Thursday, April 23, 2015

Are you Poor?

  In these times of economic hardship we keep hearing about the unequal division of wealth. How such a tiny number of super rich hold most of the worlds wealth. Since I am not spending so much time in the garden I am thinking way too much! It doesn't help that the news feed we follow on our computer from all around the world are focusing on this topic more than the American Media.

67 people are as wealthy as the poorest 3.5 billion.  It almost makes you sick to read that. 42% of these Billionaires are from this country, the United States. Now thats interesting considering this countries picture this each American [this is ALL of us, not just taxpayers]  now owes $56,043.00. This is really bizarre as someone who has billions owes the same amount as the youngest citizen of this country. It just makes me shake my head.

Maybe we are asking the wrong questions though. Is it all about money?  Are we poor just because we do not have as much money as other people? Are the super rich any happier? There have always been poor people, I believe there always will be. Unless money evaporates some will always have more than others.  Even without money some people will have more  food, land or barter goods than others. Suffice to say some people will always work harder than other too!
 A Mansion in Florida

A foreclosed home in Illinois

I have worked hard all my life and am not wealthy, I have lived below the definition of the poverty line at times. As children we were poor. My father worked hard to build the farm and everything we had went back into the farm to make it better. We really did go barefoot in summer to save shoes.

The interesting thing is we were happy children. We didn't know we were poor. Our parents made sure we knew we were loved. They spent time with us and taught us about the farm and all the world around us. We ate simply of food we grew in the garden or raise on the farm. We had chickens and rabbits.

Summer was spent riding our ponies all over the place. We got to go fishing for fun and to supplement our winter food supply. Our entertainment was making things with our Mother who taught us to knit and paint and make crafts. She read to us from all sorts of books and we followed the Adventure of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn with delight. The saga of Laura Ingall's  Wilder and her family always led to learning how to make things like button strings and parched corn. It was fun and made us laugh!  The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew led us into mysteries and adventure.

Now I know we may have been cash poor, but environmentally we were blessed! In this age of consumerism we have become obsessed with things we must have. Things we think we need. I think this desire for things makes us poor, not just financially with credit card debt but it makes us frustrated with our inability to have everything. A bigger house, fancier furniture, a faster more glamorous car. All the things we are told we need to have to be happy.  Yes you will be happy if you make more money and can buy more things but to make more money both parents work, they spend too much time away from their children. How can children understand not to go with a stranger when they see more of their day care workers than their parents?

The welfare system in some states pays more to its recipients than people who work make at their jobs! The welfare system does not build strong individuals for the most develops the entitlement society. People expect the Government to take care of them, get them housing, phones, Televisions and food. Do you remember the first thing you ever bought with your own money, something you saved and worked towards? I bet you gives a person a great sense of satisfaction to be able to say to yourself..I DID THAT MYSELF. You did not need to brag about it but you knew you had accomplished what you had set out to do.

How much money do you need to be happy and satisfied with your life?
  • "It is wrong to assume that men of immense wealth are always happy."
    John D. Rockefeller, 1 April 1905.

     Think hard about what times you have been the happiest, seriously happy, laughing out loud happy, tearfully happy! I suspect these times were spent with family. Times that did not cost a fortune. If we surround ourselves with simple things and spend time with family and loved ones we are rich beyond anything money can truly buy. 

    I am not saying we do not need money and it has no place but I do believe in our consumer driven world the pursuit of money has become out of balance with a happy life. Money earned with our own hands and received with thanks and appreciation has so much more meaning. We need to be able to use this money to live well but not be obsessed with the pursuit of it.

    Looking hard at what you really need to be spending money on and compare that to time spent with your family, time laughing at simple things, time spent well without money being the source of your happiness.

    We have so much more than our parents had, children have so much more than their parents have, but are today's children any happier?  Do you hear your children laugh with delight over simple things or whine because they do not have the latest shoes or electronic toys? Do you wear ALL the clothes that fill your you use all the gadgets and gizmo's you have in your home.  Do you have a storage unit for the overflow?

    I am blessed to know even if we do not have as much money as John D. Rockefeller....Ralph and I are happy and most certainly not poor!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Homestead: Dogs...Part 2

Here is the continuing list of dog breeds we have looked into. There are a lot of wonderful breeds out there and so many fill our list of needs. We need good overall dogs that will work at what we want them to do, be healthy and require as little vet care as possible. They have to be rugged and strong and be able to handle weather in all sorts of extremes.

Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) is a medium-size Belgian shepherd dog that at first glance resembles a German Shepherd Dog. Malinois are shorthaired, fawn-colored dogs with a black mask. They are one of four types of Belgian herding dogs, and have been shown in the U.S. as a separate breed since 1959.

Originally developed in Malines, Belgium, Malinois have a great deal of stamina and truly enjoy working. They are intelligent and very active dogs that excel at many tasks. In addition to herding, they also do well with police work, search and rescue, and in performance events, such as agility.

People who are not familiar with the Malinois often confuse him with the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), but there are significant differences in the body structure and temperament of the two breeds. Malinois are smaller dogs with lighter bones. They stand with their weight well on their toes, which gives them a square body profile, while today's GSD has a long, sloping back and carries his weight flatter on his feet.

