Off the Farm

Roundup is everywhere


Genetically modified crops are so ubiquitous that Roundup is now likely in the air you breathe and in the water you drink. In a study by the U. S. Geological Survey, 3,732 environmental samples were collected between 2001 and 2010 from 38 states.



  • Glyphosate and, or AMPA were detected commonly in surface waters (59 percent of 470 sites), and infrequently in groundwater or soil water (8.4 percent of 820 sites).
  • Glyphosate was detected in more than 50 percent of soil and sediment samples, and water samples from ditches and drains, precipitation, large rivers, and streams.
  • Glyphosate was detected in less than 40 percent of water samples from lakes, ponds, wetlands.
  • AMPA was detected more frequently than glyphosate in all environmental settings except lakes, ponds, and wetlands.
  • AMPA was detected in more than 80 percent of wastewater treatment plant samples; while glyphosate was detected in only about 10 percent of those samples.
  • Data from nine surface-water sites sampled repeatedly indicate that glyphosate and AMPA detection frequency, median concentrations, and loads are higher late in the study period (2006-2010) than early (2001-2005).


Bummer, but our reality. As usual, I am not worried for myself, but worried for my grandchildren. I hate to think about all the manmade chemicals that will be building up in their bodies for 100 years.

I used to think how nice it would be to have my little farm and to be able to grow my own organic food. Now I look out my kitchen window and see my garden and beyond that see my neighbor’s 20 acres of GM soybeans and think about my grandkids.


Woodsboro carnival


Last weekend we went to the Woodsboro carnival. There are a lot of these small town fairs during the summer. There is one in Libertytown coming up, and a slightly larger one in Thurmont later this summer. There is the Maryland State fair at the Timonium fair grounds in late august I think and of course there is the Great Frederick Fair in Sept. It seems odd that there would be a county fair after the state fair, but that is partially because the state fair is not such a big deal here in Maryland. The county fairs are more relavent to the locals and sometimes even bigger events.

Horseshoe crab close-up

Horseshoe crab trip


Sampling at the Dogfish Head tasting room.

The trip to Delaware was great. Our friends Scooter and Erinn came with us again this year. We did most of the things that we like to do every year like visit the Dogfish Head Brewery for some sampling and souvenirs, and lunch on Sunday at the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth. The beer was good and, as always, interesting.

The actual counting of horseshoe crab hung in the balance as a large storm front was sliding up the coast from the south. The count was to start at 10:35 and at 10:10 there were a few bolts of lightening visible to the west and we really weren’t sure if we should go ahead with the count. We waited about 10 minutes and decided to go for it. The protocol was a little different this year – same number of samples, but only a half a Kilometer instead of a full one. We thought this was due to hurricane and storm damage to the beaches, but we saw very little change from previous years. Good news, but we don’t know why the protocol changed.

Counting horseshoe crabs

The grid used to count Horseshoe crabs

As we started the numbers were very low – mostly zeros in our measurement grid, but by the halfway point the crabs seemed to start to show up. We finished in only about 30 or 40 minutes, which is about half the time it has taken in past years. In the middle of the count, the sky opened up and it poured and we all got pretty wet. It was cool, so being rained on was not so much fun, but we all had our rain gear, so we were ok.

This was our tenth trip, and we are already looking forward to next year. The Nature Conservancy recently published an article about the census and the volunteers who help with it each year. Joni was interviewed for the article.

Horseshoe crabs on a Delaware beach

Horseshoe crab census


Horseshoe crabs on a Delaware beach

This weekend Joni and I are heading to Delaware to count horseshoe crabs. We are part of a team of volunteers who help to count the crabs when they come onto the beach to lay their eggs during high tides in the spring. This is part of a long term research project that is, at least in part, trying to assess the trend in the crab population. This is our 10th year of participation. We really love the experience and hope to continue to be part of the census for many more years.

This spring there is an article on The Nature Conservancy website about the count and many years ago there was even a cover article on TNC’s magazine.

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