Thursday, February 26, 2015

The pardon

We have a rule here...  Any animal that attacks or acts aggressively to a person is....  Well...  Retired.  Zero tolerance. 

But...  Every so often...  There is a pardon.

We were picking out our breeding rams today,  keeping 8 out of 18. The other 18 are bound for the processing plant.  During the process there was a moment.

The process was to herd all the teams into a corner on the pen,  and hand pick the best breeders,  removing the rest one by one,  by hand. 

The moment arrived when I had just opened the gate for Bradley to pull one or,  and when I turned around...  There wag the stare.  The buddy of the just removed ram was starting me down through the fence.  Right away I said "and that guy is going to ram me".  I could see it in his eyes.  The stare.

Well...  We chose the next ram to remove and I stepped inside the gate.  That particular ram that had given me the stare was back in with the rest.  I looked away for just an instant and...  Here it comes!  All I heard was a couple footsteps and saw a flash out of the corner of my eye.  By the time I looked that way  it was to late to jump.  Boom...  Two strong horns rammed into my thighs ,  one on each side.  He got me!  Fortunately his horns slipped to the sides,  Just wider than my hips,  so there was no internal damage.  But it hurt!

So I thought about it. Enforce the rule?  In this case I chose no.  He acted in self defense,  with reasonable force.  After all,  he had watch us catch half a dozen of his buddies and carry them off by hand.  He was protecting himself and the flock.  That's not a bad thing.  He also looked like good genetics for breeding.  He only hit me once,  and seemed satisfied.  Ok.  I give.  He can stay.

So he was pardoned for his sin of attacking the farmer.  Given the situation a pardon seemed reasonable.  Maybe some day he will protect the little lambs from danger,  who knows.

But..  Sigh...  As I lay here in bed... Truth is..  It hurts!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Open Letter to Oregon Senators about vaccine bill SB442

Dear Senators Bates, Hayward, Anderson, Shields, Knopp, and Kruse

I am a voting citizen of Jackson County,  Or.  I am also a professional,  a father,  and a reasonable person.  I urge you to oppose SB442.  This bill attempts to increase the vaccination rate within the state. However, it will not and can not. Lay aside all the reasons to choose vaccination and to oppose vaccination. That is not what this bill is about. This bill is about increasing the vaccination rate, which can not be accomplished through a simple mandate of removing exemptions.

Here is why this bill will fail to accomplish your goal:

The vast majority of parents that currently do not vaccinate,  have deeply held reasons.  They fall into these categories :

  1. Religious objection:   Some vaccines contain aborted baby cells, or at least the public believes that they do.
  2. Animal cruelty objection:  Some vaccines are produced using animals and contain animal cells, or at least the public believes that they do.
  3. Fear of damage.  This falls into two subcategories :
    1. Fear of vaccine itself : Including fear of preservatives and fear of the action of vaccines on developing immune systems 
    2.  Knowledge of previous damage:  Having seen a child suffer damage, resulting in refusal to vaccinate that child further or vaccinate other children.

This accounts for probably 90 percent of parents within Oregon who do not  currently vaccinate.  Only a tiny minority choose not to for insignificant reasons and practically no one "just forgets"  today.  The choice to not vaccinate is a tough one,  which in itself brings ridicule,  name calling,  isolation,  and constant pressure from friends and family  as well as the medical community. It is not a decision made lightly, nor in ignorance.  The non vaccinating parent has already struggled with this decision and the consequences...  And still chose the tough path. 

Removing the right to choose that path by removing personal exemptions will not make parents follow the vaccination schedule, it will only push that parent further from society.  They will chose home schooling,  they will remove children from organized activities and day care,  and will eventually leave the state  before subjecting their children to such a deep violation of their own beliefs.

This bill,  should it pass into law,  will divide oregon,  further empty schools,  and drive families out of state.  

If  you truly wish to raise vaccination rates,  mandates such as SB 442 are not the way. You will not succeed in changing the minds of these parents who are already being bullied daily and still stand firm. These parents would rather face consequences of jail than submit their own children to what they know in their hearts to be detrimental. Instead you must remove the source of the objection. 

Here is how :
  1. Remove aborted baby cells and animal cells from vaccines in the state. By law demand that substances deemed religiously objectionable or believed to possibly cause harm (such as preservatives) not be used in vaccines within Oregon. 
  2. Force by law manufacturers to produce some conclusive evidence of vaccine effectiveness , by a third party. Before a government entity can mandate the use of a product, especially a health product, the manufacturer has the burden of proof to prove effectiveness for the purpose, and to be believable this must be performed, not just reviewed, by a third party who is trusted. 
  3. Force by law  manufacturers to prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that vaccines are safe for general children, children who previously suffered reactions, and siblings of children that suffered reactions.  This also must be tests performed by a third party, one trusted by the population to be independent. Allow a panel of parents who has suffered suspected but unrecognized vaccine damage to sit on the panel reviewing the results before acceptance.  These are the people you wish to reach, so give them the responsibility and authority to make a decision first hand in the face of solid evidence. 

There is no alternative. The parents who are not vaccinating today will not begin to vaccinate due to a state mandate. You must instead use the power of the state to remove the source of their fear. Listen to the intensity of the testimony given for this bill thus far. Not the facts, but the intensity. a state mandate will not soften this intensity, but will increase it.

