Animals

Three Things Christians Should Know About the Food Controversy

Recently faith has entered the field of food. I think this is a good thing; faith belongs in every aspect of our lives. What I’m not so sure about, however, is that we’re drawing the right conclusions. Its been suggested that vegetarianism is what God would have you do, or being merciful applies just as much to your neighbor as it does to his dog. But before you make up your mind about the relationship between man and animal, here are three things Christians should know.

What Christians need to know about the food controversy

1.) God made everything for a reason.

Nothing was an accident. Nothing was superfluous.

I like how the scripture in 1Timothy 4:4 explains it. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.”

The verse just before talks about someone telling you not to eat meat and responds with: “which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

And if you’d like to hear it worded, well… a little stronger just start at the beginning of that chapter! For now I think these verses make my point.

2.) God sent his son to die for mankind.

I don’t have a scripture reference for this one because there isn’t one. Animals, trees, rocks: God didn’t so love them and send his only son so they may have enteral life.

In fact it was people He created in his own image and likeness. Genesis 1:25. Could there be a higher honor? He set them apart, made them special. He made me and you to be children of The King.

Christ was the sacrificial lamb, but I don’t read that he died for sheep.

Clearly, God doesn’t see us the same.

Three things Christians should know abou the food controversy

photo credit: fusky via photopin cc

3.) God gave men dominion over His creation.

Actually it’s the very next verse after the “made in his image” paragraph in Genesis 1:26. And yes, I’m aware others far more scholarly than myself have written entire books on the subject of dominion. The word is negative. It means things like prevail against, reign, rule over.

Its just that the other side of this ruling business is responsibility. We are in charge of the animals God gave to our care and they are given to us for our use. But like the servants who were given 1, 5, and 10 talents, we will be accountable for how we care for what has been given to us.

History has proved there will always be those who look for something weaker to put down so they can pull themselves up. Animals can be an easy target.

Where real cruelty lies it should be eradicated.

But don’t confuse cruelty with animal agriculture. The pictures you see in the magazines while you wait in the grocery store checkout line are the extremes and a poorly worded headline can make us all look bad. Just remember, farmers are as outraged by abuses as you are.

What Christians need to know about the food controversy

photo credit: Walmart Corporate via photopin cc

Actually the vast majority of livestock producers understand– dominion and responsibility are just opposite sides of the same coin.
I’m certain you can make up your own mind on the food controversies that are part of our daily diet of conversation. If your opinion differs from mine, I’m okay with that.

But go ahead, bring your faith into the dining room.

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

The Strike is Over!

Both parties have been appeased! The strike is finally over!

No, no bus drivers or teachers here on the farm, just some disgruntled chickens. They wanted more daylight. I told them they’d have to take that up with a higher authority. But finally, after months of waiting, the workers are back.

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I think the trouble started when my early spring chicks began to molt in their first year of life. Most chickens molt during their second fall. Well, these ladies didn’t begin molting until after Thanksgiving. Which I told them was a bad decision, but do chickens ever listen?!?!

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At least they have now made a comeback. I’m not getting a lot of eggs at this point but I didn’t expect that in January anyway.

Now the biggest problem is collecting them from the coop before they freeze!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Brrrr!

Right now my phone tells me it’s 7° outside. It’s supposed to be 0° by 8 o’clock tonight, with an final low of -7 by the time the day is done. The irony of having livestock is more extreme the weather the more time you have to spend out in it.

Despite a canceled church service yesterday and no school today I got up early to check on the animals first thing both mornings.

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We have a heated waterer for the dog, cats, goats, and the lamb, but it still has to be checked because in these extreme temperatures not even the automatic heat works every time.

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They also eat a lot more food in extremely cold temperatures!

The back entryway is a mess! The chickens waterers must be brought in and thawed so I can exchange them throughout the day. Lizzie takes her bottle twice a day by the back door, And the rest of it is littered with mud boots, scarves, hats, gloves and old towels to soak up the melted snow.

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It took me 30 minutes this morning and will require another half hour tonight to make sure that all of the animals are fed and watered. But just imagine if instead of a handful of backyard animals you had a whole farm full of livestock that your livelihood depended upon!

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Today in this freezing cold weather many farmers and ranchers will be outside almost all day providing for their livestock. They’ll do this today, tomorrow, and even on Christmas morning!

