This week’s C.R.A.P. auction will be temporarily postponed. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time in Tornado Alley, and today my thoughts are with my many friends in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Louisiana.
I suspect many of you feel the same. If you’re the praying kind, send a few in their direction. If you’re feeling flush, the Red Cross is doing great work on the ground.
It’s a fact that small family run and owned farms are on the decline in the western world. Many are being taken over by large corporate farming businesses (many internationally owned). It’s becoming harder and harder for small grain produce farms (comprising of only a few thousand acres) to survive and compete with larger corporate farms.
In Australia, the Miller family own approximately 8,000 acres near Nhill in country Victoria, Australia. Their family and ancestors have been farming on their land for nearly 100 years. “And times were tough”, says Murray Miller. Many neighboring family farms have sold out in the past decade or so. “Many sold to international corporate bodies which have the buying power to corner the grain market If a small farmer has had a bad year, they need to then buy grain from elsewhere to fill their quoted contracts.** In the past, there were enough smaller farms around to support each other in these times. However, these days the majority of the farms are corporate owned and sell their produce overseas first, in many cases to their home country. The remainder they sell back to the Australian market at a much higher price. This included the struggling local farmer.”
**Many Australian farmers sell their grain via contract pre-harvest. If they fail to reach the amount contracted they need to purchase grain from elsewhere to fill their sale. Contracts are worth more if made in advance.
The problem isn’t only felt by the family farms. It is felt by the local economy and community too. Murray continues, “Sadly, most profit from many international owned corporate farms goes out of the country. We sell our grain and produce to Australia first, keeping the profit within Australia. Whatever profit we make, it is spent within Australia including the local town. Not overseas”.
After struggling for some years, the Miller family made the decision to change their farming ways, not ready to sell up and give in. Instead of focusing on canola and wheat, they ventured into sheep farming as well, and it has been a success. “We now own roughly 1,000 sheep. With the money we make from wool and selling livestock, it is enough to keep our heads above water, and lately a good profit”. Running sheep also helps their rested crop paddocks too, as the sheep turn the ground over and help fertilize it. As they are also still farming wheat and vetch too, they have their own food source for the sheep. Murray says, “If we have a bad year in future, we now have a backup. We’re not ready to give up. This is what we do, this is who we are. There was a risk in changing what we farmed, but it has paid off”.
The Krause Family has a similar sized farm in Lawloit, Victoria. Their farm has been in their family for 140 years. They have also changed their way of farming after also struggling to survive. They are now farming beans and vetch alongside their existing crops of canola and wheat. They have also begun grazing a few hundred sheep. If it wasn’t for their change in farming direction, they would have been forced to sell by now. Read More...
Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America (BAC, BSA) serving all of Central Maryland, will host the United States’ first ever Thank You Reception for Eagle Scout Moms on Thursday, May 16. Read More...
Nothing melted my heart like a bouquet of Mother’s Day flowers picked by your dirty little fingers. Even if you did pick them from our neighbor’s window box. Those lovely arrangements I receive now are nice, too, but not quite the same. The year you sent me jewelry, my thoughts drifted back forty years to the Mother’s Day macaroni necklace you proudly made for me in Sunday School. I wore it everywhere, until the baby spit up on it, and it fused to my neck. Even those Mother’s Day pancakes, black on the outside and raw inside, were somehow more precious than all the fine-dining gift cards that have been sent to me.
Mother’s Day 101
A recent national survey concluded that the most popular Mother’s Day gifts are flowers, apparel, and gift cards. How could we get it so wrong? There’s only one thing your mother really wants for Mother’s Day – and that’s you! Talk to her. I speak as the mother of three sons who, for years, communicated only when the need arose: “You need to come to school for a conference; You need to come to traffic court with me; I need a home for my Rottweiler.” Call her, especially if she’s a senior like me whose sons have moved as far away as they can get and still be in the USA. I’m reminded of one woman’s response when she was asked if she knew when Mother’s Day was. “Of course I do,” she said. “Mother’s Day is any day my children call me.” Read More...
Whoa Nelly! Yes, you read the title correctly Mike is selling the goods from Babcock Ranch from way back in 2003! The Horse Breeder segment was one of the first episodes of Dirty Jobs and aired during the “Roadkill Cleaner” episode.
UPDATE: Auction raised $300! Big thanks to all who bid – and congratulations mrpengy!
What a week it was, the week of April 15th, 2013. My hometown of Boston is bombed on Monday, April 15th on Patriot’s Day aka Boston Marathon Day. As if that wasn’t enough, on the evening of Wednesday, April 17th an explosion at a fertilizer plant devastates the small Texas town of West, only 88 miles south of me. An explosion with such a magnitude, that it was felt as far as 84 miles north of West and registered a 2.1 on the Richter scale. I woke up the next morning, not even knowing about the accident, to emails from friends asking if I was okay and did I feel or hear anything. Thinking it was a tornado that struck somewhere close by, since we had a cold front come through over night, I quickly answered that I was fine. No damage here. Then I turned on the news and saw what everyone else already knew about. I saw the now infamous ‘YouTube’ video of the explosion as it happened.
I saw an apartment building completely destroyed, homes that were amounted to just a pile of splinters, and frantic friends and family members of missing people. My heart just broke, even more so than it already was from the Boston tragedy.
In the wake of such an event so close to you, I think it’s perfectly normal to feel you need to take care of your neighbor; so that’s exactly what I did. On Saturday, May 4th a friend joined me for the journey to West which began at 6:30am. We loaded up the car with clothes and blankets and we drove down to West to volunteer our services.
The first thing we did was check in at the West Community Center to see what we could do. When we told them we came in from Fort Worth, the out pouring of gratitude was over whelming. We were told that people were coming from so far to help their little town and they couldn’t be more appreciative. After we received our assignment to go help out at the warehouse where all the donations were coming in to, we hopped back in the car and drove another 7 miles south towards Waco to an old airfield. They were using an old airport hanger as their warehouse and when we walked in, we saw why.
We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing; donations of everything you could think of from all over the world. My friend looked at me and he said, “Where do we even start?” I just giggled and replied “The beginning, of course, except I’m not sure where that is.” After signing the necessary paperwork, he grabbed a forklift dolly and started moving pallets to the area for them to broken down as I dove in and started breaking down those pallets and distributing the items to their rightful areas. Read More...