Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chicken Talk

Researchers have shown that there are at least 24 different sounds chickens make and maybe as many as 30. While chickens don't have nearly the vocabulary that us humans have, and their chicken brains don't allow for abstract and deep conversations, they are still a very vocal and conversational critter.  And if you pay attention, you can learn to understand and speak their language too.

Baby Talk

Pleasure peep-A soft, irregular chirp that says "I'm here and all is well."
Pleasure trill-A soft warbling sound often used when settling down for a nap that says "Life is good."
Distress peep-A loud, sharp tweet that says "I'm so miserable!"  Usually due to being hot, cold or hungry.
Panic peep-Loud and insistent peep that says "Help me!"
Fear trill-Loud, sharp repeated sound that says "Don't hurt me!"
Startled peep-Sharp chirp that sounds as startled as it is meant to be.  It says "Whoa!"

Mom talk

Cluck-Short, low-pitched and repetitive sounds that says "Stay close."
Food call-Short, high-pitched and staccato tuck-tuck-tuck that says "Come get the food I just found!"
Hush sound-Soft, vibrating errrr that sends chicks running for mom's feathers or flattening silently to the ground.  It says "Stay put, there's danger."

Lady talk

Laying cackle-A hilariously annoying sound that sounds like the hen is REALLY proud of her egg laying accomplishment and wants everybody in the entire neighborhood to know it.  It says "I just laid an egg and I rock."
Broody hiss-A snake like hiss often accompanied by fluffing of feathers and a dirty look while the hen is sitting in her nest box.  It says "I'm warning you to leave me and my eggs alone."
Broody growl-Much harsher than the hiss and gravelly, the broody growl says "Leave me and my eggs alone or I will destroy you."  It is often accompanied by a hand peck as you are trying to collect eggs.
Singing-Usually rapidly repeated notes with some amount of randomness.  Similar to someone happily humming as they go about their business.  It says "All is well."


Contentment call-A low pitched, repetitive sound made by hens and roosters when out and about that says "Let's stick together."
Nesting call-Used by a hen in search of a nest or a rooster trying to help (although his choice is rarely accepted).  It says "here's a good nest site."
Roosting call-Loud, low-pitched and rapidly repetitive sound made at nightfall.  It says "Let's sleep here."

Rooster talk

Food call-An excited, rapid tuck-tuck-tuck that says "I found food!"
Courtship croon-A low rumbly sound made as the rooster circles the hen while flicking a wing on the ground.  It says "Nice feathers."
Flying object alert-A chirruping sound made as the roster looks skyward.  It says "There's something up there, but I think we're ok."
Startled note-A short squawk with the intensity, volume and repetitiveness determined by how startled the rooster is.  It says "What was that?"
Crowing-No explanation needed. It says "I'm the boss here."

Predator alerts

Caution call-Quick, repeated notes when something potentially dangerous is spotted.  It says "Pay attention."
Alarm cackle-An insistent repetitive cackle Kuh-kuh-kuh-kuh-KACK! It says "I sense danger!"
Air raid-A loud warning sound made typically by a rooster.  All chickens will run for cover.  Interestingly, too many false alarms will result in chickens ignoring the air raid signal.  It says "There a raptor in the sky.  Run for cover!"

Help me calls

Startled squawk-A moderately loud cry by a chicken that was just pecked or otherwise slightly injured.  It says "Ow!"
Distress squawks-Loud, long repeated cries by a chicken that's been captured and is being carried away.  Occasionally, this may trigger an attack by a rooster or other hen.  It says "Let go!"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tip of the Week--DIY Pot and Pan Cleaner

No more scouring pots and pans! Just mix together 2 parts baking soda with 1 part peroxide (it will make a paste) and rub the area with a dish rag until clean.

Found at

Monsanto's Harvest of Fear

Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics–ruthless legal battles against small farmers–is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.
An anti-Monsanto crop circle in the Philippines
No thanks: An anti-Monsanto crop circle made by farmers and volunteers in the Philippines. By Melvyn Calderon/Greenpeace HO/A.P. Images.

Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his “old-time country store,” as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City.
The Square Deal is a fixture in Eagleville, a place where farmers and townspeople can go for lightbulbs, greeting cards, hunting gear, ice cream, aspirin, and dozens of other small items without having to drive to a big-box store in Bethany, the county seat, 15 miles down Interstate 35.
Everyone knows Rinehart, who was born and raised in the area and runs one of Eagleville’s few surviving businesses. The stranger came up to the counter and asked for him by name.
“Well, that’s me,” said Rinehart.
As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto’s genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans in violation of the company’s patent. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him—or face the consequences.
Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. Like many others in rural America, Rinehart knew of Monsanto’s fierce reputation for enforcing its patents and suing anyone who allegedly violated them. But Rinehart wasn’t a farmer. He wasn’t a seed dealer. He hadn’t planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small—a really small—country store in a town of 350 people. He was angry that somebody could just barge into the store and embarrass him in front of everyone. “It made me and my business look bad,” he says. Rinehart says he told the intruder, “You got the wrong guy.”
When the stranger persisted, Rinehart showed him the door. On the way out the man kept making threats. Rinehart says he can’t remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: “Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.”
Scenes like this are playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.
When asked about these practices, Monsanto declined to comment specifically, other than to say that the company is simply protecting its patents. “Monsanto spends more than $2 million a day in research to identify, test, develop and bring to market innovative new seeds and technologies that benefit farmers,” Monsanto spokesman Darren Wallis wrote in an e-mailed letter to Vanity Fair. “One tool in protecting this investment is patenting our discoveries and, if necessary, legally defending those patents against those who might choose to infringe upon them.” Wallis said that, while the vast majority of farmers and seed dealers follow the licensing agreements, “a tiny fraction” do not, and that Monsanto is obligated to those who do abide by its rules to enforce its patent rights on those who “reap the benefits of the technology without paying for its use.” He said only a small number of cases ever go to trial.
Some compare Monsanto’s hard-line approach to Microsoft’s zealous efforts to protect its software from pirates. At least with Microsoft the buyer of a program can use it over and over again. But farmers who buy Monsanto’s seeds can’t even do that.

the control of nature

For centuries—millennia—farmers have saved seeds from season to season: they planted in the spring, harvested in the fall, then reclaimed and cleaned the seeds over the winter for re-planting the next spring. Monsanto has turned this ancient practice on its head.
Monsanto developed G.M. seeds that would resist its own herbicide, Roundup, offering farmers a convenient way to spray fields with weed killer without affecting crops. Monsanto then patented the seeds. For nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office had refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented. “It’s not like describing a widget,” says Joseph Mendelson III, the legal director of the Center for Food Safety, which has tracked Monsanto’s activities in rural America for years.
Indeed not. But in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, turned seeds into widgets, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply. In its decision, the court extended patent law to cover “a live human-made microorganism.” In this case, the organism wasn’t even a seed. Rather, it was a Pseudomonas bacterium developed by a General Electric scientist to clean up oil spills. But the precedent was set, and Monsanto took advantage of it. Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Farmers who buy Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the seed produced after each harvest for re-planting, or to sell the seed to other farmers. This means that farmers must buy new seed every year. Those increased sales, coupled with ballooning sales of its Roundup weed killer, have been a bonanza for Monsanto.
This radical departure from age-old practice has created turmoil in farm country. Some farmers don’t fully understand that they aren’t supposed to save Monsanto’s seeds for next year’s planting. Others do, but ignore the stipulation rather than throw away a perfectly usable product. Still others say that they don’t use Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, but seeds have been blown into their fields by wind or deposited by birds. It’s certainly easy for G.M. seeds to get mixed in with traditional varieties when seeds are cleaned by commercial dealers for re-planting. The seeds look identical; only a laboratory analysis can show the difference. Even if a farmer doesn’t buy G.M. seeds and doesn’t want them on his land, it’s a safe bet he’ll get a visit from Monsanto’s seed police if crops grown from G.M. seeds are discovered in his fields.
Most Americans know Monsanto because of what it sells to put on our lawns— the ubiquitous weed killer Roundup. What they may not know is that the company now profoundly influences—and one day may virtually control—what we put on our tables. For most of its history Monsanto was a chemical giant, producing some of the most toxic substances ever created, residues from which have left us with some of the most polluted sites on earth. Yet in a little more than a decade, the company has sought to shed its polluted past and morph into something much different and more far-reaching—an “agricultural company” dedicated to making the world “a better place for future generations.” Still, more than one Web log claims to see similarities between Monsanto and the fictional company “U-North” in the movie Michael Clayton, an agribusiness giant accused in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit of selling an herbicide that causes cancer.
Gary Rinehart
Monsanto brought false accusations against Gary Rinehart—shown here at his rural Missouri store. There has been no apology.Photographs by Kurt Markus.

Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have transformed the company and are radically altering global agriculture. So far, the company has produced G.M. seeds for soybeans, corn, canola, and cotton. Many more products have been developed or are in the pipeline, including seeds for sugar beets and alfalfa. The company is also seeking to extend its reach into milk production by marketing an artificial growth hormone for cows that increases their output, and it is taking aggressive steps to put those who don’t want to use growth hormone at a commercial disadvantage.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Brown Sugar Icing Recipe OMG!!!

