Thursday, December 31, 2009

Meat CSA - you interested?

The Christian Science Monitor had an article today that points that that pork has been a big thing the internet this year.  I can't think of any other time that I've ever heard about pork so many times in so many places.  You really can't find anyplace that isn't featuring bacon-wrapped or infused something.   You'll find a link to that article at the bottom of this entry.

But for commercial pig farmers the last two years have been horrible.  The ethanol-based corn shortage put feed costs up, and the market has been depressed by a lot of farms breeding a lot of pig.   I've written about how horrible it's been for dairy farmers, too

Commercial pig farmers are losing, according to this article, $25 per pig.  A commercial pig farmer typically sells to a slaughterhouse, who in turn sells the boxed meat to a distributor, who sells it to a grocery store or restaurant, who sells it to the consumer.   Each step along that chain adds a markup, and by the time that it's all done I'm going to guess that the farmer is seeing $.10 of the sales dollar. 

I really haven't pursued selling my meat to stores or anything other than direct to the consumer for two reasons:  I haven't been able to meet the existing demand for direct sales, and the price offered by most retail establishments has been too low to make any sense. 

Offering retail cuts seems to be the direction that I'm heading to.  Many of my customers want my product, but can't commit to a whole or half animal, even though they probably eat a half an animal a year. 

A CSA (Community Support Agriculture) is an arrangement between a farm and its customers.  In return for some money up front, the customers either pick up or have shipped to them a regular supply of the farms products, as they're produced. 

To do a CSA I have to transport the animals to a USDA inspected slaughter facility and drop them off.  I have to go back after slaughter and pick up the meat, and if I'm dropping off a number of animals, I have to be prepared to transport thousands of pounds of perishable product.  And then I have to store that product until I sell it -- which for me will probably mean that I purchase and construct a walk-in freezer. 

Then there's the bookeeping, inventory and sales aspects.  It's not a small endeavor.  Finally, the most important part -- the customers.   

This year I will produce something on the order of 300 market hogs, 4 market steers, 30 market lambs, 200 turkeys and around 2,000 chickens. 

You'd basically get a shipment every month of something.  A typical monthly package might be:  5lbs of ground beef, 2 chickens, 6 lambchops, 2lbs sliced ham.  I really haven't thought about the pricing much, but it would be higher than if you purchased the whole or half animals at the farm, to cover the increased costs of production.   Say $90 a month. 

The goal would be to provide a variety of meats and a sufficient quantity to feed 2 or 4 people.   Would you like to see more specific items -- like a "beef csa" "lamb csa" -- animal specific?  "chicken csa"?

Would you be more interested in pre-cooked, and willing to pay a bit more for that?  Roasted chickens, for instance.  Pre-cooked hams.  Seasoned lamb chops, ready to broil. 


You'll find the article here. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pigs prefer salmon

[Hi Natures Harmony Readers.  If you'd like to see my comments and the background for this fight, click here after you're done reading.  The laws on what is legal to feed to pigs vary from state to state; Whey, a byproduct of cheese production, is a prohibited feed in Missouri, for instance.  Tim feeds whey to his pigs.  I feed fish to mine.  Both are legal feeds in our respective states.  Not sure what his point is.    Fish is found in many animal feeds.  Fish meal, fish cake, fish oil, or just plain fish.   ]

I've been feeding a couple of hundred pounds of fish to the pigs every day for the last few days, and have found that they prefer salmon over other types of fish.  They like skin-on fillets better than the skin-off.  They'll dig through a pile of fish and eat all of the salmon before they eat any of the other types of fish. 
Here's a typical serving size for 30 pigs.  It's helpful that these 4oz portions were packed loose in the box.  Slit the box open, dump the fillets, toss the box into a pile, next box. 
Color and texture wise they're actually in pretty good shape, but most show sizes of freezer burn.  Doesn't seem to cause the pigs any anxiety.  They eat it all. 
All of this fish is wild-caught, all of it from alaska.  None of it is cooked or flavored 
The whole round cod aren't nearly as popular as the sockeye fillets, but, well, hey, it's free, and the pigs eat it too. 
The dogs have a preference for the whole flounder -- which are listed as "flathead" on the box.  They'll pick these out of the pile and eat them seperate.  No accounting for taste -- my favorite is sockeye.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Farm Subsidies -- closer than you think

First - disclosure.  I'm applying to a USDA program that helps farmers buy land.  This program offers loans at an attractive interest rate -- 2% -- and it's designed to help small farmers -- which I am.  The lower interest rate is a subsidy.   As I work through that program I'm finding that the paperwork is how you pay for that lower interest rate.  It's been interesting. 

