Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My first and last blog on Election 2012

I really enjoy writing. I don't get around to doing it near enough. Although I have posted many political comments on Facebook and have enjoyed the lively discussions that followed, I have yet to post a blog on the upcoming election. Here it is the first and the last.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday. I made the comment that I hoped for a change in the leadership of our country following the election next week. His response surprised me, he hoped that we kept the same leader as we have. Roy is probably in his late 50s or early 60s. He is a hard worker, his main income comes from cutting and selling firewood. I had assumed that he was a conservative. As I probed to see how in the world he could want Obama to be reelected it was evident that he had been listening to one of the biggest lies that the liberals are spewing, "Romney wants to get rid of Social Security!" he said. I tired to convince him that wasn't the case but don't think that I succeeded. Roy is what I would call a low information voter. Samuel Popkin, a political science professor at UC-San Diego coined this term in 1991.

 In my opinion most low information voters are also single issue voters. You find them on both sides of the political fence. Issues of importance to single issue Democratic voters include entitlement programs, unions, pro-abortion, anti-gun, and immigration. Republican voters may put emphasis on pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-Constitution, anti-Obamacare and anti-illegal immigration.

 One issue common to both sides is race. I can hear my liberal friends squealing now, ranting and raving that race is a single issue that belongs solely in the Republican camp. Another lie the Democrats are allowed to spout without any challenge. I read an article last week and all of the blacks that were interviewed said that the main reason they were voting for Obama was because of the color of his skin. What followed floored me, they said that they were not racists for voting for a candidate based solely on his skin color. If that is not racism what is? What would I be called if I said I was voting for Romney simply because he was white? Words much stronger than racist would be used I can assure you. In the last issue of Time there was a poll conducted in Ohio, the state many believe will decide the outcome of the presidential election. Obama had an 80% point lead over Romney amongst minority voters while Romney only held a 6% point lead over the President amongst white voters. Where do think the racist finger points in that poll?

Single issue voters are dangerous to the electoral process. When I look at the number of "Roys" in this country whose only information is what comes out of the political ads they catch on television it doesn't bode well for our future. I don't think that Ohio will determine the election, I propose that it may well be those whose fervor for their pet peeve will elect the next president of the United States. For our country's sake I hope that the gunners, lifers, and the "stay-the-h*** out my lifers" prevail.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Politics: Use your head, not your heart

I obviously haven't blogged enough to make it a habit! I recently returned from vacation with my family to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  It was a family reunion with Michele's family, the first one I have made in all the years we have been married. Our son, John, was the only one missing as he is feverishly studying and spending time in the T-6 simulator as he prepares to make his initial flight in that airplane on August 15th. We had a great time, what a beautiful place.

As we traveled to Ek Balam, an ancient Mayan site, I had an interesting conversation with my brother-in-law. It went well considering that I am an ultra-conservative and he is from a left-leaning nation with many socialistic policies that he supports. I have since pondered that conversation and need to write down some of my musings, if only for my own benefit. Conservatives are many times labeled as cold, heartless people that would probably steal candy from a baby if given the chance. Not true. In a number of studies it has been shown that conservative people are much more generous than liberals. A comment left on one of the studies  I read said: "Liberals advocate the government putting its hand in the pocket of someone else to give to someone it decides is in need (very often this decision is based not on genuine need but political gain)." Political opinions should be made between your ears not within your chest. My heart aches for the underprivileged of the world, but my head tells me that government is not the answer, never has been nor will it ever be.. If I were independently wealthy I would be in the highlands of Guatemala helping to bring clean water into homes or in Africa helping to find methods to increase agricultural production or some other remote place doing whatever needed to be done.  You can say, "Oh sure you would.", and my answer would be, "I KNOW I would!" But I am far from wealthy. My wife and I have worked hard to acquire what little we have and I believe it is up to us, not the government, to decide how much of our resources will be used to help those that are less fortunate than we.  You can be assured that the lazy, something-for-nothing, won't work, takers of all the "free" government stuff kind of people wouldn't make my list!  There are people that society has a moral obligation to temporarily sustain but that list is short. Sorry my socialist friends but there will always be the poor. But why not just sock it to the rich? Nobody has ever given me a plausible reason as to why the rich should pay a larger percentage of the bill.  Whether they inherited it, were lucky, worked harder than the rest, or whatever the reason, they should not be expected to sustain the dregs of society (a group that I contend is much larger than people, especially liberals, think) by paying a larger share.

