Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Symposium Reflections

Since I just got home not too long ago from the 2nd Annual Animal Welfare Symposium at the wonderful State 4-H Center on Ohio State's campus, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share my reflections on the afternoon in a semi-sequential format.

1) The people and the atmosphere were much less hostile than last year, given the passage of Issue 2 and the HSUS deal struck over the summer to allow for the Livestock Care Standards Board to operate as it was intended. I felt like the questions were much less heated and much more focused on actual learning. It was a nice change, even from the meeting this summer. It was also really nice to work a short standards board update into the afterlunch. Interesting to note is the discussion about how Ohio will probably not make it by the December deadline for a referendum on some current housing systems. However, we were also told that HSUS has been doing a lot of meeting with other involved organizations relative to the summer deal and that there was a good understanding of how much work had been put forth to get where we are currently.

2) The people running the symposium are great. It was well organized, in a great facility, and attended by over 300 people this year. As anticipated, the food was almost the best part of the day and Mike did a great job keeping the technology up and running so the day went off without an obvious hitch. Awesome.

3) The first speaker had some good information about opinions of Ohioans related to Animal Welfare. She just struggled severely with expressing anything clearly or in any consideration of time. She mentioned early that as an Easterner she spoke very fast. Frankly, I thought she might've spoken a bit fast, sure, but she didn't say a whole lot more than if she'd spoken more slowly and deliberately. The Q and A also helped clarify a lot more of her work, but some questions which I thought were fairly important to the research and the presentation were not answered at all and the audience was left questioning the value of the first presentation, of which I am sure there was some but it was difficult to sort through some poor representation of her hard work. It's always tough to elaborate thoughts to the satisfaction of your audience in such a short time period.

4) All the rest of the speakers did a fine job and spoke about relevant information, doing a good job of holding the audience's attention. If my chair hadn't been so uncomfortable, I could've sat there all day. There was little that wasn't worth hearing, even the information that I've already heard a few times. Hearing discussions does a good job of keeping issues current in my mind.

As the week rolls on, I'll be taking study breaks to give short synopsi of different speakers, the topics they discussed and my related opinions. However, in the near future the presentations will be posted. I encourage you to follow the link and watch the powerpoints yourself. It's always better to do your own thinking.

Last day to vote on Refresh

This is my reminder that this is the last day to vote for the current Pepsi Refresh project ideas. PLEASE help vote in other outstanding ideas that will better energize and inspire our community than the greedy lies of HSUS.

Professional Faux Pas (duplicate post)

Although termed as going against the socially accepted norms, my personal favorite definition is more literal, "missteps, or false steps". Since I was at the Animal Welfare Symposium all day, I decided to keep some notes on behaviors and attitudes that are just unacceptable in a professional setting, and all of which I guarantee you happened today.

1) Spilling food on yourself. Everyone does it, but that doesn't mean you ever want to be the one. Spilling food on yourself can be embarrassing, even before you also consider the occasional super embarrassing spots you can drop food or drink. The only thing worse than spilling food on yourself is spilling it on someone else. But if you are spilled on, consider it a favor. That person severely owes you in the future and you would be wise not to let them forget it.

2) Cutting your colleagues off in the parking lot or even a few miles down the road. Just because you are out of the meeting, that doesn't mean your peers and colleagues might not be just behind you or beside you as you make your way down the road. It goes without saying that you should be courteous on the road, but ever more so when you are leaving a meeting where you are hoping that some people will favorably remember you.

3) Striking up conversation in the bathroom. Men, you better really know a guy well if you think you're going to start a conversation at the urinal. Talk about ultimate awkward... it's best just to avoid any conversation in the bathroom and save it for where normal conversations take place.

4) Taking this one step further, I would like to specifically degrade the man who caught a presenter in the bathroom to tell him how much he liked the guy's talk. Well, despite whether or not this bit of praise mattered to said presenter, any brownie points gained were lost before they had been tallied. To make matters worse, he proceeded to correct the presenter's grammar on a particular slide, criticizing him for his use of "disinterested" instead of "uninterested". Speaking of, he probably also wrote this link.

5) Pretending to care about people you don't give a hoot about is nearly as rude as blowing them off. There is a way to be both formal and unfriendly while professionally communicative to people you don't like, unless of course you are good enough at pretending to take interest in those you dislike in a convincing, falsely genuine manner.

