|Posted by jrfarms on January 8, 2010 at 1:22 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by jrfarms on February 26, 2007 at 2:33 PM||comments (2)|
I find it interesting that two of the entertainment world's most glamorous women recently demonstrated an interest in becoming small ruminant producers. Nicole Kidman wants goats and Elizabeth Hurley wants sheep .... and cows ... and pigs!
During a recent interview with Russell Crowe, Kidman said she plans to buy a farm in Nashville with her husband, country crooner Keith Urban. "It's a great town, and it's actually been a great place for me to go and just be myself," she said. "We're gonna get a farm, and I really want a goat ... just to possibly contribute to helping me make goat's cheese, which is my favorite cheese." Crowe quipped that she was going to need more than one goat!
Elizabeth Hurley has bypassed the china and silver on her wedding registry and opted instead for an odd gaggle of gifts.
To celebrate her marriage next weekend to Arun Nayar, Hurley is asking guests for live animals to help populate the couple's farm in Gloucestershire, England.
"It's the best thing I've ever done. It's the only place I want to be," Hurley said on the "Richard and Judy Show." "When we get our organic status, we're going to farm properly, and we're going to have a herd of cows and proper sheep and proper chickens. And we're going to have Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs."
Now, don't get me wrong - I'm really excited about these ladies mentioning their farm animal fascinations in a public forum. As a goat industry observer and participant, I have long bemoaned the bucolic, rustic and often offensive image that many of the uninitiated have of goats.
In a recent column for the Parsons, Kansas-based Farm Talk magazine, Mark Parker wrote "Out with the image of a goat chewing a tin can in the front yard of a hillbilly shack, in with a rapidly expanding - and economically viable - segment of American agriculture. If goats aren't big business right now, they're certainly on their way." Nicole Kidman mentioning on an internationally-viewed talk show that she wants some goats can only help to further enhance that image.
Thanks, Nicole. Maybe we can help you start your caprine dairy herd. And if anyone from Great Britan happens to be reading this modest missive, how about sending a couple of goats over to Liz as well!
|Posted by jrfarms on February 8, 2007 at 10:48 AM||comments (0)|
I was recently in San Antonio for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) annual meeting and I have to say I probably enjoyed SA more than any other city I've been in of late. Our meeting hotel was just a couple of blocks away from the Alamo, so that enhanced the experience greatly. I've been fascinated with the Battle of the Alamo since I was about 12 (and no, that's not the year it occurred!)
As much as I did enjoy the Alamo and the River Walk, I actually managed to squeeze in a few meetings while there. Most importantly, American Meat Goat Association (AMGA) president Marvin Shurley and I were joined by Robert Swize and Bob Duke from the American Boer Goat Association (ABGA) in our efforts to try and pull sheep and goat producers together on the national level under ASI's banner. I've been serving on ASI's goat committee for a couple of years now and we continue to search for an efficient and cost-effective way to integrate goat producers into the ASI membership. I won't bore you with the details, but it's not an easy process. Talks continue and hopefully we'll soon come upon a solution that will help the goat industry as a whole to demonstrate a unified front when communicating with the USDA, congress or whoever else might have an influence on our industry. With ASI's splendid record in Washington, it seems much more sensible to partner with them than to "reinvent the wheel." We're not to a concensus as yet, but the talks are continuing. Here in Kentucky we seem to be making a little more headway in uniting sheep and goat producers (and all those folks like myself who dabble in both species.) The new Office of Sheep and Goat Development is on track, with interviews currently being held to find an Executive Director. As soon as that individual is in place, we should be off and running. Once again, Kentucky is leading the way when it comes to innovation in the small ruminant industries.
The most difficult thing about the trip was getting the daily updates on the steadily worsening condition of Stephenia's father. I flew back to Kentucky on Saturday evening, January 27, and we were notified that it was just a matter of time on Sunday, January 28 - Tex's 94th birthday. Monday morning I drove Steph to Paducah to be with him and she was there when he quietly slipped from life shortly after midnight Wednesday, January 31 .
He was a humble man, but a truly great one. After my father died in 1989, Tex stepped into that considerable void. But then, I had always thought of him in a paternal manner so it was like going through that loss of a father all over again when he passed. I can only say that I'm grateful to God that He allowed me to have Tex in my life and I'm grateful to Tex for the gift of his beautiful daughter in addition to his treasured friendship.
|Posted by jrfarms on December 28, 2006 at 9:38 AM||comments (1)|
I may be venturing out on some thin ice here, but I just can't leave this one alone.
According to USA Today, "The Food and Drug Administration is set to announce today that meat and milk from cloned animals are "indistinguishable" from that of conventionally bred animals and safe for human consumption. After a 90-day public comment period, sale of such meat and milk could become possible."
