Monthly Archives: October 2010

More than a Web Developer

I’ve been deeply immersed in web design and technology, and the small business arena for the last 10 years. I’ve loved every minute of it (ok, so not so much some of the hair pulling technical puzzles, but most of it!). I’ve loved the creative side, the puzzle element, and the associations with absolutely wonderful people. But I think I’m near the end of a season in my life. I can feel it coming apart – my interest is declining, the desire to go to the next level with it is fading. Other interests are reasserting themselves into my life again. I’m ready to be more than a web developer again.

I don’t know if it is the farm stuff that is piquing this interest or whether it is partly the poor economy and the effect it has on our business right now. Whatever it is, I find that I am pulled by things I have had no time for the last 5 years. I want to crochet again. I want to bake and make things for my family. I want to be a part time web developer, and have a life around it again.

It was necessary for me to be completely immersed in it for the time that I was – we would not have been able to build a business for our family if I had not been there first. So it was good and needed at the time. It was the season for it. I don’t have any regrets about it. And I don’t want to completely abandon it. But I’m ready for it to no longer dominate my life – for it to be a rewarding part of my life, but not the whole of it.

I used to read a lot (not just novels), I cooked a lot, made craft items, built some of our own furniture, and did a lot of home do it yourself stuff. I painted, drew, and designed things. In the thick of business, every creative effort I had was channeled into that – there was no time or thought left over. I read technical books. I created site designs. I “painted” custom graphics. I designed site structures.

I find myself longing for something else now. Not absent of what I have, but balanced with what I have. I’m finding that the “simple” life as described in the bucolic ramblings of the nostalgic is not really simple at all. And it is in no way unintelligent. It is complex, difficult, and involves a lot more than just drudging hard work. There is a highly academic side to it – you learn, or it fails miserably. A good farmer is an artist, a scientist, a veterinarian, a creator. He must be. Less than that does not succeed.

But the farming is only part of it. I miss parts of me that got set aside to develop the business. Again, it was the right and necessary choice at the time. But it may just be time now to bring them back.

I’m ready to be more again.

Regulatory Constipation

So apparently, the purpose of regulations by the government, is not to achieve a specific definable goal, but rather, to simply regulate and require – facilitating adherence to those regulations does not seem to be part of the perceived purpose of the government of the State of Wyoming.

First of all, we started researching what it took to raise quail, for the purpose of food production (eggs and meat). It all seemed pretty simple – apply for a permit, and away you go, at least, that is what people from other states were saying.

Wyoming seems to want to go out of their way to make it more difficult than it needs to be. First of all, the state claims ownership of all gamebirds in the state – including those that you buy and have shipped in from out of state, and including those that are non-native to the state, and which could not really survive in the wild here. They do not care, you are merely a steward over “their” birds, and you must account for each one, track breeding, disposal or destruction of the birds, ensure that the birds you produce are marked to distinguish them from “wild” birds, allow on-site inspections whenever they ask, etc.

There are two types of permits – the free one, that allows you to have up to 100 birds, not for commercial use. And the one that costs $130, for a “Gamebird Farm” which does allow you to sell them. It sort of assumes you are raising them for hunting purposes, on a substantial property. Ok, we can deal with that, short and long term.

Then we found a rather buried reference to a health inspection certification – attached to another section of regulation. This is what it states:

“A certificate of veterinary inspection completed by an accredited veterinarian from the state of origin within ten (10) days prior to importation of game birds and/ or game bird eggs into the State shall be required. In addition, a statement signed by the supplier of the game birds shall be submitted to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Attention: Permitting Officer, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, Wyoming 82604 on a form prescribed by the Department attesting that the game birds and/ or game bird eggs and premises of origin are free of infectious, contagious and communicable diseases. Diseases include, but shall not be limited to, Newcastle disease, Salmonella, pullorum, avian cholera, duck viral enteritis, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, and avian influenza. The statement shall also indicate that no game bird within the flock of origin is known to be infected with or to be exposed to avian tuberculosis. Game birds and premises of origin shall have been free of said diseases for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the date of shipment into the State and the premises shall not have experienced an undiagnosed mortality of more than ten percent (10%) of the game birds during the same one (1) year period.”