6) Finally, never make the mistake of assuming you know something about people only to find out your error after the fact. Most people like talking about themselves, so ask questions and let them remind you of what you most likely forgot.

I leave you with the following picture, courtesy of floatingfoam.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Punishment, for all involved?

As the verdicts are passed and punishment is doled out to those involved in the animal abuse in Vermont last year, I really only have one question to ask. Where is the penalty for the "undercover" investigator who did nothing to prevent the abuse? How is it that being accessory to the crime and doing nothing to prevent it doesn't make you additionally guilty of the crime? How is it that we can't track down and punish those who claim to defend the animal but when in time of trial, fail to defend it from the abuse they claim to detest?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pepsi Refresh Update

The HSUS's inconsiderate abuse of the Pepsi Refresh community funding voting continues to lead the charts. Sign up, vote often and help legitimate project ideas come to fruition.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jane Goodall (duplicate post)

I just wanted to take a minute to say that I was watching a recorded talk by Jane Goodall, including a question and answer session afterwards as I relaxed this afternoon after a 5-mile Turkey Trot this morning.

I continue to be impressed with Jane, both because of her amazing work with conservation and chimpanzee behavior, but also in her practicality, her devotion to nature conservation and the well-being of the underprivileged, and her honesty.

Interesting things I learned about Jane from her Oct. 11th talk included: her favorite drink is whiskey, when asked about her plans in the next 50 years she said "me dying", and she brews her coffee with a boiling coil and stocking hose.

I will never forget growing up watching her National Geographic specials and she has done so many great things to benefit understanding of animals and the behavioral sciences. Good luck in your future endeavors, Jane Goodall.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pepsi Refresh

As if the HSUS really needed any more money, they've now signed up for a community renewal grant through PepsiCo and are receiving the most votes for receiving $250,000 which they don't really need. They are potentially going to absorb this money into their much larger budget when it could legitimately make a bigger difference in the hands of someone truly interested in bettering their community. Just like the Animal Agriculture Alliance, I encourage you to register to vote (doesn't take long) and vote often for more deserving causes on Pepsi's website.

If you go to $250,000 range and look at the leaders, HSUS is leading over 2 much more legitimate and needing organizations trying to improve treatment and cures for serious childhood diseases. Don't be fooled by the lies HSUS is propagating. Vote, to show that you are not fooled.

It is important to note that PepsiCo is not supporting HSUS. They are trying to spread goodwill and money to people that can use it. HSUS is just trying to cheat the system and get some more free money.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fighting Hunger

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. Fall is in full swing, the harvest is mostly in, and family can take some time off to spend together. Of course, the critters still need fed and there are always chores to do, but it's a time to celebrate the products of our industriousness. Farmers do so much to feed Americans and other people around the world and this is also a time to be thankful for their efforts and success in the past year and to pray for the same in the years to come. Agriculture has made great progress towards feeding the world but we are still a long way away from the final goal of feeding everyone.

As we celebrate the bountiful plenty many of us have come to take for granted here in the US, there are millions going hungry or wondering where their next meal will come from. Millions, even in the US. So as I sit here, dreaming about Thanksgiving break and preparing to head into the business of the holiday, I am especially thankful for the hard work of farmers and those involved in agriculture because of all the hard work they put in towards developing new and better ways to feed more people. Without their hard work we wouldn't be making the progress we are making towards feeding the hungry in our own communities or those around the world who struggle with food shortages.


Big news for all you Michigananians up North. Your very own Stabenow has become chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Now, before you groan like I know most of you are, don't forget that Stabenow does realize she hails from a big agricultural state and that this might be her chance to save her reelection the next time around. She also wanted me informed on my visit with her office in DC last year that she realized how important agriculture was to America. Honestly, I had much better interaction with Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas on that same visit, but the people have spoken and she will not remain in office. Undoubtedly Stabenow will have huge influence on the upcoming farmbill and other projects. We can only hope it will be positive, unlike the actions of her fellow politician Granholm, and will support the beneficial future of farmers nationwide.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New York City is Thankful

In consideration of this week being Thanksgiving, I just thought I would include this video on the blog from the Agriculture Alliance group on Facebook.

If you think about it, feeding 155 people on average with your efforts must be a rewarding thought. Thank you to America's farmers for your hard work in keeping this nation and others fed.

