Bakers Green Acres

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25
Apr
2012

At long last, I have an updatte for you!  I asked a couple of people who were in the courtroom, Scott Everett and Joseph O’Leary, as well as Mark for their views on last Friday’s hearing for Ron McKendrick.

The hearing in Cheboygan was a question of lifting or keeping in place the Temporary Restraining Order that prevented Ron McKendrick from NOT allowing DNR on his property.  In other words, he was restrained from denying them access.  They could come and go at will, his business was essentially frozen–he couldn’t buy more stock, sell hunts, and could only send animals to a processor if he alerted the DNR (note that they’d already interviewed/intimidated his processor).

Highlights of the day were:

According to several counts, between the Attorney General, DNR and Department of Agriculture there were 17 State of Michigan Employees in the courtroom concerning this case.  The lead characters were all dressed in black (Mark likened it to the Matrix).  Security was intense.  At this small, rural county courthouse everyone was supposed to go through metal detectors, past numerous deputies and State Police Troopers.  An explosive sniffing dog walked through small groups of farmers and supporters.  Mark noticed a couple scruffy looking fellows in overalls and talked to one of them on a couple of separate breaks.  The fellow shared that he was currently unemployed, homeless, and had nothing else to do, so he came to see the proceedings.  Ah, OK.  Mark then asked how an unemployed fellow such as himself made it past all that security into the courtroom with a concealed gun and wearing a Kevlar vest .   The fellow quickly found someone else to talk to.  There were several similar experiences related by others who attended.  As with other meetings with this agency, the farmers and ranchers were “disarmed” with great show (not that there were any arms in the first place) while the agents went to great lengths (and expense) to show their force.

It was interesting to hear the DNR attempt to explain how there is a second species of swine. Even though common sense people believe that all animals that can breed and produce fertile off spring are of the same species, somehow, someway, the DNR believes some swine are a totally different species than others.

The Department of Agriculture talked about all the diseases that swine carry and the risks associated with spreading diseases when pigs are raised outside.  Remember that open ended 9th characteristic?  That was a point Attorney Joseph O’Leary tried to hammer home:  this declatory ruling is simply too vague to be a rule of law.  It lacks sufficient definiteness such that ordinary people can read it and stay within the law.  It doesn’t give objective shoulder height measurements or even describe the “distinct skeletal structure.”  And we won’t touch the “characteristics currently unknown” trait.

The disputed full blood Mangalitsa was used as an example. As presented through expert testimony by Mark Baker, Mangalitsa swine have 7 of the 9 prohibited DNR characteristics, yet DNR Director Rodney Stokes has chosen to attempted to exempt them from the ISO.  It seems a very political move since the Mangalitsa has very politically connected friends.  In another instance, witness Matt Tingstad related that at the Feb. 1st meeting he showed a video of his pigs, “Gretchen” and “Princess Gloria,” whom he purchased from Roger Turunen, to expert Jack Mayer.  Mr. Mayer assured him his pets were exempt.  When Matt showed pictures to a DNR agent at another time, the agent told him they animals were not exempt.

One DNR Conservation Officer that testified said he would never use just one of the prohibited characteristics to classify a pig as an invasive species. The law and a very clear directive letter from Rodney Stokes says any one or more characteristics condemns an animal.   Attorney Joseph O’Leary said, “that is because you are a man of great integrity.”

In the end, the decision was that Ron McKendrick can continue to harvest his animals and conduct business, though he can’t restock.  The DNR is allowed to enter his property one more time before the actual trial (this was only a preliminary hearing, remember) to look for pigs.  They also must give three days notice through Ron’s attorney before conducting their search.  They may not in any way interfere with Ron’s business by interviewing customers, employees, or business associates.

This was only a preliminary step.  The full trial has yet to be scheduled, but is expected to be within the next month.  Stay tuned…

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20
Apr
2012

I was asked yesterday for a response to the DNR’s latest release.  I figured others may have the same question, so I’ll share my answers here.