First, I'd like you to go to the web page at the end of this paragraph.  At the bottom you'll find a "zip code" field.  Type in your zip code if you're a US resident, and it will come up with the names of the people in your zip code who have recieved the most subsidy money.  You'll find the link here

Now notice that when you click on one of those people, it will list the amount and type of subsidy that they have recieved.  There's "disaster subsidy" and "crop subsidy". 

Disaster Subsidy
I'm not really clear on what this is.  The amount here is never bigger than the crop subsidy, and I suspect it relates to a payment for the partial or total loss of the crop. 

Crop Subsidy
This one is the one where most of the money is paid out.  What basically happens here is that the government gaurantees a minimum price for a list of commodity crops, and if the market price falls below that you get a check, or you get some sort of payment for growing that crop. 

Here's a quote from a farm subsidy primer: 

Current law requires USDA to offer support for wheat, feed grains (corn, sorghum,

barley, oats), cotton (upland and extra-long staple–ELS), rice, soybeans, other oilseeds
(sunflower seed, canola, rapeseed, safflower, flaxseed, mustard seed), milk, peanuts, beet
and cane sugar, wool, mohair, honey, dry peas, lentils, small chickpeas, and tobacco. 

We're subsidizing the production of wool and mohair - I had no idea.  Peanuts I knew about -- mostly through Jimmy Carter.   If you want to read the primer, you'll find it here.

So we offer payments for various cereal crops -- but we also subsidize meat.  You can get a check for pigs, lambs, and cattle. 

I don't have a conclusion here.  I'm buying into the subsidy program myself by applying for this loan program.  Thought you might be interested that most of everything that you eat is directly subsidized. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rant: How to piss off a farmer

Started my day with the usual routine; welfare check on the animals; a sow had given birth, and one of the piglets was stillborn, so I removed it and tossed it to the dogs, who enjoy eating them, and didn't think much of it.  Everyone had food and water and was looking good, so I hooked up my trailer and went to go get some surplus food I'd gotten a call about. 

90 minutes later, with 5 or 6 tons of food on the trailer, i get a call from the county animal control officer; he had three complaints about my farm, and wanted to talk to me about it.  That alone was enough to get my hackles up.   I'd just been there a couple of hours before, and everything looked alright -- don't know what the problem could be. 

1) pigs don't have any water. 

  I've got 2 big black sheep troughs that I've been using to feed the pigs the condensed milk.  You can see one of them in this blog entry.   the pigs lick the troughs clean, and they were empty.  So someone came to my gate and saw the empty troughs and called to complain my pigs don't have any water.  They do, there's  a steel trough in the corner of the pasture.  So I told the officer this, and he went over and used his flashlight to verify that there was water in the trough, and said he saw it was full. 

2)  Sheep don't have any shelter. 
  Um.  Officer, they're sheep.  They're covered in wool.  Not sure what you want me to do with that.  They have both hay and water.  Got any suggestions?  "No, not really.  they look good"

3)  There's a dead piglet on the driveway. 
  Yea officer, that one died last night or this morning, was stillborn.  So I gave it to the dogs so as not to waste it.  I guess they haven't finished eating it. 

Is there anything else I can answer for you, officer? 

Now to be clear -- I'd hate to have the animal control officers job.  He has to respond to every single complaint, and to his credit, he actually does investigate.  He didn't take my word for it on the trough, he went and looked to see if there was water in it.  I'm actually impressed by that.  I don't want his job, but he takes it very seriously, and actually, on the big-picture thing, that's a good thing. 

But we are so far removed from the production of our food, or any sort of farming, that any sort of husbandry seems alien, strange.  Something to be complained about.  LOOK!  Sheep on pasture!  WE MUST CALL THE AUTHORITIES. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Next on the menu: 5 tons of fish.

