At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
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Nutrition increases wool production

Nourishment is important to many kinds of farm production, but also for wool production.  Texas A&M University has known through the efforts of James Addison Carey III (Effects of Range Management Practices on Wool Production, 1984) that even rotation of grazing pastures can result in a significant difference in fleece weights (3.35kg vs 3.04 kg) because undernourishment results in a temporary reduction in the number of active follicles which are associated with fiber shedding. 

Mr. Carey explains, “if the wool data for lactating ewes and non lactating ewes had been analyzed together, no significant differences would have been found between any of the grazing management treatments. When the physiological state of the ewes was considered, a reduction (P<.05) of 10% ingrease fleece weight was noted in the lactating ewes (3.14 kg) compared to non lactating ewes (3.52 kg). This agrees with the 10 to 14% reduction in annual grease fleece due to full cycle reproduction found by other studies (Doney, 1958; Brown et al., 1966; Seebeck and Tribe, 1963; Slen and Whiting, 1956). Brown et al. (1966) concluded that about one-third of the reduction in wool growth by Merinos during pregnancy and lactation stems from a decrease in fiber numbers and two-thirds from a decrease in fiber volume.  Observations on the number of fibers per unit area of skin by Brown et al. (1966) indicated there may be a greater decrease during pregnancy than during lactation, although this change was evident in both phases of reproduction in the study by Slen and Whiting (1956). These results indicate that ewes producing lambs are more sensitive to grazing treatments than non producing ewes. Therefore, when wool production is used for an endpoint and treatment differences are expected to be small, only ewes that wean lambs should be used as experimental units in grazing studies to detect these small differences.”

The reason, of course, is that ewes which are also producing milk or lambs have more need for food. 

Mr. Carey also explains that if you are maximizing fleece production, you should stock many sheep per hectare, but if you are trying to maximize lamb production, you should ensure each ewe has as much food as possible.  The reason is that fleece production responds less than lamb production to shortages of food.  “Stocking rates had no significant effect on grease fleece weights per ewe, and grease fleece weights per hectare increased with increased stocking rates. Fiber diameter decreased significantly (P<.05) as the stocking rate increased. These findings would suggest that a six ewe per hectare stocking rate would be optimal; however, lamb production data on these same ewes indicate that a stocking rate of six ewes per hectare severely depressed lamb production.  There was no difference (P>.17) in grease fleece weights between the two ewe, four ewe and six ewe stocking rates; however, there was a significant (P<.05) linear effect in fiber diameter (25.5, 24.5 and 24.1 microns, respectively), as stocking rate increased.  These results tend to agree with the findings of McManus et al., (1964) and George and Pearse (1978) that stocking rates had little influence on wool quality and that increased production per hectare would more than offset the decreased production per ewe. Wool production per hectare was higher as stocking rates increased; however, at the higher six ewe per hectare stocking rate, lamb production was severely depressed in the second year of the study. The percent of ewes weaning lambs in the six ewe per hectare treatment dropped from 90% in the first year to 29% in the second year, compared to 90% for the two ewe and four ewe per hectare stocking rates in the second year (Bryant et al., 1984).”

That said, an improvement of 10% in wool production is not only significant, but worthwhile.  Especially when lambs are brought into the equation: lambs are worth much more than fleeces.  Supplementing feed on small pastures makes sense.

How the banks are raising food prices

Money presumes a future payment of a commodity.  In antiquity, money meant cattle and grain. A “drachma” was a weight of grain. Japan's feudal system was based on rice per year – koku. Today, this system is still in effect for most farmers, who borrow against a future crop to gain money today for seed and operational expenses.  Well, the demand for metals or precious stones to fund this credit system allowed mines to become profitable, and as people dug deep into the earth looking for shiny things that farmers could exchange for seed money.  The mines were too complex to be owned and operated by a single person, and quickly came under the management of the government.  The government found it important to support farmers with seed money, developing the process of modern agricultural subsidy.

The farmers who borrowed from their future crop to gain seed money today and the investors who lent money for a future crop eventually learned how to form a corporation, a business entity in which investors own the farms and hire the farmers, and the profits are divided into equal shares based on investment and labor.  With labor becoming valued as highly as investment, the labor union was invented, allowing workers equal bargaining power to the investors.  With the organizational power of a corporation, suddenly private ownership of mines was possible and gradually governments got out of the mining business… and got into the banking business.