The Cheboygan News wrote a helpful article as well:  Invasive Swine Prompts DNR visit to Renegade Ranch…

Here is my take:

Note in the paragraph they say “the vast majority….”  There are cases to the contrary, and I shared a couple of those stories earlier on our blog.
                        They have not, themselves, shot any pigs.  Mr. Tuxbury shot his own pigs because the DNR, in a Feb. 1st meeting, expressly told the farmers and ranchers present that they would arrest noncompliant operators and charge them with a felony as the Invasive Species Order is based in the federal Invasive Species Act.  The DNR also directed those present to violate the Invasive Species Act and depopulate by selling out of state or butchering.  Note on my blog that Ron McKendrick’s butcher felt too intimidated to be comfortable taking his hogs after they visited her–”harboring” an invasive species is punishable with fines and felony charges.  This is how the law is written.  Those who voluntarily depopulated, as Mr. Tuxbury did, simply didn’t want to risk the fines and a felony record.  In the Feb. 1st meeting, the DNR was VERY clear about the consequences of non compliance.  They have a history of using intimidation tactics to ensure compliance.
They have not “arrested” anyone.  Mark is in Cheboygan this morning to testify in the hearing for Ron and Charlene McKendrick.  The DNR has brought suit against him rather than arrest him.  Since Mark follows this very closely while I am managing the farm and behind scenes, he knows more about this.  Nonetheless, they’ve avoided the arrest scenario, but are pressing civil suits.  I know part of the suit is billing him for the enforcement action against him.  I expect you’ll hear about this in the news and I’ll post it on the blog when Mark gets home and I can debrief him.

“The (ISO) is not an attack on farms.”  The DNR has repeatedly sought to characterize a breed of pig as a whole separate species.  In fact, the Boar breeds (there are several strains) produce fertile offspring when crossed with other pig breeds.  High school biology, anyone?  That makes them the same species, different breed.  They are the most heritage of heritage breeds, the root stock from which all breeds have been line bred.  They are not Asian Carp. Note that the kills they claim happened over 10 years and the photos of Russian Boars loose in the wild are all from Texas or Florida–NOT Michigan.  The DNR has not made a solid case for a massive feral pig problem requiring the elimination of an industry, no matter how distasteful it may be.  Bottom line on the ISO, though: it is poorly written and needs to be rescinded.  As it is written right now, ANY pig possessing floppy ears and a curly tail may be a Boar hybrid and is forbidden.  If you have an erect or floppy eared, curly tailed pig on your farm, you are in violation.  They may not be after you now, but the law is written in such a way that the door is open should they discover that the 9th characteristic currently not known to the DNR is that feral hogs put on weight while living on dirt and eating grass–wherever such pigs may occur.

Please ask your questions!

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19
Apr
2012

For those of you who have asked when and where so you can support The Cause, Ron and Charlene McKendrick’s hearing  is at the Cheboygan County Court House in Cheboygan starting at 9:00 am on Friday April 20th.  We’d love to have a court room full of peaceful, law abiding, constitution honoring citizens as a show of support!

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16
Apr
2012

Wanted to share an e-mail from one of the farmers who was raided on Friday.  Note at the end of his message what the DNR observed about his facility.

Subject: search warrant

I was served a search warrant yesterday at 7: 45am.

After 8 guys 3 four wheelers, and 4 hours, DNR decided I was correct. I have killed all my hogs. They gave me papers that say I do not have any hogs on my property. All they saw were dead hogs laying around from my mass slaughtering. It took 12 guys 4 times in there to kill all of them, sows with young, Pregnant sows, dozens of piglets, and old mature boars. It has been a sad few weeks.

Does anyone know what it feels like to open fire on 20 baby piglets in one group which weigh between 5lbs and 15 lbs. They are so adorable and cute.

They commented to everyone that they never saw a fence built so tough and no way would a hog get out of this area. I trenched 2′ then installed chain link fencing, then a 10′ high tightlock fence on top of that. ( 200 acre area ) They never saw a fence like that.

Dave Tuxbury

deer tracks ranch

 

Another farmer, Ron McKendrick, was raided on Saturday, ending a two week event in which his place was staked out for three days, his customers were “interviewed” by armed officers, and his meat processor was so intimidated she won’t take his hogs but fears her business will suffer greatly due to the loss of business.   Even though he’s in Detroit working while a hired man runs his facility, he had a restraining order issued against him and faced a suit for not obeying the ISO–however, by the time of the raid on Saturday, he’d never received any paperwork informing him of those two pieces of court action.  He faces a hearing in Cheboygan on Friday, April 20th.  If you’re in the area, feel free to attend.

This is an e-mail from our lawyer, commenting on a release from the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

The mindset of the MUCC is frightening. The MUCC cynically spouts the DNR B.S. and asserts that most people have already knuckled under to government pressure and they “will deal with the most difficult folks through the court system as needed.”  Anyone ever read “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”? A certain fellow named Hitler espoused the same rationale for dealing with “enemies of the Reich”. His strategy was to use spiritual and physical intimidation by spreading lies and falsehoods designed to make the public believe that a certain situation exists and to vilify anyone who would question the existence of the falsehoods. That form of pressure works on 90% of the people who back down and go away. Then the machinery of government is used to to finish off those who are still standing. Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it!

