Friday, January 20, 2017

Rural Delivery: In The Quiet

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Out here in the country things are different. There is still room for silence. Step away from the TV and the radio and the cell phone, and you often find something rarely found in the city: stillness. Rural places have their share of noise, to be sure. A combine in a field or a hungry herd in the feedlot produces plenty of decibels. Neighbors can be heard revving engines or pounding nails or taking target practice from miles away. And the passing freight trains wail at every crossing up and down the valley.

But these are singular sounds, like simple sentences on a page with lots of white space around them, and they aren't heard all the time, night and day.

Continued at... In The Quiet

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Artwork: The Road To The Farm Saint-Simeon In Winter, 1867 by Claude Monet


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rural Delivery: Incidents in a Small Town

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Living in a small town, you share a sense of common destiny with your neighbors. When tragedy strikes, the whole community trembles.

Our town has been shaken twice in recent weeks. The police chief, a popular and respected man with a young family, died in a freak highway accident when a delivery truck swerved into his lane and hit him head-on with its load.

Barely two weeks later a single mother and her four small children were murdered in their home and a local sharecropper, known to be a friend of theirs, was found dead in his pickup from a gunshot wound to his head. Investigators suspect a murder-suicide, but they are still trying to find a motive.

Continued at... Incidents in a Small Town

Rural Delivery
Second Nature
Artwork: The Mill in Winter by Dwight Baird


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Market Watch: November Pork Exports Set New Record

U.S. red meat exports continued to build momentum in November, highlighted by a new monthly volume record for pork exports. Both pork and beef exports exceeded year-ago levels by more than 20 percent in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

November pork exports totaled 225,757 metric tons (mt), up 24 percent year-over-year and breaking the previous record (218,132 mt) set in October 2012. Export value was $586.8 million, up 30 percent from a year ago and the highest since May 2014. For January through November, pork export volume was up 7 percent from a year ago to 2.09 million mt, while export value increased 5 percent to $5.38 billion.

Even with U.S. pork production reaching record levels, exports are accounting for a larger share. November export volume equated to 28 percent of total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – substantial increases over the November 2015 ratios of 24 percent and 21 percent. For January through November, exports accounted for 25.5 percent of total production and 21.4 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.9 percent, respectively, in 2015. November export value averaged $55.09 per head slaughtered, up 19 percent year-over-year. The January-November average was $49.63 per head, up 2 percent.

November was also a very strong month for beef exports, which totaled 155,335 mt – up 20 percent year-over-year and the largest since July 2013. Export value increased 21 percent to $619.1 million, the highest since December 2014. This pushed January-November export volume to 1.07 million mt (up 10 percent year-over-year) valued at $5.72 billion (down 1 percent).

November exports accounted for nearly 15 percent of total beef production and 11.7 percent for muscle cuts only – the highest levels since 2014. January-November exports accounted for 13.5 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively – up from 13 percent and 10 percent during the same period in 2015. Beef export value per head of fed slaughter reached a 2016 high of $294.39 in November, up 5 percent from a year ago. For January through November, per-head export value averaged $258.48, down 7 percent.

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation

Artwork: Smoked Pork Butts from Brooklyn, New York
Beef
Pork
Meat

Monday, January 9, 2017

Home Grown: Growing Heirlooms.

Most gardeners have heard of heirloom seeds and probably have a fairly good idea what they are. Gardeners often refer to heirloom seeds as "Grandmother's seed" or something similar.

As the name implies, heirloom seeds are carried down from generation to generation, similar to handing down a desired antique from generation to generation. What is so special about this? Isn't that what a seed company can do? In short, yes. But the full answer to this question is a little more complicated.

Continued in... Growing Heirlooms

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Heirloom Tomatoes


Monday, December 26, 2016

Home Grown: Recycling Christmas Trees

After selecting, decorating and enjoying a fresh-cut Christmas tree it is time to consider how to recycle the tree following the holiday season. Many communities have recycling programs — some offering curbside pickup — and will convert the tree into mulch.

Another possibility, for those on or near an acreage, is to convert the tree into fish habitat. Sunk into private fishing ponds or lakes, Christmas trees make excellent refuge and feeding areas for fish.

Extension wildlife specialists suggest anchoring the tree in a large coffee can with concrete first. The concrete weights the tree down so it stands upright. This natural fish attractor will draw bream and bass and offer a safe haven for young fish. For safety's sake, drop the tree well away from swimming areas.

Continued in... Recycling Christmas Trees

Home Grown
Trees
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Nordic Elf Skier with Tree


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Farm Direct: Managing Timberland as an Investment

Standing hardwood timber is a niche market, with traditional up and down cycles, and no one knows that market better than timber buyers, loggers and professional foresters.

There really is a right way and a wrong way to market your timber. Astute forest landowners will treat their standing timber just like their 401K or their IRA. It's simply another long-term investment tool that can be a vital part of their financial portfolio. Therefore, manage it wisely.

Continued on the Tip Sheet: Managing Timberland as an Investment

Farm Direct
Tools
Farm Supply
Artwork: Hardwood Forest


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Home Grown: Letting Leaves Lie.

Raking up and disposing of leaves is a time-honored ritual of autumn, but are ways of putting them to better use in a yard.

Ecologically, the best way to deal with leaves in the yard is to mulch them where they fall and let them decompose to release their minerals back to the soil.

In well managed turf, leaf drop from shade trees is not always a nuisance that requires raking. A moderate amount of leaves chopped with a mulching mower can be allowed to decompose into the turf.

Leaves are high in nutrients like iron, zinc and copper. They are also rich in organic matter, a valuable commodity for the turf, existing trees and shrubs.

Continued in... Letting Leaves Lie

Home Grown
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Leaf Scoops