Author Archives: JB Hasman

US and China sign Agriculture Strategic Plan

The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack signed a historic “Plan of Strategic Cooperation” with China’s Minister of Agriculture, Han Changfu at the US-China Agricultural Symposium. Bilateral cooperation in Food safety, food security and sustainable agriculture were the focus of this month’s agricultural symposium.

US-China Agricultural Symposium 2012

US-China Agricultural Symposium 2012

“This symposium and plan are a product of a vision I share with my dear old friend Minister Han for the United States and China to work more collaboratively in the future to benefit our nations and agriculture around the world,” Vilsack said.

The Plan of Strategic Cooperation between US And China will help build and guide the two countries’ agricultural relationship for the next 5 years.

As previously mentioned in the article “USDA hosting first ever US-China Agricultural Symposium”, with good relations in place, this will open the door to more agricultural exports to China, including US beef exports.

This news coupled with the USDA creating Start2Farm.gov to help beginner farmers start or grow their farms. There is a great deal of interest in the US agricultural arena, which could lead to greater agricultural growth and prosperity.

America’s position as “Breadbasket of the World” is already being eroded by countries like Canada, Soviet Union and China. Can this historic plan secure our position as the world’s breadbasket? With hopes and anticipation high, we will have to wait and see, as only time will tell.

For more information on the USDA’s Start2Farm.gov project, take a look at the article here at CDN.

The shakedown on Salt: A Heart Healthy choice

The myth: That salt is salt, that there is no difference between table salt and sea salt.

The Salt Myth

The Salt Myth

Allow me to immediately dismiss this myth. Like most salt addicted Americans, I suffered from bouts of high blood pressure after eating. Sodium causing hypertension affects many Americans. The American Heart Association (Heart.org) states that “76.4 million US adults have high blood pressure.” High Blood Pressure or Hypertension can damage or weaken your arteries and can lead to kidney disease. And what is the first advice given by your cardiologist? Put down the salt. Sure, that would be great if we didn’t love our food so much.

But there is a solution, all natural Sea Salt. Not all salt is created equal. Table salt, at its core, is sea salt, either from modern oceans or ancient sea beds. Table salt has been demineralized and chemically processed. It has been refined, which means its highly processed, been bleached and stripped of naturally occurring trace minerals.

Table Salt vs Sea Salt

Table Salt vs Sea Salt

This means that the sodium chloride in table salt is highly concentrated, making it very bad for your health. Not to mention the unnatural additives like potassium-iodide, sugar and aluminum silicate.

You may think we need this unnatural additive of Iodide, which is supposed to help avoid iodine deficiency disease of the thyroid gland. Due to the unnatural levels in table salt, this can lead to hyperthyroidism, which is become a growing concern in America. Natural sea salt contains natural iodine, no additives necessary.

Why then, did America transition from sea salt to table salt? Well, apparently the aesthetics of pure white salt (same with sugar), which to maintain this all white salt, is to add anti-caking agents to increase its shelf life in this bleached state. The issue with adding preservatives which keeps salt from absorbing moisture interferes with one of salt’s main functions, to help regulate hydration in your body.

Iodized Salt

Iodized Salt

This is one source as to why Americans are becoming dehydrated in a modern age such as this. Look at your typical IV you get in the hospital to keep you hydrated, electrolytes from salt and potassium. Which you find naturally in sea salt which leads to better hydration, lower blood pressure, better overall health.

Sea salt in the raw, contains trace nutrients and minerals such as ionized sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, selenium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese to name a few. Natural sea salt is a source of over 21 essential and 30 accessory minerals.

Since natural sea salt contains no added chemicals or preservatives, and contains natural iodide, it is not only healthy for the heart, but the whole body. It regulates hydration in your body and your blood pressure.

You must know, that not all sea salt that you can purchase at the store are equal. At Wal-Mart, you can buy a processed version of sea salt. Not all natural, still has potassium-iodide added, but from table salt, a huge improvement.

