Community Supported Agriculture

I just became a member of a CSA,  which stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  I first heard the term CSA last Spring, my sister-in-law took me to her “Farm” on pick up day.  I thought it was such a great idea and I’m so excited to be able to join a local farm.

CSA Agreements

In the winter and early spring a CSA farm will offer membership shares.  The farmers are paid in advance and through the growing season the shareholders receive weekly baskets of produce.  The members share the risks and rewards with the farmers.

The Benefits to the Farmers

One of the main benefits to the farmers is receiving working capital to purchase seeds and other supplies in the spring.  With the knowledge of how many families they will be supplying produce to, they can plant  their crops accordingly.  There is less waste, as the farmers do not have to guess what will sell at the farmers market.  The farmers are able to spend more time and resources on farming.

The Benefits to the Share Holders

Each week, during the growing season, the CSA members receive a basket of fresh, farm produce, many of the items are harvested the same day the baskets are picked up.  The quantity and variety in the baskets will change each week depending on which vegetables  are at their peak. 

The Benefits to the Environment and Community

Since the farmers are able to sell their vegetables locally the transportation costs are greatly reduced, thus saving on fuel and emissions.  The available land can be managed efficiently with the knowledge of the quantity of produce required.  The farmers and the members get to meet and form friendships. 

I think the CSA is a win, win, win opportunity.  I can hardly wait to get my first basket of farm fresh veggies!

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Safety Drill

The Environment and Forestry Class that our nephew attends had a safety drill on their wood lot this past weekend.  Their instructor, Mr. Dennis Flynn, stated the school has fire drills and lockdowns, he thought it was a good idea to have a simulated accident on the wood lot.  Several area fire companies were invited to help with the drill.  The fire fighters became familiar with the location of the wood lot and practiced extricating a victim from under a downed tree.   More details on the wood lot drill can be seen at http://capitalregion.ynn.com/content/656128/first-responders-and-boces-students-train-for-logging-accidents/

 

Safety in the Work Pace

The safety conscious instructor got me thinking about safety in our plant.  Here at Ketchum we have a very good safety record and work diligently to keep our manufacturing plant incident free.  As a small business, we do not have the luxury of a full-time safety department.  We rely on videos, borrowed from our insurance company, to add visual content to our training.  Our April topics are hearing conservation and hand protection.

Hearing Conservation

We hire a company to bring their mobile testing van to our plant.  After watching a video on hearing conservation and proper use of hearing protection, through a series of beeps our hearing is tested.  The machines used in our manufacturing process are very loud and  hearing protection is required.  I believe the information we receive during training allows our employees to understand the benefits of wearing hearing protection.

Hand Protection

The punch presses at Ketchum stamp, cut and bend metal, as you can imagine, fingers and hands are no match for them.  All of our presses have electronic guards,  the presses will not operate if the guards are not in place.  The metal coils have sharp edges and leather gloves help to keep fingers and hands laceration free.

A big “Thank You” to Mr. Flynn for teaching safety to our students and reminding all of us that safety requires education and practice.

 

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It’s National Pets Are Wonderful Month!

April is officially Pets Are Wonderful Month (PAW), a time to honor the animals that bring love and happiness to our lives. There’s no question that our pets give us love and companionship daily, but they are also benefit our physical and mental health too.

Research has shown that pets can improve our cardiovascular health, reduce stress, decrease loneliness and depression, and facilitate social interactions among people who have pets. That’s why pets are so frequently used in nursing homes, for people with disabilities and children with autism. Here are five benefits of having a pet:

Good for the heart

In one study, people who never owned a cat were 40 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than those who did. Another study showed that people who owned dogs had a significantly better survival rate after one heart attack. In general, pet owners have a lower risk of dying from any cardiovascular disease than non-pet owners. Owning pets has also show to lower your blood pressure too.

Natural mood enhancers

Pets are natural mood enhancers; just a few minutes of watching your cat or dog play will instantly reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Therapists have even prescribed pets as a way of dealing with depression. Because no one loves you more unconditionally, or listens to you talk without interruption, than your pet. Having a pet can brighten even the worst of days!

