10 Top NonTraditional Campfire Songs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the coolest things about camping is gathering around the campfire at night. Maybe hotdogs and smores and toasted marshmallows have made the rounds, someone pulls out a guitar and the strains of a song begins. With just the voices of friends and a guitar around the campfire it’s a great night to either fire it up some or quiet down. Here’s some of both.

1.God Must Be a Cowboy At Heart is a Dan Seals song that begs for a campfire! With most campsites it’ll be tough to beat the spectacular mountain views and horses but the song itself takes us there wherever there’s a campfire.

2.Friday Night Fireside is a contemporary country song that made a run on the charts for Stephen Cochran. The fire plays central theme in the video here with dragging some wood up in the field and having a gathering around the fire. Upbeat, easy to sing to.

3.Let There Be Peace On Earth is often thought of as a Christmas song but it’s for every day too! Many have recorded and performed it – Marie Osmond’s performance was a standout!

4.Refiners Fire from Brian Doerksen is an inspirational song that is solid whether 2-3 people or many. You don’t even need a guitar if enough know the song!

5. My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys from Willie Nelson has been a tribute and a simple song to sing around a campsite. The montage from the “Electric Horseman” movie where ‘Rising Star’ was turned loose remains as a classic in matching a song to image as the horse roared across the ground to his new wild herd.

6. The Call of the Wild by Chris LeDoux paints word pictures that are as spectacular as the land they’re about. Like Dan Seals, Chris knew horses and campfires and sleeping on the ground and both were lost far too young. They’ll be missed and these songs are a tribute.

7. The Night Riders Lament has been done by many people, most famously Garth Brooks. It’s a cowboy song but is also a perspective song. What those in the city think country folks are losing can be a different when those in the country look at what they have, unseen by those who don’t come out to visit!

8. You Just Can’t See Him From the Road is another Chris LeDoux song that pays homage to what we don’t see until we get off away from the highways and interstates. An ode to the cowboys that Wall Street and Hollywood types poke fun at. Real country and real campsites!

9. Don’t Laugh At Me is a reality song from Mark Wills that was a big country hit. It’s a song no matter where we’re from many can relate to and doesn’t take a great deal to accompany it – perfect for a campfire! Sometimes we all need to remember to see those who are overlooked. Make a difference for someone!

10. Second Wind is a song by Darryl Worley that speaks of the kind of peace and revival a campfire can bring especially near the water. We all may relate to it differently but it’s a song for all! Whether the camp is dry land, a lake, a river or just a creek it’s a “real song.”

These are songs that can take us away further or celebrate where we are. They’re easy to find and can be taken on a cd player as well as a guitar accompaniment. A cool summer night, a campfire, friends and music. Perfect!

Consider a Job in Agriculture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe job market in America is, for many, grim. They’ve put in years at companies that were deemed to be safe. Perhaps they work in job areas that haven’t been previously affected with job hits.

Jobs with technology, finance, research and data maintenance perhaps. Despite this there is an industry that needs people with those skills. Perhaps the pay isn’t quite as much and perhaps it’s not in the bigger cities, but some jobs are.

Have you considered a job in agriculture? One need not be in the field on a tractor or roping cattle or operating a farm to be in agriculture! Although those are jobs too and there is opportunity for hard workers there are also professional jobs that many overlook.

This is an ideal situation for someone wanting to relocate perhaps to a smaller city or perhaps move to a rural area. You can still use your skills. Some in business or graphic arts or other businesses may find working online is an advantage where the blacktop ends and the expenses are cheaper!

The opportunities in agriculture are broad due to the extremely wide range of agriculture. From traditional cattle and hogs to less common catfish and alligators the face of agriculture is ever changing.

Sales of agriculture products as well as retail stores that sell to farm customers mean that sales associates, managers and other sales representatives are needed. This can vary from general farm merchandise to feed to fertilizer.

There are always people needed to do the hands on work on farm that includes feeding, cleaning and the day to day care of livestock and crops. When we look at the store shelves and see cereal, meats, fruits and vegetables many don’t realize that every step along the way are workers to grow, harvest, process, package and sell it before it ends up on your table. If you eat out there are still more people involved in the cooking and serving of food.

The variety of jobs outside of agriculture may hold a variety of jobs within agriculture. They may not be as high paying, but everyone needs to eat. Agriculture jobs keep the food, clothing and much more flowing.