Malinois are fawn-colored, red, or brown, and the tips of their hair are black, while the GSD is usually tan with a black saddle. Additionally, the Malinois has a more refined, chiseled head that the GSD and smaller, more triangular ears. The Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) is a medium-size Belgian shepherd dog that at first glance resembles a German Shepherd Dog. Malinois are shorthaired, fawn-colored dogs with a black mask. They are one of four types of Belgian herdinng dogs, and have been shown in the U.S. as a separate breed since 1959. Originally developed in Malines, Belgium, Malinois have a great deal of stamina and truly enjoy working. They are intelligent and very active dogs that excel at many tasks. In addition to herding, they also do well with police work, search and rescue, and in performance events, such as agility. People who are not familiar with the Malinois often confuse him with the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), but there are significant differences in the body structure and temperament of the two breeds. Malinois are smaller dogs with lighter bones. They stand with their weight well on their toes, which gives them a square body profile, while today's GSD has a long, sloping back and carries his weight flatter on his feet. Malinois are fawn-colored, red, or brown, and the tips of their hair are black, while the GSD is usually tan with a black saddle. Additionally, the Malinois has a more refined, chiseled head that the GSD and smaller, more triangular ears. Many think that the Malinois is more alert and quicker to respond than the GSD. They're also very sensitive dogs that don't respond well to harsh training methods. Some Malinois are friendly and assertive, but others are reserved and aloof with strangers. They should never have a fearful or aggressive temperament. Because of their energy level and sensitivity, Malinois are recommended only for people who have previously owned dogs and have experience with dog training. Malinois are very intense dogs who like to be included in all of the family activities. If you have decided that the Malinois is the breed for you, you should expose yours to many different people, dogs, other animals and situations as early as possible. Puppy Kindergarten are recommended for your Malinois puppy, followed by obeidience class. Malinois are quick learners and eager to do whatever their people ask of them. They excel are obedience, tracking, agility, flyball, herding, showing, Schutzhund and other protection sports, search and rescue, and police work. Trainers describe them as having a high "play drive," which means that they love to play, and about anything you ask them to do is play to them.

But the Malinois' owner should never forget that this is a breed that was developed to protect and herd. Poorly bred Malinois or ones that have been poorly socialzed may be aggressive out of fear or shyness. Additionally, although well-socialized Malinois are good with children, especially if they are raised with them, they may have a tendency to nip at their heels and try to herd them when playing.

Males are 24 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 60 to 80 pounds. Females are 22 to 24 inches tall and weigh 40 to 60 pounds. Belgian Malinois are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Malinois will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed. HipDysplasia: This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don't make it a habit to move the furniture around. Reputable breeders have their dogs' eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and do not breed dogs with this disease. Elbow Dysplasia. This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It's thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog's elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem, or medication to control the pain. Anesthesia Sensitivity. Belgian Malinois are very sensitive to anesthesia. They have a higher than average rate of death when put under anesthesia because of their muscle to fat ratio. Be sure your vet understands this sensitivity before allowing your Malinois to have surgery or even have its teeth cleaned.

Central Asian Shepherds

The Central Asian Ovtcharka (CAS) is a very large, muscular, Mastiff-type dog. Docking of the tail and ears is optional, depending on the country in which you live. Some countries like France, Netherlands, Australia, etc., and many more ban cropping and docking. There is no real stop from forehead to muzzle. The body is a bit longer than tall. The dense coat comes in two varieties, long and short. The coat comes in a wide variety of colors. The CAS should be rugged in type with big bones, a large chest and wide back. The well-boned forelimbs have powerful shoulder muscles. The skin on the face is thick and may form wrinkles. The thighs are powerful. The back is strong and moderately long.
Height: Males 27 - 32 inches (65 - 78 cm)     Females 24 - 27 inches (60 - 69 cm)
Weight: Males 121 - 176 pounds (55 - 79 kg)    Females 88 - 143 pounds (40 - 65 kg)
Some males are even larger. There is NO maximum height or weight for this breed.
The CAS is a 4000-year-old breed. Not much is known on the true origin, but many believe the Tibetan Mastiff is a forefather due to the nomadic lifestyle of the people who have CASs. They are found in areas of Russia, Iran and Afghanistan to Siberia. Five more countries that share this area are Kazakstan, Kirghizastan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. This independent and aloof breed has protected nomadic herdsmen and their flocks for centuries. Similar dogs may have accompanied the Mongols when they invaded Eastern and Central Europe, and were probably the source of Europe's herd-protecting sheepdogs. This breed is seldom seen outside the Central Asian Republic; in Russia it is in decline, losing favor to the larger Caucasian Sheepdog. The CAS is beginning to be bred in the USA.

The Central Asian Ovtcharka is a calm, fearless flock gardian. Independent, they stand their ground and do not back down. They are good with all members of their own family, however, they should be supervised with children. Outside the home they may try to dominate other dogs and are wary of strangers; they are guardians and will act as such. They like to bark at night and this may present a problem if you have close neighbors. 

Socialization is a must for the Central Asians, unless they are being used as flock guards. They get along with cats and other non-canine animals and other dogs, as long as the dog is not a threat to their charge. The CAS lived its life with the Family of Turkmen thus they are family dogs that want and seek interaction with daily life. This flock guardian is not for everyone. They need an owner who understands the flock guard type and the temperament that comes along with it. This is not a breed for the timid or meek owner. The objective in training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. 
Because a dog communicates his displeasure with growling and eventually biting, all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. The humans must be the ones making the decisions, not the dogs. That is the only way your relationship with your dog can be a complete success. 
They may appear to be lazy when they are lying down watching their property, but they can be up and running in a split second.
Traditionally their ears and tails are cropped. This is preemptive to injury when attacking wolves and predators.

