The 2014 Farm Bill

You know, we hear about the Farm Bill being “farmer welfare.”  Think again!  This year’s farm bill is a full 80% food stamps and nutrition!

The 2014-18 Farm Act (commonly known as the Farm Bill) will fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and expands programs for speciality crops, organic farmers, bioenergy, rural development and beginning farmers and ranchers.

80% of the outlay goes to nutrition, 8% funds crop insurance programs, 6% funds conservations programs, 5% funds commodity programs, and the remaining 1% funds all other programs, including trade, credit, rural development, research and extension, forestry, energy, horticulture and miscellaneous programs.

The total outlay for the 2014 Farm Bill is $489 billion.

Farm Bill Pie Chart-resized-600.JPG


USDA Economic Research Service, using data from the Congressional Budget Office, Cost Estimates for the Agricultural Act of 2014

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#19 – Pinto the BlogDog- Brodi Gets Educated by a Skunk!

HOWDY FOLKS!  Boy, it’s been awhile since I wrote y’all.  Can’t say why, neither, just lazy I reckon.  Well, have I got summat to share with y’all today!

On Saturday, we were headin’ home from our regular morning patrol ’round the farm with M’Lady.  I was being the good dog that I am, trotting right with her, and Brodi was still waaaayyyy back along the ditchbank.  Suddenly, I heard him “yelp!”  The kind of yelp that hollers “Hey, Pinto, come here quick, looky at what I cornered!”


Can you see my puffy nose? Owie!

So, naturally, I spun on a dime and raced bullet-fast back to him.  What did I see but a SKUNK!  We snarled and snapped at it, scarin’ it a bit like we like to do.  I dashed in a little too close, and got BIT on my nose!  Owie, did that hurt!  I was painin’ somethin’ fierce, so I backed off quick, and hightailed it back to M’Lady!

But Brodi, oh brother, he didn’t give it up.  Afore you knew it, that skunk had turned tail on Brodi and sprayed him right in the face and chest!  Brodi came staggering back to us, pell mell, like he’d seen the devil.  Every few feet he dived in the dirt, rubbing his face and head, tryin’ to rid that turrible smell.


Check out that can of tomato sauce. She used the whole thing on us!

Before she knew that Brodi was near us, M’Lady had taken a whiff, and peewy!  She could smell him comin’!  When we got back to the house, she put her hands on her hips and said, “Brodi my boy, it’s lucky for you that I have a giant can of tomato sauce.”  With that, she tied him up, and hosed him down, dumped half the can on him, scrubbed him up and hosed him again.  Then she put lavender shampoo all over him!  Hahahaha!


Tomato sauce Brodi! Hahaha

After his bath, he still smelled somthin’ awful, but at least it didn’t bring tears to the eye.  I was laughin’ and teasin’ at him, when M’Lady dragged me out to the tree, snapped the leash, and did the same  thing to me!  Mean!  I said, “But, M’Lady I didn’t get sprayed!  I came straight back to you!  No fair!”  “Too bad,” said she, “This is just in case, Pinto.”  It wasn’t the tomato sauce that was so bad, but lavender shampoo was just shameful for a macho dog like me.


Poor pitiful me. :(

And then, she didn’t even give my poor bit nose a glance.  She checked my rabies tag, (its current), and gave me a baby aspirin to “take the edge off the pain.”  Huh.  I’da thought she’d have given me a kiss, at least.

Well, me’n Brodi both felt putry good, all clean ‘n’ all.  I didn’t stink none, not like my pal.  M’Lady wouldn’t let ole’ Brodi inside, said he smelled to high heaven.  Later in the evening, she went out in the backyard, and sniffed the air.  Yup, sure ‘nough there was that skunky smell.  She said to TheBoss, “You know, I think that the smell is in the atmosphere, that skunk must be nearby.”  TheBoss stared at her like she was daft, and said, “M’Lady, THAT SMELL is not in the atmosphere, it’s Brodi!”

Yup, sure ‘nough, he still smells, all these days later!  He’s banished to the backyard, while I, the perfect, get to come inside anytime I want.  Well, I hope he learned his lesson, and won’t git after ‘nother skunk.  But, I’m bettin’ that won’t happen.

Well, gotta run.  M’Lady is callin’ me!

Keep your tail waggin’!

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New Blog Page!

Have you noticed our new page, Sale Barn?
If so, what how do you like it?
If not, please do!

We thought that you, our readers might enjoy being able to purchase the crops that our farmers have grown.  If you like the idea, we will work to bring you more products straight from the farmer’s combine.

We invite you to try these healthy whole foods. And then, go to our recipe page, to try them out.

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Thought of the Week

“One of my greatest fears is that young people will lose interest in continuing one of the greatest American traditions:  feeding ourselves and feeding the world.”

