Tag Archives: Agriculture

The California Drought

5 Dec

Drip…drip….drip.

Laying in my bed at night I am listing to my sink facet in my bathroom as it continues to leak.

Drip…Drip…drip

I wonder how much water is being wasted, and if it would make a difference in the drought. And then I remember that every drop counts. Every drop could make a difference in what is considered the largest drought in California’s history.

This week California got a smidgen of water, okay slightly more then a couple drops. However it was close to what we needed to start recovering from drought.

The origin of water spark some conversation on twitter about the rain (and the drought) seemed to be the rain itself, later on news organizations posted articles articulating how far California is from being declared drought free.

Screenshot 2014-12-05 01.11.50

This seemed to be a common post which showed various maps of the drought, the map on the far left is a popular map that is apart of a interactive website.

Screenshot 2014-12-05 01.12.11

I just thought this post was really cool, because I used to live about two hundred feet from this weather station. However, they do provide real time data about the drought and the high temperatures.

Screenshot 2014-12-05 01.12.26This above picture seemed to be the general reaction of twitter universe. Most users where glad that rain had occurred, but they realized that this is only a drop in comparison to the water that California needs.

Have a great weekend everyone! (Stay dry)

-Kristen

The Journey to Organic: Dairy edition

1 Dec

The gray sky casted shadows into the dairy barn, sprinkled onto the floor are the expensive out of state gold organic hay. Working as a team the three women of the organic dairy, bundled in multiple layers of Carharts jackets and sweatshirts, scurry back and forth accomplishing the day’s chores before the rain soaks them to the bone.

The Organic Dairy Farm is ran by a team of Chico State students that run a herd of 85 cattle with organic and sustainable farming methods.  The local organic dairy provides for 157 families, and provides research on groundbreaking organic and sustainability methods. After its conversion from a traditional dairy in 2007, the Chico State Dairy has overcome some massive changes. Although what does the term organic really mean when dealing with dairies?

“For organic pasture, as far as the land quality and the soil quality, not using pesticides or herbicides does make the actual nutrients of the soil last longer” said Chico State Agriculture Student and Organic Dairy owner Hannah Bucher. “The soil will actually be healthier. In reality the milk quality as far as conventital organic the nutrients are basically the same. What it comes down to, on the consumer side, is a preference. But as far as the land aspect, land which is certified organic will be healthier.”

Switching to Organic

Organic agriculture is one of the fast growing facets of agriculture according to the United States Agriculture Department. The dairy segment of the Organic food sales is the second largest sector, following closest behind fruit and vegetables.

“Actually a lot of dairies have gone into organic to save their dairy” said Samantha Herd a fourth year Animal Science student who works at the Chico State Dairy. “You got milk prices at three dollars per a gallon, and you have organic milk at five. So organic milk gets a première premium, that 20 cents or whatever it ends up being can actually end up saving a dairy.”

“Why do you think I am still enrolled at college, it because we converted to organic” joked Bucher.

Bucher family converted her dairy from a conventional dairy to a organic dairy in 2007. Converting the diary dairy took her family five years to transfer the herd of 700 dairy cattle to certified organic. The Bucher family slowly convert the herd by treating the land as organic, and only using abiotic that stemmed from natural ingredients and where approved by the Organics board.

“It really depends on your property” said Herd as she explained the different ways of converting dairies. Chico State’s Dairy sat dormant for three years as they “sold off all their cows, built up their soil, took those years to get certified organic, got a herd donated, and then transition that herd into a organic all at once.”

Just cause your organic doesn’t mean your sustainable.

However despite the “more paperwork then you can imagine” and numerous inspection Bucher states that the hardest thing was finding feed that suited organic standards.

“We were getting corn or almond hulls, which we had to get some organic matter from Argentina” explain Bucher. “And we had to get hay from Nevada, and the carbon foot print of that truck hauling it from Nevada to here was ridiculous.”

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(Organic Calf at Chico State Dairy)

Because the farms have to have feed that is certified organic they often have import foodstuff from other states because of the lack of organic food that is availed in the local area. Chico State usually imports their hay from a family that lives in Oregon, but because of the drought (which limited amount of foodstuff that farmers in California was able to grow and created a shortage) they had to import form Ohio.

