Tag Archives: Indiana

Indiana Horticulture Congress

Recently I attended the 3 day Indiana Horticulture Congress put on by Purdue. It was a great experience with multiple sessions going on throughout the day, and a host of trade vendors to check out between educational sessions. I figured for anyone who missed out I would highlight some of my lessons learned, and vendors I spoke with. This in no way endorses the vendors, merely that I found some of it interesting. On the lessons  from the sessions it may be notes I took or points I found interesting not a summary of the presentation, or even the most relevant material the speaker wanted to convey. I was only able to attend one of the five sessions going on. There was a cider taste testing, and meals (had to pay separate but look great), and was for produce only.

Food Safety (Tuesday AM)

While I had intended to go to the Hemp series, it was postponed so I had to make another selection. Why not food safety? Glad I did vs walking the trade show.  A few years back Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act, and it is now going into effect in 2017. This is the first I have heard of it. But we haven’t been growing produce for sale yet, but it is something to pay attention to.  Prior to this law food recalls related to foodborne illnesses were a reaction event. This new law puts more emphasis on prevention. There is a whole series of trainings supervisors or persons in charge must take to comply, in addition to giving the correct level of training to employees. not everyone needs the whole list. Something else I learned that 90ish (I didn’t write down the number) percent of foodborne illness is transmitted fecal to oral…meaning eating poop. Not necessarily human,  and pickers aren’t pooping on your food. But it all went back to sanitation, cleaning, washing hands, washing produce, utensils etc. There are a bunch of new laws that came out including water testing. The level is is based on income from produce on your farm on what you need to follow. Since we are small at the moment I didn’t pay attention to the breakdown, but under $25,000 in averaged rolling 3 year sales and you are exempt from the legal obligation. Meaning in any given three concurrent years your annual sales needs to be less than $25,000 of produce only and you are exempt. What stuck out to me is that you may be exempt from the law, but you are NOT exempt from liability in a lawsuit. If you do not implement some sort of food safety initiatives then you could be liable for illnesses or death.

Hemp (Tuesday PM)

I got to attend the hemp session in the afternoon. It was educational and rather than write a bunch on it they have done much for me on their website. Purdue Hemp gave the talk and Indiana Hemp Association was there as well. For 60 years hemp has not been grown in Indiana. Hemp is different than marijuana in that Hemp is <0.3 % THC (The psychoactive drug in marijuana), and marijuana is >0.3%. They are doing some genetic investigation if they can be considered two different plants. Hemp is not as easy to grow as I once thought. I was always told throw the seeds anywhere and it will grow. This is not the case as their data showed. Soil depth, temperature, daylight hours all important. The focus for Purdue is growing two types of hemp. One plant that grows short (3-4 ft tall) but produces abundant and easily harvested seeds, and a taller (7-9 ft tall) plant that puts its energy into fiber. They did say, speaking of fiber, there is NOT a demand for hemp rope made from the fiber. I was surprised to learn there is no studies going on for hemp’s role in animal feed. I was told this is due that hemp is not on an approved animal feed list from the federal government. We also got to learn about CBD oil which has been talked about for lots of neurological issues from parkinson’s to seizures to pain and depression given by a representative of RealHemp.  All cannabis (Hemp and marijuana) and now CBD oil has been classified as Schedule 1 Narcotic by the DEA, which means it has NO medicinal value. Yet here is a patent from the US that claims it HAS medicinal value US6630507BL. I will let you form your own opinions.

Organics (Wednesday AM)

Wow, this was one of the most eye opening. Unfortunately I didn’t write down where the small farms were from or I would have included links. The first part of the session was about using biochar in organic gardens as a soil amendment. None of the data, to me, seemed to prove that it did anything. But they are having ongoing studies. What I found more interesting is the intensity and variety of pests that affect growers. This has made us revisit our biosecurity program here at the farm. From listening to the speakers discuss, I have come to the conclusion (my own opinion) there are three types of growing produce. Each is as unique as it is different.

Home grower- Back yard plot, produce food for your family, and maybe sell the overage at a road stand, or to friends and family.

Market grower – 1-5 acres (may be more may be less) intensively growing produce for sale at regular farmers markets, CSA, Small restaurants, and/or small groceries. Variety of crops, rotated, and varied harvest times.

Commercial grower – 1 maybe 2 crops growing at a time, uses commercial machinery,  5+ acres, hired labor possibly, sells to wholesaler, grocery chains, restaurant chains, national brands

Being that the topic was organic pest management how  each of these growers deals with a particular pest problem is different. And pests impact them differently. Additionally what is available to them to treat problems is different. I learned thes market growers work hard, harder than i thought. To be fair there wasn’t any commercial growers in the panel, but there were a few in the audience who gave feedback and they work hard, but seems the market growers have to hustle more and wear a wide variety of hats in their operation. Another lesson I took away that moving from one level to the next is just not scaling up. You just don’t grow a bigger garden. It is a different ball of wax.  Think bowling, hockey, and formula 1 racing are all sports. Bowling is an individual sport and really only depend on yourself. Hockey has lots of things going on all the time, and constantly changing, and you must be adaptive. Racing is expensive to get into, is not like nascar, or drag racing. You get sponsorship as well to share in costs.  Sorry, best analogy I could come up with.

