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Dorian the Hurricane

Thursday September 5, 2019 1:00 am

    Craack! Boom!  The sound of a branch breaking off and hitting the corner of the house made me quickly sit up in bed.  I was not sleeping soundly anyway due to the howling winds of Dorian, a category 3 hurricane releasing its anger outside my bedroom window.  Every 10 minutes or so a strong gust of wind would howl like a bad impression of the Ghost of Christmas Past.  All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind.  Did I make the right decision to stay and ride out the storm?  Was the storm surge and flooding going to cause catastrophic damage to all of us here on the coastal islands?  Are the half dozen mature pine trees around my house strong enough to stand fast in this wind?  Are the 450 ducklings, geese, and turkeys in the pasture going to survive this?  Will the stakes I pounded into the ground to hold the field shelter in place gonna do the job?  

      I’ve had birds go through severe weather before and it wasn’t pretty.  Every day on the farm I learn something new when it comes to raising animals and just when I think I have it figured out, I get thrown a curveball.  Some of the hardest and most important lessons in life are earned by making mistakes.  I was hoping this was not going to be one of them.

November 12, 2018  6:30 am

“Oh God it’s gonna be a long day” I said to myself as I put my hands on my head.  I was in the midst of the daily move of my 200 pasture raised Pekin ducks.  Each day I pick up the temporary fence netting and move it along with a feeder, waterer, and field shelter to new ground.  This process provides the birds fresh grass and bugs to eat while getting them off of the previous day’s manure.  Normally, I have two mobile fences set up in rectangles so that I open one side of the fence and the birds easily move to the next paddock while still being contained.  As I was fiddling with the feeder, one of the ducks found a gap between the nets and walked out with all of his loyal friends following behind.  I turned around to see all 200 ducks running away like it was the New York marathon.  It was still early and a bit dark outside and drizzling lightly but I could see in the faint light all these little white balls of feathers seeking cover in the thick brush and woods all around. 

      Usually, on a normal day I can walk slowly behind the birds and herd them in the direction I want them to go like a shepherd steering his flock.  Holding out my arms straight, I can wave one hand and steer the birds whichever direction I want them to turn.  But not today, today was going to be special.  Although it was not particularly cold this morning, the light rain was starting to pick up and making it feel much colder.  The birds were not in the open where they were easily accessible, but headed for the thickest most impenetrable brush they could find.  They were diving in brush, ditches and briars to escape the rain and exposure.  I realized I was going to have to catch them all by hand one by one.  I slowly started to make the rounds, placing each bird in a cart until it was full of a dozen birds.  Next, I pulled the cart to their new shelter, unloaded the birds, and went back to collect some more.  After a couple hours, I noticed some of the birds where somewhat listless and losing their energy.  I also noticed their bills which are normally a bright yellow, had turned very pale in color. 

      Ducks typically need to be indoors, protected from the elements, and kept warm and dry until 2-3 weeks of age at which time they grow out their downy feathers.  The downy feathers act as a waterproof layer to keep their skin dry and warm.  This batch of birds was now 5 weeks old and had plenty of feathers to keep them dry and warm, or so I thought.  I figured the ones with the pale beaks and low energy were probably a little damp in addition to being stressed from the whole ordeal of running and being chased around.  I thought to myself they will be ok once they get under the new shelter and dry off a bit.  Turns out I was wrong. 

     After 4 hours of chase and catch, nearly half of the 200 ducks went into shock and died.  I was exasperated, exhausted, and devastated.  I put so much time and energy into giving these birds the best life I could provide by moving them every day outside so they would have fresh grass to eat and fresh ground to sleep on.  I believed I was developing a system that was superior to conventional livestock farming where they are in a confined house packed on top of one another surrounded by manure and filthy air.  I believed I could improve the health and welfare of the birds by giving them fresh air and vitamin enriched vegetation and avoid medications and vaccines.  Yet, here they were dying right in front of me.  I started to question what I was doing and why.  I wanted to raise clean chemical-free food naturally, emulating nature while helping the environment, but this was not even humane to these poor birds.  This was not the regenerative utopian farm that I had envisioned.  Maybe I have this all wrong, maybe the conventional farming method is what it is for a reason.  My resolve was that I needed to learn from this, figure it out, and push on.

September 5, 2019 10:00 am

      Hurricane Dorian has been having its temper tantrum all night and into the morning.  The house is still intact and has not suffered any damage.  I consider myself very lucky.  There are a number of large trees and branches down in the yard including the top of one of the large pines, but I know it could have been much worse.  The storm is far from over and winds are still gusting up to 60 mph, but I can’t take it anymore.  I must go and check on the birds in the pasture.  The pasture is only about 300 yards from the house.  If a running back can cover that distance in seconds, then maybe I have a chance.  I throw on my rain gear and dash out the door.

    Before the storm, I did the best I could to prepare the birds.  I moved them to higher ground in case of flooding.  I also staked down their field shelter, which is just a basic PVC shelter with a tarp over it to keep them dry.  I also added some additional bungees and tie downs to hold the tarp knowing I didn’t really have any other options.  I just hoped it would be enough to keep the shelter from blowing away. 

