WARNING! Ultra-Pasturized Milk issues

Ever wonder what the difference is in the milk in the store?

 What’s the difference between the brands? and why different prices?

 It is much cheaper to move milk around if you take all the water out!

You take the water out, you take out the water-soluble components in the milk. whole-milk-powder

 

 

Many processors “reconstitute” the milk and then ship it to the store. Except for two producers here in california, all milk is pasteurized. Because the pasteurization process can damage the components of milk, much of that is added back via a chemical additive.  Not always the same thing as the “cow” put out.

Think sweetener: sugar, saccharin, stevia, glucose, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)…  all called sweeteners but all very different. So when they “add” Vitamin D to the milk, is it in the same form that the cow produced, that our bodies can absorb?

whey protein chart The “cheaper brands” take the milk apart and then try to reassemble it as inexpensively as possible, to keep that price low.

I know if you make cheese from commercial milk, you have to add calcium back into the milk!  ultra pasteurized milk can NOT even be used to make cheese.

Ultra-Pasteurized WARNING!

 I’m finding that it is almost impossible to find milk that has NOT been ultra pasteurized (even those called organic).

Ultra, High Tem, Low Temp Pasteurization

Ultra, High Tem, Low Temp Pasteurization

 We have another name for ultra pasteurized milk.

It’s called: 

“white water that lives on the shelf

long time!”

It is “cooked” at very, very high heat which alters the milk, and allows it to not go bad on the shelf, for weeks.

 Think of the difference between a raw egg, and an overcooked scrambled egg. They are NOT the same product, even though they had the same beginning and both can be called ‘an egg’. Heat can dramatically alter the product.

 Organic milk, that is ultra pasteurized, is stripped of the very properties that made it a good buy.  I talked with some dairy farmers who provide this organic milk and asked why this was done. They said that they had NO CONTROL despite being a farmer co-operative. The buyer’s of their milk (processor) did it to make the milk last longer.

 Clove:straussLucky, so far, some local dairy operations, CLOVER & Strauss do NOT ultra pasteurize their milk.  If you want to support local dairy operations here in Northern California, these are two great ones. In fact, Strauss (the glass bottles) does a very low heat, slow process that preserves the components in the milk.

 

Remember the adage, “you get what you pay for!”  Yes, their milk might look pricier but you are actually ending up with “more” for your money.

 (I understand that all Clover milk is organic but they can only “sell” so much at the higher price that they get for it, but much of their “non organic branded” milk can be organic. If you have to choose, this might be a less expensive milk to choose! I have been told this, but can NOT verify that this is true.)

Strauss, also, does NOT homogenized their milk. There is some thought that vigorously mixing the milk and breaking up the fat globules to “homogenize” the milk, actually damages it. Thus you will see a separation level in the milk bottles, without this “forced” mixing. Shake to mix before pouring.  Or, better yet, steal some off that top-level, for cream for your coffee!

Pasture-Butter-325A side note:  If you can buy butter, made May-September, do! 

Several companies are beginning to market it because of the higher vitamin, CLA levels from the fresh pasture. You can freeze butter up to a year. But only butter that is from pastured cows!

Some Economic Beef Background:

I don’t know if you know, but the cost of feed/hay has dramatically increased over the last 5 years.  When we started, hay was $5/bale and now is at $20+/bale.  A lot of this is due to the severe drought conditions in the midwest & south… with everyone trying to “source” hay to feed their cattle.

We’re lucky because our costs are lower since we DO NOT EVER feed grain, and we have access to some awesome pasture on the Mendocino Coast.  We have focused on compact heritage Angus beef that have the genetics to do well on forage only. Our beeves are raised mostly on fresh forage. They are only supplemented occasionally, with hay, to protect from over-grazing.

grass fed lowlines

Ranging the land

 Commercial ranchers in the mid-west and south literally dumped their herds into the slaughter houses last year, because they could not afford to feed them, or even in some cases, have enough water for them.  Herds in 2013 are the lowest size since the 1950′s.

 Initially, prices on commercial beef at the store dropped, but you will start to see a dramatic increase in price (in some places it has already started).

The Heritage Farm - Healthy Food: 

 Again, I will remind you of my “spiel” that grass-fed beef has the Omega3:Omega6 ratio that is healthy for the human body.

Because our beeves are raised on pasture, they will have high levels of CLA’s (associated with cancer fighting properties). See EatWild.com for in-depth information on the positive benefits from eating “pastured products”!

Beef from grasslands is a completely different product than that raised in  a feed lot.  So is the butter, 1/2&1/2, milk.

Anyway guys, hope I didn’t overwhelm you with too MUCH info! But I’ve wanted to share some of this and thought you might find it interesting.

The more I see of the health complications in our world the more important I realize it is to provide quality food. It’s the little things we can do, for our family and friends, to help and to protect them.

Products Available:

100% Grass-fed Angus Beef halves available:  Only have 4 half portions available.  Min  weight: 125# (up to 140#)

USDA processed, cut & wrapped  - Works out to roughly $7-8/lb for 100% grass-fed beef.

Our heritage line of Aberdeen Angus has had no hormones, no antibiotics. They are raised on pristine pasture with their mothers, on the Mendocino Coastline utilizing rotational managed grazing, which increases the health of the soil/forage.

$959/per half, whole $1800. Can be paid in 4 installments.

[Cost by the cut: $7/lb ground meat (NO added fat), stew meat

                        $10/lb roasts, ribs, misc cuts

                        $15/lb steaks        ]

 (Please check Oliver’s or Whole Foods and you will find these are EXTREMELY reasonable prices.)

 But the best deal is to buy a half (join up with a friend and share).

Bulk pricing gets you the best deal, which you already know!

We have already done all the work: birthed, raised up humanely, harvest, & custom cut & wrap.

 All locally done (within a 100 mile radius).

- ready April 8th.

CONTACT:

email me if you are interested in a beef half.

Also, we have just got our order of USDA heritage Berkshire hog pork in.  Again, no antibiotics, no hormones, raised in an outdoor setting.

 If you want: pork chops, ground pork, apple-sausage links, bacon,ham, or back-fat to make lard, let me know. Back-fat lard is awesome for cooking and seasoning beans, stews, etc.

I can send you a price list.

Cheers!

Amy

Holiday Disaster has struck!

‘Tis the Season…      I went to pull out my supplies for making my traditional Christmas gifts.

Time to get ready

Time to get ready

To defuse the Christmas giving extravaganza, several years ago I decided to reframe my approach as things were just getting totally out of hand.  I wanted to reframe my approach to Christmas… back to something that a glimmer of meaning.

