Using Water Contaminated with Cyanotoxin for Non-Consumable Purposes?

See even a little of this? Don’t use the water.

This article is part of the discussion on cyanotoxin Don’t Drink the Water.

When you find out your water is contaminated with cyanotoxin, your world will change.  This water is dangerous and causes all sorts of troubles, even for showering or bathing.  Unfortunately, you may never know it’s contaminated without the gas chromatography mass spectrometry testing.  Since you can’t keep one in your back pocket, you must prepare and be on the alert.  You must take precautions.

Do not bathe or shower in water contaminated with cyanotoxin.  Someone, who shall remain nameless, told us it is okay to shower with it if you have no cuts or skin breaks on  your body, you are healthy, and you are an adult if the toxin level was very low.  Given the additional information below, that bit didn’t provide any comfort.

If you have to use it for doing dishes, all dishes and utensils must be effectively rinsed with undiluted chlorine bleach.  It’s the only thing that removes (not destroys) it from the dishes.  Even that is not a guarantee of safety.

Not one article has been found that suggests it’s safe to wash your clothing with it.  And, since it concentrates the toxin as water is removed, it seems as if it would only remain in the clothing, and then be on your skin and you can’t get away from it.

Irrigation
Algae can get into the system and contaminate the water with toxins.

And, most disturbingly is that water containing cyanotoxin is unsafe for both livestock and irrigation.  Your animals will die from the exposure, and you wouldn’t want to eat any animals contaminated with cyanotoxin.  When used in irrigation systems, it is airborn and inhaled by field workers.  This causes any number of dreadful outcomes.  Further, studies show that plants irrigated with contaminated water poses a great threat.  The toxin not only gets in the plant, but it concentrates in the plant through the root system so that eating a small portion of the plant would be deadly.

In short the only way to get it off of something is to wash with full strength bleach, and that isn’t a sure thing.  It remains on surfaces.  It is both a poison and a carcinogen.  It is harmful to every living creature that encounters it.

In short, there is no safe way to use water contaminated with cyanotoxin.  When you use it, you know you are taking a risk and one has to determine if the risk is worth it or if there is some alternative water source to be found.

References:

Saqrane, Sana, and Brahim Oudra. “CyanoHAB Occurrence and Water Irrigation Cyanotoxin Contamination: Ecological Impacts and Potential Health Risks.” Toxins. Molecular Diversity Preservation International, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

Milligan, Allen J., Assistant Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology, OSU. “Potential Impact of Cyanobacteria on Crop Plants.” Potential Impact of Cyanobacteria on Crop Plants. Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Management, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

“Drinking Water and Sanitation.” SpringerReference (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

In a Post WCE, Where to get the Best Quality Seeds?

The simple answer is “from yourself”.  The only way this can happen is if you are already practicing the skills you need to secure the best possible seeds for next year’s crops.  Sure, many gardeners will tell you to choose the best plants to get the best seeds, but what they don’t tell you is how to consistently improve, over time, your ability to harvest the best produce possible.  As a matter of fact, you could produce a new variety of seeds through your efforts.

Start with the best quality seed you can get.  Seeds are expensive, so do your research.  Just because you have bought this or that brand for year after year does not mean you are in fact buying the best.

One of the most important things you can do is to keep a proper journal about your garden exploits.  Write down everything, every year.  Date every page.  Did it rain today?  How much?  Was it hotter or colder than normal today than last year on this day? Note it and log it.  What did you plant today?  Remember to log the germination rate each day.  There is no detail too small to consider adding to the journal about your garden or fields.  Why?  Because you will need that information after a WCE.  Then it will be too late to start gathering useful information for your region.  It takes years to gather what you need.  Some of it you can get from local garden experts, but your own experiences are more valuable than anyone else’s.

Test the germination rate for the seeds you plant every year.  You will know the rates for each company from which you buy seeds.  In this way you will better choose products that meet your needs best.  It is with these seeds that you will start your seed saving practices as well as your venture into creating a better and stronger variety of your favorite produce.