OK, so what's the point? The draft of a paper to be published Jan. 1 in Theriogenology, a scientific journal on animal reproduction, says "None of the studies ? identify any remarkable nutritionally or toxicologically important differences in the composition of the meat or milk," but it goes on to note that the process is not very efficient and it requires up to 100 tries to go from egg to live birth. Clones have an increased risk of premature death and birth defects.
Cloning also is too expensive to be used to produce individual animals for slaughter, according to the journal article. Instead, it's expected that cloning will be used mostly to make copies of animals with outstanding characteristics such as high milk production, excellent meat marbling or quick growth. Those clones would then be used to breed animals for market.
Hold it. Isn't this what we already do as producers? Don't we specifically select the best of the best to retain for replacement and breeding stock? And while we're at it, don't we also look for traits like survivability so that the animal has a longer productive life? From where I sit, we already have the benefits with none of the incumbant costs and potential genetic train wrecks that are the products of these "technical advances."
Big business keeps trying to industrialize farming to make it more efficient and cost effective, completely ignoring any underlying moral or cultural issues. I, for one, like to see my food being grown conventionally and locally. Maybe it might cost a little less in the long run to mass-produce genetically programed super critters in factory farms, but the potential impact on the environment and on species diversity is chilling. And no matter what the FDA says, we don't know the long-term effects of consuming meat, grain or vegetables that have been genetically tinkered with. Research like that could take years, cost millions and end up telling us what we already know - it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.
|Posted by jrfarms on December 11, 2006 at 4:19 PM||comments (0)|
Last Thursday afternoon Mae Cline of Winchester got one of those calls you pray you never get. The Clark County, KY boer goat breeder's main barn had caught fire and around 140 goats were lost in the blaze.
When I talked to Mae on Friday, she was still in shock. The structure was underinsured and there was no coverage for the animals, the hay, the gravity wagon, the feed, the working facilities - well, you get the idea. The one thing Mae knew for sure was that she didn't intend to give up. About 60 of her animals survived the fire, but many of those were meat animals destined for market. The goats that died were all high-end registered stock.
After things have settled down and Mae makes some decisions on what direction she intends to go in (commercial or registered,) we'll talk again and see what, if anything, the Kentucky Goat Producers Association can do to help here get back on her feet. She said it made her feel better to know someone cared.
Well, Mae, lots of folks care. Son-in-law Hank told me yesterday afternoon that a crew from Kentucky State University were headed over today to help with the remaining animals. KSU's goat extension specialist Ken Andries e-mailed me last Friday and said he had offered the loan of some of the University's equipment. A number of folks around the state have pledged to come to Mae's aid when the time is right. Some will be helping her restore the infrastructure needed to manage a goat operation.
Mae will recover - she's a strong lady. It's just comforting to know that when disaster strikes, the goat community responds. I hope to bring you more good news about Mae's recovery soon.
To read Winchester Sun Stories about the fire and the recovery, visit http://www.winchestersun.com/public_html/?module=displaystory&story_id=2829&format=html and http://www.winchestersun.com/public_html/?module=displaystory&story_id=2838&format=html.
God Bless you, Mae. You're definitely in our prayers.
|Posted by jrfarms on December 6, 2006 at 12:49 PM||comments (0)|
My new sheep got here last Saturday. My friend and associate Shawn Harper was kind enough to go by the Deering's farm near Murray and pick them up for me. Since he was on his way to Frankfort for the Kentucky Proud awards luncheon, he hauled them up here for me as well. I hope I can soon return the favor.
If you're not familiar with hair sheep, they are raised specifically for meat and instead of wool, they produce a hair coat which is naturally shed, rather than having to be sheared. Their tails do not require docking and, from all reports, the Katahdins fit very well into a forage-based operation like ours. We should soon be able to offer grass-fed lambs.
Our 12 ewes are Katahdins, a breed that was developed in Maine from British and Virgin Isles stock. Our Dorper ram's breed originated in South Africa as a cross between Dorsetts and Black Persians. The Dorper looks a little like our Boer goats, also a South African import.
The other good news we received yesterday was that our Border Collie Jake is a papa. Seven pups were born to Socks (belonging to Kathy Stephanski) throughout the day yesterday. We should be getting one of the pups and I plan to make sure she has an appropriate education so that she'll be useful in our sheep operation. I made lots of mistakes with daddy Jake that I hope not to repeat with his off-spring. Jake comes from a national champion bloodline, so hopefully the genes will be there to build on in the next generation. Don't get me wrong, Jake's a working fool, but his lack of discipline makes him far more of a liability than an asset. However, he's a beautiful and wonderful dog and should not be held accountable for my shortcomings. He does play a mean game of Frisbee, though!