The banknote was first developed in China in the Tang during the 7th century, with local issues of paper currency. Its roots were in merchant receipts of deposit during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), as merchants and wholesalers desired to avoid the heavy bulk of copper coinage in large commercial transactions.  Before the use of paper, the Chinese used coins that were circular, with a rectangular hole in the middle. Several coins could be strung together on a rope. Merchants in China, if they became rich enough, found that their strings of coins were too heavy to carry around easily. To solve this problem, coins were often left with a trustworthy person, and the merchant was given a slip of paper recording how much money he had with that person. If he showed the paper to that person he could regain his money. The King was the most trustworthy person around, and soon banks were governmentally licensed.

But corporations began to offer their own notes, representing shares of future revenues (called “stock”) and debt notes (called “bonds”).  Non-farm and non-mine businesses gained the ability to earn investment money through bonds and stock.  Stocks and bonds have intrinsic value, just like the shiny objects that they can be traded for.  Marketplaces evolved where stocks and bonds were traded, just like farm products or construction materials.  Bought and sold, these markets facilitated the exchange of shiny objects to those who needed them most, who could pay them back best.

Times were good.  People began to bank, or save, excess money, and the banks in which they deposited the money found they could loan out banked money at interest and still be able to get enough money to those depositors when it was called for.  This doubled the money supply: the same dollar could be loaned and banked.  With a doubled money supply, economies grew and farmers found they could sell their production for a higher value: people had more money!  This encouraged more farming, which led to more babies being born, which allowed more people to undertake industry and bank more money. 

But this is the rule for free economies when banks are owned or regulated by the government to be non-profit.  Our own economy is somewhat different.  There is not free competition between banks to keep interest rates low, and banks here have a tendency to increase interest to the highest amount the market will bear, shrinking money supply, decreasing agricultural prices.

Against nuclear weapons

I admit that it took me longer than it should have to written this opinion statement.  In due diligence, I tried to understand why anyone would be for nuclear weapons.  It seems that some people believe nuclear weapons are a deterrent to wars of aggression.  However, a quick examination of history shows that, since the invention of the nuclear weapon, nations with nuclear weapons still have been involved in wars of defense.  Including our own.  Also, wars do sometimes happen accidently or without cause.  In the course of my research I learned all kinds of disturbing things not fit for a family newspaper.  I learned about bombs designed to maximize deadly fallout so that all life will be killed on this planet.  I learned about weapons so powerful that they would destroy their user in a suicide attack.  I learned about deadlier weapons still, chemical bombs, biological warfare, and even some nasty robots that might have less hesitation about killing civilians than the Nazi SS officers they were apparently designed to imitate.  So, I will sum up my argument with pictures from http://www.carloslabs.com/projects/200712B/GroundZero.html, as I am simply left speechless. 

A Real-Life Memorial

For many people in America, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer fun, the end of the school year, a time for barbeques and vacations.  Yet it bears reminding that Memorial Day is a day for us to all stop and remember those brave Americans who have served in the military. 

By far the most famous of art commemorating our armed forces is “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” by Joe Rosenthal.  Taken February 23, 1945, this photograph shows five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising of the American flag from the highest point of the Japanese island of Iwo Jima after the desirable position was captured by American troops during World War II. 

Of the six men depicted in the picture, three (Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, and Michael Strank) were killed during the battle; the three survivors (John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes) became celebrities upon their identification in the photo.

Rosenthal, with two other photographers, reached the summit as the Marines were attaching the flag to an old Japanese water pipe. Rosenthal put down his Speed Graphic camera (which was set to 1/400th of a second shutter speed, with the f-stop between 8 and 16) on the ground so he could pile rocks to stand on for a better vantage point. In doing so, he nearly missed the shot. The soldiers began raising the U. S. flag. Realizing he was about to miss it, Rosenthal quickly swung his camera up and snapped the photograph without using the viewfinder.Ten years after the flag-raising, Rosenthal wrote:

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don't come away saying you got a great shot. You don't know.

 

It became the only photograph to win a Pulitzer Prize in the same year as its publication.

Misery does not actually love company

While our customers are pain free and happy with their poplar, aspen and willow, we gave a thought to those that weren't.

A new study from the University of Leeds in England followed hundreds of rheumatoid arthritis patients over several years of treatment to determine whether their treatment was improved by having nurse-led care.  The results were “inconclusive,” meaning that the results of nurse-led care were statistically the same as the results of regular care: nurse-led care did not make any difference in improving the health of the patients.  At least the nurses didn’t hurt.