One must understand that sea salt is NOT the bleached white, processed table salt we find in our shakers. Natural sea salt is colored, depending on where the salt comes from in the world, ranging from gray to a light rose color. Sea salt tends to be moist and coarse, but you can grind it finer, or purchase it ground fine.

I guess we should get to the important part, flavor. The flavor of sea salt far and wide exceeds that of table salt. The richness and depth of flavor adds so much more to your favorite dishes. It not only adds flavor but adds to your health.

Sodium overdose leads to hypertension and high blood pressure

Sodium overdose leads to hypertension and high blood pressure

About 8 years ago, I switched to sea salt due to hypertension experienced after meals. I was shocked at the immediate difference it made for my after meal experience. I no longer suffered from hypertension caused by concentrated sodium in my table salt. The affects were so immediate, I knew I had to look more into sea salt.

When I go to McDonald’s on occasion, I order my favorite burger with fries, I ask for “no salt fries”, and they will cook a fresh batch for you, and add no salt to your fries. I mention this as Wendy’s recently made the move to use sea salt with their fries. As you can image, I rushed out and ordered my favorite burger meal with these sea salt fries. While the sea salt wasn’t the unadulterated salt you find with all natural sea salt, it was a huge improvement, and more importantly, did not give me that after meal hypertension, I was accustomed to with table salt. Hats off to Wendy’s in their effort to be responsible for their consumers health.

Since table salt is so extremely concentrated in sodium, I could use the same amount of sea salt to replace my table salt in and on my dishes, and having no ill affects on my body. However, since sea salt is more flavorful, one can use less to maintain flavor.

There are many health benefits to sea salt besides not raising blood pressure. The trace minerals in sea salt help ease pain and heal skin. You can add it to your baths to help heal from acne, eczema, poison ivy and psoriasis. These trace minerals can also help promote cell health. Cell damage can lead to muscle spasms, brain damage and nervous disorders. Sea salt helps heal cells and helps control and balance the ions in our bodies cells.

Sea Salt for Health

Sea Salt for Health

If you experience water retention, you will see immediate improvement by using all natural sea salt.

When you are at the store looking to purchase sea salt, make sure you look at the labels. You want a sea salt that is unrefined, has no additives and contains natural trace minerals, naturally found in sea salt.

If you are using salt substitutes or low-sodium salts, you can switch to natural sea salt and maintain and improve your health. Natural sea salt does not increase blood pressure or make you retain water, when taken with moderation.

Dr. David Brownstein, author of “Salt – Your Way to Health” said “… a low-sodium diet is not only ineffective at controlling blood pressure, it is deleterious to the body. What conventional doctors and most mainstream organizations have failed to grasp is the difference between refined salt and unrefined salt. As mentioned previously, refined salt lacks minerals and causes acidosis (i.e. a lowered pH). Our bodies were meant to function optimally with adequate mineral levels and adequate salt intake. Only the use of unrefined salt can provide both of these factors.”

All natural sea salt

All natural sea salt

Dr Brownstein recommends Redmond’s “Real Salt” (as do I), which is from the ancient sea beds in Utah. You can buy natural sea salts from live oceans, but with today’s pollution, sea salts from an ancient unpolluted oceans is perhaps preferred.

Christine Avaness, author of “Living Beyond Organic” is quoted, saying “An excellent source of organic sodium, Real Salt is key to
alkalizing, detoxifying, and rejuvenating your whole body.”

Another all natural sea salt brand

Another all natural sea salt brand

I use Redmond’s “Real Salt” at home and on the farm. On the farm is a wholly separate and complex topic on its own. To summarize, it can be used to replace the mineral block for livestock, as it is all natural and more nutritious for your farm animals. It is also used to add to your garden soil to increase fertility, few ways can add so much nutrients as sea salt can.