Since accuracy is important, keeping a separate journal for various produce so as not to get grape writings mixed up with apple writings might be a good idea.  Now for the good stuff.

When your plants are growing in the garden, continually watch them to see which are the best and worst.  When it comes time to harvest seed, choose only to harvest from the single best plant that has the best qualities you desire.  For the next planting season complete the steps over again.  Be sure to plant these seeds away from the possibility of pollination by any other source.

Each careful harvest gains seeds that are best suited to your environment and most resistant to the pests and diseases of your region.  In this manner you will create your own variety of plants and seeds.  Those, and your reputation for seed production will be valuable after a WCE.

Three Years After WCE, Will Your Garden Seeds Fail?

You did everything right.  You saved money, coins, what ever you needed to be able to trade.  You saved seeds for the Victory Garden and used them.  The world changing event happened, a WCE.  During the first three years you relied on the stash you had in the freezer, but you noticed each year the germination rate was down.  Every year you saved seeds from your garden, but still your garden got smaller and less productive each year.  Sometimes your garden produced weird plants because of cross pollination.  Some seeds failed to germinate producing no plant at all, or produced plants that produced no fruit.  If you don’t watch out, not only will you have nothing to trade, but you might not have any produce for your own needs.

Now you need to find a way to replenish your stash with good seeds.  You know some people trade them.  But in this new era seeds are highly prized and traders likely are not reliable to offer quality products.  They aren’t always “just seeds” any more.  They are the difference between life and death for many people.

In the future, after a WCE, you can expect the same things to happen as did during the 1800s.  Traders were less than honest.  They would knowingly sell seeds with a large amount of weed seed mixed into the lot.  How could they do it?  Simple.  They just bet on purchasers not being able to tell the difference between seeds that look very similar.

Lobelia Seeds
Click to view product details.

 

Since dodder weed seed looks remarkably like clover seed, the buyer could be fooled.  Cheat looks like oat seed.  There are other weed seeds that can be passed to the untrained eye as crop seeds.  As reported in the 1860’s, some sellers knowingly sold impurities as much as 30% weed seeds.  This means that the farmer purchased 738,000 seeds per pound which he thought was for crops.  Instead, he planted 288,000 weeds.  Consider how much time, garden space, and money were wasted in this manner.  If one third of the seeds you purchase are no good, and worse, they grow weeds it will be a waste and possibly the difference between life or death for your family.  You will have at least one third less harvest under the best of circumstances.

Another way people would trick farmers is by bleaching old discolored seeds so they would not look old.  Then they mixed some good seeds in with them. Buyers would end up with old seed that couldn’t germinate.  They might get two or three crop plants for every 100 seeds planted.  The weed crop is doing fine.  The farmer might think it was something he was doing wrong.

Yet another way bad seed is sold is when they are not stored well, or are left to freeze before they are dry and are ruined.  The purchaser can’t always tell just by looking if the seeds have been improperly stored.  But the seller knows what he did if he grew them.  It will pay to know the seller very well.  It will be better if the seller is fully dependent on you for something he needs badly.

This could be why so many people gave up gardening between 1900 and 1950.  The amount of work involved far out weighed the benefit of the produce.  Farmers had to use more land to have a yield big enough to bring to market.  It was not until the U.S.D.A. stepped in and regulated production and sales that seeds and sellers were cleaned up.

Now, seed labels must specify the year for planting, and the expiration date.  Most states require the germination rate to be printed on the labels as well.  If it is not specified, it would be reasonable to assume not more than 70% germination rate.  So, if you need 100 plants, purchase enough seeds to cover the 30% reduction in germination.  You might be happy if it is a better rate, but will be sadly disappointed if the rate is less.

Which brings us to the last way seed sellers might sell old and improperly stored seeds.  Their packaging may be worn and tattered.  If so, don’t buy them, or only offer a small amount of trade for them.  Seeds exposed to light and heat are always less vital than well stored seeds.  Most seeds only store for three to five years under normal conditions, not frozen, and the germination rate is reduced by about 15% to 30% or more per year.

Click to view product details.

