Sunday, July 31, 2022


Nitrogen fertilizer restrictions

First, let me start off by saying that there are probably people who work with you and who attend your church and who claim the same political affiliations who do not have your best interests at heart.

It is easy to see when the other side gas-lights us. It is a thousand times more difficult when people we assume are part of our "tribe" are doing the same.

So when pundits and experts go hyperbolic with outrage about nitrogen fertilizer restrictions I do not automatically hop aboard that bus. I ask myself, who benefits?

Indeed, who benefits and whose ox will be gored?

Primarily, the highly capitalized, industrial agriculture community benefits from the current arrangement and are likely to be gouged by the rational responses to restricted access to nitrogen rich fertilizers.

First let me state a fundamental principle: matter is neither created or destroyed in the normal course of events. The nitrogen fertilizer that comes from a catalyst filled tower in Louisiana and is applied to a field in Iowa turns to protein in corn. The corn is shipped to Denmark or Poland or North Carolina or Oklahoma and is fed to livestock. Most of the protein passes through the animal's digestive system and ends up in the bottom of the cage or feed-lot.

The system where grain is grown in one place in massive quantities and then shipped to other places to be fed to animals which are then shipped to a third location to be slaughtered and processed is very capital intensive. It also ends up in a massive dislocation of plant nutrients. Those lagoons filled with shit are vulnerable to overflowing or the dams bursting and the release of nutrients with the attendant kill of fish.

This was not always the case. At one time, the corn that was fed to the calf or pig or chicken was grown within a mile of the animal. Sometimes the animal was raised on pasture and the supplement was fed to the animal on that pasture or the animal was turned out on a picked corn field to scavenge corn missed by the picker. The pasture was plowed and planted after a few years and the nutrients that had been collecting there ended up back in the corn.

Then the animal made a short trip to a local slaughter-house and was turned into meat.

Under that system most of the nitrogen cycles on a tight loop with little slipping away. THAT system really does not need a great deal of additional nitrogen injected into the system because very little nitrogen (protein) is shipped off the farm each year. A 1500 pound steer might have 300 pounds of protein in its body or about 45 pounds of nitrogen. Compare that to 250 bushels of corn per acre which ships 250 pounds of nitrogen off-the-farm.

So the rational response would require a decentralization of where animals are raised and (likely) where they are slaughtered. That reduces market concentration which dilutes producers ability to command prices in the marketplace. It also reduces the overwhelming advantage the current system offers to producers with easy access to capital.

I am NOT saying that I like government mandates. I am saying that there are rational responses to the mandates and it might actually increase employment opportunities through large swaths of "fly-over" country.

Trailman apple-crab

The Trailman apple-crab are ripe. Apple-crabs are bigger than crabapples but smaller than domestic apples. Roughly speaking, they are between 1.5" and 2.25" in diameter.

It is a small, easy-to-eat morsel that is most notable for the tree having withstood -65 F in "the flats" of Fairbanks, Alaska. It is also fairly resistant to fire-blight.

The deer certainly like this little treat. They have beaten the grass beneath this tree flat.

Laundry detergent

I see there are some laundry detergents that only require a half-ounce per load. My opinion of most liquid detergents are on-par with body-wash that comes in bottles. Consumers are paying extra for water and thickeners.

Another pet-peeve are the drier sheets that reduce static and make clothes smell nice. They contain a wax that clogs the screen of our drier. That is not helpful.


After I deleted a boat-load of comments in the SPAM folder I belatedly noticed that many of the comments in the SPAM folder were legitimate comments.

I screwed up.

I will review the SPAM folder on a regular basis. If your comments did not appear, it was the Blogger spam algorithm and not me that censured your comment.

Again, I apologize.


  1. On global .gov technocracy 100% controlling simple manure as fertilizer, or the carbon cycle, or the nitrogen cycle, or water the cycle…good luck.

    You are the carbon they want to reduce! Vote harder and see how it goes?


    Things That Scare Me
    By Neko Case

    Fluorescent lights engage
    Blackbirds frying on a wire

    Same birds that followed me to school when I was young

    Were they trying to tell me something?
    Were they telling me to run?

    The hammer clicks in place
    The world's gonna pay

    Right down in the face of God and his saints. Claim your soul's not for sale?

    I'm a dying breed who still believes

    Haunted by American dreams

    Haunted by American dreams



  2. Heavy things to ponder:

  3. Heads are heavy too…

  4. Meat eaters retreat!

  5. Meanwhile - back at the ranch:

  6. The criminals in power have proven they do NOT have our best interests in mind....ever. So this meddling with fertilizer etc. has NOTHING to do with the environment or making the process more efficient. The goal is to STARVE vast numbers of us as those in power have decided there are too many peons.

