Here are this week’s top stories from Farm and Dairy:
1. How to render lard, the easy way
They say that trends always come back around a second time, and that seems to be true of lard. A century ago, lard was used for cooking, baking and even making soap. Today, lard is great for making pie crusts, tortillas and fried chicken.
Lard can easily be rendered on the stovetop, in the oven or in a slow cooker.
2. Meet the ice breakers: Amish ice-cutting frolic
Have you ever wondered how the Amish keep their food cold without freezers?
The Amish have large, insulated icehouses where up to two years worth of ice — 25 to 30 tons — is kept. In order to get that ice, Amish families get together for an ice-cutting frolic: an event that includes a frozen farm pond, a circular saw mounted on a sled and a group of people that endures the cold to load 100-pound ice blocks onto a horse-drawn wagon.
3. In time for Valentine’s Day: Chocolate for the health of it
As you open boxes of chocolate today from your valentine, revel in the fact that you’re doing your heart and other organs a favor. Some chocolate products are still junk food since health benefits are reduced when more non-cocoa products like sugar and milk are added. But, chocolate with a high cocoa content will offer the most health benefits: aiding cardiovascular health, cognitive abilities and improving memory, to name a few.
4. Cattle market: Record prices, more feed means expansion
For the first time since 2007, the nation’s cattle herds have expanded, largely due to record-high cattle prices and the availability of more abundant feed. Beef cows have been up 2 percent, and that expansion is expected to continue throughout this decade. At the same time, poultry will provide competition in 2015. Supplies could be 3 percent higher, and pork supplies could be 4-5 percent higher.
Beef market participants should be cautious, though, in light of an uncertain economy and concerns about deflation and supplies.
5. How to start a container garden
If you’re short on space, want the ease of taking care of plants on your deck or patio or are physically unable to keep up with a traditional garden, try a container garden this spring.
There really isn’t a right or wrong way to container garden: almost any container, be it plastic, wood or stone, can be used to pot soil and plant seeds. As long as the container has a strong drainage system, plants should thrive.
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