Gateway to Animal Welfare Updates

Quite the busy day in my inbox for Animal Welfare updates as I had 2 weeks worth of "Gateway to Animal Welfare" articles to sort through. I'll start today with some continuations of previous discussions, including the well-being of cage-free birds and their feet.

Of course, Wayne Pacelle and his cronies continue to push cage-free systems as the only way to go for the future of egg production. As you recall, this included Kraft moving to 1,000,000 of its eggs being produced by cage-free chickens. Before you praise them though, go ahead and figure that that's really only 3,000 chickens. The big question here though is whether or not these 3,000 chickens will really receive any better lifestyle in their future environment. One thing to definitely consider is this new research stating that 40% of cage-free hens will suffer from foot diseases, which are much more readily prevented in a caged system. Things to ponder...

Also, of interest, the arrival of a new mega-dairy on the scene. I can understand that people think that animals lose the personal attention on a large farm, but if handled correctly, a large farm really just means ability to pay for more experienced and well-trained employees who can responsibly give even better care for their animals.

And finally some beginning research on hen-pecking from my Erasmus school in the Netherlands.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Domino's Cheese

Other colleagues of mine will no doubt address the factual failures of the ignorant article such as what Nicole had to say about it. However, I wanted to make a couple of informal points of my own with this New York Times cheesephobia article.

First off, I love cheese. I love to eat cheese and I don't personally have a limit to how much cheese I eat; I just can't say no. Confident that I'm not the only one in this situation, I still do not blame the government for my inability to say no to one more slice of cheese-loaded pizza. Either you buy the pizza or you don't. Either you eat more than you should, or you don't. But it's not the fault of anyone else how much you eat or how healthy or unhealthy what you eat is. That's the joy of paying for your medical bills. It all comes back to work out one way or another and if I want to eat a lot of cheese, thanks for the warning, but I knew and still plan to do it.

Second, cheese is good for you. There are nutrients in cheese that you need (including the ever deficient Calcium which frankly, however you get your kids to eat it is great), and the fats in cheese are better for you than the other fats you're subjecting yourself to in junk foods. I ate loads of cheese every day when I lived in the Netherlands, but that doesn't mean that I gained weight because of the cheese. If I had only been eating good foods like vegetables, breads, meats and cheeses, I would've been much healthier.

Thirdly, did you ever have the old Domino's Pizza? It was awful. This new stuff is good, and I like it. You should try it. They have raised the bar, and for that, they should be proud, as well as the DMI for whatever their part to play in it was.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hastings Dairy

If you have a minute or two and are curious about what a dairy farm really looks like when not criminalized and propagandized by animal rights activists, take a look at this video. I've been on a lot of dairy farms and can say that this video is an accurate representation of how dairy farmers strive to care for their animals. The great new facilities are a plus too, but this is a good video to watch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pigs dead in Pennsylvania

This news just crossed my dashboard - approximately 1000 pigs found dead on an abandoned farm in Pennsylvania. So unlike most people I went searching for more reputable reporting. Trouble is, I couldn't find sites that we were actually reputable reporting this incident. I doubt it's a simple as mainstream media being too distracted by other stories, but maybe there's still some people holding out for the truth. Regardless, this headline is horrific and I can't avoid sharing my thoughts about it.

As irrational as most of the sites reporting this discovery seemed to be, including blogs by such names as "Barking Moonbat" and the National Examiner, I still think this is something that should be investigated fully. If this man is guilty of animal abuse or neglect, I fully support his prosecution and punishment. This is shameful, and nearly as shameful are the ignorant remarks of the real estate agent.

How could you be selling a facility you've never looked at? Especially one valued at well over a million dollars. If you were selling a house, you'd have check to see if drugs or a dead body were in it, how is this any different? I have to wonder if she didn't assume control of the place and just never bother to check and see if there were animals alive in the barn. Now that that's a moot point, I'd also like to know how she had no idea that there were nearly a thousand dead pigs on the place. That had to smell horrific, yet she said she expected there were animals dead around the place since it was a farm and never bothered to check any further than that. Ridiculous!!!

And then there is the debate about the animals being killed by a disease breakout. This really is possible, which is why farmers go to such lengths to keep their barns closed to outsiders, especially in the case of pigs and chickens. They aren't trying to hide something but rather are trying to protect their animals from killer diseases that strike faster than a flu epidemic and kill with vicious efficiency. Where I struggle with accepting this as a disease outbreak though is that the animals aren't disposed of. If that many animals had died of disease, somebody would've known about it and the bodies would've been taken care of to prevent further future spread of this disease.