  7. If what you propose were a possibility, then there would be fewer grounds for concern.
    Unfortunately, there is no discussion about doing ANYTHING to balance these required drops in nitrogen. In fact, the Dutch government has admitted that they are requiring farming and fishing to take massive nitrogen specifically so that other industries DON'T have to take any cuts at all.
    Note that in Western countries, increased regulations mean that small slaughterhouses, small farms, etc are being forced out of the market - they can't amortize compliance costs.
    These regs that require big operations also implicitly require cheap transportation.

    1. What I am seeing in my AO is more farmers going to smaller non-FDA approved butchers. They do fine work, you just can't re-sell... so the transaction is you buy a live animal from the farmer, they deliver it to slaughterhouse for you. You pay slaughterhouse directly and pickup your meat.

    2. I admit that the proposed "solution" is not a one-size-fits-all. The most productive corn land, for instance, has no hay fields or pastures except on the tiny bit of land that is too steep to cultivate. Manure should not be spread on frozen ground due to runoff concerns. Storing manure and urine results in some nitrogen being lost as gasseous ammonia. NIMBY types don't like smelling farm animals.

      Those are real problems.

      I agree that mega operations require cheap transportation. Incidentally, a growing steer eats its own weight in food about every 25 days. There is a break-even point where it makes sense to ship or walk the animal to the food rather than harvest and ship the food to the animal (and then deal with the waste afterward).

  8. ERJ - Our Friends On The River have APC 1500VA UPSes one-day sale today $149.99

    1. Do you happen to know if I can wire in a deep-cycle lead-acid battery in parallel to the internal battery? That would vastly extend the capabilities of the unit.

    2. APC (aka "Schneider Electric") makes an external battery pack for the 1500 VA Smart UPS -which slightly more then doubles the supported up-time of just the 1500 VA UPS. The battery is two modules, voltage is 24 volts, and is an 18 AH system (I also looked at their web site and there's not much more info there on it beyond what little documentation comes with it). The external pack plugs into the original 1500 VA Smart UPS to get power to keep the battery charged and deliver power to what device the original UPS supports through the same cable so...theoretically, one could add a similar- configuration 24V lead-acid battery pack to an APC Smart UPS . But, it looks like the Smart UPS has the connection for the external battery pack and the cheaper UPSes do not. I also have several of the cheaper 1500 VAC APC UPSes and they do not have such a connection.

      Much larger UPSes are available, for a much larger price, but I don't see a reason why a homemade battery setup couldn't do the same thing. If I ever build a house I intend to have one circuit that's driven from such a UPS to power one (or more) switched 1 watt LED bulbs "in the ceiling of each room for "power out basic ambulatory navigation and target identification purposes" using, probably, a golf cart or fork lift battery. (Cooper Electric (aka Pass & Seymour and LeGrande products) used to make a unit that occupies a single gang slot (or a 2X4 box) that's 2/3 infinitely variable LED, 1/3 rocker switch to control a circuit, or even the LED light itself-the LED lens was the LED switch, press to cycle from low to bright and back, press the lens again for on-off, don't know the wattage draw but it's too low for my Fluke 117 to reliably measure consistently. They have a different unit now, search "Legrand Radiant Adjustable LED Night Light Outlet" at the River folks). That battery system install would be no different from a "solar with batteries system" except the batteries would be constantly charged by 120V house current instead of solar panels. You could do the same thing, limited only by budget and space, and rechargeable from a generator powered by a small diesel instead of solar - think "WWII submarine."

    3. Yes I have run the apc 1500 with 2 large group 31 marine starting deep cycle boat batteries. Smas club is about $115 each for 200 amp hours - huge. If the design is the same you will need 2 batteries

  9. Smallholder farming is generally more efficient than mechanized farmers but requires more man hours input per unit of food produced. Mechanized farming has turned a massive amount of farmland into near sterile dirt that merely hold up the plants as the fertilizers, herbicides and such keep it going.

    Restoring the damaged farmlands requires much work and TIME out of use. Meanwhile 330 million American prefer to eat on a daily basis (yes, the world also).

    Mechanized farming and fertilizer allowed us to grow our population well beyond the ability of smallholder farming.

    Starvation is the real threat here. The carbon they want to reduce is YOU.

  10. I was brought (dragged) up on a small British ‘mixed’ farm (left to join the military, as even getting shot at is easier than farming) but have returned (30+ years service later and, in my dotage) and have a small mixed hill farm (effectively a smallholding here, a Homestead there, although pre 1960’s it was a typical farm - 40 acres plus common grazing hill land).

