Fescue Toxicity

Boy, howdy, now there’s an exciting title and one to really pull in a reader eager to learn about such a thing.  Well, not, of course, but to cattle farmers and ranchers across a great portion of the United States, it’s a reality that sucks an estimated $1 billion out of our collective pockets EACH year!

in 1943 Kentucky 31 variety of fescue was commercially introduced and sold, it seemed at first a godsend to sod forming, persistence, deep rootedness (soil conservation), and production for cattle and other livestock producers.  In the late 1970’s, scientists at last identified that fescue hosts a fungus that can produce toxic compounds called ergovaline.  However, it is important to note, that reports of  toxic effects of grazing infected fescue have been around at least since the early 1900’s.  Why didn’t the light bulb go off that there is a problem that needs addressing BEFORE scattering it all over the US!?  The only answer that seems reasonable is that establishment of the grass is cheap and easy and the resultant health concerns in stock are a silent drain.

Whatever the case may be, I’m now on a mission to eradicate to a degree as much as possible toxic fescue from my pastures.  In so doing, cattle health and numbers should increase, calf gains and cow milking ability should increase as well as reproduction improvements.  Additionally, soil health and tilth should improve, thereby increasing its moisture capturing and holding capacity (resulting in less runoff and erosion).  Lastly, but certainly not least, ridding the pastures of tall fescue will greatly improve wildlife habitat – especially ground nesting species such as quail.

The fruits of this project will likely be for the next generation and i ask myself if it is really worth the expense and effort to make a bold move in such uncertain times of low cattle prices.  Time will tell, i guess.

I think I’ll put these entries in a separate category so my reports and progress can be easily accessed.  I’m no Pioneer Woman like Dee,  (ya gotta admire the outreach she has done with her whit and way with words),  but if you have an interest in organic, no chemical, minimal tillage farming, pasture renovation, cattle rearing for producing clean healthy food while improving (regenerating is the popular term) our environment, come alongside and join the conversation.  I will enjoy any questions.

Cheers!

tauna

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This is a nice photo of my cows, but what you don’t see is that a good portion of what they are grazing is toxic endophyte infected fescue.  In other words, with every bite they are being poisoned.  It’s time to see if the dollars and cents to renovate make sense to change this condition.

 

 

 

Hamburger Soup

Sunny, but frosty out this morning and although we are expecting a high of 45F, warm soup will feel mighty good today.

Hamburger Soup

1 lbs grass-finished ground beef (browned)

1 cup sliced carrots

1/2 chopped onion

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 cups water or soup stock

1 cup diced celery

2 teaspoons salt (if desired)

1 teaspoon black pepper (if desired)

One pot directions:  brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon olive oil until no longer pink, add all the other ingredients and simmer.  The longer you simmer it, the more the flavours will meld and veggies soften.

Be creative in ingredients – celery substitute could be the leaves off the back of a head of cauliflower or chopped kohlrabi, leeks would work.  Instead of carrots, maybe turnips, swedes, or rutabaga.  I use my own frozen tomatoes from my garden and since i don’t really cook them down, there is plenty of water in with them, therefore i don’t add more water.  Recipes like this are perfect for emptying the frig or freezer.

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The leaves off the back of a head of cauliflower make a LOT of greens for soup!  Add vitamins A and C plus antioxidants to your meal, not the rubbish bin!

Time Management Lesson

Too many times I engage in projects which end up as time wasted. Case in point this 12×12 chicken tractor. After spending time and money on it, I’m now faced with more time wasted disassembling it. I have no intention of raising layers on pasture again and it’s too awkward to move very far and a waste of space to store it. The high quality tarp from Troyer Tarp will be stored, however, since it is a $100 item. I’m learning, albeit slowly and with the wisdom my children bestow upon me, to utilize my time more wisely.

Cheers!

tauna

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Spatchcock a Chicken?!

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Start with a fresh or frozen pastured (preferably) broiler.  Using scissors, cut out out the backbone.

 

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Cut backbone out completely – this is easier than it looks.  The WSJ recipe says to use the backbone to make broth or discard – DISCARD!  what?!  no way.  Make broth. Using it to make egg drop soup.
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Turn the bird over and smash down breaking breast bone so that the carcass lays fairly flat.

 

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Smashed and ready for rub.
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Rubbed in seasoning of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt (i used Hebridean Sea Salt Flakes harvested from the shores of the remote Scottish Hebridean Isle of Lewis), and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
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Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet then place chicken breast side down.  The recipe i used said on medium high heat for 20 minutes, but thankfully i checked this at 12 minutes and it was a bit too brown.  Perhaps using a cast iron skillet made the difference since they hold heat so well.  Next time, i plan to use medium heat for 12 minutes.
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Place aluminum covered bricks on top of chicken to press it down.  I didn’t have any bricks covered, so my improvisation was to lay the cast iron lid upside down, then stack a couple smaller skillets on top for added weight.  Do this for both sides of the chicken.
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Using tongs, flip the chicken over and weight down again, reduce heat to medium low and cook another 15 minutes or so.  This shows needing a bit more time.
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Crispy and done all the way through, including the thick breast meats.  My family really liked it.  So easy, too!

 

Spatchcock a Chicken Recipe
Here are the original instructions as found in Wall Street Journal some years ago.

Cheers!

tauna

Bergen, Norway

Bergen is located on the western coast of Norway at 60º 23′ N – the same as the Shetland Islands north of Scotland.  The city is centered on the mainland seaside surrounded by mountains, but includes several islands as well.  Established before 1070 and was the capital of Norway from the early 1300s, but given over to Oslo a century later.  However, it remained the most populated city until the 1830s, when Oslo surpassed.  Current population is 278, 121.

Bergen has an oceanic climate with winter temps at 40 (high) and 32 (low) and summer temps 69 (high) and 56 (low).  Definitely rainy, averaging 202 days of rain with annual accumulation of 89 inches.  Compare annual sunshine hours of Kansas City of 2810 to Bergen’s 1187.

Our first tour was decidedly the highlight.  As per our custom, we try to stop in at the info center first where we found out that in a few hours an English speaking tour was to begin at the Info center from where we boarded a motorcoach and traveled to the Edvard Grieg residence and museum.  Jessica knew of Edvard Grieg, because one of his pieces (Solveig’s Song) was her recital selection to earn a vocal scholarship to Central Methodist University, but neither of us knew that he was from Bergen or that he and his wife spent the last 22 years of their lives here.  Included in the ticket was a 30 minute piano recital – Wow!

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Jessica standing beside a life size statue of Edvard – he was very small guy.  The recital hall.  Edvard and Nina Grieg, an accomplished vocalist (lyric soprano) in her own right and also born in Bergen.
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Jessica at the top of Mount Floyen

 

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Hiking Mount Floyen

 

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View from Hiking in Mount Floyen
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Bryggen – Bergen – UNESCO site – lovely place to shop for uniquely Norwegian and handmade keepsakes as well as souvenir shoppes.  

Faith, Family, Farm

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