Fishing, How To, Lifestyle

How to Fish: What You’ll Need & Things to Know

While at times it can feel like people have moved far away from their hunting, fishing and gathering roots, a simple drive past any river or lake will correct this assumption! Fishing continues to be a time-honored rite of passage for the young and a treasured hobby that inter-generational family members enjoy together.

According to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), fishing is also a vital industry, representing an estimated 800,000+ jobs just to support fishing hobbyists and pros with equipment, supplies, training, licensure, lodging and more.

If you are just now joining in on this popular activity, you may legitimately be wondering where to start! There are so many different types of fishing. Equipment choices span the gamut and seem to require learning a whole new vocabulary just to choose a rod, reel and some tackle and bait. Where should you start and what should you do first? Read on for a step-by-step guide to fishing basics.

Decide What Fish You Want to Catch

From mega-fishing to micro-fishing, freshwater to saltwater, species-specific fishing to catch-all fishing, on-shore versus water craft-aided fishing, as Take Me Fishing illuminates, it is clear the first thing to do is to decide what you want to see dangling on the end of your hook.

For instance, if you are keen to enter the emerging sport of micro-fishing, which focuses on catching small species-specific fish in a similar manner to how birders scan the skies for different species of birds, you will need small gear….very small. NPR explains howsmall lures, small hooks, small bait…if it isn’t small enough, your tiny prey won’t be able to grab on.

Assemble Your Basic Fishing Gear

Once you know what type of fish you aim to catch, this list from Boy’s Life describes the general supplies you will need to acquire:

  • Fishing rod.
  • Spinning or casting reel.
  • Fishing line.
  • Hooks.
  • Bobbers.
  • Sinkers.
  • Needle-nose pliers (to extract hooks).
  • Clippers (to cut the fishing line).
  • Bait lures (artificial or real or both).
  • Tackle box (to store your small items).
  • Fishing license.

You may not need the last item depending on where you plan to fish, but it can be a big mistake not to check in advance of a trip only to arrive and discover you can’t fish without one.

Steps to Getting Started Fishing

Assembling all the gear you need to fish can be exciting. It can also feel daunting, like – are you sure you need ALL this gear just to catch a fish? It won’t be until your first actual fishing trip that you really see how essential each item in your toolkit becomes.

Of course, at the most basic level, there is always the tried-and-true “tie some fishing line on the end of a pole” technique. But unless you have access to a local pond or stream where fish are known to gather, this method is unlikely to net you much of a catch.

For some serious fishing how-to, what you need to know is the basic steps in any successful catch. Most beginning fishing enthusiasts start with on-shore fishing. Here, you can focus on learning to cast your fishing line, choosing the right hooks/lures/bait for the fish, reeling in your catch and detaching the fish from the hook.

Here is a list of the basic, general steps to take:

Step 1: Attach a hook to the end of your fishing line and knot it securely.

Step 2: Choose a lure or a live bait (or you can use a combination).

Step 3: Cast your hook and line into the water.

Step 4: Wait very quietly for a bite.

Step 5: When you feel a bite, pull gently on the line to ensure the fish is securely caught.

Step 6: Begin bringing in or reeling in your catch.

Step 7: Gently but firmly grasp the fish, being careful to avoid any sharp spines or (rarely) teeth.

Step 8: Detach the fish from the hook.

So there you have it! These are the basic steps to catch your first fish!

When you are just starting out and practicing these basic techniques, it can be a good choice to enjoy “catch and release” fishing, where you catch the fish and then throw it back so it can continue to grow, breed and multiple its species.

You will want to do this anyway with any fish that is smaller than the legal catch size for your state. Barb-less hooks are the best hooks for catch and release fishing.

Going Beyond Fishing Basics

Of course, beginning and professional fishing enthusiasts alike wish fishing was really that easy. There is so much to learn, the volume of which can take a lifetime. But that is also why fishing is such an alluring sport.

Not only do you get a delicious fish reward when you learn to do everything properly, but since each species of fish requires different fishing tactics to turn a lucky break into a sure catch, when you master one type of fishing, there are still so many other types of fishing to learn!

Once you feel competent and confident practicing the simple fishing basics listed in the previous section, you can advance to an intermediate level. Here, you learn about different types of hooks, which fish likes which types of bait best, the different times of day and seasons when fish are biting and how to fish from a craft as well as from shore.

Fishing hooks.

Hooks come in all shapes and sizes with many different hook types. In general, smaller, lighter hooks are best for small, lightweight fish. The larger and stronger the fish, the more durable the hook should be.

As well, some point types are better for fish with different mouth shapes. And some hooks are designed to work with multiple baits or lures, bobbers or sinkers.

Baits and lures.

The type of bait you use to lure in a small freshwater sunfish is necessarily going to look radically different from the type of bait you use to net a giant deep sea tuna.

Seasonal and time-of-day fishing tactics.

As Field and Stream explains, no tactic is truly off-limit to catch a fish, even in the off-season or at non-optimal times of day or night. Dancing a jig in the mud, submerging yourself in waist-high water, tying big weights onto your line….these are all time-honored strategies to catch different species of fish in pretty much any type of weather or season.

Fishing is not an easy-in-easy-out sport. Rather, it creeps up on you, slowly becoming a passion you can pass along to future generations in turn.