Trade Show (Wednesday PM)

I met the guys from 3 Caps who are partners for mushroom growers. You can learn more about them from their website. They ship you pre inoculated bricks for mushroom growing. You soak the brick, place it in the correct conditions, and in 7 days you have a mushroom harvest. Eat them all? Let the brick dry, soak again, and boom, more mushrooms! Then, when you eat all those (or sell them, this is a commercial type operation) you have mushroom compost ready for your garden as a freebie. These guys are local here in Spencer Indiana. They can assist you in developing the correct room for growing conditions at your site.

Ecocert – One of the speakers at the Organic session. Originally we were not going to go the route of organic certified on our farm. We felt it was an undue expense to prove we were doing things right, we have tours, and planned to know our customers. After talking to a certification manager, and inspector we have reconsidered this. When you can have face to face connections with your customers you are the face of your company. You are the one conveying your passion for organic, clean, quality. Once you move to a point due to growth you can no longer have that face to face connection, it is the certification and certifiers stamp of approval that says you did everythign you could to ensure your product is of the utmost quality. With my background in quality and validation, this resonated with me. The end customer wants to know that you have met the standards, you are doing all you can. Without it you are a barn with closed doors and nobody knows what is going on behind those closed doors. So certification makes sense when we reach that level of success. Would if turn away potential customers who don’t know us yet? Maybe, but we are not there yet. This doesn’t mean we can’t look up the standards and follow them so that is is a way of life once we are ready to get certified. Curious what some of the standards are? Jeff Evard gave me this link for Livestock.

Random trivia

Did you know what the difference between apple wine and hard apple cider is? Both have alcohol, both made from apples.  A) Apple wine has added sugar, hard apple cider has no added sugar.

NRCS – is a division of the USDA. NRCS stands for Natural Resource Conservation Service. I have spoken about NRCS before and have tried working with them on 2 different times locally and that left me turned off to the organization. I do know other NRCS agents in Indiana and seems my experience is isolated here. I spoke with them again, and happen to sit next to a mentor NRCS agent in one of the sessions to encouraged me to try again and not give up. NRCS offers technical assistance and financial assistance to property owners to make improvement, preserve, and conserve the natural resources on their property. This can be from erosion control, to fencing, to high tunnel purchase, to solar panels installed. There is a process and since I haven’t gone through it yet, I will wait and write that up some other time. But notice I didn’t say “farms”. There is no minimum property size for applying for help.

High Tunnels (Thursday AM)

High tunnels are essentially greenhouses that use plastic. There are a variety of sizes and shapes. You can build them yourself, buy them, or have them built for you. NRCS does reimburse up to 95% of costs associated with high tunnels if you meet the requirements. Which is why we may be looking into them. One requirement that stands out, you must grow in the ground in your high tunnel for the first 1-3 years depending on your contract with NRCS. Growing in a high tunnel does allow you to grow for longer season and if you supplement with heat year round. You can use it as a heated greenhouse to grow tomatoes in winter, or a cool house (minimal heat) and grow greens in the winter. And for winters here, gothic roofs vs dome roofs seem to do better here in Indiana. You do not have to grow anything over winter. You can use them for annuals, perennials, canes, and even trees. High tunnels do have some drawbacks such as pollination, moisture, moisture related disease, heat etc. From the session, it appears that anyone who has started using high tunnels have increased production in almost every instance. Pollination can be solved by purchasing bumblebees and releasing into the tunnels which is what many of the speakers did. Something I found interesting is that NRCS supports using the high tunnel with the intent of soil improvements. Yet in every instance speakers encountered soil health actually decreased inside the high tunnel. This would be expected if you harvest constantly and do not replenish nutrients equal to or above what you are removing.

Social Media Marketing (Thursday PM)

The last session of the day was using social media for marketing. While it was mainly geared to winerys, I was informative. Many of the audience was older and do not use social media for their business. The biggest social media platform was Facebook, then Twitter, then others. They put Pinterest in marketing which I had not thought of as a marketing tool, up until then. Pinterest market is 85 or more percent women. The presenter was advocating 20 or more hours a week on social media. This just isn’t feasible for many farm owners. But I also think that is complete overkill and her job was marketing and social media so unless you have money to pay someone, or a marketing firm it may be overkill. Some important notes were if you do use social media be responsive to customers, delayed response will lose customers. Also, if you are a business have a business account on Facebook, and separate personal from business use. They touched very little on the use of a website as social media.

