Monday, December 28, 2009

How PETA spent its Christmas Vacation

While the rest of us were celebrating Christmas, the gang at PETA was busy.

They urged the Pope to "go Vegan".
From the letter they sent him: “Of course, a global shift toward plant-based diets would also have major benefits for humans - vegans have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer than meat-eaters do, and tens of billions of animals would be spared the horrors of being intensively confined on filthy factory farms, mutilated without any pain relief, and slaughtered while still conscious. Going vegan and serving only vegan meals at the Vatican would help ensure a bright future for all.”

I think he’s pretty familiar with the first chapter of Genesis where God creates animals for the benefit of man. And with people jumping over the rope at midnight mass, he needs a good dose of animal protein to keep his muscles strong to ward off “jumpers.”

They encouraged kids to leave soy milk for Santa.
They contend it will cause you to gain weight like the calves milk was meant for and that it causes rather than prevents osteoporosis. Give me a Rolaid.

They want you drinking nog instead of eggnog.
I don’t see that trend catching on any time soon. They've posted a whole host of holiday recipes that will help you go vegan.  They say that your holiday favorites need adjustments. 

Took issue with a live nativity scene.
They protested a Sioux City church that was using animals in a live nativity scene. The Rev. John Pehrson, pastor of the church under attack, told them to: "Get over it."

Attacked donating farm animals for the poor.
They say donating money to provide cattle, chicken and pigs for poor people in developing countries was a bad thing. From their website: “These programs often do more harm than good—to animals, to the environment, and to underprivileged people.” So much for teach a man to fish …thinking.

They also have compiled their annual round up of what's in and what's out. They don’t say eating meat, but I’m sure someone was dying to include it on the list.

A few of the things they say are in: job hunting, gay marriage, Tiger’s media circus. A few of their outs: Wearing animals, horse drawn carriages, Ringling Brother’s circus.  See the other ins and outs here.

I think they could have found better ways to spend their holiday, like going to church and helping to feed the poor.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How I spent my Christmas vacation.

Welcome to Kansas when the weather can change in the blink of an eye. Contrasting last weekend's 50+ degrees and sunshine with the blizzard we had on Thursday makes you wonder how anyone can be prepared for these changes.

Last weekend, feeding the cows looked like this.

This weekend, it looks like this.                          

The photos were taken less than a half mile apart. 

This weekend, the temperature in the teens with an even chillier wind chill, and we're fighting our way through snow drifts of up to 6 feet in places. Daryl spent most of yesterday clearing roads so he could get to the cattle to feed them. And in the spirit of Christmas, he pulled a few people out of ditches and cleared driveways for the neighbors.

On a nice winter day, feeding usually takes us about 3 hours. On a day like today, after getting the stock tanks filled, the road bladed again, and the truck started, we started at 9 a.m. and didn't get home until almost 5 p.m. No wonder farmers go to sleep early.

Our pastures have cover for the cattle to get in so they're out of the elements. But we do worry about the calves who have not seen snow before and are experiencing their first cold blast.

We don't know when we'll have Christmas with either of our families yet. It's still a challenge to get anywhere and my Dad has his own chores to do. But that's the way it is on the farm. Often the cattle come first and the rest of the family comes second.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Did you inadvertently support the HSUS? If you bought a Carrie Underwood song you did.

If you live on a farm, and hate the way the HSUS has put our industry under attack, I hope you didn’t buy your kid a Carrie Underwood CD for Christmas. If you did, there’s still time to exchange it.

Underwood, PETA's 2006 Sexiest Vegetarian, helped stuff the stocking of the HSUS with a $200,000 donation on Dec. 3rd. They call her their Idol for Animals.

If someone in your family bought a digital copy of her cover of the song “Home Sweet Home” you helped fund that donation directly. Proceeds from those downloads are what Underwood credits with making up the donation.  But every dollar she makes from you buying CDs and concert tickets or downloading songs creates more income she can afford to give to them.
The releases I’m seeing say the donation is earmarked for spay and neuter programs. That may be so, but I don’t understand how anyone in the ag community could support (listen to or buy music made by) someone who is in the enemy camp.

She’s their farm girl poster child. This isn’t the first time she’s supported their causes.  Even if she’s doesn’t intend the donation to be used for anti-hunting or anti-farming efforts the social media world has interpreted her donation that way. Read comments.