I have a renter in a small house that I own. He moved in over 2 years ago and has never paid a dime in rent. I know, stupid me for letting him get away with it. I saw him in the parking lot of our local grocery store the other day. I asked him if he was saving his pennies, he gave me an odd look, and I continued to explain to him that he owed me over $10,000. He said, "Dave, I barely make enough money to pay the utilities.", and I in my best conservative voice said, "Not my problem Lewis." I then indicated that he could come out to my hog farm and put in some hours to at least make a dent in the bill. Yep you got it...he has never shown up. There are people like Lewis all over the place. Take whatever they can get and let the "rich" pay for it.  We have a nation full of entitlement-crazed people. I work part-time as a Federal egg grader. The majority of the work force are Mexican, Filipino and Vietnamese people. They work 10-12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week and get no overtime pay.  They earn between $9 and $10 an hour. Out of that wage they pay their bills and still manage to send money home to their family members. I can hear it now, "Those illegals are taking jobs from hard-working Americans!" You think? If so you are wrong.  Very few Americans even show up to fill out an application and if one does get hired they generally don't last 2 days. "The work is too hard!", they whine. Too easy to go and get all the government "free" stuff.

I am a conservative and always will be. My head will continue to shape my political opinions and my heart will hopefully lead me to do some good in the world. I invite your comments.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rabbits: The hub of the small-scale animal production wheel

As I hit the road at 4:30 a.m. this morning on my way to an 11-12 hour shift (plus an hour drive each way!), I couldn’t help but ponder what it might be like to be a subsistence farmer. The frantic-paced lives we live and the onerous expenses (insurance is my biggest expense) make me wish for a simpler life.

What animal would I build a small-scale food production system around? The domestic rabbit. It really is a true marvel.  My experience with meat rabbits began at an early age.  My family moved to a small acreage when I was 10 and I immediately began to acquire a host of farm animals.  I had bottle calves, goats, sheep, chickens, pigeons, pheasants, and New Zealand white rabbits.  We raised the rabbits for meat.  I still remember my Dad and I butchering them in our backyard on Ballantine Lane in Eagle, Idaho.  When rabbit was served for dinner we would tell my younger brothers that it was chicken we were eating.

Michele-April 1985-Provo, Utah
Michele and I lived in a small house at the BYU Poultry Unit (it no longer exists, nor does the Animal Science Department, what a shame) when we were first married.  I was working on my master’s degree and I managed the rabbit herd.  The title of my master’s thesis was, The effect of synthetic GnRH on the reproductive performance of artificially-inseminated rabbits (Huh? You can ask me for more details if you’re really interested).  Michele learned to eat quite a few different things during our first year of marriage, rabbit was one on them.  She never did drink the milk from the small herd of goats that I milked though.  She had also never eaten wild game. Her introduction to that fare was a rank old mule deer buck I shot a few months after we were married.  The best mule deer isn’t great eating, so you can imagine this critter.  We got through it by marinating and barbequing. 

Back to the topic at hand.  The female rabbit is a reproductive powerhouse.  She has the ability to produce 1000% of her body weight per year in weaned offspring. Think about that for a second.  Compare that to a cow that produces roughly 50% of her weight in offspring or even the sow that can only claim about 80%.  She and her kits do best on a commercial pelleted feed, but if not available or prohibitively expensive they can readily adapt to many different feed ingredients.  There is even some research that suggest they might be able to thrive in a pastured system much like pastured poultry is raised.  The initial investment in breeding stock is very low and rabbits don't require a lot of expensive equipment.  The meat is white, lean, and very tasty.  In a meats products class I was enrolled in I used rabbit meat to produce sausages, jerky, and even Canadian bacon. 