The Aussie, as it is known, is a medium-sized, robust, well-balanced, rustic dog. The ears are set high at the side of the head, triangular and slightly rounded at the tip. The coat is of medium texture, straight to slightly wavy, weather resistant, of moderate length with an undercoat. The quantity of undercoat varies with climate. Hair is short and smooth on the head, outside of the ears, front of the forelegs and below the hocks. Backs of the forelegs are moderately feathered; breeches are moderately full. There is a moderate mane and frill, which is more pronounced in male dogs than females. The Aussie has a natural or docked bobtail.

Height: Males 20 - 23 inches (52 - 58cm) Females 18 - 21 inches (46 – 53 cm)
Weight: Males 50 - 65 pounds (25 - 29 kg) Females 40 - 55 pounds (18 - 25 kg)

The gene for the beautiful merle coloration also carries a blind/deaf factor . This may be expressed only in merle/merle crosses. Be sure to check the hearing on merle puppies. Natural bobtail-to-natural bobtail breedings can result in some offspring with serious spinal defects. Major concerns: cataract, CEA. Minor concerns: CHD, nasal solar dermatitis, Pelger – Huet syndrome, iris coloboma. Occasionally seen: lumbar sacral syndrome, epilepsy, PRA, vWD, distichiasis, PDA, PPM. Suggested tests: hip, eye. Some are prone to hip dysplasia. This breed is often sensitive to ivermectin; however, the dosage for heartworm preventive is considered safe. Also IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. Some herding dogs carry a MDR1 gene which makes them sensitive to certain drugs that are otherwise okay to give another dog, but if tested positive for this gene can kill them.

This energetic working dog needs plenty of vigorous exercise to stay in shape, mentally and physically, or better yet, some real work to do. Very intelligent and craving a good challenge, they need to be taken on a daily, brisk, long walk , jog or run alongside you when you bicycle. If under-exercised, this breed can become destructive. 


The Swedish Vallhund is a small, low to the ground, but sturdy dog. The head is rather long with a muzzle that looks square when viewed from the side, with a well-defined stop. The nose and lips are black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The oval-shaped, medium-sized eyes are dark in color. The ears are rather mobile, and firm from the base to the tip. The tail is either naturally long, stub, or bobbed, but is also sometimes docked. The neck is long and muscular. The legs are short, but powerful. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The oval-shaped feet are medium in size, pointing straight ahead. The dog has a tight, harsh, medium length outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat. Coat hairs are slightly longer on the neck, chest and the back of the hind legs. Coat colors include gray, red-yellow, red-brown and gray-brown. May have a small amount of white markings. The dogs can have a well-defined mask with lighter hair around the eyes, muzzle and under the throat.

Height: 12 - 16 inches (30 - 40 cm)
Weight: 25 - 35 pounds (11 - 15 kg)

The Swedish Vallhund is a responsive and even-tempered companion. It is intelligent and affectionate. He loves attention and instinctually craves leadership. Owners are never disappointed in his multi-faceted ability or his spontaneous sense of humor. Extremely active and devoted little dog.  These dogs sometimes try to herd people by nipping at their heels, although they can be trained not to do this. The Swedish Vallhund makes a good alarm dog, but should be told to quiet down after it has already given off its warning bark. This breed makes a great companion and can be used for herding and ratting.

The hard, tight, medium-length coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. This breed is an average shedder. Naturally active little dogs, they should always be encouraged to remain so. They live about 12-14 years.


This set of dogs breeds has been whittled down from hundreds of choices. Now we just have to find that perfect property and get it purchased. The size and shape and neighborhood will have some impact on our final selections. If we go with a smaller property the larger dogs may not be appropriate and if there are neighbors the guardians dogs night watching and barking may  be an issue. The climate has to be considered and the breeds adapability to the weather.

We want these dogs to grow up with our livestock so they know them and are used to the ducks, geese, chickens, sheep, goats and pigs. Our dogs really have to be all purpose, guards, companions, herders and just generally stay at home pooches! When looking into dogs do the research and be prepared to become the alpha dog and have civilized well mannered dogs that you can enjoy. Talk to the local vet and look into obedience classes. Talk to breeders and find out about the breed you choose and if your looking for a good farm dog realize he does not have to be a show dog! The time you take will be well worth it when you come home to see 'Rover' happy to meet you and the livestock safe and sound!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Have you heard about this Bill?

 Last December I read an article about this bill, I thought about the fish we eat and where it comes from....I assumed the catfish our IGA serves on Friday was American Catfish. It is not. I get an email news letter from the Center for Food Safety and yesterday they sent one concerning the passage of this bill by Congress. It really is FOOD FOR THOUGHT! I thought it would make a good read but not before bed as they say at Thought's from Frank and Fern!


Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

 Update: The bill to Fast Track the TPP and other secret trade deals was officially introduced in Congress on April 16, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal currently under negotiation among 12 nations—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. If ratified by these governments, TPP would be the largest trade deal in history -- representing 792 million people and accounting for 40 percent of the world economy1 -- yet it's being written and negotiated in secret.

That’s right—none of the details of this sweeping trade agreement are available to the public. The only text that has been made public so far has been through leaked documents. Members of Congress have extremely limited access to the negotiation texts. But Corporate representatives have access to, and in some instances have written the negotiation documents through USTR advisory committees, where they “significantly outnumber representatives of organized labor, environmental advocates and academic experts”.2

What's been leaked about it so far reveals that the TPP would offshore millions of American jobs, expose the U.S. to imports of unsafe food, and empower corporations to attack hard-fought U.S. environmental and health safeguards.