Raising Animals

7 Tips to Raising a Healthy Horse

A happy, healthy horse is a joy for many years, whether as a pet, in competition, or at work on the family farm. Just like anyone else in the family, however, health and happiness doesn’t just happen: it takes time and attention, and sometimes a little investment, but the results are worth the effort.

Here are seven tips to providing your horse with everything he or she needs.

1. Nutrition

Balanced nutrition not only ensures your horse’s health and prevents illness, but also maintains energy levels, a beautiful coat, and healthy weight. Start with a good quality pasture to provide the best foundation for your horse’s nutritional needs. The right mix of grasses, forage and herbs will vary according to your horse’s needs, the region you live in, and what type of soil or terrain you have.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that your pasture is balanced year-round, providing as much variety and nutrition in the spring, as it does when autumn-growing grasses appear. Your state university’s Extension office can advise you on what seed mixes will suit your situation and your horses, including appropriate grasses, both healthy and toxic, and how to establish pastures and prepare seedbeds.

Beyond the pasture, your veterinarian can advise you as to the necessity or amounts of supplements such as hay, grain, pellets, and mineral licks. Nutritional needs can change as a horse ages, or during times of heavy training, pregnancy, or illness.

2. Shelter

Shelter needs vary depending on your local climate and your horse’s breed, age, and health. Many horses are fine with a basic three-sided shelter in the pasture, or even a grove of sturdy shade trees. Others will need a solid stable with clean dry floors and good air circulation.

Whether inside or outside, always consider extreme weather risks when providing shelter, especially in areas prone to freezing, flooding, high winds, extreme heat, and other harsh conditions that can potentially be unsafe.

3. Exercise

Horses kept inside for all or part of the year will rely on regular exercise to stay fit, more so than the horses who run at will in pastures. The weight-bearing exercise of riding helps maintain strong bones, while lunging in a round pen contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory health.

At minimum, all horses should have a regular opportunity to exercise freely in a corral or pasture, ideally with other horses, enjoying the opportunity to walk, trot, or play at will.

Exercise Ideas:

4. Happiness

Exercise provides more than physical benefits, especially when it includes the company of people and other horses. The mental stimulation of interaction, getting outdoors, a change of scene, or fitness training also benefits mental health and contentment. A bored horse soon becomes an unhappy horse, and that can lead to bad habits like biting, kicking, overeating, pawing at the floor or chewing on stall fixtures.

If your horse must be inside for long periods, boredom can be alleviated in several ways. First, be sure he always has plenty of clean water and sufficient hay to munch through. Next, make sure he has company in other horses, familiar people, or even goats. Toys can be beneficial too, as well as surprisingly simple and affordable, such as a milk jug filled with rocks to rattle, or a knotted rope secured to the stall wall.

5. Training

Another excellent way to keep your horse mentally stimulated and happy, and prevent future problems, is to train regularly. Training can be as simple as learning basic good manners, such as standing still during feet cleaning. Teaching your horse little tricks like smiling or making a simple bow will also help keep your horse occupied and happy, and give you both some together time.

6. Grooming

Grooming is a great way to spend time and attention on your horse, and offers some vital benefits. First, curries and brushings will stimulate circulation, help the hair shine, and rid the coat of shedding hair and dirt. To go the extra mile for shows and special occasions, your imagination’s the only limit on braiding styles and mane rolls.

Second, your hands-on attention and gentle touch help build his trust and a connection between you. Third, and perhaps most importantly, going over your horse from top to toe every day will alert you immediately to any injuries or health issues.

7. Vet Care

When those health issues do appear, immediate attention is vital. Prevent serious conditions with regular checkups and a hoof-trimmings with the farrier, to keep your horse in perfect shape. Even with the best care, accidents and illnesses can happen quickly, so it’s essential to keep a first aid kit ready in the barn. Always keep your vet’s phone number in easy reach.


vital signs of a healthy horse

Hope you’ve learned something from our friendly tips on raising a healthy horse. A healthy horse running around the ranch is one of the reasons we all do what we do. Nothing quite like it!

Raising Animals

Best Farm Dog Breeds and How to Keep Them Happy

Most farmers know how helpful a trained dog can be. Throughout the ages, dogs helped in farming by herding cattle and sheep, guarding livestock or ridding the farm of harmful pests. The best dog breed for any farm will depend on the type of work expected from the dog. This article will discuss the best dog breeds for the three most common tasks: herding, guarding and ratting. For each task, five top breeds are listed followed by a discussion about how to care for the farm dogs and how to keep them happy.

Within each of the three groups are dogs with various personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, however, to discuss them all would go beyond the scope of this article. The goal here is to provide a starting point for further research into the best breeds for any given situation.

Herd Dogs

Herd dogs are good at herding livestock such as sheep and cattle. Herding dogs are highly intelligent, very energetic and love to chase things. Herding dogs are medium sized dogs usually ranging between 22 -42 pounds: Excellent breeds for herding are:

  • Border Collie
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Welsh Corgi
  • German Shephard
  • Old English Sheepdog

Because of their intelligence and energy, when caring for herding breeds, one must remember that they require a lot of physical and mental exercise. Due to their intelligence, herding dogs are fairly easy to train. However, owners need to provide plenty of physical and mental exercise to herd dogs otherwise they will develop behavior problems such as chewing, digging, barking, etc. Owners need to ensure that their dogs are walked or allowed to run on a daily basis. Herd dogs like to play active games like fetch or frisbee.