Summary 

All in all, it was eye opening. I ended up having to pay $120 for the 3 day conference, $100 if I had done early registration like my wife told me to do. I feel it was worth the money I spent. I learned a lot, and learned how much I don’t know. I would have liked to attend other sessions but had to make a choice and the above sessions won. Would I recommend it to others., definitely. But more if you are already selling produce, or are on the edge of selling. If you are just a home producer and not really moving to regular sales, it is informing,  go if you have the money, but there are other conference that may be more appropriate for time off or if cost may be an issue.

Animal care-husbandry & Permaculture

Recently it came to my attention that some people believe our animal care and farm practices are dirty and unkept. 1st before making assumptions you might want to get facts straight, learn what you are talking about before opening your mouth, and lastly ask us, we would be glad to tell you all about it.

We will educate the uneducated and ignorant. Grass should not be cut 1/4 inch above the dirt. It is very unhealthy, longer grass survives drought better, and longer grass will hold more water in both roots and green tissue. The ability to hold water has been important lately.

What one person views as weeds is actually medicinal plants we grow for FREE , do not require a prescription, doesn’t have nasty side effects. It is also food for our animals. This is why we do not spray any chemicals on our property.

We let grasses grow longer because it has more nutrients for animals, reducing our dependence on buying processed feed. Ask any rancher using grass fed techniques.

We clean our combined rabbitry and coop every 3 months. We use deep litter bedding inside to absorb and hold wastes. After 3 months it moves out to the compost pile where it is turned into soil for future gardens. Properly managed neither have an odor. I have the training and experience on both. Due to the excess rain and poor stormwater drainage in our area, some of this bedding became wet. we immediately changed and dried it out once we were able.

We house our rabbits and poultry together to harness heat in the winter, and the chickens reduce any worms or parasites, as well as till the litter naturally and help it all break down faster.

We even installed fans this summer to keep both rabbits and poultry cool, and help keep air moving in the coop.

All of our animals have names. When the chicken went past their prime for laying, they remained and are still productive, just not as many eggs a week. We did not butcher them. They still eat bugs, they still turn the compost, they still have a name, and they still process food waste from our kitchen. When old age finally takes them, we will look at replacing them.

For more on chickens read my post on In defense of the back yard flock

We used to give tours, and will do it again soon. We are still working on many things, since moving in March, and because of Avian flu we do not want additional traffic if we can help it. We had to start a great many plants and systems all over, so we would like to showcase more than just concepts, but actual practice.

To make sure our rabbits had access to water all winter long we made a rabbit watering system that does not freeze. Our rabbits (4) have  access to 275 gallons of water 24/7. This is our system from Indy but we rebuilt here in Wingate

We have had Animal control on our property (for a neighbors issue, not ours) and were commended on how well we took care of our animals. We have had a vegans, and staff of animal control and also tell us how well we take care of our animals.

What one person sees as “unsightly” another sees it as a 40% reduction in a grocery bill of all natural all organic food. Some people see it as beautiful and natural. Being ignorant and failing to educate yourself is ignorant in itself. Singling one person or a group of people out because you dislike something is called discrimination. Using position of power to go after that group is called harassment. Both of which can land someone in court. Since some people are ignorant of what I mentioned above I just thought they may also need some education on the latter as well.

You have to fight for your right…

Back in the 80’s and 90’s Beastie Boys were the bad boys on the radio fighting for their right to party. More and more today it seems as though you have to fight for your rights for anything.  From your constitutional rights, to your civil rights, to your rights within the laws, your rights are being trampled on, ignored, and violated. Why is it this way? Much has to do with people’s own ignorance. They simply do not know their rights and let people tell them what their rights are or how they are to be treated. If you are tired of this like I was, get informed, get educated, and begin flexing your rights. I live in Indiana, in the USA. So my particular rights may be different than someone in Texas, California, or Australia. But the baseline message remains the same. Know your rights and know the laws. I want to state I am NOT A LAWYER, and I am not giving legal advice, other than educate yourself.

OK, OK, you say know the laws but there are literally tens of thousands of laws all at different levels; International laws (Across country boarders), Federal laws (across state lines), State Laws (within your state), County Laws (County within state), Town/City laws or ordinances, and sometimes HOA (Home Owners Association) for your individual neighborhood.  Start with some basic ones and branch out to what matters to you. I will give some examples along the way that I have come across in the last 6 years since I work up and begin to take back my life.

Constitution

The US Constitution

 

While I could probably give you examples of how our federal government has violated every single one of these, it doesn’t make it right. It takes a lawsuit to correct the violations, and that can even go all the way to the Supreme Court.  Every American should read it, and at least have a paper copy somewhere available to them. Some examples are in the news lately, with the Executive Orders being signed to bypass Congress, to the Debts we incur as a country in the Federal Deficit, to declaring war on other countries, even if you do not call it a “war”. Calling something an “armed conflict” on foreign soil is nothing more than a lie so they can violate the law.