 

Data sources

Electronic databases (AMED, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, HMIC, HTA, MEDLINE, NHEED, Ovid Nursing and PsycINFO) were searched from 1988 to January 2010 with no language restrictions. Inclusion criteria were: randomised controlled trials, nurse-led care being part of the intervention and including patients with RA.

 

Review methods

Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer. Quality assessment was conducted independently by two reviewers using the Cochrane Collaboration's Risk of Bias Tool. For each outcome measure, the effect size was assessed using risk ratio or ratio of means (RoM) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) as appropriate. Where possible, data from similar outcomes were pooled in a meta-analysis.

 

Results

Seven records representing 4 RCTs with an overall low risk of bias (good quality) were included in the review. They included 431 patients and the interventions (nurse-led care vs usual care) lasted for 1–2years. Most effect sizes of disease activity measures were inconclusive (DAS28 RoM=0.96, 95%CI [0.90–1.02], P=0.16; plasma viscosity RoM=1 95%CI [0.8–1.26], p=0.99) except the Ritchie Articular Index (RoM=0.89, 95%CI [0.84–0.95], P<0.001) which favoured nurse-led care. Results from some secondary outcomes (functional status, stiffness and coping with arthritis) were also inconclusive. Other outcomes (satisfaction and pain) displayed mixed results when assessed using different tools making them also inconclusive. Significant effects of nurse-led care were seen in quality of life (RAQoL RoM=0.83, 95%CI [0.75–0.92], P<0.001), patient knowledge (PKQ RoM=4.39, 95%CI [3.35–5.72], P<0.001) and fatigue (median difference=?330, P=0.02).

 

Conclusions

The estimates of the primary outcome and most secondary outcomes showed no significant difference between nurse-led care and the usual care. While few outcomes favoured nurse-led care, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether this is the case. More good quality RCTs of nurse-led care effectiveness in rheumatoid arthritis are required.

Early dietetics in Texas

Sometimes a glance back at the origins of a science are as enlightening as the most recent research.  So little has changed fundamentally since its beginning, while so much detail and understanding has been gained!  Nutritional science, pioneered by the likes of Dr. John Kellogg, MD and others, had as an original an innovative goal the improvement of the quality and duration of human life through a treatment of food as a medicine.  This brought western dietetics in line with eastern medicine, and set the foundation for today’s astounding advances.

However, the complex science of dietetics was difficult to bring to the people.  Thinking of food as something more than what filled the stomach or an enjoyable luxury required a leap of understanding that the average American was unprepared for.

The first dieticians had to explain things in very practical terms, not only producing new cookbooks, but also explaining the importance of eating well.  Jessie P Rich of the University of Texas was one of these pioneers and, on November 22, 1913, ten years before Dr. John Kellogg would write his own attempts to bring the science of nutrition to the public, wrote Simple Cooking of Wholesome Food for the Far Home.  Rich begins the work by explanation of nutrition’s importance to children, “No subject on the farm at the present time is receiving so much attention as .the proper feeding of the farm animals.  The cows are given a measured amount of meal, and succulent material, and the pigs a carefully estimated ration intended to develop a pig best suited to its intended use. How is it with the boys and girls on the farm? Is their food as carefully studied and administered as that of the farm animal?  Is it prepared in a way to give the greatest amount of nourishment for the least expenditure of bodily energy? No farm asset is as valuable as its boys and girls, and yet they are more neglected, when it comes to the question of proper food and cooking, than the less important asset—the stock.” 

And with this excellent introduction, Rich explains the way food is used in the body, introducing basic food chemistry of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.  Rich is then able to explain the importance of food safety, and provide excellent arguments for vegetarianism: cooking food makes it lose nutrition, and the foods that are safe to eat uncooked are not meat.  Rich advocates the integration of beans and eggs, cooked at a low heat, into the diet as the best sources of protein.

While filled with many quality and vintage traditional Texan favorites, the potato soup seemed like the best to me. 

 

Potato Soup

 

Three medium sized potatoes, one quart milk, two slices onion, three tablespoons butter, one and one-half teaspoons salt, two tablespoons flour. 

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water; when soft, rub through a strainer. Scald milk with onion in it, remove onion, and add milk slowly to potatoes. Melt the butter, add dry ingredients, stir until well mixed, then stir into boiling soup; cook one minute. Season and serve.

Exploding Crazy Asian Melons!

In China, watermelons are exploding.  The story, picked up by tgdaily.com (http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/56006-chinese-farmers-plagued-by-exploding-watermelons) by Lydia Leavitt in her May 21st publication, Chinese farmers plagued by exploding watermelons. 