I intend to have some sheep photos on the web site soon. They're making themselves right at home and try to follow me wherever I go. I really love my goats, but these sheep are really winning me over as well.
Your blessings are where you find them... don't forget to look!
|Posted by jrfarms on December 1, 2006 at 9:54 AM||comments (0)|
I know that anyone who reads these offerings probably gets tired of hearing how busy I stay, but it's an outlet for me to talk about it. Please don't think I'm looking for sympathy - my overloaded schedule is of my own doing and I blame no one but myself.
I had the opportunity to speak to the Purchase Area Goat Association Tuesday evening (Nov. 28.) Being a transplanted West Kentuckian, it's always good to get back to the area and see how much things have changed. It's also a treat to visit with my friends down there, especially KGPA president Shawn Harper, who also heads PAGA. Shawn, with the able assistance of Charles and Regina Deering, have obtained a herd of Katahdin hair sheep for me so this weekend I become a shepherd as well as a goatherd.
I came back Wednesday afternoon in time for mid-week services at church. While having our customary Wednesday pizza at my mom's house before services, son-in-law Nick informed me that we had two new kids. After church, I trudged down with a flashlight to check out the new correct doe and paint buck that had been born that afternoon. That's the second pair of twins this week and I fear for their safety due to the fickle weather we've been experiencing. It's been in the 60's every day since Thanksgiving but this morning a front blew in bringing a biting wind and considerable rain. The temperature's due to drop 30 degrees or so. All I can do is trust the two does that kidded to look after their new charges. Both are experienced, so they should be able to manage things. Thankfully, I'll have some time this weekend to actually spend on the farm so I can keep an eye on things, catch up on chores and get ready for my new sheep!
Yesterday started early and ended late. I rolled out for Louisville and the Kentucky Farm Bureau annual meeting about 5:45 AM and had the KGPA booth set up at the trade show by 7:30. I spent the rest of the day entertaining visitors and delivering the message of the day on the benefits companion grazing - "Every cattle operation in Kentucky should also maintain a goat herd."
University of Kentucky ag economist Lee Meyer helped the cause during his presentation by talking about the growth of the goat industry in the Commonwealth and predicting continued solid markets an good prices for meat goats. Meyer also noted that goats are now the second most popular livestock breed in the state in terms of farms that incorporate them. Eventually all the cattle folks will get the message about how much goats can improve both their pastures and their bottom line.
Around 4:30 it was time to strike the exhibit and head out for the Tri-County Goat Association in Elizabethtown which started at 7:00. They had a great potluck and a good turnout for the meeting. I kept my remarks short (to everyone's suprise and delight) so that Dr. Mike Keller could have more time to field questions from the group.
Back in the working world as I glance out the office window a flag on a neighboring building is whipping in the strong wind and it has just begun to flurry. I guess winter's here. One thing I really love about Kentucky is that we do have four distinct seasons. Even so, it was kinda neat mowing hay in my shirtsleeves the day after Thanksgiving!
More to come. I'll try to make my next post a little more pensive and reflective and not quite so whiney!
|Posted by jrfarms on November 17, 2006 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
I just spent a couple of exciting days at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, showing off the Kentucky Goat Producers Association exhibit/display and visiting with friends. Our operation is commercially-oriented in both terminal and seed stock so we don't show goats, but we know lots of great folks that do.
Wednesday, November 15 the two-legged kids took center stage showing off some 4-legged kids in the first-ever NAILE Junior Wether Show. There were over 120 entries from all over the country, as far away as Texas and California. Those guys from the west are more familiar with wether shows this time of year. Here in the Commonwealth, the Kentucky State Fair usually marks the end of our summer-long series of wether shows. This year the State Fair included market goats in the Sale of Champions so, hopefully, the NAILE will soon follow suit. With the first NAILE wether show behind us, more of our producers may be looking a little closer at having wethers ready for the November show next year.
Now, let me gripe a little. Market goat shows are NEVER an acurate representation of what the meat market actually requires. Poodle-clipped 90+ lb. wethers are not what bring the good prices for producers. I would hope the shows might get away from the artificialities and focus more on preparing young producers for the real world. However, livestock showing and genuine livestock production have always been worlds apart. I'd hope that someday the gap might close a little.
On Thursday, November 16 over 500 percentage and fullblood Boers went head-to-head in the ABGA sanctioned open show. Again, the competition came, literally, from all over the map. This has grown into one of the largest and most important Boer shows in the country and it shows no signs of slowing down in the future. It's exciting to have the show right here in Kentucky.
Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. After a quick trip to visit Steph's folks in Lone Oak next week, we'll settle down for a day or so with our daughters and sons-in-law. Then, it's back on the road for a web development presentation to the Purchase Area Goat Association in Mayfield on the 28th, the Kentucky Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and Convention on the 30th and a meeting of the Hardin County Goat Association in Elizabethtown that evening.
I'm so excited about all the great things that are happening in Kentucky's goat industry. There's even more good times to come.
|Posted by jrfarms on November 7, 2006 at 1:41 PM||comments (0)|
Talk about a blur! Things have just been moving too fast lately, so I profoundly apologize for not keeping up with my blogging.
Last week I spent some time Tuesday and Wednesday in the Benton-Mayfield, KY area buying some goats and visiting with my friends at the Purchase Area Goat Association (PAGA.) I'll be going back on November 28th to do a website-building presentation for them. It will be the second time for this presentation, the first came on Oct. 28 when I spoke to the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers annual meeting.
I got back in time for church Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Steph and I headed out early for the Kentucky Women in Agriculture annual meeting in Louisville. Steph attended the meetings, breakouts and round tables while I sat with the Kentucky Goat Producers Association booth. It was pretty productive - I got to meet some new and prospective goat producers and make new friends.
Back to Frankfort on Friday afternoon to attend another meeting and get ready to head out early Saturday for Lebanon, TN and the Tennessee Goat Producers Association 2nd annual production sale. Dr. Richard Browning from Tennessee State University was there with some nice young kiko and spanish-influence kids that were the hit of the sale. Coming back through Nashville late Saturday night, Steph said "promise me we don't have any more events for the rest of the year!" Of course I couldn't, because the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) started that morning and I'll be there next week for the Market Wether Show and the Boer Show. I would have liked to have been at the NAILE Dairy Goat show last weekend, but we can't be two places at once. Maybe next year.
Lest I forget (and I almost did!) we had a great time at the KGPA annual meeting on October 21. Dr. Browning, Dr. Frank Pinkerton "The Goat Man," Tess Caudill (KY Department of Agriculture), Terry Hutchins (University of KY), Dr. James Strickland (USDA/ARS) and Dr. Michael Flythe (USDA/ARS) all had fascinating presentations and Apple Creek Barbecue in Lexington fixed a goat BBQ feast beyond compare. To make a great day even better, KY's State Vet, Dr. Robert Stout spent most of the day with us and joined the association. It's taken some work to build a rapport, but we're really getting some strong support from state officials.
So, I'm trying to cool my heels a little this week before I hit the road again. Maybe I can even get to spend a couple of hours in a deer stand on opening day Saturday.
It's tough being on the road, but I don't mind as long as I get to see friends and talk goats and sheep. If you'd like to have me speak to your association meeting or at your field day, please drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love the opportunity to visit with old friends and maybe make a few new ones.
|Posted by jrfarms on October 4, 2006 at 3:21 PM||comments (0)|
The sun refused to shine bright for University of Kentucky?s 2006 All-Commodity Field Day at Robinson Station, near the community of Quicksand in Breathitt County on September 28. In fact, the weather was pretty miserable - rainy and cold - but it really didn't seem to dampen anyone's enthusiasm.
Thirty-five or so participants in the Goat Production workshop braved the elements back and forth between the tent and the barn at Sebastian Farm to hear a variety of speakers, including Dr. Patty Scharko of the UK Diagnostic Lab and Dr. Richard Browning who heads the goat research at Tennessee State University and serves as a director of the American Meat Goat Association. Dr. Browning talked about TSU's ongoing breed evaluation research but noted that his program would be completely different at the KGPA Annual Meeting and encouraged those attending to join him at the meeting.
Additionally, Kentucky Department of Agriculture's goat marketing specialist Tess Caudill provided an update on the status of goat marketing efforts in the Commonwealth and UK's goat extension specialist Terry Hutchens talked about nutrition and mineral recommendations. Dr. Ken Andries of Kentucky State University talked about fencing and host Brandon Sears, UK extension associate, talked about the forage research taking place at Robinson Station and the cattle co-grazing project that's just begun on the Sebastian Farm.
I can't say enough good things about Brandon Sears. The UK and KSU extension folks are all working hard to help Kentucky retain its prominence in the goat industry, but this young man is really dedicated to the cause. To underscore UK's envolvement, Dr. Robert Harmon, chair of the UK Department of Animal Sciences spent the day in the rain with us. Dr. Harmon and Dr. Jimmy Hennning have both been actively involved with the industry and can be credited with the first Kentucky Goat and Sheep Summit last spring.
On Saturday, September 30, Robinson Station hosted the 2006 Pride of the Mountains Goat Show, sanctioned by the International Boer Goat Association.