Gene Logsdon: Shipping Hay Overseas


The Contrary Farmer

The farm news is reporting that the amount of hay we are shipping overseas, mainly to China and Saudi Arabia, has doubled in recent years. The total is still only a small part of our hay production so it’s not yet earthshaking news, I guess, but for someone brought up in agriculture “before farmers went crazy” (my father’s pet phrase), that is an alarming trend. I grew up with the common saying: “sell the hay, sell the farm.” Selling off hay was a big no-no because it meant you were removing from the farm the soil nutrients tied up in that hay that should go back onto the soil as green manure and animal manure. The articles I’ve read so far on exporting hay do not mention this very important factor, so, even though I know most of you who read this blog are well aware of it, maybe it is time to review one of the basic fundamentals of sustainable farming.

Hay— or forage, speaking more broadly— is the foundation of economical farming. Corn and soybeans get all the glory, even as their production propels agriculture toward much higher input costs than is necessary to feed the world. I personally think that we started down the road to ruination when most farmers took legume forages out of their crop rotations. The main reasons that happened were that making hay requires lots of physical work and, in most heavily farmed regions, there’s a likely chance that rain will fall after the hay is mowed, making a good harvest a chancy affair. But both these concerns have been rendered rather minor by modern technology. New hay-handling machines take much of the work out of the job. And modern hay-handling methods along with much improved weather predicting have reduced at least by half the chances of getting hay ruined by rain before it can be baled and stored.

Jesus and Mo



Burn After Reading…


From Harpers

In 1971, William Powell published The Anarchist Cookbook, a guide to making bombs and drugs at home. He spent the next four decades fighting to take it out of print.

While the captain notified air traffic control, Busic entered the cockpit wearing what looked like three sticks of dynamite attached to a battery. He told the captain that TWA Flight 355 was now headed to Europe. When members of the N.Y.P.D. bomb squad investigated the subway locker, they found a bomb inside, along with two lengthy tracts in favor of Croatian independence from Yugoslavia. Busic demanded the declarations appear in several newspapers the next day, including the New York Times and Washington Post.

Onboard with Busic were four accomplices, including his wife, who spent her time chatting up passengers and passing out leaflets. After multiple refueling stops, the Boeing 727 finally touched down at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, near Paris, where Busic finally surrendered. Surprisingly, the passengers—none of whom were hurt—emphasized the courtesy of the hijackers. “There was almost an excess of politeness,” one man told the Associated Press. “They were so polite it was ridiculous,” another told Newsweek. It turned out that the bombs onboard consisted of cooking pots, Silly Putty, and tape.

Why I’m Saying Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft and Putting More Trust in Communities than Corporations…


From Dan Gilmour

I’m done sending my money and data to corporations I don’t trust…

When I became a technology columnist in the mid-1990s, the public Internet was just beginning its first big surge. Back then, I advised my readers to avoid the semi-political, even religious battles that advocates of this or that technology platform seemed to enjoy. Appreciate technology, I urged, for what it is — a tool — and use what works best.

So why am I typing this on a laptop running GNU/Linux, the free software operating system, not an Apple or Windows machine? And why are my phones and tablets running a privacy-enhanced offshoot of Android called Cyanogenmod, not Apple’s iOS or standard Android?

Because, first of all, I can get my work done fine. I can play games. I can surf endlessly. The platform alternatives have reached a stage where they’re capable of handling just about everything I need.

More important, I’ve moved to these alternative platforms because I’ve changed my mind about the politics of technology. I now believe it’s essential to embed my instincts and values, to a greater and greater extent, in the technology I use.

Those values start with a basic notion: We are losing control over the tools that once promised equal opportunity in speech and innovation—and this has to stop.

Control is moving back to the center, where powerful companies and governments are creating choke points. They are using those choke points to destroy our privacy, limit our freedom of expression, and lock down culture and commerce. Too often, we give them our permission—trading liberty for convenience—but a lot of this is being done without our knowledge, much less permission.