“China Central Television (CCT) blames the phenomenon on the overuse of a chemical designed to make fruit grow faster, claiming famers were overspraying crops to get ahead of competitors Then again, agricultural experts are seemingly unable to explain why chemical-free melons were also exploding, as they point to weather and abnormal size as the main cause.  According to Xinhua news agency, 20 famers in a village in Jiangsu province imported watermelon seeds from Japan - 10 of whom eventually watched their crop explode. Interestingly enough, only one out of the ten had treated his \\exploding watermelons with the growth chemical,” reports Leavitt.

While agricultural scientists are not exactly sure why the watermelons are exploding, they are energetically researching the bizarre tragedy.

Bizarre melons are not new to the region.  In Japan, watermelons are grown to be cubes by molding the young fruits.  The cubic melons have a higher sale price because of their novelty, but also because they are more space efficient in the refrigerator, and ship with less damage. 

The explosive Chinese melons are a stern reminder of the dangers of too rapid experimentation.  Conservative, Japanese style adventures in plant modification are best.

Forget the tent

When camping out in the wilderness, it is easy to bring too much.  In considering what to leave behind, give a thought to forgetting the tent.  By bringing a stout sleeping bag (Coleman offers some very nice affordable bags) and a large tarp, you are sure to stay dry and warm.

The tarp should be big enough to wrap under the sleeping bag to act as a moisture barrier with the ground, and also on top to prevent rain and dew from wetting you from above.  It should be long enough to tuck under your feet and keep the wind out, and tuck over your head if you wanted to shield yourself from the wind and weather (be careful to leave a ventilation hole: don’t tuck yourself in too tight).

Veteran campers will acknowledge that on a clear night, bagging is better than tenting, and only under severe conditions will a tent be preferred to the convenience and pleasure of the raw natural experience of bagging. 

Tags:

Le Menu (what's cookin'?)

NEWS FROM THE FARM AND RECIPES

The baby prairie  dogs are scampering and it must be springtime.  Except its already June!  The ground is so cold and wet we are going to have to replant our squash seeds!  Luckily, some things enjoy the weather: the linden leaves are absolutely wonderful this year, as are the dandelions and our pine teas.  And the ducks and geese are very happy indeed.  Every year has something special to enjoy!

This week we have treats from our greenhouse: look under the goodies section!

We were busy building up greenhouses for our tomatoes and peppers, which are not liking la nina too much.  That was a lot of work!

Rat update: for those coming into the middle of the story, we adopted 3 baby field mice who were abandoned by their mother.  This week, we released them into a sheltered corner of our farm!  We will miss them.  Rats are important to any ecology, and especially to agroecologies.  We treat all our animals - wild and domestic - with a high degree of compassion.

LOOK FOR:

> New items

> Old items 

 

Give us a call or an email if you want samples!  Let us do the cooking...Prepared meals available.

 

-- GOODIES --

>>>> Greenhouse lettuce! - LIMITED AVAILABILITY ORDER EARLY!

> Eggs (Duck) - LIMITED AVAILABILITY ORDER EARLY!

> Olive Oil (imported from California - olives don't grow in Colorado, silly! We make sure there is no chemicals used, just like on our farm. It is very buttery oil, very sweet)

 > Sprouts - Greenhouse is being used to shelter tomatoes and peppers, so please order one week in advance

> Meat shares - from the Rev. Ronald Taylor's ranch.  These meats are from a neighbor of ours, he uses no hormones, and both grains and pastures the cows on natural feeds.  He raises holsteins.  In the hard economic times, he is adjusting his prices to allow microshares.  If there is more beef than expected, you can either pay the difference or return to him what you did not pay for! 

     * 1/2 Beef Share: $800 down, $4 per pound, plus share of processing

     * 1/4 Beef Share: $400 down, $4.50 per pound, plus share of processing

     * 1/8 Beef Share:  $200 down, $5 per pound, plus share of processing

      * 1/16 Beef Share: $100 down, $5.25 per pound, plus share of processing

       * 1/32 Beef Share: $50 down, $5.50 per pound, plus share of processing

 

-- VEGETABLES --

> Dandelion (also a blood cleanser herb)

> Fava greens (eat like chard, beet greens or pea greens)

> Lambsquarter

> Linden (leaves) (very sweet, sugar substitute)

> Sprouts (pea, bean, sunflower)

> Thistle (also a liver support herb)

 