Herding dogs are bred for the herding instinct so a child or another pet running may cause the dog’s herding instinct to activate. However, with proper training and socialization, this should not be a problem as herding dogs usually do well around children and pets. The herding dogs will typically live near the family.

In addition to the care outlined above, Old English Sheepdogs also require quite a bit of grooming. Old English Sheepdogs need to be thoroughly brushed once a week which can be time-consuming. Because of the high level of maintenance required for the characteristic long hair of this breed, many owners choose to keep the dog’s hair cut short. Of the dogs listed above, the Welsh Corgi requires the least amount of grooming; the others fall somewhere in between with the Old English Sheep Dog requiring the most.

Livestock Guardian Dogs

Livestock guardian dogs have been bred to protect livestock from predators. They stay with the animals like any other member of the flock or herd because they bond with it from an early age. Guardian dogs are larger breeds than herding dogs, some weighing up to 150 pounds. Guardian dogs will confront intruders with barking and aggressive behavior. They are very valuable dogs because they can save farmers from the loss of their livestock. The best breeds for guardian dogs are:

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Komander
  • Maremma Sheepdog
  • Tibetan Mastiff

Although guardian dogs typically live with the livestock, they still need to be socialized and exposed to other pets, members of the family, close friends and relatives at an early age and with frequency to the degree that the dogs accept them as members of the pack. Otherwise, guardian dogs will tend to be aggressive to those they perceive as outsiders.

Guardian dogs are happiest when guarding livestock. Other activities such as pulling a cart or backpacking can provide enough activity as well, but when bored, guardians tend become destructive. Guardians are constantly on the prowl for invaders, so they are happiest on farms with space enough to roam. They also prefer to work in a pack of two or more.

Guardians require training, and at the age of 8 to 16 weeks, they should be introduced to and kept with the livestock they will be guarding. Owners often use a bonding pen and choose one or two gentle animals to introduce to the puppy while under supervision. As the pup grows comfortable around the animals, then it can be released to the larger flock. The trainer should give the dog praise when it is with the livestock to reinforce their connection with the dog as a working partner.

Rat Dogs

Rat dogs, as the name implies are great at catching rats and other pesky rodents. Rat dogs are superior to cats at this job because the rat dogs are far more dedicated to the job than cats. The following breeds make terrific ratting dogs:

  • Dachshund
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Rat Terrier

The Terrier Breed Group is typically energetic and does not get along well with cats, other dogs or small children. When other animals or small children are involved, a Rat Terrier may be the best breed terrier to choose because Rat Terriers are better with animals or children when introduced to them at an early age.

In Conclusion

Owners must keep in mind that although the traits are bred into them, the dogs still need training and positive reinforcement. Puppies raised with veteran farm dogs will be easier to train because they will be able to see the older dogs working.

Among these three categories, there are many excellent dog breeds for farm work. They have been bred for these characteristics for thousands of years. To choose the best breed or breeds for farming, one must consider the help needed. Luckily, man’s best friend has been a faithful farm hand throughout history, and farm dogs will continue to be trusted farm hands. They provide companionship to family members as well as protection and herding livestock. They are an integral part of daily farm life, and the thought of a farm dog tends to invoke a Rockwellian image in one’s mind of a boy and his dog. Dogs will always fill an important role in the farming family.


Ranching: A Good Life For Sure, But Still A HARD Life!

Ranching is not a job for the faint of heart. Beneath the romance of riding across the wild plains in high-heeled boots and a broad-brimmed hat lies the plain reality of sweat and dirt and unremitting hard work. The life of a rancher is not easy, but for those who consider it their calling, living off the land is worth every ounce of the difficulty it entails.

The Stereotypical Ranch Lifestyle

The modern ranching business is, in some ways, surprisingly like the images conjured up by old westerns. The yearly cycle of breeding and calving and branding and haying that takes place on modern ranches is the same cycle that took place on Bonanza season after season.

The duties of the modern ranch hand still include rounding up cattle, riding fence, and chopping firewood. But success on the modern ranching scene requires an increasing amount of adaptability and business acumen, and today’s Ponderosas utilize technology of which Ben Cartwright and his sons could only have dreamed.

State of Modern Farming

Entrepreneurs looking to make a livelihood in the ranching business understand from the start that they are taking a step of faith. In an article on the state of modern farming, Iowan farmer Steve Anderegg explains that living off the land leaves you susceptible to the vicissitudes of the weather. “Your livelihood is in the hands of Mother Nature,” he says.

For ranchers, the ever-looming danger of hostile weather is joined by a host of difficulties particular to the era: government regulations and policies, rising land prices, competition with industrial beef and grain producers, increasingly costly energy, and constant technological developments. Keeping abreast of the competition is as much a part of the ranching life now as it was during the days of range wars. However, more options are available to aspiring ranchers than ever before.

An Insight into Modern Farming Tech:

The Sustainable Ranching Movement

A growing trend in the ranching world over the last several years has been the sustainable ranching movement. More and more ranchers, from multi-billionaire Ted Turner to fifth generation Montana cattleman Zachary Jones, are abandoning the old method of letting cows loose to roam at will across vast swathes of pastureland to crop the ground bare.

At one time this was the only reasonable method, but gone are the days of barbed wire fencing that took several ranch hands days to string. Portable electric fencing allows ranchers to contain cows easily in a smaller space, moving them frequently to protect the land from overgrazing. This new system marries efficient cattle production with responsible stewardship of the land and ultimately cuts down on the cost of pesticides, antibiotics, and hay.