So thanks to all the farmers who provided my Christmas ham, yams, and eggnog!

And Merry Christmas!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Poor Little Lamb

sick little lamb

How can you not just feel so sorry for this poor little thing!  Sorry enough, in fact, to bring its sick little self into your house and have it take over your bathroom, never mind the natural sheep smell or the less natural odors of, well, sick sheep.

Poor little Lizzie has been following the goats around and learning from their bad examples.  Goats are, in fact, pigs, and do not stop eating until they make themselves sick.  Fortunately they are more well equipped to handle over eating.  Sheep?  Not so much…  So after waking up twice in the night last night to try to get her to take more of her bottle I realized this morning she was not getting better and brought her into the house.

sick little lamb

She is staying in the back bathroom– the one for washing up from farm work etc., which at least means she doesn’t have access to my good towels.  The small bit of grain in her bowl is mildly interesting to her at the moment, which is good, and she really seems to want the electrolytes, which is great.

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The orange liquid is not Gatorade, its the electrolytes!

The veterinarian came out this morning and gave her a shot, made sure she was drinking warm water, and gave directions for her to stay in the house till she’s eating normally again.  Thanks Dad!  🙂

So here’s hoping Lizzie is better soon, and this is me being grateful we have a 15 pound baby lamb instead of a 100 pound calf, because yes, you bring those in the house too!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Of sheep, goats, and chickens

In the six days I’ve owned a lamb I’ve learned they are only slightly easier than baby chicks to keep alive. The advantage of sheep is they are large enough to avoid predators like opossums or raccoons. Their main disadvantage is that they baa loudly, inviting coyotes for a four county area into the backyard. I’m thinks about setting out a guest book to see who travels farthest.

The new lamb has also reminded me how much the goats have grown! This morning I set out to trim the goats’ hooves. Trimming should be done every three months or so and my calendar kindly reminded me yesterday that this job needed to be done in December. Last time I trimmed Harriet and Fanny’s hooves I held them with my legs and trimmed with both hands.

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As you can see, the much larger animals were not so easy. I had Brian get a few more shots of the process and then he had to help me hold them. Thank goodness, because Fanny’s hooves were pretty pointy, despite the fact that I trimmed them at the beginning of October. A goat in the wild would be climbing rocks and such, wearing down the hoof material, but soft grass just isn’t doing that for these girls! Since feet are vitally important to animals 😉 caring for them should be top priority for goat owners. I think I’ll set my next calendar reminder for February, instead of March!

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By February I imagine Lizzie’s toes will need trimming as well. Thank goodness the chickens will be fine! If only they’d finish molting and get back to laying eggs. Animal ownership– gotta love it!!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Surprise!

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Tomorrow I’m hosting my family’s Thanksgiving, so you can guess what I was up early this morning accomplishing. That’s right. Bottle feeding the lamb. And if you were unaware that Marshall Farms had a bottle lamb, well, don’t feel left out. I only found out yesterday myself.

We started looking for a lamb this past spring, about the time I came home with goats instead. And when I say “we” I actually mean I called out veterinarian to ask if he could keep his eye out for a good lamb for us. This is not a normal veterinary service, by the way. Out vet is my Dad. :). He had a specific farmer he wanted to get our lamb from and we found out this farmer plans lambing for fall, not spring. And yesterday, just as I was dropping Brett off to work cows with Grandpa, an emergency lambing call came in. Not exactly sure how it happened, but there is now a three week old lamb in the chicken coop!

I think her name is going to be Lizzie, in keeping with the Jane Austen characters the goats are named for. However, MaryAnn and Eleanor are also on the list. Brett wants “Last Born.”. Nuff said. Anna has recently named everything a version of Lacey, but there is no way we are showing a sheep named Licey. Daddy is all for Lamb Chops. Clearly, I get to make this decision. Bt I’ll make the decision later, because I really am having Thanksgiving here tomorrow!!!

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Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Meet a Turkey Farmer!

I’m so excited about today’s post!  Friends of our who raise turkeys on their family farm are guest posting today!  One of the birds in Jackie’s photos below might very well be the turkey your family eats on Thanksgiving day.  How cool is that?!

Hello! We are Josh, Jackie and Zane Witte. We raise cattle and turkeys. We raise approximately four flocks of 16,000 turkeys a year. Today, we are going to be telling you how the turkey that you eat on Thanksgiving is raised.