However Herd was quick to point out that there was ways to make up for having to truck feed across the country such as irrigating with solar pumps, and reusing manure as fertilizer in the fields. “So its saying that they are not sustainable at all” said Herd. “its just saying that they are less sustainable then they could be if they had these open markets of having the hay closer. “

“When people ask “why are you getting from all the way over there” its because we have no choice, we have to feed our animals” said Bucher. “Farmers will do anything for their animals, and sometimes it not the sustainable choice. But you got to do what you got to do.”

*edited December 1st because of typo’s

Photogenic Tuesday: The Journey Down South

26 Nov

Waking up this morning at three a.m. I struggled to gather my various pieces of luggage so that I could make it to the train station in time. Dashing to the station I arrived to find that the train had already pulled across the road blocking access to the train station, leaving me with two options: 1) Knock on the wrong side of the train to hope they let me on or 2) Drive to Sacramento. Being the stubborn person that I am, and much to the conductors cringe, I knocked on the window and received a lecture about not being there on time and how to enter a train the proper way.

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Now life is a adventure, as I sat on this train ride to through Bakersfield I passed through a number of larger agriculture towns. Slowly the green fields of agriculture transformed into bare patches of dirt, as signs of the drought emerged.

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California is now in the middle of a record drought, and now many farmer are facing the challenges of not having enough water. And many others are choosing to leave their land barren rather then letting their crops die from dehydration.

Things are tough for California Farmers, and its going to be tough for a while to come.

Have a good night everyone,

Kristen

Break with a side of the Common Cold

25 Nov

Finally able to enjoy more then 8 hours of sleep my body settled into a relaxing rhythm, finally taking proper care of my body for the first time all semester my body had a little melt down.

Just when I gave my body a little rest apparently thats when I gave the cold virus the opportunity to take over. Waking up off and on through out the day is medicating with soup and orange juice I am constantly reminded how lucky that I am to have fresh produce.

Not only does my roommate get fresh oranges, but she gets the best local soup delivered to my door. The variety and abidance of California agriculture is present in almost all of my daily activities such as making coffee to pulling on my sweatshirts to go and muck stalls.

So yes as I start to suffer the sniffles I thought I would compile my own list of what helps me get over a cold in a hurry:

  • Airborne (Start taking this when everyone getting sick)
  • Tea (hot and cold, both kinds are relaxing and feel good on a sore throat)
  • Orange Juice (usually when I am sick I have galloons of the local stuff on stand by)
  • Soup (preferably not Top Ramon, but yeah I am a college student and making Top Ramon is surprising hard to mess up)
  • Reflexology (In the theory that every part of your body is connected in your hands and foot, massaging your feet with vapor rub is actually soothing and increases my recovery ten fold)

Well,thats all for now guys. I am going back to cuddling with my night quill and tissue box before I ride the train to Bakersfield.

Stay well,

Kristen

Miniature Donkeys

24 Nov

Occasionally I do odd work such as raking leaves or washing trucks that fits around my busy schedule.

Today I got the opportunity to work with miniature donkeys, which are becoming one of my favorite animals. Miniature Donkeys, not to be confused with another miniature (the horse, which are horrible mean creatures) are incredibly friendly and intelligent. In my pervious job I help trained a donkey which was highly skilled cart pulling (which doesn’t sound that complicated, but between voice commands and different types of cart pulling it got complex rather fast.  Donkey Odin also was a strong bugger he could pull up to six grown men in cart, not that we ever tested but that was the rumor)

SEA_5888In addition to being creatures of burden donkeys are also skilled at:

  • Companion animals
  • Driving (aka cart pulling)
  • Riding (small children only)
  • Agility 
  • Random Tricks
  • Showmanship
  • Therapeutic

Have a lovely night every one!

-Kristen

The California drought: a short video

22 Nov

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Especially if you brought your horse to one of these lakes.

The California Drought isn’t a joke, in fact its one of the largest drought in California’s two hundred year history. Right now conditions have “slightly” improved. However, that doesn’t mean Californians should let up on the water conservation there is still a lot of work and water needed to return the state to normal.

Like I mention before that there is a lot of things that we should still be doing to conserve water for example like not watering your lawn when its raining (saw that yesterday when I was running) or fixing leaky faucets.