William Edelen: My Reading List…


2000 Years of Disbelief 

by James A. Haught 

Society rarely acknowledges the many and varied gifts that
disbelievers give to the world. Churchmen generally contend that
great figures in history, such as America’s founders, were
conventional believers. That isn’t true, and this insightful, witty
collection sets the record straight! This collection chronicles dozens of
famous people such as Isaac Asimov, W.E.B. DuBois, Thomas
Edison, Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin,
Omar Khayyam, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, John Stuart Mill,
Ayn Rand, Gene Roddenberry, Margaret Sanger, George Bernard
Shaw, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Voltaire, with many quotes that
reveal their rejection of the supernatural.

Seneca: Living Immediately. Living Wide…

[One of the most horrible aspects of fundamentalist religions’ false promise of an afterlife in heaven is the believer’s hopeful comparison of their short life here with the eternal life in the hereafter. Why should they worry about wasting their daily life now when they will live forever? Such a belief not only denies them the searching questions and meditations on whether or not they will look back on a life well lived, which would help them change their own wasteful habits and decisions of daily life, but it denies them the energy and duty to insist that the unjust circumstances imposed on them and others that deny the freedoms to make change must not be challenged or organized against. -ds]

From Maria Papova

The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long


“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today… The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”

“How we spend our days,” Annie Dillard memorably wrote in her soul-stretching meditation on the life of presence“is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And yet most of us spend our days in what Kierkegaard believed to be our greatest source of unhappiness — a refusal to recognize that “busy is a decision” and that presence is infinitely more rewarding than productivity. I frequently worry that being productive is the surest way to lull ourselves into a trance of passivity and busyness the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being.

Will Parrish: Greenpeace’s Mendocino Redwood Company Greenwash



“Clean up your act, not your image.” Thus is the slogan of the campaign recently launched by none other than Greenpeace International, which seeks to expose the hype behind the shiny, green marketing claims of corporate plunderers in the oil, electricity, automobile, coal, nuclear, and forestry sectors.

Greenpeace should be applauded for challenging the process of “greenwashing,” which has become a major means by which the the world’s most powerful and destructive institutions, be they Chevron or the US military, legitimize their most destructive activities. A few small steps this way and that can go very far to gloss over a corporation’s or government’s image and hide ongoing environmental crimes. Greenwashing obscures the inherently destructive aspects of industrial capitalism by emphasizing small reforms and innovations while ignoring core processes.

Todd Walton: Palmer Alaska

palmer alaska max


“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” Henry David Thoreau

When Marcia and I got together eight years ago, we embarked on a fascinating process of making a studio album with the help of Peter Temple, the recording savant of Albion. I played guitar and piano and sang, Marcia wrote and arranged and played gorgeous cello parts for our original tunes, and the late great Amunka Davila supplied tasty percussion. The project took several months longer than I thought it would and used up most of the money I’d set aside for such creative endeavors.

We were happy with the results, the CD entitled When Light Is Your Garden, and when the manufacture of the album coincided with the birth of my books Buddha In A Teacup and Under the Table Books, we decided to go on a tour of the Northwest and see if we could sell some product and have fun while we were at it.

Sea level “jumps” 5 inches. Probably nothing to worry about…


From Grist

Climate change is a disaster in slow-motion: The global temperature creeps up by fractions-of-a-degree each year, the seas rise inches every decade. Except, apparently, when they do much more.

Exhibit A: In just two years, 2009 and 2010, sea levels along the Atlantic coast north of New York City jumped up by more than 5 inches, according to a paper published this week in the journal Nature Communications. That might not seem like much on its own, but consider that, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global sea levels are rising at a rate of less than a half an inch each year, and that’s causing all sorts of havoc.

Transfusion by Nervous Norvus…


Written By Women…


On the eve of Vela’s launch in September 2011, Sarah Menkedick sat down and wrote out her vision for the magazine. Vela has grown and evolved tremendously since then, but the fundamental purpose and spirit of the publication have remained unchanged. As Sarah hoped, we are still and will continue to be “a space to maneuver freely without having to either set one’s work apart as distinctly female or suck it up trying to prove that women can do what men do and that what men do is the best and the norm.”

