It’s common place, in almost every pig barn, a new door entrance set is carefully installed and used day in a day out. But soon enough the ammonia in the barn will start rusting that latch you use every day. Eventually it’ll become sharp enough to cut hands and start to malfunction which means more time spent installing another latch.
A Stainless Steel door latch and hinge set from Dwyer Mfg. removes the chore of replacing latches and hinges on a regular basis in a corrosive environment.
The twist lock version on the left is available for $49.30 and the Rod Latch (including hinges not shown) is selling for $34.90 until the end of May 2016.
Your time is valuable, do the job right the first time and enjoy it every day.
Often when your replacing the hinges or latches you find the screws have pulled out of the wall and/or the whole is too big to hold the replacement screw. Take a look at this DIY video on how to solve that problem with a golf tee. Click here.
Is it that time of year already? Most of the harvest is in now and Thanksgiving is upon us. I am not sure if the legends of the first Thanksgiving are true, but they do give us an idea of the reasons for the celebration. It was an opportunity to be thankful and to share with others.
Those to whom we need to be thankful this season are the farmers. If you have food on your table, in your fridge and cupboard, thank a farmer. Sometimes what arrives at the house from the grocery store hardly resembles something that came from a farm, but, nevertheless, it originated there. Perhaps it comes from a local farmer or one from Alberta, California or Mexico, but thank a farmer. The food we eat may come from a large operation, or it may come from a small, one family farm. Regardless, we thank a farmer. We thank a farmer for the long hours, the risks, the financial burdens and the worries, for without them, we would have no food. Few people in today’s world can grow or have sufficient knowledge to produce much in the line of their own food. Thank a farmer. From the turkey on your table, to the potatoes, the cranberries, the squash and the pumpkin pie with whipped cream, we thank a farmer, for without the farmer, we would starve.
Growing up on a farm was and still is, I believe, a good way of life. The business of farming has changed a great deal over the years, but it continues to offer a unique set of values and style of living. I remember growing up with always having something to do, and my time, year round, was full. I learned the circle of birth, growth, maturity of death in life. I learned how to work hard and play hard. The values that are passed on from one generation of farmers to the next are good solid ones and are a firm base. Farmers value the land, respect the weather, and follow the patterns set down by nature.
The next generation of farmers is being raised on our farms right now. Very few farmers were not raised on a farm. Agricultural programs at colleges and universities are full of students who are farm raised. Farming is not a career aspired to by the youth of today unless they are the sons and daughters of farmers. And the lure of a weekly pay cheque, steady income, weekends off and summer vacations is strong for potential farmers. Who will take over the stewardship of the land and feed us when this present generation retires?
The new farmers will face many challenges in making his or her way in life. The high cost of land, machinery and buildings are daunting impediments but they are usually overcome one way or another by each generation. Growing up on a farm teaches them that it is rarely easy, the work is never done and the pay isn’t guaranteed. There is however, satisfaction and knowledge that the work they do as a farmer is important and worthwhile, for the family, and the community. And it’s a way of life that must be preserved and passed on to the next generation.
Forty or fifty years ago, farmers around here started to plant the same crops on the same field year after year, usually cash crops. Adding the proper amount of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides allowed the crops to flourish for many years. However, Mother Nature and monoculture farming do not get along. Even with the additions of chemicals, crop yield decreased and input costs skyrocketed. Crop rotation is absolutely necessary to maintain the precious soil that sustains our earth. It also is an aid to another growing problem, herbicide resistance.
We have all heard about antibiotic resistance bacteria affecting our health centres. The same thing is happening in the plant world where the herbicides, having been used for years, are no longer effective in weed control. This is especially true in many US states and the problem is heading toward Canada as well. The answer is not in finding new herbicides but in crop rotation and other farm management techniques that have been around for centuries.
Crop rotation can reduce the impact of insect and diseases leading to higher yields, lower input costs, manage crop residue and provide diversified marketing options, as well as decrease herbicide resistance. And there are excellent resources to aid as you decide how to adapt to these changes. One excellent Canadian resource is www.mixitup.ca which outlines the problem of resistance as well as solutions and practices. A couple more resources are from Penn State: http://tinyurl.com/k4o6g75 and from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: http://tinyurl.com/ophh7z6 There are many other resources available on-line and in print.