The end story is that this is awful, if true, regardless of the cause. Further, investigators have a long way to go before they find the fault behind this huge incident and idiotic opinionated dimwits aren't helping with the progress of the investigations. Sit tight, wait and see what they find out.

New alliance

This past week marked the start of yet another organization to protect and promote the US Farmer/Rancher. The goal of the group to be a consistent and strong message to consumers and other groups, hopefully this will be the start a successful alliance on behalf of farmers and ranchers nationwide. Time will tell.

Annual Animal Welfare Symposium

This post serves as my shout-out for the 2nd Annual Animal Welfare Symposium at OSU. This symposium is in a great facility that I helped fundraise to build, and will be attended by and led by some great people in the national/international debate on proper animal welfare. Open-minded discussion can only lead to a better understanding between people, of the world around us and our future, so if you have an interest in learning about what is going on right now, follow the links and register for the symposium. This is not an opportunity to come and argue your opinion; this is a chance to learn. If you don't have interest in that, then don't bother registering.

My challenge to State News

It seems like all of Columbus is in a hurry today to get around and get stuff done. An hour before our own parking lot usually fills up, I already was barely able to get a spot. This busyness includes me today, as I try to catch up on blog ideas I had to postpone yesterday in the stead of a funeral and an awards reception.

I'd like to start off today with a challenge to the State News. I know that basketball season is taking the highlight, including Delvon Roe's double performance yesterday which is remarkable and wonderful, but was it necessary to close comments to specific past articles such as the ongoing animal welfare debate? The closing of comments is just one more example of your unwillingness to allow free speech and expression of the opinions of your readers.

Per the comment of one your readers on the site, I had been searching for documentation from their own opinion leaders to contradict the argument presented. Sure enough, HSUS themselves discuss in their chicken cage welfare paper (28 pages with over a hundred references which I bet they thought nobody would read) the fact that chicken pecking behavior was found to be genetic. Thus, the cannibalism debated on the State News article is in fact present in most flocks, regardless of the housing systems which were suggested superior in discussion. So if you don't take it from me, take it from your own and realize that there is really a reason we call it a "pecking order". Find your place in it and shut your mouth.

Thus stems my challenge to State News. You have a few good writers on your staff who have shown willingness to support the media underdogs. Let them explore the truth and be what you should've been all along since you're supported by all kinds of readers; objectively report and leave subjectivism to the editorial column which should be open to both sides of an argument.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back from Louisville

Today marks Day 1 back from one of my favorite shows in the world and I wish I didn't have to dive back into reality. Helping/observing my sister and brother getting ready for the National Junior Shropshire Show was a great learning experience for me whose minimal sheep experience stood in stark contrast to what my siblings have learned in a few short years. Luckily, with my first aid experience to repair my sister's finger, and Amanda's previous sheep knowledge, we were able to contribute to the show placings which are proof of the visible improvement in our family flock over the past few years. With rams placing 4th and 9th, and a ewe placing 9th in a large class, we are gearing up for next year now and our first sale in Eaton next spring. Hopefully this also includes new facilities on the homestead to accommodate the growing numbers of sheep on our place. Then hopefully we will start seeing return on investments although that was not the obvious first intention when we started showing sheep but it'd be nice to pay for the hobby.

While we were down there, I also saw something else which I thought I'd comment on. A girl took 2 of her sheep out on a walk in the grass behind the sheep area and was having a terrible time getting these sheep to move in the right direction. Compounding the problem was an air traffic landing pattern just above her that scared the sheep every time a plane came in low to land. What shocked me was how forceful and aggressive she became toward the sheep over the course of her difficult walk. By the end, we had even seen her kick the lambs a few times.

Now, I'm not saying this because I want the girl fined, or her show rights revoked or to publicly humiliate her (although she could use a little learning from the experience). She is young and the action is more concerning than the damage, but she is learning from someone. What I'm trying to do is call out to those older individuals to be positive role models in your treatment of animals. Youth look up to you to follow rules and to exhibit a high level of moral conduct both at the shows and at home on the farm. Not only are youth looking up to you, but the consumer also looks to you for your leadership in the way you treat the animals raised for food. They want to know that you care as much about your animals as you profess to, and as long as there are people out there making mistakes, consumer trust will be challenging to keep. Be a good example to those around you, both older and younger to care for your animals as you were taught so that consumers will continue to trust us. People are always watching; make sure you are glad about what they can see.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I don't blog daily, but when I catch a lucky break, I can throw a few blogs together to summarize what I've been thinking about and doing for the last few days. Since I knocked out my biochem exam yesterday morning, there has been a feeling of tremendous relief in me. So let's talk about what I think about puppies and get beyond how cute they are.