Try this with The Best Magazine Articles Ever: Go down the list, and say out loud to yourself the gender of each writer as you go. You’ll say: man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, woman, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man.

A Wilderness of Waiting…


From Vela

In the eighth month of my nine-month human pregnancy, I go on a binge-Googling of animal gestation periods. Frilled sharks, I discover, gestate for 42 months. Elephants take 22 months. Sperm whales: 16. Walruses: 15. Rhinos: 14. Horses: 11. I am seeking solidarity and comparative comfort in the realm of beasts, seeking to place my experience on a spectrum of waiting. I think of going on into month eleven, twelve, twenty, thirty-five: days into months into years of pregnancy. I find a kind of horror in it, and fascination, and reverence, and ultimately a question: what does it mean to exist in waiting, to wait so long that the line between life and waiting blurs?I am 32 and living in a 19th-century cabin on my parents’ Ohio farm. The cabin is approximately 40 feet wide, with walls and floors of sturdy wood planks, a wood-burning stove, and a pioneer feel. “Is there anything in here that’s not ancient?” my nine-year-old niece asks with mild distaste when she visits. Everywhere are the artifacts of antiquated domesticity: baskets, hand-painted serving platters, crocks. The cabin has been decorated and prepared for weekend visitors to the farm, not full-time living, but when I finish grad school my husband and I move in, setting mousetraps and putting up storm windows as we navigate this murky penniless period before our next move.

Gene Logsdon: Starting An Old Tractor


I don’t know of a better argument in favor of farming with horses than trying to start an old tractor in the winter time. I have never thought I could afford a new tractor so I know quite a bit about starting old ones. Or rather I know quite a bit about new and more imaginative combinations of foul language when old tractors won’t start. Some will say that it is all a matter of science. A friend of mine, Roy Harbour, who ran a car dealership most of his life, was fond of saying that “if everything is right, you can’t keep a car from starting.” Maybe so, but to me the fact that a spark from a battery will ignite gas in a carburetor, and the explosion engendered will push pistons up and down to make a drive shaft spin round and round so that tires go forward and backward is sheer magic. To start that process sometimes requires mystic manipulations and incantations heavy on swear words. Once I disgustedly kicked the front tire on my WD Allis when it wouldn’t start, and wouldn’t you know, it fired right up when I tried again. After that, I would as a matter of course, kick the tire superstitiously before trying to start the obstinate thing. That worked for about a week.

The Conservative Attempt to Re-Write Our Progressive History…


From Thom Hartmann

Oklahoma isn’t the only state where Republicans are waging war on high school history class.

Conservatives in a handful of other states, including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and – no surprise here – Texas are now pushing bills that would ban the College Board’s AP U.S. history curriculum.

The main issue that conservatives have with the current AP history curriculum is that it’s “too liberal” and supposedly focuses too much on the “negative” parts of American history, whatever that means. So Conservatives want to replace it with a curriculum that focuses on topics conservatives like – topics like, you know, Reagan, Reagan, and, just for good measure, more Reagan.

In all seriousness, though, there’s a really good reason that conservatives are freaking out about what kind of history curriculum is going to be taught in our classrooms. And that’s the simple fact that the history of America is the history of the continuous progressive transformation of this country.

Freedom of speech, backlash of anger over four words at South Portland High School…


From The Portland Press Herald

Three students who made others aware of their right not to say the Pledge of Allegiance are stunned by the emotional reaction.

It’s a story about three top students at South Portland High School, four little words added to the daily invitation to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and a provocative Facebook post that provided an unexpected lesson in the politics of the freedom of speech.

Senior class president Lily SanGiovanni sparked community outrage in January when she changed the way she invited students and faculty members to recite the pledge.

Lies and Fabrications: The Propaganda Campaign in Support of Genetically Modified Crops (GMO)…


From Global Research

According to Mathew Holehouse in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper (here), former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson will this week accuse the European Union and Greenpeace of condemning people in the developing world to death by refusing to accept genetically modified crops. Speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, Paterson will warn that a food revolution that could save Africa from hunger is being held back and that the world is on the cusp of a green revolution, of the kind that fed a billion people in the 1960s and 1970s as the world’s population soared.