The widening scope of agriculture means that there are more jobs than ever in agriculture. If you haven’t considered a job in agriculture take another look. What are you waiting for? Your dream job may be waiting!

Be Safe, Save Money with Road Trip Tips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor many people a road trip means travel by car. Small things that don’t seem to matter on local trips can add up when figuring saving as on long drives. Fuel economy can take on new meaning and better fuel efficiency means cheaper road trips.

For many a road trip might signify a weekend getaway, or a trip a few hours away or even a longer trip several states to see family for the holidays. Here are some ways to make your fuel go further.

Make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape. This doesn’t mean the scratch or dirty paint – this means mechanically make sure it is running the best it can. Maintenance such as regular oil changes and making sure the filters are changed when needed, keeping the tires at the optimum level can save fuel. These things also help your car to work more efficiently and lessen the chances of a breakdown ruining your road trip.

Watch your speed. Not only can this save you from a ticket but maintaining a steady speed allows for more efficiency.

Watch your driving! Avoid fast takeoffs where you jam your foot to the floor then hit the breaks a mile up the road at the next light. Easy lane transitions and minimizing distractions helps for safer driving as well as less variance of speed. The 65 to 50 to 70 miles an hour can make your car work harder.

For many the solution may be cruise control, which does keep the speed steady. However there are a couple times you should NOT use your cruise control – specifically in the rain and on ice. Safe driving means you can let off on the gas if you start to skid. With cruise control it doesn’t let off the gas – so you can gain speed and momentum which can result in a very bad accident! Don’t take a chance – avoid the chance of hitting black ice or hydroplaning and leave the cruise control off in very wet or icy conditions!

Aside from saving gas save money by watching the fuel level and planning your fuel stops where fuel is cheaper. Sometimes 20 miles can mean a dime or more difference in fuel – and if you see that sign for the truck stop or other place to fuel up take advantage of it, especially if you are unsure of what else is up the road. Better to be safe than stuck on empty in the cold 15 miles from nowhere!

Save gas on your travel by car but be safe also. Arrive alive!

Selecting Homestead Cattle for Beef and Dairy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASelecting cattle for beef and milk production can be a challenge as in the mid 1900s dual purpose livestock was less valued. Breeds like the Devon and the shorthorn were prized for dual purpose uses but became just Devon (or shorthorn) and milking Devon (or milking shorthorn) due to a call for specialization.

However even the beef cattle milk heavier than some other beef breeds and dairy cattle can be slightly beefier than other dairy cattle. It’s still possible to get an animal to do both as well as those breeds long valued for dual or triple purpose Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, Charolais, Simmental and Limousin are but a few breeds.

Set show winnings aside when looking for your dual purpose characteristics unless they happen to have what you are looking for. A beef animal you want muscle. Muscling over the topline, shoulders and rump especially as this provides your beef. For a dairy animal you want a healthy udder that is symmetrical all four quarters should appear the same size. If one is greatly larger or smaller it can indicate a problem which affects production.

Additionally look for, if the cow is milking, the “milk vein” which runs along her belly. If you look at heavy producing dairy cows online or in magazines there will be a noticeable vein’ on the belly and although beef cattle don’t have this to the extent that dairy cattle do, it is a reliable indicator of good milk production. Remember even those people raising beef calves need milk production! Plenty of milk raises big, beefy calves that sell well and feed out better. The farms that have calves with heavy weaning weights on grass have cows that milk! Choose an individual that is eating eagerly. Good appetite and ‘attacking’ the pasture means more production – they weigh more from a beef standpoint as well as take more nutrition in from a milk production standpoint than the one who doesn’t eat as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARemember that this is your foundation cow or cows. She will be your milk producer but will also produce calves that ideally become beef or replacement milkers. More than not you will probably be buying calves which allows you to raise them your way, but do pay attention to those calves’ mothers! If you find a cow that has these traits getting a daughter increases the chances of getting the kind of cow you want. Finding a dual purpose cow can take effort but allows maximum use of your resources.

Although for home production you don’t have to have a purebred it does allow you to have a predictable look and size. If you’re purchasing from someone close to home inquire about having her serviced either by their bull or artificially this eliminates your having to keep a bull.