Puppies seem to just control people's minds, more girls than guys. We talked in the class that I TA about the eye placement in puppies being very similar to a baby's eyes; thus, people are even more attached instantly to them. I don't think there's a day I don't hear someone cooing over a little dog (even if it isn't actually a puppy) and talking about how cute it is. This now goes for my wife as well. So now we're in the process of finding a dog, which leads me to this blog post.

Finding dogs, easy. There's millions out there for adoption. Picking a dog can be just a little harder. You need to find a dog with the energy level and size that matches your living conditions. If you have kids or other pets, or even livestock, it's important to consider what types of interactions you want and will allow between your new dog and these. And it's also important to remember how expensive keeping a dog really is. Between the vet costs, the food, and the time you spend with them, they can greatly impact your lifestyle in a bad way if you're not really ready for one. This is one of the biggest concerns for me when people say they are looking for or buying a dog. If you aren't ready to get one, then wait, because the lifestyle they are subjected should matter to you if you care for your dog.

Now to the heart of my blog post. I know you might feel bad taking away your dog's manhood or the hope of raising a litter some day, but it is really important to spay or neuter your pet. Help prevent compounding the present problem in the US and elsewhere. Otherwise you'll end up with more than you can handle, and speaking from experience with barn cats, there are only so many you can give away. "Fixing" your pet will also lead them to a happier lifestyle and a better relationship with you because the hormones and the habits associated with intact pets are typically reduced by the process.

That being said, I also fully support adopting "mutts". Scientifically speaking, the crossing of breeds combined with the survivability of these animals that have already struggled through life on their own or in adverse conditions and then ended up in the local shelter will result in an active and more healthy animal in the long-run most often. There are so many pets up for adoption, I can't imagine that you can't find exactly what you want if you look hard enough. The problem that we are in right now is that so many people want to buy a dog with papers or from a puppy place that now there is over-production of these animals which then also end up in the shelter because their producers can't sell or get rid of all of the extra puppies they make.

If you're looking for a new pet, help one in need. Adopt.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Unconstitutional Prop 2?

So I figure that headline ought to have caught your attention by now, but what I'd really like to do here is make a small concession towards HSUS, and here's why.

Regardless of whether or not California decides that Prop 2 is unconstitutional, regardless of how much money HSUS deceived out of unwitting animal shelter donors, regardless of how badly this proposition is written, and the fact that because it is so poorly written Prop 2 itself will not likely help animals enjoy increased well-being, this proposition and its supporters helped bring to the forefront something that has been lurking in our midst for a long time now. Sure, PETA and other more radical groups have done a lot to bring attention to animals and the rights movement, but HSUS really grabbed attention in a more forceful manner by making us campaign, vote and decide on how animals should be raised in a food production system.

I'm not condoning HSUS's actions or endorsing their organization. Far from it, I consider them to be the biggest economic threat to livestock producers right now. They are willing to lie, create legislation and spend millions of dollars in advertising just to cram their end-point agenda of no animal product consumption down our throats. But what I am trying to say is that in the process of being the enemy, they have done the livestock industry a great service by making us re-consider and re-evaluate the possibilities of better systems for producing food in terms of animal welfare. This is one change that can't be re-traced even if we determine that Prop 2 is unconstitutional or if we further undermine all of HSUS's progress over the past 5 years. Thus the above article is really irrelevant in the long run.

HSUS and their associated groups have helped forced us into a new age, where we have to speak up for ourselves and defend our practices, because we are under fire by a larger and more powerfully politically aligned organization. They have brought us to a point where we will need to re-vamp our processes in a more holistic manner in order to bring our industrial considerations of animal welfare up to a new level in order to ensure consumer confidence. In the end, what people really want to know is that we've taken the best care of the animals that we could, ensuring them a healthy lifestyle and a suffering-free death.

