Archive for July, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

After eleven weeks of raising our chicks without incident, we just lost a number of chickens to a night-time predator. At first, we were baffled. The modus operandi did not fit an owl or a weasel or a fox. It turns out, the culprit is a local dog. We think the dog scared the chickens into fleeing the safety of the poultry net fence. We found several killed outside the fence, and a neighbor reported seeing a dog trotting down the street with a chicken in its mouth.

We have enlarged the protective ring around the shelter, and we plan to add roosting poles inside the shelter to encourage the chickens to stay there. It is a bit frustrating that our system has worked against wild predators, but failed against a domesticated pet. Maybe we will have to get our own dog and train it to guard the chickens.

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Sarah Flack

We had a very nice visit from grazing expert and consultant, Sarah Flack a couple of weeks ago. We discussed our grazing plan, forage diversity, livestock management and soil management practices with her.  She was excited,” to see a new piece of land that’s just starting the process of being transformed by good grazing practices”. We spoke about abundance of “weeds” in the fields and the necessity to graze problem areas so as to eat the weeds before they go into seed or trample them to add to the organic matter in the soil. She also gave us some great ideas about how to control our fly population,  by understanding their breeding cycle and how to disrupt it!

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Everyone needs a break now and then, and we are no exception!  Who takes care of the farm whilst we are away?  Well, thanks to volunteers like, customers, Bob Scarchilli (above),  and Sara Maxwell along with friendly neighbors like Gus, the farm hardly notices our absence as the volunteer squad feed and move the chickens and pigs and do the daily move of the cows, and make sure, especially in hot weather like today, they all have water.

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Seventy percent of the antibiotics sold in the US are fed to livestock. Surprisingly, most of these antibiotics are not to treat sick animals, or even to prevent them from getting sick. Industrial farms mostly use antibiotics to make animals grow faster. Nobody knows why this works, but it does. But this practice almost certainly contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, creating a threat to human health. (Note: we do not use any antibiotics at all on our animals.)

Last week, the FDA proposed a new rule saying certain antibiotics can no longer be used to promote growth. We don’t think this goes far enough. Farmers can still use antibiotics to prevent disease, so they can continue feeding antibiotics and simply claim it is to prevent disease. We think non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock should be phased out completely, as proposed by the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act.

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