This weekend we should all remember another fellow who 2000 years ago faced precisely these tactics and didn’t back down. He stood tall in the face of lies and misinformation and bore the full brunt of the machinery of the greatest government the world had ever seen. Despite that, his message lives on while the government he faced has long since crumbled into ruin. Truth will always win in the end. 
Have a blessed and Happy Easter everyone. 
Joseph

Two stories about how the government is dealing “with the most difficult folks through the court system as needed.” (quote from the MUCC release).  If you’ve supported us in any way, you can be proud to be part of the 10% who resist falsehood and empty assurances of safety.  Thanks for standing, and keep up the good work!

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12
Apr
2012

OPPORTUNITY FOR ACTION: In a recent article from the Gongwer news service, director of the MI Dept of Ag and Rural Development said, “Director Stokes is moving ahead with a common sense plan.”  The Dept of Ag has been given a pass so far, but Dirctor Keith Creagh needs to know that the DNR is not implementing a common sense plan.  His phone number is:  517-373-1052.    His e-mail is:  creaghk@michigan.gov.  We do not need ear tags, fees for permits to raise food, or pigs-can-fly regulation.  We need the DNR on their side of the fence and common sense solutions on the agriculture side of the fence.

 

OK, some more Frequently Asked Questions:

1) The DNR are implementing “reasonable measures” to deal with a very real problem, right?

There is a tried and true tactic to get people to feel good about oppressive measures: create a problem (fabricate it or make a mountain out of a molehill) and then offer the solution.       ***There are feral pigs in Michigan.  They have escaped or been released from various sources.  However, the DNR claims that in 2009 (or earlier) there were up to 5000 feral swine–all Russian Boars– breeding like rabbits in the state.  So how many are there now?  Per DNR numbers, around 132 were sighted and 42 shot last year.  Where are the thousands and thousands that should be out there???  Michigan does not even come close to a Texas or Florida size problem.  So, IS there a very real problem?     ****The solution: “shut off the faucet.”  The DNR made a rule to try to headlock the legislature into getting rid of swine hunting facilities, for no other good reason than that they want to.  They ignore their own law to permit some people to keep their pigs (ie: the Mangalitsa pig question).  The facts are irrelevant to them.  The legislature offered a solution CRAFTED BY ALL CONCERNED PARTIES that was REASONABLE and appropriate: Shoot on sight any pig outside a fence.  Note that this is a more generous solution than Texas or Florida possesses.  Even as late as the Read the rest of this entry »

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10
Apr
2012

Listen to Mark on the Power Hour – April9th – 2nd Hour of the show.   Click on this This To Listen

Play

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6
Apr
2012

One of the best articles written yet.  It is factual, well sourced, and you get the picture accurately.  Way to go Cadillac News!

Local Farmer Takes Fight Against Swine Mandate to Lansing

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4
Apr
2012

Another account of Mark’s visit to the Capital and a lesson in politics:

http://hartkeisonline.com/animal-husbandry/big-pig-lobbyist-uses-cloakroom-tactics-to-foil-small-farm-defense/

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4
Apr
2012

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”  The opening line of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities often comes to my mind when things get tight, as my way of keeping perspective.  This past week was one of those times.

It started with our visit to the Capital in Lansing and Mark’s testimony to the Senate Ag Commission.  Because of this issue and the strength of Mark’s testimony, we got to see the legislative process in action from the inside.  It was a major roller coaster ride.  We had the inside scoop as we spent the day with a lobbyist (and learned how that whole facet of government works) and two legislative staffers (for Sen. Booher and Sen. Casperson).  In the end, we decided that government is a strange and wonderful entity that tries to operate with ties to reality.  It’s like a labyrith of truth for legislators to discern what is true and good when so many divergent interests have their own inputs.  I gained a great deal of respect for Senators and Representatives who attempt the maze.  We were glad to pull into the driveway on Brinks Rd. and see our big white dogs greet us. Read the rest of this entry »

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30
Mar
2012

Kimberley Hartke, of the Weston A. Price Foundation, wrote a couple of excellent articles.  She adds some important background to the story as the Weston A Price Foundation has always championed production and consumption of naturally produced veggies, meats, and dairy products, so they know the history of big agriculture’s attempts to control your food choices.  Enlightened reading to you!

