It’s Dangerous.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was invited a little while ago by his friend Ted (of Rocket Jones fame) to participate in a new group blog he was starting. Ted, you see, had recently completed reading the “Dangerous Book for Boys.” So impressed by this book was Ted that he thought it would be a great idea to get some bloggers together to share bits of knowledge and life experience (or just trivia) in a way that would be educational and fun for parents and kids.

Now, for the sake of full disclosure, your Maximum Leader has not read “The Dangerous Book for Boys.” (But he has ordered it on Amazon and will likely get it in the mail pretty darn soon. (There is nothing like Super-saver shipping is there…) But he will trust Ted’s judgement that your Maximum Leader has something worthwhile to contribute to this worthy endeavour.

Without further adieu… Your Maximum Leader presents: The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls.

And since your Maximum Leader is plugging the new site, allow him to plug his first contribution to the Dangerous Blog… Without asking the Smallholder’s permission at all, your Maximum Leader went ahead and slapped down some editing on two of the most linked posts ever in the history of this blog… Yes… Long-time readers will remember the posts well… They were the toad sexing posts. (Originals here and here.)

Go over to the Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls… Learn how to sex toads, make spider houses, and tell a ghost story.

And in case you are wondering… The most linked post in the history of Naked Villainy… It was this one: 10 Things…

Carry on.

We’re gonna (have to) keep Vermont

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must thank the many readers who commented on the Vermont Secession posts. Your Maximum Leader had no idea that there were so many hotbeds of secession around the nation. Although, to be honest, most of these movements are people wanting to create their own new state out of a portion of their old state (the Ole West Virginia/Virginia situation). Very few, including some secessionists in Texas and the aforementioned Vermont, actually seem to want out of the United States.

Well… Your Maximum Leader, as he’s stated before, will not let Vermont go peacefully. He’ll fight to keep Vermont in the Union. He’ll fight to maintain the Northeast Dairy Compact. Heck, we might need those Vermont dairy farmers to help keep the price of milk down (provided we could let market forces work outside of the Northeast Dairy Compact). Have you noticed food prices recently? Your Maximum Leader has. He spend $1.99 on a gallon of milk about three months ago. Today, he had to buy a gallon of milk (1% in case you care) and it was $2.95. Insanity!

The people at the Christian Science Monitor (and Yahoo News) have also noticed this price spike in food. In case you are too lazy to clicky on the linky:

The reason people are smarting: Inflation in grocery aisles is up by more in the first six months of 2007 than in all of 2006. That means food costs are on track for the biggest annual percentage hike since 1980, according to the Labor Department. The anticipated 7.5 percent increase would readily outflank the 2.6 percent core inflation rate to date, which excludes food and energy. It’s across every grocery aisle, too, from burgers to bagels, from duck to dumpling.

Added to sticker shock at the gas pump, high food prices, especially for meat, are forcing consumers to scrimp, coupon-clip, and ponder the possibilities of a deep freeze to take advantage of discounts, says Boyd Brady, an extension agent at Auburn University in Alabama.

“There’s a … combination of higher demand, natural disasters, higher energy prices – just a myriad of factors driving what price increases we’re seeing across the food sector,” says Chad Hart, an agricultural economist at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development in Ames, Iowa.

The chief culprit is corn, namely No. 2 feed corn, the staple of the breadbasket. In answer to President Bush’s call for greater oil independence, the amount of feed corn distilled into ethanol is expected to double in the next five to six years. Distillation is already sucking up 18 percent of the total crop. The ethanol gambit, in turn, is sending corn prices to historic levels – topping $4 per bushel earlier this year, and remaining high. All of this trickles down to the boards at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, affecting the price of everything from sirloin to eggs (which are up, by the way, 18.6 percent across the nation).

In a welcome response, US farmers told the government in April they plan a record-breaking 93-million-acre corn crop, though its true size won’t be known until the end of June. But corn alone does not explain the number of products that have become more expensive of late.

Facing higher costs at the farm and shareholder pressure to maintain profits, companies such as Tyson Chicken and Coca-Cola are raising prices. The fact that fuel prices remain relatively high hasn’t helped either, allowing no break in the cost of transporting perishable goods.

For fruit and vegetable growers, labor shortages are also a factor. A $2 cantaloupe sold for $3 at the South Carolina Farmer’s Market in Greenville recently, largely because of labor woes, says Thompson Smith of the South Carolina Farm Bureau. Winter cold snaps and hard freezes in California and the Southeast have made peaches, apples, and oranges pricier.