New Techniques

New techniques like the continuous grazing rotation keep the ranching business from stagnating. For ranchers who live in constant competition with huge industrial beef factories, that is important. They are not only trying to secure their own financial survival, but preserve a historic way of life.

“Of course, modern ranching is a business,” admits Joe Guild, a lifelong rancher and former president of the Nevada Cattleman’s Association, “but like so many things in human history which have lasted, there is also a culture.”

Guild feels keenly the need to be an ambassador for the traditional ranching life, which he considers an inheritance of many centuries, tracing it back to the farmers and horse-tamers of Arabia, North Africa, and ancient Mesopotamia. “There aren’t many of us,” he lamented in an address at the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive in 2005. But his enthusiasm for his fellow ranchers is unmistakable.

Everyone from cooks to cowboys has the same attitude here, he claims. “They have a sense of humor…there is an honesty and a straightforwardness about them you can almost feel. They want to be on this land.”

Plain Hard Work

But for all the excitement of doing battle with a continually developing market and for all the pride of carrying on a time-honored way of life, the everyday reality of ranching is plain hard work. A typical year in the life of a ranch hand requires experience in countless areas.

No other job demands one person to be an expert in pasture management, seeding, irrigation, fence-building, riding, calving, weaning, medicating, herding, branding, haying, mowing, snowplowing, woodcutting, pipe maintenance, machinery operation, and engine repair, as well as physically fit enough to do manual labor from sunup to sundown. For the boss of the operation, add a few more qualifications like computer literacy, business savvy, and legal fluency. Balancing account books, feeding livestock, and fixing broken tractors may not be romantic, but they are the fabric of which the ranching life is made.

Parting Words

ranch house on a beautiful night

The ranching life is undoubtedly a good life. The satisfaction of working the land and providing food for countless people is no small reward. But make no mistake: its demands, both physically and mentally, are as intense as they have ever been.

Camping, Hiking, Lifestyle

10 Essentials for Hiking & Camping in the Country

Packing for a hiking and camping trip in the country can prove tricky for someone who isn’t a seasoned outdoors man. You start by putting the basics like sleeping bag and tent into the car and before you know it, you have packed more than you need. The key to avoiding overloading lies in knowing what you need and what you don’t. Before loading up on your favorite books, pricey gear and snacks, here are 10 essentials you simply can’t leave out.

1. Navigation

Getting lost in the woods will certainly spoil your camping trip. The two main components of navigation you will need are a map and compass. You can also toss in a wrist altimeter or GPS to replace either of the above.

If your trip involves a long, frequently visited nature trail or impossible-to-miss footpath, carrying a topographical map is a must. Combine your knowledge of reading maps with a compass and you never have to worry about getting lost. Consider purchasing a compass with a sighting mirror as it will help you flash sunlight to a rescuer or helicopter during an emergency.

2. Insulation

It is always good to pack an extra layer of clothing to protect yourself from the elements. This is particularly true because the conditions can turn chilly, wet or windy abruptly. You want to be protected in case something expected prolongs your exposure to the elements.

The extra clothing you pack should be dictated by the time of the year. Ask yourself what you would need to survive the worst conditions that could occur during your trip. Common sense dictates that you pack extra socks, an insulating hat, a layer of underwear as well as a synthetic vest or jacket.

3. Fire

You will need to cook or keep warm during the night. With that in mind, ensure that your pack a box of matches and a firestarter. The matches should be of the waterproof variety or at least stored in a waterproof container. Rather than convenient store matchbooks that are poorly constructed and flimsy, consider mechanical lighters.

As for the firestarter, you need something that ignites quickly and sustains the heat for at least half a minute. Suitable options include dry tinder, chipped wood clusters dipped in resin, priming waste, and candles. Lint trappings from a household rack are also a good idea.

4. Sun protection

A pair of sunglasses will be indispensable. A key function of quality lenses is blocking 100% of ultraviolet light. This offers additional protection against cataracts. If you will be walking on ice or snow, go for a pair of glasses extra-dark glacier glasses.

Don’t forget t pack sunscreen, preferably a formula that offers sun protection factor of at least 30. It should also be able to block UVB and UVA sunrays. Reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours depending sweat, time of day and other factors. If you can get a SPF-rated lip balm, carry it with you.

5. Hydration

The average man can survive up to three days without water. Always carry at least one bottle of water and a collapsible water reservoir. Don’t forget a means of treating water for when you refill the bottle at a stream or lake. A chemical treatment or filter should suffice. Before you embark on your trip, consult your map and identify any possible water sources. Refill your water reservoir before beginning a long stretch of unpredictable availability of water.

6. First-aid supplies

While pre-assembled first-aid kits take the guesswork out of putting together your own kit, personalizing your own first-aid kid is an effective way of ensuring that it suits your needs. The ideal camping first aid kit should have adhesive bandages of different sizes, blister treatments, adhesive tape, over-the-counter medication, gauze pads, disinfecting ointment, pen and paper. Don’t underestimate the importance of nitrile gloves.

The main factors that will determine what contents and how much of each you park include the number of people as well as length of the trip. Carrying a compact guide is a good idea as it will help a great deal when dealing with emergencies.

