Thursday, January 27, 2011

ADSA news

From my e-newsletter with ADSA, I refer you to a good article on the challenges that some "more humane" bird facilities face during this time of year. I think it's really important for people to fully understand the consequences of their ideology, and how much it sometimes just doesn't make sense.

Speaking of not making sense, the driving force behind cheap food is talking about making healthier food cheaper. It just seems like a high percentage of the people who shop Wal-mart do it because they can get more food for less money, thus eating more. Making your food healthier won't change the fact that people come there, buy too much and subsequently eat too much. Changing consumer action will make a bigger difference than the quality of your food. If you asked me, Wal-mart could do with focusing on fresher produce first.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ag Thesaurus

For those of my readers who rarely know what the heck I'm talking about, try out this updated agricultural thesaurus. And for those of you who are just fascinated by the ways in which words have changed over the years, it's a fun little reference tool.

It's a pretty quiet week for me. Being so busy with school has kept my head in the books, and with abstracts pending in 3 weeks and exams just finished, I'm just keeping my head above water. We also started lambing out at our place last night, dropping twins and a single. Animals always seem to build energy off of each other, because it wasn't long after the lambs dropped that the steers jumped the fence and starting running around.

Speaking of the steers, these are probably the nicest steers I have seen in a while on our place. Combining that with how well they handle for my younger brother, this should be a great show year. They are growing and look very healthy; seeing the profile yesterday against the perfect snow was beautiful. It's days like that that I miss living out on the farm.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mike Rowe on castration

Nothing more needs said other than I think this is a great talk by Mike Rowe. Listen to it, and think about how it applies to the misconceptions that we have about what is really better for the animals. And who better to know what's good for animals than the ones who take care of them 365 days a year.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On it goes...

Barilla pasta became the first big pasta-maker to join the cage-free egg movement. Whether or not they were pressured into it or bought out by HSUS, we'll probably never know. But what I do know is that they represent just one in a huge wave of propaganda conquests by HSUS as they buy, force or lie their way into the forefront of animal rights idiocracy. I think it's great that Barilla cares so much about the welfare of chickens, but maybe before they force more of the market production to convert to cage-free production, they might've wanted to ask whether or not cage-free is really a better system for the bird. For further reading on the matter, check out this OSU compilation on the welfare of birds in both systems. You might just be surprised.

While we're at the old grind of trying to spread facts to the few who care to elevate about media-hyped fiction, try out this sow housing fact sheet released by the USDA and ARS. I found it to be a more honest and unbiased evaluation of the current situation and research. In class today, we discussed the highly controversial issues surrounding the care and euthanasia of pigs. I understand the concern with animal welfare. As long as there are people beating animals, we have not done enough. But what frustrates me is the momentum from video releases which are used to push for irrational methods of caring for animals, such as untested swine housing, lack of castration, castration with anesthetics which are more detrimental to the piglet than the surgery, and utopic descriptions of how a pig should be allowed to act to exhibit "normal" behavior. For those of you who haven't seen pigs, don't watch their normal behavior - it will make a bad impression (ever seen Old Yeller?).

Finally, I have just two topics that border gross for me. First is the suspected live burial of pigs during the spread of foot and mouth disease in Korea. Foot and mouth disease is a horrible disease which spreads much faster than the vaccine would be able to work. While Compassion advocates the vaccine, you need to understand that the animals in question were obviously already afflicted with the disease. They should obviously have been euthanized prior to burial but they were not going to be saved one way or another.

And then there's the Dutch guy who thinks we should eat bugs. What do animal rights activists think about this? What a tasty alternative to bacon, eh?

Monday, January 17, 2011

FS's take on the new veterinary oath

Farm Sanctuary's blog had a thought provoking post about the new veterinary oath and previous "research" that they had conducted on the opinions of veterinarians. Their blog is worth the read if you're interested in this type of thing and since they never post my comments, I have included below:


"Curious, but when was 2% response rate on over 69,000 veterinarians considered an acceptable number to claim that "80% of veterinarians considered gestation crates objectionable"? Considering the fact that this was also a mail survey, that means that people who replied were likely highly opinionated participants and you didn't capture the true essence of the population.

"Secondly, I think you'll find if you conducted a qualified mail survey that veterinarians weren't objecting to adding "welfare" to their oaths for any reason other than fear that animal rights activists and supporters would mislead and misconstrue that oath to the public. Veterinarians have always had the implied obligation to protect an animal's welfare as it pertains to their health; as a health professional it is within their duty and they act on this responsibility. Adding "welfare" to their oath was in my own opinion overkill and unnecessary."

