Thursday, 26 June 2008

I'm off for a few days

Damn it, the weather here is beautiful. Summer, glorious summer. And I have to go off to 'The Shop' as I call it, the world outside my little valley. To Paris, a bit of play, a bit of work, a bit of this, a bit of that. Back on Wednesday.

So please keep your recommendations coming and if you email me, stick with me; I'll be on it on my return.

Brazil seizes cattle to protect rain forest

SÃO PAULO: In an unprecedented move against rogue cattle ranchers in the Amazon, the Brazilian government has seized livestock grazing there illegally.
Officials carted off 3,100 head of cattle that they said were being raised on an ecological reserve in the state of Pará, in an operation intended to serve as a warning to other ranchers grazing an estimated 60,000 head on illegally deforested land in Amazonia, the environment minister, Carlos Minc, said.
"No more being soft," Minc told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Brasília. "Those that don't respect environmental legislation, your cattle are going to become barbecue for Fome Zero," he said, referring to the government's food program for the poor.
Minc said the cattle would be auctioned in two weeks, with the proceeds going to Fome Zero, as well as to health programs for indigenous people and to finance cattle removal operations.
Though Minc announced the strategy Tuesday, the seizure took place June 7 by federal police officers and agents from Ibama, the government environmental agency. The cattle's owner had been fined 3 million reais, or $1.86 million, in 2005 for illegal deforestation and had ignored a court order to remove the livestock.

In the rice basket and bazaars of Iran, they feel the pain

CHALUS, Iran: From the lush paddies of northern Iran to the dusty grain bazaars of Tehran, the pain and paradoxes of rising food and fuel prices are starkly on display.
Rice prices have more than doubled in Iran since March, but farmers working from sunrise to sunset in the rice-growing northern region around Chalus, a city on the Caspian Sea, say little of that money goes into their pockets.
"Traders bought our rice very cheap. They have put it in storage and now capital investors are selling it for a high price," Baqer Kefayati said at his farm in Dasht-e Nesha. "We did not make a profit, but traders did."
Capital investors are wealthy traders who buy rice wholesale from farmers. Dealers buy rice in small amounts from capital investors and sell it to shops. They act as brokers and tend not to make large sums of money.
Some brokers blame the government, saying its tardiness this year in importing rice, a staple in Iran, helped fuel the price increase by creating a vacuum that could be exploited.

U.S. Sugar to sell land to Florida for Everglades renewal

LOXAHATCHEE, Florida: The dream of a restored Everglades, with water flowing from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, has moved a giant step closer to reality after the largest sugar cane producer in the United States agreed to sell all of its assets to Florida and go out of business.
Under the proposed deal, Florida will pay $1.75 billion for U.S. Sugar, which would have six years to continue farming before turning over 187,000 acres, or about 75,500 hectares, north of Everglades National Park, along with two sugar refineries and other assets.
It would be Florida's biggest land acquisition ever, and the magnitude and location of the purchase left environmentalists and state officials giddy.
Even before Governor Charlie Crist arrived to make the announcement against a backdrop of water, grass and birds, dozens of advocates had gathered. After years of battling with U.S. Sugar over water and pollution, many of them said that the prospect of a partnership came as a shock.
The details of the deal, which is scheduled to be completed over the next few months, may define how long the honeymoon lasts. Previous acquisitions took longer to integrate than had been expected initially, and because U.S. Sugar's fields are not all contiguous, complicated land swaps with other businesses may be required.

Biofuels pushing up food prices and poverty, Oxfam says

BRUSSELS: Biofuels are responsible for 30 percent of the increase in global food prices, pushing 30 million people worldwide into poverty, the aid agency Oxfam said in a report Wednesday.
The use of biofuels is soaring as developed countries try to reduce their dependence on imported oil and cut emissions of carbon dioxide, but critics say they have led to a shortage of grain, pushing up commodity prices.
"Rich countries' demands for more biofuels in their transport fuels are causing spiraling production and food inflation," said Rob Bailey, an Oxfam biofuel policy adviser, who wrote the report. "Grain reserves are now at an all-time low."
Oxfam called on rich countries to dismantle subsidies for biofuels and reduce tariffs on imports.
"Rich countries spent up to $15 billion last year supporting biofuels while blocking cheaper Brazilian ethanol, which is far less damaging for global food security," the report said.

New Zealand gives Maori tribes forest in largest-ever settlement

WELLINGTON: Seven indigenous Maori tribes on Wednesday signed New Zealand's largest-ever settlement over grievances arising from the 19th-century seizure of land, forests and fisheries during European settlement of the country.
The 420 million New Zealand dollar, or $317 million, Treelords agreement will transfer ownership of 435,000 acres, or 176,000 hectares, of plantation forest and forest rents from the central government to the central North Island tribes.
Hundreds of Maori, some wearing traditional feather cloaks, thronged the nation's Parliament in Wellington to witness the signing of the agreement. Chants, challenges and conch shell notes rang out during the ceremony; some wiped tears from their eyes during the speeches and signing.
The seven tribes include more than 100,000 people.
"It's a historic journey we are on," Prime Minister Helen Clark told the crowd. "We came into politics to address injustice and seek reconciliation. Thank you for walking that road with us on this historic day."