So it's OK if your kids are disappointed when you take the CD back.  It's better than spending your own money to attack your own industry. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This is why we love country life.

After a few weeks of cold, mostly yucky weather, we were blessed with a beautiful day in the country today.  We spent the afternoon feeding cows, fixing portable feedbunks and caused a traffic jam on Road #1800 when we stopped our feed pickup to talk to the neighbors.

We saw an female eagle flying around our pasture and when we got home I got a kiss from our cow dog Deets.  We'll be getting him some Greenies for Christmas.

It was a great afternoon on the ranch.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The HSUS' Top 12 Wins of 2009

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States, listed their top 12 state legislative achievements for 2009. This year some 121 new animal protection laws were enacted, up from 93 in 2008.

Watch out, they will be coming soon to a state near you. Watch out Missouri they've filed papers for a referendum next year.

Arkansas: Felony Cruelty and Cockfighting
Made cockfighting a felony in Arkansas, making Arkansas the 38th state with felony penalties for cockfighting. Before passage of this bill, there were five states where criminals could intentionally torture a companion animal and not face meaningful penalties.

California: Tail Docking
Prohibits this painful and unnecessary mutilation of dairy cows, and The HSUS hopes it will provide a model for other dairy-producing states.

Kansas: Felony Cockfighting
Weak penalties and fines are considered just a cost of doing business by cockfighters, who can earn tens of thousands of dollars in gambling wagers. In November, The HSUS assisted Kansas authorities in a raid of an alleged cockfighting operation. This raid was believed to be the first under the provisions of the new law.

Maine: Confinement
Maine became the sixth state to prohibit confinement of breeding pigs in gestation crates and the fourth to prohibit the confinement of calves in veal crates.

Michigan: Confinement
Michigan banned three of the most inhumane confinement systems used on factory farms — gestation crates for breeding pigs, veal crates for calves and battery cages for egg-laying hens.

Nevada: Dogfighting
Nevada had some of the weakest animal fighting laws in the country, as the only state that still allowed possession of dogs for fighting. Lawmakers banned the possession, keeping or training of dogs for fighting.

Nevada: Tethering
Nevada also passed one of the strongest anti-tethering laws in the country, becoming the 13th state with some restrictions on the 24-hour-a-day chaining of dogs. The state limited the number of hours a dog can be chained or tied each day, and prohibits short chains and choke collars.

New Jersey: Fur Labeling
All garments containing animal fur to be labeled with the species of animal and country of origin.

Oregon: Exotics
Oregon banned private possession of alligators, monkeys, lions, tigers and bears.

Oregon: Puppy Mills
Oregon passed some of the strongest puppy mill legislation in the country, establishing minimum care standards and put in place protections for consumers who may have purchased a dog with a disease or congenital defect.

Pennsylvania: Surgical Procedures
The bill bans tail docking after five days of age, debarking and surgical birth on dogs, unless performed under anesthesia by a veterinarian.

Washington: Puppy Mill
Prohibits possession of more than 50 breeding dogs at one facility and establishes welfare standards for people with more than ten breeding dogs, including space, exercise, housing facilities, access to food and water and vet care. This legislation also authorizes investigations at breeding facilities.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

If only everyone loved to eat meat like these guys do

We take for granted how cheap and available meat is to all of us. Yesterday a group of four Burmese men—people who have fled their country for a better life in America came to our house to butcher a hog.

Preparing the meat for their holiday feast is an important ritual to them. It was something they would do back in their homeland. It is obviously a custom they wanted to share with their families here in America.

Working with them was an interesting study of how these guys coming from a developing society view food compared to us. Their culture relies on rice, vegetables and fruit to provide their needed calories and nutrition. They want to eat more meat, but can’t afford it.

Only one of them—Albert—speaks English. He worked in packing plants when he first came to America. He quickly learned to speak English and now is an interpreter in the school district his children attend.

“Thank You” seemed to be the only words of English the others new. They used those words often. Working with them provoked a great deal of thinking for Daryl and myself.

The sterile environment that packers use to process the meat that ends up in a grocery store was a far cry from this.

They started working in the grass, not wanting to impose on us more than they had. We moved them to an old tarp and they went to work. They started to boiled water in a pot out in the open air, not to clean their tools, but to remove the hair from the hog. It was a slow process until I started boiling water on the stove in the house.

