Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Tim came late to the farm today because he and Sarah lost 300 chickens last night on their farm in Moise to a wind/rain storm. The process of raising chickens for meat is very labor intensive, as I have noticed from watching Lorie struggle with the committment to feed the chicks several times a day. Today, she and Tim were estimating how much feed they would need between now and slaughter (5 weeks from now). I think they decided to order 30 fifty-pound bags of organic chicken feed. The other stuff contains genetically modified corn which, if fed to the chickens, would prevent them from being "organic." The "harvesting" will take place in St. Ignatius, and I'm wondering if that will be the occasion for one of our PEAS field trips...?
I'm curious to know the best way to raise the fattest chickens in a place such as Gabon where processed feed is not available.

Not a Total Loss:
Mike (The Headless Chicken)
(19451947) was a Wyandotte rooster (cockerel) that lived for 18 months after his head had been cut off. Many people thought it was a hoax, so its owner took it to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and had it examined, which confirmed that it was not a hoax.

We lost our entire crop of potatoes over Memorial Day weekend to three days of intense rain. In another downpour last week, we replanted them.
With both the loss of the chickens this morning, and the potatoes last week, I have been very impressed by the reactions of the seasoned farmers, Tim and Josh. They are visibly disappointed, surely, but no feather is ruffled, nothing more said than, "what a major bummer" or a brief comment on the power of weather vs. the best intentions of the farmer. There is resignation to the risks and consequences of the profession. No doubt for Tim and Sarah, losing their chickens constitutes a major financial blow--I think I heard Josh say in the neighborhood of $3,000--but a farmer has no time to cry over spilled milk. There are weeds knee-high in the onions. The greenhouse needs to be cleared out and tilled up for tomato plants, beds of beans need Remay, the tractor needs a jump-start, and the kids need to get to their soccer game or gymnastics practice on time.
Limited human energy can be better spent than on lamenting the Acts of God. The farmer bears nature's whim with the least grief, and focuses on the living survivors, awaiting his attention. Yesterday threatened hail storms. "What can we do, Josh?" we all asked. "I DON'T KNOW!" Josh replied with his hands in the air. "At least the chard will just grow back."

  • Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes in about 200 BC.
  • French Fries were introduced to the U.S. when Thomas Jefferson served them in the White House during his Presidency of 1801-1809.
  • During the Alaskan Klondike gold rush, (1897-1898) potatoes were practically worth their weight in gold. Potatoes were so valued for their vitamin C content that miners traded gold for potatoes.
  • In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.

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