Our new dog, Betsy (duplicate post)

It's official, we've finally adopted a dog. She's about 2 years old, a hound mix, with 2 bundles of energy and a bit of a bad habit to whine which she picked up copying all the other dogs at the shelter. Hopefully we'll be able to train that out of her because she's picked up a lot of other things we've taught her even in the last 14 hours, like sitting, not jumping on people and staying off the furniture (although she tries to sneak past you on that last one).

She's a pretty curious little dog (about 30 lbs.) and ferocious with her toys. Out of all the toys we bought for her, she's demolished everything except for the indestructible pig which she doesn't like as much because, go figure, it's indestructible. Anyhow, we've finally made good on our goal to adopt a dog, and the people we worked with, "Pets Without Parents" were easygoing and prompt with paperwork, most importantly not selling the dog out from underneath us. Most importantly, we can't wait to take her out to the folks' places and let her run some and get some introductions to other animals.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Doggies! (duplicate post)

We're headed over to another pet adoption place tonight and the ball is rolling on new paperwork. Amanda found some new dog options, two of which we're headed to look at tonight. First though, you have to see the picture of this adorable little beagle/chihuahua mix. Of course, that's a bit smaller than we wanted, so it's not really an option for us, but if you want, it's still waiting for a home.

So the two dogs we are going to look at tonight are pretty similar in a few ways. Both have interesting names, "Keegan" and "Betsy Boop", but who says naming your dog has to be boring? Both are about the same size, cost, colors, and health status. Now we just have to see them and interact with them to see whether or not they actually fit for us.

Of course, this is a no-kill shelter, which is nice, but still means that we're not really saving a puppy from being put down. However, we are looking at adopting a dog without a home, and that's a really good feeling for me. Time will tell how much work will go into having a pet and whether or not we were totally ready for it. But I think all the preparation in the world still can't leave you fully prepared for the unknown. We are ready enough, financially stable and this is a nice/fun step for us in our relationship as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hopefully not Food for Thought

A couple of videos to mull over as the issue of animal care and how it is provided continues to be discussed and relevant in today's world.

In class today, one of the students brought up this man's crazy stunt of "living" with the lions for a month to raise money for his animal sanctuary. Besides the fact that his shelter actually doesn't provide sanctuary for the animals where they can function normally, his plan really just doesn't make any sense. Luckily, he still does have a place where he can hide to protect himself - if he makes it there.

In case you needed a reminder of why you shouldn't climb into a pen with animals, let alone carnivores, check out this video below.

Or of course, there's the puffer fish that somehow is believed to have killed a man. If I was the wife, I'd be wondering why he ate the poison, or of course, maybe she already knows.

It was interesting in class though that as we talked about deceptive arguments and the methods used by activists to sway the middle ground, many of the things we denounce animal rights groups for doing, we've done or are doing ourselves. And the excuse that they were first doesn't make it any better that we also try to manipulate people's opinions. I think that same observation is reflected in a lot of the change in agricultural media at this point as we return to focusing on what we do, and why we do it instead of finger pointing and saying who's wrong and why. It's not that we're being simple and stupid; we just need to be honest because that's what people want and need more than anything.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


This was a concept I had barely even heard about before we discussed it yesterday in the animal issues class that I TA. As a little side note, I would like to congratulate all of the students in that class for taking it upon themselves to enroll in a non-required class (but fulfills a GEC) that discusses such complicated topics. These are students who truly show for the most part an interest in learning things in college instead of just checking off requirements before they leave. Yesterday, I talked to an aviation major in the class, just one example of the diversity we have in the class and hopefully that will lead to a lot of healthy discussion.

Debarking dogs can be done for many reasons. First on my mind was a beagle or the deaf dog in our house last year, but apparently there are more complex interests in debarking of dogs than just the annoying metronome of dogs who haven't learned to shut up. Most interesting to me was the fact that Ohio is the only state to have a law that prohibits the debarking of vicious dogs. It would seem that there were actually people who debarked attack/guard dogs in order to still protect themselves but give the dog the benefit of surprise. Law enforcement officers found this especially troublesome for obvious reasons.