After a WCE, how are you going to protect yourself from ruthless traders who would bring you bad seeds when you most need good ones?  Well, unless you have a microscope, pre-labeled seed slides, and some books to smarten you up, you can’t.

Click to view product details.

 


Some seeds are so small you wouldn’t be able to see what you need to know with the naked eye. The slides need to be made by you so you know exactly what you are looking at, and you need to inspect the slides often to see how the seeds have degraded over time so you can gauge the age of the seeds being sold.  The books give you the valuable information that you can use for the rest of your life.  With repeated study you can learn to protect your seed supply both now and in the event of a WCE.

Click to view product details.


Armed with these three things, a seed seller who is not trading fairly will not want to subject his product to your tests of quality.  Who knows, your ability to discern good from bad seeds might enable you to trade your skills and knowledge for seeds and other items you need.

Urban Preppers Consider Several Garden Produce Options

Window Herb GardenUrban life often limits the amount of garden space to the number of pots you can fit on a balcony or window sill.  With these kinds of restrictions, growing everything you want to put in your food stores is impossible.  For those reasons, any people purchase prepacked foods in cans, boxes, and foil packets.  But that does little to soothe the minds of those who would prefer to put up fresh grown produce, free of chemicals.

Organic foods purchased in grocery stores or markets are expensive compared to other commercially pre-packaged foods.  When you spend that kind of money on organic foods, the tendency is to want to eat it right away, not can or freeze it.

There are things you can do to get the quality produce you want without breaking the bank.  It will take a bit of research and networking, but it can be done.  Prepare to contact growers in January or before planting season starts to strike up a deal.   Now is a good time to start.  The earlier you contact growers, the better your chance of getting what you need.

Who or what is a grower?  A grower is anyone who uses their land to produce food. Blooming Hill Farm Anyone.  That means it could be a homeowner with 1/8 acre to 5 acres of land or someone out in the country on hundreds or thousands of acres.  The keys are knowing who the growers are and what you want.

Start by getting a “what is in season” list within the region you are willing to travel.  You can get these from county agriculture extension offices, garden clubs, and some local nurseries may have information to share.

DollarPlan your budget according to what you wish to put up for a one year supply.  If money is tight (and when isn’t it?) try to skim off a few percent of the dollars to spend on produce and canning or freezing it.  As the price of everything continues to rise, it will be difficult to budget exactly what you need.  Over time, you will find your food bill goes down as the amount of stored goods increases.

The first year you might spend a little more on jars if you just starting out.  To justify this, buy cases of jars instead of eating dinner out.  Skip the movies this week and buy two more cases of jars.  Before you know it, you will have enough jars to line your shelves.

Find growers who may be willing to grow what you order.  These producers often sell Vegetable Farmanimal as well as fruits and vegetables.  Perhaps you will need to pay them half up front and the other half when you take delivery.  Take the time to get to know them to get the best possible price.  Get a receipt that explains exactly what you are exchanging.

Some growers may allow you a share of the produce in exchange for your labor.   You apply for a part time non-cash paid job.  Get it in writing.  Be sure to spell out how many hours you will work per week, how much each hour is worth, and how many pounds of each produce you will get in return.  This requires you to do pricing research well in advance.  Take into account the wholesale price and the retail price of the products you want.  If you are lucky enough to get such a deal, make certain you work hard on the farm, work every hour you agree, don’t complain, and are always on time.  You will want to be invited back year after year.

Small Garden PlotIf by chance you and your friends have yards of any size, get together and form a co-op of your own.  Even the tiniest sliver of dirt next to a house or sidewalk can make excellent gardens.  Take out the grass and put in fruits and vegetables appropriate to your region and available sunlight.  By devoting the yards to specific produce, using bio-intense methods, and sharing, everyone in the co-op will get a variety produce.

Orchards Often Offer You Pick Opportunities

 

Lastly, “You Pick” farms offer great prices on perfectly ripe fruit.  Bring your bushel baskets, boxes and bags to pick all the produce you want at reduced prices over markets and stores.  Usually you pay “per pound”.  These are also good places to offer your labor in exchange of produce.  If you are going on a weekend trip, perhaps adding a you-pick farm to your sight-seeing might be a welcome alternative to tourist traps.