-- BEANS --

  > Black

  > Fava

  > Jacob’s Cattle

  > Pinto

  > Trout

 

-- GRAIN --

  > Barley

  > Oats

  > Sanfoin

  > Safflower

  > Sunflower (SEED)

  > Rye

  > Wheat

 

-- HERBS --

  >>>> Juniper (BERRIES)

  > Catmint

  > Garlic (BABY)

  > Garlic (GREENS)

  >>>> Garlic (WILD)

  > Wild Onion (limited availability)

 

-- MEDICINE AND TEA --

  > Aspen (LEAVES, BARK) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Cherry Blossoms

  > Lilac Blossoms

  > Plum Blossoms

  > Poplar (BUDS, ROOTS) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Willow (BUDS, ROOTS) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Yucca (ROOT)

 

-- ANIMAL FEEDS --

  > Two legs 

  > Four legs

  > Six legs

  > Eight legs (?!)  :::: )

Tags:
 
 

Le Menu (what's cookin'?)

NEWS FROM THE FARM AND RECIPES

This week, the pines put out new buds and the cool weather has made them extra sweet this year.  The willow, aspen and poplars are also enjoying the weather, and are very strong medicines! On the farm, potato leaves are just popping up out of the ground, and if we get a week or two of good hot weather, we should be enjoying lettuces, pea greens and other delicious treats...

But La Nina is furious this year, with temperatures still nearly freezing at night and a delayed summertime.  The ground is wet enough that there has been an inch of water standing on the ground twice this last week, and while our crops are not damaged because our aisles act to regulate the moisture in the field and our animals are warm and dry in their pens, it is disappointing to have to wait so long for our summer favorites.

Rat update: for those coming into the middle of the story, we adopted 3 baby field mice who were abandoned by their mother.  This week, one of the rats released themselves while we accustomed them to cool temperatures.  Guess that one was ready to go!  The remaining mice will be released within a few days, once they stop shivering when the temperature gets below 60: we want them ready for the big world.  Rats are important to any ecology, and especially to agroecologies.  We treat all our animals - wild and domestic - with a high degree of compassion.

LOOK FOR:

>>>> New items

> Old items 

 

 

Give us a call or an email if you want samples!  Let us do the cooking...Prepared meals available.

 

-- GOODIES --

> Eggs (Duck) - LIMITED AVAILABILITY ORDER EARLY

> Olive Oil (imported from California - olives don't grow in Colorado, silly! We make sure there is no chemicals used, just like on our farm. It is very buttery oil, very sweet)

> Sprouts - due to frost, unusual limited availability

 

-- VEGETABLES --

> Dandelion (also a blood cleanser herb)

> Fava greens (eat like chard, beet greens or pea greens)

> Lambsquarter

> Linden (leaves) (very sweet, sugar substitute)

>>>> Pine buds

> Thistle (also a liver support herb)

 

-- BEANS --

  > Black

  > Fava

  > Jacob’s Cattle

  > Pinto

  > Trout

 

-- GRAIN --

  > Barley

  > Oats

  > Sanfoin

  > Safflower

  > Sunflower (SEED)

  > Rye

  > Wheat

 

-- HERBS --

  > Catmint

  > Garlic (BABY)

  > Garlic (GREENS)

  > Wild Onion (limited availability)

 

-- MEDICINE AND TEA --

  > Aspen (LEAVES, BARK) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Birch (TWIGS) (sweetener, also good for throat)

  > Cherry Blossoms

 > Lilac Blossoms

  > Plum Blossoms

  > Poplar (BUDS, ROOTS) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Willow (BUDS, ROOTS) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Yucca (ROOT)

 

-- ANIMAL FEEDS --

  > Two legs 

  > Four legs

  > Six legs

  > Eight legs (?!)  :::: )

Tags:

Last stand of the unmechanized American small farm

At our farm stand it occured to us that the american small farm is a dying breed, and the USDA agreed.  Very small vegetable and fruit farms focus on the labor-intensive non-mechanized crops while larger farms undertake mechanized agriculture, encouraging US farms to both get larger and smaller in the future.  Currently, 8% of all farms produce 87% of all the fruits and vegetables on very large acres, and 68% of farms produce 1% of all produce on less than 4 acres. 

Mir Ali and Gary Lucier of the USDA ERS will report in their study, Vegetable Production Concentrated on Very Large Farms (Amber Waves , June 2011) that because an increase in the size of a vegetable and fruit farm of about 3 acres corresponds with an increase in production of nearly $250,000, vegetable and fruit production is encouraged to be on as many acres as possible. 