Now, while your crops are growing in the fields is the time to be planning for next year and to make the necessary changes to keep your operation efficient as well as profitable.
The Earth is a huge boulder flying through space at incredible speeds, seemingly inert and unaware of the presence of any life upon its surface. Yet, there is a great deal of evidence that this life, as in human life, has done a great deal to affect the planet, especially in the last 150 years. We know that things are changing: carbon dioxide, methane and other ‘green house’ gas levels are increasing in our ever so thin atmosphere. We’ve been pumping, spraying and burning unchecked for a long time and so it is logical to assume that we do influence our environment, including climate. How much influence is another question?
Long before the industrial age, the Earth went through warming and cooling periods. Supposedly the earth was warmer during the millions of years of the dinosaurs. The last ‘Ice Age’ ended 10,000 years ago, give or take a day or two. And there was a ‘mini-ice age’ in the 14th to 18th centuries in which crops failed, glaciers grew and winters were long and harsh. Its causes have been attributed to sun spot activity, volcanic activity or ocean activity, or a combination of all these and perhaps other yet unknown elements. While we cannot say with 100% accuracy why it happened then or what is happening now to our climate and the rest of our environment, we cannot deny that something is happening and most probably, we, as human beings, have had some part to play.
It’s only logical to do our part in doing what we can for the environment. Following the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ motto makes sense. Making informed choices about our small corner of the world does make a difference. We don’t need to wait until there are definitive answers before we make changes at home, business or farm. Nor do we need to wait for a government to lead us. It is simply time to make small changes on a personal level so that we can “be the solution.”
For some more information, there’s an excellent article in the current edition of Better Farming.
Fossil fuel prices have risen again and will probably continue to rise. It is most noticeable at the gas pump, but certainly natural gas, propane, diesel and furnace oil prices will follow, if they haven’t already. Another winter like the one we just experienced is sure to dig deeper into our wallets once heating season comes along again. Perhaps it is time to explore the possibility of capturing a non-fossil fuel that many farmers already produce on their farms: methane. The wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine, but cows, pigs, poultry and people always poop.
Methane is a renewable, non-fossil fuel. If you have livestock, you have the raw material to create methane: manure, which, in many cases, is already churning and bubbling in closed pits. Once captured, methane can be used for everything from cooking and heating to electric power generation. The scale of your plant can vary a great deal as well. Small bio-fuel digesters are built and used in some developing countries to provide gas for cooking. Germany is a leader in bio-fuel research and development in power generation. As for safety, the protocols for the use and storage of methane are similar to that of other flammable gases.
Of course personal research is necessary to determine your best solution and there is a great deal of information on-line. A good place to start is the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture which lists incentives and requirements of a bio-fuel generation. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/biogas/incentives.htm
Being prepared is of utmost importance to a farmer. It’s important to have a spare, because things eventually wear out or break down. One thing that we can’t always be ahead of is weather. Weather prediction in Southern Ontario is difficult at the best of times because of the number of variables involved. Being surrounded by the great lakes, a small change in wind direction can lead to major changes in weather events.
Fortunately, we can get up to the minute results on-line. There are two internet sites that are worthy of your favourite list. The first is Farmzone at www.farmzone.com. This site is a specialized site of the Weather Network. In addition to the regular information, maps and forecasts, of interest to the local farming community are a drying index, degree days, and heat units expected. As well, there’s a link to market information on futures grain markets.
The second is at www.wunderground.com. The Weather Underground is made up of over 34,000 personal weather stations across North America that send data into the central station where it is analyzed and plotted. This creates an impressive network of weather information. They also have apps for smart phones and tablets which bring up to the minute weather information to your pocket or purse. If you wish, you may join your personal weather station to the network.
We can’t (yet) control the weather but at least we can be more aware of what is sliding across the skies and prepare for it.