Friday, December 15, 2006

aging bit starting to happen

I don't have the trust fund or the huge financial backing, so I will not be building the cave. Too bad really. Great way to reduce my utility expenses. I did get the single door reach-in cooler the other day. A simple one that will go into the plant to brine/dry cheeses. That should do a lot towards my elimination of rind yuck that I battle with on a daily basis.

I hope to have things together enough to complete the whole Phase III part of my plan by March 2007. I am working in that direction. With the wet weather we were set back financially with the need to purchase the bale wrapper. I'm just getting things around enough to push this to the next step.

My goal is 10,000# of cheese in 2007. Do or die (hopefully quick and with a smile) I will do it. I also need to push for the 100 gal. vat. We have little milk over the winter. I need to calculate how much I need to process to cash flow the winter. I've already lined up the "other" products to sell in the farm stand. There is Arapawa goat soap, High Mowing seeds, thorvin and north american kelp, sea salt, redmond salt, thinking about cheese making stuff... Honey, beeswax products, milk, butter, eggs, I have the coffee maker...

The double Glaucester turned out interesting. I am intersted in the final outcome. The Small Holders cheese experiment turned out pretty well. Very mild, but I think that it how it is suppose to be. Honey Gouda sold out just after Christmas to my suprise. I think I'll need 20 wheels a week at current sales to make it til New Years next year. Not bad for 12-18# wheels!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Voting with your trolley

Food politics Voting with your trolley
Dec 7th 2006 From The Economist print edition
Can you really change the world just by buying certain foods?

HAS the supermarket trolley dethroned the ballot box? Voter turnout in most developed countries has fallen in recent decades, but sales of organic, Fairtrade and local food—each with its own political agenda—are growing fast. Such food allows shoppers to express their political opinions, from concern for the environment to support for poor farmers, every time they buy groceries. And shoppers are jumping at the opportunity, says Marion Nestle, a nutritionist at New York University and the author of “Food Politics” (2002) and “What to Eat” (2006). “What I hear as I talk to people is this phenomenal sense of despair about their inability to do anything about climate change, or the disparity between rich and poor,” she says. “But when they go into a grocery store they can do something—they can make decisions about what they are buying and send a very clear message.”

Those in the food-activism movement agree. “It definitely has a positive effect,” says Ian Bretman of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations (FLO) International, the Fairtrade umbrella group. Before the advent of ethical and organic labels, he notes, the usual way to express political views using food was to impose boycotts. But such labels make a political act out of consumption, rather than non-consumption—which is far more likely to produce results, he suggests. “That's how you build effective, constructive engagement with companies. If you try to do a boycott or slag them off as unfair or evil, you won't be able to get them round the table.”
Consumers have more power than they realise, says Chris Wille of the Rainforest Alliance, a conservation group. “They are at one end of the supply chain, farmers are at the other, and consumers really do have the power to send a message back all the way through that complicated supply chain,” he explains. “If the message is frequent, loud and consistent enough, then they can actually change practices, and we see that happening on the ground.”

The $30 billion organic-food industry “was created by consumers voting with their dollars,” says Michael Pollan, the author of “The Omnivore's Dilemma” (2006), another of this year's crop of books on food politics. Normally, he says, a sharp distinction is made between people's actions as citizens, in which they are expected to consider the well-being of society, and their actions as consumers, which are assumed to be selfish. Food choices appear to reconcile the two.

How green is your organic lettuce?

Yet even an apparently obvious claim—that organic food is better for the environment than the conventionally farmed kind—turns out to be controversial. There are many different definitions of the term “organic”, but it generally involves severe restrictions on the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and a ban on genetically modified organisms. Peter Melchett of the Soil Association, Britain's leading organic lobby group, says that environmental concerns, rather than health benefits, are now cited by British consumers as their main justification for buying organic food. (There is no clear evidence that conventional food is harmful or that organic food is nutritionally superior.)

But not everyone agrees that organic farming is better for the environment. Perhaps the most eminent critic of organic farming is Norman Borlaug, the father of the “green revolution”, winner of the Nobel peace prize and an outspoken advocate of the use of synthetic fertilisers to increase crop yields. He claims the idea that organic farming is better for the environment is “ridiculous” because organic farming produces lower yields and therefore requires more land under cultivation to produce the same amount of food. Thanks to synthetic fertilisers, Mr Borlaug points out, global cereal production tripled between 1950 and 2000, but the amount of land used increased by only 10%. Using traditional techniques such as crop rotation, compost and manure to supply the soil with nitrogen and other minerals would have required a tripling of the area under cultivation. The more intensively you farm, Mr Borlaug contends, the more room you have left for rainforest.

What of the claim that organic farming is more energy-efficient? Lord Melchett points out for example that the artificial fertiliser used in conventional farming is made using natural gas, which is “completely unsustainable”. But Anthony Trewavas, a biochemist at the University of Edinburgh, counters that organic farming actually requires more energy per tonne of food produced, because yields are lower and weeds are kept at bay by ploughing. And Mr Pollan notes that only one-fifth of the energy associated with food production across the whole food chain is consumed on the farm: the rest goes on transport and processing.

The most environmentally benign form of agriculture appears to be “no till” farming, which involves little or no ploughing and relies on cover crops and carefully applied herbicides to control weeds. This makes it hard to combine with organic methods (though some researchers are trying). Too rigid an insistence on organic farming's somewhat arbitrary rules, then—copper, a heavy metal, can be used as an organic fungicide because it is traditional—can actually hinder the adoption of greener agricultural techniques. Alas, shoppers look in vain for “no till” labels on their food—at least so far.

Fair enough

What about Fairtrade? Its aim is to address “the injustice of low prices” by guaranteeing that producers receive a fair price “however unfair the conventional market is”, according to FLO International's website. In essence, it means paying producers an above-market “Fairtrade” price for their produce, provided they meet particular labour and production standards. In the case of coffee, for example, Fairtrade farmers receive a minimum of $1.26 per pound for their coffee, or $0.05 above the market price if it exceeds that floor. This premium is passed back to the producers to spend on development programmes. The market for Fairtrade products is much smaller than that for organic products, but is growing much faster: it increased by 37% to reach €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2005. Who could object to that?

The Guardian

It makes me feel so good

Economists, for a start. The standard economic argument against Fairtrade goes like this: the low price of commodities such as coffee is due to overproduction, and ought to be a signal to producers to switch to growing other crops. Paying a guaranteed Fairtrade premium—in effect, a subsidy—both prevents this signal from getting through and, by raising the average price paid for coffee, encourages more producers to enter the market. This then drives down the price of non-Fairtrade coffee even further, making non-Fairtrade farmers poorer. Fairtrade does not address the basic problem, argues Tim Harford, author of “The Undercover Economist” (2005), which is that too much coffee is being produced in the first place. Instead, it could even encourage more production.

Mr Bretman of FLO International disagrees. In practice, he says, farmers cannot afford to diversify out of coffee when the price falls. Fairtrade producers can use the premiums they receive to make the necessary investments to diversify into other crops. But surely the price guarantee actually reduces the incentive to diversify?

Another objection to Fairtrade is that certification is predicated on political assumptions about the best way to organise labour. In particular, for some commodities (including coffee) certification is available only to co-operatives of small producers, who are deemed to be most likely to give workers a fair deal when deciding how to spend the Fairtrade premium. Coffee plantations or large family firms cannot be certified. Mr Bretman says the rules vary from commodity to commodity, but are intended to ensure that the Fairtrade system helps those most in need. Yet limiting certification to co-ops means “missing out on helping the vast majority of farm workers, who work on plantations,” says Mr Wille of the Rainforest Alliance, which certifies producers of all kinds.

Guaranteeing a minimum price also means there is no incentive to improve quality, grumble coffee-drinkers, who find that the quality of Fairtrade brews varies widely. Again, the Rainforest Alliance does things differently. It does not guarantee a minimum price or offer a premium but provides training, advice and better access to credit. That consumers are often willing to pay more for a product with the RA logo on it is an added bonus, not the result of a formal subsidy scheme; such products must still fend for themselves in the marketplace. “We want farmers to have control of their own destinies, to learn to market their products in these competitive globalised markets, so they are not dependent on some NGO,” says Mr Wille.

But perhaps the most cogent objection to Fairtrade is that it is an inefficient way to get money to poor producers. Retailers add their own enormous mark-ups to Fairtrade products and mislead consumers into thinking that all of the premium they are paying is passed on. Mr Harford calculates that only 10% of the premium paid for Fairtrade coffee in a coffee bar trickles down to the producer. Fairtrade coffee, like the organic produce sold in supermarkets, is used by retailers as a means of identifying price-insensitive consumers who will pay more, he says.
As with organic food, the Fairtrade movement is under attack both from outsiders who think it is misguided and from insiders who think it has sold its soul. In particular, the launch by Nestlé, a food giant, of Partners' Blend, a Fairtrade coffee, has convinced activists that the Fairtrade movement is caving in to big business. Nestlé sells over 8,000 non-Fairtrade products and is accused of exploiting the Fairtrade brand to gain favourable publicity while continuing to do business as usual. Mr Bretman disagrees. “We felt it would not be responsible to turn down an opportunity to do something that would practically help hundreds or thousands of farmers,” he says. “You are winning the battle if you get corporate acceptance that these ideas are important.” He concedes that the Fairtrade movement's supporters are “a very broad church” which includes anti-globalisation and anti-corporate types. But they can simply avoid Nestlé's Fairtrade coffee and buy from smaller Fairtrade producers instead, he suggests.

Besides, this is how change usually comes about, notes Mr Pollan. The mainstream co-opts the fringe and shifts its position in the process; “but then you need people to stake out the fringe again.” That is what has happened with organic food in America, and is starting to happen with Fairtrade food too. “People are looking for the next frontier,” says Mr Pollan, and it already seems clear what that is: local food.

“Local is the new organic” has become the unofficial slogan of the local-food movement in the past couple of years. The rise of “Big Organic”, the large-scale production of organic food to meet growing demand, has produced a backlash and claims that the organic movement has sold its soul. Purists worry that the organic movement's original ideals have been forgotten as large companies that produce and sell organic food on an industrial scale have muscled in.
This partly explains why food bought from local producers either directly or at farmers' markets is growing in popularity, and why local-food advocates are now the keepers of the flame of the food-activism movement. Local food need not be organic, but buying direct from small farmers short-circuits industrial production and distribution systems in the same way that buying organic used to. As a result, local food appears to be immune to being industrialised or corporatised. Organic food used to offer people a way to make a “corporate protest”, says Mr Pollan, and now “local offers an alternative to that.”