Surprisingly, the improved economy of scale has less to do with the expanded land size than the very large value of the crops and their relative high profit margins.  “For example, during 2007-09, the average per acre farm value of U.S. fresh-market field tomato production was $12,238, meaning that a farm with just 82 acres of fresh tomatoes could have farm sales in excess of $1 million. In contrast, about 1,500 acres of sweet corn for processing would be required to reach $1 million in sales,” say the doctors in their study.  This means that commodity crops are encouraged to large acreages by economy of scale, but fruit and vegetable production is encouraged by different pressures to become larger.

Which explains why there is also downward pressure towards smaller farms too: there is an economy of decreasing and also increasing scale.  There is a very large number (68% of the entire farmer population) of small farms (less than 4 acres) which are satisfied by average incomes of less than $40,000 because they have fewer costs of machinery, labor and other expenses: very small farms can undertake the labor by hand because those productions have not yet been mechanized and large farms have to also undertake the labor by hand.

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Archeology of the chicken

Archeology is lending its support to understanding the domestication of the chicken, science which may improve the continued development of the important species in the future by farmers worldwide.  In their new study, La domestication du poulet : de l’archéologie à la génomique (Comptes Rendus Biologies, Volume 334, Issue 3, March 2011, Pages 197-204) Drs. Michèle Tixier-Boicharda, Bertrand Bed’homa and Xavier Rognona of France have found a history of the domestication of the chicken written in its genome. 

 

La connaissance de la domestication du poulet s’appuie sur des données archéologiques, historiques et moléculaires. L’existence de plusieurs foyers de domestication en Asie du Sud et du Sud-Est, et la contribution de Gallus sonneratii à la domestication du poulet en complément de l’espèce ancêtre majeur Gallu gallus sont maintenant bien démontrées. La diversité génétique du poulet domestique est actuellement distribuée entre populations traditionnelles, races standardisées et lignées sélectionnées. L’accès à la séquence du génome a accéléré l’identification des mutations causales de différences morphologiques majeures entre poulets domestiques et Gallus sauvages. Un reséquençage du génome comparant poulets domestiques et Gallus sauvages a permis d’identifier 21 signatures de domestication. L’une présente une mutation non-synonyme du gène TSHR dont les conséquences fonctionnelles restent à explorer. Cette approche peut aussi identifier des gènes candidats correspondant à des locus à effets quantitatifs (quantitative traits loci [QTL]) déjà détectés. La génomique ouvre de nouvelles voies pour comprendre les changements majeurs induits par la domestication et la sélection.

 

Which translates to

 

Current knowledge on chicken domestication is reviewed on the basis of archaeological, historical and molecular data. Several domestication centres have been identified in South and South-East Asia. Gallus gallus is the major ancestor species, but Gallus sonneratii has also contributed to the genetic make-up of the domestic chicken. Genetic diversity is now distributed among traditional populations, standardized breeds and highly selected lines. Knowing the genome sequence has accelerated the identification of causal mutations determining major morphological differences between wild Gallus and domestic breeds. Comparative genome resequencing between Gallus and domestic chickens has identified 21 selective sweeps, one involving a non-synonymous mutation in the TSHR gene, which functional consequences remain to be explored. The resequencing approach could also identify candidate genes responsible of quantitative traits loci (QTL) effects in selected lines. Genomics is opening new ways to understand major switches that took place during domestication and subsequent selection.

 

Though far from complete, their line of inquiry will shed light on the characteristics that the first chicken farmers sought to improve in the chicken, and lend insight on how they limited chicken development today.  With advances in breeding, not to mention genetic engineering, we may be able to reclaim a now extinct ancestor of the chicken and begin domestication anew with the skills and understanding unavailable to our worthy ancestors so many thousands of years ago.

It is regrettable that no written records could have been kept by our ancestors, but it is fortunate that modern archeology can still tell their story because their choices, made so many thousands of years ago, still impact us today.  We may look forward to understanding better not only about the chicken, but about our own ancestors, as we examine the relationship between them.

Counting sheep not just for dreamers

Denver is on the verge of allowing you to raise a four legged friend not named fido. 

Raising sheep can be very profitable, whether you are raising them for wool, meat, milk, or to sell lambs.  The best way to maximize profits is to keep your flock healthy from day one.  When you buy your sheep, no matter the age, make sure that they have been ear-tagged with scrapie tags.  Scrapies is a serious infectious disease and you should never buy a sheep that does not come proven to be from a scrapie-free herd.  Also make sure that you are buying sheep that are current on vaccinations.