Failure to comply can result in at least, the state destroying your flock, and most, fines and imprisonment.

So we started asking questions to find out just what the two prescribed forms WERE, and how to get them – our game warden is clueless, he’s never dealt with this, so he doesn’t know (good guy, no insult to him).

We called the State Veterinarian (because another regulatory document said we had to send a form to them), and they had no clue what we were talking about. They referred us to Fish and Game. You’d think someone in their office would know what we were talking about? Nope!

They suggested we talk to the permitting officer. Her secretary didn’t know what we were talking about either. Then we talked to the permitting officer – she explained that really, all we needed was a completely different form, provided by the state of origin, which didn’t really even specify the things that the regulation stipulated! Only the form she said IS required, is NOT the form that any of the hatcheries supplies as a rule. But she did not have an official form. It did not exist.

So we have a regulation, calling for something that does not exist, created by people who do not care whether it is enforced or not, and which is enforced by someone who isn’t even sure what it is that is required to meet the standard.

Wow. Compliance is a headache, and when it comes down to it, completely voluntary.

Here’s the thing…

I don’t have to do ANY of this if I buy in state. Of course, what I need is not AVAILABLE in state, but oh well… I could still buy diseased birds in state and never have to comply.

Furthermore, I could start doing this in my back room, where nobody sees it, order out of state, and not tell, and no one would be the wiser. The regulations are COMPLETELY unenforceable… even if the state appointed overseers DID know precisely what the regulation meant!

I’m sure that the state could be just a little more organized and helpful in encouraging compliance. This is enough to make someone give up!

This doesn’t seem to be an issue with a single department either. One would think that your state would want to encourage people to survive there – especially in a state that is so hard to live in as Wyoming. You’d think they’d want to encourage enterprise. You’d think that if they had a law, they’d want to help people to obey that law.

This seems to be an increasing issue with government where business is concerned. The creation of completely unenforceable laws that punish those who try to comply, while ignoring those who don’t.

Something is wrong with this picture.

Who’d figure it could be so hard to get a chicken?

We started trying to get quail. Wyoming goes out of its way to make it particularly hard for someone to raise a few quail in their garage. Quail, you see, are gamebirds, and gamebirds are “owned” and managed by the state, even if YOU buy them from OUT of state, and they are regulated by the state. Even if they are essentially domesticated Quail that are non-native to the area, the state manages them.

So, quail take time. Lots of time. File for the permit, find a company that will comply with Wyoming’s certification requirements, wait for them to ship, hatch them (wait for that too), brood them, grow them, and finally they start laying. And then you can only have 100 of them. The eggs are so tiny that that is just about enough to keep a family in eggs (about 80 females, 20 males, for fertile eggs).

Quail would not meet our needs completely, for meat and eggs (they could, if we wanted to get a Game Farm License – $130 per year… maybe someday so we can sell quail eggs, but not now). So we were going to need something else. Keeping in mind our requirements:

  1. Has to be able to be cage raised, in a small space.
  2. Has to be productive for both eggs, and meat.
  3. Has to produce small eggs (easier to digest than big ones).
  4. Needs to be domesticated, not considered wild game (leaves out pheasant and some other options).

So we were left with Bantams. The do ok in cages, produce small eggs, and some breeds are good layers.

But it is very hard to find them this time of year. We can’t order chicks (several companies have them available), because they’ll die in the box before they get to the Wilds of Wyoming. So we have to order eggs, or find live animals near enough to go pick up. Both have proven difficult.

Getting chickens is easy. Getting a specific breed, is not so easy. Getting them when you want them, out of season, can be hard too.

I’m getting an education. But I’m also very persistent, so I’ll eventually get it done, in spite of the obstacles.

Because I’m now reacting to one of the ingredients in the B-12 supplements… so I need eggs that I can actually digest. It is causing enough problems to be  a daily reminder that we need chickens. Soon.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.