Just Another Day On The Prairie Recommends

"It's bull season and that means moving cows around, testing bulls and sorting the cows that go with them. I'd recommend Dennis Ranch who is a rancher/saddlemaker/cowboy poet in South Dakota and Thoughts From the Middle of Nowhere who ranches in South Eastern Montana. The rest of my reads Nita has listed. "

"Always try to keep folks happy, even if it means going out of your way to avoid 'em!"

Just Another Day On The Prairie
The diary and musings of an Alberta ranch wife.

I got told off

I got told off for promoting my book on this blog. Sorry if this upsets anyone but it's a nice picture and not a bad book (or so I am told!). Just for the record, this isn't, and isn't going to be, an advertising site.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Field Day Recommends

Field Day is written by Tim Relf, and is a part of the UK magazine Farmers Weekly interactive.

It's a round-up of quirky news from the British countryside, a celebration of everything weird and wonderful in rural areas.

It’s been going for about 18 months and there are often three or four posts a day. Subjects covered include: Food, rural people and personalities, rural life and issues, country sports, arts, charities, humour, and ‘weird world’ stories…

Three of Tim's favourite rural blogs are:

Round the Water Trough

The Longer View

Argentine farmers end road blockade

ROSARIO, Argentina: Country roads and highways swelled with trucks bearing grains and gasoline during the weekend as Argentina's farmers cleared the highways after lifting their fourth strike in three months.
While hope sprang eternal here in Santa Fe Province that food rationing and gasoline shortages would finally ease, the latest chapter in the political drama began playing out in Buenos Aires, where the embattled president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, met with farm leaders late Monday.
Congress was expected to begin a thorny debate this week on an export tax, which touched off the farmers' revolt more than three months ago. In a long-awaited concession, Kirchner, her popularity plummeting in opinion polls, agreed last week to let Congress approve or reject the system of sliding taxes that she imposed on farmers in March.
Yet even if Congress can resolve the export tax dispute, the conflict has already struck a deep blow to Argentina's economy, to its international reputation as a major food supplier and to the psyche of its 40 million people.
"In just 100 days this has become like another country," said Cristian Zaráte, a farmer in Armstrong, a town about an hour from Rosario, Santa Fe's capital. "Whatever happens now, the damage has already been done."

Investors in China seek out fast food

HONG KONG: With the stock market debut this month of the hot-pot restaurant chain Little Sheep, brokers are promoting a new theme for investors hungry for a slice of China's consumer boom: home-grown fast food.
Chinese appetite for on-the-go burgers, fried chicken, pizza and noodles is expected to make fast food a $66 billion industry in China by 2009, up from $51.7 billion last year, according to the research firm Euromonitor.
The Chinese chains Little Sheep, Café de Coral and Fairwood, as well as Ajisen of Japan and the international behemoths KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Burger King, are all catering to growing demand for fast food.
But food prices in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, are soaring, and experts say a lack of pricing power is squeezing firms in a crowded market, where scale is the key to long term success and profitability.
Food costs account for around a quarter of fast-food chains' expenses, analysts say. Adding pressure is an extremely fragmented market where the five largest Chinese companies account for just 3 percent of the market.

After the rains, Australian farmers dare to hope

NARRABRI, Australia: Powerful lights eerily illuminate pitch-black paddocks as farmers sow newly rain-blessed soil with one of Australia's biggest wheat crops.
Rigs as big as houses sow seeds in one of the most fertile parts of Australia's eastern grain belts. Farmers are praying they will beat a seven-year drought to fill silos with grain in a year of high prices.
"It's a nervous optimism," said one farmer Phil Christie near Narrabri, about 500 kilometers, or 300 miles, northwest of Sydney.
Eastern Australia has been hit hardest by the country's worst drought in 100 years, but good rain has fallen recently to allow long-delayed planting to begin. Now farmers are working round the clock to plant, with satellites steering tractors night and day.
"We really need this crop. We've had no crop for two or three years. If this one fails it will take a lot of people down," Christie said. "Everyone's borrowed to the hilt to put this crop in."

Northview Diary Recommends

Northview Diary is a combination of humor, photos and stories of life on our small Holstein and Jersey dairy farm in New York State, USA.

The blog also covers farm and dairy politics and issues, and the author writes a farm related column for a local daily paper.

Her main recommendations for farm blogs are:
John's World
Raising Country Kids
Farm LIfe
MoonMeadow Farm

"I also love Nita's blog and several of the blogs she listed...really any of the farm and ranch blogs I have in my blogroll are favorites of mine."

Visit Northview Diary at

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

More woes in Myanmar: Oxen won't plow

DEDAYE, Myanmar: Rice farmers in cyclone-shattered parts of the Irrawaddy Delta have come up against yet another problem as they try to rebound from the storm - donated oxen and water buffaloes are refusing to work because they are stressed, and planting must be done soon to take advantage of the next crop cycle.
"Thanks to donors and arrangements by the government, we are getting buffaloes and oxen, and in some cases small tractors and tillers, almost free of charge," said Ko Hla Soe, a farmer in Dedaye, 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, southwest of the city of Yangon.
"Now, to our surprise, the problem is that most of the buffaloes and oxen will not work hard. They cannot immediately be used effectively."
Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar on the night of May 2, killed around 200,000 farm animals, 120,000 of which were used by farmers to plow fields in the delta, the country's fertile and economically vital rice-growing area.
The military government and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization have said that replacing the draft animals is an urgent priority in the devastated areas.

