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Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Am Second - Trevor Brazile

It's no secret that I, along with several thousands of rodeo fans, are huge Trevor Brazile fans.  What's not to love? He is an 11 time World Champion and holds the record for most All-Around titles ever won with 8. He is a well-known poster boy for being a family man, he's obviously very skilled with a rope and even better.... he gives glory to God for all of it.  I saw this video early last week and by the time it makes it up on my blog, I'm sure it will have been shared many times. But whatevs, it's my birthday in the states and he's my favorite so I'm sharing it again. I hope you enjoy it.



Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Agvocacy Down Under - Sheep, Swine and Poultry

There are way more sheep here than people - 3.5X as many sheep. In June 2008, the sheep population was 80 million while the current population of Australians is 22.5 million people. Australians eat a lot of sheepmeat - there is far more sheepmeat in the supermarket than either pork or chicken. Beef still reigns supreme, at least on the shelves :) Anyway, in my last post I said that Hyatt and I had been to the biggest livestock in Australia, the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. That was the beef edition; this is the sheep, swine, poultry and consumer information edition.
As with beef, there many posters explaining animal care procedures, nutrition information and details about how hard farmers and ranchers work.





I really like this one that explains that chickens aren't dual purpose - certain breeds are for meat and others for laying eggs.

When we ventured into the swine barn we had a few reactions: 1) there are hardly any hogs here 2)  there are a lot of people here learning about hogs!

This little dude was trying to pet a pig - shame on his father for denying him that
 simple pleasure of life.


Back in the Food Farm building, children were running amuck learning about different aspects of food production. There was a 'collect your own hen eggs' station (sorry, no picture), a cooking station where people were making sausage and then there was this fun interactive learning station.

Some kids having fun on the "Livestock Learning Wall"

Is our red meat industry important to all Australians? --> YES!

I would have taken many more pictures of the Food Farm but unfortunately I haven't yet learned how to pack a camera charger for a roadtrip - so both cameras (yes, I have two and yes, I forgot both chargers) died. So sad.  Didn't get any pictures of the Opera House either.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Agvocacy Down Under - Beef Edition

Two weekends ago, my hubby and I traveled to Sydney for the Royal Easter Show. To picture this event, think of a state fair in any well populated state. Ohio is pretty comparable as would be California, except the number of show hogs at Sydney was significantly lower than the States.

Although it rained the entire day we were at the Royal Easter Show, we still had a great time. We strolled through the cattle barns, the hog barn (singular) and of course went through the shopping area (although it was nothing compared to the shops at state fairs and stock shows at home. *sigh* I miss western couture).

But perhaps the most enthralling part of the whole day was the "Food Farm" where I saw some full-scale agvocacy efforts - check out these pictures!

I love these - food comes from animals. Fact.


There was a similar board for western, northern and eastern cattle ranchers also. The boards described what cattle producers do each month through the year. There were also facts that explained the importance of crossbreeding and heterosis.

Although this barn was aimed primarily at school-age children, the banners featuring beef producers and their way of life were especially targeted at audience the members who vote and buy groceries. By informing adults of conservation efforts, animal wellbeing standards and the hardships associated with livestock production, the Food Farm coordinators




I'll post more later about agvocacy in sheep and swine production, fun ways to learn about where food comes from and various pictures from our trip to Sydney! Stay tuned {insert cliffhanger}

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Legs Might Fall Off

Well, it's official. I am running my first race since 2004 on May 29 of this year, the Sri Chinmoy Running Festival. I'll be running the 10k (does this count as two 5k's?). I started training on Saturday and I thought my legs were going to fall off on Sunday, I was so out of practice.

In order to train for this momentous occasion I'm going to be eating a lot of delicious beef. Beef, as you may know, is chock full of zinc, iron and protein and provides the energy needed to fuel a healthy lifestyle. Beef is also a good source of B vitamins which are essential for cell metabolism.

Additionally, there are 29 cuts of beef that qualify as 'lean' by the USDA, meaning they contain less than 10g of total fat, 4.5g or less of saturated fat, and less than 95mg of cholesterol per serving and per 100 grams. Some of these tasty lean choices are the 95% lean ground beef, sirloin, flank stank and T-Bone.