1) It needed to be personal (anyone can spend big bucks to buy something and yes, I’d love to do that, but just don’t have enough big bucks in my back pocket these days)! Who needs the stress… who made that rule, anyway. (Oh wait, I remember, the advertising media!)

2) It needed to be useful (something that could actually be used, not just looked at).  People have so many “collectables” that they are falling off the shelves and/or gathering a boat load of dust that cries out “I’m a failure” at keeping my house clean.  No need to add to that scenario. I want MY friends to actually LIKE me, not tolerate me. I’m envying my friends who have mastered the “enough is enough” and de-cluttered their homes!

3) I wanted it to be something that I created.  I have this terrible habit of collecting stuff to make things in the future. Unfortunately it tends to be, the distant future.  I just keep acquiring; but the “doing” is a little behind schedule. Uh, about a hundred years at this point!

Fabric is my downfall (well, … right after books) … the colors, patterns, textures, they all call to me with such appeal.  Then add in threads and fibers and embellishments; my creative brain just goes nuts.   So I MUST have some way to justify buying all this stuff, other than just wanting to be able to touch/look at it, other than to know that it is there if I want/need it. (Some people have comfort food; I think I have comfort books and fabrics!)

Once I master  thinking something into existence i.e. ‘creative brain=finished project’, I’ll be ahead of the game, but until then….

LOVE QUILTING?

25 different fabrics

25 different fabrics

Someone, after looking at one of my homemade quilts said, you must love quilting! “

Actually, NO. I don’t particularly like it, but I DO like the results.  The part I like best is the creation of the design; assembling the fabrics, the colors, the patterns.  The actually “work” is just that, a chore to get done.

Sad to say, I have this awesome box full of completed “tops” that have not actually made into the quilt stage. You know, where you actually assemble the sandwich: the top, the middle, the backing, and then bind it all together.  One of these days I’m hoping to find someone who likes that part (I’ve heard that they are really out there…. somewhere). The only problem would be, WHO would get the finished project???? I don’t know if I could give up my “child”.  Perhaps someone would accept dollars for their labor?

Putting it together

Putting it together

THE PROJECT

BUT, back to my main subject today… the selection of a Christmas project that meets my requirements.

A few years back I decided on pot holders. Who can’t use a potholder. Even those who don’t really cook these days, occasionally need to reheat something, so could use a potholder! And maybe a cup towel if I’m really ambitious (usually planning to do that, but, darn, I always seem to run out of time)!

The other good point about a potholder… I can play with different techniques on a small-scale.  Last year I taught myself how to do

Lattice smocking - not as hard as it looks!

Lattice smocking – not as hard as it looks!

lattice smoking… and turned that into a dozen potholders! Success…. something useful, supplies actually used, and got to ‘design/create’ the item and managed to learn a new technique.  I WIN!

Of course, the last time I went down to visit my daughter she was racing around trying to find the potholder(s) to hang up, that I had given her last Xmas. She found one but couldn’t remember if I had given her two. The trauma… she put them away so they would not get messed up and now she had lost track of them.  Dang it! They are supposed to get used… not stored!

It has been said, the more valuable something is, the less it get’s used.  It’s either that, or it doesn’t quite match with their style! I prefer the first statement, overall.   These days you can buy a potholder from 99 cents to roughly $5, on average.  To make one… well-l-l-l, if you counted labor?  Probably $10 on up.  Like I said, “it’s a labor of love”!  (Love = caring, creative, personal, time, energy.)

Each year I have been able to refine my technique… more heat-resistant, an easier way to hang up (put a magnet in the corner), holds up to washing, and an interesting/different designs  from what you can find in the store.

Fits over the pot handle

Fits over the pot handle

POT HANDLES

This last year I experimented and made myself some pot “handle” holders. They slip over the handle.

Good thing I tried them out on my own cast iron skillets. “what’s that smell?… smoke?”

I discovered that the constant exposure, when they were butted up next to the hot pan, caused them to begin to smolder, and burn!!!!

Oh yeah, a great gift it would make… slow but insidious way to burn your kitchen down! NOT. Well, time to refine that one.

GETTING DOWN TO WORK

A colorful fabric stash!

A colorful fabric stash!

I got my new living space organized; set up a sewing area and pulled out my sewing machine. Dove into my fabric stash, drooling & caressing the fabrics, the colors… Super, I’m set… OMG.

Oh darn, where are those dang cords??? you know, the power cords. The thing you stick into the sewing machine to make it work it’s magic.

Wonderful!!!! have sewing machine on hand, but NO power.

Let me see, three, no, four storage units, where all our “stuff” is stored… and now I need to go hunting for a particular cord, for a 30-year-old sewing machine. Talk about a scavenger hunt… do you know just how much stuff that is to wade through, under, and around???? Bummer…

I have discovered that despite best intentions (and actually getting started during the summer), after our move, that most of this year’s potholder project  is “missing in action”. So much for being organized ahead of time and prepared! yikes…

Hmmm, I think this year, everyone is going to get “stuck” with some homemade blackberry jam. Everybody eats, right!

  Bon Appetite!

yum! blackberry jamhomemade!

Yum! Blackberry jam
homemade!

Aiming for a “real” christmas?

On your mark….

OMG, I walked into a store and was just overwhelmed with the onslaught of possibilities of

Decorate the House!

things I could purchase to create the most wonderful Christmas. My heart sped up!  Decorate the house, the yard, the office…  Buy that perfect, special gift for (fill-in-the-blank) uhhhh, wait… purchase?

The psychology of advertising is incredibly efficient and effective. We have learned the “triggers” that motivate people to do what we want, in the short-term, and have applied that to the science of sales.

Corporations have put in place powerful hooks to sell their “goods” by triggering our psychological buttons.  We want to please, we are good-hearted and like to share, we love to bring something special into someone’s life, we like to make other’s feel good… and the consumer society that we live in, tells us to do this with “things”.

The “REAL” gifts at Christmas

I would contend that the “real” gifts we give at Christmas are about connecting, sharing, laughing, appreciating, working together, creating community. It is about developing a sense of intimacy where people actually care about who you are and who they are.

It is NOT about the “things” at all. They are simply a method that can be used to express something.  It’s when the item/gift becomes a substitute for the real connection that it is actually a detriment. (Did Johnny get more/better gifts??? don’t they love ME as much? kind of thinking).

Purchase…Christmas, hmmm. Every heard of an oxymoron phrase?  Words spoken together that contradict each other. Oxymoron is one of my most favorite terms.

  • Bitter sweet
  • Deafening silence
  • Military Intelligence
  • Living death
  • Irregular pattern

But Practically… How?