I was perusing the internet this morning to get inspiration for a blog post.  This morning it was a bit depressing.  Turns out the IRS (of all things) is training their workers with AR-15s.  Those are assault rifles people.  Why does the IRS need assault rifles?  Are they going to shoot us for not paying our taxes?  I didn't really want to write about this on a lovely sunday morning so I moved on.
Next I found that Kraft's Mac and Cheese has to be labeled in the UK to explain that it has GMOs and any potential harm that can be done by eating it.  Somebody brought a box back to the US and the NY Times published an article about it.  Here is the label:
Made from GMO wheat (although Kraft claims this isn't true) and may have adverse effect on activity and attention in children (because of the yellow dye and Kraft doesn't argue with this one)
Anyhow, that was another disturbing sunday morning idea I didn't want to think about.  So I finally settled on this:
Picture 6

OMG seriously?  This looks so amazing.  Although it's another depressing thing for me this morning because it calls for eggs and I'm allergic to them, I'm hopeful that egg alternative powder might work for this.  I mean com'on!  BROWN SUGAR ICING?  My sugar addiction is flaring up and I've only looked at the picture.
If you're religious, you know the Bible says that we're supposed to meditate on things that are good and beautiful.  What could be more uplifting on a sunday morning than thinking about brown sugar icing?  Get the recipe here and go to church!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Goat giveaway!

Yes, believe it or not, we are going to do a giveaway for two doelings-little girl goats.  You have to be local so you can come pick them up although I guess if you want to pay all the money for shipping you're welcome to it lol!  These babies are a la mancha/boer cross and their mother is an amazingly good producer of milk.  The babies are about 2 months old now and very friendly.  They're good eaters, which is why we weaned them so young.  They practically skeletonized their mother and now they are eating hay without a problem.
So why would we give away two goats that we could just as easily sell?  
Well, our family was sitting around the table discussing our mission as a family and as a business.  Our mission is basically to encourage people to be more self-sufficient and more in touch with farming.  What could we do to achieve this mission?  We want to encourage others into farming and we decided a great way to do this would be to give people farm animals!  It's the price that is prohibitive to a lot of people and there's no cheaper than free.  Each of these babies would probably sell for $75-100 so this is a pretty awesome giveaway.  Plus we'll give you a free tour of the ranch when you pick up your baby.
So what do you need to do to get your goat?
To enter to win:

1) Like Flip Flop Ranch on Facebook (if you already like our fb page, share the post on your own page)
2) Sign up to follow us (via email, bloglovin', Google +, pinterest, etc. options on right sidebar)
3) Leave a comment below as well as a way to contact you if you are the winner
4) We'll announce the winners on Friday Aug 9!

Here's some extra credit!  If you want to win a free breeding for your goat to one of our bucks, get one of your friends to enter to win and leave a comment saying that it was you who twisted their arm to do it!

The two winners will be chosen at random from all entries on Friday, Aug 9th.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Monthly To Do List for Desert Gardening