I'll be running almost everyday and doing toning exercises on non-run days so in order to fuel all this activity you can be sure I'm going to be consuming heaps of lean beef! I recently became a member of Team BEEF (formerly known as Team ZIP) and I'm very excited to run and show off my TEAM BEEF jersey which I hope to be receiving in the mail before the race. Check out the sweet jersey I'll be sporting!




Any of you experienced runners have any advice for me? I'd welcome your suggestions!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Engagement Chicken and Easter

Today was our first Easter as a married couple and usually for Easter, we join the rest of the Buzzard clan at my Grandma and Papaw's house for ham, mashed potatoes and the best fried chicken in the world.

Not this year. This year we're in Australia and I was in charge of Easter dinner. I accidentally found a recipe for Engagement Chicken on a Yahoo! blog. According to the author of the blog, the recipe is named Engagement Chicken because there have been several young women who made this dish and then a month or two later their boyfriends proposed. Something to do with it being the type of homemade meal their mom would make.

Recipe is below:
Engagement Chicken
Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 whole lemons—including 1 sliced for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch fl at-leaf parsley)
1. Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.
2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fi tted with a rack and pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.
3. Prick 2 whole lemons three times each in three different places with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity. Chicken cavity size may vary, so if one lemon is partly sticking out, that’s fine. (Tip: If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm before pricking to get the juices flowing.)
4. Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
5. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast- side up. Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh, and return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Continue roasting if necessary. Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary; roasting a chicken at 350°F takes approximately 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.
6. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. And here’s the secret: Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken— this is the “marry me juice.” Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

Here is how it ended up - super juicy but not much to look at because I didn't want to spend $10 on garnishes. But Hyatt said it was delicious :)

That's a lemon sticking out, btw.

Post lemon-removal:

And Hyatt carving the bird :)


Total cost of our meal?
Chicken - $5.32
Green beans - $1.00
Lemons - $2.50
Total cost of meal: $8.82 for two people = $4.41 per person. AND we had leftovers :)

I am not sure how I feel about this domesticated wifey-ness thing I've got going on. Strange.

I hope that you all have a special Easter, wherever you are, and that you take time to remember the real reason for Easter. To celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Best wishes for a blessed holiday.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day is NOT Every Day!


It’s that time of the year again when we all resolve to recycle more, consume fewer non-renewables and to ride our bikes to work. Yes, it’s Earth Day and the media storm leading up to now has been full of “Every day is Earth Day for farmers and ranchers” messages on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. So why aren’t I writing a similar post? Because in fact, every day is NOT Earth Day. Tomorrow won’t be Earth Day, tomorrow is Saturday and I’m going to the zoo to see a koala and Sunday is Easter. Easter and Earth Day don’t share the same date, duh.

The fact of the matter is that every day isn’t Earth Day so why do we pretend that anything is different today? Farmers and ranchers practice environmental conservation every single day of the year so, ipso facto, today is nothing special (except for that it’s Good Friday, that’s very important). Just another day on the ranch (you see where this is going).

Take for example Tom Price, a 6th generation hog farmer in Ohio. Ninety-nine percent of the manure from his farm is combined with yard trimmings, composted and then used for flower beds in neighboring communities. Located near a river, Price says, “We do everything in our power to keep it as clean as possible because that river is drinking water for people south of us. We have a great deal of responsibility to put clean water into that river so that those people drinking water get the cleanest water possible.” Price says that filter strips play a vital role in managing runoff by slowing down the water and filtering out contaminants. Click here to learn more about Price’s hog farm and compost facilities.

Cattle ranchers are working hard to maintain a steady supply of safe, wholesome beef for a growing world while preserving and reducing their impact on the environment. For example, according to research by Washington State University, from 1977 to 2007 beef producers have lowered the carbon footprint generated from producing 1 lb. of beef by 14%. And they’ve done it using 15% less water and 11% fewer fossil fuels. Two words: efficiency and technology. For more facts about beef and sustainability, you can check out BEEF Magazine's resource page.