In the heartland, low yields on winter wheat mean cookies and baguettes are more expensive. Meat costs are up by 15 percent in some regions, in part because of drought that, as in Alabama, caused a cattle sell-off. Milk prices are up in part because of a global shortage, with milk exporters such as New Zealand unable to add capacity and Australia enduring a debilitating drought, even as demand rises in Europe, China, and India.

Damn those people in Europe and China and India. Drinkin’ our friggin milk! Don’t they have clean drinking water over there? Oh… Yeah…


Although your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how a $2 cantaloupe is actually a $3 dollar cantaloupe (did some important information get edited out of that line?), he does see the price increases with frightening regularity. One wonders if we are going to see record price increases on victuals this year does that mean that farm subsidies will be lower? After all, some of these record prices must get to a farmer’s pocketbook…

Your Maximum Leader was joking there… He knows that subsidies aren’t changing… (Thanks Congress!)

Anyho… Moving back to the first point of this post… With record dairy prices coming and demand growing, we must keep Vermont in the Union. Damn those Vermalcontents, Your Maximum Leader will go up there and secure those dairy farms and keep the milk and cheese flowing. He’ll make sure that those cows are fed and milked at gunpoint if need be.

By the way… For those of you wondering what your Maximum Leader’s Colonel-in-Chief outfits might look like… We have a few styles to choose from… Here we go:

Your Maximum Leader in the style of the Virginia Militia (Colonial Era):

Your Maximum Leader in the style of British Colonial officer:

And your Maximum Leader in the style of a 1930s dictator (a la Ian McKellan’s Richard III):

You can take your choice as to which one you like best… Your Maximum Leader will make sure to take them all with him on campaign…

Watch out Vermoonbats! Your Maximum Leader’s got your number!

Carry on.

Farm Livin’

Robbo over at Llama Butchers doesn’t live on a farm.

While perusing a nature book with his child, they came across a picture of a pair of elephants propagating the species. His wee one gleefully pointed out that the elephants were playing leapfrog.

This reminded me of a farm tour we gave a year ago. We had a preschool over to the farm and the ids and their parents were walking between the paddocks learning about farm animals when my Tunis ram George Washington* began doing his duty to God and country. A preschooler piped up: “What are they doing?”

My wife, horribly embarassed blurted out “They’re playing!”

Only to be corrected by our three-year old. “No they’re not, Mommy, George is breeding her!”

Ah, the farm life.

My daughter also helps with the lambs when they are born and there is much rejoicing when we get a female. She understands how to tell them apart. At preschool this year, she was playing with a stuffed animal and identifying it as a female. One of her classmates was upset because he wanted it to be a male. The teacher, attempting to mediate, told them that it could be whatever they wanted it to be. Emilie, unconvinced, asserted that she knew it was a female, turned the toy over, and triumphantly declared: “Look, no penis!”

At our recent small town celebration, one of my ewes gave birth in front of a large crowd (Polymath has a pic).

Emilie was dissapointed that it was a male lamb. She mournfully reported this to her friends: “Daddy says we only need one ram.”

But then she brightened: “Maybe we can cut his testicles off and keep him for wool!”

I’m waiting for social services to show up at the door.

* Tunis sheep were popularized by our first President so I followed a historical naming pattern until my daughter began naming them after her friends and assorted Disney princesses. I wondered if I was tempting fate when I named the ram - our first president was sterile and that would be a major problem in the herd sire. I shouldn’t have worried. Old George is dedicated to his job and breeds everybody on the first heat. I loaned him to another shepherd who was preserving the Tunis breed and he went above and beyond the call of duty. My friend has several different types of sheep and she carefully calibrates which ewes go in which paddock with which ram. While George was there, he bred the Tunis girls and then battered down the division fence, assered his dominance over the Rambouillet ram, and bred those girls too. My friend locked him in the barn and called me to pick him up. He destroyed the gate and bred a third set of ewes before I could get there. Father of his country, indeed.

Save Shambo.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wonders if you had read the latest out of Llanpumsaint, Wales? No? Imagine that.

It seems that Llanpumsaint has a particularly devout Hindu community. The Llanpumsaint Hindu community is favored with owning their own sacred cow. Yes… A real sacred cow.

The cow’s name is “Shambo.” Shambo means (if you trust the news wires) giver of joy… It seems as though Shambo is not only a giver of joy, but a carrier of bovine turberculosis. As a carrier of bovine TB, Shambo ought to be “culled” - which is a polite way of saying “killed.”

The believers at the Community of the Many Names of God, think that Shambo should be given a repreive since he lives, not on a farm, but in a religious compound. The wire story implies that Shambo would not come into contact with other cows in the area and pass along his infection.