Better physical fitness

While this one may be a given, people who have pets tend to be more physically active and less obese than those who don’t. And exercising with your pet will benefit both of you! Just two 15-minute walks a day will ensure you meet the minimum recommendations for physical activity. Plus, who makes a better exercise buddy than your four-legged friend?

Social interaction

Having an active social life is key to staying healthy. And pet owners have a tendency to interact with other pet owners. A dog is an instant conversation starter. Bring your furry friend to the local dog park and the social interaction will blossom.

Sense of security

Pets also provide us with a sense of security. Dogs in particular can alert us of potential hazards and intruders. They can also seek help in emergencies. For example, the “seizure dog” has been trained to live and work with people who have epilepsy. They bark to alert parents when a child is having a seizure. Some even lie next to a person having a seizure in order to prevent injury.

Here at Ketchum, we were thrilled to find out that April was National Pets Are Wonderful month. So, get out there and hug your furry friends today. We sure will!

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Ketchum Tags On Location

Parlay Studios in New York, one of our new customers,  is using Ketchum cattle neck tags to identify their expensive photography equipement.  They were kind enough to send us a note on how well the tags are working for them.

Here at Parlay Studios we use your tags on film and photography shoots to label our vast equipment inventory.  They are extremely useful in which they clearly label our gear and make it easier for our clients to differentiate our equipment from their own.  Now they not only set us apart from every other equipment rental studio, but let everybody know where they can contact us to order their own!  
 
EQ tags are not only informative but also stand out amongst a wide range of equipment in the production world.  For example we have about 40 sandbags in our inventory, a necessity during any production, and each one is clearly tagged with our personalized EQ Tag.  
 
There are no doubts as to which sandbags are ours and which belong to clients.  This is a large help to our business because we no longer have to worry about missing gear.  If someone borrows something they know exactly where to return it.  Thank you so much for your amazing product! 
 
 
 I have also attached a few photographs that show how we use EQ Tags.
 
 
Thanks!
Victoria
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Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday to our Dad Today.  Although he’s no longer here to celebrate in person, he’s on our minds often and especially Today!  In your honor Today, Dad, I’ll be enjoying a couple of your favorite chocolate chip cookies!

With five children in the house you can imagine how quickly a box of chocolate chip cookies can disappear.  Every time I see a box of Freihofer Chocolate Chip cookies I smile and think of my Dad.  He would  “hide” his box of cookies in the same cupboard and even the dog knew the hiding spot.  Our dog would be sound asleep in another room and would appear at my Dad’s feet waiting for her cookie as soon as he opened the cupboard!  The rule was, we couldn’t have a cookie until the box was open.  My Dad was a real joker and would sneak his hand in the side of the box without actually opening the box.  The cookies would be half gone before we realized what was happening!

Our Dad, Jay, was the third generation to manage Ketchum.  I think he may have been happier working on a farm.  He loved being outdoors and enjoyed tinkering around the barn and working with the horses.  He was my Grandfather’s only son and as these things sometimes go, sons are steered toward the family business. 

Gary & I are lucky, we got to work with Dad for about 11 years before he became ill.  We still feel his influence at Ketchum, customer service and our employees’ well being were  important to him and I think that carries through with us Today. We strive to manufacture a quality product and maintain courteous customer relationships. Our employees are like family to us, most of them started working for my Father and some worked with my Grandfather.  We sure do benefit from their knowledge and experience.

So in honor of our Dad’s Birthday, enjoy a chocolate chip cookie!  I know I’m going to.

 

 

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Our Ruffled Grouse

Early last fall we noticed a Ruffed Grouse (AKA Partridge) hanging around the house.  These birds are more frequently heard than seen.  You know, that“thump………thump………thump…thump..thump.thumpthumpthumpthump”, of the male beating his chest in an attempt to find himself a bride.  This particular grouse was often seen wondering right next to the house.  How cool is that?  While on a walk, a few weeks after we first started seeing the grouse we found one, dead on the side of the road.  We just assumed that was “our” grouse.  An early winter snow revealed grouse tracks next to the house.  And occasional sightings proved our assumption wrong.