[Hi Natures Harmony Readers. If you'd like to see my comments and the background for this fight, click here after you're done reading. The laws on what is legal to feed to pigs vary from state to state; Whey, a byproduct of cheese production, is a prohibited feed in Missouri, for instance. Tim feeds whey to his pigs. I feed fish to mine. Both are legal feeds in our respective states. Not sure what his point is. Fish is found in many animal feeds. Fish meal, fish cake, fish oil, or just plain fish. ]

This is a mixed load of fish; mostly salmon, but cod, pollock and other types of fish. I don't know what a flathead is, but theres 15 cases of them in this.  Maybe a catfish?  11,000lbs or so. 

It's packaged in a variety of ways -- fillets, whole round fish, and everything in between.  Some is portioned for serving purposes -- not really a fan of the 4 oz individual portions, but hey. 

I'll probably rent a chipper tommorow and grind a bunch of it up for the chickens.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I do love living in a state with big mountains.  this is mount rainier, showing itself in its winter coat, when I was off getting feed for the pigs.  It must have been really impressive when it was erupting last, about 30,000 years ago. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Three sows farrowed today in the front pasture.  These little pigs are about 6 hours old.  They're sleeping in a pigpile on top of a pile of compost.  The compost is warm, keeping the floor at about 90 degrees under this shelter, which works well to keep the piglets warm and cozy. 

Busy day today. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Preparing the pigs food

As with any recipe, preparation is key.  First, start with a large enough mixing vessel.  In this case, we'll be mixing about 600lbs of feed, so the front loader will do just fine.  My dog monster is doing a quality check. 

Another key element to a good meal is to use the freshest ingredients.  Here you can see the brewers grain.  It's barley and wheat that has been sprouted, and then boiled to make beer with.  The liquid that its boiled in becomes the beer-the spent grains are the solid remains of the wheat and barley. 

It feels a lot like wheat bulgur, and smells a bit like porridge.  After it's been boiled it's sterile, so it's actually a pretty good base for animal feed.  It has about 30% of the calories of the original wheat. 

Next I add a couple of hundred pounds of something that is tastier to the pigs:  7 layer dip!  It's actually really nice stuff.  Smells good.  I'm hungry when i'm stripping the packaging off the dip.

Yummy!  bits of red pepper, nice cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole.  Pigs are doing great tonight!

The dogs are constantly on the alert to maintain quality.  Here, Red checks the bean dip to ensure freshness.

And then he inspects the bean dip in the front loader.

Yes, it's beard-licking good.  Dog approved. 

Now for 60lbs of condensed, sweetened milk. 

Again, red checks for freshness.  Yummy milk he says

After adding all the ingredients, stir gently.  I prefer a long handled shovel for this, but some people use a spoon. 

Having stirred it all in, it's ready to go to the final customer:  the pigs

A dramatic presentation will often increase the interest in the food.  The pigs are excited.  They're grunting and squealing.  It's pretty hard for a pig to look up, so they'll walk away a little, judge where the front loader bucket is, and then fight their way directly under the bucket.  After a while they get a little uneasy, back off, and repeat.  They know that right under the bucket is the primo spot.  Prime seating for a pig. 

Here, "the black pig", one of my older sows, has judged it right and gotten completely covered in food.  Ever heard the term "happy as a pig in slop"?  The only thing that makes a pig happier than standing in its food is bathing in it.  Happy holidays, black pig!

and then they get down to the serious eating.  I'm feeding 800lbs of this grain mixture a day -- and they eat every single bit and root out all of the spilled feed.  They like it a lot. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cliff Mass and Climate change

Cliff Mass is a meteorology professor at the UW, and he writes every few days about the weather.  His weather blog is religiously followed -- not the least by me -- because he has proven more accurate than anyone else in predicting the weather for me; sometimes to the hour.  "It will snow at 3pm" -- it snowed at 3:20pm.  Not bad. 

Cliff wrote a blog entry about climategate -- a set of controversial private emails that were published on the internet to and from scientists involved in studying global warming.  They discuss things like changing data, deleting data and hiding documents from public disclosure requests -- documents that didn't support their personal views.  All of which are inappropriate in my opinion.

