Snack Food

I’m thinking of growing some popcorn this year.  I don’t particularly enjoy popcorn, but I’m trying to come up with a good wintertime snack food.

Fortunately there aren’t many things that we still get from a grocery store. But, I’m a bit sorry to say, we are still buying nuts, chips, raisins and pretzels–thanks primarily to the fact that I like to snack on things like that at night while reading.  We’re not buying Doritos of course,  The chips we buy have no ingredients other than organic whole grain blue corn flour, vegetable oil and salt.  We buy Utz hard pretzels, which have only five ingredients: wheat flour, malt syrup, salt, yeast and soda.  The ingredient lists of most snack foods these days read like some kind of chemical stew, so as snack foods go ours aren’t bad.

Still, I don’t like the packaging and I don’t like buying things we can grow ourselves.

We do make some of our own snack foods.  We have homemade flax crackers in the pantry now, and there’s always the options of pickles or kale chips.  But I’m seemingly hooked on my salty processed snacks.

Maybe popcorn will be the answer.  Of course I could always just quit snacking at night.  It’s not that I’m hungry. It’s just a habit.

Any suggestions for a good do-it-yourself nighttime snack food would be welcome.

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A Great Time of Year

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Kidding season here has hit a welcome lull.  It’s been a couple of days since any new faces arrived on the farm.

And now those born over the past couple of weeks are reaching their playful stage of life.  I love seeing them dashing across the pasture, leaping and twisting in the air, tussling with one another, playing king of the mountain and all their other baby goat games.

The proud Daddy.

The proud Daddy.

Kids just don't respect their elders these days

Kids just don’t respect their elders these days

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Nibbling on Rowan's tail.  Risky business.

Nibbling on Rowan’s tail. Risky business.

We’re still feeding our bottle babies Neo and Pearl.  We’re their surrogate mothers now.  It’s hard for me to work in the pasture now without tripping over them.  And if they spot me outside the pasture, sometimes they’ll climb through the fence to get to me.  I find myself having to sneak around, to avoid being seen.

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We’re expecting another wave of kids to start arriving soon.
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It’s a great time of year.

From Plank to Plank

I stepped from plank to plank
So slow and cautiously;
The stars about my head I felt,
About my feet the sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch,–
This gave me that precarious gait
Some call experience.

Emily Dickinson

h/t Eye on the Edge

Needs

The planet does not need more successful people.  The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds.

The Dalai Lama

(borrowed from Ella Dee’s blog)

Peace

One of my goals for this year is to spend time focusing on the core Quaker principles of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality.  That is, I want to spend time contemplating those principles and striving to cultivate them in my life.

I haven’t been very deliberate about that yet so far this year. Lately it seems I haven’t had time to contemplate much more than getting chores done and dealing with all our new goats.

This morning I’m thinking about peace.

Peace, in the Quaker witness, means more than just a commitment to non-violence and an opposition to war (although it does include those things, of course). More than just an absence of war, true peace requires the presence of justice, of equality, of a recognition of our common humanity. It includes a sense of shared community, where all are valued and cared for. It is akin to the Hebrew concept of “shalom,” which means peace but also, more broadly, harmony.

It’s not enough just to find a way to separate myself from conflict.  True peace, it seems to me, cannot be achieved in isolation from the other core principles–simplicity, integrity, community and equality.

There is peace that comes from nonviolence.  There is also peace that comes from simplicity and integrity, and peace that comes from community and equality.

I like to imagine a world with all of humanity united in a shared commitment to that kind of peace.

May it be so.

PEDV

A few days ago I mentioned that 2014 was the most profitable year ever for industrial pork producers, thanks primarily to lower feed and fuel costs, and a booming export market.  At the beginning of last year, however, that would result would have seemed highly unlikely.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) arrived in the U.S. in 2013 and took a heavy toll.  Approximately 7 million pigs died from the effects of the virus in the U.S. during 2013 and 2014.

The virus leads to vomiting and severe diarrhea and it is deadly to piglets.  50-100 percent of infected piglets die.  Adult animals infected by the virus generally survive their illness.

The virus, which was already present in Asia and Europe before appearing in the U.S., has now been identified in 33 states, having arrived most recently in Hawaii.  So far researchers have been unable to determine how it spreads.

According to the USDA, pigs exposed to and infected by PEDV are still safe for human consumption. So it hasn’t been as devastating to the industry as it might otherwise have been. Still, the virus killed about 5% of the pigs in the U.S. last year.

Even with that kind of mortality, the industry was still able to generate record profits.

Whether they will be able to haul in profits like that again in 2015 remains to be seen of course.  Just as vaccines were rolling out to treat the virus, a third mutated strain was discovered this month which isn’t affected by the vaccines.

According to one article I read, the industrial producers are increasing herd size in anticipation of more losses.  Of course that means they’re counting on millions of dead piglets and “risking” oversupply (and lower prices for their products) if that doesn’t happen.  As one industry analyst says, “If producers overbreed to compensate for 6% death loss and don’t have it, we’ll have 6% more pigs.”  When I read statements like that, I never get a sense that they’re talking about living creatures.