7. Nutrition

It is always a good idea to pack an extra day’s worth of food. Many people usually opt for freeze-dried meals but no-cook items with long a long shelf life like dried fruits, energy bars and jerky are just as good. The type and amount of food you pack will depend on how long the trip as well as how many people are coming with you. You may want to munch something before going to bed on a cold night since the process of digestion will keep the body warm.

8. Illumination

While a fire may provide plenty of lighting at night, having some kind of backup is recommended. Many backpackers opt for headlamps as they allow for hands-free operation and have a long battery life. They are also lightweight. Consider a headlamp that offers a strobe mode since it prolongs battery life, hence invaluable during emergencies.

Other alternatives worth considering include packable lanterns and flashlights. Modern LED Lanterns & flashlights cast very powerful beams that you can use to signal rescuers or a helicopter during emergencies. Make sure that you pack an extra set of batteries for your headlamp or flashlight. If hiking in a group, everyone should have their own light.

9. Shelter and Air Mattress

This is an absolute necessity for any overnight hiking trip. The thinking is that something is better than nothing if you’re stranded and have to deal with the rain. There are many options when it comes to camping shelters such include an ultra-light tarp, hammock or bivy sack. Some manufacturers offer tents that accommodate as many as 6 people. A tent that accommodates several people may be a better option if you are hiking in a group and need to reduce load. On the other hand, a hammock makes more sense if you are hiking in rugged countryside where finding a clearing to pitch a tent is nearly impossible.

While a tent will protect you from the rain, it won’t offer much comfort. You will need a quality queen air mattress for a comfortable night’s sleep. It will provide additional protection from the elements.

10. Communication

You never know what happens in the country and in case of an injury or emergency, you need to be able to communicate with the outside world. Carry your fully charged cell phone in a waterproof case to save batteries. A whistle will carry the sound further as compared to your bare voice. Consider packing a personal locator beacon if you will be hiking into extremely remote terrain.

While this list is far from exhaustive, it’s important to note that these are the bare essentials you can’t leave behind. You should also consider carrying some form of protection, perhaps a survival knife. Now that you know what to pack for your camping trip, we hope that you have the best experience out there.

Raising Animals

7 Tips to Raising Healthy Chickens

Humans around the globe have been raising chickens for thousands of years. It’s fairly simple to do with the right knowledge. Here are seven tips for raising healthy chickens.

Feeding Chickens a Healthy Diet

The first thing chicken-keepers should keep in mind is the diet of their birds. Chickens need different nutrients depending on their stage of life. Laying hens need a layer feed that is high in calcium and other nutrients.On the other hand, layer feed has too much calcium for roosters. Roosters do best with a maintenance pelleted feed or crumbles. A maintenance ration is also best for female birds that are not currently laying, such as pullets, older hens or young females who have ceased laying for the season. Chicks need a special, high-protein food as well.

Chickens also need access to grit (dirt or crushed stone) to help them digest their food. Oyster shell is an extra source of calcium that some chicken-owners like to keep for their hens. If oyster shell is provided, it must not be mixed in with the main feed but should be kept separate; otherwise, the birds may consume too much calcium which can cause joint problems and other health issues.

Keeping Chickens Safe from Predators

A second important factor in raising healthy chickens is predator-proofing. Many animals will eat chickens if they get the chance. Chicken-eating species include dogs, cats, raccoons, weasels, birds of prey, foxes and more. In order to prevent predator attacks, a secure coop and pen is necessary. Birds should be locked up safely at night and placed in a pen inaccessible to wild animals, feral cats and domestic dogs during the day.

It should be noted that chicken wire is not adequate keeping most predators out. It is designed to keep chickens in but will not stop skunks, opossums, minks or other determined predators. Ideally, the chicken pen should be covered with thin-slotted wire over the top. Wire should also be placed beneath the dirt of the pen if possible. This prevents animals from digging under the fence and coming up beneath the birds.

Diseases and Biosecurity

Disease is a third serious consideration. This is especially true concerning urban chickens. Urban chickens are at a greater risk of catching diseases, such as salmonellosis, and spreading them to other birds and to humans as well.

Biosecurity is the practice of preventing these diseases from spreading. Poultry-owners can practice biosecurity by avoiding visiting poultry auctions, poultry farms or other flocks of chickens. Another way to practice biosecurity is to only introduce new birds after a period of quarantine, during which time the new birds are kept far away from the existing flock.

Keeping the Pen Clean

A fourth thing to keep in mind is pollution. Chickens will peck at and swallow litter such as used cigarettes or old, rusty screws on the ground. This will kill them. Their pen must be kept clean and regularly inspected for dangerous pieces of trash. Other forms of pollution that must be avoided include chemicals such as rat poison, herbicides and insecticide. In addition, anything with lead in it must be kept away from chickens.

Other Hazardous Materials to Keep Away from Chickens:

  • Deep bodies of water, including water buckets chickens may trip and fall head-first into
  • Shoes and clothing that came into contact with the droppings, feathers or other body parts of poultry from a different flock
  • Bits of broken glass
  • Animal food designed for other species, such as goats, sheep or dogs

The Importance of Clean Water

Fresh water is a vital, fifth consideration. Chickens without cold water in the summer can quickly become dehydrated or over-heated and suffer a heat stroke. On the other hand, in areas with frigid winters, water should be heated so it does not turn into ice. Water should be changed twice daily, once in the morning and again in the evening. It should always be clean and free from droppings or other filth, which will cause disease and death. Stagnant water will also cause disease and death, even if it looks clear, due to the botulism-causing bacteria that breeds in still water.