Think globally, act locally?

Buying direct means producers get a fair price, with no middlemen adding big margins along the distribution chain. Nor has local food been shipped in from the other side of the country or the other side of the world, so the smaller number of “food miles” makes local food greener, too. Local food thus appeals in different ways to environmentalists, national farm lobbies and anti-corporate activists, as well as consumers who want to know more about where their food comes from.

Obviously it makes sense to choose a product that has been grown locally over an identical product shipped in from afar. But such direct comparisons are rare. And it turns out that the apparently straightforward approach of minimising the “food miles” associated with your weekly groceries does not, in fact, always result in the smallest possible environmental impact.
The term “food mile” is itself misleading, as a report published by DEFRA, Britain's environment and farming ministry, pointed out last year. A mile travelled by a large truck full of groceries is not the same as a mile travelled by a sport-utility vehicle carrying a bag of salad. Instead, says Paul Watkiss, one of the authors of the DEFRA report, it is more helpful to think about food-vehicle miles (ie, the number of miles travelled by vehicles carrying food) and food-tonne miles (which take the tonnage being carried into account).

The DEFRA report, which analysed the supply of food in Britain, contained several counterintuitive findings. It turns out to be better for the environment to truck in tomatoes from Spain during the winter, for example, than to grow them in heated greenhouses in Britain. And it transpires that half the food-vehicle miles associated with British food are travelled by cars driving to and from the shops. Each trip is short, but there are millions of them every day. Another surprising finding was that a shift towards a local food system, and away from a supermarket-based food system, with its central distribution depots, lean supply chains and big, full trucks, might actually increase the number of food-vehicle miles being travelled locally, because things would move around in a larger number of smaller, less efficiently packed vehicles.

Research carried out at Lincoln University in New Zealand found that producing dairy products, lamb, apples and onions in that country and shipping them to Britain used less energy overall than producing them in Britain. (Farming and processing in New Zealand is much less energy intensive.) And even if flying food in from the developing world produces more emissions, that needs to be weighed against the boost to trade and development.

There is a strand of protectionism and anti-globalisation in much local-food advocacy, says Gareth Edwards-Jones of the University of Wales. Local food lets farming lobbies campaign against imports under the guise of environmentalism. A common argument is that local food is fresher, but that is not always true: green beans, for example, are picked and flown to Britain from Kenya overnight, he says. People clearly want to think that they are making environmentally or socially optimal food choices, he says, but “we don't have enough evidence” to do so.

What should a shopper do? All food choices involve trade-offs. Even if organic farming does consume a little less energy and produce a little less pollution, that must be offset against lower yields and greater land use. Fairtrade food may help some poor farmers, but may also harm others; and even if local food reduces transport emissions, it also reduces potential for economic development. Buying all three types of food can be seen as an anti-corporate protest, yet big companies already sell organic and Fairtrade food, and local sourcing coupled with supermarkets' efficient logistics may yet prove to be the greenest way to move food around.
Food is central to the debates on the environment, development, trade and globalisation—but the potential for food choices to change the world should not be overestimated. The idea of saving the world by shopping is appealing; but tackling climate change, boosting development and reforming the global trade system will require difficult political choices. “We have to vote with our votes as well as our food dollars,” says Mr Pollan. Conventional political activity may not be as enjoyable as shopping, but it is far more likely to make a difference.


Dec 7th 2006
If you think you can make the planet better by clever shopping, think
again. You might make it worse
"You don't have to wait for government to move... the really fantastic
thing about Fairtrade is that you can go shopping!" So said a
representative of the Fairtrade movement in a British newspaper this
year. Similarly Marion Nestle, a nutritionist at New York University,
argues that "when you choose organics, you are voting for a planet with
fewer pesticides, richer soil and cleaner water supplies."

The idea that shopping is the new politics is certainly seductive.
Never mind the ballot box: vote with your supermarket trolley instead.
Elections occur relatively rarely, but you probably go shopping several
times a month, providing yourself with lots of opportunities to express
your opinions. If you are worried about the environment, you might buy
organic food; if you want to help poor farmers, you can do your bit by
buying Fairtrade products; or you can express a dislike of evil
multinational companies and rampant globalisation by buying only local
produce. And the best bit is that shopping, unlike voting, is fun; so
you can do good and enjoy yourself at the same time.

Sadly, it's not that easy. There are good reasons to doubt the claims
made about three of the most popular varieties of "ethical" food:
organic food, Fairtrade food and local food (see article[1]). People
who want to make the world a better place cannot do so by shifting
their shopping habits: transforming the planet requires duller
disciplines, like politics.


Organic food, which is grown without man-made pesticides and
fertilisers, is generally assumed to be more environmentally friendly
than conventional intensive farming, which is heavily reliant on
chemical inputs. But it all depends what you mean by "environmentally
friendly". Farming is inherently bad for the environment: since humans
took it up around 11,000 years ago, the result has been deforestation
on a massive scale. But following the "green revolution" of the 1960s
greater use of chemical fertiliser has tripled grain yields with very
little increase in the area of land under cultivation. Organic methods,
which rely on crop rotation, manure and compost in place of fertiliser,
are far less intensive. So producing the world's current agricultural
output organically would require several times as much land as is
currently cultivated. There wouldn't be much room left for the

Fairtrade food is designed to raise poor farmers' incomes. It is sold
at a higher price than ordinary food, with a subsidy passed back to the
farmer. But prices of agricultural commodities are low because of
overproduction. By propping up the price, the Fairtrade system
encourages farmers to produce more of these commodities rather than
diversifying into other crops and so depresses prices--thus achieving,
for most farmers, exactly the opposite of what the initiative is
intended to do. And since only a small fraction of the mark-up on
Fairtrade foods actually goes to the farmer--most goes to the
retailer--the system gives rich consumers an inflated impression of
their largesse and makes alleviating poverty seem too easy.
Surely the case for local food, produced as close as possible to the
consumer in order to minimise "food miles" and, by extension, carbon
emissions, is clear? Surprisingly, it is not. A study of Britain's food
system found that nearly half of food-vehicle miles (ie, miles
travelled by vehicles carrying food) were driven by cars going to and
from the shops. Most people live closer to a supermarket than a
farmer's market, so more local food could mean more food-vehicle miles.
Moving food around in big, carefully packed lorries, as supermarkets
do, may in fact be the most efficient way to transport the stuff.
What's more, once the energy used in production as well as transport is
taken into account, local food may turn out to be even less green.
Producing lamb in New Zealand and shipping it to Britain uses less
energy than producing British lamb, because farming in New Zealand is
less energy-intensive. And the local-food movement's aims, of course,
contradict those of the Fairtrade movement, by discouraging
rich-country consumers from buying poor-country produce. But since the
local-food movement looks suspiciously like old-fashioned protectionism
masquerading as concern for the environment, helping poor countries is
presumably not the point.


The aims of much of the ethical-food movement--to protect the
environment, to encourage development and to redress the distortions in
global trade--are admirable. The problems lie in the means, not the
ends. No amount of Fairtrade coffee will eliminate poverty, and all the
organic asparagus in the world will not save the planet. Some of the
stuff sold under an ethical label may even leave the world in a worse
state and its poor farmers poorer than they otherwise would be.
So what should the ethically minded consumer do? Things that are less
fun than shopping, alas. Real change will require action by
governments, in the form of a global carbon tax; reform of the world
trade system; and the abolition of agricultural tariffs and subsidies,
notably Europe's monstrous common agricultural policy, which coddles
rich farmers and prices those in the poor world out of the European
market. Proper free trade would be by far the best way to help poor
farmers. Taxing carbon would price the cost of emissions into the price
of goods, and retailers would then have an incentive to source locally
if it saved energy. But these changes will come about only through
difficult, international, political deals that the world's governments
have so far failed to do.

The best thing about the spread of the ethical-food movement is that it
offers grounds for hope. It sends a signal that there is an enormous
appetite for change and widespread frustration that governments are not
doing enough to preserve the environment, reform world trade or
encourage development. Which suggests that, if politicians put these
options on the political menu, people might support them. The idea of
changing the world by voting with your trolley may be beguiling. But if
consumers really want to make a difference, it is at the ballot box
that they need to vote.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I wish I knew html and all of those other computer alphabet soup letters. Then this blog would look great and I'd have my web site up and...

I hired a new guy to do the web site. If my computer will cooperate, I'll have the stuff to him by this weekend! Got CD thingy ready and it froze. Been doing that since. Worse comes to worse, I'll flood him with emails. That always seems to work lately (if I use the right email).

Head cold again. Death by Snots I think it is called. Makes me sound more masculine or just sick. Hard to be taken seriously when I have a cold. Trying not to make too many phone calls.

As we get closer to the whole organic grain part of our transition, Dave is panicking. UCF may drop orgo line, UCF on again by feed rep not making any calls, Called grain coop who deals with RIcher feeds, Richer Feeds on and off again, Cargill comes back into the line up. How about getting Coop to carry a PA line. Call Coop to give names of those guys. UCF may just be dropping NY, but sales guy coming tomorrow...

Trying to get cookies started, web site info (talked about already) stuff compiled. Clean out cheese cooler and rinds, finish cornell projects, think about processing schedule for 2007...

My mind is cluttered and I don't have the drive anymore. Must be the grey weather. Combine it with my own personal oofs and I feel like I'm getting nothing accomplished. Lake effect snow tonight. Only good thing is that I may not have to bring Claire to school tomorrow. Still have to consider market on Saturday and cheesemaking on Sunday and and and...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

X-Mas rush

Otherwise known as avoid going to New Hartford at all costs! I hate crowds and stupid suburban drivers. Needed printer ink and Bookstore fix. Came away with anxiety and strong desire to shop for everything on-line. If only one can get a grocery delivery service in rural America. Wouldn't need to leave the farm.

Thinking about Distribution/Food Chain projects and the 100 mile diets. Could I survive the last one? Single, yes, but with a more traditional Yankee diet consuming husband and typical pre-K aged daughter? I think I will seriously research this in more depth. I like the 100-mile diet idea and I think Hank and I can come up with something dynamic/systainable in the Food-Chain/Distribution area...