Finally, EPA studies show that U.S. livestock production accounts for less than 2.4% of total GHG emissions. In fact, EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, on a recent farm tour in Iowa stated that “What I learned is that there is a lot of innovation going on. This innovation is aimed at making their business more efficient and has a benefit for air quality and water quality.” Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture also stated, “The farmers and ranchers we visited with today - and hundreds of thousands like them around the country - are our nation’s first and finest conservationists. They understand better than anyone that you cannot continually take from the land without giving back, and they have taken incredible strides to protect the land they rely on.” The nation’s leaders are sitting up and taking notice of the agriculture industry’s efforts at environmental sustainability.

So while you’re driving around this weekend to visit family during Easter (which makes me extremely jealous of you, btw) remember that Earth Day 2011 was nothing special or extraordinary – it was just another day on the farm for the hundreds of thousands of American farmers and ranchers.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Still No Excuse: Owner of E6 Ranch Steps Up

Yesterday, I posted about the recent release of an undercover video by Mercy For Animals of E6 Ranch in Hart, Texas.  Not much has changed since then - the video is still horrific, I'm still outraged that anyone would treat animals that way and unfortunately the video is still receiving views. However, what has changed is that the ranch's owner, Kirt Espenson, is stepping up and taking the heat for the events that have taken place on his ranch- he isn't passing the buck or blaming the undercover videographer.

Trent Loos, agriculture advocate, public speaker and radio personality, states that it's not fair to condemn someone without knowing the full breadth of the situation. That is also a part of responsible journalism. I agree with that statement and admit that I, like others in the media, may have jumped to conclusions about the integrity of the owner and management of E6.  Loos interviewed Mr. Espenson to get the truth on how he feels about the release of the video and how he plans to remedy the situation. In the interview, which you can listen to here, Mr. Espenson openly takes responsibility for the actions of his employees and states that new employee training is going to be put into place so that every last person is well trained in animal handling and euthanasia in order to ensure that this type of incident never happens again. I don't know Mr. Espenson, but after listening to the interview I truly believe that he is sorry for how the animals were treated and that he will work his butt off to make sure that it never happens again.

As an animal wellbeing scientist, I have little no tolerance for poor animal handling - especially in the euthanasia arena. That goes for the undercover videographer (who is seen in the video using a hammer to euthanize calves) and especially the employees. Euthanasia of the calves in the video was necessary as they had suffered from frostbite which was causing them to lose their limbs however, a hammer does not meet the criteria for humane euthanasia: quick and as painfree as possible.
I truly hope that you will listen to the entire interview because Mr. Espenson also addresses antibiotic use on the ranch, which was brought up in the video.

So - take away from the past two days, the video, the interview and my posts:
-- The treatment in the videos was bad and inexcusable. I truly hope that the employees (and the videographer) are punished. If that means jail, so be it. Like I said, inexcusable.
-- The owner, Espenson, is fully aware of his responsibility on the ranch and to animal wellbeing standards and plans to put new animal care training programs in place.
-- The treatment in the video is not the norm - it is the minority and as such should not be used as a descriptor of an entire industry.
-- If you want to know more about animal care, ranching or farming - let me know and I'll hook you up with a producer near you who would love to show you around the farm.

One last thing -- this is a fact sheet about humane euthanasia of cattle and calves from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. This is something about which all farmers and ranchers should be well educated.  Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be.


I hope that I have been helpful in reporting the news about the video, interview and facts of animal wellbeing and euthanasia. As always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Excuse

I just viewed the recently released undercover video from Mercy For Animals. I'm not going to share the link on here because the video brought me to tears and I am outraged that anyone would treat animals that way. But if you must see it, search 'Mercy For Animals calves' and I'm sure you'll be able to find it.

I can't say that I'm thrilled about undercover video footage - because you never see the thousands of honorable, decent farmers and ranchers who are doing the right thing in terms of animal welfare. But, I truly hope that the employees at the featured farm are punished to the full extent of the law and I must thank MFA for revealing the blatant disregard for animal welfare and complete absence of morals by the management and employees of said farm.

If you want to see how animals are and should be handled, with care, check out these farmers on twitter, Facebook or their blogs.  They all practice humane animal production practices and openly invited visitors to their farms. 