You can purchase Redmond’s “Real Salt” or any all natural, unprocessed, unrefined, no chemical or preservative added sea salt from most health food stores, even some supermarkets and some Wal-Mart stores started carrying Real Salt by Redmond.

Your local farm/feed store carries Redmond’s sea salt in the 20, 40 or 50lb bags for livestock and soil.

Overall, sodium is an important part of building a healthy life, in balancing your bodies core systems. With natural sea salt you can have this healthier lifestyle without sacrificing flavor, nutrients or health.

Start producing ultra-renewable foods in your own home: Sprouting for Health and Vitality

Most people are familiar with sprouts, sprouts in their salads, sandwiches and stir fry for example. Sprouts are tasty and equally important, nutritious. When you think of sprouts you may think of just alfalfa and bean sprouts. But there are many sprouts you can grow, not only for taste but for health. Each variety of sprout specializing in their own type of nutrition.

Sprouts for Health and Vitality

Sprouts for Health and Vitality

Broccoli sprouts for example, are loaded with a phytochemical called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane according to Wikipedia.org is “an organosulfur compound that exhibits anticancer, antidiabetic, and antimicrobial properties in experimental models. It is obtained from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cabbages. The enzyme myrosinase transforms glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate, into sulforaphane upon damage to the plant (such as from chewing). Young sprouts of broccoli and cauliflower are particularly rich in glucoraphanin (which transforms to sulforphane).”

There are sprouts such a broccoli and others that are rich in plant estrogen, like human estrogen, which can aid in cases of PMS, menopause, hot flashes and fibrocystic disease.

Nutritious Sprout Sandwich

Nutritious Sprout Sandwich

Sprouts can produce such rich sources of vitamins like A, B, C, E and K, minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Sprouts are a good source of protein, fiber and essential fatty acids, and they lower cholesterol and all while still tasting great!

Tasty Sprouts Salad

Tasty Sprouts Salad

You can grow broccoli, alfalfa, radish, mung bean, lentils, adzuki, garbonzo, green peas, sunflower, soy bean, wheat and buckwheat sprouts, just to name of few. Not only are these nutritious and tasty, they are also ultra-renewable source of food you can grow right in your own kitchen in just 2-5 days, depending on variety of sprout.

5 Part Salad Sprouting MIx

5 Part Salad Sprouting MIx

The easiest way to get started growing your own healthy and tasty sprouts is with a Seed Sprouter. You could start with any dish that would hold water, but it would create additional work and frustation draining each day. The modern seed sprouters of today have multiple levels and auto drain from one tray to the next leaving whatever water is left in a reservoir in the bottom. These units are sealed to keep moisture in and make it easy to grow your own sprouts.

4 Tray Seed Sprouter

4 Tray Seed Sprouter

The seed sprouter also has ridges in the trays of the sprouter to keep the seeds seperated to avoid clumping and maximize growth. The seed sprouter above is the exact model I use in my kitchen. In fact, I have two units with four grow trays each. I keep them in the window sill of my kitchen and in just a few short days I have wonderful sprouts to add to my dishes.

I purchased my seed sprouter from a company I highly recommend, not only in price, but also in excellent customer service. I listed them in a previous article “Are you growing mutant seeds? Try Heirloom Seeds!”. I have purchased my seed sprouters, sprouting seed packets and herb seeds such as Tea and Medicinal herbs. The packaging was great, they were sealed in an tin and sealed again in a mylar bag within the tin. They went out of their way to ensure the herb seeds are fresh.

The company in question is My Patriot Supply out of Hartford City, IN. Their website is www.mypatriotsupply.com. They offer many types of sprouting seeds to choose from.

Interesting enough, I found a video on YouTube that reviewed this same seed sprouter, allow me to share it with you.

When you choose the type of sprouts you want to grow, a teaspoon in each tray will suffice. Stack the trays, add water in the water reservoir each day and viola! You have an exciting way to grow easily renewable food source that tastes good and is good for you.