That is my weekend project. Think about food systems. Get Grant projects completed for the new year. Get web site done... Things upon things upon things. Oh yah, and the pile of cordwood to get in before teh snows start next weekend.

Monday, November 13, 2006


There is this difference between Collecting and Conserving rare breeds of cattle. I think that there is this grey area as well. Most feel that they are conserving the breed when they multiply numbers. That is the case to a degree. Not developing a whole herd or flock plan and just multiplying for the sake of multiplying is not the answer. Look at the Guernsey. It can devistate a herd pretty quickly. Especially when all breeders use the same bull families over and over again.

For critical breeds there is sometimes a reason that they are still a critical population. There seems to be this sort of apathy. A go it alone kind of mentality. They are friendly towards each other, but consiously choose not to work together. It is hard to fathom why they have the breed. Some it is for pure speculation. Others because it is so rare. Some for a true passion to save critical genetics. Others happen onto animals and for lack of anyother reason, just like the individual animal and don't seem to want to breed it. All valid reasons. All reasons why the animal is rare.

I am developing this desire to NOT organize anymore. To not try to develop plans and talk to people and make meeting plans... I have become one of the many tired worn out coordinators that are all over the sustainable agriculture movement that act as champions. WOrk tirelessly for many hours. Some succeed, others fail. People like me just grow weary of the fight without a co-champion to help...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Road Trip

It was one of those days. Had to do the Road Trip. Lisa's daughter wasn't feeling well. We were hankering for bacon and she needed the lamb. Went to Taberg. Lake effect snow warnings didn't scare us...

Started to have pangs of regret that I gave up the pastured meat deal. I used Dave's "I've killed enough animals" excuse. Even to get out of working on projects that Krys and others asked me to look into. I think that part of me hates the whole dynamics of working with others, the other wants peace at home. Dave hated the hours I'd spend working on these projects. I do miss the cash flow from marketing grass-fed meat. Lamb in particular.

I need to get through the whole winter of nothing accomplished thing. Aging facility holding for what ever reason. Boy do I hate waiting for other people... Being dissapointed with the way things are working with guest cheesemakers. Wanting to have some control of my business. This go slowly waiting bull shit is driving me up a wall...

Bought paint at Home Depot. Close to Dave's appointment, so bought a gallon. Also a trim colour in a qt. size that Claire decided to throw when she was pissed that I didn't buy yet another thing that struk her fancy. Apparently Home Depot is prepared for spoiled 4 year olds that were given paint cans to throw.

I have to decide pretty quickly what EXACTLY I am going to do. That will be it. At this point I don't care what everyone else has for plans. I am just going to bull ahead and get the cheese/farm business into the black and hammer make something of this.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

She cut her hair!!!!

Well, I guess it is another passage in life that I am learning about. Claire cut her hair. Chunks and clumps GONE. Mullet. That is what it reminded me of. Sherry did minor surgery. Mullet gone. It looked presentable, yet not right. James fixed it. Claire cried. James cried. I bought her a dress. She is a beautiful short haired girl now.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pretty Pictures

Another photographer. he was interested in the Kerry cows. I also found him Dexters and the Normande herd in Columbus ( Lisa's cows were running rough ground. Great upland bird habitat.

Moose thought she was Naomi Campbell. She posed and strutted for him. Lisa's Grace did the same thing. The leaves are just past. He was going to head back to CT for better cow/foliage shots. Lynn Stone was his name. Nice enough. Bought me a coffee.

Liked the new cheese I started making. Neet shape and smell. I'm interested in seeing what it tastes like in 30, 45 and 60 days. It is getting me interested in going out to the plant again.

Gouda got old and I want to wait until the water filter unit is in place before I make any washed curds again. HACCP plan is making me think about all of the critical control points. Threw out too many wheels to make this comfortable. Getting sick was expensive and yet I think it will save me money in the long run. Contemplation and reflection time is critical to any new business. I am crazy thinking of recommending anyone who does this to take 2-3 weeks off in the first and third year to reflect and regroup. You start to ignore key core principles and to take short cuts to achieve your goals. Don't do that. It costs too much in the long run.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm Cured!!!

Well so much for Practicing Physicians!

Apparently a virus did start all of this . he knew all along and said we had a discussion about it. Nope. He was on amout my water consumbtion habits (tea actually) and blurred visions. I question one things, and boom cure and bye! No problems he was a wanker anyways.

Sold a 25# wheel to Cheese Shop at Wine Sense in Rochester. They apparently sold a wheel in a day. I had this big one and thought it would be a good venue for it.

Just getting the processing schedule up again. Have LOTS AND LOTA of cheese to make to recover my stores after the disease.

Picture is of Honey Gouda. My pride and joy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Trying for Normal

Went with Lisa to Syracuse. She is having issues with her neck and needed help with egg boxes. I needed to get out and try this Mexican restaurant she kept telling me about.

Sold 11 1/2 wheels of cheese last week. Most via mail. That is interesting. Beeswax doesn't hold up well in the mail. I have to research better ways to pack the cheese and break down and get the polar tech freezer blocks like I had with the meat for Farmer's Markets in MA. Found a great Mail & Ship kinda place in Utica when the Frontier server crapped out and I couldn't get UPS labels or a pick up. Cheaper by 10% to ship and they can send FedEx or UPS, which ever is cheaper. I think I will focus on the Local Harvest and eCommerce thing after all.

Still have the nervous rash. That is what I figure it is...nerves. Forget the meds. More yucky side effects than the origional symptom. You know, no sleep in 10 days, swolen face, confusion and lack of reasoning skills, constipation, blurred vision and spontanious asthma attacks! I'll take the migrating rash thank you verrrrry much!

Renate cannot make cheese until she gets a cooler. No space. Ordering the 6 x 10 walk in pretty quick. We took the shed down a couple of weekends ago now. Well all but the part Dave HAD to keep. He doesn't want it now. Didn't think he would, but it is like the old tee-shirt that guys just cannot throw away. Rats dug out the west side of that foundation. No signs of them there now. I think I may have to dig the whole thing out and start cement all over again.

Tim still has to get feta out of my cooler. He didn't make Hamilton last weekend. 24 goats to milk in the spring. I cannot find him free money. I hate to admit, but he will have to take on some debt to get started and try for grants for the cheese part. He does seem a lot happier now that he doesn't have that IBA giant on his back.

Travis and Chris said they found the blogs. Here I thought this was under the radar... That is okay. I guess I will not be able to vent quite so much ;~>. Well, off to find the tv remote so Claire can watch the Wallace & Gromit Ware Rabbit DVD we got today! Woohoo, no more materialistic princess toys! I like the idea of "you only have $x.XX to spend. I am learning what those cost and ...oops it isn't in the budget, let us buy this educational kinda book or this DVD that is quite entertaining and doesn't involve the Disney Paris Hilton!

Monday, September 18, 2006


Being sick has given me time to think. That and I've done a lot of baking. The house gets cleaned more often. Still cannot mow the lawn. Don't push it unless you're willing to pay the consequences kind of an illness.

Renate and Tim have been making cheese. Tim helped at the Farmer's Market on Saturday. Thank God. Made more $$ now that the college students are back and the competition bought a half pound of cheese.

I bought the Kadova molds. I'm looking into leasing the aging coolers.

I don't trust doctors any more. I think that it is a significantly arbitrary profession. I hate feeling like Fuzzy the Guinea Pig. Here, try this combination of 7 medications and call me tomorrow to see how you are doing... An actual conversation with one Dr.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

too damn sick to care

Well, it had to finally happen. I am on this thin string of "to do" lists and schedules. Wanna know how to make your life come crashing to a halt? Get sick. Get so sick that it costs you a lot of money to learn that Dr.'s don't know a hell of a lot and that you may be so sick it ends everything you have worked for.

It isn't that bad yet, but having severe airway constriction problems associated with medication you were given for an allergic reaction to something is down right scarry.

I also learned another lesson. Forget making sure every one around your environment is happy and content with you. Man, I am too tired of making everything so fluffy and wonderful for people. The world gives you choices. You have to make ones on your own and be happy with what you have given to you... or change. I am not going to appologize any more, because when I am on my own and scared to death of the asthma attack I feel coming on (which I never had to deal with until this week), I don't need to be yelled at because your life sucks!

Angre is what makes people lonely. I am not angry. I will not surround myself with angry people who I think I can help anymore. Piss off! I want peace and to make a living doing something I feel good about. I am happy there. I do have a problem bending over backwards for people. Forget that. I need to focus on "mi familia".

Now back downstairs to take another drug that will make me not sleep for days and give me crushing heartburn or worse, another of those dreaded asthma attacks...

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Ok. I'm a farmer and I only just today baked a yeast bread! I've been planning and scheming about it for weeks. First the organic white bread flour, then the wheat flour. Active yeast purchased a month ago and kept in the fridge. Have sea salt because of cheese making.

Made a "simple loaf". White flour for the first bread. Immediately wanted to make many many many more loaves after the first try came out quite edible. Claire ate almost the entire first loaf. Well, she helped Dave and I eat a large chunk of it.

I also made simple breads and cakes to use up the yogurt I made earlier in the week. Yup, becoming a homemaker. Dave figures I need an Amish bonnet or something. Claire figured that was ok as long as she can get the cart and horse to go down the road like these boys she saw on one of her trips to see Grammy and Grampy.

Bought this new Ecover floor detergent when I dropped cheese off at Syracuse Coop. Another floor cleaner that I don't feel sick around. Woohoo. I am really liking the Ecover brand. Very good soap to clean cheese cloth with in the first wash. I also use the sterilized washing machine and another rinse using 100 ppm bleach. Line dried and it is fresh as a country breeze (before the manure spreader goes by the window).

Got the photos and permissions out to Jeff for the book. Cheese books are great books. I'll have another Christmas gift for the family baskets. This one they will not moan over, like the technical ones I drool over. Nice and fluffy with pictures and stories about farmers and cheese. Perfect for gifts. That and I can sell them at the farm stand.

Costing out low velocity coolers. Not too bad with some of these internet companies. I think we may be able to install ourselves. Shall see.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Milk cans and cutting boards

Went to the antique fair again. Dave and Claire went too. Claire wanted to get food and see Renate. I wanted to get cutting boards and something to drink. Dave saw ss milk cans from the road and wanted the daily meal(s).