We were able to switch, when I was problem solving the gift issue,  to a variation of gift giving. If there were 6 in our xmas group I would buy 6 useful gifts in a specific price range & wrap them. Before I would have spent hours and many miles trying to find “the” perfect gift for “that” person, a near impossible task incurring a significant amount of stress.

Christmas Present – choose one!

When it came time to open presents, each person was able to select one package (unopened). Interesting to see if people were drawn to size? or to fancy wrapping? I got to have fun being creative with the wrapping!  Once everyone had a wrapped package we would open our gift to see what we had.

Starting with the most senior (or most junior) person, we could trade for another gift and continued this until everyone was happy with what they had. (no trading directly back & forth, of course… had to go through a third-party). It’s a variation of the white elephant gift, but it was a LOT of fun. We laughed and shared; discussed possible uses for a gift for a particular person. We INTERACTED with each other. It was a special time that we shared together. Not as in isolation as I opened “my” gift to see what I had scored!

laughter

A huge part of a “successful” Christmas, is the feeling of connection and interaction generated; laughter, talking, sharing, working together on a project. But western culture has evolved to the acquisition of “things” as our focus. Well, selling more things meant work for

I got WHAT?

more people to make things for people to purchase (until those jobs/plants were sent overseas). How to get out of the ” more trap” and yet still have fun?

Some things I purchased: a quality extension cord, flashlight w/solar charger, a tool kit, a book, calendar, a puzzle, etc. iT NEEDED TO BE USEFUL, NOT PLASTIC JUNK, AND good for male or female.

A gift of something real

You could do this several times ($5 limit, $10 limit, $20 limit). We had MORE fun than the traditional open every gift you have in 5 minutes, and then look to see “what else is there” that quickly resolves to “is that all?” Usually opening presents was a rather depressing experience. Too much expectation built up for getting that “perfect gift” which is, in and of itself, a moving target that we often don’t even know the answer to.

We did get each person one “special” gift they had asked for but that was generally the limit.

The challenge is to defuse the “consumerism” overload of the media. DON’T go into the stores and subject yourself to the assault any more than you must. I think it’s challenging enough just to get through the grocery store these days.

Did you say USEFUL?

I know one couple that chose to buy one major thing each year, and then decided to take $25 each (well, that was many years back, try $50) and see how many USEFUL gifts they could come up with, for that Christmas, for each other.  I always waited, with bated breath, to hear who had won that year’s Christmas year challenge: number of useful gifts within the price target! They choose to make the focus on figuring out what would be of use to their partner which meant they really needed to think about what each was doing, working toward, etc.

Each of us will find our own path… to “deal” with the holiday season.  The challenge is to not let consumerism dictate and undercut the values we hold, or desire to hold.

Was there a Void?

When we are brought up in our current culture we start out by not even questioning the norm.  Except, except for that nagging feeling that something is missing.  We’re suppose to feel a “certain” way… but it isn’t there.  Why? what’s wrong with me?

Uh, NO. It’s NOT what’s wrong with you. It’s what is wrong with the way our process has evolved.

Finding what bring satisfaction

Over years, the traditions have evolved subtly,

to becoming more consumerist and it

produces an “empty” feeling, when that is ALL there is to it. That feeling should challenge us to see out what really fills that void.  As we do, we begin to touch on what has value in the long-term.

This season: Figure out your goal, make a list, and stick to it!, is the mantra!!! Become aware of the “media” pressures to push you in a certain direction.

Try this: sit down with someone this holiday season and ask them about their childhood.

Where they grew up? what they did? who had an impact on them? The doors will open up and you will begin to develop a connection to another human being, in a way that matters. And remember, there is no pressure, there is no one  right way… it is simply “being present” that matters.The challenge is to listen and to focus on that person and the world they are from.

Gathering together

*****************                                  *******************                             ********************

The Ugly American:  After looking at the statistics for this blog site I am blown away at the number of different countries it has gone to.  There is a certain amount of humility in that awareness because I am acutely aware of how incredibly selfish and self-centered americans are. We have so much.  We have so much materially.

It sounds rather tacky to be talking about how many gifts, or how to handle gift giving… when so many in the world will have nothing, or simply having enough food on the table, will be a gift.

In the USA it is a curse for many. The “curse” is that stuff substitutes for connection.

IMO, connection IS what is about. We as children grab for the gaudy wrapped junk, instead of honoring the relationships we develop.

Because I struggle with this dichotomy (Americans have much/many have very, very little) in the past we have chosen a charity to support.  In lieu of gifts, we donate to The Heifer Project: Theheiferproject.org. It fits well with our sustainable farming focus.

sample Catalog page

If you look at their gift catalog, you can choose to help support many different projects (water buffalo, chickens, bees, water, biogas stove, etc).  It’s gift that keeps giving, in many cases.  With livestock and education gifted, some of the offspring are passed along eventually, to others.  It increases awareness, health, nutrition, income, resilience among small communities. I would encourage everyone to find some NGO (non-government operation) to support that fits in with your concerns.

Giving to those you know and care about, is in some senses, not really giving. It’s like giving something to goodwill you no longer want… is that really “giving”?  How about I give away something I REALLY want… a whole different matter.

Contributing to the well-being of those you do not know personally, that adds another aspect to sharing. “Go ye into all the world” in a practical sense… giving something meaningful and of value, to those you do not even know. Isn’t that the real meaning of the “season”?

All the world

Back on Board

While I’m no longer working with our Lowline Angus personally (they are all up on the Mendocino coast chowing down on some awesome grass rangeland), I miss them. When we drive by local fields with livestock, my eye immediately starts to check them out. Miss the calves something awful.

I had to take some time off from writing. We ran into a conflict with the farmstead we were leasing.  It was a 100-year-old farm that had been inherited and not utilized as a farm for many, many years.  The landlord decided not to honor the option to renew our lease which triggered some pretty hectic times. We went to court over it.

Working with the grass-fed beef

LowLine Angus – beefy guys!

It pulled an enormous amount of energy from me as we prepared to go to court over the issue, and outside of just dealing with the basics on the farm, we were in limbo.  It is a pretty depressing place to be…

Had to learn a lot about the court system in a short amount of time, file paperwork, find an attorney, gather data, put together exhibits, etc. Time consuming but felt it was worthwhile to fight for the farm.  We were winning the case… right up to the last hour.  A sudden unexpected event occurred, and we were not prepared for a rebuttal, and lost the ruling (i.e. lost the case).

We spent a month having to close the farm down… while we reframe what we were going to do, short-term and long-term.

