Ag Week 2015

Happy National Agriculture Week!

Do you celebrate? Today is the last day for #AgWeek2015. If you work in agriculture you can’t miss it- a whole week dedicated to the best industry there is- unless you are actually farming and not all up on social media, then you might miss it.

Someone asked me why we need a week to celebrate agriculture. I guess I thought it was pretty obvious. Without agriculture there is no food. Or a lot of things. There’s definitely no hamburgers, or hamburger buns. Maybe that person meant, every day is ag day so why set aside a week to celebrate but I think they meant- what’s the point? The point is hamburgers aren’t raised at McDonald’s.  People grow food. And people forget that people grow food. Food is pretty important to all of us, agriculture is pretty important to all of us.

I don’t remember what I said when someone asked me why we needed Ag Week. It was back in my energetic FFA days when I was promoting Ag Week and Ag Day to anyone who would listen. I wish I was quick enough say “because hamburgers aren’t raised at McDonald’s” but I wasn’t. Now I just take pictures of hamburgers and blog about it. No worries if you missed Ag Week it happens every year and really- every day is Ag Day.

While X-ing Mason Dixon, This Week

Here’s a new thing. Weekly happenings posts. This week isn’t even over yet and I don’t want it to be because it’s National Ag Week! I was too busy working and doing life things to blast social media about agriculture the way I planned to. There is one more day so I’ll have to try.

Here’s some weekly things I did instead of blogging about Ag Week:

.. St. Patricks day happened. We didn’t do much but Tom have the best St. Patrick’s day tradition- a shrimp feed at a firehouse down the road. We’ve been going since before we were dating and he still had gauged ears. Way back. It is this Saturday and we’re more than excited.

..I spent all week inspecting baby chicks at local feed stores. So far 11 stores and 1500 chicks. Not complaining one bit and I’m proud to say I haven’t bought a single chick.

..Yesterday I scored an emu egg for my mom who is teaching 3yr olds about Australia. She’s been asking me for one for forever. Occasionally they come through our poultry auction but never when she needed it. Early this week I got an assignment: go test 6 week old emu chicks. Score. The super nice owner gave me a consolation egg. ps. did you know emu chicks don’t have wings?

..The highlight of my week to date was a Java Chip Frappuccino courtesy of a gift card from a sweet friend at church. I haven’t had one of these in two whole years. coffee drinks = bliss.

..I also did take a picture of a hamburger for National Agriculture Week maybe I’ll post it. It’s really hard to do social media and drive and inspect chicks and chase emus and drink coffee.

Anyhow, happy St.Patricks day/Ag week week!

xoxo,
em

Friday Favorite | Ultra Lightweight Tingley Boots

Ultra Lightweight EVA Boots by Tingley

Not everyone will appreciate the magic that is this pair of boots but if you wear rubber boots for a living you might. The first time I picked one up I thought it was a joke.  Like just the insert of a real boot or a display prop to show you what the real boot looked like. Socks are heavier than these boots. I didn’t buy them for a whole week thinking there was no way they were worth $35 but rubber boots are mandatory for state livestock inspectors and I lost my last pair driving down the highway.

These boots are magic. Like walking on air magic. I can’t stop talking about them, I even started taking one off as I am wearing them to hand to people- “feel how light this is”, which is kind of awkward.

The ag supply store clerk sold me on them when he said he knew dairy farmers that wore them in the winter and they seemed to hold up. The description says they are made from ethylene vinyl acetate, which, now that I’m thinking about it might not hold up to the strong disinfectant we use but if they hold up at all they’ll be a favorite forever.

You can buy them on amazon: http://amzn.to/1b8RJ6X 
and be equally impressed.

ps. if you have these and they are junk you are going to break my heart but let me know in the comments.

HAPPY FRIDAY.

Goat Farming | The struggle is real

I went to college to be a dairy farmer. And not dairy goats. I wanted to raise cattle.  
Five years out of college, I still don’t own any cows.  
I have goats though. 3.5 of them and {hopefully} two babies on the way. I don’t tell people that I am a goat farmer but when someone asks if I farm I say, I have goats. Which isn’t farming at all but is at the same time. My sweet mother-in-law is the real goat farmer. She is the one who feeds them and takes care of them on days like this- it snowed five inches today. Gosh my mother-in-law is the best.