Along with physical characteristics temperament is important. A good temperament makes a difference between an animal that is enjoyable to work with and one who wants to hurt you. Animals can have bad days too but selecting for temperament is a high importance for a homesteader.

Another option many are going to is the smaller breeds such as Dexters that produce milk and beef but in a smaller size. This can be a good choice for smaller pastures where more limited space is a factor.

Handle her often and rub her belly and udder even as a calf when there is no developed udder. You want to teach her that this is normal – if you wait until she calves and try to milk her she may be less than agreeable and kick or walk on you. If she’s already used to being handled this is just another day. For those not wanting to bottle feed calves an easy way to milk is milking out three quarters, leaving one full then letting the calf nurse that quarter. Be sure to milk first as the calf won’t be picky!

A homestead cow for milk and beef production can take some effort to find but she does exist. Good care and handling means she will provide milk and offspring that will feed your family for years to come. Many of these dual purpose origin breeds can live well into their teens with good management so it’s a long term investment! When you find one treasure her.




Be An Unwelcome Home for Flies

Ebook excerpt from SlowMoneyFarm.

barnFlies aren’t welcome in barns, paddocks, homes and other areas we like to be. So why do so many provide for them? Take steps now to discourage and evict them!

There are many ways to kill and repel flies. Flies need – like all things – favorable conditions to live, food and water. And not much of the latter! They cause problems with hygiene and can harm production of animals. They’ll bite sores on dogs ears and infest live animals with maggots, given the right conditions. Flies get no mercy – and often a several prong approach is used in fighting them.

Livestock producers often offer “fly blocks” – in blocks like the familiar 50 pound salt block these blocks are fed to animals and discourage flies. Horse owners have daily supplements available to feed the animal as well with their regular food.

Some swear by a bag of water with a penny in it suspended in a doorway – and another method herd was suspending a bundle of stinging nettles from doorways. For those preferring not to bump into nettles there’s many other options. Some recommend adding apple cider vinegar to livestock tanks. Vanilla added to rabbit water bottles can help cut flies down.

There’s various assortments of sticky traps – fly ribbons as well as tubes and an assortment of other shapes to hang around the buildings and flies stick to the surface when they land there. There are electric fly zappers which can bother especially horses when a fly hits it and they hear the snap like an electric fencer.

There’s fly predators – which allow the flies to live but feed on the larvae. Reportedly this is the option at a place that could have a large swarm of flies – the Kentucky Horse Park. This is a place that must be fly free for comfort of horses and the guests visiting.

Another option for smaller barns is a gadget which hangs on the wall and periodically gives a spray of fly spray. A larger adaptation is automatic fly sprayers – where a large barrel has tubes running to each stall throughout the barn and with use of a timer sprays the barn several times a day. A mist is sprayed on each stall at a set time. This is convenient and when it works effortlessness. Some don’t like the idea of fly spray falling onto the ground and the feed that might be in the stall. A wide range of fly sprays are available also for use on individual animals.

Fly rubs – a large round cloth hung between two poles – can be soaked in fly chemicals where cattle go under it and treat themselves when it wipes some fly spray on them. Mixing up and applying fly spray to a group of animals is another means of fly control.

Still another means of flies involve the use of traps – generally a plastic gadget with foul smelling attractant in it and water – the fly gets in and can’t get out. Some are disposable “trap n toss” while others can be rinsed out, replacement attractant purchased and a fresh batch put out when the trap is full. These are effective but smell bad – effective for turnout paddocks (out of reach of horses) or loafing sheds.

Fly baits are another choice. Generally a bright blue or yellow these are spread around or set in some kind of container where flies can get into it. One that is cheap – take a 2 liter soda bottle. Cut several small holes in it for flies to get in/out of. Put your bait in it and hang up out of reach of pets, children and other animals. Small holes allow flies in/out but don’t allow birds access to it. Like any poisons great care should be taken handling this bait – it is foul smelling but in combination with other factors works!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s other means of fly control that take nothing but time. Wash horse and livestock water tanks on a weekly basis in warm weather. Not just filling – get a little $1 scrubber at a dollar store and scrub it out, dump it and rinse. Buckets in stalls should also be washed out. Rinse thoroughly and refill.