Frankly, this story works on a whole bunch of levels… Your Maximum Leader, generally a law and order type, is all for culling the beast if it poses a contamination risk to other livestock. That is the law afterall and you just can’t allow known carriers of infectious diseases to go around infecting other cattle. Then there is the sanctuary element of the story. Now your Maximum Leader knows that no secular democracy recognizes the ancient privledge of “sanctuary” as we have all learned it from novels and film. But deep in your Maximum Leader’s little autocratic heart, there is a soft spot for “sanctuary” in churches.

(Excursus: It seems as though the US military does offer, to some extent, sanctuary to terrorists in mosques. This is one type of sanctuary with which he does not agree. Of course, militarizing a mosque (or church) generally would void any claim of protection the holy space should offer.)

So, should Shambo receive sanctuary? Should Shambo be allowed to live out his (reduced - presumably) days in the Community of the Many Names of God?

Well… No… Shambo should be culled his community should find a new sacred cow.

(NB: This post was hard to type. If one wasn’t careful in typing “Shambo” one might wind up with another name that could cause one to be unfairly accused of being a racist.)

Carry on.

People watching nature

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees on loyal reader and commenter (and neighbor of the Smallholder) Polymath’s site that our good friend the Smallholder was displaying some of his sheep at the local town fair over the weekend.

And while displaying his livestock to the crowds… Something happened… Something natural…

But you will have to read all about it to find out more! (Pictures too!)

Carry on.

Bonnie’s Love Match


Bonnie appears to be caught. Her suitor this year was O-Man, one of the greatest Holstein bulls in American history.

He used to be the highest net merit bull, but he has been around long enough that recent generic progress has left him behind.

Here’s hoping for a heifer!


Mrs. Smallholder just wrapped up tax season.

I’m off crutches.

It’s time to get farm work done!

We purchased our pigs yesterday. I got taken a bit by the seller; the price seemed to change when we had the pigs loaded AND the weight of the pigs was higher than estimated. Ah well.

It’s not like I farm to make money.

Farming is fun.


Spring is here! (Life is skittles and life is beer!)

These Are Not The Clones You Are Looking For

William Seletan on cloned animals.

As a small farmer, I’m concerned that cloned animals are NOT good for the farmer (imagine the price of milk if every Holstein calf is a cloned heifer), but they are safe to eat.

Found via Volokh.

Expanding the herd

In anticipation of quadrupling my grazing land this spring, I purchased a springing heifer and eight steers on Saturday. The springing heifer, which my daughter has named “Cleo,” is a lovely Charolais-Angus cross that will drop her first calf in mid-February. I bought her from Messer Farms, a very impressive operation in Staunton, Virginia. I could have chosen a registered Angus, but like the larger size of the Charolais because she will be able to carry a Holstein calf - I eventually hope to breed up to a dairy operation.

The calves are mixed-breeds. One of them is blind. I took it because they offered to let me have him for a big price break. I may have made a mistake - it will be hard to train him to electric wire. I may have to hamburger him come grazing time in late March.

I’m finally getting comfortable with this whole business thing - I didn’t even blink when I wrote out a check for $4500.

On Farming

The Smallholder will appreciate this:

It seemed best to stick with the arrangement that was already in place with the sheep farmers while we improved the land. As part of this process, Paddy insisted that we do something about the rooks.

There were certainly lots of them, a multitude. It’s hard to tell exactly how many as they wheel and soar, spectacular and secret, high above the forest. I didn’t mind them around the place.

They are a nuisance, though. Along with magpies, jackdaws, ravens and jays, rooks are members of the corvid family. They’re tough and clever.

The collective noun for rooks is a parliament, and a parliament of rooks can be deafening. The sheep farmers claim they will peck out newborn lambs’ eyes.

This may well not be true, but they do eat other birds’ eggs, and if you “let it be”, you end up with just rooks. It seemed that the reasonable thing to do was to reduce numbers, to lend a benign hand to the balance of nature, to cull them. Kill them, that is.

Killing rooks is not nice at all. There are no neat boxes for exterminating them; shotguns are the only thng that work and it’s a pretty medieval and messy business, which I don’t enjoy.

But I felt I was acting for the greater good. It was a hard decision for a vegetarian to make, and the moment I made that decision was the moment I became a farmer.

Smallholder on Milk

The Volokh Conspiracy had an interesting thread on the government’s role in agriculture.

I got into it a little bit with one of the liberal Volokh posters (See, Brian, you’re not alone). If you’d like to see feisty Smallholder acting like a true conservative, click through.

