensive.  So in order to withstand this virus shindig and to get out ahead of potential grain price increases, we prepped for our critters more than we prepped for ourselves.  For us, feed means a continuous source of eggs (a re-producing breakfast supply), feed means pork (we have breeding stock now so our pork will beget more pork).  Hay means milk, cheese and yogurt from our goats. They all make compost and that means vegetables.  We feed a lot of our eggs to our pigs as a protein source, so, in essence, the chicken feed gets used twice!  Our goal is to have a year each of chicken and pig feed and a year or more of stacked hay (In a drought, hay gets ridiculously hard to find and, as a result, expensive).  So while the citiots were out mobbing Costco, Sams, Walmart and Target, we were just up the road ordering skids of feed.  With the eggs, pork, chicken and dairy taken care of, we are well situated, and it will help stretch the stored goods for quite some time.

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Other preps have included, butchering 125 lbs. of turkey and grinding it up and putting it in the freezer; making gallons of turkey and chicken soup along with the ingredients to can loads of other meals.   Now that the weather is turning for the better, we will be collecting our Jersey Giant meat bird eggs and hatching them out.  We have Cornish Cross chicks due in in a month and they will add to the freezer in short order (they grow very fast).  We have one goat in milk right now and will be breeding the others.  They will kid in the fall and the milk faucet will continue on unabated.

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We only milk once a day so we are getting about a quart per morning.  Plenty for us.

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We WEALLY Likes to Play!

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The Single Dumbest Farm Animal In Existence…. and one of the tastiest.  Both For Meat And Eggs

Like so many people who are privileged to be able to, Zina has been ordered to work from home for the foreseeable future.  We are very grateful to her company to be out ahead of the problem as well.  Aaron came home for spring break and it has turned into a year ending affair.  He will be taking the remainder of his classes on line this semester and then he will be home for the summer.  It remains to be seen if school starts back up in the fall.  Given the blundering way the powers that be are handling this, don’t hold your breath.  For those who can’t work from home, we certainly hope for the best.  Too bad we can’t count on those living off of our tax dollars to do anything important.  Isn’t it ironic that those who have the low “skill”, low wage jobs are now considered indispensable?  Quite frankly, I think this bat virus is exposing “capitalism” for the two tiered sociopathic farce that it is.

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So after getting hunkered down at the farm (which didn’t change much except that I’m not alone for most of the week now), we started looking to the long term.  You see, it is my contention that if we are to survive not only through this virus, or if there are others (which there are sure to be), and the changing living conditions in which we find ourselves, there is going to be a re-ruralization – or at least a massive re-structuring of urban settings.  The supply lines will become more localized.  Globalism will be seen for the failure that it is (Who’da thunk that a virus from a poor wet market in Asia could get on a plane and kill people all the way around the world.  Globalism….. the perfect model.).  Knowing this, it makes sense to get out ahead of that curve as well.  In World War II they were called “Victory Gardens”.  Due to food rationing and military mobilization, people were called upon to farm their yards.  It is currently going on in Russia and it is a large part of how Cuba has survived its sanctions and horrendous treatment at our hands.  It is a remarkable thing, abundance.  If you have the means and some space it is time to start growing a garden.  It is great exercise, the taste of the food is without equal, and if you do it with your neighbors, the bartering and sharing (gasp!) creates community.  Hey!  You are locked up anyway, its something to do instead of shooting zombies on the PS4 and produces an actual result!  If the supply lines get disrupted because of this, you will be ever thankful for taking this advice.  We do save our seed every year, but for those we can’t we are even getting a supply ordered for 2021 ahead of time (seeds can last for several years in a fridge – we have a little one just for that purpose).

We are calling this year’s garden planting, “re-stocking the produce aisle”. While it hasn’t changed from what we normally do and because the building projects here are largely done, I have been able to give it more attention than years past.  This is an aisle restocking for the late summer and fall.  The seedlings are up and loving the basement “suns” as they get set to go into their pre-garden grow out pots.  Later this week I am expecting 20 tons of planting soil to be delivered so that I can finish my last 2 48 x 6 foot row crop beds.  Then the composting and amending begins in earnest for the planting to begin in the next 6-8 weeks.