For example, the TPP would require the U.S to allow food imports if the exporting country claims that their safety regime is "equivalent" to our own, even if it violates the key principles of our food safety laws.  So, fish from Vietnam and other TPP countries using antibiotics and other drugs banned in the U.S. would be allowed under equivalency rules in the agreement. These rules would effectively outsource domestic food inspection to other countries. Further, any U.S. food safety rules on pesticides, labeling or additives that is higher than international standards could be subject to challenge as "illegal trade barriers."

Instead of using trade agreements to elevate economic, health, and environmental standards across borders, the TPP creates a race to the bottom.

 What’s worse, Congress is currently considering granting “fast track” approval of the TPP. “Fast track” enables trade agreements to become law by removing a democratic step of lawmaking by stripping Congress of its authority to debate or amend the content of a trade deal. Congress gets a vote, but only after the negotiations have been completed.

Tell Congress to Vote “No” on Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and demand the text of the TPP be made public!

Here is a brief breakdown of this bill and some information about the state of fish and seafood imported to the USA.

Seafood Safety and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

December 05, 2014

 The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal currently under negotiation among 12 nations—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada,
Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.  The TPP includes some of the leading fish
and seafood exporting countries in the world—Vietnam, Chile, Japan, and Malaysia are among the top 20 aquaculture centers worldwide.
Already about one in five shrimp, three in five crabs, and three in five catfish consumed by Americans come from TPP countries (2012 data).

In many TPP countries, farm fish are raised with chemicals and antibiotics that are not allowed in the U.S.  The TPP aims to reduce or eliminate trade barriers on fish imports, further increase U.S. seafood imports, and put additional pressures on already inadequate federal inspection of seafood imports.  Currently, just over 1 percent of imported fish and seafood shipments is inspected or tested. More than half of these are only sight inspected “for obvious defects that would be apparent without laboratory analysis.”

In sum, TPP could negatively impact food safety of U.S. citizens and also contribute to the continuing decline of jobs in the U.S. seafood sector.  Additional food safety hazards could reach the U.S. if China is included in the TPP (see Seafood Imports from China).


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that

imported fish were the most common source of foodborne illness

from imported food from 2005-2010.

Fish/shellfish alone make up 20 percent of food imports refused

by FDA, largely due to the high percentage of aquaculture products,

which are associated with veterinary drug residues and unsafe



Around 25 percent of fish purchased from supermarkets by

researchers in North Carolina contained formaldehyde. All

contaminated samples were imported from Asian countries.

In 2013, 100 percent of Vietnamese catfish farms used

antibiotics not approved in the U.S.

U.S. scientists found that 44 percent of catfish and related species

from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Cambodia from

2002-2010 tested positive for an antibiotic banned in the U.S.

Pathogens have also been a frequent problem in seafood imports,

including Salmonella and Listeria


Residues of nitrofurans continue to be found in imported shrimp, but have been banned by FDA in animals produced for food since 2002 because their residues are carcinogenic and have not been shown to be safe.

Malachite green is banned in aquaculture in the U.S., EU, and Canada due to its suspected mutagenicity, but has been detected by FDA in imported eel and several species of imported fish.

A class of synthetic antibiotics called fluoroquinolones is

regularly found in several species of imported fish. According the

World Health Organization (WHO), the use of fluoroquinolones

in food animals has led to the emergence of resistant bacteria that

are generally cross-resistant to other antibiotics used in humans.

Chloramphenicol is not is not approved for use in any food-producing

animals in the U.S., but has been detected in imported shrimp,

crayfish, and crabs. Its use in humans is restricted to life-

threatening situations when less toxic drugs are ineffective because

it causes a type of bone marrow depression, which is usually

irreversible and fatal.



In 2009, 80 percent of total seafood in U.S. food supply was

imported. Roughly 9 out of 10 fish eaten in U.S. is imported, and

50 percent of fish imports are farm-raised.

In 2011, only 90 federal seafood inspectors examined 5.2 billion

pounds of imports. As a result of inadequate resources, just over

1 percent of imported fish and seafood shipments is inspected or

tested, more than half of which are only sight inspected “for obvious

defects that would be apparent without laboratory analysis.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tasked with

regulating imported seafood safety, requires seafood processors

to meet Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)

standards. In 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO)

stated that 33 percent of foreign seafood processors did not

adequately identify hazards in their HACCP plans.

GAO chastised FDA in 2011 for using an outdated approach

to assessing the safety of seafood imports, despite significant

increases in imported seafood and the emergence of aquaculture

as a major source of seafood imports; GAO stated that


seafood has been subjected to “limited U.S. oversight by FDA.

In contrast to low inspection rates in the U.S., the European

Union, in contrast, inspects 20-50 percent of imports and found

four times more veterinary drug violations on imported seafood

than the U.S.



The number of midsized fishing businesses in the U.S. fell
by 22.7 percent between 2002 and 2011 as the volume of fish
and seafood imports grew by 23.7 percent. TPP would further
increase seafood imports, impacting U.S. jobs.

Catfish imports from Vietnam increased from 7 million pounds

in 2000 to 228 million pounds in 2012. At less than half of the
price of American catfish, the federal government acknowledged

in 2013 that Vietnamese catfish harmed U.S. catfish farmers,

and an estimated 22,000 domestic catfish industry jobs have been lost
over the past decade.

Shrimp imports rose from 125 million pounds in 2000 to 224

million pounds in 2012. Corresponding to the high volume
of imports, the U.S. commercial shrimp industry dropped by

30 million pounds and $200 million about a third of the value of the
shrimp catch a decade earlier.