I see that I have been “pushed” into another direction that will add more of a world view of what is going on. We have to face the reality that we are indeed in our 60′s and must respect that.  We need to be  mentoring, assisting, and supporting financially young farmers through their products.  At some point we plan to reactivate the farm, but for now we are taking at least a year off to sort through things.

We have moved closer to Jim’s work to decrease the commute and living in a small space, and in an urban environment. It is certainly exposing me to a whole new array of problems that people need to deal with. Trying to figure out how to adapt to this new setting and hold true to the things we have learned. I’m certain I’ll be tapping a lot of people for their insights, experience, and methods!

Winning the Darwin Prize!

California 2012 voters raced again to the forefront of winning a Darwin Prize*

gmo

gmo (Photo credit: decorat)

By their actions, again, the majority have chosen denial to deal with real issues.  “I don’t want to know if something is really natural or is GMO (genetically modified); I would rather pretend that everything is OK. And then I can avoid having to face the choice of paying the cost for real food.  If you don’t label it, I don’t have to think about what it might mean.  Never-mind that my neighbor might want to have the choice to know.

Hell yes, it will cost us! But it ALREADY costs us in ways we don’t put on the tab.

It was a bit misleading to say that labeling GMO foods would NOT cost anything (because they change the package labels all the time).  The reality is, OF COURSE it would raise the cost of food.  The industrial folks don’t do it ’cause it IS more expense than their created “knock off version” of food.

Trust me, I know.  We have raised our own beef, pork, chicken, and organic veggies.  Doing it to make money is fighting an uphill battle when you price compare to industrial food.  If the industrial people had to label their GMO food, which meant many would not buy, they would have to shift to foods that would increase their cost of doing business.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the industrial complex is in the business of making food; they are in the business of making money.  If the cost of that production goes up, then it gets passed along.  There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! That cost will show up in your grocery cart.

Did you hear about the Freebies?

Unfortunately, when buying industrial food you are getting a lot of “free” extras! Because it is not staring you in the face, it can be ignored… for a very, very long time.  But it comes back to bite you.  You know, like when you don’t pay the power bill, eventually the power get’s turned off. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will.

So when I see the autism rates are skyrocketing (1 out of 60 births, vrs 1 out of 10,000 historically), when autoimmune disease are epidemic (thyroid, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), when the onset of diabetes has become the province of staggering numbers of the very young instead of the old, I believe our cultural advances are slowly poisoning us. I wonder just what IS the price we are paying for those freebies.

I know, too many variables to make an absolute correlation.  Well, if I wait to long, I won’t even have to worry about it, will I.  After 30 years in the medical world it did occur to me that the most cost effective patient, after the healthy one, was the dead one. From a strictly monetary assessment of costs. OTOH (On the other hand), a whole new income stream to supply medications to deal with the possible side effects!

Is it the food? The water (with it’s load of residuals of hormones & medications & chemicals) we drink? Or the air? …the neuro-toxic mercury we all breath in and eat (from the residuals of burning coal)? A zillion possibilities… I. Don’t. Know. and I could be wrong.

What is Different?

What I DO know is that there have been some dramatic changes in the last 100 years…  we’ve shifted away 10,000 years ago, from the hunter-gather society that we were bred from. Let’s see: 100,000 years to 10,000 years to 100 years. (And actually, according to the latest research in archeology that 100,000 years is really at least 600,000 years of development).**

We developed over thousands of generations, where survival meant dealing with “upfront & in your face” problems, in your immediate future.  Things like getting away from predators, finding food, staying warm/cool, shelter from the elements, etc. No need to worry about 10 years down the road because immediate survival did not depend on that. Our “stone age brains” are wired for fight or flight, right now.  And maybe, food for the next season.  We survived in a world that utilized what nature provided, for food, in very basic forms.

The Stone-Age Brain: Death by Over-Consumption

We’ve moved into a new realm where, in the Western World, most of us have our basic needs met with highly processed foods & chemicals.  In fact, for many, met to well. Fat, couch-bound, car focused, and entertained until death.

I don’t think our “stone age brains” have had time to evolve to a world of “enough”. We consume as if we can not get enough. (Those details are the meat of another post, though.)

But some will…survive. It’s a brain that has adapted to the new “reality”… that considers cause and effect, actions and consequences on a longer time frame. “Neo-brain”.

Those who think (delayed benefits) about the longer term effects, will be the ones that DO survive as they make the adjustments they see the need for.

Survival battle

darwin

IN or OUT of the genetic pool?

That “stone-age brain” will lose the battle of survival of the fittest because it will kill itself off!  It will be those who consider the long-impact of our actions, that will win that battle, without even having to “fight”. They will simply look for the sustainable practices that will make a difference in long-term survival. And significantly, then take personal action that will make a difference.

The real challenge is to keep the stone-age brains from dragging the survivors down, as the stone-agers grow & harvest the darwin award!

If you kill off that which sustains you… by default you will die.  The problem is that you take a lot of “innocents” along with you. As well, you (the masses) may inflict tremendous damage on the underlying systems. But some will survive. The systems, over time, will re-balance.

Our human nature tells us to reach out to others and alert them to the dangers! One can only reach out to those who are unaware.  Once the “word” is out, if denial is the choice that is made… it is made for not only yourself… but those whom you care for, as well as others who have not made any choice.

Here in California, with the defeat of Prop 37, Label GMO Foods, and the defeat of an added soda tax (to discourage excessive consumption) we are saying that the health of the community cannot be legislated.

And yet, we did pass No Smoking laws, eventually.  So there is hope. Overtime, other parts of the country have made changes as well. With all the issues coming to a head, the question I ask is, “How much TIME do we really have, this time?”

KUDOS to those who spread the word!

They fought a strong battle. 47% of those that voted are now even more aware of the challenges ahead. And many in other states that listened to the battle, learned much as well. Those that could not vote and those that did, can now vote a different way, in the future.

It becomes even more imperative that we vote with our dollars and actions to support those farmers that do see the future, and are helping us to survive this Darwinian hit list!

The quality of our survival will depend on them.

*************************************************************************

* Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.

For example: killing oneself while manufacturing a homemade chimney-cleaning device from a grenade would be eligible;

OR –  John used wood and rope to make a traction device to ease his wife’s neck pain. But applying traction to the neck takes a delicate touch. His DIY (do-it-yourself) medical device turned out to be a gallows, as John found out when he tested it and hanged himself.

** FYI: Atheist, or not?  I personally believe in intelligent guidance, so evolution, for me, is not an anti-bible concept. I find it a matter of “hubris” that man thinks to dictate to “GOD” the details of how things should be done.