Mike Haley, Haley Farms
Ray-Lin Dairy
Ryan Goodman
Debbie Lyons-Blythe

Please contact them, or me, if you have any questions about animal care or production.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Which Is More Appropriate: Slaughter or Harvest?

Is 'Involuntary Conversion to Protein' PC Enough For You?

In today's animal agriculture society, it's nearly impossible to go a single day without overhearing a conversation, reading a newspaper story or watching a news release about animal welfare.

Let me start off by saying that I don't really care for the term animal welfare because many people tend to confuse it with animals rights - which is wrong. I prefer animal well-being, but that's not what this post is about. Yes, I know you're anxious to find out, but first please familiarize yourself with the definitions below.

Animal rights (animal liberation) - the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings (Taylor, Angus. Animals & Ethics).

Animal welfare - the physical and psychological well-being of animals. The term 'animal welfare' can also mean human concern for an animal's welfare or well-being (Hewson, Caroline J. 2003). I'd like to point out that farmers and ranchers believe in animal welfare/well-being, and do so by providing humane care and supervision to livestock to ensure a safely produced and consumed product. However, very few, if any, farmers and ranchers believe their animals should be afforded the same rights as humans.

Ok - you know the difference now, right? Great. Moving on.
As with all things, the way a person words or speaks a phrase can strongly alter the connotation. For example, in the animal science world, a hot button issue is the harvest vs. slaughter terminology debate. Meaning, when animals are ready to be sent to the packing plant and rendered into savory, delicious meat products, should their death and passage into the afterlife be labeled as with other food sources like corn (harvest) or as what is really occurring (slaughter)?

I recently conducted a survey on Twitter of what is preferred and here are some of the replies I got back.

As you can see the agriculture industry is rather divided on this topic.

Temple Grandin, world renowned animal behaviorist, has said, "We are slaughtering these animals. We are raising them for a purpose," and I have personally had a conversation with Temple where she said, "We harvest crops, not cattle." So, it's safe to say that Temple is pro-'slaughter'.

However, many other agriculturalists prefer 'harvest' because when chatting with a consumer foreign to the agriculture industry, 'harvest' is much friendlier to the ears and conveys a more appealing visual image. I understand their point - harvest doesn't scream the direct killing (i.e. blood) of an animal but subtly allows it to creep into our minds as an afterthought. "Oh, animals are harvested. How nice."

There are also many people who prefer the term process however, regardless of the jargon used to explain what happens to an animal before it becomes the scrumptious main feature of my dinner, it's critical to realize that animal well-being must always be at the forefront of slaughter/harvesting facilities and practices. The terminology doesn't matter if the care isn't present.

I'll save my opinion on this one for another day (or maybe you've already deduced what I prefer); what I'm really interested in is YOUR opinion. Leave a comment and tell your friends, what do you prefer? What do you say in your daily conversations? I'm really anxious to hear what comes from this.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

After-thought: Above, I said Temple is pro-slaughter. She is highly in favor of using the word 'slaughter' but stresses that the practice should be low stress and humane. Just wanted to reiterate that. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do You Have a Ph.B. in Baconology?

Are you a bacon lover? I sure am and boy, do I miss American bacon. It's just not the same over here in the land down under but, I digress.

This evening, I was catching up on some reading and saw a post on www.meatingplace.com about the Android phone market coming out with a new application...... FOR BACON!
In the new app, Baconnection, (which has already been launched and can be downloaded for a mere $0.99 - can you say 'bargain'?) users will be able to peruse bacon facts, play a bacon game (where they will earn “bacon badges”) and download recipes.
Reader's Digest Association, the company responsible for the amazing new app, noted that "players will aim to connect ordinary ingredients to bacon recipes in 6 steps or less, earning Bacon Badges along the way, such as Super Swine, Porker, Swinestein, Piglette and Boss Hog. With Bacon Bits Trivia, players can become Baconnoisseurs or earn a Ph.B. in Baconology."

Holy crap. I can't wait to get back to the states and get a Droid. Please, if you download this, message me and let me know how utterly epic it is.

Oh, iPhone users, it will be available to you soon. But not soon enough.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alaska. Rocks.