Mission accomplished.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I should deliver cheese when I am alone. I love to have Claire and Dave, only with the truck, SQUISH! My knee barely supported me by the time we got to Syracuse. On the way home, Dave had me drive. He seems to take up more room when he is in the middle. My shoulder hurts and he kept doing this shoulder twitching thing. Calire waited until the last 3 minutes to sleep, so Dave sat in truck. She then slept until just outside of Bouckville.

Dave Whitman came by. I gave him rent and we talked perennials. He has an awsome collection of perennials. Not a good marketer (his own admission). I think his prices and location are reasonable. I'll be buying some shade stuff like vinca, hosta and sweet woodruff. He also mentioned another one that would go well under the stairs below the cut & wrap room.

Dropped the last of the scrap metal (horse hay feeder we bought for the feed pan and a spring tooth harrow). Had to stop for lunch at the diner there. Not a bad little place. They could have toasted the bread for the shaved ham and cheese sandwish and I think they use canned pineapple for the coleslaw, but otherwise better than the other diners in Vernon. The fellows unloaded us and were pretty decent to talk to. Auction rats vary. Seems this group of guys were pretty decent to the lads while they off loaded equipment all week.

Have to get ready for the Farmers' market tomorrow. Signs, pack everything, etc...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Antiques and Cheese

Drained the raw milk Quark. Giving the bulk of it to Shirley considering it was their milk I was working with. Travis and Matt want some too. I'll probably give the last of it to Renate and maybe eat a wee bit myself.

Renate took some baby Gouda's to sell at the Antique show in Bouckville. She sold one baby last time I talked to her. I am not sure if Tom will try the rest, or if she will wait until she goes tomorrow. I hesitate to sell at that festival, even if it is in my back yard. Seems that there is more weather than profits for food type vendors. I guess it would be better than a day at a rural market like Hamilton, but I have this feeling about the place.

I still think that I need to break down and forgo sleep to sell at the Greenmarkets in NYC. I HATE that idea. I don't get the sustainability concept of 3 1/2 hours of driving one way, hanging around for hours and then coming home... I'd have to do deliveries and all. You know have $2-3000 of product into the region at a wack. I think I will consider the attack next year, if hubby will work with me on this one...

Priced out some of the building costs for aging facility. I hate this reach in cooler here, slide in box there, drain table until bloom if the cooler if full thing... I'm up to my eye balls in cheese. Heading to Syracuse to sell as much as possible tomorrow. To heck with the Farmer's market here in Hamilton. I need the room... To go into partnership for aging facility or more debt? That is the question???

Saw the most bizzaar thing at the antique show. A kinda "I loved him so much I had to kill him" kinda thing. Chickens meet taxidermy. Some beautiful rare and some common, yet lovely feathers. The heads were odd, if not horror show wrong. I was wigged out. I liked this one cupboard (narrow, perfect in the bathroom), but opened it out to find two more stuffed birds in pretend nests... Had to move on. Stuffed chickens!

Claire and I are to eat and sleep early. LOOOOOOOONG day ahead tomorrow. At least Dave is done with the cement at Tom's for now. We have to bring one mroe load to Burton's. A horse feeder bought at auction for the waterer in it (sheep) and a spring tooth harrow that Dave bought because it was cheap and he had to bid (an auction rat habit that I am mildly prone to as well). He got a better one a few weeks later, so now to remove the farm of excess scrap metal...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Summer Sweat

Well, the weather has been cool. We are just in that time during the summer when one tries to catch up from poor weather earlier in the year and start preparations for winter.

Jeff's compresser went on bulk tank. Got some free milk for cheese experiments.

Dave is up to Tom's all weel trying to get the barn as close to done as he can in a week. They are pouring cement on the west side. He (and Nolan when the wind shifts) have been working on the forms. Tom needs to change focus or pick up a hammer with the milk house side of the project.

Made a cheddar earlier in the week. I'll cloth bind it after a wee nap.

Renate had maybe 3 hours of sleep after wine and guests. She needed to leave early to take a nap at the antique show. They are set up behind the Coop Gallery. Lisa and I will trawl trough the market on Thursday. I have to do deliveries into the Syracuse area on Friday. Was hoping to get some Fresh Mozz. curd done as well...

Priced the building yesterday. NOt sure how much or if it will fly cash flow wise this year.

Need nap. I need beauty sleep (especially after seeing the reaction from the library ladies when I returned those books...I guess I am a zombie).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Oil Dependant or Not Oil Dependant...

Well, we bought Tom Montieth's bale wrapper. I thought it was to make forage harvesting a "one man's job." Nope. I have to drop everything to run the wrapper. It has made forage harvesting more helper dependant. It has cost me in cheese. Yup, cheese. I got to rinds too late after having to drop my life for this new boy toy. Pig food. Could have saved them I guess, but I don't like the grease that developed by waiting so long to get to them. Too warm in plant.

Theoretically, it is suppose to make better feed that haylege. I read that in a seed catalogue. We have a little more time to work the kinks out of this system. I think it will work with time (and not a first try with the BMR sorghum sudan grass...).

It does use a lot of plastic. 34 bales out of the roll. 20" wrap at $79-80... I want Dave to see what he thinks the real cost is. Fuel, time, wrap, string... I wonder if they can make this wrap from corn plastic, or if it is oil derived plastic...

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Elephant in the Corner

Gary Hanman, former president and CEO of Dairy Farmers of America and perhaps the most powerful man in the dairy business, sat virtually unnoticed in the back corner of the Senate Agricultural Committee hearing room this Thursday. Well, unnoticed until Chairman Saxby Chambliss pointed him out by name as his “long-time personal friend.” It struck me afterwards that the presence of giant dairy cooperatives and their powerful impact on the dairy industry went similarly unnoticed and unmentioned throughout the two hour hearing, while the USDA, milk producers and processors testified on problems facing dairy farmers in preparation for the 2007 Farm Bill.

The USDA testimony led off with a history of the changing structure of the U.S. dairy industry. Given the enormous effects of market consolidation and vertical integration by cooperatives like DFA, it would make sense to include this economic information here, right? If only as a historical fact? Instead the USDA cloaked this industry change and the resulting loss of small to medium-sized dairy farms in euphemisms like “increased economies of size.” The number of U.S. dairy farms dropped 70 percent between 1980 and 2003. The USDA chalks up this loss to “advances in technology and improvements in productivity.” The government’s Get-Big-Or-Get-Out chorus may be singing different lyrics, but the tune is all too familiar.

A significant focus of the hearing was on the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, and the impact that its payments have had on keeping small-medium operations in the marketplace. The USDA’s analysis of the program boiled down to this: don’t judge the program by the exit of small to medium sized farms from the marketplace. They will continue to leave and there’s nothing that the MILC program or any other USDA policy will do to stop it. In fact, according to the Department’s chief economist, “federal dairy policy will likely have only minor effects on these structural changes.” But they don’t explain why that has to be the case.

It’s not that federal policy can’t have an effect on those structural changes that force out smaller farmers. It’s not a given that the federal government has to stand by while agribusiness entities consolidate and consume larger and larger shares of the dairy market, destroying competition. But under this administration, policy won’t have an effect unless Congress awakes from its long slumber and demands enforcement of anti-trust regulations that USDA and the Department of Justice have failed to use. Otherwise, we will continue to wonder why programs like MILC “aren’t working” while ignoring the structural impacts of market consolidation, the elephant in the corner. As the Committee prepares for another hearing on dairy this fall, we should press for these issues to be addressed head-on.