Unfortunately for the farmers, who mostly prefer buffaloes to mechanical tillers due to a lack of fuel and its cost, time is not on their side.
"Unless our rice is planted by the end of this month, it will be too late," Soe said. "And even if we get it in on time, we cannot expect as big a crop as before."
The few animals that survived the storm were traumatized and reluctant to work, delta farmers say, and those brought in as replacements are taking a long time to settle in to their new surroundings.
"Animals can get stress too," said Ohn Kyaw, a senior official at the Ministry of Livestock Breeding and Fisheries.
"The change of owners and environment is having a psychological impact on them. They've had to travel for days by sea or by land, and they are bound to suffer from stress," he said, adding that the animals should be able to rebound soon.
The government, he said, had provided 1,971 draft animals and was working on distributing an additional 600 donated by the FAO.

Battle for Land

In West Bank, attack on Arabs is filmed
KHIRBET SUSIYA, West Bank: The conflict between Arabs and Jews over grazing land and water wells in the ancient, arid hills south of Hebron in the West Bank has a distinctly biblical feel, like the flimsy tent encampments and dank caves in which some local Palestinian farming families dwell.But the primeval feud took on a modern twist this month when Muna Nawajaa, one of the two wives of a Palestinian shepherd from Khirbet Susiya, used a hand-held video camera to capture footage of what appeared to be masked Jewish settlers viciously beating members of her family with clubs - images that have since been broadcast by news networks all over the world.Nawajaa, 24, the mother of a four-month-old, said it was the first scene she had ever filmed.Had it not been for the camera - one of about 100 handed out in the West Bank by the Israeli human rights group Btselem to document violent incidents - the assault June 8 might have ended up like many others that have occurred in these parts: unresolved.But the graphic images and ensuing attention by the news media seem to have spurred the Israeli police.
By Friday, the Judea and Samaria branch had arrested three suspects from the nearby Jewish settlement of Susiya after what a police spokesman described as "an intensive investigation." Two of the three were under 18."The only weapon we have is the media," said Khalil Nawajaa, 61, a patriarch of the clan, which raises livestock and teases wheat, grapes and zucchini out of the sun-baked, thistle-spiked earth, while showing his scars.The Nawajaas maintain a proper home in the sprawling town of Yata, a few kilometers away, but they usually prefer to stick close to their land. The encampment has no electricity. Water is drawn from a well, milk is kept in sheepskins, bread is baked in a traditional outdoor stone oven and extra shelter is provided by an underground cave.Sitting on the floor of a tent in the family's encampment in mid-June, Imran Nawajaa, 33, Khalil's nephew, recalled the morning of the attack.He said was out tending a flock with his young sons when two masked settlers rode up on a tractor and ordered him, in Hebrew, to leave."I said, 'This is my land, this is my flock, I'm not going anywhere,"' he related. "They told me, 'If you are a man, stay here for another 10 minutes,' then they left."Imran sent for Muna, who had been taught to use the camera by her brother. She arrived on the scene with Imran's wife, Rabiha, and Khalil and his wife, Tamam.The camera captures four lean men, their heads swathed in colorful cloth, striding toward the farmers, clubs in hand. In the background are the whitewashed, red-roofed houses of the settlement.One masked man strikes Imran with a series of swift, hard blows. There is a fleeting frame of another assailant grappling with Khalil before the camera shuts down.Muna said she partly hid the camera under her scarf while filming from a nearby rise, until she got scared. "I was thinking of my baby. He was alone in the tent. I also ran away to call for help," she said, explaining why the footage ends abruptly after the first blows.Other shepherds helped the dazed and bleeding farmers down to the main road. There they flagged down an Israeli Army jeep, which called for an ambulance, and the videocassette was handed over to the police.Tamam, 60, was taken to an Israeli hospital with a broken cheekbone and a gash on her right hand. Khalil, who received a head wound, and Imran, who said he had briefly lost consciousness, were treated in Hebron.The violence was foreshadowed. Khalil said that a year ago, he tried to shoo settlers' sheep away from his newly planted wheat when two settlers grabbed him and smashed his face with a stone, knocking out a front tooth.Khalil was unable to identify his attackers from any of the photographs in the police files so they closed the case, he said.The south Hebron hills are the scene of constant tension, according to Btselem and the police. The fierce competition for sparse resources is compounded by security fears and deeply conflicting national claims.Ancient Susiya contains the ruins of a synagogue dating from the Roman period, attesting to a long and robust Jewish presence here. Jewish settlers started moving in again after Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 war.In the persistent war over the land, blood has been spilled on both sides. In 2001, at the height of the second Palestinian uprising, Yair Har Sinai, a well-known Jewish shepherd from the settlement of Susiya, was murdered in the Hebron hills.

