Natural Magic!

The American Sheep Industry is updating their American wool logo – and  the effort to rebrand wool as “Natural Magic.”  With the new look of American wool unveiled earlier this year, marketing efforts are shifting toward the development of a new website and social media outlets that will spotlight the benefits and quality of American wool.


100% American grown Merino wool – beautiful

ASI Wool Council Chair Ken Wixom of Idaho said,”I’ve been in the sheep and wool business for a long time, but this is one of the most exciting times I can remember.  We have an opportunity to show consumers just how beneficial wool can be when used correctly in everything from clothing to blankets.”


A beautiful 100% wool Pendleton blanket, made in America

One group that already understands the valued of American wool is the U.S. military.  More than $20 million in new (wool) fabric agains existing fabric contracts.  The U.S. Army is also conducting a major field test of American wool this winter, and will consider additional use of the fabric based on the outcome of those tests.

This is fine news for the wool producers of America.



Pure Merino wool bicycling socks, made in America



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Thought of the Week

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The Idaho Potato Commission can thank the New York City Police Department for drawing attention to a grandiose publicity stunt orchestrated on August 24th in the Big Apple.

The department issued a tongue-in-cheek all-points bulletin over the police radio advising officers to “be on the lookout for a big potato floating down the Hudson River.”


Pretty cool, you have to admit

From that moment, IPC officials’ phones began ringing incessantly with the coveted national media inquiries they hoped to generate by floating their Idaho icon – the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck – past the Statue of Liberty on a barge pulled by a tugboat.

The 6 Ton replica Russet Burbank on a flat-bed truck has toured the country for the past five years to raise awareness of Idaho potatoes and drawing attention to IPC charitable donations in communities along its route.


Look at that!  The Big Idaho Potato Truck with our Statue of Liberty!

The truck was on the water for several hours, photographed by onlookers from tour busses and ferry boats during its cruise.  There were TV crews filming it from helicopters.  “We’ve been picked up by all of the major media here, including the most popular radio station as well as the TV station here,” said IPC President and CEO, Frank Muir.

IPC began planning the event and securing the necessary permits about a year ago, moving  the stunt to the water because of restrictions against semi-trucks on many Manhattan streets.

In conjunction with the spectacle on the Hudson, IPC also gave a New York City soup kitchen a voucher for 12,000 pounds of Idaho potatoes – roughly the equivalent to the serving size of the replica spud.  Muir and his cohorts volunteered at the kitchen on August 25th, to help serve baked Idaho potatoes.

John-Harvard Reid, associate director of Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen said his kitchen serves 1,000 homeless guests every Monday through Friday, and hasn’t missed a meal, including during Hurricane Sandy.


“Getting a baked potato is like something you remember from home,” Reid said.  “A lot of times when you’re homeless, you don’t get those comfort meals that make you feel like you’re home again.”

Way to go, Idaho Potato Commission!  Eat more potatoes!  Thank a farmer for this bounty!

If you’d like to read a related article in the  New York Daily News, click HERE.



Capital Press, Aug. 26, 2016

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Advice from an Old Farmer

This wonderful post was circulating on Facebook today, and I thought you all would like it.

Advice from an old Farmer…..

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
Always stand upwind of the spray of water.
It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life; when you get older and look back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll ever deal with, sees you from the mirror each mornin’.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
If you think you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..
Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
Most times, it just gets down to common sense.

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Thought of the Week


-Robert B. Johnson, Engineer

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Thought of the Week

ScreenHunter_99 Nov. 14 13.12

Photo source

“Agriculture is now, as it’s always been,
the basis of civilization.
The 6 million farms of the United States form the basis of all other achievements of the American people, and are more fruitful than all their other resources.”

-President Theodore Roosevelt

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A Big Thank You to Oregon

This is one of the most refreshing perspectives on the different methods of farming that I’ve seen.  It’s short and concise, quoted by Katy Coba, who is Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.  And I quote:

“Big ag is good, small ag is good, organic ag is good, and conventional ag is good.  I promote it all.”

Applauses all around for Ms. Coba.


-Capital Press, September 1, 2016

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Thought of the Week

As odd as it may sound, civilization’s survival depends on treating soil as an investment,
as a valuable inheritance rather than a commodity
– as something other than dirt.