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I have also begun making tinctures.  For those who don’t know what these are, they are extracts made by soaking an herb or spice in grain alcohol or vodka for about a month.  The resulting filtered liquid can be used for many medicinal situations.  For instance, our garlic tincture is great for regulating blood pressure, can act as a blood thinner, and has strong anti-viral properties (hint).  Considering that 97% of our antibiotics come from China, learning the old medicinal ways only makes sense.  Get ahead of the curve!

So, personally, I think all those that are acting like my eldest Lab when we put her out in her pen and then just stands there staring at the house like we have locked her in prison, lack creativity.  This should be used to learn, to experiment, to develop new skills to adapt to a life that is certainly going to be different.

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Learn to bake, cook, sew, knit, crochet, can, wood work, weld, garden…. anything!  Get off yer butts!

I assert again that the twenty teens were the last “normal” decade.  The new normal will be something akin to living like an Amish Hobbit in the 1850’s.  You can prepare for it, or you can sit around like baby birds in a nest waiting for momma Robin to come stuff a worm down your gullet.  Of course, that makes one dependent upon the same government they claim to hate.  Hey, I just call em like I see ’em.  As I learned to affirm in therapy, “I wasn’t wrong then, I’m not wrong now.”  Given how many people are now contacting me about what to do, I get to feel a little smug.  The days of insulting or dismissing homesteaders and preppers are over.  We don’t engage in Schadenfreude, but there is some shaking of our heads.  A certain amount of “I told you so” is well deserved.  We earned it.  We in the community do hope that there can be a civilized transition to the new normal and not Mad Max. But rest assured there is preparedness for that too. We are at a crossroads and where it goes from here and how it goes from here is destined to be incredibly entertaining.  Keep your wits about you.  Don’t believe any rosie short term forecasts, this is going to be with us for a very long time to come.

Hunker down.  My favorite meme from this:

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Imagine That. Don’t Think I’ve Ever Said THIS Before.

It Wasn’t the Cows After All

While the cattle industry is repeatedly accused of being the main culprit for increased global methane emissions (and a leading cause for climate change), a new study shows that the fertilizer industry is the root cause.

The report by researchers from Cornell and the Environmental Defense Fund, published in Elementa, shows that emissions of methane from the industrial fertilizer industry have been ridiculously underestimated (and, it turns out, based on self-reporting) and the production of ammonia for fertilizer may result in up to 100 times more emissions than previously estimated for this sector. What’s worse is that these newly calculated emission amounts from the industrial fertilizer industry are actually more than the total amount the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated for all industries to emit across the U.S.

Researchers used a Google Street View car equipped with a high-precision methane sensor to measure the emissions of six fertilizer plants for this study. They drove the car on public roads, downwind from the facilities to record the methane levels in the air. The study reveals an enormous disparity between EPA estimates and actual emissions levels. The team discovered that on average 0.34 percent of the gas used in the plants is emitted to the atmosphere. Scaling this emission rate from the six plants to the entire industry suggests total annual methane emissions of 28 gigagrams, which is 100 times higher than the fertilizer industry’s self-reported estimate of 0.2 gigagrams per year. In addition, this figure far exceeds the EPA’s estimate that all industrial processes in the United States produce only 8 gigagrams of methane emissions per year.

The fertilizer industry uses natural gas both as the fuel for its operations and as one of the main ingredients for ammonia and urea products (aka the world’s most commonly used nitrogen fertilizers). Since natural gas is largely methane, it has serious potential to be a significant contributor to climate change, and the fact that use of natural gas has grown in recent years has previously raised questions on who’s to blame for rising methane emissions. If it’s been no surprise that natural gas can contribute to climate change, and these facilities rely so heavily on natural gas for production, how could these numbers have been so egregiously underestimated in the first place? It seems this billion-dollar industry made it a point to direct the finger of blame elsewhere.

