Friday, September 17, 2010

Keeping things in Perspective

Fall is upon us - okay, maybe not in Phoenix, but in the rest of the country - and with fall comes elections and a lot statistics and propaganda. Something I have heard and try to remember is to keep all statistics within their context. The same is true of speeches and quotes - politicians and many others are oft quoted out of context. 'Tis the season, though, right? All is fair in American politics.

Anyway, that wasn't just a rabbit trail off into the randomness of my mind, rather it is my segue into tonight's post. Often times buzz words and phrases become trendy, and suddenly we find masses of Americans claiming to do what is best, right or most healthy. Take for example the locavore movement. Take for example buying a tomato in New York City; it is practically a sin to buy the juicy fruit if it came from California and those who buy local heirloom varieties are applauded for their contribution towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced from transportation and eating healthier. Truth is, the biggest energy hog is actually the home consumer not the 18-wheelers moving across America. Home preparation and storage account for 32 percent of all energy use in the food system.

A single 10-mile round trip to the local farmer's market can easily consumer 14,000 calories of fossil fuel energy. Running your refrigerator can consumer up to 9,000 calories; that number will double if it is not one of the energy efficient models. Cooking and running a dishwasher also add to that bottom line. Local households make up 22 percent of all energy expenditures in the United States.

Interesting, huh? I'd say we need a bit more context around these claims. Just some food for thought as you head into the weekend. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I love a good farmer's market. I have nothing against locally produced agriculture; I simply want to promote fairness among the various sectors of agricultural production. Conventional versus organic. Locally produced versus imported produced, whether domestically or internationally. Agriculturists need to stop the infighting and promote ourselves as a group; we only damage our own chances of survival when we start picking on those that have pursued different avenues of production or marketing methods.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Every dog has its day

My FFA chapter officers plan a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) fair each fall. The event is designed to educate all our first year students about possible project ideas and help them jump start their own. It's always a fun event - older students bring in a plethora of livestock, tractors and small animals. My officer that "chaired" the event this year talked me into bringing Johnnie Reb; many students take care of their family pets at home so I thought this was an okay idea. She did awesome! She is actually sleeping on the floor as I type because she is so tuckered out from all the attention. Enjoy the pictures!

This tractor tire was almost big enough for both of us to fit into it!

We had four sets of tortoises at school today - this little guy was a water turtle named Speedy. Johnnie Reb thought he was pretty cute.

Okay, she actually thought he looked good for lunch! After she licked him she attempted to fit him in her that point I put him back in the safe hands of his owner!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Slipping in to September

September is here, and I can't tell you how much I am enjoying this school year. I feel more blessed than I have before. Now, let me clarify. It's not so much that I haven't been blessed before, I think I've had a change in the attitude of my heart and am seeing more things as blessings as opposed to tribulations. With that said, I have a couple of stories to share from the past couple of weeks - hopefully they'll bring a smile to your lips!

What day is it?
Last week I distributed permission slips to all my students. To ease the burden of turning around 20 sets of permission slips in a year, we have students complete one that applies to all FFA events all year. Clever, huh? (Thank you Mr. Fite at Safford!) My freshmen students had to turn their permission slips in to register for a conference, and their permission slip was their place holder. I only had 18 spots, and 35+ freshmen competing for those spots. The next morning I had a steady stream of students stop by to drop their forms off before school started. While this is happening, I had one student talking to his mom on the phone trying to complete the information. He is almost finished and one of the last things he has to do is print the day's date. Simple, right? He asks her, "What is today? The 32nd?" What? Huh? I turn to look at him and he totally wrote that it was August 32! I guess there are worse things than knowing that 32 comes after 31, except when it pertains to days of the month.

A slippery slope
Yesterday was my first day of SAE visits where I essentially visit the project location of each student of mine. This is probably one of the most favorite parts of my job, if not THE most favorite. A senior student of mine built his own greenhouse, yep that's right, built it. Not from a kit mind you. From his own ingenuity. He's a pretty smart kid....probably smarter than me and I don't mind admitting that. Anyway, as I'm pulling up to his house he calls me to tell me that the greenhouse flooded. I reply telling him that it is okay, and I'll still check things out. His mom was nice enough to bring me a pair of rubber boots - after wading through the soggy mess and checking out the plethora of plants he has propagated, I exit the greenhouse. My exit wasn't that graceful though because there was a sink hole that I happened to find with my left foot! I slipped and and definitely had water up to my mid thigh. It was pretty funny, especially considering that his dad and older brother were there to observe my grace. I was just thankful I didn't drop my camera!