I suspect people used to boil more water when getting ready to deliver a baby at home. They didn’t let even a drop of the water go to waste.

This was a low-tech operation. They did it all by hand—using tools that made Crocodile Dundee’s knife look like a pocket knife. They used our hay hooks to pull the pieces apart while one of them made very prĂ©cised cuts through the meat, separating muscle and bone into manageable pieces. They washed these pieces with a garden hose, and wouldn’t hear of us bringing more water from the house.

Vegans and those pushing a vegetarian lifestyle will try to scare you into believing that there is a huge issue with fecal matter infecting your food. These guys had no such fear. They used both the large and small intestines. They turned both inside out using a stick from a weed growing near by.

I guarantee none of them will be sick even though fecal matter was within a couple of feet of the rest of the meat. They were reasonably careful and everything got rinsed—with the garden hose—before they packed it away. And I’m sure they know how to properly cook food to eliminate the chance of illness. Something else we seem to have lost here in America.

They started at 4 p.m. and were done by 7:30, everything packed in coolers—even the head and feet. It was backbreaking work done in temperatures that were dropping toward the freezing mark.

This hog died a good death and became the Christmas dinner for people who do not have the means to partake of fresh meat often. They truly appreciated this animal in letting nothing go to waste. Only a small amount of connective tissue was left behind.

Things we would never touch like the pancreas, stomach, intestines and kidneys were all saved to become some delicacy in their Christmas feast.

Even though we didn’t know the words, we caught on to a few jokes they told, the way the razzed each other when one of them messed up. Albert kept telling us things of their traditions as they went along and of their lives here in America.

The whole experience made me more thankful for how easy it is to eat in our country. How rich we are that we can let so much go to waste. It also made me thankful that our world is small enough that we crossed paths with these men who could put so many things clearly in perspective.

Note: The Burmese come here as refuges fleeing a hard line government. They work hard to learn our language and customs, but because of their circumstances they’re very private. These guys drove almost 6 hours to come here because they don’t know any hog or cattle farmers around Garden City, Kan. If you know of someone out here who would be willing to sell them a hog, steer or heifer from time to time or donate one and allow them to process it at your place please let us know. We’re glad to have them, but we know it’s a hardship for them to travel this far.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dear CNN, You got it wrong

Grotesque, horrific, barbaric that sums up your report on downer hogs—but it’s your reporting that those words describe, more than what goes on in the meat plant.

You’ve been duped into helping The Humane Society of America in pushing a vegetarian agenda. They’ve been asked repeatedly by the meat industry to help fund research on how animals are kept and slaughtered. They don’t respond. They don’t contribute.

The rest of the world has acknowledged that hog farms are not responsible for the emergence of the H1N1 virus. Only these radical animal activist groups are still spreading that lie. Until you bought in.

What was shown in some the video is not downer hogs. But a viewer wouldn’t know that. Viewers also wouldn’t know that the video was taken out of context. Maybe you should have had a farmer review the video with you instead of an animal rights extremist.

America has the safest food supply in the world, but you would never know that from listening to your report. What happened to balanced reporting or fair journalism? Where was a hog farmer in your report?

This reporting makes me question anything I see on your network.

From Jody

Please send your own note to CNN using this link.  If they start hearing from us, maybe they'll stop reporting these lies.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Did Oklahoma State bow to activists?

Last week a commotion erupted when Oklahoma State University (OSU) cancelled an anthrax research project that appeared to have been blessed by all levels.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) had agreed to fund the study, that would have created an animal model of anthrax infection in baboons. The University's animal use and care committee had given it the green light.

OSU isn’t giving much detail about why they cancelled the study. But there are lots of people jumping to conclusions based on some circumstantial evidence. And the university is issuing some fishy statements like:

“OSU is focused on enhancing and expanding its existing research strengths including our ongoing programs in bioterrorism research. The proposed work would have distracted from those efforts."

How does doing research distract rather than enhance the reputation of the college? How is proving to the NIH that your institution is unreliable a good thing?