What bothers me about the debarking of dogs is the surgery and the fact that it permanently inhibits the dog's ability to vocalize. I understand this is the goal of the procedure and I'm sure there are dogs which this procedure must be performed on, dogs that have no self-control and raise complaints from neighbors, etc. There does come a point where the dog will either have to be given up or debarked for its own good. And when you reach that point and there has been no way to prevent the dog from incessant barking, then I think that debarking becomes a justifiable procedure. There was no way to previously predict the dog would behave this way and to get rid of the dog would provide less quality of life than the alternative of just removing the ability to misbehave in a way in which will result in the dog's movement to a shelter or unfamiliar home. This is just one more of those tough choices that has to be made by the people who have taken the responsibility of caring for the animal. The animal depends on these people to do the best that they can for it, and sometimes they might determine that debarking is necessary. That's just one more fact of life, and it's better than the dog having to settle into a new home or shelter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pet Surgeries

Today in the class that I TA, we spent a lot of time discussing elective surgeries on animals and the various things that happen to both small and large animals. The idea was to get the class thinking and discussing what makes a surgery ok, or acceptable, and what doesn't.

Of course, beyond the agricultural processes (some of which I agree with and some, like tail-docking of dairy cattle which serves no scientific purpose I do not support), this also led to ethical considerations in pets. We talked about the de-clawing process and how this actually removes a bit of the bone from each digit on a cat and destroys their ability to act on their instincts.

Of course, if you were to ask animal rights activists what they thought about cat de-clawing, they'd probably not give you an answer. They don't want involved in a sticky issue like that. Of course, they might say that they think it is a wrong-doing towards the animal but they are much more concerned with letting domesticated livestock loose to be free in the wild (even though they will die from inability to care for themselves) than helping pet owners better understand the alternatives to de-clawing.

I'm not saying I disagree with the de-clawing process, of course. I actually think it is a great option if you can't find another way to prevent your cat from tearing up the furniture, and especially if that cat will not end up outside or abandoned later, struggling to cope with the fact that its claws can't help feed it or protect it anymore. Instead, what I am saying is that there are painful procedures which go on all around us in the world today. Some of these are more obvious, like the dehorning of calves or castration of pigs. But these can be necessary procedures, just like the de-clawing of a troublesome cat. These procedures all serve to protect other animals that might be in proximity of the cows, or pigs, or housecat.

We're all in this together, and at some point, reason must prevail. We can't just keep thinking that what we do makes sense to everyone else. If we don't speak up, eventually it will be too late to state our opinion. I know you hear this all the time, but it really is important not only to figure out what you think on critical animal care issues, but then to help educate those around you. If you need an example of how ridiculous some people can get, just look at this:

Monday, January 10, 2011


I think I lost a lot of readership when I got bitter over the past month. This post isn't gonna get them back. Bitterness is always just one skip and a fall past sarcasm, and since I thrive on sarcasm I'm always on that tightrope. Of course, besides all the stress of the past few months, I actually don't have anything to be truly bitter about. A month ago, I was pretty sure that I would be searching for a new advisor, ignored by my current one and stagnating in the office where all good brains will finally die out. However, all good things come around eventually, and the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter. I have things to do again (which of course means less cheap posts on here).

Now, life for me this new year is really about the same, except that it's different and stimulating enough that I've tried to get my attitude back in order. My educational aspirations took a hitch in the plans right away but the start was still fast and it's good to really feel like I'm getting something done again. It's no New Year's resolution. No, it's just me getting turned back around and headed down a road with sunshine for a while. Cynicism has its place in every conversation, without doubt, but I need to cut mine a bit short here for a while. Otherwise everyone who reads this will think that I just hate the world.

It's hard sometimes not to be angry or apathetic with the world though. Take recycling, for example. Farmers are earth's recyclers, helping to protect the animals that can take inedibles and make food, helping to grow food from the ground which can sustain life, and then turning around and restoring that land so that it can be as fertile as possible. They work all the time to make land livable, but then once it's livable, the people come in and take it over, eat it up and trash it. But is the world to blame, or is it just a lot of people in the world?

It feels like the Bill Peet book, "Wump World", where everything is on a downward spiral until we finally realize that it's too late to fix the mess we made. It continues to shock me that there are people who care more about saving a cat than helping save their planet. But is it because they don't care about the planet, or because they know that if they save an animal there is a tangible change? This is a change that all of us can really see, we can really feel. And that is the change that is most fun to make. Like casting off an addiction, the difference that you physically make in the world can have more long-term rewards than the stack of paper you put in a bin and never saw again. And there's the hope to this world.