GMO’s – the lowdown (guest post)

Occasionally I cross-post something: “60% of our DNA is identical to that of corn and soy, and we have no idea how this transgenic process of altering genes in our food will affect us in the short term or the long term.” 
Congratulations to Baker Seeds, The Seed Bank and all those who worked hard on getting the signatures for the requirement to LABEL GMO products, on the California ballot!  … and this guest post is definitely one on GMO’s that presents a very clear argument for the issues involved.

The Truth About Genetically Modified Organisms – GMO’s

A Guest Blogger ….It’s a fantastic article that could also be titled; Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about GMO’s.

From April 28, 2012 by Soulsby Farm – A Very Small Farm Blog.

My name is Chris Vogliano and I am currently studying nutrition and dietetics at Kent State University in their Master’s Program.  I am conducting my thesis study on the topic of Genetically Modified Organisms related to Dietitian’s knowledge and perception of them.  According to previous research, the public trusts dietitian’s to relay current and scientific information on this controversial topic.  However, as I hope to prove in my research, there is a significant knowledge gap in the perception of what dietitian’s know versus the knowledge they actually hold.

I chose this topic because genetically modified foods is personal and strikes an emotional cord.  Ever since discovering the topic, I have unveiled more and more unsettling information about this complicated and controversial process.

Most of American’s have no idea what genetically modified foods are, even though over 80% of our supermarket foods contain them.  Many American’s believe that simple crossbreeding is the same or at least a similar process to that of genetic modification.  Some American’s place trust in the “assumed” strict regulatory processes of the FDAUSDA, and EPA.

Politics plays a much more pertinent role in our lives than anyone wants or cares to believe, and I adamantly feel this with GMO’s…

The patenting of a transgenic soybean in the early 1990’s has had more of an impact than we would have ever imagined. We have seen a revolutionary agricultural shift in the way we grow our produce form even twenty years ago.

Many see this synergy of biotechnology and agriculture as a positive step towards our goal of creating a more economically sound production method for our food.  Big agriculture business has consolidated hands over the years to just a few large corporations, leading with the illusion of solving world hunger and bridging the world’s nutritional deficits.

As a soon to be dietitian who heavily values nutritional philanthropy, I could not have been more eager to learn more about this technology that could potentially curb our world hunger problems.
Let’s take a step back and look at the role of corporations in our society.

While we all vary on our opinions of specific corporations, deeming some as good and some evil, we have to remember one simple fact.  Through all the humanitarian efforts some might drape over their figurative bodies to display a positive PR image, corporations have one goal and one goal only.

The primary goal of a corporation is to increase profits for its shareholders. Plain and simple.

While some corporations may choose donations and community building tactics to seem selfless, at the end of the day it is simply to make you feel better about being a customer of their product.  This is not to demean the great things some corporations have done, but to call it an altruistic act is not so valid (arguably, is anything actually selfless? a question better saved for your philosophy 101 class).

Back to the grit of GMO’s – The basics of genetically modifying organisms is as follows:

A desired gene from a species not related to the host organisms is transferred into the cultivar or desired product (while sounding simple, this is actually quite a complex process).  The interesting part is that we don’t know how this transgenic, or crossing DNA from one foreign species to another affects humans or the environment.  This technology was developed and implemented into our food supply less than 15 years ago.

Monsanto is the largest corporate sponsor of GMO’s, fighting for their governmental acceptance worldwide ever since their creation.  A quick lesson on Monsanto’s history:

One of the first products Monsanto created was the artificial sweetener saccharin, which we now know can cause cancer

The next major products were DDT, Lasso, and Agent Orange, which we now know are highly carcinogenic.

Now they are trying to sell the idea of “genetically modified seeds” to us as being healthy and safe, when in all reality they are a self regulating organization whose primary interest is not the health of the consumers, but the money in their pocket.

European countries have strict regulatory standards and most countries have stopped the production of GMO’s until further testing has taken place.  Those countries who do have GMO corn must blatantly label their products with the phrase “this product contains genetically modified ingredients”, which protects the integrity of the food supply and the safety of the consumers.

GMO seeds have NEVER been tested in human trials to determine the impact they have on our bodies.

60% of our DNA is identical to that of corn and soy, and we have no idea how this transgenic process of altering genes in our food will affect us in the short term or the long term.

The only test currently being done to determine the safety of these products is happening right now, in our grocery stores.

As American’s, we deserve the right to know what is in our food. There is a serious need for us to take action on this issue that will help define the future of the agricultural food chain. We need the health of our food to lean in our favor, and not that of large corporate interest.

While there has been unethical practices that have been slipped passed the American consumers unbeknownst to them in the past decade, there has never been a more opportune moment to express out opinion than now.  More than ever, people are forming organizations and events to express their desire to have genetically modified foods labeled.  It is out food supply and we deserve the right to know what we are consuming.

think. be educated.

For more information or to get involved (highly encouraged!) visit:

www.Saynotogmos.org

www.nongmoproject.org

www.labelgmos.org

www.truefoodnow.org

LinkedIn Account:
www.linkedin.com/pub//chris-vogliano/41/806/370

WordPress account

http://chrisvogliano.wordpress.com/

She Delivered! We’re waiting on the last calf…

Bessie, our standard Jersey who gives wonderful milk, is expecting any day now.

Products from Bessie's milk

We’ve been without her milk for several months because we wanted to give her time to build her system up before she delivered.

Bessie was purchased from a local commercial dairy in our area, that had been in the business (family) for over a 100 years.  They were fairly close to organic in the sense that they did NOT use antibiotics, hormones, or and steroids to increase milk production.  They did some pasture grazing besides the grain they fed. Definitely were not certified, which is just about the only way family dairy farms can survive these days.

Organic certified milk brings a premium but the  middle man will only buy so much organic milk.  The rest may still be organic but brings a much lower price because it must be sold as “regular” milk, once the “quota” has been filled. On the other hand, dairymen have found that their VET costs are much less with their pastured dairy cows… so there is a payoff for them.

Cows in a standard commercial dairy are kept on the average, only 2 1/2 years before being sent to the slaughterhouse (for hamburger).  That makes them about 5 years old (2 years before their first calf and then 3 years “on the line”), before the are out the door.  Bessie was almost 5 when we bought her from the family dairy that was closing down after a 100 years.

Hand-milking Bessie, as she patiently waits

Bessie  was perfect for us beginners. Mellow and fairly patient…. except she MUCH preferred being milked by machine (10 min) vrs us hand-milking (45 min). Yep, 45 minutes… you gotta have hand strength, and she has to be happy enough to let down her milk.  After about 20 minutes she would get a bit ansiy… looking back, wanting know what was taking so long.  My 1-2 cups of milk was not enough to get me through the door and face the waiting crowd who wanted to try her milk! We’d keep plugging on… until I could get at least a gallon.