Professor Mass talks about that, and then talks about the difficulties that he's had in publishing a paper he wrote that notes that snowpack in washington state isn't melting any faster than it ever has, despite theories that global warming would cause it to melt sooner.  It just doesn't agree with the current popular view. 

Make no mistake; there's an entire industry that is devoted to promoting climate change as a way to enrich themselves.  They know they have the "one true vision" and like any religion there is no compromise.  As someone who has paid the 'green tax' in the form of various regulations -- like being sued for using wood chips on my farm -- I understand completely. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

4.5 tons of 7 layer dip: what I feed my pigs.

On the pig menu today, 7 layer dip.  It's got cheese, and sour cream, and guacamole and beans and salsa.  The packaging (it's packed into 2lb portions) says that it contains 50 calories per tablespoon.  I'd say that there's 128 tablespoons per package, so thats 6,400 calories per package. 

There are 4 packages per case, and 119 cases per pallet.  I have 9 pallets. 

So that's 27,417,600 calories of food.  Turns out that these got too cold while being shipped, and the freeze caused the sour cream to seperate a little, and, well, that's all she wrote. 

I'll probably give one container or so per pig per day for the next month or so, or as long as they last.  Been a good month for free food.   I forgot -- I need to add hay for this to be a forage diet!

Bit annoying to have it all packaged.  I'll compost the boxes - smear a little dip on them and toss them into the pig pen, and the pigs will chew them up and mix them into the wood chips and manure -- but the plastic I have to carefully seperate and take to the dump.  I tried to find a place to recycle it, but since it's all smeared with food they won't take it unless I wash the plastic, and I'm not going to wash thousands of plastic containers.  I'm green, but I do have limits.  I'm already recycling this batch!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Suckling pig & scalding temperatures

This time of year I get a lot of call for small pigs -- 6 to 15lbs, usually with the request that they be still on the sow.  It's basically the pig version of veal, and several different cultures have a suckling pig as a celebration meal.  Weddings, wakes, birthdays, fiestas... 

I've posted entries about how to prepare this size pig (or one that's a little larger,) here, and that covers the basic field dressing of the animal, but I've found that the scalding/scraping is the hard part of this process. 

Once the animal is dead, having a good scald is important for the complete removal of the hair and outer layer of skin.  I've found that a temperature between 140 and 145 degrees F. to be the range that works best for me if I have a situation where I can heat the water continuously to keep it at that range. 

Immersion in the water for 3-4 minutes, with a little agitation to make sure that the whole pig is exposed, makes the hair removal pretty easy.  It still does take some time, and you still will need a razor or sharp knife to remove some of the hair, but the majority comes off with some finger-pressure scrubbing.  If the animal is particularly dirty, a little detergent added to the water makes things easier. 

The pig in the picture is was 20lbs live weight, and dressed at 14.5lbs, which is pretty consistent with the yield you get from larger pigs -- live weight to hanging weight. 

The final prep for this animal is to position it while it is still limp into the cooking posture that will be used.  This particular animal has been positioned so that it's appropriate for spit-roasting.  The hind legs are tucked in below the body, towards the head, and the front legs are pointed towards the rear of the animal.   The goal of this is to make a nice cylinder of the animal, so that when the spit is inserted the pig will roast evenly.  If a leg stuck out (was closer to the heat) that portion would burn.   Here's a picture of an 80lb pig in the right position.

Alternatives to this is to butterfly the pig -- split it along the backbone, but leave the two halves connected -- for roasting flat in the la caja china style.  For pictures of this, check here. 

Some cultures want to bury their bbq, and that's tasty too.  I've found that visually the spit roasted pigs are best, but as far as taste goes, the pit-roasted or caja pigs are best.  The tongans put sugar syrup on the outside of the pig as they spit roast it -- it browns the skin nicely. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tax Foreclosure auction, 2009

I attended last years tax foreclosure auction and bought a 9 acre parcel last year.   This years auction had more people and more properties, but fewer bidders.  I was one of maybe 12 people to bid on properties, and generally speaking the properties went for a higher price. 

You have to not pay your property taxes for 3-5 years before it gets auctioned by the county, and I often wonder what the story is about some of the properties.  Any amount bid over the past-due taxes is held by the county and will be sent to the previous owner of the property, but only for 3 years, and you have to request the refund, else the county keeps it. 