As an aside - I can’t reply anymore because the thread is closed, but does anyone see where I argue that the government should preferentially treat family farmers (the last comment accuses me of that). I thought I was pretty clear that I wanted government out and the market to rule.

CSI: Batesville: Justice Served

The trial was yesterday.

The boys wanted to plead guilty and the assistant DA called me out of the courtroom to give my consent - she was prepared to go for the whole nine yards of a trial if I wanted to prosecute to the fullest.

The plea deal was that they would plead to malicious wounding of livestock. They would each get a year in prison with six months suspended for the accomplice. The DA thought that if there was any chance of turning around the lives of these young men, it was this. They had been in Juvie before, but a lot of kids think the justice system is playing pattycake. They won’t be going to little kid jail anymore. This is the real thing. I think there was a quote in “Office Space” about this sort of thing. Luckily, there won’t be any pounding because the kids will be seperated from the violent population and do most of their time with drunk drivers and druggies. I was all for that - I wouldn’t wish prison rape on anybody so I’m happy the boys will be protected from that. But hopefully the real time will make them rethink their futures. If not, this does count as a prior offense and one strike so they will get a whole new set of sentencing guidelines if they reoffend. Another condition of the guilty plea was that the triggerman give up the right to own a crossbow.

Justice was served, but Sally and I agreed that it should be lenient justice. I hope something good comes out of it.

As an aside, the trial prior to mine was of a broken-down sixty-three year old man who was stopped with a cigarette pack full of crack cocaine. As he was being arrested, he broke away and tried to run - with his hands handcuffed behind his back. The arresting officer, a fit-looking man in his mid twenties was trying not to laugh on the stand, but the guy, looking back at the pursuing officers, ran into a tree and knocked himself out. Heh.

CSI: Batesville

Your humble Smallholder lives in the tiny virginia hamlet of Batesville. Population: 100 (actually 99 now that the horse has died). We actually have a town song that we sing during the Christmas carol festivities in which we proudly proclaim ourselves a podunk “one horse town with a lot of heart.”

But crime, my friends, has come to Batesville.

Our good friend and occasional commentator Polymath hired a guy out of Crozet to paint the roof of Polymathschloss. The painter brought his ne’er-do-well son along to help (I found this out much later). And this is where the serpent enters the garden. Years from now, when we look back a bemoan the loss of the innocent Batesville years, we will all blame Polymath. We might even have to arrange for an old-school blanket party to help him atone for his sins.

Ne’er-do-well son, driving home from the paint job evidently saw my pigs who are pastured right next to the road. He tells one of his buddies and they decided to have a pig roast.

They came at night, shot one of the pigs with a crossbow, jumped the fence, manhandled the 300 pound carcass over the fence, hung it up in paint man’s garage, and went to a party. These two 18 year old dropouts then brag to everyone at the party that they shot a pig in Batesville.

Unfortunately for them, some of the kids at the party liked my pigs. People who drive down my road frequently slow down and even stop to enjoy the pigs. Most people have never seen pigs being pigs in the woods. The Batesville pigs are well known and beloved. I keep running into people at the pool or the local store who talk about them. Yep, I say, they’re mine. At any rate, some of those kids did the right thing and came to tell me who killed the pig.

I called the cops. And, not knowing that they had stolen the body, spent an hour walking through the woods trying to find the victim. Not finding anything, I figured that the other pigs,being pigs, had eaten their less fortunate colleague.

When the policeman finally showed up, I gave him the names of the perpetrators. A dead pig is not a high priority in the police department, so he suggested I file a citizen’s warrant (he was familiar with the two boys from previous cases). So I went to the magistrate to swear out a warrant against the two boys. The magistrate looked up livestock killing and found out that it was a class five felony. I swore out a citizen’s felony warrant and the magistrate told me it would take a week or so to serve the warrants.

I was pretty hot, as you can imagine. But I also realized that a conviction would be almost impossible. I thought that the body has disappeared and the only evidence was based on hearsay. So I was not optimistic about justice and definitely not optimistic about recovering the loss. Unlike the Maximum Leader and Minister of Propaganda, your humble Smallholder is not a “man of wealth and taste.” I’m a school teacher and a farmer and the loss of one seventh of my hog crop was a big financial blow to my family.

And then I got to thinking. Many of the criminals I deal with in the after school program have parents who are enablers. I knew that the triggerman lived in a trailer park and had recently beaten his father so badly that he had to go to the hospital, so it was unlikely that he had parents to bail him out. But through the miracle of the internet and property tax records, I discovered that paint boy’s family owned a house in Crozet. So I looked up the Snow family of Crozet in the phone book. There are a lot of Snows in Crozet. But I did find a listing with the boy’s name.