TPP aims to reduce or eliminate trade barriers, including U.S.

tariffs and non-tariff barriers, on fish imports, increasing the flow

of fish products into the U.S. in conjunction with less regulatory


Food labels could be challenged as non-tariff trade barriers under

TPP, which would impose limits on labels providing information

on where a food product comes from.

Under TPP, seafood imports could be allowed in the U.S. even

though other TPP countries may use additives drugs that

do not follow U.S. food safety guidelines


In 2006, FDA issued an import alert for eels produced in China,

and in 2007 issued an alert for all farm-raised catfish, shrimp,

carp, and eel from China.

FDA issued an import alert in 2013 on five species of

aquaculture fish imported from China because of illegal drugs
and additives

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Most fish

and shrimp imported from China are cultured in ponds that

frequently have poor water quality. Farmers commonly use
drugs to control disease and fungal infections in these ponds”.

Shipments of eels from China have been contaminated with

It is pretty scary and it is all for the sake of cheap food...but it is not so cheap when you look at the cost to our economy in jobs and industry and even worse when you think of what we are feeding ourselves!

PS: Please forgive the odd spacing...Blogger and I had some serious battles and it won!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Homestead: Dogs part 1

We all have a memory of the good old farm dog. Out by the barn with his head on his paws watching the farmer. The purpose of a good farm dog is one of a helper, guardian and companion as well as a reliable extra hand about the place.

I have had German Shepherds, Border Collies and of course several mutts over the years. I was not really breed specific and all of the dogs I had except 1 were great all around farm dogs, Protective and quiet around the livestock, well behaved in the house and handy to have when we were working the cattle. All of them would let you know when someone came into the yard but none would bite.  Well I should clarify that, none of them felt threatened enough to bite but I have a feeling if I had been threatened it may have been different.

We are looking into Livestock Guardian dogs for our new place. I have had experience with neighbors LGD's but have never owned one of my own. I do want a Border Collie. However there are wonderful dogs who need rescue so the humane society approach has not been ruled out.
Here is a list of dogs we feel would suit our needs.

Anatolian Shepherd

Most Anatolian authorities agree that, while they can make superb deeply bonded companions with proper and consistent socialization, they are not "pets" in the conventional sense of the word. Bred for millennia to exercise independent judgment in response to perceived danger, whether from four or two legged predators, these ancient guardian dogs WILL protect. While they are not aggressive the way guard dogs like Rottweilers or Dobermans can be, their protective reactions have been likened to the strike of a rattlesnake. Anatolians require substantial fencing in all but open range settings, and should never be allowed off leash off their property, with the possible exception of completely fenced in dog parks. Some Anatolians make wonderful Therapy dogs because of their calm temperaments, but "attack dog training" is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED for this breed because of their serious nature.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog of today has remained relatively unchanged from its ancestors because of the nature of its isolated existence and the fact that it is a landrace that has evolved based on function and not just a pretty face or a particular color. The Turks have for centuries been dependent upon the land for their livelihood, relying on domesticated animals as an integral part of their existence. For this reason, perhaps, the characteristics of the Anatolian have been so exactly preserved, characteristics well adapted to: Turkey's hot climate and terrain; the lifestyle of the shepherds that, until modern times, was nomadic; and the job of guarding the village flocks against fierce predators.
The first active breeding program in the United States was the result of the importation of a breeding pair of dogs by Lt. Robert C. Ballard, USN, who was stationed in Turkey from 1966 to 1968. Upon their return to the United States, the Ballards settled in El Cajon, California, where on August 16th, 1970, their imports Zorba and Peki produced the first recorded American-bred litter. The year 1970 also saw the founding of the National Breed Club, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America.

GENERAL APPEARANCE - Large, rugged, powerful and impressive, possessing great endurance and agility. Developed through a set of very demanding circumstances for a purely utilitarian purpose; he is a working guard dog without equal, with a unique ability to protect livestock. General impression - Appears bold, but calm, unless challenged. He possesses size, good bone, a well-muscled torso with a strong head. Reserve out of its territory is acceptable. Fluid movement and even temperament is desirable. SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE - General balance is more important than absolute size. Dogs should be from 29 inches and weighing from 110 to 150 pounds proportionate to size and structure. Bitches should be from 27 inches, weighing from 80 to 120 pounds, proportionate to size and structure. Neither dog nor bitch appear fat. Both dog and bitch should be rectangular, in direct proportion to height. Measurements and weights apply at age 2 or older.
HEAD - Expression should be intelligent. Eyes are medium size, set apart, almond shaped and dark brown to light amber in color. Blue eyes or eyes of two different colors are a disqualification. Eye rims will be black or brown and without sag or looseness of haw. Incomplete pigment is a serious fault. Ears should be set on no higher than the plane of the head. V-shaped, rounded apex, measuring about four inches at the base to six inches in length. The tip should be just long enough to reach the outside corner of the eyelid. Ears dropped to sides. Erect ears are a disqualification. Skull is large but in proportion to the body. There is a slight centerline furrow, fore and aft, from apparent stop to moderate occiput. Broader in dogs than in bitches. Muzzle is blockier and stronger for the dog, but neither dog nor bitch would have a snipey head or muzzle. Nose and flews must be solid black or brown. Seasonal fading is not to be penalized. Incomplete pigment is a serious fault. Flews are normally dry but pronounced enough to contribute to "squaring" the overall muzzle appearance. Teeth and gums strong and healthy. Scissors bite preferred, level bite acceptable. Broken teeth are not to be faulted. Overshot, undershot or wry bite are disqualifications.
NECK, TOPLINE, BODY - Neck slightly arched, powerful, and muscular, moderate in length with more skin and fur than elsewhere on the body, forming a protective ruff. The dewlap should not be pendulous and excessive. Topline will appear level when gaiting. Back will be powerful, muscular, and level, with drop behind withers and gradual arch over loin, sloping slightly downward at the croup. Body well proportioned, functional, without exaggeration. Never fat or soft. Chest is deep (to the elbow) and well-sprung with a distinct tuck up at the loin. Tail should be long and reaching to the hocks. Set on rather high. When relaxed, it is carried low with the end curled upwards. When alert, the tail is carried high, making a "wheel." Both low and wheel carriage are acceptable, when gaiting. "Wheel" carriage preferred. The tail will not necessarily uncurl totally.
FOREQUARTERS - Shoulders should be muscular and well developed, blades long, broad and sloping. Elbows should be neither in nor out. Forelegs should be relatively long, well-boned and set straight with strong pasterns. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. They should have stout nails with pads thick and tough. Dewclaws may be removed.
HINDQUARTERS - Strong, with broad thighs and heavily muscled. Angulation at the stifle and hock are in proportion to the forequarters. As seen from behind, the legs are parallel. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. Double dewclaws may exist. Dewclaws may be removed.
COAT - Short (one inch minimum, not tight) to Rough (approximately 4 inches in length) with neck hair slightly longer. Somewhat longer and thicker at the neck and mane. A thick undercoat is common to all. Feathering may occur on the ear fringes, legs, breeching, and tail.
COLOR - All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable.
GAIT - At the trot, the gait is powerful yet fluid. When viewed from the front or rear, the legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. With increased speed, footfall converges toward the center line of gravity. When viewed from the side, the front legs should reach out smoothly with no obvious pounding. The withers and backline should stay nearly level with little rise or fall. The rear assembly should push out smoothly with hocks doing their share of the work and flexing well.
TEMPERAMENT - Alert and intelligent, calm and observant. Instinctively protective, he is courageous and highly adaptable. He is very loyal and responsive. Highly territorial, he is a natural guard. Reserve around strangers and off its territory is acceptable.