If you are buying young lambs or have pregnant ewes, young lambs require special care.    If your lamb is not nursing and needs hand-fed, make sure to feed it several times daily.  It should also receive colostrum at first, whether from its mother or from a bottle.  By the time the lamb is one or two months old, it should be eating grass or hay in sufficient quantities to wean it from its mother or the bottle.   Lambs over a week old should be given access to hay and grain so that they can start learning how to eat more than milk. 

With all age sheep, make sure to feed grains that are formulated for sheep: sheep are very sensitive to copper, and feeds not designed for sheep (such as cattle feed) are too high in copper.  Sheep that have too much copper in their diet will become lethargic and anemic, and typically die 1 to 2 days later.  Copper toxicity may take years to show symptoms as the copper builds up in the liver, so don’t assume that your feed is okay just because your sheep appear healthy.

        Sheep are prone to fly infections under their tail, which results in a painful and potentially fatal disease.  To prevent this, all lambs should have their tails docked (removed) when they are less than one week old.  It is difficult and dangerous to remove the tails of older lambs.  This is typically done by banding, wherein an elastic band is tied around the tail to cut off the blood flow, and the tail will fall off after the tissues die.  You may also want to vaccinate for tetanus at this time.

        Male lambs should also be castrated by banding before they are a week old.  When your lambs are 6 to 8 weeks old, they should be vaccinated with a CD-T vaccine.  They should be given a booster shot 2 weeks later.  Most sheep do not require any other vaccines than this during their life.

        Watch out for worms!  A worm infection in your sheep’s gut can make it very sick or kill it.  You can tell if a sheep needs dewormed by looking at the color of the membranes of its lower eyelids. A pale color (white or pinkish white) is a sign of anemia (low red blood cells) which is the primary symptom of barber pole worm infection. The barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) is the primary worm affecting lambs. It is a blood sucking worm that causes blood and protein loss, not diarrhea.  A lamb with scours (diarrhea) should be treated promptly.  It is not usually contagious, but it can be, depending on the cause.  Many things can cause scours, but it is usually caused by a type of bacteria called coccidia.  This can be treated with several different medicines.   Lambs with scours should also be given electrolytes in their water.

        Coughing sometimes occurs in sheep, typically from dusty feed.  If your feed is not dusty, or if your sheep are coughing even when no food is present, they may have allergies, or they may have a respiratory infection.  Take their rectal temperature: if it is more than 103F, they have an infection and should be given antibiotics.  Other diseases such as soremouth and footrot should also be watched for.  With regular care and fast response when you see a problem, your sheep can live long and productive lives. 

Wild brassicas blooming on the palmer divide

The wild brassicas are flowering on the Palmer divide, which indicates with extreme certainty one of the two following possibilities: either the last frost has happened, or the plants are senseless.  Certainly this has been something of a crazy year throughout the United States, but, hard won as it may be, the wild throws of temperature are now at least hovering something above freezing.

Brassicas are generally edible, and more often than not, delicious.  When harvesting wild brassicas, however, be careful to achieve positive identification.  They know they are delicious and will pretend to be other plants.  They are such good mimics that even expert hunters may mistake a poisonous or nasty tasting plant for a brassica. 

Brassicas are also known as “mustards,” “radishes,” “cabbages,” or other familiar names.  They are identified by having no coloration of the sap, may or may not have hairs on the stem, may or may not have a waxy coat.  Their leaves are serrated and pinnatifid, with lobe tips pointing towards the leaf tip.  The sprout seeds are usually cordate.  Flowers are what give the plant away best: they cluster at the tops of stems, have four petals cruciform, usually four long and two short stamen, often are yellow, but can be of other colors.  Their fruits are delicacies: they are capsules, with round seeds and usually spicy!

Romans were probably the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment.  They also discovered how to use the thistle to make cheese. They mixed unfermented grape juice, known as “must,” with ground mustard seeds to make “burning must,” mustum ardens — hence “must ard.”  The only surviving recipe from the later Roman period (late 4th Century) includes a mixture of ground mustard, pepper, caraway, lovage, grilled coriander seeds, dill, celery, thyme, oregano, onion, honey, vinegar, fish stock, and oil. 

