Monday, January 19, 2009

The Rooster's Tale - continued.....

Well, we have our own version of the Rooster Riots going on. Fairview Farms out in CA had the same thing happen to them, but they were able to keep the farm's feathered residents and keep the peace with neighbors.

Stay tuned.....

Meantime - see WFAA's take on the issue. Thanks Steve!

Try THAT without any roosters....


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Rooster's Tale - tabled for now

THANK YOU! To CSA members and Market Day customers who came out tonight and sent in comments of support - and to those of you who prayed and sent the positive energy our way even though you couldn't be here in person.

I'd say chalk one up for the roosters and the chickens as well as the people tonight!

Dozens of people came out to the city council meeting to show support for a tradition that has been passed down for generations and part of what makes Balch Springs so special - the keeping of fowl at their homes.

The issue is very near and dear to many a heart as young and old alike came to the podium one after the other to plead for the very lives of their roosters and hens. Keeping just one rooster and 2 hens, much less the outright banning of roosters all together, united the city tonight and caused the ordinance to be tabled pending a Town Hall meeting on January 31st – (soon as I get details of time and location, I’ll post it right here – but under the noise it sounded like the Mayor said at 1pm and usually the meetings are at the Rec Center on Elam Road).

Some who came forward said they actually moved to Balch Springs because they could have fowl. Others have lived here for decades raising rare breeds that near extinction, while others, such as me, have businesses that would be adversely affected by such an ordinance. And others still coming from within Balch Springs, as well as some who emailed comments in or drove from Plano, Dallas and other parts of the metroplex, voiced their support for what would, in effect, stifle their right to eat locally raised natural foods.

One young man also noted how raising livestock helped keep him off the streets and out of trouble growing up. City Council Member Charlene Rushing spoke of how many kids showed up tonight to do something constructive.

As I’ve said all along, this goes way beyond just keeping noise down or controlling illegal fighting of roosters. And even David Haas of the code enforcement dept. admitted it was not his intent to eliminate chickens from the city but to address 11 complaints since October. Sanitation and noise were the topics. However, they did go to other very urbanized cities from which to draw up the proposed ordinance they planned to discuss and take action on tonight.

“We don’t want to be like other urbanized cities”, claimed at least one citizen. That is why many moved out of those towns – because they outlawed a quality way of life that is quickly being challenged in small communities like Balch Springs all across the country.

If we don’t draw a line in the sand and preserve some of these “growing communities” for food production, we’ll eventually run out of places where it is legal to raise your own livestock and crops. Our children are counting on us to plan for their future.

Still not over, but this issue has made it to the forefront as WFAA and the Dallas Morning News sent reporters and cameras to cover the story. Next up, setting guidelines that keep the animals safe, healthy and natural – range free – without violating the rights of neighbors who may not share our feelings of love for the animals we raise. Stay tuned!

Eat your food – naturally and locally! Marie

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's About Our Right to Eat

Andy isn't quite sure how to hold Sister's Daughter - his sister,
Peanut, looks on at a recent Market Day visit.

Balch Springs is a growing yet charming, country community. We have many benefits of urban suburbia, but I fear soon the city’s vibrant, farming, equine roots will be lost, along with our right to choose where and how we feed ourselves.

In reference to the proposed ordinance about poultry and livestock on the agenda Monday night at 7pm, Balch Springs City Hall on Hickory Tree, I will respectfully request the reconsideration of this overly restrictive government ordinance and simply ask the city to enforce with heavy fines the abuse or neglect of any animal; which is what I believe the spirit of the action was originally motivated by. Consult responsible farmers and ranchers for appropriate guidelines on acceptable standards and make them available to the citizens.

Do we really think outlawing the animal in our city will stop the practice of the illegal activity? And what will happen to the extra animals we outlaw? There are illegal dog fights and horse races, too, yet we don’t outlaw those animals. Do we? Where does it stop?

Outlawing live roosters anywhere in our city, limiting a family to 2 hens and forbidding a family from processing their own meat is a bit like telling someone where they can shop for groceries.

If one has chosen to raise and process their own food, and has appropriate space in which to do it, who is to say they shouldn't be allowed to do so? American homes were all “working farms” at one time before progress started outsourcing our food production to strangers. 2 hens are not productive enough for food purposes – especially without a rooster for breeding. Hens don’t lay eggs forever and if raising poultry for meat, they’d quickly run out of food.