In future posts I will talk about specific breeds and more details on rabbit production.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Animals are not humans!

What a beautiful Mother's Day morning in Missouri. I owe much to the women in my life. I hope that my wonderful mother and wife have a great day. I love them both and am so grateful for their influence on me.

Male wood duck
I moved my cattle to a new pasture last night. As I walked the few hundred yards to check on them early this morning I was bombarded with a melody of bird calls.  The mournful call of the dove, the chatter of the beautiful male cardinal, the mockingbird with his symphony of calls, the hearty gobble of the wild turkey, the honk of the Canada goose and on and on.  As I walked back I spooked a pair of wood ducks, the male wood duck is one of the most beautiful birds to be found. I was reminded of the simple pleasures of living in the country.

Male cardinal
I enjoy all living creatures.  I believe that God created them all for our enjoyment and use.  We are to treat them with respect and dignity, BUT they are not our equals, they do not have our rights.  Animals are an integral part of any small-scale food production system, they are not pets.  In order to raise and utilize them you have to understand that concept.  Most city dwellers are far removed from the cycle of life.  Creatures are born, live for a period of time and then die--that is how it works.

Many years ago I worked in the mink industry in Utah.  Among other duties, I had to deal with the media.  Most of those I spoke with had a liberal, animal-rights mentality and it made for some interesting discussions (those of you who know me well would understand that!).  Many people who are surrounded by concrete and steel all their lives believe that death in any form is cruel.  In reality it is simply a stage in the cycle of life.

If you decide to raise animals in a food production system you have to understand that at some point they will end up on your dinner table.  That means you will have to butcher them.  I realize that for some that would be impossible to do.  Find a neighbor that can partner with you, someone that would be willing to do the butchering for a share of the meat. 

In future posts I will write about the domestic rabbit. I believe it is the principal animal in any small-scale system.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beyond Food Storage: Creating your own food production system

Many years ago while studying at Brigham Young University, I worked with the Benson Food and Agriculture Institute (The Institute still exists today and continues their work throughout the world—look them up at  They developed a program whereby a family of 7 could be sustained on one hectare (2.5 acres).  This system was developed at BYU and then put to the test in Ecuador.  Our friends Neils and Gina Tidwell worked tirelessly with the program in Ecuador and Michele and I were slated to replace them but unfortunately the program lost its funding and we never got the opportunity.  My experience with the program instilled in me a real interest in self-sufficiency and the goal to be able to provide for my family and others should that become necessary.

The system included an extensive garden, as well as a small animal component including chickens, goats, and guinea pigs…yep they eat them in Ecuador.  It produced enough food for the family as well as some income from the sale of the surplus vegetables and animals.  This program went beyond food storage, it was in fact, a food production system.

My church encourages its members to store a year’s worth of food and other basic necessities.  I think that is great counsel and although we still don’t have a year’s worth of food on hand, we work on it little by little.  I personally want more than a year’s worth of dry beans, powdered milk, and macaroni. I want the ability to keep my table filled with what we eat now.  I guess you can call us old-fashioned. We still sit down most nights and eat a home-cooked dinner as a family.  Not much in the way of prepared foods in our house. With a milk cow to produce milk, butter, and cheese, pork, rabbits, chickens for meat and eggs, a couple of beehives, and a large garden my actual food storage list becomes quite short.