-Howard G. Buffett, Ag. Advocate

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All In A Day’s Graze

While the grass growing on grazing land isn’t your typical farmed crop, it provides the nourishment for a wide variety of farm products, like the lambs that the Gutierrez Family raises.  Many animals can be raised wholly or partially on grass, including horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and even pigs, turkeys and chickens! All of these animals eat grasses, weeds, and other tidbits growing or crawling in the ground.

Healthy grassland does more than just feed animals. It also filters water that seeps down into aquifers, prevents erosion, cleans the air, and provides habitat for smaller animals, birds, and insects. The United States has vast amounts of range land – approximately 1 in 4 acres!

Much of our nation’s rangeland is public land, meaning it is not privately owned. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the 245 million acres of public range land spread across the US, the majority of it in 12 western states. BLM range land is divided into allotments and pastures, and individual ranchers can apply for permits to graze their animals in these specific areas. 155 million of the 245 million BLM acres allow grazing.

Monitoring grazing areas. Photo source

Monitoring grazing areas. Photo source

Grazing on BLM land is typically carefully monitored, with the number of animals grazing and the number of days they are allowed to graze restricted depending on the season, and abundance and type of grass. Ranchers grazing their cattle or sheep on BLM lands also pay grazing rents, typically per animal per month.  Along with grazing, BLM range lands also provide us with recreational opportunities, like hiking and camping, assists in conservation efforts, like protecting sage grouse, and preserves the wide-open spaces that are slowly disappearing in other areas of the US.

While the BLM cares for our public range lands, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps landowners care for privately-held range and grasslands. These private lands make up 27% (528 million acres) of the total acreage in the lower 48 states. The NRCS has many programs and services available to farmers and ranchers to help them improve, preserve, and conserve their private pasture and range lands. Individuals can go to the NRCS for advice and assistance on improving soil quality, establishing more suitable types of grass, protecting riparian (area around creeks, streams, etc) areas, finding and improving waterways, and more.

Buffer area along a stream. Photo Source

Buffer area along a stream. Photo Source

Many NRCS programs work on a shared cost and reward basis with farmers and ranchers. For example, the NRCS might fund a project to allow a rancher to capture water seeping from underground sources to use to water his livestock. In exchange, the rancher might not graze his livestock on the creek beds, control weeds in those areas, and plant more trees. This type of exchange helps the rancher in that now he has more access to water, and helps the NRCS in that the rancher conserves and protects the waterways going through his land. Win-win!

While the BLM and NRCS manage or help manage the huge tracts of grass and range land in the United States, working with large-scale producers, small-scale and very small-scale farmers, ranchers, and community members have their state’s Cooperative Extension System offices as their go-to resource for information and assistance. These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes. They are connected with the state’s land-grant university, for example, in Idaho, extension agents are University of Idaho employees.

BackpackSprayer_NH_59 copy

Extension class on backpack sprayers. Photo Source

The Extension System offers a huge range of programs and information to anyone who asks. The local extension agent can help a small farm, like the Gutierrez Family, for example, establish better grazing management procedures, or manage parasites and other pests. There is a huge wealth of information and expertise provided by the Extension System that is available to small producers AND to you and I! The Extension System has a lot more going on that just working with those in the agricultural profession. Click here to find out more about the programs they offer.

There are many people who might assume that all of the open range and  grass lands in the United States are just sitting there, and no one pays them mind. As you can see, however, that is far from the truth. These lands are managed and monitored and cared for by the organizations above, and by thousands of individual landowners, federal and state employees, conservationists, and volunteers. Without the efforts of all of these people, our nation’s range and grass lands are kept in good health, so that they can continue to support grazing animals and wildlife, and provide beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities for all of us in perpetuity.


Healthy rangelands can support wildlife and grazing. Photo source


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Food for the City

This year, National Geographic is examining food systems throughout the world. Click on the link below to see the video called “Food for the City” which examines how food travels from the farm to the city in the United States.

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Interesting Tidbit for the Day – St. Swithin

I learned a fun little piece of information today, and thought you all might enjoy it as well!

St. Swithin’s Day, July 15th, is a day on which people in Scotland and England watch the weather, for folklore says that the weather on St. Swithin’s Day will continue for the next 40 days.

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

St. Swithin was a Bishop of Winchester in the 800’s. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches.

Tradition says that as the Bishop died, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. For over a hundred years, his wishes were followed, but when the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971, there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

This led to the old wives’ tale  that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

St. Swithin also apparently planted a lot of apple trees, since the apple is one of his symbols. Apple growers in the UK seek rain on St. Swithin’s Day, saying he is blessing and christening the apples. Also, no apples should be eaten before July 15th, and any apple growing on that day will ripen fully.