If no one bids on the property, the county assumes ownership. 

There were around 150 people signed up, and it was held in the same location as last years. 

As each parcel is auctioned off you have to pay for it then, before the auction can continue to the next parcel.  This policy resulted in some embarassment for the first successful bidder.  Turns out he didn't know (or understand maybe) the requirement that properties be paid for in cash or cashiers checks IMMEDIATELY.  So that property was re-auctioned, and eventually sold for $1,000 more than the original bid.  Guess some folks had some time to reconsider. 

Kirke Sievers is the County Treasurer, and I've learned to bid IMMEDIATELY if you are interested in a property.  He cuts people off before they can bid if they are at all slow.  It seems to annoy him that he has to do this -- but it gets done. 

My purchase this year is a .25 acre riverfront building lot.  It's been improved...

with electricity and phone.  It'd work great as an RV parking spot.  The electrical service appears to be 200 amp.  Nice little bit of river beach, pretty close to granite falls. 

In this area there's quite a few people who live in their RVs as a low-cost housing option -- so I've advertised the property as a drive-in RV parking area with electricity and telephone service.  Wonder if I'll get a tenant? 

Neighboring properties have small cabins or gazebos.

I don't know what to make of the crowd this time.  There's definitely more people with money these days, but the majority of the crowd was there to witness i think, not to bid.  The economic woes that have hit the rest of the country so hard are just being felt in the Seattle area; next years auction should be interesting. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Buckets o' fun

Dipping this condensed milk out of the barrels always leaves me with a really sticky bucket.  I used to take them over to the hose and scrub and rinse them off, often with a whole audience of pigs, when it occured to me that the pigs would probably love nothing better than to lick all of the milk off the bucket.  So now what I do when I'm done filling the trough is toss the bucket into the pigpen.  By the next morning it's clean and dry -- a quick rinse and it's good to go.  Here big momma, one of my older sows, is volunteering for bucket duty. 

I've been looking for an easy way to feed this milk to the pigs, and finally found that plastic sheep troughs are a pretty good way to go.  They hold about 50 gallons and are low enough that the smaller pigs can get the food out of them without too much trouble. 

For a pig, there appears to be something pretty satisfying about being able to stand in your food.  Maybe it's pig perfume -- these pigs will all come out with a little bit of eu de dairy behind their ears (and on their noses, and faces, and legs and...) but that's what they like, and I'm happy that they like the food. 

You can't see it in these still photos, but they're eating it like a dog would eat peanut butter -- big chewing motions.  Yummy!!

Some of the humus on the ground gets mixed into the dairy now and then.  That makes their diet 90% forage, right? 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frosted puppy

The puppy really likes the condensed milk, and is right there trying his best to help me every time I'm feeding the pigs.  The milk is the consistency of sour cream -- a little thicker, actually -- and its very heavy.  a 5 gallon bucket weighs about 80lbs.   So while I'm staggering around with this bucket held at arms length to try to keep it off of myself, the pup is running underneath the bucket with his mouth open trying to eat every drip and drop that comes out. 

Mom likes the milk too, but has mastered the concept of eating it once it's on the ground and manages to keep most of it off her fur.  I'm going to have to give the puppy a bath to get the milk out of his fur. 

But he sure is happy. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's cold! Lamb Stew!

When it's cold I like a hearty stew; and if you're going to make stew, you might as well make a few gallons of it -- you eat as much as you like over a day or two, and then you can freeze individual servings, or, as I do, pressure can them.  I like to pressure can because it's shelf-stable -- doesn't take up valuable freezer space, and it's really not that hard to do.    You'll find canning instructions at the bottom of this post.  Canning really isn't very hard. 


  30-40 medium red potatoes (3-4lbs)
  25-30 large carrots (3lbs)
  1 leg of lamb, boned
  2 or 3 large onions
  1 bunch of celery
  1.5  gallons lamb stock or chicken stock
  3 cups of red wine
  6 cups frozen peas
  1/2 cup Roux


  Trim most of the fat off, and then cut the leg of lamb into 1.5" cubes, as shown.  I like a rustic stew and find that the lamb survives the cooking better if it's in bigger hunks. 