About 2011 when I got serious about dating Tom, I also got serious about raising goats. I started telling people I was going to be a serious goat farmer, that big money was in raising meat goats. I told all the guys at the livestock auctions I inspect, I told all my co-workers at the Department of Ag, I told a goat extension specialist and everyone said, “are you sure?”  I was so sure. I even lined up a greek goat buyer who said he’d buy as many as I could raise.

Then I got two goats. Boy do goats try your patience. Just really really try your patience. From jumping every fence we put them in to tripping us up when we try to feed (that goat in the picture) to getting sick with parasites (not their fault) during wet summers, goats are trying.

We’re raising goats in central Pennsylvania and goats do better in arid climates like Texas or Colorado. Our goat extension specialist told me that. I didn’t think it made a real difference but last year we lost six goats to parasites. I was going to give up raising goats. But I haven’t. If you are a goat farmer you know the struggle is real. But it is worth it right? Right? I’ll write more about plans for our goats- we have big plans. Tom and I are even going to a goat conference this weekend, he’s super excited for it let me tell you.

Did you ever have a business idea that turned out to be way harder than you thought? Have you ever raised goats? Let me know in the comments. If you do I’ll send you some goat bologna.

Patience & Poultry Testing

Poultry testing. When I told my physical therapist that was my big weekend plans she thought I said poetry reading. I understand her confusion.

This weekend was our annual poultry testing certification class which is way more fun than poetry reading. Poultry testing is a required skill for state livestock inspectors and one we are able to teach the public. In just four hours, a written exam and a short practical most anyone can be a certified poultry tester. At least in our state.

We test poultry for influenza and salmonella. Poultry testing is easy but it takes patience. Generally poultry testing involves a 4Her with a couple dozen tame hens, which is always fun. The patience comes in when you have to catch the hens yourself, there’s more than a couple dozen, they’re actually pheasants, loose in a field.

Patience also comes in when checking expiration dates of blood tubes, keeping antigen cool, cleaning boots, changing clothes, spraying down truck tires, writing down band numbers, filling out forms, and in getting just enough media in AI (avian influenza) tubes; while handling live birds.

It’s a blast to teach. Coordination is the only hard part. This year I tried to coordinate everything electronically. I made an online “interest” form and shared it on facebook. Thirty couple people signed up. Then I asked them to turn in and paper application with a check. Only a few did. They thought the google form was the registration form. I got really impatient. We needed the money to buy the birds to teach the class and we needed the applications to process the money and to get a final head count. It was kind of a mess, mostly because I used a google form and facebook instead of a regular mailing like everyone told me to. Life lessons. Google forms are still the answer though. Poultry testing is humbling so it makes sense that teaching it would be too. Still way more fun than poetry reading.

Did you have big plans over the weekend? More fun than teaching people to swab chickens? Let me know in the comments. And if you want to know more about poultry testing I could talk about it all day so there’s that.

Hugs and chickens,
Emily

Knee Jam From a Ram

Coming to you live for my first blog post as a married woman! Along with my new husband Tom, I’ve acquired a cuddly new dog and a mother-in-law who brings me Chi in bed from Sheetz which is a really good thing because I am stuck at home in bed. For a today, tomorrow, a week and maybe longer.
The sheep below is the reason I’m stuck in bed and he’s the reason my right knee is swollen to the size of a small melon. Actually, I’m the reason but it’s easier to blame the sheep.

All 240 lbs of him rammed into me and tore my ACL.

I managed to jump the fence and laid in the grass wondering how I would explain this to anyone, especially my husband, his mom and my co-workers.

I tore my ACL because in a hurry, I put a mature buck (goat) in with a mature ram (sheep) during breeding season. And then changed my mind. 

So far this knee injury from a ram cost me 102+ hours of sick leave, $543 for surgery and a big chunk of my pride.

Stay away from overly jealous sheep,

~Emily