Experiencing pesticide drift, part II: Calling in the government

In this series:
Part I – Experiencing pesticide drift
Part II – Calling in the government
Part III – Aftermath, conclusions, & ramifications.


After a week of waiting to hear from the farmer responsible for the spraying operation (calls/messages went unanswered), we gave up and pursued other avenues. Our local extension office referred us to the Bureau of Pesticide Control (hereafter referred to as “the Bureau”), part of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The nice lady on the phone advised us on how to file a formal complaint, which was needed to initiate an investigation into any suspected pesticide drift incident. The actual process was easy, but we had a question: Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, December 2014

December turned warmer than average, though it was so cloudy you’d be forgiven for thinking it was cold. This grey stability really shows up in the NWS monthly graph, which looks rather bizarre for here. We also had very little snow, but as the Kansas City NWS office pointed out, this says nothing about the rest of the winter:

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Cooking with kid: Introduction to a series on preparing goat

Joanna and CrystalWe recently butchered our last two goat kids of 2014, and we’ve designated one of them for a bloggable project in the tongue-to-tail cooking genre. I’m taking responsibility for preparing one whole goat, cooking it in many different ways to practice as many different meat-cooking techniques as possible to compensate for the fact that I’ve never really learned how to cook meat.

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Experiencing pesticide drift, part I

On July 14, 2014, our vegetable farm experienced pesticide drift from a crop-duster. It has taken nearly five months for the resulting investigation to run its course, and only now can we tell the full story with all the information. In this three-part series we’ll discuss (I) the actual experience and immediate aftermath, (II) the arc of getting the government involved, and (III) the practical and philosophical considerations drawn from this experience. Throughout this topic we’ll use the phrase “pesticide” as defined by the EPA:

Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests…Under United States law, a pesticide is also any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant”.

The following narrative is drawn from written statements requested by the Missouri Bureau of Pesticide Control as part of their official investigation into the incident. We each wrote a separate narrative of our memories and experiences, which I have woven together here using the original text with only minimal editing to remove redundancy and confusion, and a few notes added for clarification where needed. These are our words from the time presenting what we experienced, as we recorded it several weeks later.
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Agroforestry symposium Jan 8; Mark Shepard speaking

Interested in forestry practices? Concerned about climate issues and how appropriate land management can help? You may well enjoy attending the 6th Annual Agroforestry Symposium next Thursday on the MU campus; it is free & open to the public. We’re particularly excited to hear Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm speak, as his book Restoration Agriculture has been very influential in our discussions about transitioning this farm to a more perennial-based system. Eric has also been asked to participate in a “landowner panel discussion”, which will include a 10-minute presentation on our diversified forest management. We’ve long found the MU Center for Agroforestry a useful and valuable resource for diversified sustainable farmers like ourselves (among other things they got us started on shiitake mushroom production), so we hope many others can attend this symposium and support their creative and interesting work.


The value of venison

What’s some of the most expensive meat in America? At an average of $10-21/lb, would you believe wild-hunted venison, that staple of rural American life? Quietly, behind deeply divided debates over whether food is too cheap or too expensive, over whether farmers markets or factory farms are the best way to feed the country, good old-fashioned hunted venison has become an elite and expensive pursuit behind the veneer of tradition and simpler ways. The average spending per deer for hunters in our home state of Missouri, at ~$1000, works out to a per-pound price that would make pastured ranchers salivate and affordable-food advocates blush, with far-reaching implications for food production, the rural landscape, and the environment.

To produce the flow chart below, I drew on data from a 2001 report on the “Economic Importance of Hunting in America”, various reports from the Missouri Department of Conservation (such as this), and other pro-hunting websites (such as this). While such calculations are only as accurate as the data they’re drawn from, the numbers come from pro-hunting sources and would have to be off by a very large margin to change the basic conclusion. Hunted venison in Missouri is, on average, 2-4 times more expensive than even local specialty grass-finished meats, as judged by prices from two farms near us in central Missouri, Altai Meadows and Green Pastures Farm. This reality has some interesting implications for how our culture values and produces food. Continue reading

Bayless-inspired Mexican cooking using our farm ingredients

This time of year, traditional Mexican cooking works well with our stocks of dried peppers, canned tomatoes, fresh & frozen meats, dried corn, dried beans, and more. Our diet is largely dependent on what we grow & preserve rather than what little we buy, so we tend to heavily adapt recipes or just make things from scratch using what we have on hand, fresh and/or preserved. It’s rare for us to cook straight from recipes, but we’ve found that certain cuisines fit our unusual approach to sourcing & preparing food especially well.

For Joanna’s recent birthday dinner, I prepared several interesting recipes from Fiesta at Rick’s, a cookbook which was her birthday present to me. Several Rick Bayless cookbooks like Mexican Kitchen have been instrumental in teaching us many new and worthwhile ways to use the meso-American ingredients we already produce; a library copy of Fiesta inspired us to try the whole-goat pit roast we did a few years ago. In this case I tackled several recipes I hadn’t made before, pleasantly surprised that despite the diverse ingredient list, from pig’s feet to peas, we had virtually every ingredient on-hand and sourced from our own farm. This made the cooking a breeze, and it took only a few hours’ work to prepare a multi-course meal with several days of leftovers, manageable for anyone with part of a weekend afternoon to spare. Joanna contributed to several components to the meal that are her normal specialty anyway. Continue reading

Bow-hunter wanted


Our landscape is overpopulated with deer, and we are soliciting help with reducing the herd further. Eric has already shot his limit of two for the season, but there are at least 5-6 more using our valley as documented by remote trail cameras and personal observation. Rifle season ends on December 7 while bow season extends until January 15, meaning far more opportunity for a bow-hunter to help cull the herd.  We have never had time or resources to take up bow-hunting ourselves, though it is a long-term desire. If you are, or know of, a responsible bow-hunter who would like to use our 40 acres of mixed pasture and woodland to take more deer, please contact us. We have one good tree stand in a location near multiple trails that has already bagged two deer, and multiple other possible locations including 5 active scrapes being used by at least 3 different bucks. The trail-camera photos above were taken at two of these locations on 11/15/14.

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