Your Desert Garden - Monthly Do List for July

  • Plant your Bermuda lawns if you haven't already.
  • Fertilize Bermuda grass lawns with 1/2 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
  • Apply iron to your lawn once per month.
  • If it's time to dethatch, do it during May through August. Dethatch every two or three years to rejuvenate the grass.
  • Pick early-maturing deciduous fruit, which are particularly prone to bird damage. Pick before full maturity. Ripen the fruit at room temperature.
  • Prune palms when flower spathes show or delay pruning until after the palm has finished flowering to prevent infestation of Palm Flower caterpillars. If palms are pruned in the spring, leave the top five rows of peels so the caterpillars have a place to hide.
  • Cut off dead blooms to stimulate rebloom.
  • July is a good time to plant desert shrubs and trees such as red bird of paradise, fairy duster, and Texas ranger. Shrubs and vines such as bougainvillea also may be planted, and these do well in the sun and heat. Be sure to water all new plantings for at least two weeks before you cut back.
  • Bougainvillea will produce more blooms if you reduce the water. They are drought-tolerant. Less water, more blooms.
  • Apply mulch to the ground around heat sensitive plants keep the roots cooler and prevent evaporation.
  • Apply chelated iron to bottle brush, pyracantha, silk oak, and other plants with iron deficiency symptoms.
  • Heat tolerant plants can be planted right through the summer months. They will need to be watered on a regular basis until fall.
  • Transplant palms in the heat of the summer for best results.
  • Protect newly transplanted trees from heavy winds and dust storms by staking.
  • Water mature trees deeply about every two weeks, every week for younger trees.
  • Cut back on fertilizing established roses to encourage plants to slow down for the hot summer.
  • Water roses deeply as temperatures rise. Fertilize roses at half rate every six weeks during the summer. Water deeply both before and after fertilizing to prevent fertilizer burn damage.
  • Hose off roses in the early morning to increase humidity and control spider mites.
  • Flowers for summer color include: celosia, coreopsis, cosmos, gazanias, globe amaranth, portulaca, zinnia, salvia, vinca (periwinkle), gomphorena and verbena.
  • Flowerbeds will need irrigation every other day through the summer.
  • Use ammonium phosphate in flower beds to increase and keep flowers blooming.
  • Stake taller flowers to prevent damage from summer winds.
  • Nurseries still have summer flowers, but you will have to water them every day in the morning for about two weeks before you can reduce watering to every other day.
  • Tomatoes don't do well when it's over 90°F. Nurse the plants through the summer while providing shade and they will begin producing again in the fall. Alternatively, pull them out and plant new ones in the late summer for fall production.
  • Plant seeds for beans (pinto and snap), corn, Armenian cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, winter squash, sunflowers
  • Plant transplants: peppers, tomatoes.
  • Keep plants moist. Wilted leaves in the morning are a sign of moisture stress. Late afternoon wilting may be heat stress.
  • Shade tomatoes, squash, peppers and cucumbers to reduce the heat and help them survive a little longer. Mulch on top of the soil also cools it and helps retain moisture.
  • Use sunscreens that offer no more than 50% sun reduction.
  • As your melons come in, place a board beneath them. This will keep them off the moist soil and prevent insects from attacking them.
  • Solarize vegetables plots. Water the area to be solarized deeply and slowly, then cover with clear plastic, anchoring the edges to contain the moisture. Don't use black plastic. Leave for four weeks. The heat beneath the plastic will be intense, upward 140-150 degrees, cooking many of your gardening problems and weed seeds.

Your Desert Garden - Monthly Don't List for July

  1. Don't prune citrus or other sun sensitive plants during the summer
  2. Don't over water. Water slowly, deeply, and infrequently. Let the soil dry between watering.
  3. Don't shade corn, squash, melons.
  4. Don't add fertilizer to dry soil. Always water first, then apply fertilizers to moist soils, and then continue with the rest of the water.
Information contained herein was obtained from the The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and John Chapman's Southwest Gardening with their permission. Keep in mind that soil and conditions vary from location to location. Check with a local yard or landscape expert for specific issues with your garden

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Time To Plant for Fall

Most people don't realize that gardens are a year round deal.  Typically we think that we plant in the spring and then that's it.  If you miss the spring planting, you have missed the boat and have to wait until next spring for a garden.
Gardens are year round.  There is a vegetable you can plant every single month out of the year.  Even in the hottest month of summer and the coldest month of winter.  Especially here in the desert.   As a matter of fact, some summer plants prefer the coolness of fall or winter over the blistering desert heat.  And late plantings might thrive by missing the bug infestations of early summer.  It doesn't get so cold in the high desert that certain winter varieties can't make it either. Even in Vermont you can have a garden in the middle of winter.  Carrots for instance, love to be covered in snow and it ev en makes them taste better.
So now that it's summer, that means it is time to start planning your fall garden.  The first thing to be aware of is how long it takes your veggie to mature.  Here in the desert, you only want short-day varieties.  Short day refers to the amount of (ironically) darkness the plant gets exposed to.  The more darkness, the better these varieties do at flowering.  Scientists used to believe that it was the amount of light the plants were exposed to that caused flowering, but discovered it is the darkness.  However, the short/long day designation stuck.
Short day plants are also quick growers.  Just like very cold places like Vermont, we in the desert have short growing seasons.  In more moderate climates, there is three growing periods: spring through mid-summer,  mid-summer through early fall, and late fall through winter.  In the desert, we have four growing periods: spring, summer, fall, winter.  This makes the amount of time we have to grow plants much shorter.  For the most part, a plant started in march doesn't have until July to grow.  It needs to be done by the end of May.  Plants that do good in cold areas usually do good in the desert.
You can start planting fall varieties next month.  July is just WAY too hot in the desert for sensitive plants like carrots, radishes, beets, etc.  However, August has usually cooled down and is humid enough for these plants to spring up happily so that by the time fall rolls around you have tons of fall plants for harvest.
 Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is currently offering 25% off seed purchases with the code FALLGARDEN13