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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Falling in Love with the Australian Outback



The beauty of the Australian outback has become excessively addictive.


Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guest Post: Kevin Pearia, USDA Loans

Hello blogosphere - today may be the first of many guest posts on Buzzard's Beat. Ya'll might enjoy what other people have to say way more than what I write so..... we'll see.

Today's post is brought to you by Kevin Pearia of USDAloans.com. If you have questions about this post, please feel free to contact me and I'll hook you up with Kevin's contact info.

Financially Responsible Way to Obtain/Refinance the Farm Life                 Once exclusively available to low-income farmers, USDA loans help even moderate-income farmers finance a home. Despite the fact that non-farmers may be eligible for USDA loans, the program remains a popular choice for livestock farmers. For those looking for a new property where they can also raise livestock in low-stress environments, USDA loans may be a perfect financing option.

                Farmers who raise livestock understand improving the quality of life improves the quality of the product. Farmers should also be able to improve their quality of life with a housing upgrade that won’t cost a fortune. That’s where USDA loans come into play.

                As part of the Rural Development Program, USDA loans lessen the financial burden of purchasing a home. When farmers choose to finance through a USDA loan, they save money they can funnel into their livestock operation.

                One way USDA loans reduce the fiscal stress of home buying is by eliminating the down payment. It’s rare to find a financing option with this perk, but USDA loans flaunt it. In turn, it allows farmers to save tens of thousands of dollars right off the bat. On top of that initial savings is the possibility of getting the seller to cover some of the closing costs. Alternatively, it’s possible to include legal fees, closing costs and the guarantee fee in the loan.

                The funding fee for USDA loans is a miniscule 2 percent. When the fee is included in the loan, USDA loan borrowers may have a loan worth 102 percent of the home’s value. Regardless of the loan’s size, it comes with fixed interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI) for as long as 38 years.

                For livestock farmers who love their property but would like to make some improvements, USDA loans can still help. Construction, repairs, renovations, purchases and refinances may be eligible for USDA loans.

                These loans can only be used in eligible areas per the USDA’s requirements. Basically, areas that may be
eligible are in the open country or towns, cities or villages with fewer than 25,000 people. The latter areas must also be without sufficient credit for mortgages to low- and middle-income families, and be outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area. Chances are good that farmers running a low-stress livestock operation are within these limitations.

                However, there are financial requirements too. The USDA requires borrowers to have an income that is no greater than 115 percent of the area’s median income. Per the size of the family, the property to be purchased must be reasonably sized and the family’s current housing has to be inadequate. The USDA determines such factors.
                USDA-approved lenders also like to see:
                -credit scores of at least 620;
                -debt-to-income ratios no higher than 41 percent;
                -and PITI (principle, interest, taxes, insurance)-to-income ratios no higher than 29 percent.

Thanks to Kevin for being my guest blogger for the week!
Until next time,
~Buzzard ~

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday from Down Under

These guys (and girls)



...get to live here. Gorgeous, huh?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, July 11, 2011

MFA - Report Animal Cruelty ASAP not ASACP


ASACP meaning - as soon as conveniently possible.

Yet another animal cruelty video has been released by Mercy For Animals (MFA). Again, I am outraged at the treatment of the pigs in this video and there is absolutely no excuse for this type of treatment. I feel the need to draw attention to some key points that need to be made.

1 - This is NOT how all farm animals are treated. Unfortunately, one bad apple provides a horrible example for the rest of the industry. Videographers don't focus on well run farms - they prey on farms such as the one featured in the video.
2 - Farmers and ranchers have a vested interest in the health and wellbeing of their animals. Producing a safe, healthy product in a humane fashion with low-stress practices is the number one priority.
3 - I find it extrememly frustrating that this footage has been sitting around for at least three weeks before being released this week. How do I know this? A 'Note' that was posted on Facebook about three weeks ago clued me in that something was going to be released soon (the note has since been taken down and I will not reveal it's source/author).

If videographers find animal cruelty - they should report it immediately. Not when it is convenient to their timeline or fundraising efforts. How many animals continued to be abused between the time the footage was collected and the day the video was released? The animal cruelty is abominable but standing by and doing nothing, and allowing that type of treatment to continue is just as abominable.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Again - I in no way condone animal cruelty and I am appalled at the images in the video, however, I feel that the videographers, undercover or not, should have reported the cruelty much more quickly than seen in this case.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

image from here

Friday, July 8, 2011

HSUS and United Egg Producers are Uniting


If you thought you smelled ballot initiatives in the air - you were right. The United Egg Producers and HSUS have decided to work together to achieve, through a federal legislative initiative, the following objectives:

-- Require a moratorium at the end of 2011 on new construction of unenrichable battery cages -- small, cramped, cages that nearly immobilize more than 90 percent of laying hens today -- and the nationwide elimination of barren battery cages through a phase-out period;
-- Require phased in construction of new hen housing systems that provide hens nearly double the amount of space they’re currently provided;
-- Require environmental enrichments so birds can engage in important natural behaviors currently denied to them in barren cages, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas;

-- Mandate labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, such as "eggs from caged hens" or "eggs from cage-free hens";

 -- Prohibit forced molting through starvation -- an inhumane practice that is inflicted on tens of millions of hens each year and which involves withholding all food from birds for up to two weeks in order to manipulate the laying cycle;

-- Prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses -- a common problem in the industry that is harmful to both hens and egg industry workers;

-- Require standards for euthanasia of hens; and

-- Prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these above requirements.
If passed, this legislation would be the the first federal law relating to on-farm treatment of any farm animal. If you'd like to read more about this potentially devastating legislation click here and here.

My 2¢: I am 100% for humane treatment of farm animals however, I believe that hens raised in battery cages can have just as good or better welfare than those who live in cage-free environments. Additionally, labeling a product 'cage-free' does not necessarily convey excellent well-being but rather just indicates how the animal was raised. A wide sweeping federal law is also not going to cure every so-called 'problem' associated with battery cages. Remember the backlash and consequences that occurred after horse slaughter was banned?

What are your thoughts?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

image from here

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

National Fried Chicken Day!

I love love love fried chicken - I can prove this. Go to my Facebook or Twitter profile and read the 'about me' section. Fried chicken is mentioned - twice.

This food is so great, it deserves a post of its own. I make mine the old fashioned way, just like Grandma Buzzard does - dip it in egg, flour and spices then fry in a cast iron skillet. Yum! Serve it up with mashed taters, gravy and a glass of ice cold milk and you've got yourself a meal! I made some just the other night because I was having a huge craving.


What's your favorite fried chicken recipe? Share in the comments section, please. I'd love to try out some new recipes!


p.s. - UPDATE: I love fried chicken so much, we served it as the meal at our rehearsal dinner. Hubsy didn't have any say in that!
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

image from here

Friday, July 1, 2011

Vegetarian Lifestyle Doesn't Always Mean Healthy


I like to read the headlines on Yahoo!....a lot.  That's where I find a lot of my fun nutrition and health facts. Recently, I found this gem: 10 Diet and Exercise Myths That Pack on Pounds. Guess what #8 is? “Myth: Becoming a vegetarian will help me drop a size.”

Thaaaat's right - ceasing meat consumption does not make one automatically lose weight. Why? Many vegetarians substitute cheese and dairy to get their protein, which also provides the daily requirement for calcium, however, dairy products generally have more fat than lean meat. That alone can work against one's weight loss goals significantly.

I've pasted some key elements of the article below:

Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet, explains common vegetarian beginners’ mistakes that may cause weight gain. Vegetarian “types” to avoid becoming:


  • Cheese-aholic vegetarians: They cut out meat from their diets and turn to cheese as a protein source. But cheese is a high-calorie, high-fat food and should be eaten in moderation.




  • Faux-meat fixators: All they eat is boxes of frozen faux meats, such as soy chicken nuggets, vegetarian sausage links, and veggie bacon strips. These products are okay once in a while, but they are heavily processed and can have a lot of sodium, resulting in bloating and water retention.




  • No-veggie vegetarians: A lot of vegetarians don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. They eat only grains, beans and veggie burgers, all of which can be high in calories.




  • Same-meal-minus-the-meat vegetarians: These people eat the same meals they did before, but without the meat. If they’re not replacing the protein, they’ll probably have a ferocious appetite and may be missing out on essential nutrients.




  • “Vegetarian” food label fans: These people find any recipe or packaging that contains the word “vegetarian” or “meatless” and then overeat that food. They often wind up taking in too much junk food. Be aware that the word “vegetarian” is not synonymous with“healthy” or “low calorie.”



  • Blatner recommends replacing meat with beans in recipes for an easy, healthy—and inexpensive—protein source. She advises new vegetarians—and those who want to dabble in a vegetarian diet—to start having fun with vegetarian recipes. “Find ones you like that you’re going to keep eating. Enjoy the journey of it.”

    So if weight loss is your goal, don't automatically drop meat and expect to drop pounds as well. Consulting a nutritionist or dietitian is the best way to build a diet program that is best for you.

    Are you a cheeseaholic? Or a meataholic? Vegeholic? What food could you absolutely not live without?

    Until next time,
    ~ Buzzard ~

    **Disclaimer: I have nothing against vegetarians, I have several friends who don't eat meat. However, sometimes the myths that have become associated with giving up meat need to be dispelled.

    Image from here