I realize that most of you don’t have the land base to keep such a menagerie but there are things that you can do. Chickens and rabbits require very little space, don’t eat much, are quiet—assuming you have only hens and no roosters (no, roosters aren’t necessary for a hen to lay eggs!) and both produce very high quality food—especially high in protein. Take out some of your lawn and plant a garden.  I realize that many of you live under the oppression of city ordinances that don’t allow critter raisin’, but I believe that if times get tough, these silly ordinances will be repealed.  I’m glad that us country folks don’t have to put up with the regulations imposed on our city cousins. In my county we have no zoning, no building codes, no building inspectors, etc.. If I want to build a house, I build it and I don’t need anybody’s permission.

Hen house (6 hens) in my backyard--would fit in any city backyard
Think about your own situation and what you can do to be prepared. More detailed ideas to follow.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Buy land young man!

What a great few days! We had all of our children home for a long weekend. We just bid John goodbye as he left for Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi this morning to begin his flight training. Never gets easier to send them off. I wish him godspeed as he goes to serve and protect this chosen land.

In a discussion the other night I shared with my kids my idea for what they ought to do investment-wise as they graduate from college and begin to earn the big bucks! I had earlier thought to suggest that they put as much money as possible into traditional investments, but suddenly I felt to encourage them to do something different--invest money in a tangible asset--BUY LAND. As the old saying goes, "They aren't making anymore of it". It is something you can walk on, build on, garden short, sustain yourself on. It can still be bought for a very reasonable price in our area and it is very productive land. I truly believe that the value of land will increase over time but if not I know that its value cannot go to zero, it has an intrinsic value and can be used to produce increasingly valuable commodities.  The same can't be said for money invested in other retirement or saving vehicles. As the famous Western colonizer and church leader, Brigham Young, said, "The day will come that gold will hold no value in comparison to a bushel of wheat". I believe in hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. I HOPE that life as we know it goes on as normal, but my gut tells me to PREPARE for some big changes in the near future. I think we are seeing some of those changes already.

I'm sure I am not the only one who has noticed the rocketing food prices as of late. I read an article recently that really got my attention. The canneries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, long known for their very high quality, inexpensive basic foodstuffs, have had to raise their prices by 11 to 49%---since January of this year! That floored me. My wife told me the other day that we spend as much money now on food with just the 4 of us at home as we did not too long ago when all three of my boys were at home also. We haven't changed our eating habits or preferences, food is just that much more expensive. Here in the breadbasket of America we are paying over $3.80 for a gallon of 2% milk. I truly believe that food, or more specifically the scarcity of it, will be the greatest problem of the coming hard times.

I'll share some of my specific ideas of the food issue in future posts.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Like many of you I have officially entered the world of blogging. My purpose in creating this blog is not to showcase my family or share with you my favorite picture (both of which are noble reasons for blogging) but rather to share with you my thoughts, beliefs, and ideas regarding the times we find ourselves in. I hope to "scare" you into examining your own situations and then making some changes that will put you in a better position to cope with what I see coming in the future.

For those of you who don't know me let me introduce myself. My name is David Patten and I live in central Missouri. I was born and raised in Idaho in a small rural area. I always had a love for farm animals and raised many types of them on our small acreage. I was active in FFA and knew that someday I would be involved in agriculture as my career. After serving a two-year mission for my church in Chile, I attended Brigham Young University where I received my B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science. It is there that I met my wonderful wife of nearly 26 years, Michele. She also has a B.S. from BYU in Animal Health Technology. We have been blessed with five wonderful children, John, Matthew, Shane, Melissa, and Jenna--my newest teenager (she turned 13 yesterday).

 We live on one of our two farms where we have raised hogs for Cargill for the past ten years. We have about 515 sows and produce about 12,000 pigs annually. We have a small herd of Braunvieh cattle. We also keep a few hayburners (horses) around. Our newest addition is Kimber, a miniature filly, born to Melissa's mare, Jamie, last week.

I hope that is enough of an introduction. I am proud to say that I am a BYU graduate but more important I am a "life experience graduate". I understand agriculture, especially on the small scale, and hope to share with you some of what I have learned.