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution

Rights

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights are the first 10 amendments to the constitution. These are not laws for the people, but are supposed to be laws for the government to protect your rights as a people, as a citizen. EVERY one of these rights has been violated by our government, and sometimes regularly. From The Patriot Act, to No Knock Raids, to “Protest Areas” marked by police. This again must be brought up through the court system. If you are working poor, or just poor, unless some lawyer agrees to pursue your case on your behalf pro-bone (without charge) to make a name, or to do the right thing, changes are the government from federal to local will keep stepping on your rights. It will not be until We The People stand up and say enough before a change will happen. Give you some examples in my own life.

A neighbor has an issue with her next door neighbor. He comes out yelling profanities at her for a past issue. He is on his property, she is on hers. She finally has enough and yells back, she doesn’t appreciate it. Cops show up and say they will take her to jail if they get called back out. She came to me and I explained, I am not a lawyer, but Your Freedom of Speech is protected, as is your neighbors. The cops can’t arrest you for this. She then explained the cop asked permission to enter her house. She refused, but again, Right to Freedom from Searches without cause.

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/billofrights

Protestors against the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) out in Nevada, along with the BLM issue with the Bundy’s Ranch in general, is another issue recently. Police told protesters that they could only protest in a certain area, and when they did not comply they were arrested. This is against 1st Amendment, Freedom of Speech. BLM overstepped their authority vs. State rights in the 10th Amendment.

You will also see the 10th Amendment coming up more as States overrule Federal programs and laws. Powers not granted to the federal government shall remain with the state. From FDA “Right to Try” laws, to Marijuana, to gun rights, to NSA spying, to Common Core school requirements, lots of states are stepping away from Federal laws, and mandates. Learn more about the 10th amendment imitative below

http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/

If there is a particular issue you have on your mind, or you have come across research it. Is it Federal. State, County Local etc. I can’t go into all the laws I have researched lately but I can go into some that opened my eyes or confirmed something I held to be true.

Indiana Constitution

Indiana Laws or IC Codes

In Indiana, once you have your “Permit to Carry” you may open or conceal carry a firearms with certain limitations on location such as schools, federal buildings and property, casino, on planes and a few others. Texas is making a big deal that they now can open carry. Well, we have been doing that for a long time. Now I know the “school” was loosely defined and that citizens attending colleges wanted the right to protect themselves. Since this didn’t impact me at the time I didn’t dig deeper. But here it is again, if you do not like how the law is, then know your rights and do something about it.

In Indiana, it is perfectly legal to carry a Viking axe in public, along with long blades, switch blades, folding blades. The only thing I believe is illegal is throwing stars, and knives that have projectile blades that separate from the handle.

In Indiana, the homeschooling rule is that the minimum requirement is 180 days of education, and kids must be enrolled in formal education by age 7. That is it, no testing, no curriculum approval, no home visits, no teacher approval. You can even make their own diploma. I was “told” I could not do this, I needed a letter to the principal, I needed to file with the state, I needed to make the take the ISEP (Standardized testing). All a bunch of lies. I dug deeper and educated myself on what was the law.

In Indiana, if your kids attend public school, they are not required to participate in standardized testing (ISTEP). You as a parent, or guardian can opt out. I was told they are REQUIRED to take this test, and pass in order to graduation. This is utter fiction, and false. If you get a bunch of negative attention to the student (extra work, ostracized, or punished) you can file a lawsuit against the school, as this IS against the students rights.

In Indiana, an agent of the State (Someone employed by a government agency) may not enter your property without a warrant. This includes CPS, police, health inspectors etc. There are cases such as probable cause, and Building inspectors for “Emergency Safety”. Again I am not a lawyer, but this has held for my own experiences, more than I would like to have had.

I may not sell plants across state lines here in Indiana without regulation, permitting, and inspection. You cannot ship plants in soil through the mail system without regulations. This is why most places come “bare root” when ordered from a catalog.

In Indiana, I can order ammunition online and have it delivered to my door.

In Indiana, a private to private gun sale is legal with a few restrictions/limitations but no registration or documentation required.

Recently I had an experience with my county health department. From past posts, some may know I am having issues with the legality of having chickens on my property. So, my wife and I wanted to open a roadside market stand on our property, to sell various things we grow, or produce. She wanted all i’s dotted and t’s crossed to not get any more issues. I went to the health department to get a better understanding of some of the regulations as I was unclear from a state vs. county level. I had already done extensive research, and it was more a matter of forms at this point. Going to an agency and asking what are the laws was a mistake. I will break them down on what I was told and the inconsistencies and bad misinformation I was given.

“I had to pay a $5 fee and complete a form to open a roadside stand for tracking purposes”. Completely false. No such requirement exists legally, and is not in county, local, or state requirements. I was told it was for the health department to “track if there are food illnesses”. Well if a person bought it from me, I am pretty sure they would know where it came from.

“I was not allowed to sell duck eggs, as they are not regulated”. This is only partially false. While duck eggs are not regulated by the Egg Board of the state, upon asking the Egg Board directly, and reading the laws, I am perfectly legal to sell duck eggs on my property from my flock.