When our “portable milker” arrived, we suddenly

Portable milker, YEAH! says Bessie

jumped to 3-4 gallons of milk.  Amazing! Raw milk, at least Bessie’s milk, has a sweet fresh taste to it.  Very different from commercial milk.

I used to wonder why milk came in different prices.

Now I know (and can taste) that often milk is “made” with powdered milk.  It’s cheaper to transport (and lasts longer) when the liquid is removed… and then added back later.

Sometimes the milk is a blend of powered and whole milk.

Powdered milk + water =

I used to do that myself when we were dirt poor, 40 years ago, and raising a family.  I would mix the milk at home and chill it. It’s now not an uncommon practice in the industry…

A2/A2 Milk

But back to Bessie.  We did some testing on her and found that her milk was A2/A2… just means that one of the amino acids in the milk is slightly different, and people who have trouble digesting milk, can handled A2/A2 milk without any problems. It’s actually the older gene and a mutation, known as A1/A1, occurred about 6,000 yrs ago… which most dairy cows carry.

Portable milker on a cart, to the barn

We’ve had several non-milk drinkers (because they were lactose intolerant) handle our milk just fine.  Glug-glug-glug… a gallon later. Did I mention they have NO problem with the milk, other than keeping some for tomorrow!  Now my daughter, who has a RESPIRATORY allergy, get’s worse. For her there is something else in the milk that she is sensitive to… and  with A2/A2 milk it gets worse.

When it came time to have Bessie bred we opted to A.I. (artificial insemination) with an A2/A2 Jersey Bull so we are very anxious to see if she will have a heifer that will someday give us A2/A2 milk!

Bessie is now 9 years old and has given us good service… but her genetics are telling on her.  For the last two years she has developed weepy areas where her skin is thin.  Never an infection… but I think, just the long time stress… she’s almost twice as old as her sister cows got to be; while my Old World Jerseys should be good for 20 years… I don’t know if it’s because of the actual genetics or because commercial cows are really pushed to produce in those early years.

We take it very easy and only milk once a day… because we would rather have the longevity, than quantity. I also dried her off three months prior to her delivery to give her extra time to build up her reserves.

But to my story…

The calf is checking on Bessie

Bessie is due any minute..

her bag has filled up and it was leaking. We put her in the fresh pasture between the house and the mini horse paddock… to keep an eye on her. Chocolate and her calf are with her to keep her company.  

The next morning, she stopped eating or chewing her cud.

 She laid down and started “laboring”. I raced around and grabbed my camera and cellphone.

I patiently sat quietly for at least an hour. Her companion cow, Chocolate, and her calf, would come over and nuzzled her occasionally, as she labored.  She would pant, and then rest.

And then she started stretching… she began a slight amount of pushing… passed a bit of stool;
I assumed that the calf was moving down the birth canal & called our intern and a neighbor the the imminent birth.
About 30 min later she stood up and did it! She delivered a nice, big, huge… cow pat.
Boy, did I feel dumb.  She stood there for a moment. Looked around.

she delivered a rather large cow pat

She’s so big (not huge, though) and when she lays down there is so much pressure from the calf, on her bottom, that everything swells up. You can see the calf shifting on occasion, and mom shifts around trying to get the calf in a more comfortable position (after having four kids, I remember THAT feeling very well).
Bessie looked around another moment… then she started on lunch….
If she’s feeling good enough to eat, she’s definitely NOT delivering.
Back to the house…. no more excuses not to do MY chores!  I remind myself that a “watched pot” doesn’t boil (or something like that)! I’ll leave her buddies to “labor sit” for now.

He & mom will keep Bessie company, but continue on with their "business"


Bawling Calves….

Did you know cows have families? I mean, like real family structure. They really do form family groups and an outsider is definitely odd man out. Anybody new is suspect… even if they “used” to be part of the social group but have been gone for a while.  At least for a time, while  the pecking order is re-established.

several members of the "family" watch carefully as Jim checks out the new calf!

Mom cow, and her “sister’s”, aunts, uncles, &  their babies can make up a group.  It appears to be a matriarchal grouping.

The bull is there but not really the dominate member.  Besides, he may be “covering” 30+ females (well, not in our herd… but in some of the big ranch operations).

We don’t keep our herd bull separate.  It’s good for the young bulls to have a role model, and to be part of a hierarchy as they get older. They learn manners, work out their pecking order among the other young bulls before they can hurt each other, and respect for the “head” guy.

Courting the Ladies 

Our “herd” bull is quite a gentleman.  He courts the females… nuzzles them, sniffs, and will keep them company.  He can tell by sniffing when she is coming “into heat” (i.e. going to ovulate).  If you watch closely they do this really weird funny thing with their nose & upper lip.  They breath in the females smell while curling up their upper lip… he is breathing her pheromones (chemical odors) across special sensors in his nasal cavity that tell him if she is getting ready to ovulate.

PMS is not JUST a human behavior!

The females go through very specific phases as well.  We call them 1) PMSing (pre-menstrual syndrome – irritable), and 2) Lovey-dovey. A cow does NOT have a “human cycle” although she will produce a thick mucus when she is ovulating.  But first she gets very irritable… butting others around her, bawling, and maybe “off” her feed.  If she is milking, her milk production may drop a bit.  Then she does a complete turnout about; she changes into a NEW woman… nuzzling other cows, rubbing, and nurturing behaviors.

If you are driving by herds of cows out to pasture, and watch carefully, you can see some of that behavior.  It’s not all just eating, and chewing their cud.

Special Breeding program

The assigned babysitter, for the calves, while the mom's go eat!

Any females we do not want bred by our herd bull, we will pull out and separate her. We do make sure she has company, as cows are by nature, herd animals and are very stressed when alone. We try not to separate for to long, or else she will be an “outsider” when she returns to her herd.  Everyone will try to “kick her a_s” and try to push her around to see who will be at the BOTTOM of the pecking order.

The adult female who is at the bottom of the pecking order will have to do “guard duty”, i.e. watch out for predators, baby sit the youngest calves, eat last, etc.  Sometimes a “teenager” cow will be assigned to baby sit the calves while the mom’s go off to eat.

Panic

Remember, the young calves are just practicing to eat, for the first couple of months, and they take LOTS of naps.  And when they fall asleep they can be almost impossible to wake up.  The first time I tried to wake a calf up, it scared me to death. I thought it was dying… it would not budge . When I tried to pick up the calf (gal durn it, even the babies are heavy), it’s head just rolled around.  I was sure he was deathly ill and that somehow, I had missed the signs.