By combining all these resources, preppers should be able to find enough produce at reasonable prices, the cost of time, or nearly free.  Most importantly, it takes planning many months in advance.  The rewards are worth it.

Here are a few links to get you started.

Illinois “What’s in Season” Chart

Texas Produce Availability Chart

 Pick Your Own Farm Directory (Incomplete)

Feed the Beef!

For the first several millennium, cattle lived off grass or whatever forage was around.  Cattle were leaner and typically had a lower weight than they do now.  Then some time after 1875, farmers started to wonder why pork was preferred over beef.  As it turned out, pork had more fat.  Fat was a valuable resource.  It was used for everything from making soap to preserving and cooking foods.  Besides all that, fat in foods gives it a silky feel and makes things taste yummy.

Cattle farmers decided they needed to see what they could do to increase fat content in beef.  With trial and error, farmers discovered feeding cattle a diet of strictly corn for the better part of the year yields a fatter, heavier, and tastier beef.  This spurred farmers to grow corn to meet the demand, and eventually cattle farms were relocated to regions where corn is produced to save on transportation costs of the grain.

Corn is a high energy food, if fed to any animal weight gain is going to happen.  Eventually farmers realized they could reduce the amount of corn fed to the animals if they confined them smaller lots.  This revelation reduced the time on expensive corn from eight or nine months to three months.  Finally, some farmers rationalize that by further restricting the amount of movement, beef would be more tender on just thirty days on corn feed.

Of course, restricting movement, keeping animals in extreme close quarters, and little or no variety of feed, leads to less healthy animals.  Those cattle require all sorts of veterinarian services from antibiotics to treatments for flies and other maladies.  Some farmers also give their beef cattle steroids to produce more beef.  Every pound of beef is money.  Then cattle are taken to butcher or market, depending on the cattle producer’s choices.  The cattle on the right are awaiting auction.  However, the small pen is about the size of many enclosures prior to market or slaughter.  Feedlot cattle stand around in muck twenty-four hours a day.

Many of you are aware of these facts.  Some people think it’s just how business is done and it isn’t any big deal.  Other people think conditions need to be changed for greater health of the animal to provide a healthier protein for humans.

In contrast, until recently, most countries in Central and South America were grass fed.  They were pastured until they were wanted for slaughter.  People accustomed to corn fed beef usually find grass fed beef less appealing in texture and flavor.  For this reason, farmers in many countries have switched to corn feeding so they could enter into the global beef market.

What is interesting is the lack of discussion about cattle feed prior to 1875.  This is where it gets interesting.  Since cattle were mostly domesticated in Europe, those methods were brought along with the cattle as people migrated to the Americas.

beetsFarmers grew crops not only for their own consumption and sale, but also to feed their cattle, pigs and chickens.  Beets, cabbages and carrots are all perfect for cattle, just to start.  Cattle will eat just about any fruit or vegetable except nightshade products like potatoes and peppers.

Considering that these crops can be grown in large scale on just a few acres, it is obvious that people have it within their power to raise their own beef cattle as well as feed a dairy cow or a gestating cow.  Enough food can be grown for an entire year’s supply of cattle feed for the price of seeds.  You can produce more beets and carrots per acre than corn by weight.

If you feed garden produce to your dairy cow, remember what a dairy cow eats effects the flavor of the milk.  Cabbage is good food for bovine, but not so good for the flavor of milk. That is only Cabbagesimportant if you are consuming the milk yourself and it is not “homogenized” by a dairy company.

This is how it was done for centuries upon centuries.  People more often than not raised their own beef using their own produce.  This is proof that it isn’t too expensive to raise your own cattle.  People have bought into the lie about the difficulties of cattle production.  So much so that over time, almost 150 years, most people don’t know it can be done any other way.  For most people, the skyrocketing price of beef means they purchase less beef.  With this information, a little bit of land almost everyone can afford beef.  Those who don’t have enough land to raise beef can partner with others by producing vegetables in exchange for a quarter or side of beef.