A full audio recording of the hearing is available online at

By Adam Stolorow, Law Intern at NFFC

Thursday, July 20, 2006

USDA Powdered Milk Turns Large Profits at Taxpayers Expense

Aid to Ranchers Was Diverted For Big ProfitsTons of Powdered Milk Ended Up on the Market
By Gilbert M. Gaul, Sarah Cohen and Dan MorganWashington Post Staff WritersWednesday, July 19, 2006; A01
When a drought left pastures in a handful of Plains states parched in 2003, ranchers turned to the federal government for help. Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture quickly responded with what they considered an innovative plan.
They decided to dip into massive stockpiles of powdered milk that the agency had stored in warehouses nationwide as part of its milk price-support program. Livestock owners could get the protein-rich commodity free and feed it to their cattle and calves. The milk would help ranchers weather the drought while the government reduced its growing stockpile.
But within months, the program spawned a lucrative secondary market in which ranchers, feed dealers and brokers began trading the powdered milk in a daisy chain of transactions, generating millions of dollars in profits. Tens of millions of pounds of powdered milk intended solely for livestock owners in drought-stricken states went to states with no drought or were sold to middlemen in Mexico and other countries, a Washington Post investigation found.
Taxpayers paid at least $400 million for the emergency milk program, one of an array of costly relief plans crafted by Congress and the USDA to insulate farmers and ranchers from risk. In some cases, ownership of the powdered milk changed hands half a dozen times or more in a matter of days, with the price increasing each time. A commodity that started out being sold for almost nothing was soon trading for hundreds of dollars a ton.
One government inspector stumbled upon huge cargo containers being loaded with the milk at the Port of Houston. The destination: Europe. A New Zealand official complained to USDA officials that American brokers were flooding her country with the powdered milk, undercutting local dairy suppliers. Still other records show the milk going to the Netherlands and the Philippines.
"The milk was being bought and sold, bought and sold. Some of it was probably ending up in dog food and pet food," said Matthew J. Hoobler, a Wyoming official who oversaw the distribution of more than 60 million pounds of powdered milk in that state. That trading was possible, he said, because "there was no enforcement."
Tons of the surplus milk entered the commercial market in one of two ways. Some states ended up ordering more powdered milk than ranchers could use and then auctioned the rest to brokers. And ranchers sold powdered milk they didn't want or need back to feed dealers, who marked it up and sold it to other dealers or brokers.
In its contracts with eligible states, the Agriculture Department required that the milk be used to feed cattle within the state's borders. The trading itself was not illegal, but shipping the milk outside of the states violated the rules.
Even when agriculture officials learned that the product was being diverted, however, there was little they could do. The USDA had allocated the milk directly to the states, and state officials did not have the resources to track the middlemen. In any case, penalties were nonexistent.
"The problem came in when we got lots of different brokers looking to turn a buck," said Bert Farrish, the USDA's deputy administrator for commodity operations. "They didn't seem too concerned about the restrictions on the use of the product."
One Utah broker, Randy Schreiber, sold 11.1 million pounds of powdered milk to Mexican middlemen and others, records and interviews show. Schreiber, who is the subject of an investigation by the Agriculture Department's inspector general, said he does not think he broke any rules.
"I tried to be creative . . . entrepreneurial," he said. "This is a chapter in my life I would really like to forget."
Federal officials still don't know how much of the government's milk was diverted to foreign countries and to states that didn't have a drought. Warehouse examinations identified some abuses. But "when we turned over title [for the milk] to the states, we were finished," Farrish said.
State officials said the assistance program was fraught with loopholes that fostered the speculative trading. And when they did report cases of suspected abuse, they said, the USDA was slow to respond.
"We didn't have the capability to do enforcement ourselves," said Wyoming's Hoobler. "It was me and a part-time intern running the program. When we did phone in a concern, we didn't get a lot of feedback."An Overflowing Cave
For years, the government has periodically purchased powdered milk -- as well as butter and cheese, the other byproducts of raw milk -- as part of a congressionally mandated price-support program for milk producers. By 2003, the Agriculture Department had accumulated a record 1.4 billion pounds of powdered milk in warehouses and in a huge limestone cave in the Kansas City area.
The bulging stores coincided with a drought that left livestock pastures burned in about a dozen states. Some livestock owners were faced with selling their herds, Farrish said. Giving them the powdered milk as an emergency source of feed seemed like a good way to help out. "We did stop the wholesale liquidation" of breeding herds, Farrish said.
In 2003, the government released 390 million pounds of powdered milk for the ranchers, giving it to the states for $1 a truckload. Responsibility for running the program was given to the states. In addition, ranchers were permitted -- within limits -- to trade their government allotments to feed dealers for other feed mixes and in some cases cash.
The trading made the secondary market possible. Once the powdered milk reached a feed dealer, it had a much higher potential price. It could be mixed with other feeds and resold to ranchers or sold to brokers who in turn traded it at the going rate in the commodities market. Protein-rich powdered milk is one of the most widely traded commodities, because it is versatile enough to be used in both animal feed and human food, such as pudding, hot-chocolate mix, ice cream and infant formula.
"Our job is not to hold on to any product," explained Pam Neary, owner of High Country Mercantile Inc., a commodity-trading firm in Cody, Wyo., that acquired the rights to millions of pounds of powdered milk that it then sold to third parties. "We don't hold it. We don't store it. It's in one hand and out the other hand."
Jake Malloy, a trader in Casa Grande, Ariz., said, "I think the product had a lot of value. But ranchers didn't get that much. It was the feed dealers and mills who really made out on this."
Rancher Brad Bateman of Elberta, Utah, who runs 10,000 head of cattle, said he got "truckloads" of powdered milk. He used some as feed and traded the rest to a broker for up to $400 a load. With the profits, "I could buy soybean meal cheaper," Bateman said.A Warning in a Fax
One of the first hints of the burgeoning market in government milk came in a fax to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food on Oct. 23, 2003.
The fax said a USDA warehouse was about to ship nearly 250,000 pounds of powdered milk from its stockpile to a private warehouse in Salt Lake City. That puzzled state officials, because the shipment was clearly outside their allotment under the federal program.
That same week, a series of anonymous phone calls were made to the Utah officials describing alleged abuses in the program. One caller "indicated that he suspected the product . . . was being shipped to foreign markets," according to an Oct. 31 e-mail written by Utah Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Kyle R. Stephens.
The e-mail was among thousands of pages of investigative files and government records that The Post obtained from state and federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act. Those records, as well as interviews with more than 50 government officials, traders, brokers, mill operators and feed companies, show that the Utah shipment was part of a chain of transactions that stretched from Wyoming to Idaho to Utah to Mexico.
The chain began in June 2003 when Randy Schreiber, the Utah broker, decided to get into the powdered-milk market. Schreiber's tiny company, Impression Foods, specialized in buying and selling food internationally. He said he had never sold animal feed before.
According to Schreiber, he didn't have to look very hard to find the government's powdered milk. "Traders found me," he said. "I never contacted anyone. People just called."
One call came from Walton Feed, based in Montpelier, Idaho. The firm had access to tons of powdered milk, which it had traded or purchased from ranchers and brokers.
Greg Kunz, one of the owners of Walton Feed, said his company handled 200 to 300 truckloads. Each truck held about 22 tons. Kunz said he was paid up to $160 a ton by some brokers. "I made $40 on top," he said. "But remember, I had to store and reload it."
Kunz said he had an agreement with Schreiber that the broker would use the powdered milk "within the prescribed guidelines of the program." But he added that Walton officials didn't track the milk once it left their possession and "didn't know how Randy used the product."
Schreiber arranged to have the powdered milk remixed and repackaged at two mills in the Salt Lake City area. Sherman Robinson, the owner of Lehi Roller Mills near Provo, said Schreiber paid him 9 or 10 cents to repack each 55-pound bag.
"They ran a lot of product through here . . . probably 5 or 6 million pounds," Robinson said.
Shipping records show that of the 11 million pounds of powdered milk handled by Schreiber, half went to Mexico.
"I would guess if it was going overseas it would be lumped into a [cargo] container. We loaded some containers here, too," Robinson said. "The only reason I had to suspect that it was going to Mexico was the Spanish on the labels."
Schreiber declined to identify his Mexican customers. Records show that one was Monte Roble S.A. de C.V., a small food company near Mexico City. A Nov. 19, 2003, export certificate shows that Impression Foods shipped 765 bags to Monte Roble. The description was "animal products."
A spokesman for Monte Roble, Jesus Cazare, said the small firm was in the business of brokering "food products and nourishment for human consumption." He added that he had no "recollection" of the purchases of powdered milk and had been at the firm only a short time. "There have been big changes in the company," he said. "I am not aware Monte Roble was buying from this company."
Schreiber also said he sold millions of pounds of milk to brokers whom he declined to name. Records show that all of that product went abroad.
"Can I account for what those people did to the product once it left my control? No," Schreiber said in one of a series of interviews. "Do I know some of our customers sold elsewhere? Yes. Do I know it left the country? . . . Yes. Do I know where they took it? No."'It Will Get Ugly'
When Utah's Stephens learned that brokers in his state were diverting the government's powdered milk, he turned the findings over to USDA officials, who in turn shared them with the department's office of inspector general.
In January 2004, Schreiber met with USDA inspectors at a Comfort Suites hotel in Salt Lake City. Separately, Robinson and Kunz also met with inspectors.
Schreiber said he was "completely open" about where the powdered milk was going. He said one of the inspectors even applauded him for his creativity. But later, Schreiber said, the tone of the inspectors changed and he started to worry that he was in trouble.
"As far as I know, it's still an ongoing case," he said. "I don't know what is going to happen, but I know at one point it will get ugly."
In July 2004, then-Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced that the USDA would once again dip into its stockpile of powdered milk to help ranchers. But this time, the agency included specific restrictions on feed dealers and a more explicit prohibition on exports.
A spokesman for the USDA inspector general declined to comment on the status of any investigations into diversion of the government's powdered milk. Last fall the agency issued an audit report on government drought-relief programs that noted abuses in powdered-milk trading, including that some of the product went abroad. But the report named no names.
Schreiber said he stopped buying and selling powdered milk in 2004. Since then, his firm has gone from five employees to one, he said: "As soon as this is over, it will cease to exist."
Today, Schreiber, 42, said he is trying to sell commercial real estate while waiting for the other shoe to drop. The government "is trying to turn things inside out," he said. "Here I was trying to do something positive. They wanted to reduce their stockpile. Ranchers got feed. Now they want to say I did something wrong."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I feel like there is noting right on this farm for a goat. Dave hates them. They have tragic endings. Kiwi was found in the water trough. A full grown doe. She had Karo this spring. A sweet little Arapawa doe. I screamed when I saw her. No one came. A house full of people and no-one could hear me. Dave yelled at me later. That isn't new.

He has the irritable bowl thing again. He has had it for days. He is miserable to live with. I contemplate how to dissolve assets and keep the cheese vat on days like (well the whole weekend). He should be coming in from mowing hay. 5 days of scours and he does all of the days chores and then mows hay...

I miss Kiwi, Galedog, Hercules, Begonia and all of the others I've lost since moving to Central New York.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dear Mr. President

President George Bush July 7, 2006
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

As family dairy farmers, we have been extremely frustrated over the last six years since our efforts to bring attention to the rampant corruption in the dairy industry have generally been ignored by government officials and agencies, including those in your Administration.

Our primary concern is price manipulation for dairy commodities at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). We have sent letters and met with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. We have also corresponded with Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) and Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) on dairy issues. We met with the CME on April 18, 2005, and held an informational rally in front of their building. A second rally was held in April 2006, to again bring light to this issue.

In the spring of 2004, the Department of Justice began an investigation, along with 23 state Attorney Generals, into dairy commodities price manipulation. Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Dairy Marketing Services (DMS), Dairylea Cooperative, Dean Foods, and many other businesses and joint ventures of DFA were under investigation.

On October 1, 2005, funding for this investigation was pulled by the US Attorney General’s office. This action precipitated a decline in dairy commodities cash trading at the Chicago Mercantile. Prices for a 40-pound block of cheddar cheese fell from $1.59 1/2 per pound to $1.12 1/4 per pound. This resulted in a drop of $4 per hundredweight in the milk price paid to dairy farmers–a shocking loss of 28 percent.

Dairy farmers in all regions of our nation are suffering from this dramatic loss of income. Escalating costs of fixed inputs, including the skyrocketing fuel prices, have placed dairy farmers everywhere in crisis. The economic fallout from this situation is severely impacting the dairy communities’ support businesses too, as farmers lose the ability to pay for services, supplies, feed, labor, machinery, and mortgages.

Our rural citizens deserve better than this persistent, malicious manipulation of dairy prices, which is causing chaos for the dairy farmers whose social and economic survival is essential for the well-being of this country. Until the powerful dairy processing industry, including the dairy cooperatives that continue to ignore their obligations to their farmer-members, are thoroughly investigated by the Department of Justice, corruption in dairy pricing will continue as the status quo. This grave injustice, the effects of which are suffered by both farmers and consumers, must not continue.

We encourage you to fulfill your duty to our beleaguered family dairy farmers by initiating a thorough investigation into the dairy industry that is completed– not aborted midway. It is time for you to prove, once and for all, that efforts on our behalf are not being stymied by those who profit at our expense.