Meet a turkey farmer!  This family shows you how they raise turkeys on their family farm!

We raise turkeys for Cargill Meat Solutions. In the grocery store you can look for the label Honeysuckle White.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

The operation is a little confusing. We own the farm and barns that the birds are raised in but we don’t own the turkeys. Cargill supplies us with the turkeys, feed, and other needs, while we supply the labor to take care of the birds. We have a brooder house where the baby turkeys- or poults, stay for the first 6 weeks of their lives. From there, the birds are moved to our grow-out barn where they remain until around 16 weeks of age. At that point, Cargill comes to get the birds for processing. Our turkeys can become anything from ground turkey to your typical Thanksgiving Day turkey. Let’s look at the process a little more, shall we?

Poults require a certain type of care to get the best start possible. We set up cardboard pens that will keep the birds close to the ‘brood stoves’ (heaters). If the birds get too far from the heaters and get cold, they will huddle together to get warm and accidently smother each other. We have to keep the barn at 90 degrees for the poults so we use a lot of propane! The heaters are the small circular shapes hanging from the ceiling.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

The poults are delivered on a climate controlled truck, mostly in the early morning and at night. The truck is filled with boxes of turkeys. We load the boxes off the truck and onto our pickup trucks. Our brooder house is 440 feet long so we use the trucks to drive down the center of the barn.

turkey truck 1 turkey truck 2

Then it’s time to get the turkeys settled in for their stay on our farm. Remember those boxes of poults? The yellow boxes hold 100 baby turkeys each.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

We have to carefully take each turkey out of the boxes and into their new homes. We are blessed to have great family and friends who come out to help. Aunt Jess and Zane are unloading the poults by hand.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults are adjusting to their new life, we have to sort of teach them how to eat. You know the old adage that turkeys are dumb? Well, guess what, they really are. Josh’s grandparents used to raise range turkeys, and the birds would actually drown themselves from looking at the sky during a rainstorm.  (Which is one of the reasons barns are used.  Being free-range isn’t all its cracked up to be by commercials!) At any rate, we have to trick them into eating and drinking.

Fun Farm Fact: Turkeys are attracted to the color green. Thank me later when you win lots of money on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? So we put green colored feed on top of their normal feed and their water comes out of a green nipple. The turkeys instinctively peck at the green and then get the taste for food and water. Pretty cool, huh?

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm! This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

As the poults get used to their surroundings, they spread out a little but for the most part like to stay close together for warmth.  (The big red thing in the middle is another type of waterer that they use when they get older).

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm! This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

They also have to get used to our little turkey wrangler.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults get older and bigger, we remove the cardboard pens and let them have free run of the barn.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

Eventually, the turkeys run out of room in the brooder house so we have to move them to the 770 foot long grow-out barn. The barns are connected with an alley that the birds will walk through. This is the turkeys’ new home until they are big enough for processing. Our birds weigh around 22 pounds when they leave our farm.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

After the birds leave it’s time to clean out the barns. I didn’t photograph this because it’s a nasty job.  We take out all the old litter and manure and spread it on our cattle pasture. Turkey manure is an excellent fertilizer so whatever litter we don’t use, we sell to local crop farmers. Then it is time to start the whole process over again!

I hope you have enjoyed your peek into the life of turkey farming. Be sure to remember where all of your Thanksgiving meal comes from and thank a farmer!  Happy Thanksgiving from Witte Farms!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Something Scary!

There is something quite scary on our farm!  And I’ll warn you; its a little gross too.  So if you’re brave enough to keep reading, here ya go!

Something scary on the farm!  {DaddysTractor.com}

I told you.  Gross.

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But don’t worry.  Nothing is actually wrong with any of these chickens.  Believe it or not, this is actually healthy and normal.  Well, normal for chickens.  I still think its just scary looking myself.

These ladies are molting.  Most chickens do this in the fall; they drop old feathers and grow new ones.  During this time they stop laying eggs and put all their efforts into growing new wardrobes.  And well they should because this look is really just disturbing.

For comparison sake, here are some non-molting pics.

Scary chickens on the farm.  {DaddysTractor.com}

You can raise your own eggs

Picture of chickens growing up on the farm

Nice, sleek, smooth with full tail feathers and, well, clothed necks.  This is how chickens should look.

But this time of the year?

Well, chickens are just scary.