Roosters and Hens

The sixth tip is the sex ratio. In a flock with too many males, the roosters will fight with each other, doing damage that may be fatal. The hens will also suffer from over-mating, and will lose feathers on the neck and back. Over-mated hens are more stressed and susceptible to injury or disease. A flock of eight or less hens should have just one rooster, if any. To avoid an unhealthy sex ratio, never buy straight-run chicks from a hatchery.

Mental Health

The seventh tip is to mentally stimulate the birds. Scientific studies show that chickens are as intelligent as a seven-year-old human being. They are emotional, thinking creatures more sentient than most people realize. They can suffer from boredom. Bored chickens may excessively peck at each other or pace constantly. Boredom can be alleviated by petting them, giving them safe treats such as fresh watermelon or summer squash or simply by spending time with them.

Faming Help, Growing Vegetables, How To

How to Grow Corn

Corn plants will most certainly grow in most types of soils, but to nurture the plant till it produces cobs or ears is not a simple task. You need to be aware of what it takes from the time you plant seeds to the time the cobs are ripe for harvesting. The plant is a heavy feeder, and for the cobs to mature, the plant must accumulate enough heat or heat units for the time when it is growing. Its daily length or its size does not determine the quality of yield.

When the chilling spring frost is over, corn need temperatures that exceed 50 F. This amount of heat is suitable for the heat units to be created. And since corn grow taller than most garden plants; they shade other crops such as vegetables. There are many varieties of the crop that do well in different parts of the world. Before you sow the seeds, find out from your local agricultural officer which is the best type of corn for you particular area.

Land Preparation

Like most other crops, the first step to corn growing is land preparation. The crop requires a lot of space so ensure that you have enough space for the corn. Plough the land thoroughly to ensure that weeds are removed.  In some parts of the world, corn is grown all year round so long as there is enough precipitation, but in other regions, it is important to know the planting season. Late April to early June is the ideal time for planting the crop.

Planting Corn

Since corn is quite vulnerable to extremely cold conditions or frost, make sure there is no danger of frost when you plant the seeds. Plant the seeds after the soil has reasonably warmed up. The seeds need about 60 degrees to germinate. You must not attempt to transplant corn because they often die when they are transplanted. It takes seven to ten days for the seeds to germinate.

Your garden might be in an area of short seasons, and you could want to plant them indoors. In this case, you should use biodegradable containers so the plant’s roots will not be disturbed during the time of transplanting. To speed up the process of warming the soil when the cold weather persists, you can spread black plastic sheets to warm the soil in the planting area.

The patch for corn planting should be sited on a wind-protected and sunny area. To get the best yields, plant you seeds in a piece of land where you previously grew clover, hairy vetch or beans which enrich the soil. Corn is a heavy-feeding plant particularly on nitrogen.

Seeds should be sown just 1 inch deep during early planting, but when the hot midsummer weather has set in, you can plant them up to 2 inches deep. Seeds can be planted at intervals of seven to fifteen inches because the average rate of germination for corn is almost 75 percent. Depending on the variety of corn, plant one to three seeds in one hole. If they are more than that, thin them after they grow above the soil level. Take care not to disturb the remaining plants when you remove the unwanted seedlings.

Weed Removal

Apart from being a heavy-feeder, the crop is susceptible to the presence of weeds. Use the most efficient method of weed control to remove all weeds around the corn-stalk because the crop cannot compete well with weeds. You should do this when the corn is about 3 inches during the first month of their growth. When weeding, take enough care not to disturb the plant’s roots. When they are growing, the shallow roots can spread out almost a half a foot from the stalk. To protect the roots from damage, you can add mulch to stop the weeds from growing.

You should plant corn in circles or in blocks to encourage cross-pollination between the plants.  And when corn is growing add manure or compost beneath each seed farrow. In the row, they should be 8-10 inches apart, but the double eared or large varieties should be planted at least 24 inches apart. Ensure that the corn is weed-free until they are above knee height.

Top Dressing with Nutrients

Compost fertilizers, fish-based organic nutrients and blood meal are ideal for side dressing the corn crop when the stalks are about 6 inches. The process should be repeated when the crop is about knee-high. Cutting any side growths or suckers might damage the roots of corn, so do not attempt to pluck them off because they cause no harm to the corn.

When the stalks start tasseling, the corn will require about an inch of water weekly. To avoid getting corn ears with a lot of missing kennels, ensure that the crop gets sufficient water. You can apply the water to the soil using drip irrigation of a hose for soaking, but when the rains are enough, you shouldn’t worry.

Maturity and Harvesting

Different types of corn crops mature at different time intervals, however, majority take 2-3 months to ripen. The days to maturity are often listed for each variety on the seed packet. The best way to know whether the corn is ripe is to check for the silks at the top of the ear. When they turn brown and dry as the corn begins to droop then the ears are ready. When cut, the kernels also produce a milky fluid or juice. Harvesting should commence once the husks of the plants have turned dry and yellow brown in late summer or early fall.


Life on the Ranch: The Illegal Immigration Problem Far from the Border

Migration has always been a part of human society, but the growth of cities, towns, and countries makes it harder to migrate for some. At some point, borders would be put in place, and illegal immigration soon followed.