Personally, livestock form an integral part of the majority of organic farms like mine; providing fertilizer and pest control for the farm that feeds them in return.

Recently, the old feeder-turned flower box also became a manger for some baby chicks.
Try THAT without a rooster!

Maintaining a closed flock of about 25 assorted hens - and roosters, otherwise my flock becomes extinct - I maintain a comfortable population where hens are bred on my farm by my own roosters. Educational and entertaining experiences await children, and adults from all over the metroplex who visit my farm. And I enjoy the all natural free range eggs, too.

Maintaining a closed flock under free range management helps control disease that may otherwise be introduced by bringing in new chickens – a common source of contamination. Likewise, it gives control over where sources of chickens come from, safe, disease free and all natural if so desired.

A nuisance? I beg to differ. A rooster crowing isn’t any more annoying to most than other normal sounds of a neighborhood we all have to hear. Traffic, helicopters, airplanes and sounds of construction in fact are more offensive yet we’ve had to tolerate these modern foreign noises in our quiet community. Sometimes you just will hear noise.

The late couple - "Whitey and Sister", relaxed for an afternoon nap together.

Sounds of roosters blend in nicely with shrieks of children playing, bullfrogs and chirping baby chicks and quacking ducks - which bring a sense of real life and peaceful times to any home.
Additionally, we’d be forcing out of practice American and Texas traditions of showing roosters or hens at the state fair, Stock Shows, 4H or FFA competitions if our children can’t keep birds at home here in our community. Many home school curriculum also incorporate raising animals.
Poultry help control pests such as cockroaches, fleas, grubs, and even mice, too, for anyone who raises them.

I wish they'd consider the majority of us who do not break the law by abusing or neglecting our animals, before making it a crime simply to own them.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Monday, January 5, 2009

We Got Rain!

It was a cold and stinging rain, but it was over an inch of it nonetheless! And if you're a winter vegetable, you don't mind it being a bit chilly.

The broccoli is starting to get little nubs on it - can't
you just almost taste it! It won't be long now.

I also rec'd a link today from Herb all about the renewable energy system we're using when we pump water to the irrigation system.

I don't know how many of you might be planning to use any kind of renewable energy at home, or start your own little farm, but Herb and Leo sure made it look simple for me! All I have to do now is plug in the pump and make sure there aren't any fish in the end of the hose. oh, yeah, I found a new way to "fish" the other day. Poor little guys. Caught 2 of them that way. Turned them loose, but not sure how well they did after that experience. We're working on a permanent screen to cover the end of the hose so that won't happen again. And I thought the leaves were a problem.....

Well, so far all you guys have asked for is soybeans, and I will order some seed and see how it goes. I'm securing potatoes right now and wondered if you all had any favorites? If you do, let me know - send in a comment. Soon, I'll be starting seeds for our spring garden, too. It all comes up on us fast. I'll get a variety of tomatoes, peppers, melons, beans, eggplant, squash, cukes and zukes. What else you guys want to see this spring? Let me know and I'll do my best to secure seed and see what we can do.

The purple cabbage is starting to head up!

And if you wanted to do any growing yourself, let me know and I'll get you pricing info. I'll be getting in some organic veggie plant starts in 4" pots this spring for the shop, too.

There is a farmer's conference in February I'll be attending. It is open to non-members of TOFGA, too, so check out the website for info if you're at all interested in attending. It is being held in Kileen this year. If you have any interest in farming, and there are a few of you out there, you should come. It is a wonderful collection of farming minds, great speakers and workshops.

Well - keep warm and hang in there -the warmer days are just around the corner they say. 60's by Wednesday. I'll be sending out an email here soon, maybe tonight, regarding this weekend's pick up and a work day.

Reminder: if you read my blog on Neighborsgo, you know that the roosters are in jeapordy here in town. If any of you can come to the city council meeting next Monday night in support of us keeping our flock of chickens and roosters - it would be great. Meeting starts at 7 sharp - usually - and citizen's comments are early on the agenda. We get 3 minutes each and you don't have to live in Balch Springs to speak. You are members of a local farm here in town and have a stake and an interest in the topic. Read my letter to the council for more info on our position.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Make a Resolution

Happy New Year!