Thank you,
Shannon M. Nichols

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hannah vs. Gary

My neice is up. Hannah is my sister's oldest daughter. She is a year older than Claire. She hated cats when she got here. Gary is now afraid of her. Hannah now want to be the best of friends with the cat. I think the relationship will be similar to Ginger's relationship with Gary. Not so good...

Renate ordered legal scale in lieu of paying to help develop Camembert. The taste of the experiment was very nice. The texture more like the Colwick, but also another cheese. We have to do something about the hoops jumping up on us. That and cook the curds a wee bit more. I think we are heading in the right direction. She tries crottins with the cows milk (so fuzzy quark...)

I was suppose to ring Brewster Inn on Monday and forgot. Didn't sleep and the kids not getting on combined with cheesemaking. I'll have to give Jason a ring next Monday to see what he is up to. I also want to see how Alison is doing. I hope Circa is doing well. They are such nice people. Made a special order from Syracuse Real Food. I have to check with Travis to see if the bride liked it.

I guess American Farm was not about farming or the status of farming in the US today. It was something more along the lines of the break down of a farm family. I am sad I missed the even - if only to support Slow Foods - but not so sad if the story line isn't what I thought it would be. I have to make a tv series. I want to be a rock star!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Good Night Sleepy Head

I only wish it were so easy. Remember those nights as a little child? Friends or relatives over for sleep over? Well, that means they go to sleep late and get up early. Combine that with insomnia and dairy chores.... I'm bushed.

Dave is trying to get dry bales into barn before the thunder storm. Renate and I tried to make Camembert ourselves. That was interesting. I learned something about curds sneeking under hoops. I learned to appreciate multi-molds BIG TIME.

I also think we are going to go with Donna's recipe instead of Pete's for this facility and the rustic nature of the hooping here. I didn't like the curd on the first turn. Too soft. We shall see in the morning. I hope this puppy works.

Hannah learned that she likes fish with Ketsup. Renate brought the Pickle in the Middle (garlic scapes with cucumber in middle) ~I loved the garlic scapes in my ham and gouda sandwich. This is for my Turkey Day celebration this fall.

Claire had un-binkie party yesterday. It involved cake and all of the used candles in the cupboard. She and I like most any excuse for a cake with frosting. Kinda like ice cream. Why go for the boring plain old ice cream when you can have fudge, whipped cream, jimmies and caramel sauce on the ice cream... BIG TIME yum.

Inspectors want me to keep Rivington's cheese here the 60 days. Not so cool for him. I don't have aging capacity or time to screw with his cheese. Buggers left 3 1/2 hours of cleaning for me. Not so good. I am not so sure about all of this right now. I need to be making cheese in the plant.

It is time to cash flow this puppy. I cannot afford to keep this whole thing if it is not paying for itself and me at this time. Really, it is up to me now. I am selling cheese like heck without marketing a darn and now I just need to kick it up a notch. Bugger everyone else if they aren't willing to take the investment themselves. Renate is the only one who is willing to spend time mucking around other peoples hoops and drain tables. The rest are worth nada in my plant right now.

Tylenol PM and maybe a glass of wine... Well probably a cup of tea and the PM stuff. I need the sleep SOOOOOOOOOO bad.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Getting Caught Up

Ken got my laundry line up again. Paul Wratten ripped it out a year ago when he was working on water system in the pole shed. I've had many a load out on it already. Nothing is nicer than the fresh smell of laundry off the line.

Weeded half of the vegetable garden and picked peas. Some had to be tossed to the sheep. They also appreciated the weeds. Pig weed, thistle and some other mustard like thing for the most part. Have to replant some of it. Rain and cold spring didn't help my germination (that and some seed are over a year old). Cucumber, beans and lettuce will be the primary replacements.

So, Moonbeam wasn't in a good way. That was a flippant way to say it. I was so ill when we found her. Every time Nolan minds the animals a goat dissapears or dies. I don't know if it is because he is so careless that he doesn't pay attention or if it is fate. The goat was known for surfing and I've found her time and again down a hole after escaping and slipping between round bales. Heck, I've moved two layers of round bales (no easy feat for a woman without a tractor). She apparently tried to jump the knew panel wall to the hay shed part of the pole barn and got her back feet horribly stuck. It was clear that she struggled to get free. How Nolan didn't hear a goat screaming (which is what the poor thing would have done) is beyond me. I don't know. We were in MA. I'm still not over that one.

Valarie's cow calved. A jersey cross heifer. She is so new to bovines that this was a shocking experience. Thank God for Eve Ann who helped her after the calf was born. Se and some paste that Chris DVM had. The animals are fine and I think that Valarie will be as well. She just needs to find out how to arrange something to milk her. That or find a bull calf to graft on. A Pakistani down the road offered $5/gal. I also suggested I'd show her how to make yoghurt or Quark to use up the milk (she doesn't drink much milk).

Brian Rivington made cheese today. I left him alone for the most part. 50 gal. of this soft ripened stuff. This is their last weekend at the Farmer's Market. It is mine for a few weeks. I have to review inventory. I may also sneak up to Clinton and see if Ferris can get me in for a few weeks. See if Adirondak Cheese has a fit or not. They just sold, so they may not even notice.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Glad to See You Glad to See You Go

That is a saying my Irish American grandmother use to have. I always thought that was typically her. Kinda rude, with that charming bite me smile and wave. You know, I understand it more and more as I get older. For usm we were glad to get off the farm, yet we always had this thing in the back of our mind that there is generally something special waiting for us when we get home.

The 4th was the typical family noshing fest. You know where there are people you actually want to see and talk to. People who dispise the ground you walk on (those are the ones you are especially nice to because they hate it more). People who you don't have much in common with. People who have to have a comment about everything and anything you are doing...

Dave was not into the whole sit on a blanket and wait for fireworks thing with my sister's family and my mom. Combine that with the now typical Massachusetts traffic and he was a bit hard to deal with.

I don't sleep. I haven't slept in days. We slept, not at a hotel like I thought we were going to do, but in Donney's bedroom in Dave's parents basement. A damp cot and single bed aren't overly romantic. I didn't sleep much.

Mom got me the Kerry and Dexter books out of the library that I wanted. Awsome resources. I have the Journals being scanned as we speak. The Dexter Association is cool with the copying it thing. I talked to a Chuck and a Sandy from their assocaition. Both very nice people and were trying to get me contacts to find out what happened to the genetic lines of Kerry's that were here pre 1920's.

Didn't get the cheese thing together enough to bring some with me to MA. Lisa did get some to Syracuse. That was awsome.

I have to try to sleep. I cannot keep eyes open. Sondra had to be shipped via Scooby Doo and Moonbeam was not in a good way. Will explain next blog.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Typical Saturday Morning

I am exhausted. I didn't think the day would go well when I got up, but it was pleasant none the less.

I got the cheeses to the market just in time. Green RTabbit was later than me for a change. The Rivington's were just finishing their set-up. I hung the sign up and pulled out the Honey Gouda and weighed it. Nice wheel. Holes well developed and spread out. Pleasant taste. A little sharper than other batches. I think that was when the weather was starting to warm and I had to get into cooler after waxing rather than wait on the racks in the cut & wrap room (which is a nice 48-54 degrees in the winter).

The Caerfilli experiment went over pretty well. Actually better than I thought. I will make more Cheddar style cheeses for this market area. The Caerfilli tastes like the Gouda in the first and finishes with a cheddar. Pleasant cheese. One fellow bought a pound of the Gouda for him and another of the Caerfilli for his daughter. Apparently it makes a mean melt over sausage grinders (4th of July food I understood it to be). Fair enough, Renate and I had the Honey Gouda in grilled cheeses the other day.

Renate came by around 9:45 to check in. After shopping the market we left to pick up Peter sheep. What a carcass. He finished 84#. Beautiful leg roasts. Nice colour. Large well defined loins. Nice amount of meat for center cut ribs. To say the least butchering with another woman is a great way to release a certain amount of pent up weekly umpf. Even Dave and Nolan figured that it was best to leave the two women with cleavers, a saw and various sharp knives alone with the carcass on teh kitchen table! If only it was late enough for wine, we could have solved all of the worlds problems.

I have to say I am happy with the quality of the meat. Very happy. He wasn't muttony even after more than 1 1/2 years. She will get me some Dutch sausages and pickled garlic scapes for the meat. I was glad to give him to her after helping me out with the Gouda processes this spring.

After the butchering bit, I went back to the Farmer's Market to help the Rivington's pack up and to see if Nina Plank came by to review the market before the book signing. I guess not. So much for rumors and supporting local agriculture. Fair enough.

Talked to my mum when I got back. Claire wasn't at Grammy and Grampies to talk on the phone. I guess she was micro-managing the Beagle this morning. All was well there. Up at 5:30 am with the dog and ready to tackle the day. Mum and I had a good chat. I think she needed it as much as me. We have plans to get together on the 5th. She does have the books I requested. Good soul. Went to the Agriculture floor of the UMASS library to get the Kerry/Dexter herd book and a journal.

To Claire's room to make sense of the mess while she is visiting ;~>

Friday, June 30, 2006

the Whole Foods Drama Continues

This is where I have a problem with the whole Sustainable Food Industry. I still think a study has to be done talking about the relationship major players in sustainable agriculture have with agribusiness or the food industry. I cringed when I went into Trader Joes and saw co-packing with all Trader Joe labels! It kinda missed the point of putting a face to the food. That and vegetables traveled pretty far and were wrapped in soo much packaging. Pretty people packed the isles. Bread & Circus has morphed into a full fledged Whole Foods. Yah, they did buy it out long before they changed the store and name. It is the principle that is lost in the whole corporate profits thing.

