LJR Enterprises

Our homestead, Our links

Month: April, 2006


by Scott Smith

From Wired Magazine

“First announced in 2004, the National Animal Identification System, or NAIS, is meant to allow regulators to track infected livestock on two million locations in the United States within 48 hours of an outbreak.”

Again, that would be within 48 hours of the discovery of an outbreak. The USDA is continually cutting back the number of animals it tests so is this really going to help anyone? I mean, other than the companies making the equipment that will be needed for people to comply with this program… obviously.


Morning Duties

by Scott Smith

My present job, IT Director (please snicker), I no longer have much in the way of a morning routine. I check computer log files and make sure a couple of processes worked. I miss the morning processes that have been automated over the years. I think of this because I have set duties on the farm: feed and water the chickens, dogs and cats. I make the coffee and more often than not breakfast. I have a purpose. There is no ‘What’s next?’ until Meg gets her post breakfast walk around the pasture.
No doubt others may see these jobs as annoying or confining, confining in the sense they must be done. The restrictive nature of these jobs makes them pleasant and welcomed (also, George, the black and white cat, will gnaw off my right big toe if I don’t feed him wet food by 6am). Restrictions or rules allow for more creativity — see Shakespare and Keats.
Some times limitations allows for more freedom and joy. www.37signals.com has a blog targeting web designers and developers — they produce web applications. They preach the less is more approach to development. They are not only speaking of design but in business approaches as well. Do more with less money. Do more with fewer people. Unlimited amounts of money and people does not guarantee success. The White Sox won the 2005 World Series with a payroll much smaller than the Yankee’s. Microsoft hasn’t shipped the update to XP but Linux and the BSD operating systems (Open Source; i.e., free) have had numerous upgrades in the five or six years since XP debuted.

So I sit on the firm’s back stoop pondering what’s next and wishing I was leading Meg around the pasture. And as I walk her, I’ll watch the chickens peck around the barn and watch with amazement how much they’ve grown in a couple of months. And as I walk her, I will take note of the length of the grass, and decide whether or not to start mowing (that’s mowing almost four acres with a garden tractor with a 42″ deck — talk about your limitations). And as I walk her, I will imagine our first pasture fenced and holding goats and a couple of horses.

New animals, new duties.


by Scott Smith


I am sad to report that this is not our Kubota, but happy to report that because this Kubota and it’s owner paid us a visit today, I now have a HUGE garden area. Oh the things I could accomplish if I only owned a Kubota. Sigh…

Before & After

by Scott Smith


The image above is from the fall of 2005.


Here I am on April 20, 2006 surveying my fine hog panel installation.

Mephitis mephitis

by Scott Smith

Last night Jack met the local wildlife. When I took him out for his “quick pee” walk he took off down the hill and met up with a skunk. I knew by the time I was within fifty feet of him that he’d been sprayed. The odor removal trick that worked for us was a lot of dish soap (the skunk spray is an oil and the dishwashing liquid cuts oils) and a vinegar and water rinse (I read that Massengill is a popular method for getting rid of the odor and I figured vinegar and water is the same thing, cheaper and happened to be available). I would have taken pictures but he was so pathetic I didn’t want to add insult to injury.

Free At Last!

by Scott Smith

The chickens have gotten to be out of the coop now for two days. Nights of course are always spent under lock and key. They are excellent foragers but any commotion at all sends them running for cover. Of course, if you are a little sparrow, watch out. These girls don’t take kindly to uninvited guests!

Jack checks out the chicken coop while a chicken checks out Jack.
Here is Jack checking out the chicken coop while a chicken is checking out Jack.

Workin’ hard

by Scott Smith

Robinson had me working hard on Wednesday and Sunday. An old office worker like me shouldn’t be raking and moving heavy concrete and cut logs. Oh, the logs.

The power company outsources tree trimming. These guys are yahoos. While walking Meg, I heard them cheering and grunting like half-naked-painted-football-fans in December. Our property fronts Kellogg School Road and Hickory Corners Road. The portion that juts out, fronting Hickory Corners Road, has an abandon barn (partially on our property) and what’s left from a burned-out house.

The tree trimmer yahoos decided to work the tree-line separating my property from the abandoned lot. They chewed-up a dozen trees for a day and a half. Most of it unnecessary: why would a power line going to an abandon house be hot?

Fine except for the large amount of tree detritus and the logs. Some of these logs are not movable by Michigan’s offensive and defensive lines. I loaded my little cart and made several hauls to the other side of the property. This, will take a few weeks.

Most of the day Laura and I cleared several years worth of leaves from our front yard. It looks much better. She also mowed about an acre today (note to self: change oil in garden tractor), and trimmed and cut down small bushes and trees.

We are taking back the land one small chunk at a time.


by Scott Smith

I’ve been trying for sometime now to understand the USDA’s NAIS (National Animal Identification System) program. There seem to be a lot of holes in their logic to me and I don’t think that its really been thought through.

Here’s a puzzling piece of logic in the form of a question posed and answered on the NAIS website:

Q. If a Person Raises Animals for His or Her Own Use and the Animals Never Leave the Owner’s Property, Do They Need to be Identified?
A. Under the current plan, animals that never leave a premises do not need to be identified. However, animal owners are encouraged to identify their animals and their premises, regardless of the number of animals present, since many animal diseases may be spread whether an animal leaves its home premises or not. Examples of such diseases include West Nile virus, foot-and-mouth disease, vesicular stomatitus, and equine infectious anemia.

Hmmm. If the point is to track diseases that are being spread by the “commingling” of animals that happens during the transportation of said to feedlots and slaughter houses, why do they need to know that I have livestock at all if I’m not moving it anywhere and no animals are being moved to my property? What good will it do me or the program to register my premises and animals with the NAIS when my animals would only be exposed to disease by means other than commingling? Aren’t I already required to report these diseases if they occur on my property?

Chicken Photo Update

by Scott Smith

Here is a picture of one of the ISA Browns with one of the lovely Araucanas (probably actually an Americana mislabeled at the store… I have to look at more pictures) in the background.

A feisty Barred Rock – she charges the dogs when they go in with me to check on the birds.

And here is Fort Chicken (known to some as the Chicken Fortress) in all of it’s glory. I suppose I could have cleaned up all the stuff in front of it (laundry baskets, old tires, lawn chairs, lumber scraps) before I took the picture, but why be dishonest? It’s still a mess here.

Animals outside?

by Scott Smith

I was wrong. I’m not the first animal on our 9.5 acres to sleep outside. The chicks are out of the concrete room and in the coop (Fort Chicken).

It amazes me that my skills with a hammer, nails, level and a saw have not progressed since I built my first fort. The door hangs crooked, there are not enough studs installed and the ones installed are lacking a proper fit, and at night you can see quite a few light leaks.

But, the chickens are in the coop and just in time. Chickens stink when they are no longer chicks.

Photos of our teenager chickens in Fort Chicken to come.