Woman answers the phone: “Hello?”

“Is C____ Snow there?”

“He’s not in right now.”

“Well, you tell your boy that I know he killed my hog and if I don’t have restitution by the end of the day, I’m prosecuting to the full extent of the law!”

“Wait, wait! My husband C_______ is thirty years old. This happens all the time. We are always getting calls for the C________ who is eighteen.”

Oops. Ah well, it was worth a try.

But the woman evidently called the correct group of Snows because the next day paint man comes up my driveway with $1000 in cash. Introduces himself and says he is the father of one of the boys who shot my pig. I invite him inside because I want witnesses and have a friend in the kitchen. Dad comes in, almost in tears, and tells us that he came home from work to find the pig hanging in his garage. The boys told him they bought it somewhere but he thought the story sounded littly hinky and was upset about all the blood on the floor. He told them to move it. He says his boy was a good boy and had never been in trouble except when he was with the triggerman. I refrained from saying that his boy wasn’t good at all if he thought it was morally acceptable to shoot and steal someone’s animal. He says that when the other Snow called him he called the boys in and the triggerman came up with the $1000 to pay me. I asked why the boys hadn’t come over and he said that he didn’t know what kind of people we were and was afraid that I might be violent towards the boys.

Now, if I had come upon them in the act of stealing the pig, I don’t know what I would have done. My wife and I were out for our anniversery dinner. My wondeful inlaws told us they would stay up late to watch the wee ones and that we should see a movie too. If we had come straight home from dinner, we might have pulled up behind their truck. If that had happened, I’m not sure what I would have done. I imagine I would have been enraged. And I also imagine that I would have felt protective of my wife. I probably would have picked up the trailer hitch on the floorboard of the truck and went after them. Either they would have killed me with the crossbow or I would have beaten them pretty badly. I’ve actually had nightmares about this. I kill one and go to jail and can’t see my kids.

But once the act was over, I wouldn’t have been violent. So I tell the man he needs to go get the bys and bring them to the house to apologize and pay restitution themselves - and I’ll have a police officer there to witness the restitution.

He leaves to get the boys and I call the police. They don’t seem to be that interested in coming out until I say that I don’t know what will happen. Then they dispatch a police officer.

The boys drive up, give me the thousand dollars, and confess that they killed the pig. The triggerman starts bawling and says they “only wanted to eat it.” (”Well, in that case, be my guest! Stealing from my family is fine as long as you want to have a pig roast!”) Paint boy mumbles that he was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” This set me off. I hate when kids try to deny responsibility and place blame on the world at large. I lit into him: “No, you made a choice. You and your buddy chose to come to my house after dark. You chose to climb over my woven wire and electric fences. You chose to help your buddy get the hog over the fence. You chose to load the hog into your truck. You chose to hang it up in your garage. It wasn’t a series of circumstances beyond your control. You chose to commit this crime.”

Our friend, who is witnessing this from the front porch, says it was better than a crime drama on TV. I then lit into both of them for hurting the pig, hurting my family, and hurting the community as a whole because they would have one less pig to watch.

The policeman stood there and listened until I wound down. He then said that it was good that they had paid restitution but there was a felony arrest warrant for them and he would take them downtown. He handcuffed the crying boys and took them in.

CSI Batseville: Making the guilty confess!

I’ll continue the saga in another post.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, as long time readers know, is very fond of pigs. In his mind, after the dog, they are the greatest domesticated animal.

But pigs are only so domesticated. They live with a thin veneer of domesticity over their wild feral cores. You drop a piglet in the woods and in a few days you have a wild, dangerous, feral hog. Perhaps that element, when added to just how damn tasty they are, makes the pig a source of contemplation and admiration on the part of your Maximum Leader.

Wild hogs are a growing problem in agricultural areas of the US. Particularly in the South. From time to time your Maximum Leader stumbles over a good piece about the wild hog, or even a wild boar. Here is a sample of one for your reading pleasure:

He uses the chase dogs with good noses to find and pursue the hogs. Once a hog is cornered, Payne releases two bulldog-mix hounds that rush to the source of the baying chase hounds and hold the hog as Payne steps in and kills the pig, thrusting a heavy knife blade between the ribs and into the pig’s heart.

Want more? Here is the whole article.

Carry on.

Pointless Letters to Congress

One suspects that citizen letters to Congress will have a smaller impact than big-business lobbying, but if any of our readers are concerned about the way that agribusiness is watering down the legal definition of “organic,” you can go to this link and send automatic e-mails to your representatives.

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