“I had to submit my eggs to the State Egg Board for testing, and approval, along with fee of $25 and registration of chicken eggs” This is false, confirmed by Egg Board, and state law. If you sell on farm, or deliver from your farm, eggs that are produces on your farm you are exempted the certain “egg producers” laws of the state.

“Because I was opening a stand, that would function as a market, I had to comply with all the farmers market requirements”. Completely false. I can open a farm stand on my property and is NOT required by law to follow the same requirements as selling on a farmers market.

“If we sell jams or other canned good, I must submit them to the state for testing”. This is false, but there are some requirements as far a labeling and food practices.

“If we sell baked goods they have to be inspected, registered, and only certain items can be sold”.  Somewhat false. Again, there are some restrictions on the types of baked good that can be sold, but no inspections and testing necessary.

Senate Bill 179 covers some of this.
https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2014/bills/senate/179/

My local town council didn’t even know where the town boundaries were, since they were using a map from the 1970’s. Because no one had ever challenged the boundaries, or looked up the current relevant information.  Sometimes, it isn’t an issue until it becomes an issue, and people become complacent with the way things are.

Here is another example. My local town ordinance said I couldn’t have chickens. They had no website (I have now created one, that I own), and I asked for a copy of said ordinances in their entirety. Sometimes, one rule conflicts with another, and sometimes the laws are so old when they went into effect, that new laws trump them. I was told it would cost me $75. $75 for a copy of the laws I am required to follow? There are 75 pages and I was told that it is in their ordinances it is $1/page. So in order to get see the laws I am supposedly violating I would have to pay a $75 fee? I think not!! So I did my research and came across the Freedom of Information Act, and the State office of Information Access.  After a formal letter, a written request, and 2 complaints, the town attorney being involved, I am SUPPOSED to get my copy of the ordinances for $0.10/page sometime after June 15th. The original request was in MARCH.

http://www.in.gov/pac/

The point in all this is educating yourself. If something doesn’t sound right to you when it is spoken, do a little research. It helps to do the research ahead of time not that it is always applicable. But if you have an inkling that this is a controversial issue, gun carry, school requirements, farmers markets or whatever, be better educated. Sometimes it is that the “official” is misinformed themselves, sometimes, if is “just the way it has always been”, but that still doesn’t make it right. When referring to a particular law, name it IC 14-3-whatever, SB 179, 4th Amendment to the constitution. It allows to whomever you are speaking, that you have done a little research, and you are more informed than the common man. If you allow the “State” to trample on your rights then they believe you are OK with it, and will continue to do so.

In the defense of the back yard flock…

In our little RURAL town of Wingate, Indiana, population 267, surrounded by farms and farm land on all sides for 10 miles in any direction, of all things chickens are not allowed. We can have goats, pigs, horses, cows, llamas, alpaca, sheep, alligators, opossums, camels, and any number of other animals without limit, but not “poultry, weasels, chinchillas, ermine, mink, raccoons, muskrats or foxes”. Seems a bit odd grouping, but upon getting notice we were not allowed to have them, we went to the next town council to investigate why, and offered to help change the ordinances, as we had been part of the Marion Co ordinance revisions. The ordinances have been in place as long as anyone can remember. It took over 60 days, involvement of outside legal bodies just to get a copy of the section, of the ordinances, and still do not have a full copy with approvals and effective dates of the ordinances (originally requested in March).

So, due to our “discussions” with our local town council and the town ordinance stating we cannot have chickens, we have found it necessary to address the issues of keeping back yard chickens. Some of the points have been brought up, and we have already addressed them. As of now, the only argument that hasn’t been addressed is “We just don’t like to look at them”, to which we aren’t quite sure how to address. We are NOT a CAFO (confined animal feed operation) and have around 16 birds on 0.3 acres which is fenced in to keep birds in and larger predators out.  The birds have a coop which they stay in at night and are closed up until released in the morning. The birds free range most of the day. The birds are here to  help our organic orchard and vegetable garden stay pest free, reduce our kitchen waste, produce eggs, and are family pets.  If you are facing similar push back from friends, neighbors, relative, or government bodies, hopefully some of this information may help.

Noise

Typically the first complaint about chickens is the noise, and usually the rooster. You do not need to have a rooster to have a back yard flock. We do not have a rooster and haven’t had one for many years. I actually like the sound of a rooster, as it seems to belong on a farm, and a farm without a rooster is somewhat missing. Chickens (hens) will lay eggs without a rooster, but do gain a level of protection if a rooster is present. Roosters crow between 70 and 90 decibel. This is the range of a dog barking, baby crying, a diesel truck, driving in a car at 65mph, alarm clock, or the level what most people listen to music. The level is also dependant on humidity, proximity, and materials between the rooster and the listener. Example a privacy fence would significantly reduce the sound level compared to open area across pavement. As a comparison, human conversation is 60-70 decibel.