Obama's energy policy linked to ethanol interests

When VeraSun Energy inaugurated an ethanol-processing plant in Charles City, Iowa, last summer, some of that industry's most prominent boosters showed up. Leaders of the National Corn Growers' Association and the Renewable Fuels Association, for instance, came to help cut the ribbon - and so did Senator Barack Obama.
Then running far behind Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in name recognition and in the polls, Obama was in the midst of a campaign swing through the state where he would eventually register his first caucus victory. And as befits a senator from Illinois, the country's second largest producer of corn, he delivered a ringing endorsement of ethanol as an alternative fuel.
Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.
In the heart of the Corn Belt that August day, Obama argued that embracing ethanol as a substitute for gasoline "ultimately helps our national security, because right now we're sending billions of dollars to some of the most hostile nations on earth."
America's oil dependence, he added, "makes it more difficult for us to shape a foreign policy that is intelligent and is creating security for the long term."

Nowadays, when Obama travels in farm country, he is sometimes accompanied by his friend and surrogate, Tom Daschle. A former Senate majority leader from South Dakota, Daschle serves on the boards of three ethanol companies and works at a Washington law firm where, according to his online job description, "he spends a substantial amount of time providing strategic and policy advice to clients in renewable energy."
Obama's lead adviser on energy and environmental issues, Jason Grumet, came to the campaign from the National Commission on Energy Policy, an initiative associated with Daschle and with Bob Dole, also a former Senate majority leader and big ethanol backer, who had close ties to the agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, or ADM.

Agribusiness companies merge in the United States

NEW YORK: Bunge, a producer of fertilizers and a processor of oilseeds, said Monday that it would buy Corn Products International for $4.4 billion to gain a leading position in the market for finished corn products like starches and sweeteners.
The deal, which unites two of the oldest agricultural businesses in the United States, comes as ethanol production, as well as demand for food in developing economies like India and China, is driving up prices for corn.
The agreement calls for the exchange of one share of Corn Products for a percentage of Bunge shares that will have a value of $56 at the closing of the deal. The offer represents a 31 percent premium to the closing price of Bunge stock on Friday.
Bunge said it expected the transaction to lead to annual savings of $100 million to $120 million. Corn Products shareholders will own about 21 percent of Bunge once the deal closes.

Throwback at Trapper Creek Recommends

I posted recently about Throwback at Trapper Creek where Nita blogs from a diversified farm in Oregon, U.S.A.

Their blog is about their daily farm activities with occasional bits of history comparing earlier innovations on the farm to present day methods. "Mostly trials and tribulations of farm life," she writes.

In the spirit and ethos of [if your blog is listed here and you haven't sent me your farm blog recommendations, why not?! ;)] here are her other blog recommendations, "each unique in their own way" according to Nita.

Just Another Day on the Prairie
Frequent news about cattle ranching with horses on the Canadian prairie. Also contains a listing of agriculture blogs similar to your idea.

Northview Diary
A small family run dairy in New York. United States

Oakhill Organics
An organic vegetable farm in Oregon, United States. Also here is an interesting link about the benefits of grassfed livestock.

Eat Wild
A marketing tool for farmers, and a storehouse of information about the health benefits of grassfed, continuously updated.

City Bees Blog

Toni from City Bees Blog ( started in 2005, the blog a chronicle of the beginning of his beekeeping adventures. It has since become a method to mentor other beekeepers, share stories, and build a community around connecting with nature wherever you are.

Toni lives in a major American city, but has beehives on the roof and at a monastery in town -- as well as a suburban historical site - along with four dogs, a cat, and a fish pond (presumably not on the monastery roof).

Toni isn't entirely sure whether this makes for a farmer "but it would sure be an honor".

Toni mostly follows beekeeper blogs and then theme blogs like "locavore eating" or CSAs. As for recommendations "I have to think about this a bit," Toni writes, but I await with interest: quality not quantity being the watchword of this blog....

Monday, 23 June 2008

Locks Park Farm

Paula runs the Locks Park Farm blog at

She has a small organic farm on the Culm grasslands near Hatherleigh in Devon, England, with sheep and beef cattle. She has been farming in the county for more than 30 years.

A couple of years ago she was approached by the Council for the Protection of Rural England (the CPRE) and asked if she would consider writing a farming blog. At the time she said no.

Having sold her ‘direct’ organic meat retail business she began to rethink the direction the farm should take. The CPRE were still keen for the blog to go ahead; Paula said yes and was born.

She was a "a snow-white blogging virgin… little did I know what I had begun!"

Paula writes: "Farming, food, environment, energy and climate change, and now credit-crunch, are having a huge impact on the way people and governments (hopefully) think. I would like to use the farm to develop a centre of learning and teaching. From purely hands-on practical skills and producing food in the most sustainable and environmentally aware way possible to the more complex issues of carbon footprinting, self-sufficient energy, eco builds and our food security. In other words, our’s, and the planet’s, survival."

I'm hoping to get some farm blog recommendations from Locks Park Farm soon.

Midlife by Farmlight

Jeanelle blogs from a dairy farm in Iowa, USA.:

She posts about the farm and other subjects.

The corn around here is probably the shortest she has ever seen it for this time in June, but it's starting to take off now that the rains have stopped and the sun is shining.

Tomorrow (23 June, 2008) she aims to have a post showing corn rows being cultivated, a rare thing in modern US agriculture.