Humane Pork Producers are Endangered Species in Michigan

Michigan CAFOs Conspire With Government to Ban Outdoor Pig Farming

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30
Mar
2012

We spent the day in Lansing today.  Mark testified before the Senate Ag Committee. He was able to reinforce the fact that “feral” is not an animal we feed everyday, that this isn’t about a breed of hog but rather about an agency overstepping their bounds.  The DNR had no business usurping the legislature’s authority by writing law and dictating farm policy.  The legislature has done it’s job.  There are several legislators who really understood before or as a result of Mark’s testimony that the ISO and Declatory Ruling are an overreach on the DNR’s part.  Feral animals do not exist, by definition, on a farm under a farmer’s care.  The DNR, in concert with the MI Pork Producers, MI Milk Producers Association, and Agribusiness, among others, has spread disinformation and has employed the largest lobbying firm in Lansing to influence votes.  We have documents and personally observed this.  However, the Declatory Ruling can’t just be changed.  It has to be repealed.  Despite great pressure, the DNR is not accountable or responsive to citizens.  The governor alone can keep the DNR on their side of the fence.

Contact Governor Rick Snyder by e-mail, Rick.snyder@michigan.gov  and/or phone, 517-335-7858.

Do not allow his office to direct you to the DNR.

Talking points:

  1. The MDNR needs to stay off farms
  2. The MDNR needs to repeal the Invasive Species Order.
  3. This is not the Michigan Legislature’s fault, the “Invasive Species Order” was created by and is being implemented by the MDNR

Lastly, we realized the costs of this battle as we talked with our lobbyist and observed what we’re up against.  If you’ve helped us out, THANK-YOU so much!

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26
Mar
2012

Here’s a news article from our friend, Pete Eshelman, in Indiana: Farm Regulation in Michigan Could Potentially Harm Indiana Farmers.

 

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24
Mar
2012

That’s a quote from Jim when he gleefully stole the video camera one day.  He was pleased with himself for making “a bideo!”

Pete Eshelman from the Joseph Decuis Restaurant and Farm has been a faithful user of Mangalitsa pigs for his restaurant.  When presented with the ISO and Declatory Ruling, he decided to recruite Kyle Miron, a seasoned videographer, to help talk about the issue.  Kyle did an excellent job with this assignment:

Baker’s Green Acres vs. Michigan DNR

Happy viewing!

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20
Mar
2012

“In Your Backyard” Chicken

Anyone  can farm!” A relatively easy place to start is a few chickens in your yard, busily converting your grass into protein and saving you some fertilizer costs.

Spend a day on the farm learning how to  start chicks and raise them to butcher size.  Topics covered include:

*How to be a hen: brooding chicks

*Preparing an outdoor grazing pen/tractor

*Transitioning through the stages of growth to butcher weight.

*Feeds

*Predation and disease

Cost: $30/person for the day, with lunch provided.     (What else?  Chicken of course!)

Date: April 14,   9:30 a.m.

RSVP by calling 231-825-0293 or emailing

bakersgreenacres@yahoo.com

Remember, anyone can farm!

 

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19
Mar
2012

This is a really great article describing why the DNR is misrepresenting their intended target and introducing you to one of those “evil, irresponsible” hunting preserve operators.  Whether you agree with the hunting preserves or not, the fact remains that they are a viable business that provides jobs and brings in tourism dollars.  Are they any more evil than a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation that raised their animals in small pens in barns, on concrete, and hires “mass killers” (butchers) to do the dirty work?  As opposed to a “hunting preserve” where the animals live in spacious fields, behaving as they were meant to, enjoying naturally good health, and harvested by one person who will enjoy the gift of their life personally?  This is what the DNR seeks to Declatory Rule out of existance.

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13
Mar
2012

Bonnie Bucqueroux from The Lansing Online News wrote a thoughtful article this week.  It’s worth the read.  A commenter raised some questions about the issue that I thought other folks may have, so I responded there but will add the conversation here as well.  He questioned our affiliation with hunting preserves, and the fact that we have crossed our Mangalitsas with a variant of Boar and that that is why we are concerned about the ruling.  The following is my expanded response.

Read the rest of this entry »

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10
Mar
2012

Finally!!!  Winter!  For the second time in this whole winter season the kids had enough snow to go snowmobiling–and the machine wouldn’t run.  And now the snow’s all gone.  We had some really nice ice skating ice on the ponds.  The wet snow put an end to that, too.  The ice was solid enough yet–just buried under 8 inches of slush, as Rachel is showing Keith.  Good thing we invest in waterproof boots.  We are looking forward to helping with my parents’ maple syrup production as we can.  That’s sort of a consolation prize for making it through winter.