Border Collie

Introducing the Shepherd's Dog

The Industrial Revolution created urban markets for lamb, mutton, and wool; but how could the vast hills of unfenced land in the Borders of Scotland and northern England be put to raising sheep? Hardworking sheepdogs were the key, helping shepherds turn this inhospitable land into sheep-raising country. Our modern sheep-herding collie was improved in the nineteenth century, and the genetic refinement of its working skills occupies thoughtful livestock producers on several continents to this day. Breeders try to balance a dozen heritable working traits to produce the best dog for their purposes, factoring in climate, terrain, livestock type, and the kind of dog they get along with. Guided by a skilled trainer, a talented dog develops remarkable mastery over livestock. The true Border Collie is known by how it works sheep and cattle, and by no other standard.

Herding Characteristics

Because their early work was to gather sheep from the hills, Border Collies are, by nature, gatherers rather than drovers or tenders. They can, nevertheless, be taught to drive stock away from the shepherd and even to keep their charges within certain boundaries. They are also sensitive to commands from their handlers and can distinguish slight variations in the many whistles they understand, responding appropriately to each tone.

Shepherds look for exceptional athletic ability, a biddable nature, and superior livestock sense. In general, a dog that is light on its feet, flowing in its movement, quick to cover its stock, and has great endurance is the most valued. The dog's temperament must be sensitive enough to bend its will when asked, tough enough to stand up to the pressures of training, eager to learn, with enough confidence and determination to carry on with its work without constant guidance. Some Border Collies are reserved rather than outgoing, but they must love to work with and for the master. While innate livestock sense is bred into all good working collies, their working style can vary. Most people admire a dog that works with its head low to the ground, with its hindquarters high and its tail tucked between its hind legs. They can run as fast as the wind, yet stop in an instant or switch directions without stopping. They don't take their eyes off their sheep. Their intense gaze is focused on the stock, willing them to obey, to go where the dog directs them, to stop if the dog blocks their path. The stock aren't rushed or afraid, but they certainly respect the dog. A good Border Collie's obsession is its livestock, and this is as it should be.

Sheepdog trials have a very practical purpose of proving the worth of the most desirable Border Collie studs and dams. Each year, there is one, and only one, Border Collie champion: the dog or bitch that wins the National Handlers Finals sheepdog trial sponsored jointly by the United States Border Collie Handlers Association and the American Border Collie Association registry.

The Breeding Behind a Good Border Collie

How did Border Collies get to be such smart and useful livestock dogs? During the nineteenth century, forward-looking shepherds felt that the faithful farm collie could be made more useful with the addition of traits from other types of dog: the "eye" of a staunch setter, the speed and silent nature of a racing hound. No dog has all the herding traits in perfect proportion, and the intricate assemblage is easy to lose. Breeding a good Border Collie is not easy. It takes great experience with dogs and herding requirements, and a bit of luck in addition.

