Sunday, June 24, 2018

Some Misconceptions

In my travels I overhear some very interesting misconceptions about farming, gardening, homesteading, self sufficiency. Since I heard a new one this week, I thought I'd mention a few. I don't belittle anyone making these comments, because after all, they simply don't know. Perhaps they heard someone say it and are just repeating it, assuming it was true. But for folks living the lifestyle, it seems amazing what misconceptions exist out there. 

... "Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs, so where do green eggs fit in?" I was asked this one and tried to explain that the color was only on the surface of the shell. It had nothing to do with what was inside. What the hen was eating, plus her lifestyle, determined the quality of the egg.....not the color. I don't think I was believed because......everybody knows brown eggs are better

... Another egg question - "Why do they pick small eggs. Why don't they just leave them in the nest until they get bigger?" People really don't have a clue about eggs production. 

... "Raising sheep and goats is bad on a homestead farm because they belch methane." The amount of methane being belched is minuscule compared to the amount of methane emitted by landfills and swamps/bogs. It's sort of like worrying because someone poured a glass of water into the ocean and you're claiming it's causing the ocean level to rise. 

... "Growing your own food is cheaper." Not for most people. If you need to buy land in order to produce your own food, you will never recoup the expense until you resell it at a profit. Equipment cost money to purchase and maintain. Seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals are an expense. Crop failures cost you if you need to go out a purchase food because of the crop failure. I'm not saying that raising your own is always more expensive, because there are people who can, and do, do it successfully. But for the non-self reliant person armed with some basic knowledge and capabilities, starting put growing your food is going to cost you. On top of that, if you are aiming to grow your own food, you may need to make some serious adjustments to your diet. Bread, beer, soda, candy, potato chips, canned cheese, etc don't grow in garden beds. And one more thought, you could earn/save more money having a part time job than by growing all your food when you don't know what you're doing or don't have an efficient system in place. You'd be better off just growing a few select things and buying the rest. 

... "I have 10 acres of grass. I'm going to save money and raise my own beef." Fencing in those 10 acres well enough to keep cattle in and predators out is going to be costly. You're going to need to buy and maintain hay feeders for winter use in most parts of the country. Plus shelter. Plus watering and feed troughs. Plus grain supplements occasionally. Plus basic veterinary care (vaccinations, deworming, fly control, etc). Plus slaughter or transport to slaughter. Plus rental of space in a large refrigerator for hanging the carcass. Plus butchering. Plus a freezer large enough to store an entire cow. Frankly, it's far cheaper buying good quality grass fed beef at Whole Foods. I buy my own beef from a local rancher. Oh, I didn't include the other common expenses -- the ag insurance you'll need to cover any accidents and damage your cows do if & when they get loose. Cars hitting stray cows usually ends in death of both cow and driver. Plus the medical expenses you may incur when the cow butts or kicks you, but hopefully doesn't kill you. Besides all of this, farm animals aren't pasture ornaments. They are work! 
     As an amusing side note, I overheard a tourist asking if the field of sheep and their lambs were cows. When told that they were sheep, the tourist was amazed. She was shocked to learn that lamb came from such small, dirty, hairy animals. And besides, why did they have udders just like a real cow? 

... "Red onions can't be organic because they are dyed." I never thought this when growing up, I guess because I saw onions growing in a garden. I guess some city people just assume red onions are dyed to make them the red color. 

... "There's something wrong with eggs when their yolks are orange." This happened to me. A customer returned what was left of a dozen eggs because the yolks were bright orangish rather than pale yellow. I tried to explain about the hens diet, & egg yolks, but I didn't get anywhere. I ended up simply refunding the money and was mildly amazed. 

..."Organic means chemical free." No. Simple as that. Organic farmers use plenty of chemicals, sometimes just as toxic as non-organic approved ones. Plus they tend to use them far more frequently due to that fact that they are less effective and shorter acting. In addition, they are allowed to use non-organic chemicals and methods if organic solutions aren't available. So I'm sorry to bust the misconception that organic means chemical free or toxin free. 

..."I'm going to grow my garden without using chemicals so that I have clean food." Good luck in Hawaii. Around here, it's only a matter of time before the bugs and diseases find you. I've been at this for over a dozen years and I'm still finding new problems in the gardens. Without using some sort of it soap solution, neem, sulfur, or whatever, I wouldn't be growing much food. I use what I deem to be fairly safe methods, but I simply can't be completely chemical free.
     Of course, it also depends upon one's definition of 'chemical'. I don't buy commercial chemical fertilizer, but my compost is made up of all sorts of nature's chemicals. I also use coral sand and  lava sand. Be they not chemicals too? 
... "Keeping a cat around the farm keeps it free of mice and rats." I guess it depends upon the cat. I presently have 10 cats but only one is an avid rat catcher. Two others are so-so at it. The rest are either totally inept or just freeloaders. I'm just saying, not all cats are good rodent killers. 


  1. Let's see, how do I put this? I know many folks are ignorant of the way the real world is, but those are some of the dumbest statements I've heard in a long time. Especially about livestock. I'm not being critical of these folks, just shocked and dismayed for them. Our educational system ought to be ashamed of itself.

  2. On growing your own food: I lived in Oceanview Estates for 3 months in '82. I scavaged lots of food and could have eaten for free if I had a frig to store. I was told 90% was imported. I thought it was ignorance/laziness that prevented people from growing because I found food growing everywhere in the wild. If I were eating meat I could have taken wild pig. A few examples: In the jungle on an abondoned coffee plantation I found a 150lb stalk of bananas. Driving by a closed church on 2 acres in a suburb I saw a large avacado tree with about 100 fruit on the ground. I asked some locals about it and no one had noticed or cared. I pick up about 2 dozen and lamented I didn't know where to take the rest. I found wild strawberry guava growing in K'au along the road in plain sight and picked a gallon. I picked up a dozen coconuts at the park. I found macs. I met the owner of an organge grove at South Point who said I could have all I could carry because he couldn't sell them. I saw a forest of wild guava, coffee growing wild along the road. I bought my favorite green at 80% off super market price, sugar snap peas, from an old German who had a large garden right off the road near Oceanview. His "cash drawer" was a cigar box left unattended with prices posted, a scale, and "you pick-em, pay & go". O.V. had a pop. of 500 but it was difficult to get a phone (monopoly). I waited 2 months and finally moved back the mainland where I had my business.