For many reasons, this being one of them:


but also because Alaskan Congressman Don Young (R) recently refused an award from HSUS. Rep. Young said, "HSUS are hypocrites, plain and simple, and I will not join them by accepting this award." It cannot be said any better than that. To read the entire press release - click HERE!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~ 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Buzzard's Got a Brand New Bag!

Well not literally, even though I'd love to have this one.

 but alas, I don't make enough to afford the strap on that thing.

Anyway, my James Brown inspired title is referring to the brand spanking new look of Buzzard's Beat. Do you like it? I hope so - the folks over at RV Designs hooked me up with a sweet new header and cleaner, more crisp look - easier to navigate, more eye appealing and check out that mischievous looking buzzard up there! Whooeee!

I've also added some new pages to the blog - look up there underneath the search bar. See those tabs? Those are chock full of information for your reading pleasure - a 101 in 1001 goals list, a books to read list, About Buzzard (in case you want to know more about lil ole me) and a library of agriculture videos for all to see!

So go ahead, look around. You know you want to and if you don't mind, tell your friends.

As always, thanks for reading and I'll catch you on the flipside!

Until next time (probably tomorrow),
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can You Spot the Feedlot Beef Producer?

I am in the midst of compiling a master list of agricultural information and agvocacy videos to be posted on this blog as a separate page so that they're easy to find for anyone who may be looking. This undertaking has entailed many hours of asking fellow agvocates for their favorite videos and conducting a lot of YouTube research on my own.

Today, I saw one titled "Inhumane Feed Lot Beef vs Humane Grass Fed Beef". Sorry, I refuse to provide a link to this video because I think it's a crock of manure- not because I don't believe in grass fed beef (I've been eating a lot of that over here in Australia) but because this is a prime example of what NOT to do to your fellow producer. Last I checked, feedlot beef producers treated their animals humanely and provide the utmost care to the cattle, just like every other cattle producer. Cowboys ride pens every day to check for sick animals, ranch hands practice low stress production methods to avoid alarming and hurting cattle, sick cattle are cared for on an individual basis and feedlot nutritionists formulate rations specifically for the cattle herd's nutritional requirements. All of these feedlot employees treat cattle humanely because it's the right thing to do.

Do me a favor. Look at the photos below and pick out the producer providing the best care.



Did you pick the right one? I sure as hell didn't because I couldn't tell which was which - because it doesn't matter whether the rancher is a grass-fed or grain-fed advocate, as long as the animals are treated well and the end product is safe, wholesome and healthy.

Beef producers are constantly trying to navigate through a gauntlet of challenges: environmental conservation, high commodity prices and animal activist scrutiny add stress to a producer who is always striving to produce a safe, wholesome product for the American consumer. They don't need their colleagues and peers nagging at them also. The beef industry, as with all agriculture entities, needs to stick together for better or worse- grass fed, grain fed, organic, natural and conventional CAN coexist in harmony. Throwing each other under the train isn't going to feed the 6.3 billion people that are currently populating planet Earth.

As is said in the Bible, "Love one another, as I have loved you."

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

PETA's Extreme Agenda

The most recent addition to PETA's crazy list is a Sin Tax on meat. That's right, a sin tax. If you don't believe me, read it for yourself.

PETA puts meat in the same category as alcohol, cigarettes and gasoline - because they allege that meat imposes “health and environment costs from using animals for food." Bologna, I say.

In this blog post, Chery Day, of Day Angus, corrects many of the misconceptions about production agriculture and meat. Cheryl does a great job of refuting PETA's outlandish claims with proven scientific facts.

I hope this PETA nonsense frustrates you as much as it does me.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, April 4, 2011

Local Support

While watching a meat vs. tofu cooking show (meat won) a commercial for Aussie Farmers Direct flashed on screen. Intrigued, I went to their website and checked it out.

The program offers free delivery services for fresh Australian food products such as milk, fruits, veggies, meat and bread. Customers obviously must pay for the food but the delivery charge is free. Prices are comparable to grocery store prices but are a bit more expensive than going to the local market.


For customers who desire to have fresh food straight from the farm, this is a great option.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

photo courtesy of http://www.aussiefarmersdirect.com.au/