Collapsed on the ground, unable to wake up!

An hour later, he “woke-up” and raced off to play with the other calves.  I felt pretty stupid… I had called Jim at work, panicky, and wondering if I  should call the vet out. Thank heavens we decided to give it a few hours.  Besides, our general policy was to let nature take it’s course.  If a calf was not meant to survive, there is probably a good reason for it.  And we are in the mode of raising livestock that DON’T require coddling (frequent vet visits, medications, etc).  Mother nature produced livestock that could survive without human intervention.  It’s often our human  interactions that cause the problems.

 How BIG is YOUR barn?

People ask about “the barn”. We don’t have a barn for the cows or horses.  They are very stressful environments for them (and un-natural).  They build up accumulations of urine/manure that is not weathered away back to fertilizer.  The ammonia (from the urine)  and dust (from the hay) that accumulates can cause respiratory problems for them.  In nature, cows and horses will seek out trees/brush for wind & shade protection. If a lean-to is available they often choose NOT to use it… even when we have heavy rains.  Of course, we don’t get snow where we live, so we need less infra-structure for the livestock.

Where there is heavy snow (as in several feet of snow) & the water is frozen, barns are utilized.  For some, a deep bedding method is used, where straw is put down, and added to on a regular basis.  It absorbs the “outputs” of the livestock.  Some folks throw some corn/other grains in when the different layers are added.

At the start of spring, when the livestock are back out in the pasture, pigs are attracted to the germinating grains and used to “work-up & compost” the material in the barns as they “hunt” for the treats. Then it’s put back into the soil to return the nutrients and fertilizer.  I think I heard that Joel Salatin uses something like this technique.

Our BAWLING Calves… and their worried moms!

But I was going to tell you about our calves.  They are 4-8 wks old and it was time to tag and band them.  AND to pull tail hairs (but I forgot :(    , for genetic testing).  Luckly,  their genetics don’t actually change… and it’s not to hard to pull tail hairs.  The trick is just to make sure you get the “roots” where the DNA is accessible for testing.  Much, much easier than drawling blood for testing. We DO NOT BRAND our cows.  Lowline Angus are fairly valuable, so we do DNA testing.  If one were “stolen” it is easily identified through their genetic code.  It also confirms who the dam & sire are, for legal purposes.

We do TAG them to make it easy to identify who is who.  My system: green tags are fullblood lowline angus.  Blue tags are percentage lowline angus. Yellow tags are Old World Jersey Heritage blood lines.  Because we have a small herd, we number by the birth year (’12) and the order of the birth (i.e. 1,2,3).  We have 121, 122, 123, 124, and 125 is due any day.  Hopefully, an A2/A2 heifer (Jersey milk cow).

We had to “band” one calf (yep, thick rubber band) to convert from a bull calf to a steer.  We do this rather than castrate by cutting.  I think it’s less stressful on US… not sure about the calf.  But he just races back to mom and nurses.  Does not even bawl, so I think it’s just being restrained that they don’t like.  Scary, I’m sure.

Tagging takes about 2 seconds, and again, they don’t really seem to mind it.  I think at this young age, it’s like getting your ears pierced as an infant. The nerve endings don’t seem to be “active”.  They never seem to actually mind it.  It’s just being forcibly separated from mom (all the moms) & being restrained, that they get shook about.

Mom calling to her calf....

The mom’s are worried about EACH baby. They race around, kicking up their heels (literally), and search to find a way to the calf.  Not just their own… but all the calves in their family unit.  If a calf starts bawling, each mom tries to locate it, and when they do, they come over and sniff & nuzzle the calf.  When the calf is finally released, each cow must reassure herself that the calf is actually OK by physically interacting with it. Their own calf will nurse… comfort food and some TLC (tender loving care).

Positive Management

It’s been absolutely fascinating to watch and learn about this whole process.  If we have to do something stressful, we try to group it all at one time. Only ‘one” event and not several spaced out over weeks. We don’t want them to become apprehensive at our  approach.

We are learning to live in synch with our livestock, and to try to respect their systems.  Some people might scoff but I think happy, unstressed animals make healthy animals.   Dollars NOT spent on a vet, equates to more dollars in MY pocket… so it’s in my best interest to take care of their best interests!

 

Three things to do, which will MAKE you $’s

OK, OK. I’m sure you’ve heard the “scams” over the years…. follow MY advice and earn “millions” with very little effort! Of course, most of those guys… want a small “fee” to tell you what you need to do. If you operate on the theory that “you get what you pay for”, it does make sense in a way… to charge. I’ve paid some of those guys, and I did learn.  I didn’t learn about millions, that’s for sure, though.  But it did help me learn to think outside the “box”.

On a farm, in suburbia, in an apartment…. there are at LEAST three things you can do that will make you dollars. Most of us think in terms of “bringing MORE dollars home”, but just as useful is to think of it from a different angle.  Less dollars going out.

Cost of  Making Dollars vrs Keeping your Dollars

Usable Dollars

If you MAKE dollars, via wages, you must pay approx 1/3 or more, to the government.  Often, if those are the “last dollars” you make (i.e. on top of your regular salary), it may be taxed at an even higher rate.  If you factor in: taxes, social security, sales tax when you spend the money, and the higher tax bracket you’re  forced into…

I would guess you can only count on 50% of each additional dollar that you EARN as being actually in your hot little hand! (If you had to pay child care while you made those dollars, then you are probably in negative territory).

That was the cool thing about the stock market… you could let your money do the work while you stayed home.

Uhhh, except for a few details there… that again you can be taxed through the roof, if you do buying and selling within a year of purchase… in addition to the fee to actually buy and then sell and then buy. Hmmm, and if you did actually “make $’s” there is again that problem of being forced up into a high tax bracket.  When you went to use those dollars, dang it… there you are again, usually paying some kind of sales tax on it. How much of your dollar do you actually get to use?

So yes, I can double your useful money value. Maybe even triple it!  Well… some of your dollars. But it won’t be glamorous, or yuppy. You can’t whisper into someone’s ear how you made out big on “……” (fill in the blank).

Here goes:

Bag of Pinto Beans!

I went down and bought a bag of pinto beans… 99 cents.  Boiled ‘em up (yep, it’s actually quite easy to do)… google it!

For that one dollar spent, plus the energy to cook them (let’s call it 10 cents), and then to store them in the fridge/freezer (which is already being used but let’s call that another 10 cents).  We’ll call it $1.20 total (and you’ll reuse containers so we won’t factor in container costs).