Throwback at Trapper Creek, Oregon

Nita is blogging about their diversified farm in Oregon, United States.

Her land has been continuously farmed by her family members since its inception in 1881.

Blog Name:

I am hoping to hear soon a few more words about her farm, her blog AND The Trapper Creek recommended farm blogs.

New York prepares for life after trans fats

NEW YORK: Say you are given a choice of two cookies. One is made with butter, the other with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Both have the same amount of calories from fat. Which do you choose?
If you picked the butter cookie, you can keep eating. But the one made with PHVO, as it is known in the trade, is forbidden come July 1, when the final stage of the New York City health department's ban of artificial - but not naturally occurring - trans fat in restaurant food goes into effect.

India's growth outstrips crops

JALANDHAR, India: With the right technology and policies, India could help feed the world. Instead, it can barely feed itself.
India's supply of arable land is second only to that of the United States, its economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, and its industrial innovation is legendary. But when it comes to agriculture, its output lags far behind potential. For some staples, India must turn to already stretched international markets, exacerbating a global food crisis.
It was not supposed to be this way.

Farmfoody.Org: "Food is unimaginably complex."

I've added as a resource link to this blog, at the suggestion of a farm blogger.

Here are a few words about from Steve Knoblock, co-developer and co-founder.

"In a nutshell, provides a social network to independent farms and their customers, who we like to call 'foodys' (after foody in the domain name). We believe this will help independent farmers communicate more easily with their customers as well as allow customers to express their interests in farm food and keep connectedwith local farms. Not only a social network, we try to match up farms with potential customers similar to dating services by using tags and keywords. Locality plays an important role, since we provide maps to customers of their favorite farms and locality search. We wanted to created an interactive service for farms and customers, not a static catalog."

I like farmfoody's quote too: "Food is unimaginably complex." -- Michael Pollan

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Worst seen over for U.S. Midwest floods

EAST ST. LOUIS, Illinois: The worst Midwest flooding in 15 years eased on Saturday after the swollen Mississippi River crested in St. Louis, but the toll was still rising as billions of dollars in damage to crops, communities and infrastructure were assessed.
Emergency workers at river levees and floodwalls feared more rain could swell river levels again and complicate recovery efforts. But the skies remained mostly clear and thousands of relief workers could finally exhale.
"It really is looking positive. The weather has cooperated and that's made a difference," said Maggie Carson, a spokeswoman for Illinois Emergency Management in Alton, Illinois, a few miles north of St. Louis.
Thunderstorms seen for the northern Midwest in the next few days were expected to be scattered and pose no new threat.
The flooding and storms blamed for 24 deaths since late May have caused billions of dollars in damage to the heart of the U.S. grain belt, pushing corn and other food commodity prices to record highs and feeding fears of higher world food prices.

South Korea and U.S. reach deal on beef imports

SEOUL, South Korea: More than 10,000 people rallied in central Seoul on Saturday night to protest beef imports from the United States, despite an announcement hours earlier that Seoul and Washington had agreed to restrict the shipments to allay South Koreans' concerns about mad cow disease.
Although the protest was smaller than a June 10 rally that drew at least 100,000 people, it indicated that President Lee Myung-bak had a long way to go before regaining public confidence.
American trade envoys agreed to restrict beef exports to cattle less than 30 months old, officials said earlier in the day. Younger cattle are considered to pose less risk of mad cow disease, a fatal brain illness that is sometimes transmitted to humans.
Until Seoul banned imports in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was detected in the United States, South Korea was the third largest overseas market for American beef, with imports totaling $800 million a year.

Church View Farm Recommends

OK, here are the farm blog recommendations from Church View Farm :

Ask Jackie
Practical advice from a writer for Backwoods Home magazine, life in rural Minnesota
The Baalands
Good info about raising Katahdin Sheep, Clear Spring, MD (IW: and a lot of non farming stuff)
Bedlam Farm Journal
A great writer, Jon Katz, about my age, nice photos (IW: linked)
City Bees Blog
Raising Honeybees in Metro DC
Dave Duffy Blogging
Editor of Backwoods Home magazine
Edible Nation
Connecting people with local foods
Farm Foody
Connecting Virginians with local foods (IW: you need to be a logged in member; not my thing.)
Farmgirl Fare
Missouri, great cook.nice photos
(IW: already on the link list)
Clusterf**k Nation
James Kunstler, outrage about the path the US is on, a warning to make a better future before its too late (IW: not sure this falls into my definition of a 'farm blog', but no doubt interesting stuff)
Plamadon, View from the Farm,
Practical poultry raising
Survival Blog
Dedicated, Strident and maybe just a bit scary in their pronouncements of being prepared (IW: Steve, I'm hearing you, but is about blogs about farming, not about the relative merits of a Glock over a Colt.)
Deliberate Agrarian
Herrick Kimball. Also in NY, family values, Christian agrarian

His list brings to mind a few thoughts.

Any non-farm specific blogs (e.g Edible Nation) will be linked under a general resources list.

Any non-farming specific blogs I'll have to take a view on.

As they say here in the Auvergne, 'Everybody their shit, God for everyone' which I think means everyone has their own opinions and problems but I'm not sure I want to make this blog 'political' or 'religous' with a capital P or R (tempting as it might be.)