 

 

Garden to Market

Farmers' MarketAre you one of those gardeners who grow a large garden and end up giving away a large portion of your harvest so it won’t go to waste?  If so, that’s money down the drain, and money in the pockets of those who reap the benefits of your labor and expense.

Or have you considered selling your products but didn’t know where to begin or how to market them?  Help is at hand, from the people at the agricultural extension office nearest you.  They will help you learn everything growing produce to selling it.  They will provide all the information you need to stay within the laws of your state.

Agricultural extension offices provide all the information you need to process your produce and market it as canned goods, dried, or other packaging.  Imagine growing cucumbers, using great grandma’s pickle recipe, and selling them at the farmers market.  Anything you can grow, you can also turn into another product and sell it.

Cottage industry such as home canned goods is making a huge come back in local economies.  There’s no reason you and your garden can’t be a part of that.  If your garden is certified organic, you can add that extra punch to your product labels.  “Suzy’s Organic Pickles” might just be a hit, not only locally, but regionally, and if you work at it, you might land a distributor to go national.

To help you on your way, contact your local extension office or master gardener club.  They will provide you valuable information about available services and publications.  Some garden clubs have published books specific to their own regions.  They contain information and instructions not available in books written for the national market.  If a regional garden club book is available, grab it before it is sold out.  Usually, when they are sold out, that’s the end of them and they probably won’t be available at online stores.

With your garden in the ground and your produce growing, set about finding where you wish to market your produce and when.  Farmer’s markets are great, but also consider venues other than farmers markets such as flea markets and mini-malls.  Some local businesses might carry your products. Make friends with the people who own the stores you frequent.

When looking for information to help you market your products, don’t limit yourself to only the state you live in.  For instance, people in every state can get some useful information from this Wisconsin publication  New Directions in Marketing for Farmer’s.  It is free as a PDF file and available in print form for a price.

 

 

Economics of Animal Husbandry for the Small Farm

Small farms can be profitable in today's economy.Cattle need a year between birth and slaughter, much more time than poultry and rabbits.  Cattle consume much more food.  Pigs, goats and sheep fall in the middle for cost of feeding them out.  Farm animals can be produced in such a way to make it worth the time and expense of raising them.

Poultry

Selling duck eggs for $5.00 each, three dozen eggs will pay for a fifty pound bag of feed, which will feed the small flock of about 20 birds for over two weeks. The remaining duck eggs are free food and any that you incubate and feed out to butcher are almost free food. Since some breeds of ducks lay more eggs than chickens, they are quite profitable to keep.

Chicken eggs sell from $2.50 to $3.00 per dozen.  Hatching chickens from your own flock provides the same results as the ducks in terms of nearly free meat and eggs.  With the lower price for chicken eggs, you will have to sell more dozens to pay for the feed.

Guinea birds get bigger than chickens but their eggs are only about the size of a golf balls.  They are great tasting eggs,  but it takes more of them to make a meal.  Most people in this region who keep them don’t keep them for meat purposes.  They keep just a few as guard birds.  But, for those who do eat guinea, they enjoy them.

Pork

If you breed pigs and butcher the piglets while still young they make a good supply of tender meat and at a very good price.  Each litter will have 10 to 12 piglets per litter, twice a year.  One half grown piglet will make many meals.  Twenty-four piglets will provide protein for your family and those you don’t need can be sold.  The parts of the animal you do not want to eat can be used for dog food.  Pig ears are a treat no dog can avoid.

Cost of Food

Pound for pound, animal food is cheaper than human food. The problem comes when trying to feed out feeder cattle or feeder hogs.  Since small farmers can’t buy the feed as cheaply as Tyson and Omaha Beef the cost per pound of large animals is higher than larger producers.  That is if you are buying feed.

Many people begin comparing the price of beef in the grocery store with the cost of small farm meat production.  The problem with making those comparisons is that the meat in the grocery store is only the best cuts of meat and burger.  Rarely do you find ox tail, tallow and beef brains.  The same is true for pork.  The only lard to buy is loaded with preservatives and sold in a box on the shelf rather than refrigerated.

