This past weekend I went back home to Alabama for the weekend. My parents were hosting 2 (yes 2) family reunions at at our house and I needed to go home and check on my beans. On Saturday after the first reunion … Continue reading
If you ever attend the Athens-Limestone Christmas parade in Athens, Alabama, you have probably seen a Friends of Ripley float. Their floats are always very elaborate and very nicely done. What many do not realize is that it is more … Continue reading
Here in the United States we are pretty fortunate. We have so many rights and freedoms that people in other countries do not have. One of those that is special is the right to own property. If you own property to an extent you can do as you please (with some exceptions). However there are some events that have transpired recently that has caused concern as the rights of property owners have been endangered or taken away. Recently there are two counties in Oregon that were in the news, Josephine and Jackson counties are adjacent to each other in southwestern Oregon. They both have passed bans on the planting of genetically engineered crops by popular vote in the last few weeks. Jackson county has around 200,000 residents and their website says that “Industries that show steady growth in Jackson County include wine, film, and farming—pointing to how Jackson County is distinguished as a place where entrepreneurship thrives.” I do not see how passing a GMO ban allows farming or entrepreneurship to thrive, but alas that is what they claim. Both of these counties have a lot of agricultural production and are large producers of sugar beets. Sugar beets is one of the eight crops in the U.S. that are approved GM crops. There are two major concerns I see from this ban. First of all it is interesting that in Jackson County only 52% of those registered to vote actually voted. 33% of the registered voters voted yes for the ban. That 33% made a decision for the majority. Folks, this goes to show the importance of voting, that 33% may have been the only people in the county who wanted GMO’s banned, but they got their way. Secondly, this ban takes away the rights of the citizens. Farmers can no longer make decisions on the types of crops they will grow on their OWN property. Both organic and conventional farmers have lost the choice they once had as to the type of production method they would choose. Shouldn’t all farmers have the right to farm how they want? Farming is a business, a business that is in the business of feeding people. If legislation like this continues to be passed we will not only lessen the amount of food we produce, but it takes away the rights of US farmers to make production decisions. GMO issue? Just a ban? It appears to be a limitation on rights. Another battle that is being fought across by farmers and landowners across the country is with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their definition of “navigable waters.” “Navigable waters” currently means water such as rivers, streams and lakes (which makes sense-you can actually navigate them), they are used for business or transportation. Recently, the EPA has been working on The Waters of the United States Initiative and proposing changes to this definition. Are you ready for this? The EPA is proposing that puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals and isolated wetlands fall under the Clean Water Act. When I first heard about this maybe a year or two ago that this was being considered I literally laughed out loud. This would expand the authority of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA and the Army Corps have the authority over the “navigable waters,” and if this were to come about it would make it extremely difficult to farm and be competitive and profitable. Let’s say it rains a couple of inches and a puddle forms in my field. If I were to go out and spray my soybeans or till the soil to prepare for planting this would be considered a “discharge” to those so-called “navigable waters,” (aka that puddle). Activities that are considered a “discharge” cannot legally go forward without the required permit. If this legislation was to pass the EPA will have the ability to approve and deny a discharge permits. If denied, this would greatly restrict a farmer’s ability to operate their farm. If the permit was approved, the farmer would then need to provide paperwork and meet strict requirements. If you violate the law? Violations would fall as penalties of unlawful “discharges” which could cost you up to $37,500 per violation PER DAY. If this were to pass this would be a huge blow to the US Farm Economy and even to anyone who owns property. That mud puddle your children play in is considered navigable. I know our government is often said to be “by the people, for the people,” but sometime you really have to look a little deeper at issues to see what the motives really are. If this legislation was instated by the EPA, it would hurt farmers and their ability to produce food which means food prices go up for everyone. Just something to think about. (If you would like to exercise your right as citizen to contact the EPA about The Waters of the United States Initiative, please do and tell them to #DitchTheRule you can take action here on the American Farm Bureau’s website.
UPDATE: October 7, 2014
We are now in a public comment period with the EPA. Anyone can go online by clicking here and provide comments to the EPA as to why you are for/against this proposed legislation. I would HIGHLY encourage you to let them know your thoughts on the issue. If you are a homeowner this is something you should be concerned about.
Here are a couple of stories on the proposed rule.
Seeing that today is March 14 it has been dubbed as Pi Day, pi like 3.14159265359 or to you mathematicians, the distance around a perfect circle, or the circumference, divided by the distance across it, or the diameter. Nerds everywhere have celebrated this day today, I decided to celebrate by making a pie, a peanut butter pie to be exact because it is National Peanut Month.