We’ve been raising pigs since about ’97 or ’98, going from farrow to freezer for most of that time.  We’ve worked with many breeds and farrowed in all seasons and weather.  We’ve used stalls, crates, huts outside, and just-plain-help-yourself pasture.  We’d decided that we weren’t going to try to have pigs for the 4-H market long ago because you have to be farrowing in February.  Modern breeds of hogs aren’t intended for hardiness and winter farrowing is dicey.  They require lots of energy input.  Our heritage breed pigs, though, are a different story.  Farrowing crates, heat lamps or pads, and close confinement are not neccessary and would, in fact, be counterproductive.  We use deep straw bedding in a drafty area of the barn for these gals, and they do marvellously.  They like to have space, and we lost a litter because mama went outside away from everyone to have the babies.  She hadn’t looked that imminent, so something else was likely going on as well.  That situation is always a bummer.  These pigs are nice, though.  Hybrid vigor is a reality with them.  The sows are 50% Mangalitsa, the babies 75%.  These piglets arrived the first and second of March and they’ve all survived just fine.  Our Durocs, Hampshires, Yorkshires, etc.  would never have made it.  These are truely farmstead, low-tech system hogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosie, KimiFuku (the bull), and our lone sheep have wintered well.  Rosie still gives almost a gallon a day, which is just right for us.  Sam is the faithful milk man and does a great job.

The hens have layed eggs well all winter.  They have a sunny, well protected area.  Keith occassionally sweeps the barn floor and gives them the alfalfa he sweeps up.  That helps keep them healthy and provides them with some greens to keep their eggs yummy.  Pretty soon we’ll put the roosters with a group of hens and let them do their spring thing.  The little chick that hatched last summer is clearly a hen and I’m interested to see how she performs.  She’s cute if nothing else.

The issue with the pigs continues.  There are a lot of people concerned about a government entity dictating the elimination of what we consider the hogs of the future–pretty much all hogs that aren’t white.  A lot of you have called and written legislators.  We’ve gotten some financial assistance, and appreciate it very much.  Spring is a hard time of the year to find extra money on a farm.  Mark’s been on one radio show and is scheduled for a couple more to help spread the word.

If you have questions about the hogs you raise or are looking to buy, call the DNR to determine whether they are acceptable or will make you a felon.  (That’s per the DNR’s own directive.)  If you send them a picture and request a written response, they will ascertain your pig’s status.  Please feel free to do this.  They have told farmers to look at the Declatory Ruling and if that isn’t clear enough, to send them pictures and they will make an individual determination.  This has been very confusing for 4-H folks and people who want to raise a hog for their freezer, so just check with the authorities and they’ll clear it up for you.  Please feel free, also, to help us fight for your right to feed your family without checking with the authorities first.  You can donate through Paypal with the button on the right, or this link.  You can also send us funds directly to 1579 Brinks Rd. Marion, MI   49665.  It all goes into a separate account and is used soley for expenses we incur (lawyers, court fees, etc.).

Happy spring!

 

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9
Mar
2012

Mark was recently interviewed by Thayrone X  (on WAAM, 1600 AM) on his “On The Edge” radio program.  Very cool!  Listen to Hour 3, seg.s 9 & 10.

 Thayrone X: Coolarity Radio

 

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28
Feb
2012

It’s spring on the farm already–or rather, we can see spring from here.  Last week we received our first batch of chicks for the season.  Dorothy is raising the heritage breed roosters this year.  We have one chef that has mastered the different cooking technique for these birds.  They have a lot more flavor than the broilers and tend to be leaner.  There is a lot to recommend them for butchering, but folks are used to the broiler hybrids who are bred specifically for food use.  Even though these breeds require more time before they are ready for processing, they can forage much better so I figure the feed conversion offsets the time.  While the roosters can be raised in chicken tractors, that isn’t ideal conditions.  These guys are “lone free rangers” and like to have more room to roam and a roost to sit on at night.

The kids can pick projects as an enterprise and they bear the responsibilities, but can also reap the profits.  They have several ideas that are in the works.  An e-book on building chicken tractors is being written, chicken tractor kits will be available, and turkeys are being planned again.  The farm is as much about having a place to grow and nurture our brood as a place to raise good food for you.

No matter how the pig issue goes, we’ll keep busy.  I made out my wishlist for garden seeds last week.  We are planning some Saturday classes.  Right now we have a chicken raising class planned, and are open to other ideas as well.  We also are planning to offer our meats in a CSA format so you can pre-order chicken and beef and (maybe) pork.  As always, we will be raising lots of chickens and processing our own birds as well as custom processing for others.

There will likely be a few more Fridays of downhill skiing, but spring is in view!

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27
Feb
2012

There are several questions that people have asked (or been too confused to ask) about the DNR Invasive Species Order declatory ruling regarding swine.   Mark is working on another video that may answer more questions, but here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

Read the rest of this entry »

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