After talking about a growing global population and the pivotal role of GMOs in feeding it, Paterson will assert:

Ownership and Business Models as Social and Ideological Battle Fields…


From Humanity’s Test

The creation of what we now call capitalism, with its deification of private property and free (if “free” simply means free of democratic oversight) markets, has been a conscious project spanning a number of centuries. Central to that project has been the eradication, and marginalization, of competing ownership and business models.

The Conversion of the Earth Into Private Property

The Earth as a whole can be viewed as a single commons, shared by myriads of species that vary over time. Only with the advent of settled human populations, around 10,000 years ago, did one species define itself as preeminent and worthy of turning the Earth into its’ own property. Prior to this period, and for the vast majority of human existence, humans lived in small, generally mobile, hunter-gatherer groups that saw themselves as part of nature. Although they could use such things as fire and selective plant removal to alter nature’s path, they mostly reacted to and fitted within whatever it provided. Other sentient creatures were not viewed as either “wild animals” or property, but as non-human persons that deserved respect and could make things difficult for humans if they were not respected. Even inanimate objects, such as a specific place, or rock, could be viewed as being “alive” in some way. Animism, the belief that non-human entities have souls, even inanimate ones, was the basis of spiritual life. Such beliefs are representative of the remaining hunter-gatherer groups that have not been thoroughly acculturated by modern society[i] [ii].

Vanishing water, fewer jobs, but still hope in the Central Valley…


Joe Del Bosque of Firebaugh shows an organic field at his farm last month. Central Valley residents are dealing with the results of a multiyear drought that has caused many farmers to stop planting row crops in favor of almonds and pistachios.

From Sacramento Bee
Thanks to Ron

MENDOTA In this region that calls itself “The Cantaloupe Center of the World,” vast fields that once annually yielded millions of melons lie fallow. And, for some farmers, planting tomatoes and other traditional row crops may now constitute acts of courage.

America’s largest agriculture economy is changing because of a lack of water. Amid a prolonged drought and an anticipated third straight year of cutbacks in federal water supplies, the one assured constant is stress.

Farmers who can afford them are sinking wells, extracting groundwater that works for groves of almonds and pistachios. But the groundwater is generally too salty for crops of vegetables and grains that have made the Central Valley the nation’s food basket. And questions persist over how long the groundwater supplies will last – and whether growers will get enough of the reservoir water they crave.

In California’s $40 billion agricultural sector, farmers face hard choices on what to plant and how much. They weigh crop losses and the costs of acquiring new ground or surface water supplies against cutting labor or selling off their farms.

9 Surprising Industries Getting Filthy Rich From Mass Incarceration…


From Alternet

Private prison companies aren’t the only ones benefiting from America’s prison-industrial complex

It’s no coincidence that the United States now imprisons more of its people than any other country in the world: mass incarceration has become a giant industry in the U.S., resulting in huge profits not only for private prison companies, but also, for everything from food companies and telecoms to all the businesses that are using prison labor to cut their manufacturing costs. The prison-industrial complex even has its own lobbyists: according to a 2011 report from the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), the U.S.’ largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and their competitor the GEO Group have both spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for longer prison sentences. And the American Bail Coalition has been lobbying for the bail bond industry for 23 years.

William Edelen: Christian History 101

The Contrary Minister

President Obama is receiving hard criticism about his “prayer breakfast” remarks regarding “Christian” history and violence. Truth and Facts are always upsetting to those with the constipated minds of fantasy, myth and falsehoods. Obama was absolutely CORRECT with the TRUTH about “Christian” history and violence. Consider the following TRUTH, all of which can be CONFIRMED in any public library.

When Alfred North Whitehead was the Chair of Philosophy at Harvard University he made this observation: “Christian theology has been the greatest disaster in the history of the human race.” Was he correct?

A brief review: 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,584 other followers