For more information on sprouting, check out the book “Sprouts the Miracle Food” by Steve Meyerwitz or “The Sprouting Book: How to grow and use sprouts to maximize your health and vitality” by Ann Wigmore.

USDA launches new website to help new farmers and ranchers

Start2Farm.gov is the new place to go to get help starting your new farm or ranch. The website will provide assistance for beginner farmers and ranchers by offer training, help with financing and provide technical assistance and other support related services.

USDA's start2farm.gov helping new farmers

USDA's start2farm.gov helping new farmers

US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack said “America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow. USDA is working to provide opportunities for the next generation to get into agriculture in order to continue the record success of America’s farmers and ranchers who are seeing record farm incomes and record exports. Start2Farm.gov will help us protect and sustain these successes, so that we continue to build an agriculture industry diverse and successful enough to attract the smartest, hardest-working young people in the nation.”

Start2farm.gov

Start2farm.gov

The funding for Start2Farm.gov by NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which aided in the development of education and training programs to provide the next generation of US farmers and ranchers with greater sustainability.

Alaskan Growers School which is funded by the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program

Alaskan Growers School which is funded by the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program

Start2Farm.gov allows beginning farmers to search for programs and resources that provides training and financing. An Event Calendar is also listed to find local events in your area. The site also allows you to connect to other farmers and gain access to How-to’s of farming including farm management, marketing, planning and more.

By USDA definition, beginning farmers are those operating a farm or ranch with 10 years or less experience. USDA states that 20% of 2.1 million US farms are classified as beginning farms. If you fit this category you can still qualify for the many programs available to you by the USDA through start2farm.gov website.

With the realization that US can be productive and thrive in today’s economy through our agriculture, building tomorrow’s farmers and ranchers is the goal of start2farm.gov website.

As relations in the US-China Symposium goes well, we could see huge gains in US agricultural growth and agricultural jobs for 2012 and the years to come.

Are you growing mutant seeds? Try Heirloom Seeds!

Think Wal-mart is the answer for all your garden needs? Do you know what you are buying? Do you realize the lack of sustainability in Wal-Mart mutant seeds? Have you considered the mutigenic qualities (or lack thereof) of the produce that is grown from mutant seeds?

GMO Mutant Produce

GMO Mutant Produce

What is a mutant seed you ask? One that is genetically modified from the original. How many of us yearn for that juicy ripe red tomato from the supermarket? No one?!?! Oh, because you generally don’t find that kind of produce, but in your own garden. Those that are found in your supermarket are those strains of genetically modified beasts, I call mutants, tasteless and little to no nutritional value. Genetically modified seeds (GMO) have been spliced with genes from bacteria or viruses, or genes that make plants resistant to chemicals like herbicides (like Roundup).

These genes were not apart of the human diet until the first GMO plant was made in 1996. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) says about GMOs is they “have not been properly tested and pose a serious health risk”.

Why do they spend millions modifying our food from their already delicious and nutritious state? Money. What do they say about money? The root (pun intended) of all evil? They modify the seeds to be more disease resistant, modified to be repel the insects that normally prey on our precious fruits and vegetables.

Sounds wonderful, does it not? Sure, but there are great sacrifices to be made. Usually in taste or the nutrient level. Do we know the long lasting affects? Have we yet to understand the ramifications it has on our Eco system and our own bodies?

This is why we seldom salivate for veggies from the supermarket. All this goes to increasing the corporate farmers bottom line.

Corporate Farming

Corporate Farming

In 30 countries around the world there are restrictions and bans on the production of GMOs as they are not proven safe. So why are they so openly accepted in the US, who can say!?!?

If you can’t or won’t grow your own fruits and vegetables, then I implore you to buy them from your local farm market. Where you can buy quality, mouth watering, nutritious produce at equal or less price than from your supermarket.

If, I think you are as I suspect, growing your own food, then please, do yourself, your taste buds and your body a favor and start growing wholesome and nutritious, God designed fruits and vegetables.