    It is massively different now, even compared to then (late 60’s early 70’s as a child/teenager).

    Britain (post war) was still the majority producer of its own food (although it had been importing massively ever since the Romans). Pre 60’s, food was produced/consumed mostly locally, as you suggest.

    An indicator? 1965 Britain (population 55 million or so) had nearly 2681 abattoirs, 677 livestock markets, and 97% of meat was locally sourced and sold by local butchers. By 1990 it was 779, 259 and 60% (with globally sourced supermarket sales rising). Now? 179, 140 and … 7.4%!

    Britain now (population nearly 70 million) produces less than 55% of the food it consumes. (Now America as a whole ‘is’ much better off, but major regional areas and city-states are worse off even than Britain in its worst nightmare, and the majority rely completely on the free/easy transportation of that food substantial distances).

    There’s no going back from that (at least without massive disruption, population reduction and displacement of what is left). We haven’t got the (millennia’s hard won, built and supplied) knowledge, experience, machinery or infrastructure any more.



  11. ‘People’ attack and deride “modern farming”. The whole “industrial farming” meme is based on some idyllic pipe-dream of imaginary days of yore (and manipulative, mercenary PC politics). Yes, a substantial portion of modern farms are owned/operated by “Big Agg” but most remain family farms even now (although ‘conveniently’ all the ‘green’ attacks on the agricultural sector seem to exclusively fall on/affect … the family farms alone).

    The use of modern farming techniques and technology isn’t bad per se, and throwing baby out with the bath-water because ‘some’ corrupt mercenary outfits misuse it is … suicidal.

    That ‘old’ system worked (mostly) for ‘small town’ America/Britain/everywhere, it doesn’t work to support the massive megalopolis zoos we have now (neither does it work to continue the subsidising of ‘unsustainable’ population growth of places like Africa, utterly reliant on outside food provision).

    I compost and rotate everything, I haven’t bought fertiliser … ever. But, I have 40 acres of seriously fecund land (even with my second class ‘hill’ land it’s more a case of stopping stuff I don’t want growing, rather than fighting to grow stuff). I ‘can’ grow almost everything I consume … and there’s the catch ‘almost’ (all those ‘luxuries’ like coffee, tea, sugar, citrus, etc. - not a chance) and ‘one bad harvest’ and I’m on short rations for months. The only way the local farmers could supply the (limited) rest would be to reduce the local population back to 1950’s levels, and completely cut-off the cities (and that’s based on reopening land and farms no longer in operation – and that is counting on ‘industrial’ provision of machinery and fuel to operate at all – no horses or equipment round here any more).

    If you’re willing (and able) to go back to an 1850’s diet and lifestyle (of back-breaking toil day in, day out) then … go ahead and get rid of modern farming. Otherwise ….

    [The ‘thing’ that annoys me the most? Britain is ‘allowed’ to admit to 33 million tons of coal reserves and oil and gas that is supposedly running out. We have (an estimated) 187 billion tons of coal reserves we aren’t ‘allowed’ to access, similar oil and gas reserves and shale-oil out the wazoo. And American reserves makes us look like the poor cousins we are. There isn’t/aren’t any shortages, of anything, there’s yet again another manufactured crisis for ideological/political profit.]

    Don’t confuse ‘gardening’ to supply a portion of your basics (whilst subconsciously aware you have the safety net of farm supplied store-bought) , and farming which feeds the world and gives you all the comfort and luxury you’ve grown to see as ‘normal’.

  12. I didn't think that I was attacking modern agriculture.

    I thought I was questioning the economic disadvantages of the concentration of meat-packing plants in certain areas. For example, are there any *natural* economic advantages to putting poultry processing plants in the Mississippi Delta or the Carolina Tidewater? Yes, I understand their might be tax advantages and I understand that they have a huge pool of "unskilled" labor. But do they offer any particular geographic advantage that could not be replicated in central Nebraska or southwestern Minnesota?

    At the risk of being speculative, I think a chicken processing plant could be compressed into two, semi-trailers with the product being packed into a third reefer trailer. Local kids could supply much of the labor as the "packing plant" moved about the area.

    1. Sorry (climbing carefully off my soap-box and putting away my hobby-horse)!

      The only ‘issue’ with local processing, at least here, is where’s the production, where’s the consumption, and where in-between do you site the processing?

      Local processing is viable and sensible here, with (now) limited local production, and sufficient rural consumption to use it all – it’s just not allowed (can’t have any competition for the big boys and their political donations, now can we). Can you say the same? Will shipping joints and cuts via reefer be all that less difficult than shipping steers to near the cities which are the markets?