Pick up manure in paddocks and keep manure picked up around other species. The less manure standing around the less likely flies are to be around. Some recommend the use of lime under rabbit cages and other places that sometimes aren’t easily cleaned. Trays under rabbit cages should be emptied, rinsed and refilled often. Clean up old wet feed and hay – haul to the compost pile or mix in the manure pile. Move the manure pile further from the barn – something that helps not only with flies but as a fire issue also.

For animals that sweat give them an occasional hose down – removing dirt and sweat removes a reason for flies to pester your animals.

Fly control can be expensive but in using preventative measures where possible it makes the maximum use of what you do have to buy. A combination works best for most – perhaps good management combined with sticky traps, traps and bait. For outdoor or sheltered situations this is the most effective option. Fly blocks are effective for those with larger animals.

Fly control need not be expensive – but needs to be done on small homesteads as well as larger farms.

Online Game Involves Learning, Entertainment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnline games are often stereotyped as violent gun-toting unfeeling voids for kids to spend far too much time on. There are alternatives – and one I’m going to tell you about here could be used in homeschooling, is used in ag programs and is also a challenge for adults. It’s a game where it doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 51 – there’s equal chance to accumulate sim dollars, breed cows, sell steers to market and maybe – just maybe – get the illusive price of Grand Champion steer at something like the Texas State Fair or the Simsteer National. And you can do it all without leaving your desk.

Of course online games don’t give the whole experience. You don’t have to get up in the middle of the night when cows get out; there’s no icy water troughs to thaw or early mornings grooming animals with the hopes of winning a prize. There’s no high fuel costs or scraping pens or dealing with manure. But it’s not to say there isn’t a challenge.

Basic players can play for free – you have up to 10 animals and start with $10,000. You make decisions from the beginning – choosing a farm name. From there you get to pick several starter animals, which usually at this point are not very good but can be sent to the market and boost your income. Basic players are allowed to breed one cow per week. You make all the decisions, but as a free player you are not entitled to some parts of the game reserved for premium players who pay to play. Still, for someone wanting a taste of the business there are a wide variety of players from those who show in real life to cattle breeders to those who aren’t on a farm right now but have been to those who just think it’s a cool game.

You make the decisions – what kind of feed do you want to feed them? Do you sell your starters and get steers (which count as half a unit) through the auction to raise? Do you bankroll your precious dollars on a couple of good animals? Opinions vary…decisions vary and that is only the beginning of the game. You can pick certain breeds, you can crossbreed for market animals to get some money coming in but ultimately the game has one goal – raising and showing steers. Cows and bulls may also be shown.

Of course like any game there are rules. Once you learn the basics you may wish to become a premium player, which is a very reasonable fee. Becoming a premium member can be payed with a credit card or PayPal for instant access – or there is available a form to print to mail in. A one month subscription is $4.95; three months $14.75; six months $24.95 and a full year for $39.95. This is for an individual account. For families up to five accounts can be maintained at prices of $19.95, $49.95, $89.95 and $149.95 respectively. This is an affordable way for several members to play.

The decisions are many – all up to the individual. If you get a popular breed, such as Angus or Maine Anjou, typically the cost for good animals is higher. However, once you get the basics down, and get some decent stock with some money built up, it’s not uncommon for established players to help new players with stock. As a premium member you have access to many more options – you can use artificial insemination, embryo transfer, buy animals privately (basic players are limited to purchasing at the auction) and you have a higher limit – up to 100 head of animals. Players going over 100 head pay an administrative fee (in sim dollars) each day they are over 100 head.

Some basic guidelines – cattle must be a month old or more to breed. There will be a note on her page when a cow is in heat – with a yellow dot indicating recently ‘calved’ and a green one indicating a rest period between breedings. Cows can be bred individually, you can put a few cows in a pasture with a bull, you can breed artificially with semen (and not have a bull at all), or you can breed her, immediately “collect embryos” and implant those embryos into green dot ‘recipient cows’ who foster the pregnancy and hopefully give birth to a calf a week later. You name your animals – which can be names or, as some players opt to do, use a numbers and letters system. Sometimes cows lose their calf or the calf is ‘born dead’ – a set back just like in real life.

There is a forum and a chat room to help players with questions and get answers from other players. You can learn established breeds or use those breeds to develop crossbreed animals. For example, you might have Angus and Brahman – and use those to create brangus as well. You can have red Angus, or Charolais, or Herefords or Shorthorns. For the purpose of the game each animal is assigned certain traits. And as in real life you want to maximize those good traits. The judges have different likes – one might use a certain animal way down the line while another uses him as breed champion! There are many decisions to make – the game involves some strategy.