Heirloom Tomatoes Varieties

Heirloom Tomatoes Varieties

Here are some things you need to know about seeds…

There are three main types of seeds on the market currently:

Genetically Modified (GMO) Seeds, designed to be disease and pest resistant, but lacks in flavor and nutrition. You will not be able to reproduce the same plant from the seed of the parent plant.

Hybrid Seeds, a cross between two plants. Produces a unique plant with favorable characteristics, but lacks reproduction of the same plant from seed, as with GMO.

Open Pollinated Seeds, true to form, au naturel seeds. They produce fruit that is delicious and nutritious and when you plant a seed from the parent plant you get an identical plant. This is the ideal seed for lifelong sustainability.

You can find Open Pollinated Seeds at Wal-mart, but you will usually find it under the title of “Heirloom” seeds.

Heirloom Vegetables

Heirloom Vegetables

The definition of an Heirloom Seed by author Cassandra Truax of A Worm Tea Primer and blog writer of www.organic-raised-bed-gardening.com is:

Seed varieties collected for generations by everyday people. Such varieties are usually hardy, pest resistant and have other desirable qualities, as well as being open pollinated. Heirloom seeds are important store houses of genetic diversity.

Heirloom seed varieties are typically 100 to 150 years old. To be considered heirloom, typically, a seed cultivar has to be at least 50 (some say 100) years old. And it must be open pollinated. Last but not least is quality. For a seed to be passed on, it obviously had a good quality or qualities.

What draws most gardeners to using heirlooms seeds, is the flavor of the fruit. One has yet to experience a good tomato (for instance) if one has not tasted the bountiful flavor of an heirloom tomato.

Purple Cherokee Heirloom Tomato

Purple Cherokee Heirloom Tomato

Don’t expect heirloom plants to look like their GMO or Hybrid counterparts. There are black heirloom tomatoes called Black Krim which is rich and earthy, and has almost a smoky flavor. There are many tastes and varieties that will not disappoint in the heirloom family of seeds.

Black Krim Heirloom Tomato

Black Krim Heirloom Tomato

As natural, unaltered state, heirloom seeds have all the good qualities we need without modifying the flavor and nutrients out of them AND reproduce the same plant over and over again, thus being open pollinated.

There are many places to purchase heirloom, open pollinated seeds. Yes, Wal-mart usually has a few, but I would urge you to buy from seed companies that specialize in these sustainable and prolific seeds.

Such places are:

Baker Creek Seeds – www.rareseeds.com
Orchard House Heirlooms – www.orchardhouseheirlooms.com
Victory Seeds – www.victoryseeds.com
Seeds of Change – www.seedsofchange.com

There are many more out there, but these are just a few, what I would call reliable companies that I have worked with.

If you are looking for Medicinal or Tea Herb seeds, I have found My Patriot Supply (www.mypatriotsupply.com) a good source for these types of seeds.

I have yet to find any studies on the health ramifications of eating GMO foods. Not only does GMO help the corporate farmers bottom line, but it also helps companies like Monsanto control our future food supply by controlling the seeds ability to reproduce, thus controlling where and when we can purchase our seeds.

Genetically Modified Corn

Genetically Modified Corn

Keep the genetic diversity of Heirloom seeds going by growing nothing but heirloom, open pollinated seeds. Not only will they keep your garden going from year to year, but provide healthy and tasty food to put on your table.

If you are growing your own food in your garden, you may as well grow the right kind of seed. A seed that reproduces, provides a superior and proven plant, year after year. You will without question, notice the difference in taste and nutrition over GMO produce.

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

Heirloom Seeds that have been passed from generation to generation are far more hardier and as some studies show, have more nutritional value than GMO.

With companies like Monsanto out to capitalize on sterile seeds and pushing them into our homes and gardens, it is important to think of our food security using open pollinated seeds.