It is estimated that 11.3 million undocumented people reside in the United States, which is a number that has stayed relatively the same for eight years. Contrary to popular belief, illegal immigration has slowed down, but it is still causing issues beyond the border.

Why do People Immigrate Illegally?

Illegal immigrants are met with all sorts of obstacles, from insufferable terrain to border patrol. Furthermore, there are some people in the United States that feel apprehensive about people who immigrate illegally. Still, many people continue to try their luck and migrate into this country without papers. The following are some of the reasons they do this:

  • Extreme poverty and looking for opportunity
  • Problems with overpopulation in their country
  • Wars or fear of persecution
  • Reunification with family who are already residing in the country
  • They believe they will help the country, and see border laws as immoral

Granted, these are just some of the reasons people migrate here, but they are enough to propel illegal immigration.

Problems Immigrants Encounter

It might seem that illegal immigrants only encounter problems at the border with the border patrol, but problems with illegal immigrants continue. One of the biggest issues that many undocumented people face is unlawful working conditions.

An unlawful working condition that some illegal immigrants are forced to undergo is working without safety regulations. A regular American would be given the proper safety gear to work in an area where the risk of contamination is high, but an illegal worker will not be.

These migrants are also forced to work way below minimum wage and cannot unionize within this country. Granted, some of these rights were written for American citizens. Illegal immigrants are not citizens, but that should not give American business owners or companies the right to abuse human beings.

Illegal immigrants can be overworked without expecting overtime pay and are sometimes forced to work through breaks. These migrants usually do not have anyone to complain to and, when they do, they risk being deported.

The problems that immigrants face continue from there. For example, many immigrants are victims of crime in the United States, including domestic violence that could even affect children. Immigrants also fear reporting sexual assaults, which can put others in danger since the sexual predator is not apprehended when he or she should have been. Most immigrants do not report these crimes because they fear that the police will report their status in the United States, which will result in deportation.

These are just some of the issues immigrants who choose to cross the border face in this country. This is on top of other issues like not having medical support among many others.

Unlawful Immigration and the United States

Yes, the illegal immigration population faces issues but so does the United States as a whole. For one, it is estimated that illegal immigrants cost the United States about $99 billion. This seems like a large number, and it includes money spent on medical emergencies and educating some of these individuals.

The number does seem large, but it does not take into account all the money that illegal immigrants put back into the system. These individuals are spending their money in the country, supporting local businesses and the economy. It is easy to say that deporting them would be the best solution, but people should consider how much the US actually depends on illegal immigrants.

It is sad that these individuals are exploited at work, but this exploitation grants other Americans discounts. For example, homes are built cheaper and sold at a more reasonable price with the help of illegal immigrants and the same can be said about other things like produce.

There are many issues associated with produce since 50 to 70 percent of the labor force tasked with picking produce from a farm are illegal immigrants. This means that produce could see a spike if all immigrants were deported. Some Americans would say that US workers would pick up the slack, but most Americans just do not want these jobs, which makes immigrant workers vital.

It is clear that the problem with illegal immigration is a lot more complicated than some might imagine. The recent animosity against illegal immigrants is not new. Citizens of different countries have turned against immigrants at some point. The animosity is usually linked to work, and it tends to happen when the country is not doing too well economically. Illegal immigrants are blamed for the problem, but the issue might just rest in the way income is distributed rather than immigration.

Faming Help, Growing Vegetables, How To

How to Grow Potatoes

Potatoes can come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and colors. However, when you grow your own, you can be satisfied knowing you’re paying virtually nothing for a large crop of tasteful, nutritional spuds. Below, is a guide to growing your own potatoes without needing to shop for the usual five-pound sack each week at your local grocers.

1. Purchase the Seeds

Potatoes are created from seed potatoes, which are potatoes that have buds sprouting on them. However, make sure that you only use certified seed potatoes from your grocer’s, since others can contain bacteria and diseases that can raise a bad crop. You can also order seed potatoes from your local garden center as well. The variety of potatoes you can grow includes the Irish Cobbler, French Fingerling, All Blue, and Kennebec and Katahdin.

2. Prepare for Planting

One week prior to planting, put your seed potatoes in a hot spot that averages between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the sprouts start growing growing on the potatoes, you’re ready to start planting. At least three days prior to planting, cut up your seed potatoes into two-inch pieces, with each slice containing at least two buds. Once you cut them up, you let them sit in an area at room temperature for up to three days.

3. Prepare Your Garden

To grow a good crop, your potatoes need to be planted in loose, healthy soil with plenty of sunlight. Using a gardening rake, you should regularly keep the soil loose, while adding in fertilizer.

4. Plant Your Potatoes

When choosing a place to plant your potatoes, make sure that the area can be easily drained and has enough rooms for the roots to grow.

Trench Method

The trench method is the most traditional method and involves creating a small trench, at least six inches deep, to plant your seed potatoes in. Then, simply cover your potatoes in a few inches of soil, and continuously add in the soil as your crop grows.

Scatter Method

This method just requires you to put your seed potatoes on the soil and cover them up with a couple inches of fresh mulch. Then, you only need to add in a few more inches of mulch as your crop grows. However, if you have a constant rodent problem, you should avoid this method.

Container Method

The container method is among the easiest and takes up much less space than the other methods. All you have to do is plant your seed potatoes at the bottom of a tall container, such as a trash barrel. First, place 6 inches of soil at the bottom, then insert your seed potatoes. However, you should make sure to continuously add in soil as your potatoes grow taller.