Though the French had been making mustard since the 10th century, the first appearance of mustard makers on the royal registers in Paris dates back to 1292. Dijon, France, became a recognized center for mustard making by the 13th Century. The popularity of mustard in Dijon is evidenced by written accounts of guests consuming 70 gallons of mustard creme in a single sitting at a gala held by the Duke of Burgundy in 1336.  Due to its long tradition of mustard making, Dijon is regarded as the mustard capital of the world. 

An early use of mustard as a condiment in England was in the form of mustard balls – coarse ground mustard seed combined with flour and cinnamon, moistened, rolled into balls, and dried – which were easily stored and combined with vinegar or wine to make mustard paste as needed. The town of Tewkesbury was well known for its high-quality mustard balls, which were exported to London and other parts of the country, and are even mentioned in William Shakespeare's play King Henry the Fourth, Part II.

There are many varieties of mustard which come in a wide range of strengths and flavors. The basic taste and "heat" of the mustard is largely determined by seed type, preparation and ingredients. Black seeded mustard is generally regarded as the hottest type. Preparation also plays a key role in the final outcome of the mustard. Mustard, in its powdered form, lacks any potency and needs to be fixed by soaking. One of the factors that determines the strength of a prepared mustard is the temperature of the water, vinegar, or other liquid mixed with the ground seeds: hotter liquids are more hostile to the strength-producing compounds. Thus, hot mustard is made with cold water, while using hot water results in milder mustard.  The pungency of mustard is always reduced by heating, not just at the time of preparation; if added to a dish during cooking much of the effect of the mustard is lost. 

When hunting mustards, it is difficult to decide whether to enjoy them as a vegetable, flower or fruit!

Difference between climate change and global warming

Ana Villar and Jon A. Krosnick in their recent publication, Global warming vs. climate change, taxes vs. prices: Does word choice matter? (Climatic Change (2011) 105:1–12) found that how we describe things does matter.  Their excellently worded abstract puts the situation succinctly, or should I say precisely? 

 

Does “climate change” seem like a less serious problem than “global warming” to Americans and Europeans? Does describing the costs of climate change mitigation in terms of “higher taxes” instead of “higher prices” reduce public support for such efforts? In an experiment embedded in an American national survey, respondents were randomly assigned to rate the seriousness of “global warming,” “climate change,” or “global climate change.” Contrary to predictions made by a leading political strategist, the full sample and political Independents perceived “climate change” and “global warming” to be equally serious. Among Republicans, “climate change” was perceived to be more serious than “global warming,” whereas the reverse was true among Democrats. A similar experiment embedded in a survey of residents of 31 European countries showed that “global warming” and “climate change” were perceived to be equally serious problems. And an experiment embedded in an American survey showed that describing the increased costs of climate change mitigation legislation via “higher taxes” instead of via “higher prices” did not reduce popular support for such legislation, also contradicting a political strategy memo. Thus, word choice may sometimes affect public perceptions of the climate change seriousness or support for mitigation policies, but a single choice of terminology may not influence all people the same way, making strategic language choices difficult to implement.

 

Yet words mean more to those who are more educated, especially in the phrasing of questions.  The doctors found that people with less education look to questioners and other people to form an ideology about a word: “among respondents with some college or less education, the primacy effect was sizable. The proportion of people who rated the problem as extremely serious or very serious when those options were presented first was 62.49%, compared to 55.89% when those options were last, a difference of 6.60% (?2 (1) = 9.04, p = 0.003, N = 2,005). Among respondents with a college degree or more education, the primacy effect was non-significant. The proportion of people who rated the problem as extremely serious or very serious when those options were presented first was 59.40%, compared to 58.14% when those options were last, a difference of 1.26% (?2 (1) = 0.14, p = 0.71, N = 861). Consistent with past research (e.g., Krosnick and Schuman 1988), education was a marginally significant moderator of the relation between response choice order and seriousness ratings (Wald (1) = 13.36, p = 0.09,one-tailed)… The primacy effect that appeared here was the same effect documented in many other past studies of rating scales and appeared here, as in past research, to be most common among people most likely to satisfice when answering survey questions: respondents low in education. It is therefore important to counter-balance rating scale point order in surveys in order to avoid bias.” 

Educated people have already formed opinions and ideology, which impacts the way that we interpret words: “Among Europeans in the “center,” people were equally likely to mention global warming as the most serious problem as they were to mention climate change (63.30% vs. 64.88%; ?2 (1) = 2.47, p = 0.12.)” 

Word choice matters, but no less so to those who are undeducated about a subject.  When using words, it is important to choose the most objective word, and to fully understand the word’s ideological associations with the audience at hand.

 
 
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