Q. One of the local coffee shops gives away coffee grounds. Can I mulch my garden with the grounds?
A. Coffee grounds are a great addition to a garden and compost pile. The grounds are particularly good for worms, which will make a healthier garden. Alternatively if you are vermicomposting, a process that uses various worms, you can add them to your worm bin.
Q. My friend told me to have the gauge on my pressure canner tested. Why is pressure gauge testing important?
A. A pressure gauge in good working order is critical to the safety of home canned, low-acid foods. If your gauge is not working properly, you could be under-processing your food. A temperature of 240 degrees is necessary to kill botulism spores. Foods not processed to this temperature have the potential to cause illness and even death.
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When processing food in a pressure canner, it is necessary to maintain the proper pressure for a set length of time. This allows the contents of the jar to be sufficiently heated and pathogenic bacteria to be destroyed.
It is not the pressure that kills the bacteria, but the high temperature created in the canner when it is under pressure. Having an accurate measurement of the temperature inside your canner is critical to the safety of your food.
Q. We have several cows and two heifers in our herd. They have all calved now, and we are feeding them hay together in a small pasture. It seems like the older cows are running the heifers away from the feed. Is this a problem?
A. The older cows typically dominate the younger heifers in the social order, so yes, this can be a problem. All of the cattle have increased nutrient requirements following calving. They require more energy, protein, and other nutrients to sustain themselves and provide for their calves through their milk. This is significant because not only do the cattle have a greater requirement for nutrients following calving, the heifers are still growing and developing, as well as supporting their new calves.
If the heifers are not getting sufficient nutrition, the calves will not grow as well, and the heifers will not be in sufficient body condition to breed back. In this circumstance, separate the mature cows from the younger ones to ensure all of the cattle get sufficient feed to support their calves and reproduction.