Posted in Ag Production, Dirt, Education, Farmland Preservation, Feeding the World, For Kids, Soil, Thought of the Week | Leave a comment

Cider Me

Cider just evokes fall feelings, doesn’t it? Falling leaves, cozy sweaters, crisp mornings, and hot apple juice with spices. And for those of you over the age of 21, hard cider in a variety of flavors and intensities.

Cider has been a popular beverage in Europe for centuries, and while it has been made and drunk here in the United States since colonial times, but is just now starting to gain in popularity. Boutique cider makers are popping up all over the country, creating a huge variety of different ciders.

temp001.jpg Burrow Hill Cider Farm

Cider apples. Photo source

Cider and hard cider can be made from the juice of any old apple, but there is a particular class of apple that makes particularly good cider. Aptly, they are called cider apples. Cider apples are often bitter and dry to the taste, but are great for juicing. Hundreds of varieties of cider apples exist, and their juices are fermented (for hard cider) and blended to create a wide array of ciders.

Once harvested, apples are ground down into a pulp, called pommage. In past history, they were ground using huge millstones and horse or water power. Nowadays, most cider mills have electric grinders. The pulp is then transferred to a cider press and layered with sweet straw or hair cloths, then slatted wood racks, followed by another layer of pulp, until the stack is 10-12 layers high.


Racks of apple pulp being pressed at Cardigan Mountain Orchard cidery in New Hampshire. Photo source

These stacks are then pressed and pressed until all the juice has been extracted. The juice is then strained through a sieve and transferred to either open vats or closed casks. The leftover pulp finds use as animal feed. Hard cider is fermented at low temperatures for three months to up to three years.

Both naturally-occurring and added yeasts convert sugars in the cider to carbon dioxide, which bubbles out and escapes, and alcohol, hence “hard” cider. Before the yeasts have consumed all the sugar in the first fermentation, cider is usually siphoned off to a new fermentation cask or barrel. In this second fermentation, extra sugar is often added, and the barrels are filled completely so that there is no air. The carbon dioxide stays in the cider, creating carbonation.


A batch of homemade cider fermenting away! Photo source

Cider can also be pasturized, spiced, blended, and bottled “soft.” Soft cider is a fall favorite of all ages, especially when it’s served nice and warm on a crisp fall day!

Often ciders from different vats and apple varieties are blended. Ciders can be dry, fruity, spicy, smooth, and a range of flavors in between. They are also found blended with other fruit juices, like cranberry or grape. In Europe, many countries and regions have their own cider varieties. For example, in France, most ciders are sparkling and often served in traditional wide ceramic bowls or mugs. In the Asturias region of Spain, cider has ancient cultural roots – it was first mentioned in 60BC by the Greek geographer Strabo. The region produces 80% of Spain’s cider, and is traditionally served in cider pubs. Asturians also have a special technique for pouring cider – holding the bottle aloft in one hand to pour into a cup held by the other hand far below.

Cider has a long history in the United States. It was often drunk on a daily basis in colonial times, as the water was unsafe to drink. Apple saplings were carefully brought over from England and soon spread throughout the colonies, and there are records of at least one English apple cultivar used for cider and cooking, Catshead, being grown on Berkeley Hundred Plantation in Virginia around this time; later introductions from England would have included Foxwhelp, Redstreak, and the extinct Costard apple. Wealthier farmers imported French apple varieties. Imports of beehives closely followed apple tree imports, as honeybees are imperative in the pollination of apples, but were not native to the New World.


Apple harvest at Island Orchard Cider. Photo source

Today, some cideries, mainly in the Eastern United States, have access to heirloom varieties of apples – the same ones colonists used! Everyone is getting in on the cider business, from local cideries to big beer brewers like Boston Beer Company, the makers of Sam Adams beer and now Angry Orchard cider. Cider houses and tasting rooms are also popping up all over the country.

The United States Association of Cider Makers has a list of cideries by state. Find one near you and enjoy a frosty glass of cider this fall!


Photo source

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Thought of the Week

“…that no other human occupation opens so wide a field for the profitable and agreeable combination of labor with cultivated thought as agriculture.”

-President Abraham Lincoln

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