Apathy is the worst disease and will probably take the longest time to find the cure. Like cancer, it eats away at our feelings and our bodies until nothing matters to us anymore. We are desensitized to the pain and need around us, unable to enjoy the happy moments because we have settled into the status quo, willing to let time and trouble pass us by. And if we don't even care about ourselves, then how can we care about the planet?

I do my part to recycle, and I think it matters that much more to me now that I don't have the green grass and wide spaces to enjoy every day. Recycling has almost become my one way of working for the betterment of the earth; my promise to myself that I won't let my lifestyle hurt the planet any more than is inevitable. Amanda thought I was crazy at first, but even she has the recycling gene in her and so we do it. Thankfully, OSU has recycling dumpsters on campus which allow us to do our part. Sure, even recycling has its skeptics and I never know what to believe about the true impact of what I tried to save anymore, but all I can do is listen to the experts and save the stuff I'm supposed to save, hoping that someone else is doing their part too. Are you? Do some simple things, that you've been told all your life to do your part to slow down our destruction of the planet. Reduce your waste, re-use what you can (it's even better than recycling) and then recycle whatever else is possible. Try it, and see if it isn't worth your time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pet Shelters - Part II (duplicate post)

I could've also titled this "Why We Won't Adopt from Franklin County Animal Shelter", but then this would've seemed like what it really is. After the caring and second chances that we gave to the animals and volunteers at the Franklin County Animal Shelter, they turned around and stabbed us in the back.

On Thursday night, Amanda and I went on a date to the county shelter and had a negative experience that I had thought we salvaged into a future for a return visit for a specific dog we've had our eyes on. Well, check out her webpage today, noticing that she is "adopted" and it's not by us. Even though we filled out an application for Desiree on Thursday night and weren't allowed to put her on hold because she was in observation for zoonotic parasites, they gave her away last night to someone else who came in off the street and picked her out of a lineup of cages.

We called in this morning and there's really nothing that the shelter can say to fix things for us. We were told that the dog wouldn't be ready until last night or this morning and last night wasn't really a good option for us. Assuming that our application for the dog would be respected, we called in today to find out that the "adoption" tag wasn't for us but for someone else. It's disappointing and a huge let-down. It takes a lot to get worked up for a big move like adopting a dog, and we were ready today. The crash afterward was a bit difficult, but mostly because I was so angry with them for giving the dog away. It's not like we can take her back from a good home now, but I'm still angry about it.

Needless to say, we won't be returning there, just as I predicted. We don't have time to waste with incompetence and insensitivity or lack of responsibility and follow-through. We're moving on, looking for more dogs, so if you have any suggestions, I'm open.

Toxins in Germany

News is nothing if untimely, so forgive the brevity but I thought this link was worth posting on my blog. In another example of the critical need for food security, Germany is investigating the feeding of toxins to livestock that has already disrupted trades with 2 countries and possibly led to contaminated products in the UK. Nothing is more scary than having to question whether or not your food and water are safe to consume. This is why farmers here in the US go to such great lengths to protect their animals and crops and why there are so many government regulations in the food supply.

"My Empire of Dirt" (duplicate post)

Today I finished one of my Christmas books, from Amanda's parents, "My Empire of Dirt" by Manny Howard. If you recall, it was this past summer when I blogged about seeing his book review on the Colbert Report. While, of course, some of you don't think it advisable to take book recommendations from the great Colbert, this one in particular interested me for a few reasons.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Manny Howard
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1) Manny Howard tried to raise his own food in Brooklyn, New York. As a person involved in agriculture, I wanted to see what his experiences turned out like; his interview indicated that they were diverse, expensive and challenging.

2) Manny talked in his interview about how underpaid farmers truly are. While I'm sure there is a journalist's exaggeration stored up in there as well, he had a point that I wish more people understood. Farmers are subsidized so that the public doesn't have to pay as much for their food as they should have to, and people today just don't realize how much that is. People go on and on about subsidies and how they are protecting farmers, but the truth is that these same subsidies protect the people as much or more than they protect the farmers. And in this current market, food prices will go up; be prepared for it.

3) In his interview, he exhibited a unique sense of humor that I imagined would be equally entertaining in his book.

So let me tell you about my thoughts on this book after reading it...

Manny Howard is as easily distracted in his book as he is on camera. The very definition of ADD, this book is not good for someone who has trouble keeping track of weaving plot lines or conversational asides. If I could do one thing for this book, I would at least keep it strictly chronological in the real-life recounting of his activities on the farm. His division by topics is good but I like to see the whole-picture of timing as well and sometimes that falls by the wayside. His book is also laced with a bit of foul language, but frankly that doesn't bother me because in today's cultural context, it just goes to accurately show the extremity of emotional experiences he and his counterparts went through during his farming experiment.