From a quick look through the blogs we've got anarchists, libertarians, survivalists, leftists, Democrats, Republicans, 'rightists', Christians, Buddhists, omnivores, carnivores, vegetarians, Yankees, mountain folk, wool spinners, artists, writers and I don't know what else, but all united in a love of the earth, farming, and a general vibe of peace and love, so let's keep it at that.

Not that I'm against survivalists, part-time homesteaders or anybody who isn't a fully-fledged farmer, but generally I am trying to focus on farmers' blogs. I think. But as I always say, I reserve the right to change my mind.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

EU to look at how biofuels affect food output

BRUSSELS, Belgium: European Union leaders planned Friday to call for study on how Europe's use of more biofuels might affect global food production.
Food crops such as wheat are being increasingly used to make biofuels as Europe and the United States turn to cleaner transport fuel to cut greenhouse gas emissions and their growing dependence on imported oil. But this trend has helped bread and tortilla prices soar around the world.
The EU's 27 nations said in a draft statement they will approve Friday that they needed to assess "the environmental and social consequences of the production and consumption of biofuels both within the Union and outside." The draft was obtained by The Associated Press.
"There is also a need to rapidly assess possible impacts on agricultural products for food and to take action, if necessary, to address shortcomings," they said.

Some of the early reporting by MSM on biofuels reminded me of Judith Millar of the NYT's reporting of Saddam Hussein's WMD.

It's worth considering that this decision by the EU 'to rapidly assess possible impacts' comes after MONTHS, if not years of studies and deliberations to set EU-wide biofuel targets. It does make one wonder.

Sugar Creek Farm

Betty ( saw my comment on FarmgirlFare, then found me.

She's not a farmer, but enjoys the blogs; despairs at the state of our farming industry.

Her recommendation is Sugar Creek Farm at

Thanks Betty Western.

P.S Betty says I should put my book up for sale on this blog. Signed copies available if you write to me at info AT, but more importantly, keep your farm blog recommendations coming. Thanks.

Church View Farm

Church View Farm is a new recommendation for today.

They are in the Potomac highlands of West Virginia.

You can find them at

"Farming sustainably and battling the entrenched industrial food system," is their battle cry and, they add, "we will prevail".

Here's some more info about them:

Steven and Ruth Martin
Church View Farm, Three Churches, WV
Web site:
Product List:
Romney Farmers Market:
Local Foods:
Local Lamb:
Phone: 304.822.3878
Fax: 888.240.5448

For farm updates, news and announcements please subscribe with your email address at their Blog.

The Bedlam Farm Journal

The Bedlam Farm Journal has been recommended to me by more than one farm blogger.

Here are a few words about this blog ( from its creator and author, Jon Katz:

The Bedlam Farm Journal was inspired by old farm journals I collect from farms in the area. I thought a farm blog in the style of a farm journal might be useful, not only in my writing life, but to people interested in farms. So when I started taking photos, it really started to draw people, and I love doing it. I have 110 acres in upstate New York, and live in an 1861 -year-old farmhouse with four barns around and two steers, a cow, three dogs, three goats, two roosters, some chickens, four donkeys and 28 Tunis sheep. The place is really run by my border collie Rose.

Jon is also a published author, considerably more prolific than myself it must be said. Here's what's out there:

Izzy and Lenore: Two dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me (October, 2008, Villard)
Dog Days (Villard)
A Good Dog (Villard)
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm (Villard)
A Dog Year (Villard)
Running to the Mountain (Villard)

You can also buy his photos:

I have asked Jon for a few farm blog recommendations but he reports that he's sorry to say he doesn't really read other farm blogs much, although he will be checking into from time to time. If he comes across any he likes he will be passing them along to me, browsing time permiting.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Stony Brook Farm Recommends

Hello Ian,

Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog and add a link to it on your own. I really like the idea behind your blog. Like you, I enjoy reading farm blogs, but have found them difficult to find, and when I do find them, I often forget to bookmark them or subscribe to them, so I either forget about them or can't ever find them again.

I am an inveterate writer. I have tried for years to give it up for various reasons, but invariably, I find myself tapping away. The thing that I am most interested in right now is the farm, so I decided to start a farm blog about a month ago. So far it is going reasonably well. The focus of the blog is the practical day-to-day aspects of the farm, which is a diversified, pasture-based livestock farm, and any relevant (or occasionally not so relevant) social, political, cultural, philosophical, etc. concerns.

These are a few of my favorite farm blogs:

Farmbedded (USA) -- -- Jared is an intern at the Howell Living History Farm. I don't know how long he will be there and blogging about it, but his posts are well written and interesting.

Sugar Mountain Farm (USA) -- -- Walter is a Vermont pastured pig farmer - his blog is full of insights on raising pigs on pasture.

Musings from a Stonehead (UK, Scotland)-- -- Stonehead's croft-related posts are excellent. His youngest son takes excellent photos.

Bedlam Farm Journal (USA) -- -- I was pointed to this blog just the other day, and I can't remember by whom/what. It has excellent pictures.

The Dairy Princess Diaries (USA) -- -- Mandy, a farmstead cheesemaker, was the first person to leave a comment on my blog. She posts a few times per month.