Now that the fertilizer industry numbers are in, and there is further evidence disproving the widely held assumption that cattle are solely to blame for the spike in global methane emissions, will we stop blaming the product and instead blame the system? If we only move from condemning one product to another, we’ll never make meaningful change. Instead, if we think systemically, there are solutions that can start making a change right now. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: When it comes to livestock production, well-managed grazing animals will not only help feed the world sustainably by using pasture, rain and sunshine to make high-quality food, but can even help to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration. This is a system that works, positively benefitting us and the earth.

It is abundantly clear that agriculture as a whole is still a major contributor to global GHG emissions, and many of its climate change-contributing factors need to come to an immediate end. But suggesting that people go vegan, or limit consumption to a single forkful of meat per day, will not stop global warming. Plants are not the be-all and end-all of a sustainable diet. As it turns out, the chemical fertilizer being used for large-scale vegetable production (or even your backyard garden) has more serious consequences than we ever thought. Choosing products from pasture-based systems can truly impact our world for the better, and with eyes wide open to the facts in front of us, demanding a change to the system itself is the only way forward.

Those of you know me will recognize my constant refrain around “unintended consequences.” We are now in a scenario where advocates have been pushing chicken and veganism to save the world, and have just learned that all the “data” behind this push is wrong. All of the environmental footprint studies need a re-do. Once cattle — raised on grass without synthetic fertilizer — are accurately assessed, I predict we will be left with chicken and some plant products as top line polluters. As we always say, it’s complicated. But we have to get it right.

And, Of Course, This Happened

I have been pretty pre-occupied with getting the power restored to the house.  I am happy to say that when you network locally, people will respond.  I can’t thank Bob, Lane and Zeb enough for coming to our rescue.  They pretty much dropped what they were doing and got this thing done.  The skid steer came yesterday and we got the line dug up. The electrician came out today in snow and temperatures in the mid-teens and spliced the line (He’ll even be sending a guy out to do some general electrical repair I’ve wanted to have done).  I am so happy to have the house warmed up.  Have you ever had that feeling when you have been cold for quite awhile and when you are in the warmth again your face feels flushed and warm?  That is where I am now.  Because of the winter cloudy weather I had the furnace cranked way down so it wouldn’t completely drain the batteries.  I also hadn’t had a shower in 3 days for the same reason.  The well pump is a huge draw on the solar system and with the sun in absentia I couldn’t bring up the charge enough to keep everything going.

But all is well now.  The batteries are back to full (This system is remarkable). The furnace is running, I took a long hot shower, got the outdoor electric needs for the animals fired back up and we are back in business for a night that is going down to zero.

Of course, because this is how we roll around here, I went out this morning to the barn to feed (probably 10 degrees).  I brushed the snow off of the solar panels and then proceeded into the barn where we have everyone sequestered from the cold, and as predicted I came in to some new, very tiny, goat voices.  Yep, momma Cumin had her twins last night in the midst of all of this hooplah.  They are doing very well, although a bit chilly.  Now with the heat lamp back up and running, they will be just fine.  Animals are remarkable creatures when it comes to tolerating weather.  After all, these are Nigerian Dwarf Goats, as in African, as in don’t come from winter climates.  Momma is being very attentive.

Now here is the farm stuff.  We cannot have anymore bucks on the farm.  Two is plenty.  They are sweet as the dickens but they smell and carry on and are like they are a different species from the females.  Some ranchers simply drown the bucklings at birth.  I would never be able to do that.  My remedy is a little more “ballistic” in a .22 LR sort of sense.  It appears, although we will need to check again now that the other distractions have been resolved, that Cumin gave birth to two doelings.  That is great news this time because they will be available as an addition to the dairy flock, and I don’t have to be farmer and executioner.

So as usual, if something goes wrong on the farm, you can bet there will be other issues because they always seem to come in clusters.  Thanks again to my contractors that rescued us and thank the genetic random chance that we had two girls this time.  Nothing cuter than baby goats.  They gots baby humans beat hands down.

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