Laying hens do “talk” or cluck, and typically are loudest just after they lay an egg. The typical hen is only 65 decibel which is right in the middle of human conversation.  Most back yard flock owners have the nesting boxes, where the hens lay eggs, inside the coop. This is an additional level of sound barrier. Again, the sound will decrease with barriers, humidity, type of terrain (grass vs. concrete) and distance. The laying announcement lasts less than one minute and is only once per day, per chicken.

In our area, dogs  trucks, diesel semi trucks, farm machinery, J brakes on trucks, sirens from emergency vehicles, lawn mowers, grain elevators and dryers, alarms and notifications from grain elevators, motorcycles, school band instruments, and tractors are ALL noisier than our hens just to name a few for comparison.

decibel-frequency-chart
Click to enlarge
common_noise_levels_b29_sm
Click to enlarge

 

Disease

When opponents of back yard flock state the reasons, often it is disease. The two most often cited are bird flu or avian flu, and salmonella. Bird flu has recently been brought back up in the news as a series of cases that have been found. Typically around 90% of all avian flu cases have been documented in CAFO operations and not the back yard flocks. The CAFO operations typically have lower immunities to the disease, are stressed, have poor diets, and are extremely densely stocked. Back yard flocks, especially free range operations have the benefit of wide and varied diets. The birds get fresh air, are allowed to develop natural immunities, are less densely stocked and have the benefit of less stress. Stress in both humans and animals have been linked to an increase in illnesses and diseases. The cases that have come up in back yard flocks, is a result of someone recently traveled from a CAFO or farm and bringing the illness with them on shoes or clothing.

Salmonella is more a food handling issue vs. a bird issue. Humans cannot contract salmonella from chickens by contact, it is a food borne illness.  The birds may have and carry salmonella but it is only by improper food handling or hand washing that humans contract the illness. The birds are not affected by it. So if someone is getting salmonella from being around chickens, eating the eggs, it is typically the humans fault. More and more cases of drug resistant strains are being found in CAFO operations due to the overuse of antibiotics when they are not necessary. In the 6 years we have been keeping hens, no-one in our family, or anyone receiving eggs from us, has gotten ill from salmonella. This is including children who as early as two years old are handling birds, eggs, and are in the area where the chickens live regularly.

To put things in perspective here are just a few of the diseases that are spread by human to human contact; influenza, common cold, HIV, AIDS, Meningitis, chickenpox (NOT CAUSED BY CHICKENS), mumps, measles, strep, tuberculosis, rubella, whooping cough, SARS, Cholera, Hepatitis, Polio, Rotavirus, Salmonella, Parasites, Chlamydia, Genital  warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, trichomoniasis, cytomegalovirus, mononucleosis, athletes foot, impetigo, warts, conjunctivitis, and MRSA. So to call a chicken a dirty animal spreading diseases well, it is the humans who are spreading diseases.

Pests

Recently we were told that chickens carry lice. This is not the case. Chickens can contract mites which are parasitic bugs that can live on the birds. Birds will typically rid the mites by giving themselves dust baths. We go an additional step and give them wood ash containers for their baths, and add diatomaceous earth. The wood ash is caustic and in the even the birds pick up mites, the caustic nature of the ash helps eliminate and keep the mites from returning. We add additional diatomaceous earth as an added plus. Typically birds that have an infestation of mites will lose feathers and can eventually cause death in the birds. The mites themselves do not cause the death but stress the birds to the point they become more susceptible to other diseases such as pneumonia. Humans typically carry TWO different types of mites typically living on eyelashes. Domesticated dogs also carry mites. Humans are the species that typically have lice, both body and head lice are common.

Chickens bring flies. Well chickens to not, bring the flies, the flies are a natural part of the waste cycle breaking down manure. Any animal that defecates in open area without burying it will attract flies. Dogs, horses, cats, rodents, even humans that have open fecal piles will attract flies. Good housekeeping or coop keeping will reduce the amount of flies present. Having deep litter in the coops, having the birds free range, and composting the deep litter regularly will not only keep the smell down but reduce the fly issues. There are also fly traps that can lower or eliminate any fly issues.

Chickens will attract predators, pests, and rodents. This again goes to good animal husbandry. We have a family dog who doesn’t bother the chickens and deters many predators from the property. Locking the chickens up at night in a predator proof coop also helps. In urban areas there are not as many predators as there are in the country just because of the amount of activity and people around. Most predators hunt at dusk or at night, and having a secure coop eliminates many of the issues.  As far as rodents chickens will kill and eat mice, snakes, and generally anything they can catch and take down. In addition they will eat ticks, fleas, grubs, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, sting bugs, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and ants. Proper animal husbandry will further reduce any pest issues such as keeping feed secured in sealed containers, not having excess feed on the ground, and regular cleaning and maintenance of the coop.