      Personally I’m in favour of … well almost everything, being small and local. The “economics of scale” have mostly been used as a convenient excuse to hide the restriction, limiting and shrinkage of services, and to drive the small, independents out of business (from health care, through retail to farming, the methods and intent are the same).

      The last time I was over there, staying with friends in Idaho, there was local ‘boy’ (30ish, I feel really old) running his butcher business from a F250 truck, and making a good living from providing the service to small local producers. Whilst that works for the small herd owner (consuming their own, or selling in the nearest townships), bigger would require, as you say, a semi at least (but it’s got to be easily do-able). The only real question is, would the “organs of state” (at the behest of the big guys) allow it?

  13. Just up to the farm for a wedding. Fifth generation on the family farm settling in with his radiant bride. They planted beans with the wheat to address the nitrogen fertilizer shortage/cost increase. Very resilient people. Up lifting to be among them. The corn they raise mostly feeds the cows they raise and sell. Towed an RV up and back from GA to ND. Roger

  14. We stopped using dryer sheets years ago due to the chemicals they're loaded with. Wool 'dryer balls' take care of softening, and a few drops of essential oils on them let us choose the fragrance.

  15. The stated purpose of the nitrogen - fertilizer reductions, at least in the Netherlands, is land re-purposing. I have read that they have already lined up institutional buyers for any farmland coming available, with the intention of greenfield urban planning. Much easier to build new cities on virgin ground than attempt renovation in high-density urban settings.

    If de-concentrating agricultural activities like processing plants and feedlots, why would this be held a secret. In my view, the strategy is more to withhold as much information as possible on the goals and objectives, as a way of limiting the field for critical comment, objection, and debate of opposing views. On this basis alone, the concept should be roundly rejected before it gets started.

    Detergent: We've moved away from the standards (aside from bleaches) and use the ultra-concentrated 1 Tbps per load stuff, as well as the wool balls. Much better. Very clean clothes too. Our machine has a soak function that extends the cycle duration to about 3 hours, including the soak time. Really works magic.

  16. I remember when phosphate pollution from detergents on Long Island N.Y. caused huge alge blooms in the south side bays and caused the ban on phosphate detergents! Here in Alaska most of the dairy industry has been shut down mostly by the state not wanting to pay for inspectors and there has been issues with meat inspection although a certain amount of local meat can be bought. Also we don’t grow feed corn at all and legumes don’t do well so most of the hay requires commercial fertilizer with nitrogen. There is a certain amount of fish based fertilizer but mostly used by organic gardeners. We used to have a religious coop of a bout 100 people locally who grew for themselves and a commercial greenhouse. They did use fertilizer. The old guy who was the ag adviser in their setup told me that when he did a mission to the Amazon they had to add human manure to the compost because they couldn’t collect the cow manure before the nitrogen was leached out! When I was working dairy farm in the late 70’s and80’s in the N.Y. Catskills much of the land was unsuitable for alfalfa so we spread manure on the grass and silage corn and if we wanted hay off grass second cutting we had to add nitrogen fertilizer, otherwise we grazed the second cutting. My partner did have some alfalfa ground so that was rotated with corn. There are very few 40 or 60 cow diaries any more and modern feed methods have seriously increased the output per cow and there are far fewer cows making enough milk for a larger population. I agree the powers that be want to reduce us as carbon sources and also they can’t reduce fossil fuel extraction without reducing nitrogen fertilizer because the primary source is natural gas!

  17. RE: Laundry Detergents - Sorry for so many posts but just remembered this. Years back someone pointed me to a detergent recipe on a "handy homemaker" type of web site. I tried it and have been using it ever since:

    1 4lb box Arm & Hammer baking soda
    1 56 oz box A&H Super Washing Soda
    1 73 oz box 20 Mule Team Borax
    4 bars Fels Naptha laundry soap, finely ground in
    blender (or finely shredded on a grater) (it's cheap, I
    use 6 bars)
    3 lbs OxiClean
    2 lbs TriSodium Phosphate (add 2 tbsp/load more
    for real dirty or greasy clothes)

    Use 2 tbsp/load of detergent per full front-loader load,
    4 tbsp full top loader load.

    Pro Tip: Mixing granular material thoroughly is a fairly complex operation, a real PITA without equipment, so use a 2-gallon bucket and large spoon and mix ingredients in 4 (approximately) equal-size increments.

    FYI: Mix in 2 containers LemiShine to the entire batch and 2 tbsp of detergent works well as dishwasher detergent. Or, add 1 tsp LemiShine to each 2 tbsp dishwasher load.

    This is completely unscented, so if you want scents Purex makes "Scent Crystals" but that's always seemed like a waste to me.


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.