Brown the lamb in batches -- go for a good, brown crust.  I like a couple of table spoons of olive oil to help the process, but the fat of the lamb will render and do the same thing.  This step is pretty important for both taste and texture.   I've also browned them using a big propane torch (read:  weed burner) and found that worked as well.   A little bit of crust or char really makes it tasty.   I don't put flour on the meat at this point -- I find that it doesn't add any flavor for me, and it doesn't do well for canning.  So I'm browing just the meat here.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

As each batch of meat browns I add it to the pot.  Layer of meat, layer of carrots.  Layer of meat, layer of onions, etc.   I'm aiming for all of the ingredients to be about the same size.  I like lots of carrots myself. 

Layer of potatoes

I like red wine in a stew because it adds a layer of flavor and complexity to the broth of the stew, and I think it brings out flavors that wouldn't otherwise be present. 

Add the liquids and bring the whole pot to a boil, reducing to a bare simmer until the vegetables are soft.   At the end of this, add the roux until you get the desired consistency.  I like a thicker gravy in my stew.    Salt to taste. 

Add the frozen peas just prior to serving.  You want them plump and green when you eat the stew.
Serve with warm buttered sourdough for dipping. 

This recipe makes about 3 gallons. 

Part 2, pressure canning the stew: 

I like quart bottles because that's about what I can eat in a day.  It's a hearty lunch, or with a salad or hunk of bread, a good dinner. 

8 quart bottles, lids and rings. 

Boil bottles, lids and rings.

Bring stew to a boil.

Carefully ladle in stew until you're within 1" of the top of the jar.

Wipe the lip of the jars with a clean paper towel to ensure a good seal.

 Put the lid on and hand-tighten the lid. 

Process in a Pressure canner for 90 minutes at 15lbs pressure, or according to manufacturers instructions.  I use that particular type of pressure canner, but any commercial pressure canner will work for this.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Goodbye to the yellow tractor

I was looking at craigslist one day and saw an ad for a 60hp diesel tractor with a front loader, and the price wanted - $500 - seemed too low.  I figured it was some sort of scam and didn't think too much of it, but curiousity and all that, and I called. 

The story was that a man had a working massey ferguson tractor and decided that he wanted a new front axle, and to rebuild the engine.  So he found another tractor with a front axle he thought would work, and removed a fuel injector for sizing purposes, and... well, that was it for this poor tractor. 

So I went over and picked it up one day from his wife, who'd divorced the fellow by that time -- starting projects and not finishing them is pretty unpopular with the wife, especially if this was the main tractor for their small horse farm, and she was glad to see it go.  I ended up picking up two front loader buckets, the front loader frame and hydraulic pump, the rear axle and assorted other parts and pieces and brought it over to my property, where it promptly became the project that I didn't work on, too. 

In total I'd guess it weighs about 12,000lbs in total; 1.5 diesel tractors.  We carefully picked up all of the pieces -- anything painted yellow went, and the cab, and the cab glass, and various lengths of tubing and air cleaners and all of the other parts. 

I'm glad that they brought a heavy-duty trailer to pick it up.  I think we're at the weight capacity today.

This fellow spotted the tractor from the highway as he drove by one day last spring.  I really didn't know how important highway visibility is for me, but every day I get reminded that it's a pretty efficient way to sell stuff.  No sign, no phone calls. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

The hawk

I think this is a red-tailed hawk; it's definitely a hawk, and this bird spends many hours watching my chickens from this tree on the edge of my pasture.  He must know that I don't think friendly thoughts towards him, because when I walk across the pasture to see if I can get a closer shot...

He takes off and flies away. 

The hawk (and the bald eagles that do the same thing) I consider to be part of the land tax.  I do my best to deter them from taking chickens, but my measures are all about giving the chickens plenty of cover and shooing the raptors away -- usually just walking towards them will do it, even at hundreds of yards distance. 

My turkeys do recognize the difference between this hawk and the eagles.  This hawk the turkeys ignore, which leads the chickens to the (mistaken) belief that they're safe.  With the eagles the turkeys are on high alert at all times while they're visible.  Often I'll notice that an eagle is around by all of the turkey heads under every bit of cover looking up.  They especially like hiding under my flatbed trailer.