Michael Pollan wrote a letter to the CEO of Whole Foods after he took issue with his book Omnivores Dilema. This link has a bit of a response:

The next part in the drama is cut & pasted here:

From:> June 29, 2006 > Whole Foods CEO Mackey Endorses Cato Book ­ No More Corporate Crime> Prosecutions> by Russell Mokhiber> > Most people who shop at Whole Foods are liberal yuppies.> > They have enough money to spend $9 on a pound of cherries.> > They believe that shopping for groceries at Whole Foods instead of Safeway> or Food Lion or Giant or Wal-Mart is the politically correct thing to do.> > They probably believe that the President and CEO of Whole Foods is a liberal> like themselves.> > They of course would be wrong.> > John Mackey is instead a libertarian with right-wing tendencies.> > Mackey says that Milton Friedman is his hero.> > He¹s a devotee of Ayn Rand.> > He¹s opposed to national health insurance.> > He¹s a union buster.> > And he has recently endorsed a book published by the libertarian Cato> Institute whose author concludes that no corporation should ever be> prosecuted for crimes ­ no matter the corporation, no matter the crime.> > The book ­ Trapped: When Acting Ethically is Against the Law ­ is written by> Georgetown University Professor John Hasnas.> > ³John Hasnas shows that new laws and regulations too often force CEOs to> choose between acting legally and acting ethically,² Mackey says in a blurb> on the back cover.> > Unlike most books on white collar crime, which tend to rehash bland academic> theories or cut corporate crimes of years past and paste them with dogmatic> rants, Trapped is actually a compelling read with an original idea sprinkled> here and there.> > Hasnas¹ big idea is that the whole system of prosecuting corporate crime is> undermining the liberal principles built into traditional criminal law and> designed to protect individuals against the power of the state.> > The result is that corporations are forced to turn on their own employees to> save their own corporate hide.> > Hasnas is a hard line libertarian. He worked for a time as lawyer for the> politically aggressive, right-wing, and privately-held Koch Industries ­ one> of the nation¹s largest oil companies.> > And instead of concluding that we should fix the criminal justice system so> that corporations and federal prosecutors can no longer gang up on> individual employees ­ he concludes in his book that corporations should> never be criminally prosecuted ­ ever.> > No matter the crime.> > No matter the corporation.> > Hasnas wants to do away with corporate criminal liability.> > If there is a crime committed by someone within the corporation, criminally> prosecute the individual, he says.> > But a corporation can¹t commit a crime and should not be criminally> prosecuted.> > Ever.> > We wanted to know: does Whole Foods¹ CEO Mackey agree ­ corporations should> never be criminally prosecuted?> > No matter the crime?> > No matter the corporation?> > Does the libertarian John Mackey support the big business funded Cato> Institute and its right wing ideology with cash ­ or just with quotes?> > Whole Foods spokesperson Kate Lowery did not return numerous calls and> e-mails seeking comment.> > Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime> Reporter.> > For a complete transcript of the Interview with John Hasnas, see 20> Corporate Crime Reporter 27(12), July 5, 2006, print edition only.> > ###> >********************Ryan ZinnNational Campaign CoordinatorOrganic Consumers Association1834 Juneau Dr #2Anchorage, AK 99501916-529-4121www.organicconsumers.orgryan@organicconsumers.orgCampaigning for Health, Justice, and Sustainability

I'm not going to pretty it up like some of the other cut & paste from emails things. You can read it.

Mutton, baby beef, two pigs, lamb... that is how I am going to treat my omnivore's dilema. I've gotta get the book...

When it rains, we get flash floods...

That is what the week is turning out to be anyways.

Peter sheep has to be dropped off at Nowers today. Had is a term I use lightly. It was better than using a sharp knife and saying a prayer before I sliced his throat. Peter sheep tried his best to kill Kool, an Arapawa buck.

Kool has a concussion and nerve damage in his shoulder. He is in crazy pain. I had Wayne come by to have a look at him. He gave me something to inject to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Pretty mush the rest of the instruction was rescrict movement, give fresh water and good hay/grass. No contact with other goats for 2 months at least.

Peter sheep then had an appointment. Thank you Scott for leaving your trailer when you brought Fritz up to see "the Girls".

Claire and Ginger Beagle are on way to Massachusetts. Claire told me that she wasn't going to miss us because we were going to see her at the picnic (with the big whale). I wanted to cry. I grabbed her in a Bear Hug until she promised she would miss me terribly. It still feels like she is just down for a nap. I need a nap...

Nina Plank is due to the area this weekend. Troy is bringing her around. They will get along. Both want to be Rock Stars. I do too, but I don't like the way they are doing it. Nina more than Troy, but even she is boardering on not really being for the farmer. Heck the cheese and dairy part of her new Farmer's Market plan was to go through Murray's only. Yah, so I can drive 3 1/2 hours and wholesale my products! I cannot blame her. The location was why I wanted the market, but it is too close to Murray's for them to really allow a cheesemaker to compete with their market. Nice new store. I am just not going to comprimise on price right now. My batches are too small and the market too far away. Too bad.

Guess I should make this Blog more open to become a Rock Star. Cannot be so open about what I think about things in Food and Farming then. Heck, I'd have to add photos of pet sheep and talk about gourmet cooking or something other than making a real living off the farm. Sucks not having a trust fund. That and I gave my pet sheep a death sentence after he tried to kill another animal and then charged me. Cannot have Claire around him. He'd kill her, hurt me (or kill me) another buck...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I have been thinking about this since I saw Vicki write the original article a couple of months ago. Burnout is a real fact of life for anyone who farms, let alone those who direct market products that they raised and or processed on their farm. Let me tell you about last year and what we did to keep some semblance of sanity. The year started with us still bottling our own milk and selling 60-80% of our milk off the farm. We discontinued distribution due to the increasing competition from other “local” labels and because we were going to have our first baby. Ironically, we found that our on farm sales of complimentary products and then our milk products increased and after 3 months were more than the sales of our products on the distribution route.

I was due to have a baby in April. David caught pneumonia 3 times that winter. After getting the cows ready for milking in my 8th month, I injured my pelvic bone (moving a gate) and was confined to the house until the baby was due. Customers complained when, with David still with pneumonia, we had to bottle our low fat products a day late and could only do a portion of the Whole and Creamline products. We wrote a note for the farm stand explaining what was going on. I do not think many of them read it.

Meat sales, especially of our cull cows and veal calves, helped improve the overall offering of products and got us a better price for our cull animals. With our farm stand being on the honor system, higher priced items such as meat, meant that thefts of product cut into profits a bit more. That winter I began to sell “shares” of meat. We figured that a once a month pick-up of product would be better than having people at our place at all hours looking for products. Product pick-up began 2 weeks after I had Claire. In between the time that I had Claire and the first pick-up, I had to arrange for livestock transport, processing and then take our refrigerated truck 1 ½ hours away and pick up the meat. (Oh yes, and plastic bottles for processing and the cream and pints of flavored milk as we had to stop processing something at that time).

Anyone who tells you that you can strap on the baby and go, is either a lot tougher than I was or full of compost!

We got married in June. We were aiming for the justice of the peace deal between chores, but our mothers got involved and I just gave up any real planning and let them have it out between themselves. I only put my foot down when it meant spending money on nonsense or on inviting the entire state and some. When it rained that day, we were glad because we were able to see other farmer friends who would have been trying to catch up on other farm chores due to the late spring.

Did I mention that we were late with first cutting of hay due to the weather?

The summer went along about the same as usual… people letting heifers and dry cows out of their pasture; customers not reading signs, letters or any form printed matter; learning more foul language when moving haying equipment across town to the rented piece - where the owner planted pine trees or nut trees so that you cannot get equipment through; needing to replace the gas steam furnace in its 6th year of life; and then there was our house…

See our house was down a donkey path behind our barns. Customers, for the most part, had no clue where we lived. When you direct market products, it has an advantage. With meat shares, they found us. They came late, early, or not at all. They drove up to see the dogs, to get a special cut of meat for a dinner party they decided to throw, to see the turkeys grow up, they were in the neighborhood… No amount of writing in newsletter, signs, telling them…nothing would make all 100% of my customers show up on their appointed day.

I did have customers I liked. I miss some of them a lot. Notice the past tense?

We sold the farm in MA and moved the cows to NY! There you have it. Our stress release was a total change in location. We sold our processing plant, farm, in town property and moved to NY. Cows, a few sheep, some dogs, et al. Started fresh – with no mortgage this time.

We are milking cows on the commodity market again. Wrong timing with $10 milk, but we have a small herd and no mortgage now, so we will survive. I work at SUNY Morrisville in the dairy processing plant. We miss the cash flow that a farm stand gave us. We want Claire to get a little older and we definitely want to process something again. What? I do not know yet.
After 6 months of snow (the locals tell me this isn’t normal), we can say that we made the right decision. We are calmer, have time to see our daughter grow up and have something that we can see a future with. Now if only we can figure out where we are going to put that new farm stand…

It isn’t Easy Being Green

That is what Kermit the Frog said. I think that is true of most farmers today. How can we compete on a conventional grass-based dairy farm when the government allows major corporations to control everything? We are transitioning to Organic. The forms are long and tedious. Nothing is on computer. Everything has to be filled out by hand. I have decided that Organic for dairy cattle has become “Can we make it farming like they did in 1920?” It isn’t about antibiotic withdrawals or any herbicides or helping the environment. It has become so much more than that.

For the first time ever, we have almost had to buy grain from Cargill. We always support more independent local feed mills. With Organic, you have to be careful about quality and our cows will not eat grist. With $12/hwt for milk during the last three months of transition, we had to consider Cargill. I found it odd that when I was conventional, we never had to consider Cargill. We found another regional mill.

My husband feels deeply about the care of his cows. We just had to treat an older cow for pneumonia after her last calf. The weather would go up to mid 70’s and dip to 20 or lower then go back up. The stress sometimes causes pneumonia. She is dry. The air in our barn is good. She is clean. My husband rang and organic dairy farmer locally to ask what he’d do. After listing a number of herbal treatments and suggesting sugar for milk fever, he didn’t feel comfortable. You’d use sugar for ketosis, not milk fever he said. It bothered him for four days until I rang a friend. It use to be that you’d double the withholding or one month, which ever was longest. Now we’d have to treat the cow conventionally and ship her. We only milk 20-30 cows.

We do a lot of conservation on our farm. We started that when we were conventional. We didn’t consider organic then. We are developing a wetland. We have buffer strips along waterways. My daughter and I encourage cliff and tree sparrows and make butterfly habitats. We also cleaned up old farm dumps and hauled our old metal and debris.

My head is spinning. We always considered ourselves Beyond Organic. Beyond the confinement farms in Colorado that ship to Horizon or the ultra High Temperature Short Time pasteurization of the organic milk. Beyond the whole shipping of organic grains and produce from other countries. We bought local. We supported local people as best we could. We are going Organic and I have to consider suppliers in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, soybeans from Brazil, Cargill…

The cooperative told us that they lost money because the consumers aren’t buying cheese like they use to. Cheese prices have increased from 11.3/# annual consumption per person to 31.2# annual consumption per person. The cooperative now sells more than 20% of our cheese to WalMart. The farmers know why we are loosing money. It isn’t the consumers. The consumers are telling our cooperative what they want. They are not listening to the farmer owners or the consumers.