What a great weather way to start it off, eh? 70's and sunny, my kind of weather. The garden seems to be loving it, too. So long as we get some rain, it will be great. You know, you can irrigate a garden, but nothing seems to do a garden as much good as a good soaking rainfall.

Things are growing, slowly but surely, and I hope we can see some real growth of the brocolli and cabbage here pretty soon. What I may do for next weekend is if you want to come harvest some greens, you can come out and we'll harvest together, or if you want to wait and let things mature, you can do that, too. We'll see how things go after this weekend and I'll be in touch via email.

For those of you who sent well wishes for my father, thank you so much. He's in the hospital and awaiting some more testing. I can say that, sadly, much of my father's ill health is related to poor nutrition and lousy eating choices over most of his adult life - as well as smoking since very young in life and lack of activity over the past 14 or so years. He's really a young man by today's standards, but much resembles the 66 going on 67 of decades past. He's more like a modern day 80 yr old - and that would be an insult to some 80+ people I know! So, when you kids hear your mothers telling you to "eat your vegetables" it isn't because the food will spoil - it is because your bodies need the nutrients found in them. Something my father just doesn't seem to grasp. And, neither do a lot of people. It is amazing how many of our friends and neighbors don't understand basic nutrition. What is it they are teaching in school anymore?

These steps we as people of a new mind set are taking to eat local/healthy/organic are so important for our future generations! Setting the example to your kids and us farmers making it available to anyone who really seeks healthy food is critical I believe, to America's health. There are many out there who truly feel our food chain is breaking down - rapidly. And there are others who feel that the drug companies and the food companies are in cahoots together to make us all sickly.

Well, while I don't know about any of that - I do know that I want to know where my food comes from and how it is grown as much as possible. Even if it means limiting the variety and/or quantity of food I can get. I eat out very rarely anymore and when I do, try to hit a healthy place. Unless I'm having one of my cheese fry/mushroom burger binges - which I do have every so often. I admit, I'm not a purist all the time. : /

When I set out to start growing organic food, I thought I could just grow a small garden for myself, or I could see if others wanted the same thing, that maybe just didn't have the time or the know-how to grow it themselves. I knew people came to the market days wanting fresh produce and there was certainly a shortage of local, organic farmers around here.

My fellow farm friends in TOFGA had been pushing me to start farming for a couple of years but I couldn't figure out how to do it and still pay the bills, etc. Thank goodness for CSA and you dedicated people in the DFW area who want to see a farm out here. We're doing it! And now, we'll all have access to this kind of food, right here close by.

With the young folks interested in farming that are making contact with me, even after I'm too feeble to farm, I think you'll find others taking up the torch and carrying it on. I believe that local farming is here to stay and local eating is the best way to assure our survival and good health.

I want to end this entry with a short video of our renewable energy system addition. Water for our gardens comes from a pump that is powered by a couple of donated batteries, thank you CSA members Herb and Barbara Perkins. Those batteries are now not only charged by solar panels, but as engineered by volunteer Leo Samalot and Herb - a wind turbine! Is this cool or what? Parts were cheap and/or recylced! Herb will be writing a paper on it soon and I'll put up a link to it for those interested.

See, part of my goal here is to make it clear to others who want to raise organic food that it doesn't have to be really as expensive as so many (of us) thought, to get started. Farmers need to be paid a decent living for the quality food they are growing - yes!, don't get me wrong, the price of cheap food is a sin and has put many farmers out of business. But the capital they do earn is often eaten up for irrigating and power because they rely on the power company to send well water to their fields, or pay for city water - and that gets really expensive! When you don't have natural water tank like I do, you can catch water from rain events - as we'll do eventually, too, (and document the "how-to" here, as well). In this way, the cost of farming goes down a lot. More can be spent on modernizing, more seed variety and production costs, equipment, etc., not to mention just plain living expenses which don't go down, rather than paying utility companies for the basics. Renewable energy has its limitations, but it is a great way to go. Herb and Leo are owed a debt of thanks - and an extra helping of greens! : )

Have a great weekend everyone. I'll be here working in the gardens much of it, getting ready for the next blast of cold! Gotta love Dallas weather....

Eat Your Food - Naturally!