 

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Two Tips for Hard Boiled Eggs

I have soooooo many eggs right now.  Literally thirteen dozen in my fridge.  And more in the coop.  Of course, there will be more in the coop tomorrow and the day after, and the day after.

Two tips for hard boild eggs  {DaddysTractor.com}

Which means I’ll be forced to workout this afternoon so I can take my farm fresh eggs to the Y to sell.  But, it also means I’ll be pulling out all my tricks for using eggs!  We’ll eat them scrambled, as omelets, in quiche, as egg salad, but my family’s favorite is deviled eggs.  Which is great.  Except that hard boiled eggs can be such a pain!

Thankfully, I’ve learned a few things about the science of eggs.  Nearly all of it has been confirmed by the girls at the Y too, so you can be sure these will work!

First, use old eggs.  A fresh egg is “full”, making it difficult to separate the cooked egg from the shell, but an old egg has lost water through evaporation.  This creates an air pocket at one end of the egg.  You can test eggs by setting them in water.  If they lie flat, the eggs are fresh with no air pocket.  If one end floats up at a diagonal this egg is older and will work great for boiling or baking.  If the egg stands perfectly on end, well, you’ve held on to that one too long!!!

Two tips for hard boild eggs  {DaddysTractor.com}

Then place the eggs in a pot and cover them with cold water.  The water level should be at least one inch above the eggs.  Turn the heat on and allow the water to reach a rolling boil, then cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat off.  Set a timer for 12-13 minutes.

Two tips for hard boild eggs  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is important!  When the timer goes off, don’t ignore it!  Its okay to finish changing the baby’s diaper and all, but don’t think that no burning = no foul!  Cool the eggs quickly in cold water.  Once they’ve cooled to the touch lightly crack the entire surface of the egg.  Under cold, running water carefully find the film under the shell and peel the egg.  Try to find that air pocket and start there.

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

If you are Martha Stewart or the Pioneer Woman and have a whole kitchen just for your food show, you will have a beautiful, smooth, perfect egg ready for deviling!

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

If you are a crazed, homeschooling, foster parenting, goat caring, chicken wrangling, blogging mom who didn’t bother to test the eggs and then left them cooking for 45 minutes, you’ll probably end up with something not quiet that perfect.

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

So that’s where my two best tips for hard boiled eggs come in.

First, let you kids peel the eggs so you can proudly show off your creations as something your adorable offspring accomplished.

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

And second, cook twice as many as you need and make egg salad with the worst ones.

There ya go.  Two tips for cooking hard boiled eggs, from my home to yours. 😉

Categories: Animals, Science | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

The Chicken Palace

*Sigh*  Sometimes it really is the little things!  Actually I think my husband would argue that this really was a big thing, but either way,  I’m excited about it just the same.

Chicken fence {DaddysTractor.com}

This… is the new chicken fence!

When we I first ordered our baby chicks I had these quaint visions of happy hens pecking and scratching about the yard.  I would shut the birds up in the coop at night, but during the day I opened their pen and they would run like first graders to recess out of that little door.  Then they would meander about the shed and backyard during the day and put themselves to bed when the sun set.  It all worked very nicely… for a while.

Free range chickens

Our formerly free chickens.

First it was the neighbor’s dog.  Apparently he liked chicken dinner as well as anybody.

Then it was the rye grass newly planted in the field by the house.  I guess it just kept calling them to explore further.

Next it was my garden.  Which was fine as long as they were fertilizing it, but not so much when it came time to plant seeds.

And when they discovered the dirt bath under the bushes and began to fertilize the sidewalk up to the front door, well, then Daddy had just about enough of the “picturesque” birds.

But the final straw was loosing three birds in three days to an unmannerly coyote.

The chickens needed a fence.

Actually, the girls are loving their new space.  Its more than 500 square feet, but I'm pretty sure they're also grateful not to be eaten...

Actually, the girls are loving their new space. Its more than 500 square feet, but I’m pretty sure they’re also grateful not to be eaten…

Which is easier said than done, of course.  It took Daddy nearly a month to complete this project, squeezing it in between his other farm jobs.  But when Daddy does something, he does it right.  We live in tornado alley, and the fence was designed to be as Brett-proof as possible, which means it should hold up to the tornados just fine.

The new chicken fence on the farm {DaddysTractor.com}

Now all we need is a goat pen!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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