       Sprinting to the pasture to avoid any falling limbs, I think back to the birds I lost last November.  It wasn’t cold today, but the birds I lost last November were 5 weeks old, these birds are only 3 weeks old.  I had this sinking feeling that all the birds were going to be dead.  I ran faster.  As I approached the field I could see the shelter still in place where I left it, “that’s good” I thought.  As I got closer, I noticed the tarp was completely gone and not providing any cover.  I was happy the stakes held, but how long could the birds be exposed to hurricane force rain and wind with no cover?  My stomach was churning.  I was nervous.  I get to their paddock and step over the fence, my eyes searching for any sign of life.  The geese are up and about and honk to greet me.  Turkeys are drenched but mingling about.  Where are the 400 ducklings?  I walk all the way to the back of the paddock.  There they are, all huddled together alive.  I look around for dead bodies expecting to find them strewn about.  The result…only one dead turkey.  All the ducklings and geese are alive and well.  “Wow!” I said as I let out a huge sigh of relief.  I can’t believe after a category 3 hurricane and little to no shelter, I only lost 1 bird.  These are amazingly resilient critters.  I walked back to the house feeling so much better with the weight and dread lifted off my shoulders.  My wife looks at me as I walk in the house with a nervous glance.  “Its ok” I said, “they made it”.

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Raw Dog Food Diet

If you haven’t heard by now, many studies have demonstrated the benefits of giving your dog a raw food diet. Dogs stomachs have a lower pH than humans and as a natural omnivore descended from the wolf, many dogs can digest raw meat and bones easier than commercial feeds. In addition, many of the commercial feeds include added sugars, salts, preservatives, soy, grain and other ingredients that may be hard to digest or cause allergies in dogs. Raw food does require some planning in advance and a bit of prepping the food but can be life-changing for our furry friends.

Some of the benefits of giving your dog a raw food diet are:

1. Stronger immune system

2. Improved digestion

3. Decreased flatulence

4. Reduction in skin and stomach allergies

5. Firmer stools to help dogs with anal gland issues

6. Better overall health

7. Improved skin and coat

8. More energy and vigor

There are a number of different recipes when it comes to raw food diets for dogs and some may be better than others at meeting their specific needs. I do not claim to be a dog nutritionist, but based on my research there seems to be a consensus of the basics. The general guidelines are to have meat and bone make up 65-75% of the diet, with bone and meat being in a 1:1 ratio, Calcium and Phosphorous in a 1:1 ratio, fat being 10% or less, and a small amount of fruits and veggies making up 10-30%. It is also recommended to limit grains as many dogs can be allergic to grains. To make it simple for you we have a few of our favorite recipes that follow these guidelines. Variety is good for your dog and gives them a broader access to vitamins and minerals so it is encouraged to switch up and try different recipes/combinations to ensure your dog does not become deficient in one particular amino acid or vitamin. Also, it is important to note that these diets are Raw and it is not necessary to cook them although some people prefer to cook tough vegetables, particularly for their senior animals. It is strongly recommended not to cook the bones, particularly poultry bones, as it makes them harder and they could splinter and be dangerous for your dog. Raw poultry bones are flexible and digest easily. All of our natural dog food protein products have poultry bones included for calcium.

Our favorite recipes are…

  1. 2 lbs ground poultry with bones hearts and livers, 1 egg, 4 ounces of carrots, 4 ounces green beans
  2. 2 lbs ground poultry with bones hearts and livers, 2 ounces of broccoli, 2 ounces of celery, 2 ounces of spinach, 2 ounces of carrots
  3. 2 lbs of ground turkey with bones, 3 ounces of lettuce, 3 ounces of yams, 3 ounces of zucchini
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Profits over Morals

Our Mission is to develop a food systems that are nurturing for animals, healthy for the consumer, regenerating for the environment, and supports wildlife. While it is important for any farm or business to be economically viable, our ideal is that our overall mission will keep us on a straight path that follows our moral compass and doesn’t sacrifice health or the environment to increase profits. Unfortunately, in today’s society the theme of sacrificing morals, health, safety, or clean air and water is all too common. The nature of consumerism and a capitalist society often steers toward greed and wanting more money and more materialistic things that can never be satisfied. No matter how much money someone has, they are rarely satisfied and only crave more. For example, look at the popularity of venture capitalists and TV shows like Shark Tank. These billionaires have the opportunity to retire and live a lavish life and yet still seek more money and profits. I believe it is possible many wealthy people may also be driven by a desire to succeed and help others in an altruistic manner, but if that was the only factor, then they would invest in every idea that came on the show and negotiating equity in a business would be null.

People will always live up to their means. Whether a household has an annual income of $20K or $200K, most people will always spend it all and live a lifestyle according to their income. Sure some things may become easier the more money you have and there may be less financial worries, but there are many people in this world that make a six figure income, have a large expensive home, 2 car payments, and kids in private schools that cannot afford to go out to dinner because after bills there is no expendable money left.

I am not saying that capitalism is wrong and we should all live in a socialist society and share everything. In fact, history has shown that in many socialist societies the human nature of greed comes out and some individuals tend to take advantage and exploit the others. The point I am trying to stress is that oftentimes we let greed and profit get in the way of our values. I believe that most people are inherently good and do not wish harm or intend to do harm to others. People who debeek chickens and keep them in cages probably do not relish the process of hurting their animals placing them in confinement. Oil executives probably do not sing and rejoice at a cocktail party when a tanker spills in the ocean. I can imagine they are saddened and horrified at the death of innocent animals and pollution in our oceans. Factory owners probably do not skip in the park at the the idea of pumping ozone damaging and poisonous chemicals through their smokestacks into the atmosphere. Yet, most individuals are able to turn a blind eye and ignore certain uncomfortable truths in the name of profits and the possibility of bettering their financial position. Too often people accept bribes, hide truths, take shortcuts, and cause indirect harm to our planet and fellow man to get a fatter wallet.

We hope to provide an example of an economically viable business and farm while remembering our mission. Without a profitable farm, we won’t be around long, and cannot continue our mission of growing clean healthy food while healing our natural ecosystem. We are committed to our ideals to never sacrifice the health and well-being of our customers, livestock, or the environment to make a few extra dollars.