Were we abusing animals on farms, or will animal abuse stop once new regulations and researched facilities are put into place across the U.S.? No. Farmers were not nor are they abusing their animals, rather, they are caring for them as they best know how. Nor will those rare cases of abuse stop with regulation or new research. There are crooks and bad cases in every industry and these people will continue to both arise and be sorted out throughout generations.

No, the difference as we move forward into the future is that animal welfare has now become critically more important to big industry players who request that we can prove that what we do is better for the animals than other options presented. It has brought increased institute attention and funding on potential research to further improve our understanding of what animals need and how we can best provide for them. These are things that farmers want to know, but now the formalized industry is more focused on it. This is all good, and the ball is rolling. Ruling out Prop 2 will not change this.

What we need to do now is continue to improve animal welfare on farms through implementation of ideas as research discovers new viable and practical options. This doesn't happen overnight or with happily worded constitution amendments. The best people to improve the care of animals are the people who know them best from working with them most. Animals will continue to be raised for food as long as we do our best to care for them and provide them an existence free of suffering. Through the research that is going on, we will identify the best options for raising animals and continue to improve them in the future so that farmers can keep doing what they do best: raising the food that fills your plate and provides valuable nutrition every day.

Friday, November 5, 2010


This summer when I was compiling biofuel information, I couldn't even find any reading material on this plant that didn't talk about how to kill it. In fact, when I put together the summary article, I mostly talked about what things we knew about it as a weed. Now, it's touted as a great biofuel alternative for the future. Some of these things change faster than we know how to keep up with them.

More interesting might be the fact that my suggested link on my Gmail sidebar as I read the ARS e-newsletter was "Where to buy sulfuric acid". Awesome.

My experience with horses last week (duplicate post)

Let me just tell you a story about animals and farming from my own life today.

We keep a few cattle around the place (the Bale compound). The purpose of these animals at some point was to raise show calves to sell to 4-H'ers and other kids who show at fairs. But as I moved off to college and the sheep became a bigger and now more successful part of our farm we've moved most of our efforts to raising sheep. Let's just say the cows haven't gotten a lot of interaction the past year or so.

We've got 3 cows out in the field; Joy is definitely the mother figure in the bunch which is lucky for us because she is a greedy pig when it comes to food and she is also tame around people. She wouldn't hurt you intentionally, or at least not without warning. Kiko and Bubbles are a bit more tricky, but following Joy, it didn't take long to trick all three of them into the pasture behind the barn where my cousin keeps her horse. This is where it gets complicated. We just needed to get some heat detection patches on them.

Horses and cattle inherently just don't get along. It's like Dems and Republicans. It's bred into them and they haven't a care in the world for each other, unless they can both get fat at the same party. But horses being bigger like to pick on cattle and push them around. This is a problem when we're moving cattle around, especially through a horse pen. Let's not be fooled, Joy is easily near a ton in weight, but since the horse is taller, she's still programmed to flee because she doesn't like being picked on. With the gate open for the cattle, who were scared of the horse but hungry for the feed I had my hand on the horse's head pushing her away when broke into just a few steps of trot with my hand still against her.

I can't say whether she meant to kick me before she broke into the trot or she decided to after I still didn't move, but my general policy is not to run away from animals. It has worked out positively more often than not and I settled into this attitude once I became too big to cross a fence in under 2 seconds anymore. Most of what an animal does is for show purposes to frighten you, but this time she wasn't joking.

I saw the kick coming before it happened. She hit that right front leg hard and the muscles rippled down her back so I had enough time to bring my right arm around to block what I expected to be a kick in the face. I would really hate to lose my teeth. Because I was planning to block with my forearm, I got kicked in the elbow as I realized she was going after my rib cage instead. Even with the kick deflected by my elbow, I absorbed the blunt impact in the rib cage and I can't really remember if I fell, was knocked over or just slowly collapsed to the ground. All I can remember at that point was knowing that the horse had run off and I had cows loose that needed in, and that I couldn't breathe at all.

I've done stupid things like riding a sled face first downhill on a ramp, and knocked the wind clean out of me. This wasn't the same. For half a minute there, I couldn't get breaths in, but I could see Amanda freeze in her place, and Mom moving the horse. Every heartbeat was wild pain while my chest ripped with every breath. Stretching out on the ground helped ease the pain and breathing. I think the adrenaline from something like that always acts as my first level pain reducer because I just wanted the job done at that point and didn't think again about how much I hurt until afterward.