Why would you want tallow and lard?  Rendering them provides a beautiful fat for cooking, using as fuel, and for soap making just to name a few.  The point is that when you butcher your own animals you are able to keep the parts that would normally be sold to packaged food producers.  The bones for making broth.  Brains, liver, heart and tongue for making sausages.  The list goes on and on.

Efficient Use of Livestock

Every product you gain from your animals drives down the price per pound of food.  Don’t forget, if you have a milk cow your cow will not only provide milk for its offspring, but also will provide you with milk, cream, butter, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, and soft cheeses. If you are adventurous, you can learn to make your own hard cheeses too. The clabber, whey and excess milk from your cows (sheep and goats) will be good food for your other animals.

Further, you can add a few extra seeds to your garden to grow animal feed.  Consider growing beets, parsnips, peas, pumpkins, and corn for cattle.  Have an orchard?  Cows will enjoy eating the produce as much as you.  Do a little research to find out which produce you grow that will also serve to feed your livestock.  Be sure to avoid onions, rhubarb, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and night shade family produce and pine needles.  Not only will they eat almost any produce, they will provide plenty of manure for your gardens and can be sold for a profit.

When you consider that other livestock provides as much in terms of food and other products, it becomes clear that the efficient small farmer can reduce his grocery bill to nearly nothing while not spending large amounts of money to feed the livestock.

The success of your operation will depend on the available land, amount of time you invest in your operation, and your production choices. Think outside “conventional” farming feeds and methods.  Good planning and education about how to raise and butcher various farm animals will make them profitable to keep.

Horse of a Different Color

Horse meat finds its way into the food supply.Some prepared families keep a horse and burrow for work after the fuel supply dries up either temporarily or permanently.  The reality is that animals breed, that is if you have both male and female varieties on the farm.  These animals can be used for barter in a multitude of ways.

You can trade a day’s labor of horse and rider for supplies or services.  Selling or trading the animals for other items and services is a good option too.  Since they are expensive to feed and need space to live, trading them might be a blessing.

But, what if you can’t sell, trade or otherwise make them earn their keep?  You end up with too many of them and they are consuming your resources faster than you can get them.  They have to be maintained, shod, vet care, grain, and more.  Your preps only planned for a certain number of animals at a time.

In many countries around the world, they eat horses.  Yes, they do.  For some reason people in western Europe and North America find it distasteful at best and inhumane at worst.  But is it really?  These beautiful beasts have been dinner fare for centuries in countries around the world.  It has only been in recent history that horses have been elevated to pet status because of the relationship some owners formed with their horses for work and pleasure riding.

In parts of Europe, Asia, and South America horse meat is still served on a regular basis.  In Japan it is called Basashi.  Wild horse meat is leaner than beef, but also tougher.  Domesticated horse meat is lean, tender and sweet.

Regardless, in the United States, the government banned the slaughter of horses by refusing to inspect the meat.  No meat can be sold in the U. S. without being inspected by the USDA.  Under the Obama administration, the ban on inspections was lifted in 2011.  Horses may legally be slaughtered and served as food in the U.S.

People who don’t think eating horse is right usually also won’t eat cat, dog, rat, and monkey.  All of these animals are eaten in other countries on a routine basis.  But we eat cows, pigs, elk, deer and lamb.  What makes one animal suitable for food and not another?  Cultural habits and taboos mostly.

As prepared people, we need to be prepared to change our cultural taboos on meat consumption without worry of what others will think about our eating habits.  There might come a day when they will gladly trade services for a bite of horse steak or jerky.

Dog on the Run

This dog has no collar and has dug a trench in this man's yard.  It costs him time, money and effort to fix it.  Irresponsible dog owners remove collars to prevent dogs from being identified.
This dog has a collar and has dug a trench in this man’s yard. It costs him time, money and effort to fix it. Many irresponsible dog owners remove collars to prevent them from being identified as the dog’s owner.