In the days when dogs that were unfit to work could not be kept, most dogs with physical problems were put down. As Border Collies became more popular with farmers around the world, hobby trials competitors, and pet and dog-sport owners, some latent problems began to surface. The International Sheep Dog Society and the American Border Collie Association have programs that are reducing the incidence of inherited eye diseases. All dogs should be tested by a canine ophthalmologist, preferably between 6 and 12 weeks of age. Dogs having or producing pups which have genetic eye abnormalities should not be bred. There is some hip dysplasia, and conscientious breeders have radiologists certify that breeding dogs are clear of hip dysplasia. The American Border Collie Association will record this information, as well as eye certification, on pedigrees. Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) occasionally causes shoulder lameness, and some researchers feel there is a genetic component. Epilepsy, which can have a genetic basis, occurs occasionally. Obviously, affected dogs should not be bred.
While a group of one hundred Border Collies will probably look as if they belong to the same breed, they will not have a uniform appearance. Since a "good" dog can be judged only by its herding performance, there is no "breed standard" of appearance to which Border Collies should conform. In general, they are of medium size (25-55 pounds), with coats that may be smooth, medium, or rough. Colors are black, black with tan, and, less common, reddish-brown, all usually with white markings. Predominantly white Border Collies and merles, though unusual, also occasionally appear.
Despite strong opposition from all people who value the genetic heritage of the breed, both the Kennel Club in Great Britain and the American Kennel Club have taken up the registration of Border Collies. They have imposed written physical standards as breeding guidelines and award titles for conformation in dog shows. In Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, where a strain of Border Collies has been bred for dog shows for twenty years or more, those dogs have a predictable physical type, but their ability to herd livestock has been severely compromised.

The United States Border Collie Club, Inc., opposes registering Border Collies with organizations, such as the American Kennel Club, which offer conformation classes for Border Collies. Since its formation in 1975, a primary purpose of the USBCC has been to protect working Border Collies from misguided efforts to create a breed based on physical characteristics instead of on skill in herding livestock.

Border Collies for Sports and as Pets
Because they are highly motivated to work in partnership with their owners, Border Collies are well suited to most canine sports. To compete in their performance events such as Obedience and Tracking tests without registering with the AKC, a Border Collie owner must neuter the dog and apply for an Indefinite Listing Privilege.

Many Border Collies and their owners enjoy the fast-growing sport of Agility, as it enhances the relationship between dog and handler and develops a confident, bold, and motivated dog. The best Agility is found in meets sanctioned by the United States Dog Agility Association, Inc., P. O. Box 850955, Richardson, TX 75085-0955. Some Border Collies excel in Fly Ball and Frisbee competitions. In northern climates, Border Collie sled-dog teams are competitive in middle-distance races.

As pets, Border Collies have a mixed record. While some people have no difficulty controlling the dogs' herding instinct, high energy and quick minds, less-skilled owners may be frustrated by these traits. The calm, well-behaved dogs seen at sheepdog trials are the result of careful attention to the dogs' mental and physical needs. Border Collies that herd are fulfilled. In pet environments, with experienced dog people who give them the structure, love, and fellowship they crave, they can be superb pets. With less-skilled owners, unfortunately, they can become a neurotic nuisance. An honest appraisal of your lifestyle, skills and needs before getting a Border Collie can save you from heartache. It is very hard to find a farm home or a new pet home for a Border Collie which has developed bad habits, and every year many Border Collies are destroyed because they proved to be too much dog for their owners.


Yes, Border Collies shed. Rough-coated dogs develop thick undercoats in winter which must be combed out at the onset of summer's heat. Teeth must be cleaned and toenails clipped. A veterinarian will recommend a program of vaccinations and medications. Be aware that heat exhaustion is a killer. Border Collies often lie in shade or cool water after a hot run or hard work. Even so, their obsessive natures do lead to unnecessary deaths from hyperthermia. Be warned, also, that allowing them to roam free inevitably leads to trouble, as the herding instinct can be activated by anything that moves. Border Collies' attraction to motion should be confined to safe outlets, as most chronic car-chasing is eventually fatal. Inappropriate herding should be stopped immediately by saying no and meaning it. The USBCC recommends spaying or neutering pet dogs for the owners' comfort and for the sake of the breed's working instincts.

Dogs are a commitment. Before you acquire a Border Collie puppy, be sure you want to spend two years training and thirteen more enjoying a highly energetic dog that anticipates your every move, shares your every joy, comforts all your sorrows, and beats you in every race.

Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is, as its name suggest, a very large dog. It ranges in size from around 25-32 inches at the shoulder. In weight it ranges from 85-140 pounds. It is primarily markings of badger, gray, or varying shade of tan and has a long, flat, harsh protective coat.

The Great Pyrenees originated in the Pyrenees mountains of Europe which form the border between France and Spain. They were developed by the Basque people to protect their flocks from predation by bears and wolves. The dogs have been used for this purpose for over a thousand years. Since a lot of the bears and wolves have disappeared from the mountains, the dogs today are still guarding homes and property. Historically, the dogs have also been used in France to guard large estates. The ability of these dogs to work was achieved by selective breeding in which only the most successful workers were allowed to reproduce themselves, and therefore, a great deal of this inbred instinct remains strong. It is upon this thousand-year selection that we draw when we breed modern dogs for working purposes.
The Great Pyrenees is a territorial guard by nature, which means that he works to keep his territory free from predatory danger. Because of this, there may be times when the shepherd does not see the dog for long periods of time. He knows that the job is being done because the losses decrease. If the dog is working effectively, the stockman may never see a predator, and the flock will never be disturbed.
good working dog has been selected for hostility toward all possible predators. This is why Great Pyrenees, although bred to work on bears and wolves, are equally effective on wild and feral dogs which are an increasing problem to stockman. By nature, the Great Pyrenees is nocturnal. It has no tolerance for other dogs except the herding dogs that it works with, and very small dogs. It can be trusted with small, young and helpless animals of any kind, but it has to be watched as a young pup with some supervision as it usually takes a pup 18 months to become a livestock guardian dog. It is one of the most interesting qualities of a Great Pyrenees-the absolute intolerance of all predators, coupled with extraordinary patience and kindness to stock.
There are basically two ways in which Pyrenees are utilized as protectors of stock. The first is what we call an all-purpose "Ranch or Farm Dog." This is a dog that lives on a farm, usually in the proximity of the farmyard and ranch house. He is part pet, part guard dog. He takes care of the ranch, the family, and the stock that is usually pastured close to the house. The other Pyrenees is what we call a "Livestock Guardian Dog." The Livestock Guardian dog is not a pet, and he is not allowed access to the farmyard or to the house. His sole duty is to protect the stock, in some cases on large isolated pastures or ranges. Both types are a working part of the stock operation and function as such. Pyrenees have been known to increase their territory and may also protect stock belonging to adjoining neighbors pastures. The breed performs admirably in either of these situations.