So there you go. Interesting little fact for the day. Also, there are Patron Saints for pretty much everything. So if you need someone to intercede with the heavens on your behalf, there’s the list!

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Lamb Recipes from Gutierrez Family Farms

Sharon Gutierrez shares some of her family’s favorite
lamb recipes with us.
  We hope you enjoy them!

Lamb Stew

2 lbs leg of lamb or shoulder roast cut into 1 inch cubes
Dust with about ½ cup of seasoned flour
Add to 3 Tablespoons olive oil in hot heavy pot. Brown lamb but do not cook though. Remove from pot.

Add to warm pot;
4 or more pieces bacon cut into thin slices- brown. Add ingredients below.
2 medium onions-medium dice
3 large carrots-, peeled and sliced ½ thick
½ pound mushrooms cut in half if needed
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced medium size
2 cups fresh diced tomato
8 ounce can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
3 tsp. fresh thyme or 1 ½ tsp dried
3 tsp. fresh rosemary or 1 ½ tsp dried
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
4-6 garlic cloves- crushed
Bay leaf
½+ bottle Merlot or Cabernet – reserve some for drinking

Add lamb back to pot along with above ingredients, Cover and cook for one hour. Stir after 30 minutes. Remove lid during last 15 minutes of cooking if thicker stew is desired.


Dry Rubbed Lamb Ribs

2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 lbs of lamb Ribs
Olive oil for coating ribs

Glaze (optional):
1/2 cup apricot jam
¼ cup chopped jalapenos
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard

Mix dry rub ingredients and place them in a zip lock bag.  Cut ribs into individual pieces, leave the fat on the bones and rub lightly with olive oil and place into the zip lock bag with dry ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate all day or overnight.

Heat oven to 300 F and place lamb fatty side up on a broil sheet and cover with foil. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours; you want the meat to pull away from the bone.

Mix glaze ingredients in a food processor for a minute then warm up the glaze on the stove for 5- 10 minutes. Turn up the oven to 375 F and remove foil and brush ribs with glaze and let bake for another 20-30 minutes. Sticky but delicious, try it both ways with and without the glaze.


American Basque Lamb Shanks

Southwest Idaho is Basque country, and so,
relishes in the unique and tasty dishes
which the Basque people have brought to us

3-4 lbs of Grass Fed Sliced or Whole Lamb Shanks
2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
2 tablespoons Garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried Thyme
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoon Dry Mustard
1 teaspoon dried Red Chili Pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of Olive Oil divided
1 Onion sliced
Mushrooms sliced
3 Sliced Carrots
2 Sliced Bell Peppers
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 tablespoon Corn Starch
2 -3 tablespoons cold water

Mix all dried ingredients into a large zip lock bag then add lamb shanks and shake well. Let set for 2-3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Coat large, deep skillet with olive oil and caramelize onions for about 20 minutes. Remove onions and brown mushrooms. Once browned add onions back to the skillet with carrots and bell peppers, chicken broth and 1 teaspoon of Smoked Paprika and mix well. In another skillet sear lamb with olive oil then add together in the same skillet and let it simmer on low to medium heat for 2 hours. Check for tenderness, it should be falling off the bone. Can also place everything in the crock pot and let simmer all day as well. Add corn starch mixture to thicken and serve over mash potatoes, rice or noodles.

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Thought of the Week

Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things!

-Charlene Fink, Editor, Farm Journal

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Howard G. Buffett, Ag. Advocate

Howard G. Buffett found his way into farming through an unlikely route.  As a 5 year old boy, he loved playing in the dirt, and he planted his first stand of corn in his backyard in Omaha, Nebraska.

Farming was an unlikely career path for Howard G., the oldest son of billionaire Warren Buffett.  Today, he farms 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in Illinois, and he oversees research farms in the U.S. and Africa.

In 1999, he launched the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to improve global standards and to relieve hunger.  He applies no-till and other conservation farming practices, and he uses his bully pulpit to urge U.S. farmers to achieve the dual goals of productivity and sustainability.

Buffett believes that the biggest challenge to food security in the U.S. is one of access, even more than affordability.  There are food deserts in our country, places where SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) foods are not available to consumers.  U.S. farmers need to be able to produce food, and move food, so that it is available all over the country, and sold in venues like local farmers’ markets.

Howard G. Buffett’s dream is that “We lead the world in no-till and other conservation-based practices that maintain our highly productive farming system with the least amount of environmental footprint possible.  The only way we can succeed in meeting the future food demands of the world is to create an urgency and a desire to be the best we can be.  If U.S. farmers are not successful, it’s impossible for the world to be successful.”

Success Farming, October, 2013

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