I urge you to consider putting the burden on the manufacturer to convince the parents of safety,  instead of attempting to mandate the parents to violate their deepest and strongest convictions.

Thank you
David Salch
White City, Or

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Chicken breed chosen!

We are back in the chicken business!

As you may recall from a year ago, we lost our chicken flocks due to a tragic fire in winter of 2014. We attempted to rebuild the flock from the few remaining hens, but there just wasnt enough to get us to production size with them. So, after waiting for a year to get to breeding time.. we have chosen and ordered our new flock!

We have decided on Buff Orpington breed.  They are a heritage breed that works well for both meat and eggs. Here is a description of them:

One time years ago at our Hamilton County Fair the poultry judge was asked to describe the correct plumage color for this variety. Taking out his gold watch he said, "That's the color for Buff Orpingtons." And pure gold they are, symbolic of great value and high quality. Introduced from England in the late 1800's, they became one of the most popular farm fowls in this country. These are large, stately birds of quiet disposition. Easy to dress for the table they are white skinned, plump, and juicy, a beautiful eating bird.Their heavy, full plumage make them excellent winter layers, shelling out brown eggs right through cold weather. They also make excellent setters and mothers. These "Golden Beauties" have been one of our most popular varieties for years and years with their glistening plumage and pinkish white skin. Baby chicks are a soft light buff color. 

It will take a while to get back into production, about 7 months from now. But these birds will provide us with a nice supply of eggs and meat and broths.

Stay tuned!

Quiet moments of a Shepherd

Life on a farm is a complex mix of responsibilities,  work,  sweat,  joy,  and tears.   In the midst of it all are those quiet moments  that allow one to reconnect to our existence.  These are the moments of a Shepherd.

Here is a small window into that world.

Notice in the first few seconds, off to the right of the scene is hunter, and at his feet is our adopted sheep "Nehpi" who was rescued and bottle fed. Now Nephi follows us around like a little puppy, preferring to be with people than sheep.

Springtime restocking

Very soon now...  Within days to a couple weeks...  We will be restocking with some long overdue products!  Thank you so much for your patience!

Coming soon :

Lamb chops
Ground lamb
Lamb sausage

Pork chops
Ground pork
Pork sausage

Pastured whole heritage chicken

Pastured whole heritage turkey

Chicken and turkey stock
Chicken and turkey bone broth

Lard soaps

And....  Some fun new products planned!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

White Jacob sheep born

A very unusual event today.  Another birth brought what appears to be a totally white Jacob sheep.  Somewhat of a rarity for Jacobs!   He is actually a twin,  the other one being almost fully black!

There is some thought this these may be geeps (a rare sheep -  goat cross).  It is "possible"  since they did live together for a short time...  But I am not convinced.  They both have long legs and the white one has slightly odd wool that looks a bit like hair...  But I am not convinced yet.  Lets let him grow up a bit and see.

Either way,  a fun and rare event!

Last load of hogs transported to Foothill

We finally moved the last load of pigs to foothill to finish their growing season. This became an emergency with the three new litters on the ground. The "teenager" pigs keep pushing the piglets away to get to moms milk... and the piglets suffer. So off they go!

I am happy with our pig loading setup. We used it three times so far this season, with slight adjustments each time, and it worked amazingly well ! We were able to safely load a trailer load of pigs in record time! When I get a chance I'll take some pictures to show how we built the setup.

We also have a third generation setup at foothill for the electric movable pen. The first one had the heavy wooden corners, that arent necessary at foothill (because the ground there is soft).  The second had t posts but the pigs kept burying the lower electric line. The third one is improved so that they do much less burying.

This setup I am very happy with. one person should be able to set up a new pen, move the pigs, and break down the old one within a couple hours.  Its amazingly easy!   And so far no escapees! We now have a total of 38 pigs in various stages of growth in a pen that moves to fresh pasture once a week. I estimate that a third to half of their diet is grass, roots, and bug foraging with the other part being sprouted grain.  they get an abundance of minerals and probiotics by rooting around int eh fresh soil all day.  Happy pigs!

We will be posting pictures of the pasture pen setup soon also.

Three new litters of pigs on the ground

This week we find three new litters of piglets on the ground!  one with 5, one with 4, and one with 9.  Two of the moms chose to give birth in the metal shelters, but one just stayed right out in the moonlight and stars.

So far everyone is doing fine.... but with the coming rain and cold nights, we decided to give shelter to the one under the moon. You cant move a mother sow with a litter of pigs to a shelter easily (believe me, i have tried!)  so now we move the shelter to the mom! Hunter and I took the third shelter, picked it up high with the tractor forks and a chain, and transported it across the pasture to the naturalist mom.  Then we drop the shelter slowly right over the piglets.  The mom goes inside and decides to stay. Works like a charm! We even dropped a few flakes of fresh straw at her doorstep and she dutifully dragged it inside to cushion the floor.

These large black moms are the best momma sows ! They are protective, nurturing, and smart. We are very impressed with their mothering skills. (and believe me.. its not easy to keep 5 to 10 rambunctious piglets in check!)

So all three moms are safe and warm inside their shelters with the piglets.  The rain should not be a problem!