Word in the blog world is that it’s been cancelled because a big donor is a big animal activist. And it appears this isn’t the first time that donor has caused research to cease.  (read more)

Last April, OSU announced it would not longer be euthanizing animals in it’s veterinary labs. Madeleine Pickens, as in Mrs. T. Book Pickens, and OSU alumnus stopped that practice with her checkbook when she threatened to redirect a $5 million donation to the vet school because she did not agree with such practices. Mr. Pickens, has contributed over $450 million to the university in recent years.

A website connected to the Pickens’ posted a victory statement shortly after the announcement was made. According to Mrs. Pickens's Web site posted an article from DVM Newsmagazine about the decision, appending the original headline with the exclamation "Kudos for a Great Decision!" suggesting that Pickens had played a role in the decision.

Regarding the cancelled program, OSU released a statement through spokesman Gary Shutt saying,
"this research was not in the best interest of the university. The testing of lethal pathogens on primates would be a new area for OSU that is controversial and is outside our current research programs.”

What’s controversial about not wanting to be a victim of anthrax?

Who could be against anthrax research that could protect both human and animal populations?

The only thing controversial--to animal activists--is research on a primate.

There’s no smoking gun yet. But let’s say that OSU did bow to activists. They may have preserved some donor money for the university, but what did it cost?
  • Activists get some real traction here in the Midwest
  • It fuels the fire for other activists to bully colleges and foundations into submissions because these tactics have been proven work
  • It prevents humans from benefiting from this kind of research.
  • OSU gets a reputation as a fickle research partner

That’s a very high price to pay.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How many feral horses do you want in your back yard?

How much to do you want to pay for to keep a feral animal?

Wild horses conjure romantic images of the west in the minds of many people.

So much so that thirty-eight years ago, they were declared living symbols of the west and put under the supervision of the Bureau of Land Management.

In a report on Fox News, Ken Salazar, of the Dept. of the Interior estimates 32,000 roam public lands while another 32,000 have been sent to other parts of the country to preserves. And even more have been adopted by people taking in one or two at a time.

Apparently seven new preserves in the Midwest and Eastern U. S. are needed to sustain the horses currently roaming the West. To acquire the land and transport the horses to these new “homes” will carry an estimated cost of $96 million.

There’s a huge cost to take care of what are really feral animals.
Since 1971, the BLM has removed over 270,000 horses from Western ranges. That sounds like a population that could destroy its current habitat to me. What shape would the herd be in if it hadn’t been managed during the past 35+ years?

But of course the activists know how to manage this herd better than anyone.
A relocation effort was supposed to start tomorrow (Dec. 7th) but an activist group has sued to stop the action. In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection organization and ecologist Craig Downer brought the lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management.

We wouldn’t think twice about spaying or neutering a feral cat or dog. Should it be any different with a feral horse? We wouldn’t think twice about euthanizing a feral animal, but these horses are sacred in the minds of many.

This group contends that these horses must be left in the wild. If they are they will starve. If they’re relocated or adopted, can anyone explain to me how they remain wild horses?

I also find it amusing that group that many supporting this suit are the ones supporting sustainability? How does an ever increasing feral horse population that must be transported, fed and watered in what isn’t their natural habitat help to make the planet more sustainable?

These horses are a problem. If they were a city problem like feral cats or dogs they would be dealt with. But since they’re not roaming city streets, activists will call them wild and move to protect them. How romantic.

Wonder how the activists would feel about wild dogs and cats roaming their neighborhood, eating their pet food, damaging their lawns and lawn furniture and harboring disease?

What would they do then to rid themselves of the problem?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Put the yoke on the HSUS

I got an email from Wayne Pacelle from the HSUS with Bill Maher's smiling face tonight.

Yep, I know you're jealous.

They are trying to drop-kick IHOP in the frying pan for using eggs from chickens who are raised in cages. Go to their website and you can see that they've been targeting IHOP for a while. The message is for their constituents to call IHOP to tell them to switch to cage free eggs. No mention of what you're omelet or scrambled eggs will cost if they bully IHOP into submission.

I say we in ag need to rally to IHOP's side. Instead of calling IHOP to tell them to switch to cage free eggs, let’s bet them at their own game and tell IHOP to stick to their guns because conventional methods for raising chickens and egg production have merit.

Here's the number they listed to call IHOP: 1-866-444-5144.

Let’s pull off our own virtual protest of the HSUS and their tactics. Share this number with your friends.