Stop the mutant! Grow hardy open pollinated heirloom seeds, for sustainability of life.

Taste the difference!

Raising Chickens, your first step to self sufficiency

You ask, why do I recommend to start with chickens? The answer is simple. Chickens are the quickest in return, the easiest to maintain, and gives you a sense of fulfillment that will inspire you to continue down the journey of self sufficiency. No other farm creature is so quick to produce, so easy to raise, and very inexpensive to purchase.

Barred Rock flock

Barred Rock flock

We have been on our farm for over 5 years now (not our first farm mind you) and we have probably started the wrong way to many times and have, a time or two become discouraged in our dream of our farm. You need to know the best and the most rewarding place to start.

You may think to just order a batch of chicks and your brooder, and that is all you need to know… Nothing can be the furthest from the truth. There is a good deal to know before you start.

So allow me to take the guess work out of starting your own flock of chickens.

chicks

chicks

Timing, you need to know when to start. You can buy chicks and other varieties of poultry throughout the year. The best time to purchase your chicks will be in the spring. Chicks grow very, very fast. And if you start them too soon, you might not have a warm place for them when they outgrow the brooder.

brooder kit

brooder kit

There are many online hatcheries to purchase your chicks from. I strongly recommend buying from your local farm feed/tractor store if this is your first time. They will start carrying them at the right time of the spring and will carry the correct breeds for your climate. At the same time you can purchase all your chick supplies.

Breeds? Yes, there are many breeds of chicks to choose from. To cover the basics there are strictly egg layer breeds, meat breeds and what is called dual purpose breeds, which provides both eggs and meat. Egg breeds (like the Isa Brown) will be smaller, eat less feed and produce large eggs. The meat breeds are very large breeds like the Cornish Rock breed, but eat much more feed.

Dual purpose breeds like the Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks will be medium sized and will eat a medium amount of feed in comparison to the other types.

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Reds

What is the right breed for you? That is determined on which chicken product you are after, meat, eggs, or both.

I prefer dual breeds, as you can get both. I have yet to use both, just eggs, but the potential is still there for meat.

Once you determine which type of bird you want, you have to take into consideration your climate. For our farm, located in Michigan, we chose a breed that was cold hardy and would still lay in the winter months. That breed for us was the Barred Rock.

The Barred Rock breed is a northern breed and does well in the cold and snow. Ours lay year round and produce well. The main key for us are not requiring us to use a heat lamp in the winter, unless it gets below zero. So we have a hardy breed that needs little pampering and produces year round. This was an ideal breed for us here in the north.

A good source of information on breeds (and reviews) is the Murray McMurray Hatchery out of Iowa. (http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/bar_baby_chicks.html)

Another good source of information is chicken forums like www.backyardchickens.com and www.chickenchatter.org

Barred Rock Chicks

Barred Rock Chicks

To fence or not to fence? That is a question one must answer. If you live in the country and have the room to free range your chickens, I would still recommend keeping them fenced in until a month after they start laying. This will allow them to know where their home is, their feed, and where they are to lay. Yes, you will still get the occasional offender and find an egg under a bush somewhere, for the most part they will use their nest box to lay.

Nest Boxes

Nest Boxes

In the winter months use you will want to supplement their lighting with a 60 watt bulb, on a timer. You want your chickens to have light 12-14 hours per day, otherwise their laying will reduce.

Typically, we have found that we can get almost an egg a day per chicken. However, breeds, climate and lighting will cause variations in the quantity produced.

When you finally choose the type and breed of chicken to raise, you will need a Brooder Starter Kit. The kits includes (or buy them separately), heating lamb and bulb, waterer, feeders, brooder guard (to keep them in) and ideally a brooder thermometer.

However, your chicks will tell you if they are to hot or cold.

Correct Brooder Temp

Correct Brooder Temp

When we received our first chicks, I was not only anxious but afraid I would not be able to raise them properly without sickness or fatalities.