In February of this year, Annemarie heard a huge “thud” at one of our windows.  Her investigation finds a dead grouse.  Remember the crow on the Bugs Bunny Show?  The one that kept getting his “Nose cone stuck in his fuselage”.  Well, once again, we were saddened to think that “our” grouse had died.

Yesterday afternoon, in a tree next to the house, sat our grouse (see picture).  How lucky can we be?  The family wants to name the bird “Jesus”, (pronounced “Hay-zues”) in reference to the Resurrection.  I have a feeling this bird does not really know how blessed it is!

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Jack Wax

When we were kids one of our favorite late winter, early spring treats was Jack Wax.  Jack Wax is made from Maple syrup.  We had to gather nice, clean snow; you don’t want dirt in your snack.  It was much easier to set a pan on the porch and let the falling snow fill it up.  However, Mother Nature does not always cooperate and sometimes we had to dig under the top crust to find clean snow.  While we were outside our Mom would boil the Maple syrup to make it thicker, probably to the soft candy stage.  When the syrup was just the right consistency, Mom would pour it in squiggly patterns on the pan of snow.  We had to wait for it to cool, the hardest part, and then with tooth picks we got to pick up pieces of the maple candy.

The Maple Sugaring Season has started here in upstate New York.  The nights are below freezing and the days are warm, so the sap travels up from the roots and back down again. There are commercial operations in our area that make Maple Syrup to sell.  They have sugar houses with huge vats to boil the sap into syrup.  There are also many hobbyists that gather sap and boil it down for their own use.

My Dad and brothers were hobbyists for a season.  We were all very excited that they were going to make us Maple Syrup.  They tapped some trees and gathered buckets of sap.  They started a fire in our little fire pit in the back yard and put a huge pan on the grate to start boiling the sap.  It takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  That’s a whole lot of time to spend feeding a fire and adding sap to the pan.  There was also the nuisance of the ash that kept falling into the pan.  My Dad did most of the actual work; my brothers got bored with watching the sap boil and ran off to play with their friends.

Now that I know how much time goes into making Maple Syrup, I appreciate the farmers that spend the early spring sugaring!  Pure Maple Syrup is the best and it makes the best Jack Wax!

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Spring Fever

My sister, Sara, is our guest blogger Today!  I think she should write more often, the imagery is wonderful.

Yesterday was one of those days where the world around me seemed to be waking up from its winter slumber. Early in the morning, as I walked to get the newspaper, with flashlight in hand, I startled a rabbit near the fence. Then I heard my beloved cardinals calling to each other. They are usually the first birds I hear in the morning during the spring. To hear them when it is still dark out foretells the coming of early morning light and longer days. My soul warms with thoughts of spring as I walk back down the drive.

When I return home from taking my boys to school the framing crew is at work on the home going up in front of my house. Though the construction only began within the last two weeks, it is something that I have dreaded for the eight years that we have lived here. But, as I clean up my kitchen, the muffled music playing outside mingled with the hum of saws and the rhythm of hammers, becomes a welcome sound. It is movement, motion, growth. It is spring. This thought dawns on me as I watch a bluebird flutter between the fence and our fire pit chairs on this sunlit February morning.

I am not sure that the bluebird actually winters somewhere warmer because I have seen them in this area during the winter for many years. They were frequent visitors to my home in January of 1999. My dad was at a rehabilitation hospital and my mom stayed with us for ease of travel. On several days we saw them perching on our neighbors roof and they came to roost when my dad came for a day. He sat on the chilly sun porch and watched them. They just seemed to be a glimmer of hope for all my family that was there that day. The little bluebirds, the resilient robin and the cedar wax wings brought us such peace and joy that year that seeing them always conveys that same sense of hope for me. That hope is like the coming of spring. New life, new growth and new chances.