Smell, Dirty

This goes back to animal husbandry. If you are keeping a clean coop then there should be no smell from birds. A 40 lb dog generates more manure (about ¾ pound) than ten chickens (two-thirds pounds of manure). Both are smelly, but the key is to keep the chicken manure from accumulating by composting. Composted chicken manure is valuable as a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Dog manure cannot be composted, and must be collected and sent to the landfill. So, 10 chickens produce manure that can be composted, returned to the soil for better plant health, while one 40 lb dog, the manure collected, and sent to a landfill. Which is the better situation?

Chickens are excellent garbage disposals. They will eat 95% of wastes generated from the family kitchen. Typically you are not to put meat, dairy, or fats into compost piles because they are slow to break down, smell as they decompose, and attract scavengers from bugs to animals. Chickens on the other hand will devour these materials like candy and in return give you eggs, meat, and fertilizer. We can reduce almost a whole bag of trash each month by allowing the chickens to have kitchen scraps and waste. This is a benefit to the landfill, and our trash doesn’t typically smell. To date, we have found 2 things our chickens won’t eat, olives and pickles, and this is over a 6 year period and a family of 6.

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Property values will decrease

Three is no assessor or realtor evidence to support this statement. In fact 7 out of 10 most desirable cities to live in allow back yard chickens. More and more communities are allowing chickens and as such is an attractant to new home buyers vs. a deterrent. Restrictive communities will lower property values more so than accepting ones. More and more people either want more control over the food they eat, are unhappy with the food in stores, want to reduce the grocery bill, or just want to be more self sufficient. The trend is on the rise and the communities who limit the freedoms of the people are turning more and more potential buyers away.

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Hopefully this answered some questions and alleviated some issues. Perhaps it will help you on your crusade to get back yard chickens into your area. The data in this article has been gathered from various sources from online, written publications, and personal experience.

Hamilton County Local Resources Added

Today I add the Hamilton County local resources list from Indylocalfood.org. This list and the calendar couldn’t be possible without the local food guide.

14 – Producers/Shops – Balanced Harvest Farm, Blackhawk Winery, Feel Good Farm, Full Hands Farm, Grabow Orchard & Bakery, Harvestland Farm of Aspire Indiana, Local Forks Foods LLC, Newbys Farm, NuJac Garden, The Sustainable Life, Victory Acres, Wild’s Apple Farm, Wilson Farm

3 – Restaurants – Grabow Bakery, Union Brewing Company, Wilson Farms Deli & Bakery

4 – Shops – Local Folks Foods , Urban Ladle, Blackhawk Winery, Union Brewing Company

5 – Markets – Fisher Farmer’s Market,  Noblesville Farmers Market, Saxony Market, Sheridan Farmers Market, Westfield Farmers Market

1- CSA Victory Farms CSA

Here is a list and links to each site or Facebook Page

The Calendar has been updated for all the Markets

 

If there are more places I haven’t listed please let me know. I am in the process of going through the Local Good Guide and posting a section at a time. Use the Contact Us page if you are a farm, business, CSA, or restaurant and want to be added.

 

 

Herb Blurb – Wormwood

Artemisia absinthium (Wormwood, Absinthe)

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Native to temperate regions of Eurasia and Northern Africa, it is grown as an ornamental plant and is used as an ingredient in the spirit absinthe as well as some other alcoholic drinks.Wormwood is traditionally used medicinally in Europe, and is believed to stimulate the appetite and relieve indigestion. Wormwood is mentioned several times in the Bible in the different versions as well as the Jewish Bible, and usually refers to bitterness, or bitter.

Suggested uses

Wormwood has been used for various digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood has also been used to treat fever, liver disease, and worm infections; to increase sexual desire; as a tonic; and to stimulate sweating.Some people apply wormwood directly to theskin for healing wounds andinsect bites. Wormwood oil is used as a counterirritant to reduce pain. In manufacturing, wormwood oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes and it is also used as an insecticide. Wormwood extract is used in many alcoholic beverages such as vermouth and absinth which is illegal in many countries including the US due to the chemical compound thujone which is poisonous in large quantities. It is also said that the thujone is what gives absinth the hallucinogenic properties. Wormwood is said to counteract the effects of poisoning by hemlock, toadstools and the biting of the seadragon. Wormwood is the bitterest herb known, but it is very wholesome and used to be in much request by brewers for use instead of hops.

Parts to use

Everything that grows above the ground.

How to use

Raw – Placed in homes and among stuffs and furs to keep away moths and insects

Tea – Wormwood Tea, made from 1 OZ. of the herb, infused for 10 to 12 minutes in 1 pint of boiling water, and taken in wineglassful doses, will relieve melancholia and help to dispel the yellow hue of jaundice from the skin, as well as being a good stomachic, and with the addition of fixed alkaline salt, produced from the burnt plant, is a powerful diuretic in some dropsical cases.

Infusion – The essential oil of the herb is used as a worm-expeller, the spirituous extract being preferable to that distilled in water. The leaves give out nearly the whole of their smell and taste both to alcohol and water, but the cold water infusions are the least bitter.

