Everyone is aging

CM-MR-1-Everyone aging 1cby Sally Colby

If your family has had difficult conversations about the ability of an older family member to continue farming safely, the first thing to remember is that everyone starts to age from the time they are born. As a group, farmers are the most rapidly aging workforce in the United States, with an average age of 58 years; compared to the average workforce age of 42.

The problem for farm families is that most farmers simply don’t stop farming.

“Farmers don’t retire,” said Deborah Reed, an ag nurse who specializes in gerontology. “A lot of the generic things that we see as remedies and solutions for the main workforce don’t resonate too well with people as they enter later mid-life. There’s no standard retirement age, no performance evaluation. Farmers say, ‘we work til we drop’ — they work because they like it.” [Read more…]

Tracking Lyme disease

CDM-MR-1-LymeDisease1188by Steve Wagner

After years of coping with Lyme disease, it sometimes seems as if little more is known about it today than it was when it was first discovered. We know that its presence has been around for about 20 million years, but we can date modern problems with the bacterium to 1975, when several cases were identified in two Connecticut towns, Lyme and Old Lyme. In 1978, it was learned that the disease is tick-borne.

“My son got so sick from Lyme and associated diseases that I honestly didn’t believe he was going to survive,” said Dr. Kathy Spreen. “Chris had a tick bite that he got while doing an internship in Delaware. He came home and asked, ‘Does this matter?’ There was a tick in there wiggling, and I said, ‘Well, let’s just take this thing out and put it in a jar and see what happens.’” [Read more…]

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Alkaloid management: What level of toxicity are you willing to accept in your pastures?

CM-MR-1-Alkaloid2aby Karl H. Kazaks

About 50 people gathered at the Weyers Cave Community Center on Nov. 20 to hear Dr. Joe Bouton ask, “What alkaloid levels are you willing to live with?”

It’s not a question commonly asked by farmers today, but Bouton hopes that in the future, testing for alkaloid levels will be as common as measuring forage for nutrients, protein and NDF.

Alkaloids are naturally occurring compounds produced by fungi, bacteria, plants and animals. Alkaloids can have medicinal properties. Morphine, caffeine and ephedrine are alkaloids. Some alkaloids are toxic to other organisms — for example, nicotine. Tobacco dust is an effective pesticide, if not used today as widely as it once was. [Read more…]