Thank you again for conceiving of and taking on this project.

Best regards,

Bob Comis

Stony Brook Farm
Pastured pork and chicken; Eggs from pastured hens; Grassfed lamb and goat
Schoharie, NY518-295-6065

Black Ram Farm Recommends

Hi again,
I told you I was a little slow and that I confuse easily. I did check out the farm blog and have linked it to my site. Great idea and thank you for doing it.
There is a german blog I like it very much and noticed that you don't have a german blog. she writes in German and English AND she raises black sheep.

Black Ram Farm

Turtle Rock Farm

Hi Ian,
Thanks for being in touch!
And thanks for linking our blog to yours.
Turtle Rock Farm is a 100-year-old wheat and cattle farm in north central Oklahoma. Still operating as such.
Also, my sister and I have started a retreat center here.
So our blog covers both areas - farming, especially, as it relates to sustainability.It's a good thing to make a farm blog, though we'll have to teach farmers around here how to use them!

Pat Hoerth
Turtle Rock Farm: A Center for Sustainability, Spirituality and Healing
6201 CR 90, Red Rock, OK 74651

Some farmers devastated by flooding; others brace for what might come

CANTON, Missouri: Looking out from the highest hill in this town, it suddenly seemed that there were two rivers: the Mississippi, of course, and now a new river, a nameless renegade that had appeared out of nowhere on Wednesday when the Mississippi's waters broke over a levee near the tiny hamlet of Meyer, Illinois, and surged over tens of thousands of acres of farm fields.The runaway river was gruesome news for the farmers and the residents — about 100, the authorities said — near Meyer and in other towns near where more than 20 levees have overflowed so far, creating their own bodies of water during this week's flooding along the upper Mississippi. Around Meyer, part of a region of endless fields of soybeans, corn and cattle, state conservation police officers rode door to door in boats to ensure that everyone had left, and flew over in a helicopter, scanning for anyone stranded.So it went all along the Mississippi on Wednesday, through Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, north of St. Louis: People marching along levees and flood walls, scanning for the slightest puddle or hint of pressure in the sand, waiting for what might come. In Quincy, Illinois, local officials raced to reinforce a levee they were worried about south of town; at stake were 100,000 acres of farmland and access to the Mark Twain Bridge. And federal authorities said they were closely monitoring more than 20 other levees they view as vulnerable, as the waters continue to rise downstream in the coming days.Around Meyer, farmers were devastated. "That's all been lost, and it's not going to be replanted this season," said Gerald Jenkins, general manager of Ursa Farmers Cooperative, not far from Meyer. One of the cooperative's grain elevators, in Meyer, was swamped, Jenkins said, another at risk.Worse, Jenkins said he feared that so many fields under water would mean not much grain for the cooperative to sell come the fall harvest. "It's a very sickening feeling," he said.

World Bank says fishing will return to the Aral Sea

ALMATY, Kazakhstan: The people of the Aral Sea region, site of one the world's worst ecological disasters, may soon see their economy revitalized and large-scale fishing and farming return, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Thursday.After decades of shrinking, the northern section of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan has started to fill up and fish stocks have soared as a result of a dam-building project, giving hope of revival in the region.
"As poor people around the world struggle to keep food on their tables in the face of rising prices, it is gratifying to see that Kazakhstan has found a way to give back fishermen and their families their way of life on the Northern Aral Sea," Zoellick said.

Growing populations and income levels coupled with poor coordination of water management among Central Asian states have strained water supplies. Almost all countries in the region have been severely affected this year by water shortages, which have ruined vast areas of crops and forced up prices of staple foods.Zoellick said the renewed health of the Aral Sea suggested Kazakhstan may be saved from the threat of shortages in the next few years.
"The return of the Northern Aral Sea shows that man-made disasters can be at least partly reversed, and that food production depends on the sound management of scarce water resources and the environment," he said.

Cocoa prices at over 20-year high

LONDON/NEW YORK: Cocoa prices surged to their highest level in over 20 years on Wednesday, adding extra pressure to global food prices, after reports of a possible supply squeeze in the world's top grower, Ivory Coast.
A report by independent analyst Hans Kilian, seen as bullish on Ivorian supplies, was the initial trigger for a fund and investor-driven surge in U.S. futures to a 28-year high of $3,122 a tonne.
In London, benchmark second-month cocoa futures hit a 22-year peak of 1,682 pounds a tonne, before closing at 1,658 pounds, up 33 in brisk volume of 5,641 lots.
Analysts said cocoa prices could rise further due to robust global demand and a tight supply outlook.
"We haven't been at these nose-bleed prices in years," said Ralph Preston, futures analyst with in San Diego. "Especially with that fundamental news coming out, that's going to really light a fire under this."

Yes, we will have no bananas

FIRST OIL, NOW BANANASYes, we will have no bananas
Dan Koeppel is the author of "Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World."