Growing

Wormwood likes a shady situation, and is easily propagated by division of roots in the autumn, by cuttings, or by seeds sown in the autumn soon after they are ripe. No further care is needed than to keep free from weeds. Plant about 2 feet apart each way.

Storage

Light is the enemy of medicinal herbs. Dried leaves and flowers should be stored in an air tight bag/jar protected from light. Sunlight is the worst as the UV will break down the compounds that are beneficial. Teas and tonics should be prepared fresh and discard any unused portions. Once dried wormwood should be sealed into the storage container as it will reabsorb moisture when left in the open.

wormwood

Herb Blurb – Yarrow

Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow)

Yarrow Diagram
Click for larger view

 

Yarrow, also called Soldiers Wound Wort has been in use since ancient Greece. Its name derives from Achilles who was rumored to use it on his soldiers to stop bleeding on the battlefield.  Yarrow was also used on the battlefield during the Civil War especially when supplies were sparse. Yarrow comes in a variety of colors including, white, yellow, red, pink and orange. Yarrow was used by Native Americans for a variety of issues all across the US.

Suggested uses

A tea made with yarrow is good to tread common colds and is said to help expel wastes through the pores. Mainly given as a blood purifier. Macerated and applied to wounds it can stop bleeding, and act as an antibacterial agent. Yarrow has been used for fever, common cold, hay fever, absence of menstruation, dysentery, diarrhea, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort, and to induce sweating.

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yarrow02.html

Parts to use

Stems, leaves and flowers, collected in the wild state, in August, when in flower.

yarrow
Click for larger view

How to use

Raw – Some people have found chewing the leaves will help alleviate a toothache. The flowers and young leaves can be added to salads.

Tea – Yarrow as a tea can help purify the blood and expel wastes through the pores.

Salve -Ointment – Highlanders of Scotland use a yarrow ointment on sheep for wound care

Macerated – taken in the field, macerate (chew, crush, grind) the leaves and apply directly on wounds to stop bleeding and reduce infection.

Bath – To stop bleeding of hemorrhoids, wounds, to alleviate cramps a bath using the macerated leaves or tincture from leaves.

Flavor additive – prior to using hops, yarrow was used to flavor beer. It was said that yarrow made the beer more potent.

Tincture – Alcohol (vodka) a tincture can be made to extract essential oils rather than drying the herb for later use.

Growing

Yarrow is a perennial here in the Midwest. It will self seed if allowed to. It prefers full sun and well drained soil but does well in many unfavorable conditions. It is a drought tolerant plant. Yarrow is a good companion plant as it attracts predatory wasps who prey on other pest insects as well as it attracts ladybugs and hoverflies.

Storage

Light is the enemy of medicinal herbs. Dried leaves, stems, and flowers should be stored in paper bag out of light. Tinctures should be stored in a dark glass container away from light. Sunlight is the worst as the UV will break down the compounds that are beneficial

Want to learn more come check out our herb class on August 23

Learn about more herbs

 

 

Projects and Opportunities

Throughout my travels and networking I learn of opportunities and various projects that some may find interesting or a right fit for their skills or situation. This will be an ever-changing page as new opportunities are found and existing ones are filled.

The page is here that list current and future opportunities

If you are interested use the Contact Us page.

Medicinal Herb class this Saturday July 12th

Don’t forget the medicinal herb class this Saturday July 12th. We will be having our medicinal herb class and talk about the various plants and herbs you can grow here in Indiana as well as some preparations, storage techniques, and uses. Come join us. PLEASE RSVP at the link below so we know how many packets to print. As part of the tour you will receive a 60 page packet of the information covered.

 

Medicinal herbs you can grow here in the Midwest

Saturday, Jul 12, 2014, 10:00 AM

Wolf-Beach Farms
8418 Chickasaw Ct

3 Gardener/Homesteader Attending

During the last tour people asked for a medicinal herb class and now we are ready. 57 herbs will be discussed that we have growing currently or are in the process of growing, and can be cultivated here in Indiana. The majority of herbs will be discussed are also available to see on the property, some we have grown in the past and we will discuss (O…

Check out this Meetup →

Medicinal Herb Class Preview

I wanted people to get a feel for what to expect in the Medicinal Herb Class Preview, with handouts from the class. This is just one page, and is only the text. There are 56 other plants and bonus materials. We will be discussing in more details during the tour. What we have experienced, and touring through all what is growing while on site.  We will also have live plants for sale, fresh you pick cuttings, dried plants,  and more. Touch,  and smell some different preparations, ask questions, get answers. Disclaimer, we are not medical practitioners, and we are only conveying information we have learned, and have been using as a family.  Seek your own information before using any medicinal herbs.

Calendula– We will also have a chart in the handout of actual pictures of plants from out place.

RSVP – please use this link to RSVP so we know how many packets to put together. You can also prepay online.