Those fears were quickly laid to rest after our first batch of chicks. Keep them with water, feed and adjust your temperature and they do all the work. The only intervention was we had to dip their beaks gently into the waterer so they knew where to find their water.

We were amazed at how fast they grow, they will double and triple in size in just a couple weeks.

Our chickens are our yard pets and come when called, and are such a joy to watch.

When you purchase your chicks, you have three options, males, females or a straight run, which includes about 50/50 of each. Sexing a chick is no easy task, so even when ordering females, you might get one or two males and visa versa.

Another question, do you need a rooster to produce eggs? No, you do not. Rooster are required to fertilize the eggs to incubate and hatch chicks. Roosters do add character to your homestead, they are almost always more colorful and you get your morning chime.

Roosters

Roosters

Whether you realize it or not, chickens have personalities, and they know who feeds them. They will follow their caregiver all over the farm, let you pet them and hold them. They give a certain charm to your yard, and are like yard ornaments when looking out your favorite window.

You will find that chickens give back to your farm in many ways. They provide eggs, meat, when free ranged provide pest control against grasshoppers, fleas, ticks, ants and more…

Now to mention the health benefits of free range chicken eggs vs store bought eggs. Mother Earth News (www.motherearthnews.com) completed a study in 2007 and compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) study on caged chickens, that free range produced eggs are healthier.

The reports shows, that hens raised on pasture (free ranged) are:

1/3 less cholesterol
¼ less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene

I think that logic would stand, to say caged chickens themselves are less healthy than well exercised, well fed free range chickens.

Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens

Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens

Chickens are the first choice when homesteading or raising on your hobby farm. They produce quickly, constantly and require little maintenance, and keeps the pests under control. Of the years we have been raising chickens, we have found no downside to raising chickens on our farm.

A word to the wise, don’t get a previously owned flock, start from scratch. People that want to get rid of their flocks are the ones usually not to care for them. So you do not know what you are getting yourself into. Trust me, this is how we started. Remember, I said that I have started out the wrong way a few times? This was one of them. We got an adult flock, we soon realized they were unhealthy, uncared for and were caged raised, so they did not produce well. We soon culled this flock and started over. This is always the preferred way of starting a flock, herd, passel, team and etc…

In the morning when you are sitting out on your patio, enjoying your favorite cup of java, listening to the roosters chime and see the chickens peck for food, you realize in yourself the serenity it brings, and say job well done.

For additional information on raising chickens check out the books by author Gale Damerow titled “Your Chickens” and “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens“.

Also, Mother Earth News released a “Pickin Chicken” app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that helps you choose the right chicken breed to suit your needs. This app released through iTunes.

USDA hosting first ever US-China Agricultural Symposium

The first ever US-China Agricultural Symposium took place today. The Symposium where government and industry leaders from the US and China will meet to tackle export issues, to allow US Beef to be exported into the Asia Pacific region.

Minister Han Chanfu meeting with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Minister Han Chanfu meeting with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

China became the number one market for US agricultural goods in 2011. China purchasing over $20 billion in US agricultural exports. This represents to the US over 160,000 American jobs in agricultural jobs and other sectors. American agriculture represents 1 in 12 jobs in the US and provides American consumers with 86% of the food we consume.

The USDA reports that strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive US trade balance, create jobs and boost economic growth. And reports that US agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers.

Another goal of today’s meetings is to continue to strengthen bilateral trade relations and support the American brand of agriculture.

US Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack has worked with China to aggressively expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade, helping to push agricultural exports to record levels in 2011.

Vilsack was quoted, saying “Thanks to the productivity of American farmers, ranchers and producers, consumers in China recognize the United States as a reliable supplier of high-quality food and agricultural products. Strengthening our partnership with China’s growing market is integral to the strength of the U.S. economy in the decades ahead.”

These look like strong times for US agricultural, if talks go well we can see huge gains in exports and more jobs generated.