Wild Winds Sheep Company

  (Carpenter, Wyoming)
Under the Blue Sky
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The 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, released in April of 2008, claimed that 18 percent of global greenhouse gases are caused by animal agriculture.  The Center for Consumer Freedom helped to clarify this claim.

Buried in the report is the information that deforestation-mainly in the Amazon Rainforest-is included in that figure.  Without it, livestock’s contribution falls to less than 12 percent.

But even 12 percent still sounded a bit high.  In April 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006, detailing a complete accounting of global-warming-related emissions in the United States and where they come from.  This report said that 6 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is from all of agricultural, not just meat production. 

It gets more interesting still.  The EPA separates out the various kinds of agricultural emissions into two categories, one that relates to raising animals for food and the other for non-animal related agriculture (like; grain production).  The result: greenhouse gas sources directly related to livestock production in the United States only accounts for 2.58 percent of the total.

2.58 percent is a far cry from 18 percent.  

From the EPA's Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks.



Monday, November 10, 2008

My husband and I limbed up a very old Elm tree this weekend, it lives on the east side of my high tunnel.  I need that morning sun to get the tunnel warmed up and the plants growing.  The tree is unfortunate to be under the power lines, I am sure when it was planted the lines were not there.  This area of Wyoming didn't get power until sometime in the 1940's. 

The power line tree trimmers have topped the tree so many times that parts of the main trunk have died as a result.  The limbs that have been topped also produce sucker shoots that are weak and tend to break in high winds. Topping a tree is about the worse thing you can do to them, other then driving nails into the trunk. This poor old tree is also under attack by the elm beetle and is riddled with bore holes.  The tree really should come down. Trees are hard to come by in the prairie, so we left it standing.

I still have some lambs getting out, I still haven't figured out where they are escaping from.

I just finished reading a couple of good cook books; they are great for that trip to the Farmer's Market, "Local Flavors", by Deborah Madison and "Vegetable" by the Culinary Institute of America.  Catherine


November 8, 2008

The wind finally stopped blowing, at least for today.  According to the web site windpowermaps.org Wyoming has huge wind energy potential. That  translates into tie small animals down, batten the hatches, nail things down and wear safety glasses when you do chores.

I did fix some fence in yesterday's wind storm, thinking that that is were the sheep were getting out. This morning I was greeted by only six instead of the normal 16, mobile lawn mowers.  All six of them are from this year's lambs group.  Two of those six are from the group I was given.  Again, that constanct concern of finding food, even when it plentiful in the pasture.

I cleaned out my high tunnel, (an un-heated greenhouse) and planted oats.  I'll turn the oats under sometime in March.  This will help improve the soil structure, add nutrients that my vegetables used and provide food for the earthworms.

I read that California passed initiative #2 on farm animal housing. More government meddling!  While I have a great appreciation for free range, pasture raised and all natural with animals. Especially mine.  I have  toured the egg production houses, I feel that veal farms are, strange, and a female hogs with piglets is the most dangerous animal anyone could raise.

There is another implication which most people never think about.  Eggs are a cheap source of protein, easy to prepare, fast food that is good for you, even a kid can cook up eggs and have a good meal or snack.  In the fact that eggs are an inexpensive protein, makes them something that single parents, people on food stamps, children, the elderly and families trying to stretch their food dollar can afford.

By placing restrictions on the egg industry the price goes up proportionally to the dollars invested in the system. The farmer will pass that cost on to the customer. This may price many people out of a cheap source of protein.

No one ever thinks of the weak links in society when touchy feely laws are passed from arm chair want-to-be activists, someone always pays the price, it's usually those who can least afford it.  

While I don't like the idea of hens being crammed into a small cage, people going without a cheap source of protein isn't right either. Where do you draw the line?  Catherine




Friday, November 7, 2008

Last spring I was given 8 sheep from a person who could no longer afford to feed or care for them.  These sheep were thin, long over due to be shorn, long toes in need of general care that my sheep receive on a scheduled basis.   After a month in a quartine area, with all the food they could possible want to eat and a clean bill of health, I let them in with the rest of the flock.  It was the normal who are you routine.  They spent the summer grazing on green grass hills with the rest of my flock, and my livestock guardian dogs and llamas for protection.  Life is good.

No animal ever gets over worrying about their food even when it's in front of them.  These eight girls are no exception.  Now that fall is here, the grass is brown and they need to go farther out in pasture for food, the old fears have returned.  In fact it has shown up in some rather interesting sheep behavior.

I have watched them dig under my fence, jump my fence, squeeze their pudgy bodies though breaks between buildings and fencing and just show up.  They like to show up in my front yard, do a quick tour around the house, like they may have missed something from yesterday's tour.  They hike down my driveway and eat the grass between the gravel road and fence.  Once that tour is over they wait for me at the gate to be let back into their corral.

All my sheep are good natured, friendly, safe to be around (except the rams, they are never safe) and generally happy free ranging girls. Most have names, some are retired 4-H show sheep, some I have purchased,  some are daughters and some given to me.  I try and follow the National Organic Program policies on animal welfare and attend animal husbandry conferences when I can.  I want my sheep to have a good life.  Catherine


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