The following is a video I made for a class, yet still thought it was applicable to this conversation. Sorry for the shaky video, and the general B rate PSA footage IN the terms of the class project I had to make and edit everything on a camera phone .

Have a great weekend guys,

Kristen

Marketing with Morrison

21 Nov

So I know the past couple of days I have been alluding the Marketing and Social Media presentation that was presented with the North Valley Food Hub, and now I have finally had the time (and the notes) to do this piece justice.

R. Brent Morrison (From Morrison and Company) describes marketing as

  • is how to create,communicate and delve something that is of value to someone
  • the foundation of knowing your consumers are, what your consumers need and what they are willing to pay for it
  • is producing what you can sell vs. selling what you can produce

Morrison was kind enough to break down the different types of the market situations.

  • Brokers/Packers: They buy harvest commodities, and then marketing like commodities on a pooling basis
  • Value Added: Is when they a business buy a product like tomatoes and then make it into salsa,or example Top of the ‘Morn Dairy. Some Advantages to this marketing system is that there is more price stability, and have there is the potential for more profit.
  • Direct Market: Selling directly to consumers. Some models of are farming tourism and tasting rooms. Advantages lie in higher margins and non farming opportunities, although on the flip side its a completely different business from agriculture and can lead to higher costs.

This was just a basic overview of different aspects of farming and how they apply in agriculture.

I hope that everyone is having a good week,

Kristen

The North Valley Food Hub

18 Nov

Today I had the opportunity to go and speak at a event hosted by the North Valley Food Hub, which connects local producers (and producers) to consumers.

The event was titled Marketing Strategies and Social Media for the Local Food Economy, which promoted various branding and marketing techniques that could be utilized by local farmers. Later this week I will dive into the different aspects of which I learned and how it could be applied.

But for now because its been a long day, and I am very exhausted I would like to leave you with this info graphic which explains how the North Valley Food Hub works.

Screenshot 2014-11-17 22.18.07

It really is a great organization, and I will explain fully later about how they operate. But they have a great staff and a even greater mission.

For now I bid you guys tonight as I already have several midterms and projects due on the horizon.

-Kristen

The Dangers of Farming

17 Nov

When I woke up yesterday morning I was immobile.

For some reason my neck was completely stiff, I could look to my right side but that its. Looking at the boxes in left was completely out of my range of skills. (Yes that was a Beyonce reference.) And forget about walking as each step sent a jolt up through my skull cause me yelp, and here I was overjoyed that I this was the last week I had to wear a cast for my broken arm.

I am clumsy,I do freely admit that. However working in agriculture is dangerous job.  Often courting danger when working with large machinery, and large animals. Yet, everyday agriculturists manage to provide food and fiber despite the difficult conditions.

Here is some startling facts pulled from the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • In 2011, 570 agricultural workers died from work-related injuries. The fatality rate for agricultural workers was 7 times higher than the fatality rate for all workers in private industry; agricultural workers had a fatality rate of 24.9 deaths per 100,000, while the fatality rate for all workers was 3.5.
  • The leading cause of death for farmworkers between 1992 and 2009 was tractor overturns, accounting for over 90 deaths annually.
  • Every day, about 243 agricultural workers suffer a serious lost-work-time injury. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment.

While these facts and figures are alarming, I don’t mean to pull these out of proportion. This article gives a more in-depth description of all the facts and figures.

Have a nice night, and stay safe.

Kristen

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Sustainability on the University Farm

16 Nov

When I started my freshmen year at Chico State, I was apprehensive. Sitting in the second floor of Plumas, Freshmen filled the 70 seats as they hurriedly shoved campus maps in their binders. Sitting in the Agriculture 180 class, which was a required class for all incoming students, advisors and mature students came to woo the freshmen to work at the University Farm.

Long story short I ended up filling out a application to work at the farm, took a safety driving course, and ended up working on the new poultry project.

IMG_0051(Me washing eggs at the University Farm)

The poultry project was a movable poultry hutch that focus on sustainability measures like:

  • Following the Dairy Cows on a rotational grazing pattern in order to preserve the grass
  • In addition following the dairy cows the chickens would reduce the amount of bugs
  • Using solar power to generate light for the inside of the poultry hutch

The University Farm gave students the opportunity to work on a Organic Sustainable farm and gave a different interpretation of agriculture.

Over and out from the small city of Chico,

Kristen