Large popular breeds are going to be tougher for new players than smaller breeds. For example, a player might get Brafords or Charbray or Simbrah and really be able to do well in that breed. You’re competing against other players, against players in that breed and with your own personal benchmarks. Generally speaking, no matter what breed – ideal legs are 8, frame is 7 and high capacity and neck scores are important. Like real life, the perfect sim cow hasn’t been created yet – so there’s a challenge there too! Based on beef cattle, the muscle is another consideration so high scores on that is also important. There are over 30 breeds and a chance to learn some about color genetics and other issues.

Started in 2001 Showcattle.com also offers an ag program for teachers and have integrated the program into classes. This can teach many skills, decision making and basic things before a youth has a live cow standing in front of him waiting to be bred. The decision making process is important on any ranch or farm – and in life itself. It is based on reality but losing $5,000 in sim money isn’t nearly as bad as losing $5000 in real money.

Put a Birdbath in Your Yard – Wildlife Needs in Hot Weather

  • Water is important for life of birds and butterflies as well as other creatures.
  • A water source can draw animals in for viewing.
  • Offer water in ways that are safe for the wildlife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the drought in many areas songbirds, butterflies and other creatures will be seeking water from back yard habitats. Water features are an easy way to provide for birds and other creatures.

Make sure to offer for the species you have. Those in areas with lizards might find a mist on a timer a few minutes per day is enough. Butterfly enthusiasts can put a shallow container with sand or rocks in it – perches for butterflies to be where they’re able to get the water without getting *in* the water. Hummingbirds also often prefer a mist – easily done by a trigger nozzle on a hose held at the mist setting. Hook it to a stand over flowers and water the birds and the flowers at the same time a couple times per day.

It’s often said a pump that circulates water – making the sound of running water – will serve as a virtual magnet for birds. A birdbath can be made but make sure you do it with the bird’s safety in mind. Use something that is only a couple inches deep. If you don’t have a circulating water system be sure to dump and clean the waterer every few days – clean water is needed and standing water can become contaminated with feathers, feces, dirt and other things. Use a little $1 scrub brush, give a quick scrub, water your flowers with that and refill for the birds.

Get a birdbath with a rough textured bottom to it. Avoid runoff from chemicals or neighboring lawns and keep the water source clean. If algae builds up use a half cup bleach to the water, scrub and rinse thoroughly before refilling. For this reason you’ll want your birdbath to be easy to access and easily cleaned. Avoid a location where there are lots of shrubs by the bath – eliminating cats or other predators from the water area. Location in the open helps the birds feel safe about being there. If you have a pond which isn’t as easily dumped – be sure to consider luring insect eaters to your yard! A purple martin colony, barn swallows or other birds will keep insects including mosquitoes at bay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce put up give it a little time – birds often won’t go right to something new. Once it’s been there a short while they’re more apt to use it. On areas such as ponds that are deep enough a bird can get caught and drown give them a safety – secure a couple of branches out over the pond. Regular tree branches or limbs near the surface of the water, secured firmly, give a branch to get to should a bird get trapped trying to get out of the sides and not be able to. Even an old decorated pan from the kitchen will do – put some gravel or decorative rocks down and it’s a water source. Remember too small containers like this are apt to go dry faster to both birds and evaporation – fill it daily or as needed.

With so many bird feeders available when people think of a bird bath it’s still normally the pedestal fixture in the yard that comes to mind. These are easy to find and work well – but don’t overlook other types. Adapt something to hang in the tree. Something at ground level is a natural addition too – keeping in mind to keep it in the open so cats don’t surprise them. Remember baby birds aren’t coordinated and apt to fall in and drown without extra measures taken.

Those in the northern climates might wish to offer water year round to birds. Having a heater for the birdbath available is easy to do and keeps the ice away. You might in addition to the heater have a cover that covers 3/4 or so of the area – this will make the heater more efficient.

Birds will gravitate to a place that has food and water and a safe place to “be” – and it’s nice to sit out and watch them.

Did you know…

Keep mosquitoes at bay by encouraging bug eating birds to your yard.