Farmers have an issue in common with small towns and large cities.  Stray dogs running lose without proper supervision by their owners.  In communities and countrysides all over the world people have come to blows with neighbors over stray dogs.  This has been a problem as long as dogs have been domesticated.

As you read this article, bear in mind that not only do we have livestock, we have three dogs and two cats.  We love our pets.  But they are required to remain on property at all times and under our supervision at all times.

Dog owners who allow them to run loose are responsible for the actions of their dogs just the same as they are responsible for their children and in the same way employers are responsible for their employees.  Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t care because they think the property damaged or the livestock and poultry killed will never be traced back to the dog owner.

Irresponsible dog owners also have a notion that “dogs should be dogs” and be allowed to run free.  That is absolutely not true, and they don’t believe it themselves.  How do we know this?  Because you can bet they have house broken their dogs and taught them how to live within the human environment with acceptable behaviors in the family home.  These owners simply don’t care about anyone else’s property or well being.

The overriding theme here is that these particular dog owners do not respect the property of others and believe they are immune to the law.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter where you live, you see this behavior in all places of the world.

For city dwellers, you have recourse of the law.  It is illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits in almost every city in the country, except in the dire need of self-defense.  Cities are slow to react to complaints about unsupervised dogs and do it in increments only after many steps by the property owner, or after serious injury or death of a person.  Farmers, who live outside city limits are allowed to protect their property, family and livestock in the same manner.  Farmers don’t have to wait for the dog to actually do anything to take preventative measures.

All too often we hear of a farmer trying to be “nice” and “agreeable” with their irresponsible dog owning neighbors when trying to settle the matter permanently.  This is usually ineffective in most cases and allows a bad situation to get worse.

Think of it like this, the neighbor is doing wrong by allowing his dog to run loose onto your property to tear things up, dig holes for people and livestock to turn an ankle in or to have lawn mowers fall in, and then wander off to your cattle lot or chicken pen to see what’s for fun or dinner.  Dogs will chase cattle until they die.  The owner doesn’t care, but also bets that you will never shoot his dog for fear of possible repercussions.  After all, he isn’t going to be the big mean person who shot a poor defenseless dog, as he tells this to every neighbor and the sheriff.  You can see it now can’t you?  Them all talking and shaking their heads to the shame of your senseless act?

Shooting an owner-less stray predatory dog is the absolute right thing to do because you can’t stop the dog yourself with out risking your own life or limb.  Choosing to use anything less than a lethal attempt is ineffective.  Using a B-B gun, pepper spray, rock salt, or paint balls only teaches the dog to check to see if the person who uses those things is on the property.

If the dog really wants what you have, he will watch and wait for you to leave and then go after it.  Also, many dogs will tear up your fence, barn, or chicken coop to get inside.  Don’t believe that?  Think about what a male dog will do to get into an enclosure of a female in heat.  A family member had a dog in heat, so while they were at work they put it in the closed garage. They came home to find their garage destroyed by male dogs trying to get to the female.  Which they did, and she was no where to be found since she got away because the double car sized door was destroyed.  How much more will it do to get a meal to survive or feed it’s puppies?

Next, you don’t know for sure if the dog on your property is a healthy neighbor’s dog or a wild dog that could be infected with any disease or parasite.  Actually, you don’t really know if the neighbor’s dog is healthy because irresponsible dog owners may not practice good veterinarian care either.  Using non-lethal force on a wild or sick dog might get you sick, injured or dead too.

Using pepper spray will cause the animal to salivate in great amounts.  I would not want a rabid or otherwise sick dog salivating all over my property to spread his infection to my pets or any animal that might encounter it and then spread it to my livestock or me.  Just because a dog doesn’t look sick does not mean it’s healthy.

Once a dog has found great entertainment or something yummy and exciting to eat, he will return, time and time again unless the dog owner takes action or the property owner does.

