Gene Logsdon and Friends

What’s Behind The Pet Craze

In Gene's Weekly Posts on December 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

From GENE LOGSDON

I thought I had heard it all with the ad on National Public Radio for pajamas for every member of the family, including the cats and dogs. But now on sale are coats for your pet chicken. Obviously, Henny Penny, not only is the sky falling but our collected social sanity. But then my wife, ever the practical one, pointed out that if your hen has a tendency to fly over the fence around her chicken run, a coat over her wings would solve the problem. Why didn’t my mother think of that instead of clipping the wing feathers of errant hens?

Even the most fervent pet lover has to agree that we are going a little bit overboard on pet love. An editorial in the New York Times editorial section (Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014) tells about a couple who keep two rabbits in their house and if one or the other pees on the floor or wherever, well, you clean it up and go on just like you would for a child. Some really imaginative ways to handle animal hair clogging up air ducts, or poop on the rug are being advertised on TV. Some cats can learn how to use the bathroom toilet. In ads, dogs are allowed to lick the faces of children. In one ad, the dog looks like it is about to copulate with its owner. Pet cemeteries are all the rage, and old horses are retired to green pastures at a cost I’m sure is almost as high as what is spent on low income humans in homes for the aged. More…

Shocking Stories

In Gene's Weekly Posts on December 10, 2014 at 9:26 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

Nothing I read or see in the news can shock me like the real thing: backing inadvertently  into an electrified fence. That is the ultimate wake-up call and it has been my bad fortune to have been awakened that way so often in my sordid past that I might have built up enough immunity to survive the electric chair.

Not much is made of the fact, but without electric fence, today’s rotational grazing would not be so easy and inexpensive— hardly possible at all. But ’twas not always so. l began getting electrified way back in the 1950s when my father and I decided that we could replace real livestock fences with one wispy strand of electric wire and hold in a hundred head of hungry Holsteins. I still have nightmares of our thundering herd  disappearing into standing corn and exiting out the other side into Aunt Stella’s garden, dragging a fourth of mile of high tensile wire behind them.

I hold that the history of farming can be told in the history of fencing. The main reason there was such a wholesale move to large scale tractor farming was not because farmers could make a better living that way but because smaller farms required animals to make a profit and animals required fences. Farmers hate fences, no matter how much they might deny it. More…

When Herbicides Fail

In Gene's Weekly Posts on December 3, 2014 at 11:56 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

If you follow the agribusiness news, you know that the good old days are over when all you had to do was spray Roundup on your Roundup resistant crops to control weeds. Weeds are becoming immune to Roundup.  Chemical companies are rising mightily to the challenge, coming up with new herbicides or new combinations of old ones, while stacking more herbicide resistant genes into their crop varieties. Weed control is becoming so complicated that even a seasoned farmer needs to get help to keep track of which new weedkillers plus which new varieties he needs to use and how to diversify them in alternate years so the weeds don’t become immune to them. That’s the new word in weed control: diversify, diversify, diversify. If we can’t control weeds with chemicals, Big Ag will die.

I haven’t read yet of anyone in the industry wondering out loud whether this strategy will really work.  It might slow down the process by which weeds learn to enjoy a sip or two of a herbicide with its meals, but isn’t it quite possible that if they are clever enough to immunize themselves to Roundup, they will also figure out a way to handle a cocktail of herbicides too, even if they only get exposed to each of them every other year or so? Or if science finally conjures up a corn plant that can stand increasingly stronger and varied herbicides, then isn’t it reasonable to wonder if in time no animal or insect will eat it, or if it does, something dreadful will happen to its digestive tract? And all the while, the weeds will keep building up resistance until More…