This is "Pearl", you may know her from Thoughts From Frank and Fern. Fern notes: "LGDs have a very different personality than regular dogs like Labs or Border Collie's, and require a whole different type of training. Whatever dog you choose, get a book on how to train them. It made all the difference in the world for us."

Pearl with young "kids". Fran says, "Pearl is a great dog and is fantastic with the goats."
Thank you Frank and Fern for letting me use your photos.

Once the decision has been made to obtain a Great Pyrenees for predator control, the next question is what kind of dog to obtain and where to obtain a dog.
The first choice must be made between a grown dog and a pup. This will be based upon individual needs and available animals. In general, a pup is to be most recommended, but grown dogs may be very satisfactory on an individual basis. If you decide on a grown dog, be cautious of sellers who offer you a "Trained" dog. If a dog is already an effective worker, the chances are slim that a person would part with such a dog. Also, if such a dog should become available, there is still the problem of adapting the dog to his new environment and territory. A grown dog should come with a contract stating a trial period of time so if the dog does not work out for the new owner, it can be returned. The training of a livestock-guarding dog cannot be equated to the training of a herding dog. The next choice will be male or female. In this breed, either sex will do a very creditable job; so, if you have a strong preference, by all means exercise it. If you get a female, you should have her spayed at about 6-12 months. It she is not spayed, you will lose her usefulness for those 3 weeks twice a year when she is in season, and such a time may come at the peak of lambing. She will be more reliable and more effective if she is spayed. Contrary to popular myth, a Great Pyrenees female will mate with a male dog of any breed if he is insistent enough. Male dogs should also be neutered. The male dog will exercise his sexual drive in response to any female canine. This definitely includes coyotes. If you have a female herding dog, or if your neighbors have an unspayed female dog, your male working dog will quite naturally seek out the company of such females. A dog who is distracted from his stock is useless.

The Maremma

The Maremma is a large white or cream colored dog, usually weighing between 70 and 100 pounds and standing 25 to 30 inches tall. It is described in the breed standard as being majestic, lively, sturdy, distinguished, intelligent, and courageous without being aggressive. Properly trained, it has the ability to bond closely with sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas, with which it assumes a protective parental attitude, it demonstrate and an aloof awareness as leader of its adopted family, while at the same time readily accepting a secondary role to its bonded human.

A Maremma accepts the leadership of humans, but not their mastery. While being a good friend to man, the Maremma will not willingly be his slave. Born with exactly the right qualities for livestock guarding, the Maremma is not recommended for use as a pet.
The independence necessary for solitary guarding of a flock makes the Maremma somewhat unwilling to take orders, and all of its behavioral characteristics that make it an excellent guardian tend to become stronger as it matures. The pet Maremma, without a flock and large area to guard, will gradually become more possessive of its bonded humans and of its limited territory, and more defensive of its possessions, while it will also become less discriminatory between friend and foe.
A successful Maremma guardian dog will be good tempered, ATTENTIVE to the stock, PROTECTIVE of the stock, and TRUSTWORTHY with the stock. The ideal time for an inexperienced guardian owner to purchase a Maremma is as a recently weaned puppy so that it will bond strongly with its adopted family, its humans, and its territory as it grows. However, this also involved all the antics of puppy-hood; adolescence, and training in the "don'ts" of guardianship - it already knows all of the "do's" and will develop them on its own if exposed at the right time to appropriate guarding situations. Maremmas become mature, fully developed guardians at about age two.
For these reasons, some people may choose to purchase an older dog, closer to mature guardianship, that will readily transfer to a new adopted family, new humans, and new territory if it has been treated properly up to that time. In any case, it is strongly recommended that you do some advance preparation.

The German Shepherd
The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility--difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex.
The desired height for males at the top of the highest point of the shoulder blade is 24 to 26 inches; and for bitches, 22 to 24 inches.

The German Shepherd Dog is longer than tall, with the most desirable proportion as 10 to 8½. The length is measured from the point of the breastbone to the rear edge of the pelvis, The desirable long proportion is not derived from a long back, but from overall length with relation to height, which is achieved by length of forequarter and length of withers and hindquarter, viewed from the side.

  The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character. Any of the above deficiencies in character which indicate shyness must be penalized as very serious faults and any dog exhibiting pronounced indications of these must be excused from the ring. It must be possible for the judge to observe the teeth and to determine that both testicles are descended. Any dog that attempts to bite the judge must be disqualified. The ideal dog is a working animal with an incorruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the arduous work that constitutes its primary purpose.

* I have had German Shepherds as farm and working dogs. They are wonderful and intelligent and with proper training are excellent herding dogs. I am however saddened by what the show ring has done to this breed and the incredible genetic changes "Show ring Style" has made in their functionality. I had little success in finding information about this breed that did not promote the Show ring as a selection tool. That is just my opinion for what its worth.

This is the first set of dogs we have looked into. Part two will follow with other interesting breeds we have found.