Peanuts are grown in numerous states across the United States, but seven states account for 99% of the peanuts produced. Georgia, Texas and Alabama are the top three producing states. 50% of peanuts grown in the United States are grown within a 100 mile radius of Dothan, Alabama! There are four kinds of peanuts grown in the United States and you can learn about them here.
Peanuts are different than most plants, the peanut plant flowers above the ground, but fruits below ground. It takes 4 to 5 months for the peanut to reach maturity. Planting usually happens in April or May and harvest is typically in September or October.
About 10 days after planting a green leafy plant will grow on top of the ground, but interestingly the fruit (peanut) is below ground. Peanuts like water and need 1 1/2-2 inches of water a week when the pods are filling out. When the peanuts have reached maturity. the farmer will drive a digger through the green rows of peanut. The digger has long blades that run four to six inches under the ground. The plant is loosened and the main root is cut. Just behind the blade, a shaker lifts the plant from the soil, shakes the dirt from the peanuts, rotates the plant and lays the plant back down in a “windrow”—with peanuts up and leaves down. The peanuts will then lay exposed in the field for several days in order to dry out moisture. Here is a great video showing the inverting process.
After the peanuts dry they are combined where the plant is separated from the nut portion. The peanuts are put in trailers and air is blasted into the trailers to further dry the nuts. There can be no more than 10% moisture in order to store them. There are enough peanuts harvested from each acre so that you could make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches!
Peanuts are good for you! They contain protein, mostly good fats, fiber and more than 30 essential vitamins and nutrients. Peanuts are used for products like roasted peanuts,peanut butter and oils for cooking and the hulls are often used in chicken houses instead of wood shavings. George Washington Carver came up with over 300 uses for peanuts including shampoos, laxatives, dyes, etc.
My favorite use for peanuts is for cooking purposes. Peanut butter fudge and pie being my two favorites. Since it was Pi day I whipped up a simple peanut butter pie that is quite tasty and so simple.
Peanut Butter Pie
- 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
- 1-1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 package (8 Ounce) Cool Whip, Thawed
- 1 prepared graham cracker crust (or if you are feeling froggy you can make one)
Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the thawed Cool Whip and beat mixture until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Chill for at least an hour before serving.
Hungry for more peanut info? Check out some fun facts from the National Peanut Board.
I was an August baby, at home my mom has pictures of me in the cotton field with my dad when I was just a few weeks old. I’ve always been around it been around harvest in the fall . My dad quit farming a few years ago, but because my younger brothers and I have started farming I am still around it. This fall I am looking forward to harvesting my first soybean crop and I am beyond excited.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to do something I usually do not get to do in Auburn. I left class and went and went to the fields. This time it was not to work. I am writing an article about one of my classmates Mark so I needed some pictures of him working. Although I was along to take pictures it was such a thrill to spend some time in the soybeans.
Watching soybeans and corn so intently with my internship this summer I am more amazed than ever at the cycle plants go through. It is absolutely amazing to watch tiny seeds push through hard crusted soil, it is amazing to see them be subjected to harsh environmental conditions and see them bounce back. I have a post in mind to do soon relating seeds/plants to life, but ‘m not going to jump in on that today.
I’m so thankful that the cycle of life exists for plants, its really remarkable to see how a tiny seed can be planted and cared for and can be turned into a useful product that may be turned into food, fiber, fuel, plastics, medicines, etc. Harvest is when farmers can see all their hard work come to fruition. Some years depending on drought and other factors it may not be a good year, but those are things we do not have control over.
Another reason I like harvest is just the ability to be outside. Typically the weather has cooled off, blue skies, clear and cool mornings and evenings. I think that is just what I needed yesterday, taking off work and spending some time outside was just the therapy I needed to break up the afternoon work cycle I am in each day. Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon, I wish I could have spent all afternoon there, but alas
Less land is available today for production with the way our population is growing. So basically today’s farmer is having to do more with less. (I think this means farmers should go into politics). They are using less land, water and implements than they ever have and are more productive than ever.
Farmers love what they do and take pride in it, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. They love the land, their animals, people, the sun, rain, and the challenge. It is a job demanding of their time and physical bodies, but it is a noble profession and wonderful way of life. I know I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I realize it is not for everyone and I’m not saying anyone who doesn’t is inferior. The pride and love of agriculture and its future is what keeps me and two million other farmers in the United States plowing on.