So, my day continues with this spring fever. I need summerness! Not sure that that is a word but it describes my feeling. Food always helps express a mood or feeling. I am going to make summer. I start a beautiful orzo and pine nut salad, make fresh  and start the grill. The patio is warmed by the sun and the chicken for my pitas is a joy to grill. Dinner is all set for the evening.

By the time I get home with my boys, it is cloudy, cold and the wind has picked up and there is a bite in it. The boys have been saying for two days that they would have a snow day on Wednesday but for dinner we will still have summer, created from my spring fever.

The snow day is here. Though, my beloved cardinals were calling each other this morning, the blanket of winter has returned. Tonight, dumpling soup will be served. Food to express the mood. I want to be warm. Maybe that want to feel warm is still spring fever!

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Colorful Nylon Kennel Tags

Which pets are on a special diet, who’s having surgery in the morning, what medication is required? Keeping track of the special needs of your guests can be a challenge, especially when they can’t answer your questions.  Busy veterinary offices and boarding facilities have many pets in and out every day with several staff members caring for them.  While having a chart or file on each pet is necessary for recording their care, a quick reference on the cage can be helpful. 

The bright colors and durable nylon make our #421 cattle neck tags the perfect kennel tag.  The nylon tags measure 3-1/2″ x 2-1/4″ with a 1″ hole and are available in Red, Green, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Pink, Purple, Black and White.  The tags are available with 1-3/8″ numbers if you just need to identify each cage or run. 

We can engrave just about any information you may require.  Of course, the number of characters will determine the size of the type.  Some examples of kennel tags we’ve engraved are “Caution Aggressive”, “Under Vet Care”, “No Food or Water”.  We did have fun with one of our customers, they wanted a tag that said “Dislikes Men”, we sent an extra tag engraved with “Loves Men!”

To quickly clip the tags to the kennel, we recommend our Bolt Snap or Trigger Snaphooks.  Either hook is attached to the tag with an 1-1/8″ key ring.

The durability of the nylon makes these tags the perfect reusable marking system.  The 421 neck tag was originally developed for use on dairy cows. The tags withstand heat and cold, and do not chip or break when banged around and can be disinfected right along with the rest of the kennel.

Please contact us at sales@ketchummfg.com with your tagging requirements, we’ll be happy to work with you to get the best marking solution.

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Pet Dental Health

February is pet dental health month.  Just like people dogs and cats can develop plaque and tartar on their teeth that can lead to gum disease, loose teeth and in some cases heart disease.  OK, that’s enough to make me take notice and learn more about taking care of my pets’ teeth.

I’ve read several very informative articles, one at WebMD, and another at www.peteducation.com .  These articles explain how the plaque turns to tartar and the build up of tartar causes gum irritation that can lead to serious health problems. While inspecting your pet’s mouth, some signs that there maybe be problems are bad breath, more than the usual dog breath, discolored or loose teeth and bleeding or swollen gums.  Lose of appetite may also be caused by problems with the teeth or gums.

I thought I was doing enough to prevent dental problems for my dogs.  They always have crunchy kibbles for their meals.  I give them chew toys and they get treats, such as DentaStiks and Greenies, products that help remove plaque.  At their yearly check up, our veterinarian looks at their teeth and gums to be sure they are healthy.  One of my dogs has had a dental cleaning.  The animals are put under anesthesia and the tartar is scraped from their teeth in the same manner as the dentist does to human teeth.  After the teeth are tartar free they get a nice polish, for a sparkly white smile.

I have decided I’m going to learn how to brush the dogs teeth and make it part of our daily routine.  Patience and short, positive sessions seem to be the best advice.  I took the first step Today, I pulled their lips back and touched their canine teeth, great success and no wrestling required.  I need to get some doggie tooth paste, as human tooth paste is irritating to canine stomachs.  I’ll also need a dog tooth brush or finger tooth brush or I could try a piece of gauze wrapped around my finger.  I’m leaning toward the tooth brush, it seems much less messy to me.  I’ll try to get some action photos, I’m sure our first few sessions will be very entertaining!

As far as the cats’ teeth go, I’m leaving that to the professionals, there is no way I’m even going to try sticking my fingers in their mouths!

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