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Archive for March, 2014

cownoseNice editorial in the New York Times yesterday about progress with the government’s efforts to curb the use of antibiotics as a growth promotion tool in livestock. Sadly, I am one of the skeptics mentioned in the article.

First of all, you have to look at the economics. Commodity farmers use antibiotics because it is profitable to do so. Put antibiotics in the feed—animals grow faster (nobody yet knows why). More importantly, if you don’t put antibiotics in the feed, you will be competed out of business by those who do. This is the same dynamic as the doping problem in professional sports. If you can’t stop elite athletes from putting harmful illegal drugs into their own bodies to make money, how can we expect to stop conventional farmers from doing it to their livestock—especially with a voluntary labeling program?

(Just in case it is not clear—we do not put antibiotics or added hormones in our feed.)

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spicesWinter means working my way through half a side of beef in the freezer, so I’m always on the lookout for new ways to prepare ground beef. I tried this “Chili with Moroccan Spices” from a Cook’s Illustrated cookbook this weekend, and I entered it into my church’s annual chili cook-off. I didn’t win, but I suspect the voting was rigged—the Moroccan chili was divine. Actually, it tasted even better the next day left over. Maybe next year I’ll prepare it a day ahead and re-warm it!

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Frost-free Nose Pump

In this video, one of our cows demonstrates the use of a frost-free nose pump, while her calf demonstrates why mother cow needs to drink so much! This pump is powered by the cow, herself. Cows learn very quickly to push on the lever to draw water up from the shallow well. After the cow is finished drinking, the pipe drains automatically to keep from freezing. No electricity is required for pumping or for keeping the water from freezing. This makes it possible to over-winter the herd far from an electric power source.

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