Slight criticisms aside, I loved this book. It is fun to read a book and almost watch a man go through the same harsh learning experiences and realities that many inexperienced urbanites (myself included at one time) go through during an introduction to agrarian lifestyle. His opinion on locavorism is also refreshing and realistic. Not only that but he does a really good job of jumping right into the necessary mentality and struggling through his labor, approaching even the repulsive tasks of slaughter and manure management as requirements for a true agricultural experience. The fact that all of this happens in Brooklyn makes the story that much more hilarious and I enjoyed his inclusions of funny asides related to this as well. This book was a great and easy read.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pet Shelters - Part I (duplicate post)

I had quite the frustrating first encounter with the Franklin County Animal Shelter. Amanda drove over 2 hours to the Franklin County Animal Shelter last night. I drove over and hour. The weather was terrible but we had emailed ahead about the dog and indicated we would be near closing and wanted to see a specific dog. They never noted any of that.

While I was still lost and sliding on the road, Amanda was already in an altercation with a piss-poor volunteer who refused to even acknowledge our attempts to support their efforts and the animals with simple cordiality. I don't care how bad your day is, you don't treat me and my wife that way.

Once I arrived, I went back in, bringing Amanda with me. I bypassed the malcontent and addressed an older, heavy man behind the security glass. He informed me that we were too late and we could only see the dog within its cage. That's better than nothing, but then he found out that our dog was diagnosed with a zoonotic disease over a week prior and that we couldn't see her. Both the fact that the place restricted access to animals at a certain time of day, and the fact that the dog we specifically inquired about was not visitable would have been great things to include in the response email. Terrible "customer" service wouldn't begin to describe the shameful atmosphere we endured, all in the name of love for stray animals.

If you were getting paid to adopt a dog, I might recommend this shelter right now. Unfortunately, this is where we found a dog we were interested in. Thus, this is where we have to return if we want to see this dog again. If this dog is out, you will probably not see me there ever again. Other shelters treat people better and I'd rather support their efforts.

Farewell from Strickland

I have to say that I'm going to miss having a governor who made such efforts to take care of animal agriculture in the state of Ohio and to respect the deals he brokered to protect them. Check out this effort of his to follow-through on his work with OFBF and HSUS...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Brace yourself

As calamities compound, the world food price will continue to rise with supply shortages. It's amazing to me how quickly Econ 201 comes back to me. I can just see those diagrams of apples and lines are various as the DC freeway system defiling what had started out as a perfectly normal graph. Well, just in case you doubted why it's worth keeping food production here in the US, this would be one of those good reasons. Agriculture keeps pulling this economy along.

And for your reading, check out this BBC article on GM pigs to reduce phosphorus build-up. We discussed this in class last quarter and the idea is very exciting, although the reality has yet to be charted.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Welfare updates

My gateway email took me to some interesting animal welfare links but I'm going have to wait to share them with you until the website is working correctly again. I understand it's a great project that they are tasking themselves with, to combine and share the world's animal welfare news, but somedays the site is so ineffective and slow that I can't do anything with it. Today it didn't even load.

On December 15th, HSUS released another "undercover" movie for which another "undercover" reporter was not prosecuted despite the fact that he/she witnessed animal abuse and neglected to correct or report it. Smithfield however has been very active in handling the issue and I think all is well in hand there.

This leads directly into the 3rd in a series by a reporter who toured a farm that was victimized by the HSUS and their cronies. He further contends that it is inaccurate portrayal in the videos based on what he saw there. If you haven't read his previous posts, you can find them in my previous blog entries in the last couple of weeks. He does a great job of unbiased reporting - something that many reporters could take a few lessons in.

Panda Cow (duplicate post)

Yeah, I didn't really believe this either when I first heard about it, but sure enough it does kinda look like a more friendly and probably more edible version of the panda. If you follow the link for the ABC article or Fox article you can see a better picture of one as a baby (there was just one born), but just follow Google Images for more pics that are easier to see.

I would hesitate to call this an actual breed at this point in time since they aren't really reproducing yet (notice it's mother doesn't look like it). Thus it's a crazy set of genes, but not a new breed of cattle as claimed by the ever-knowing ABC.

As an afterthought, I have no idea what's going on in this picture from a BBC website...