Am I sore now, 5 days later? Sure, I'm sore, but I think that laying there on the ground a minute and taking it easy the whole next couple of days helped speed my recovery. I can't quite unbend my elbow and basketball will be a bit challenging for a while, but I'm still able to think about playing again next week, so at this point I'm obviously not in that bad of shape. I had just finally started healing up the bruised bone I had in my rib area from some foolhardiness in the past, so it's going to be sore for a while, but sparing some sparring competition with Tony, I should be just fine. Nothing broken and limited bone bruising on my elbow and lower ribs/sternum seems like a small price to pay for getting out of that one.

It all goes to show how unpredictable animals can be and why people who have little or no experience around animals should be extra careful in their mannerisms near animals. Animals can often mistake what you're trying to do, it even happens to me and I've been working with them since we moved back to Ohio. Talk about misunderstandings, I have definitely come a long way since those days, but there is no behavior problem with animals (or humans) that couldn't stand a little patience in the solution. Accidents happen; this is just one more to chalk off to God having some better plan for my future. I can honestly say that I have only been kicked by a horse once before, in the head, but the difference was that kick was unintentional or it would've done serious damage, whereas this was grumpy and malicious.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

State News

Short blog today regarding my friends at MSU and the frustrations they continue to endure caused by a campus newspaper that absolutely fails to be objective on the issue of animal agriculture. I think nobody would mind that as much if students weren't forced to pay a subscription to the paper that in turn verbally scathes the major studied by some of its mandatory subscribers.

I encourage you to read the article, then to dig up Joel's original column, as well as following the comments below the article I linked.

I sent some brief comments to MSU regarding the news article today and I confess to spending relatively little time editing them but it's a busy day so you'll have to forgive me. Here's my thoughts:

"Phil and associates,

"I can understand your concern about animal suffering. Farmers share this concern which is why it does not in fact happen. Animals are humanely raised, above and beyond government regulations in most cases, and are also humanely slaughtered with researched methods that prevent the feeling of pain prior to death.

"Some parts of a farm animals life can be painful, but again, in accordance with the law, these conditions of painful existence cannot be prolonged into what you would term suffering. Research has shown stress and pain indicators to diminish shortly after painful procedures which you cite such as castration, and tail and teeth clipping. The animal certainly does not remember the experience, nor are they experiencing a continued sensation of pain. Accusing farmers of causing animals to suffer is greatly similar to whining about a doctor being abusive for administering your once in a lifetime vaccinations.

"As was agreed by PETA VP (what was his name?) during his visit last fall, even more personal inflictions of painful surgical procedures are not remembered by humans, nor are they remembered by animals which is made obvious by their ongoing observed interactions with people over their lifetime. We are not talking about animal abuse here, which farmers do not condone or participate in. We are talking about the regulated and required health-related procedures which ensure an animal’s healthy existence in this world as they grow and eventually serve their purpose to provide food for Americans and those in less fortunate countries.

"I am personally involved in the worldwide research to improve the living environment of animals through their housing and social stimulation. However, this research takes time so that we can find effective ways to raise healthy animals for the public while improving the environment they live in. This is to avoid the mistake of building costly, “trendy” systems that truly don’t benefit the animals in the long run. Be patient because you’re not being ignored.

"Joel probably did not mention a necessity to give livestock antibiotics to stay alive because there is rarely a necessity to give animals antibiotics. In fact, there’s rarely a necessity to give humans antibiotics as well. If you would prefer to suffer through a secondary respiratory infection, or worse, accumulating scar tissue that will inhibit your ability to function for the rest of your life then please suggest to your doctor not to prescribe you antibiotics as well. Farmers care about their animals, and so they make sure that they give them what it takes to live healthy lives.

"The reason that farmers give their animals antibiotics is also not because the housing facilities are poorly designed. On the contrary, the ventilation, cleanliness and air quality in most “commercialized” layer barns is far better than in other systems which you imply would be more desirable, such as free-range or cage-free systems. If you don’t believe me, look at some research literature or actually visit some real farms.