5. Maintain Your Potatoes

Since potatoes don’t thrive well in rich soil, you should have plenty of organic material in your soil. As long as the pH is neutral, your potatoes should grow healthy. However, your crop does depend on a consistent water supply, make sure you water them up to an inch per week.

6. Hill Your Potatoes

Five weeks post planting your potatoes, they should be hilled or have soil piles around their stems. This way, your new potatoes can grow above your planted seed potatoes. When you hill your potatoes, it’s okay to cover your entire crop or even leave a couple leaves exposed from the soil. However, you should hill frequently to avoid new tubers being directly exposed to the sun.

7. Harvest Your Potatoes

Potatoes are ready for harvest in roughly 70 to 100 days after planting your seed potatoes. A large hint that your potatoes are ready for harvest is their yellow leaves and reduced foliage. However, you should leave them in their soil for up to an additional three weeks to harden their skin. While harvesting, you should use a garden rake and hands to dig them up from the ground.

8. Eat/Store Your Potatoes

Once your potatoes are harvested, they should be immediately washed off prior to eating. However, if you plan to store them, you should find a dry spot to cure them for two weeks. Once cured, sort through which potatoes are healthy and which ones are too shriveled or soft. The healthy potatoes should be placed in a secure, cool spot where they can sit for a few months.

Pest and Disease Warning

When planting your potatoes, watch out for these pests and diseases.


Aphids and beetles can easily defoliate your crop. You should be regularly monitoring your potatoes early on in the season to make sure this doesn’t become a problem. To do this, check the sides of your potatoes for any eggs or larvae of pests that can ultimately ruin your crop. Make sure you remove these pests by hand and attach red wire worms around your potato crop to avoid wire worms.


If you notice corky areas or sunken holes on the skin of your potatoes, they may be suffering from scab, which is caused by low pH in the soil. However, you can avoid this by adding peat moss to your garden or raising the pH of the soil.

Faming Help, Raising Animals

How to Milk a Cow By Hand (It can be fun!)

To get the most from a dairy cow, you have to milk the cow every day, or she may stop producing milk and develop problems with her teats. However, unless you own more than 15 dairy cows, the cost of an expensive milking machine outweighs the benefits of using it.

You can save more money when you do it by hand, and while milking by hand has its difficulties in the beginning, it only takes time before you master the technique. After you know how to milk a dairy cow, you could probably do it blindfolded. Until you reach that stage, however, here are some things you will need.

Disciplined Schedule for Milking

You should milk cows twice daily, and you have to milk your cows correctly so that they feel happy and generous with their milk. As long as you handle your cow with care, she will produce milk from her udders when calving. Because her teats get stimulated from calving, she naturally produces the milk.

Clean and Sanitize Everything

Hands down one of the most important rules of milking a cow by hand relates to sanitizing everything. The main areas to sanitize before you start milking include:

  • Your hands
  • The teat you will be pulling on
  • The bucket to collect the milk
  • The receptacle to store the milk with

Without proper care of hygiene in the workstation, it affects the quality in the final product. Even worse, a failure to keep your workstation clean can lead to a buildup of harmful bacteria like mastitis, which is a disease of the udder that can spread from cow to cow and hurt your milk production. Clean the buckets out after each use and rinse it well with hot water. When cleaning the cow, you don’t necessarily have to wash her fully, but you should wash and brush the side of your cow to prevent debris from dropping into the buckets. Finally, you should wash your hands and the udder before you start to hand milk your cows.

Beware of Kicks

It doesn’t matter how docile your dairy cow acts out in the field, she can kick like a mule if she feels threatened. For that reason, you have to treat your cows with respect and tie their legs together with a strip of leather or cloth before you start milking. In addition to a cow kicking you, she may kick over your bucket full of milk just as you were about to finish. Some dairy farmers don’t restrain their cows, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth in the end if she kicks you and the milk bucket.

Milking the Cow

To begin, you will set the milking stool on the right side of your cow, and you will place the bucket between your knees so that the bucket doesn’t accidentally tip over. You should also try to get under the cow so that you shorten the distance between the teat and the bucket.

Milking by Hand: All in the Technique

When it comes to milking cows by hand, it all boils down to how you hold the teat of the cow. For example, you should always grasp the teat with your whole hand and thumb, and your forefinger should be close to the top of the teat. With the proper grasping of the teat, you stop the milk from flowing back up into the udder. After you have done this, you enclose the rest of the teat using your fingers. This will press the milk out of the cow. To effectively pull milk from the teats, you will release the grip from your forefinger and thumb on the teat, which lets the milk flow down from the udder. You repeat this process of enclosing the udder and squeezing the teat.

The Process of Milking

The actual process of how to milk a cow is not overly difficult, but it does take some time to master the technique. When you first milk cows, you should begin the process with the front teats and move to the back two teats after you have emptied them. Afterwards, you can return to the front teats and finish with whatever remains. Milking cows sets you in a rhythm, and after a while, you will learn how to pull with both hands.

A milker must exercise caution to keep small dust particles, hairs and other debris out of the milk. The most common way to do this is to set a cheese cloth over the milk bucket. While milk does get strained after, much of the dirt dissolves and passes through the strainer and into the milk. You prevent this problem with the use of a cheesecloth. After you have finished with milking, here’s some recipes on cheese making.