One way to prevent battles with neighbors over dogs is to send a certified letter to all neighbors notifying them that you have had trouble with a dog harassing or killing your livestock or poultry, or is menacing to your family, or damaging your property, and that you are going to use every legal means necessary to protect your investment, including killing the dog.  For some reason, using economic terms gets their attention and they pay attention.  Since they have signed for the certified mail they can not ever clam they did not know their dog was an issue.

This letter could also include a price list of your livestock should their dog damage or kill it.  Reasonable prices would include money spent, time, and future loss of the animal and future products from that animal.  So if the neighbor’s dogs run your prize milk cow to death, not only do they owe you for the vet bills and disposal of the animal, they also owe for the purchase price of the cow, and the loss of milk and calf production over the life of that cow.   Why?  Because now you have to start over investing time and money for a new milk cow and calves.

As you can see, the dollar amounts are now quite large.  When the dollar amount is presented to the irresponsible dog owners, they are suddenly motivated to keep their dogs home.  You can’t be where all of your livestock is all the time, but your security camera can.  Having images captured by your high definition security camera of the dog in the act will go a long way towards getting them to settle out of court and persuade law enforcement officers, county commissioners, or city council members to enforce the law.

Plan Your Garden According to the Growing Season

Planting Zone Maps are used to determine appropriate crops for your area.One of the great things about living in a sub-tropical climate is the extra long garden season.  They say we have 360 growing days per year.  That’s true.  Sort of.

The time table for this region is great.  For other regions, it is important to start planning early by purchasing seeds to start indoors according to your growing season.  The garden season for zones two, three, and four is much shorter than zones eight, nine, and ten.

AccuWeather.com provides a map with a historical average, actual weather temperatures as they occurred for the current year, and for futures months it provides the historical averages.  It goes back one year and forward one year so you can see the differences between what happened for each time period compared to the historical average.  This is important to planning when to plant your garden out doors.

If you discount the days where the temperature is too hot for anything to do well, the number of good garden days is decreased by 60 days to 300 days.  If you take out the days where there “might” be a night time freeze, then you are down another 30 days to 270 growing days per year.  Adding back in the days you can be growing plants in your home or greenhouse, it’s back up to 365 days.  This increases days for harvest and amount of food harvested.

Since weather is unpredictable, we pay attention to the historical patterns and how it is different from recent years.  There was a warmer difference of from five to fifteen degrees in January of 2013 compared to the historical average.  But, there were also some days cooler by five degrees.

Starting seeds indoors in July and early August assures your garden plants will be safe from the summer heat and ready for the fall garden.  Seed selection should include those plants that take longer than you would like until harvest.

What you plant should take into consideration how you will transplant them to your garden and when.  Read seed packages for information about how long till harvest and how well they do when transplanting.

Some garden plants do very well with transplanting and others die if the roots get disturbed.  The strong plants can be started in almost any container that allows you to remove the plant from the container easily.  Plants that have sensitive roots should be planted in biodegradable containers that are planted as is in the soil.

We consider the amount of produce needed to pack for the season and plant our garden accordingly.  Some for sale and some for canning and freezing.  By choosing different produce for the three harvest seasons, we can produce a greater variety and set aside more product for the year.

If you purchase seeds, it is important to buy your seeds in the spring when they are readily available and in good quantity.  It doesn’t matter that you won’t plant them in your garden right then.  It is important to have the seeds when the right time to start them rolls around.

By the time July and August come around, the seeds you want might be sold out locally.  There might still be some to purchase on the web.  But, most companies run out the most popular items early.  Placing orders in advance is helpful too.

Start the seeds of the longest growing time first.  Some crops take 120 days to mature.  Others take a mere 25 or 30 days.  With good planning there can be harvest nearly every day of the year in this climate zone.  Other zones require better planning to make the most of the growing days.

Seeds are a good investment.  Gardens are a great way to spend time with family and friends.  So much so that even the government recognizes the ability to increase independence and provide a nutritious diet for families.  Because of this, the USDA allows food stamp recipients to buy seeds with food stamps.  If the store does not apply the food stamps to your seeds, be sure to point out to them they are violating the law by disallowing them.  Give them this link http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/eligible.htm.  It is the definitive answer to the question for retailers.