Once you become accustomed to gas at $4 a gallon, brace yourself for the next shocking retail threshold: bananas reaching $1 a pound. At that price, Americans may stop thinking of bananas as a cheap staple, and then a strategy that has served the big banana companies for more than a century - enabling them to turn an exotic, tropical fruit into an everyday favorite - will begin to unravel.The immediate reasons for the price increase are the rising cost of oil and reduced supply caused by floods in Ecuador, the world's biggest banana exporter. But something larger is going on that will affect prices for years to come.That bananas have long been the cheapest fruit at the grocery store is astonishing. They're grown thousands of miles away, they must be transported in cooled containers and even then they survive no more than two weeks after they're cut off the tree. Apples, in contrast, are typically grown within a few hundred miles of the store and keep for months in a basket out in the garage. Yet apples traditionally have cost at least twice as much per pound as bananas.Americans eat as many bananas as apples and oranges combined, which is especially amazing when you consider that not so long ago, bananas were virtually unknown here.

Rains bring hope to Australian wheat farmers

NARRABRI, Australia: Wheat farmers in Australia, one of the world's biggest exporters of the grain, raced this week to plant their fields, gambling that recent rain would lead to one of the best crops on record and put an end to seven hard years of drought.
In one of the biggest Australian grain belts in New South Wales State, wheat farmers struggling with years of losses were once again ploughing and sowing their fields around the clock, encouraged by a few weeks of steady rain and forecasts for a rebounding harvest.
"It was fantastic rain," said Ron Greentree, the biggest individual grower in Australia, whose workers were busily sowing about 80,000 hectares, or 198,000 acres.
"Everyone around here is working 24 hours, now we've got the rains," he said as he walked through one of his fields. "We have waited a long time for this rain. We are 70 percent done. Hopefully we will finish in the next 10 days."

A professor's food revolution starts with rice

ITHACA, New York: Many a professor dreams of revolution. But Norman Uphoff, working in a leafy corner of the Cornell University campus, is leading an inconspicuous one centered on solving the global food crisis. The secret, he says, is a new way of growing rice.Rejecting old customs as well as the modern reliance on genetic engineering, Uphoff, 67, an emeritus professor of government and international agriculture with a trim white beard and a tidy office, advocates a management revolt.Harvests typically double, he says, if farmers plant early, give seedlings more room to grow and stop flooding fields. That cuts water and seed costs while promoting root and leaf growth.The method, called the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI, emphasizes the quality of individual plants over the quantity. It applies a less-is-more ethic to rice cultivation.

In modern China, farmers cash in on their land

HAINING, China: Tales of protests by angry peasants whose land has been seized for a pittance by unscrupulous officials are commonplace in China.
But even as concern grows about the disappearance of arable land to feed 1.3 billion people, less noticed is the eagerness of other farmers, often in richer parts of China, to cash in their land and say goodbye to back-breaking toil in the fields.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Black Ram Farm

Good Morning Ian,
Thank you for checking out my blog and leaving a message. I appreciate new readers. What a nice compliment about my blog, especially from someone who actually writes for a living. I would like a copy of your book, but autographed. ( I have a small collection of books that are autographed by the author and would like to add yours.) Would you consider a barter? A signed book for a hat I have spun and knit? I would just need you to measure your noggin so that it would fit. We each would absorb the cost of the postage. best, Alex

Well, Alex's hats look great, so that's a yes!

The Skoog Farm Journal

If you haven't been to Brockport, New York, now's your chance via The Skoog Farm Journal (see

Skoog Farm is located in Brockport, New York, a town of under 15,000 people. They have 6 horses, 2 dogs and 1 cat and grow organic vegetables, particularly German White Garlic.

Their house was built in 1853 and sits on a little over 5 acres.

There are two big gambrel roofed barns, a cabin and an indoor riding arena, built just 14 years ago.

At the moment, they have rhubarb, strawberries and spinach that they have been eating for the past couple of weeks.

They are very involved with our community as volunteers at the Senior Center, the Welcome Center (which is on the Erie Canal), the historical society and several other organizations.

They sell seed garlic and tend to give their other vegetables to several local families.

Through the Skoog Farm Journal, they have received comments from all over the world (and will hopefully be referring those visitors to!)

Lori is a big fan of Jon Katz and the Bedlam Farm (along with everything that goes on there).

If you want to know more about Lori and what goes on at Skoog Farm, click on the link to the Picasa web albums that is also below. Art Walks On Water is a big project Lori is working on and remarkably ambitious.

The Skoog Farm Journal

Art Walks On Water

Picasa Web Albums

Skoog Farm Website

About 'Farm Blogs from Around the World'

I have no idea how many farmers' blogs there are out there - a lot I imagine - and as I like reading them, I thought it would be fun - and useful - to gather them in one place.

So, the purpose of this blog is very simple: to gather in one place links to farmers blogs from around the world.

Which is where you come in......

If you write a farm blog, and would like to say a few words about your farm and your blog, please write to me at info AT MOST importantly, please give me your recommended farm blogs and a sentence on each, so that I can link to them, contact them, and so it goes on....

If there are any books you would like to recommend, or online resources, then again, please email me and I will build this blog resource up from there.

This is an ambitious project, simply because of its scale. No doubt it will grow organically, but it's going to need the help of all the farm bloggers out there to make it work.

Initially, I will be providing link lists simply by country, but over time, I hope to fine tune this to include more precise locations within individial countries, and crucially, sort by type of farm.

I look forward to hearing from you.