The newspapers tell us there is too much milk on the market. That is why the milk price is going down so low. We have had four markets conventional and organic stop by our farm in the last two weeks asking for our milk. Sign on bonuses, no hauling charges, three milk checks per month instead of two, quality premiums… There is a market for everything. Why isn’t the cooperative pooling non-rBST milk like we asked them to last fall.

CWT was suppose to help our milk prices. We paid $.05/hwt for the program. So far our milk prices have been at 30 year lows twice and there are more cows and more milk. I thought we hired our staff to work together to make the farmer’s money. Seems the retailers are making a lot of money and the farmers are paying $.10/hwt for record milk production. Nice to offer a subsidy for all-in-all-out confinement farms that are contributing to the problem. This isn’t working. Take it out of the CEO’s salaries. Not mine, I cannot pay for health insurance or groceries.

We are transitioning to Organic even though we think that it is a temporary fix. Cargill is selling Organic grain now. What is going to happen next? I think we’ll milk goats. I hear a Greek outfit is opening a yoghurt plant up north of here…


The "big river" jumped its bank in two places. In the tractor pass near the barn and where it takes a bend by the low brush (the "jungle"). The lower meadow is flooded. So is the new planting of BMR. Hay is lodged on the Philip's piece. Not sure if we are going to get any of that or if it is going to rot before we can get to it.

We have been turning cows out in spite of things. The gutters are flooded and the humidity is too high to keep them in the barn. Combine it with the heat and humidity and we'd have a stinking mess and pneumonia throughout.

Thought we lost Mike's bull. Dave looked all through the pastures. I am SOOOOOO glad he didn't fall into the brook or something. Dave found him in with Bruce Barne's heifers. They are all bred and were in better shape water wise than ours.

Dave is spending all of his spare time with Nolan. Yes, Nolan. That boy is back in the scene again. Funny how much Dave adores someone that isn't related. Very untypical of the family to devote so much energy to a non-family member. I kinda have to give in despite the money he cost us the last time he worked with Dave. $10,000 for cows, lack of rent payment, lack of excessive food eating payment... Kid even stole the sap spickets and hasn't even appologized to me for getting all of those virus' and spyware on my computer after looking at porn sites.

I am so glad Dave can go out of his way to "help" everyone and spend all of the time fixing all of the neighbors problems when our own farm isn't up to snuff. Sounds like jelousy, but I think that the slap in the face is when he laughs at me and says "promises are made to be broken" and then tells me that the reason he cannot finnish getting forages off the field is that "he is a man of his word and will not go back on his promises" (in reference to helping Tom with his chopping).

When in-laws and daughter are in MA, we are going to re-evaluate our holistic goals before the lawyer does. This kind of thing is common in any relationship. I just have to keep both of our personal goals in keeping with the "both of our" goals. We need one of those Board member retreats that I use to set up. That and the rain to stop so that I don't have to walk around on egg shells.

Milk Milk Milk Milk

Chicago Tribune:

Why our milk costs so much. It may do a body good, but this dairy staple is a pricey commodity in Chicago thanks to `archaic and inefficient' rules.

By Andrew MartinWashington Bureau
Published June 25, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Here's something to sour your next trip to the grocery store. Chicago-area consumers are charged more for milk than consumers in all but ahandful of urban markets, according to statistics maintained by the U.S.Department of Agriculture. Milk might be an all-American staple, a beverage so important the federal government recommends drinking three cups a day. But in Chicago, it also is a cash cow. Chicago was the most expensive market in the nation for whole milk in 2005, averaging $3.96 a gallon. In the first half of 2006, it has slipped to second behind New Orleans, which has Hurricane Katrina to blame. For 2 percent milk, Chicago does a little better. It was the fifth-most expensive market in the nation in 2005--at $3.58 a gallon--in the USDA'ssurvey of 30 urban markets. So far in 2006, Chicago has slipped to seventh place for 2 percent milk. In comparison, a gallon of milk in Carbondale, Ill., just five hours away,was among the cheapest in the nation last year, averaging $2.68 for wholemilk and $2.55 for 2 percent. It might seem that Chicago would have a competitive advantage over other cities when it comes to milk because the second-biggest repository of milk in the nation--Wisconsin--is just up the road. But not much makes sense when it comes to milk pricing in the United States. The marketplace has been warped by consolidation and outdated federal regulations that even the Justice Department describes as "archaic andinefficient." When it comes to milk, there isn't much that resembles a competitive marketplace. The federal government determines the minimum price that dairy farmers should be paid for raw milk based on a formula that is staggeringly complex and roughly follows the price of block cheddar cheese at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The cheese exchange, in turn, is controlled by a handful of major dairy companies and milk cooperatives, the largest of which publicly boasted to agroup of dairy producers in 2004 about artificially boosting the price. Meanwhile, because of consolidation, there are fewer milk bottlers and fewer grocery store chains to sell the milk. Who profits? So who is cashing in on Chicago milk? Based on industry and USDA statistics, it isn't the dairy farmers. Dairies do not sell raw milk directly on the market; they are represented by cooperatives that collect the milk and find a place to sell it, balancing the ebbs and flows between production and demand. Once they sell it, they send payment to the farmers. Last year, dairy farmers in Wisconsin received about $1.34 a gallon for raw milk, which translates to about 34 percent of what Chicago consumers spent on whole milk. Nationwide, dairy farmers received an average of about 39 percent of what consumers paid for whole milk. The cooperatives that serve Wisconsin farmers receive about 22 cents for each gallon of milk sold in Chicago. That is among the most expensive in the country, according to USDA statistics. In Denver, for example, cooperatives make about 7 cents per gallon. Once the milk is sold to a processing plant, it typically costs 70 cents to 80 cents per gallon for processing, packaging, distribution to stores and profit, said Corey Durling, a partner with the consulting firm DairyTechnomics in New Jersey. Those "non-milk costs" incurred by milk processors are not available for public review, and Durling said it was possible,though unlikely, that bottlers in the Chicago area charge higher prices. Adding all those costs, using the higher number for "non-milk costs," the result is that Chicago supermarkets and convenience stores paid about $2.36for a gallon of whole milk in 2005. That means grocery stores--at least the ones charging $3.96 --made an average gross profit of $1.60 off every gallon of whole milk sold in 2005, or 40 percent of total revenue." Baby, that is out of sight," Durling said. "Way screwed up."Chicago-area retailers appear to be making far more than the national average on milk. According to Durling, retailers usually make about 30 percent of total revenue on milk. Ed Jesse, a dairy economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, speculated that because Chicago has such dominant grocery stores in Dominick's Finer Foods and Jewel-Osco, the chains are making most of the profit. In fact, Jewel-Osco and Dominick's were accused in a class-action lawsuit in 2000 of fixing the price of milk; the case was later dismissed for lack of evidence. In that lawsuit, the plaintiffs' attorneys argued that Jewel and Dominick's were making up to 63 percent of what the consumer paid for milk. In addition, Jewel and Dominick's have the largest market share -- 61 percent-- when compared with chains' market share in 10 urban markets, according tothe Food Marketing Policy Center at the University of Connecticut." You have considerable concentration at the retail level in Chicago," Jesse said. "While there isn't any overt collusion, I would argue that there's passive collusion in that they are not going to under cut each other."But Mary Ledman, a dairy consultant based in northwest suburban Libertyville, said she was surprised by the high prices. She questioned whether the USDA monthly survey was capturing the overall marketplace because many stores offer milk at lower prices, and even large supermarket chains had recently offered discounts that reflect falling prices for rawmilk." I buy a lot of milk, 4 to 6 gallons a week, and I'm buying it at Walgreens for $2.29 per gallon," she said, adding that Dominick's recently offered two gallons of its house brand of milk for $5.Wynona Redmond, a spokeswoman for Dominick's, echoed Ledman's remarks, saying that the USDA survey isn't an accurate reflection of what customers are paying for milk at Dominick's stores."Milk is a highly competitive item, and one we actively and frequently promote at deep discounts," she said in an e-mail last week. "For instance,we often feature milk in our ads--last week we had gallons of whole milk on sale with a `super coupon' for 99 cents the entire week."Jewel officials did not return calls seeking comment. Milk prices since the first of the year have declined across the nation because of a glut of milk and increased imports. Farmers in Wisconsin made 26 cents less per gallon in May than they did in December. But since the first of the year, the price for a gallon of whole milk in Chicago has dropped by only 6 cents, according to the survey. Survey revisions considered The Agriculture Department is considering revisions to the survey process because of the growing influence of Wal-Mart and other non-traditional grocery chains in the retail milk marketplace, said John Rourke, chief of the market information branch for the USDA's dairy programs. As it stands, the department surveys three retail outlets in 30 U.S. cities each month. The three outlets are always the same: the two largest grocerystore chains and the largest convenience store chain. The USDA declined to provide the names of the stores it surveys in the Chicago area. Surveyors are instructed to sample prices only of the milk brand with the most shelf space, meaning that discounted milk isn't counted in the survey unless it is the store's biggest brand. But even if the system isn't perfect, the fact remains that Chicago's largest grocery stores and its largest convenience store are, on average, charging more than their counterparts in other cities. As for the overall high prices in Chicago, dairy experts say they are caused, in part, by a shift in how milk is sold to consumers. Where it was once a "loss leader" to draw customers into the store, the milk case is now seen as a profit center.- - -Got high milk prices? MILK PRICES Chicago-area consumers pay some of the highest milk prices in the country despite the city's proximity to Wisconsin. One expert says this is due to the fact that Chicago is dominated by two food-store chains. Per gallon, for selected cities, in 2005 CITY WHOLE MILK REDUCED FAT (2 PERCENT) MILK Atlanta $3.35 $3.28Chicago $3.96 $3.58Dallas $3.18 $3.22Denver $3.78 $3.69Philadelphia $3.28 $3.12Phoenix $3.68 $3.52Seattle $3.65 $3.31St. Louis $3.05 $2.92Avg. for 30 selected cities $3.32 $3.20Source: U.S. Department of AgricultureChicago