"Finally, don’t even get me started on the supposed environmental hazard that animals pose to the world. Animals today represent just a small portion of what the world has to be concerned about in the way of environmental impact. Consider for example the fact that in America we produce over 1.2 billion pounds of garbage every day whereas the livestock industry produces 0.8 million pounds of waste per day. Then further consider that farmers recycle almost all of that waste to reduce the use of fertilizer on your vegetable crops that you consume. After you figure out what happens to the 1.2 billion pounds of human waste, let me know, because I’m pretty sure it is not being recycled and we are stuck with that figure for life. Animal agriculture is not the headline polluter that you claim it is."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

BEEF JBS article

I just want to make sure that I draw my readers' attention to the JBS article in BEEF Magazine which was also featured in the Agriculture Proud blog which is on the sidebar of my own blog. Ryan digs up some good reading and puts great thoughts into words on his blog so I again highly suggest reading it.

Anyhow, from my own conservative semi-rural background, I had trouble accepting JBS when I was first learning about it because what it seemed like was a company just had a lot of money and was buying out the American beef industry. While they have made some large purchases here in the US, it turns out that as they discuss in this article JBS started very small. Read the article, like I did, and you'll gain a new appreciation for the hard-working values that JBS was founded on which represent the values of hard-working American farmers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trent Loos - Hormones Video

This needs little explanation. Watch the video.

PS (6.16.2011) Video was removed by owner, so I removed the embed. Trent Loos has stimulating input on the hormones discussion as you will see if you read through other blog posts of mine on here. There are so many larger contributing factors to early puberty than a little hormone treatment in beef could ever pose. I encourage you to also check out LoosTales for other interesting topics discussed by Trent Loos.

Combating obesity and the red meat myth

First off, props to Mayor Bloomberg of New York City for his efforts to have sugar drinks banned from the acceptable list of food stamp purchases. It's not that I'm looking for those people on food stamps to suffer the lack of those luxury foods/drinks that most of us crave at some point or another. This represents a great opportunity for a step towards taking back the obesity issue from its current status of out-of-control. The government has itself in a hole where it provides food stamps to citizens who then purchase unhealthy foods with the stamps, thereby leading a higher number back into the necessity for increased government sponsored healthcare. This idea of using food stamps to provide healthier food products should be accompanied by educational tools for people on how to balance their diets for nutritional optimization but limiting the procurement of unhealthy sugar drinks is certainly a start in the right direction. Personally, I can say I lost weight just when I stopped drinking pop every day. It's good for me and can be good for you too.

Hand in hand with this is the topic of red meat consumption which always comes up in nutritional debates and is my main justification for this blog today. Red meat is always catching flak from its opponents ranging from PETA to registered dieticians to talk show hosts. The link I included above is just one example of an article designed to convince consumers to eat less red meat. Well, I'll let someone more qualified than myself justify the truth of the article and its "research" but I can tell you that I am skeptical of this study just like I am skeptical of so many others. People are voluntarily recruited for this study, are expected to actually be honest in their questionaires, and are expected to accurately keep records of their eating habits. This is not a controlled study and so much can go wrong. You should also be careful to note that although they blame red meat in the report, the study actually lumped both red meat and processed meat in the same bin. Of course, if I'm eating bologna or McDonald's every day of my life, I'm probably not expected to survive as long as someone who is cooking meat in their own home. Red meat wasn't killing people who made wholesome meals in their home and shared them with family and friends.

This isn't about shoving an agenda about the lack of family values or a pro-carnivore attitude down your throat. This is about making sure you consider the facts, and the factors and variables that can impact the value of a research study that claims you should limit your red meat consumption. I can bet you that the people in the study might have eaten at least 4 oz of red meat or processed meat a day, but it doesn't say whether they also maybe had days of 15 and 20 oz of red and processed meats packed in there too.

If you're a big eater like me, you'll be depressed the first, second and third time that you measure out how much you're eating, but take my word for it that portion sizing can make the biggest difference for you. Red meat is still fine for you; there's no true proof out there that it is bad for most people. Yet, there is definitely proof out there though that if you eat 3x as much as you should (including red and processed meats) that you will become overweight and possibly obese, and increase your risks for a lot of different diseases. The same holds true for you if you have already existing risk conditions and then try to eat red and processed meats every day - bad idea.

Simple take-home message here. Portion sizes will do wonders. Butter used to be "bad" for us, but now it's much better than most alternatives. Eggs used to be bad for us, but if you can manage your cholesterol, the eggs are a proven brain boost. Claims that red meat itself is bad for you are difficult to prove. I'm not going to stop eating it anytime soon.