One lb of beans = at least 6-7 cups of cooked beans = 3-4 cans of purchased beans.

$1.20 vrs  $7.20 to $6.00  (4 cans/$1.80 each) or maybe you get them on sale @$1.50 = $6.00

Well, I knew you would NOT believe quadruple your money! but hey, that $6.00 you just saved… is a REAL Six Dollars… you don’t have to pay any more taxes, social security, child care, etc., costs on it.You would have had to “earned” $12.00 to have the same value that you just saved, if you “bought” those groceries at the supermarket .

You know, a knowledgable, skilled homemaker (cook, etc) is worth HIS/HER weight in gold at home!

The other pluses you get with this deal: less processed food, long-term storage, no exposure to cans lined with BPA, you know exactly what went into the making of the food, no preservatives.   Did I mention, you saved your dollars for things that you MUST pay with dollar bills… doctor bills, fuel, IRS.

Three Ways

ONE) make food from scratch… it’s much cheaper, you have control over what goes into it, less exposure to additives, customize to your taste!

TWO) what you must purchase, purchase now (prices on staples are skyrocketing and will continue to do so) in larger numbers and store. I used to get tomato sauce for 20 cents a can a few years back.  I now make most of my own but when I get it at the store, it’s up to $0.79 or more.  For now, I would buy on sale, and in bulk amounts.  Take $20/paycheck and allot it to your “investment account”. Track it, bet you’ll be surprised at your “annual rate of return”. Not quite as big a money investment but buying at today’s prices will buffer the sticker shock, as prices increase.

THREE) grow some things, on your own.  I was amazed at the production I got out of just a few plants.  I planted a 10 ft row of beans… and could NOT keep ahead of them. They just kept producing!  I finally decided I’d try NOT picking them.  I ended up with “dry beans” that I then picked and stored away to make winter soups!  That 10 ft row probably cost me $2/seed package for a bushel of beans. ($4 if I bought 2 cell packs of “starts” ready to put in the ground).

During a month of production I  got at least $4/worth of beans A DAY. Green beans… and then at the end of the season, another $5/dry beans. $4×30=$120 green beans, 5# dry bean x $6= $30.   $150 from a $2 pkg of seeds… well, you do have to account for some water, trellis, and your time.  But that is a heck of a deal… just not exactly glamorous!

Dried vs. Canned Beans
Canned beans are fast and easy to use. Or you can prepare dried beans from scratch. Here are some equivalents:1 lb dry beans = 2 1/2 cups dry beans = about 7 1/2 cups cooked beans
1 cup dry beans = about 3 cups cooked beans
14 oz/398 ml can beans = about 1 1/2 cups drained beans
19 oz/540 ml can beans = about 2 cups drained beans

Homemade lettuce box

You don’t need a 10 ft row of beans….

but try three different plants, a cherry tomato & a regular size tomato plant, green beans or peas or lettuce or onions or potatoes or cucumbers Things that you will actually eat, plus try one new thing. Plant a Salsa Garden… tomato, tomatillo, chili peppers, onions, cilantro!  DON’T plant what you DON’T LIKE!

Tomato Container Garden should be much larger!

Just don’t kill yourself trying to do too much… start small. It is truly amazing how little you need to grow to get a very productive output.  You will be absolutely impressed by how good your homegrown food can taste… amazing difference from store-bought!

Self-Watering Container (aka Earth Box)… I’ve included a unit you can put together!

  • that reduces the water chores, with its water reservoir,
  • it reduces weeding issues,
  • it reduces bending issues (for seniors who gotta watch out for the back!),
  • it doesn’t even need land; it’s great if you have a sunny patio, even in an apartment complex,
  • there is even a Yahoo group, ContainerGardening, that you can join… great at answering questions.
ediblecontainergardens@yahoogroups.com

You need roughly 6 hrs of sunlight for fruiting plants. Shade plants (lettuce, radishes, onions, beets) can tolerate much less sunlight.

Homemade self-watering Container

Basically, a big tub with a false bottom.  The false bottom has a wick down into the water stored in the base, to pull up the water it needs, when it needs it.  You use a potting soil(not garden soil… too heavy, thick, clayish) to fill the top-level, and then plant.  You do need to be aware of how big the plants will get, that you want to grow, and factor that in to the size of the container. You can get a small cherry tomato plant, that will stay small or one that will grow 4 ft tall by 4 ft wide. Do your research!  There is a refill spout to replenish the water drawn up by the plants.

NCAT SIFT Program sift@ncat.org

SIFT (Sustainable Intensive Farming Techniques) directions:

It doesn’t take a field, or even a greenhouse, to enjoy your own sustainably grown produce.

A sustainable “micro-farm” is a good choice for those who may have limited space or who might want to experiment with small amounts of different kinds of crops.

Choose corner containers that are the same heighth as the wicking cup.
Choose corner containers that are the same height
as the wicking cup.

And a microfarm is a great project for parents, teachers, and anyone else with kids looking for fun and educational things to do. It’s easy to design them with an efficient watering system, drawing moisture from the bottom instead of relying on watering from the top. That makes it a good first introduction to sustainable-agriculture practices.

Here are the materials you need and step-by-step directions to assemble a water-friendly microfarm of the type the SIFT project has used to introduce local 4-H members to sustainable agriculture. Have fun!

List of materials
• 18-gallon plastic storage tub and lid

• A 3.75–inch “wicking” pot, also known as a net cup, or a sturdy cup you have poked MANY holes in it, so water can move through it freely

• Four plastic individual-serving yogurt containers, plastic cups, or sturdy, similar-sized items to use as braces. They should be the same height as the wicking pot.

• Four locking plastic ties

• A 20-inch-long PVC pipe with one end cut at an angle. The pipe should have a large enough diameter to make it easy to use a hose to run water into it.

Attach the wicking cup to the lid with locking ties.
Attach the wicking cup to the lid with locking ties.

• 40 pounds of soil

• Compost or organic fertilizer

Process
• Punch a hole in the tub approximately 2.5 inches from the bottom. This is to allow any excess water to drain from the tub.

• The lid has a rim of thicker plastic. The following cuts will be made inside that rim:
–Cut a hole in the center of the lid that is the same diameter as the wicking pot.
–Cut a hole at the inside edge of the lid’s rim that is the same diameter as the PVC pipe
–Punch rows of small holes in the lid
–Cut out the area of the lid that is inside the rim of thicker plastic in one piece

• Make sure that the yogurt containers, plastic cups, or other items you use as a brace are the same height as the wicking cup

• Place the wicking cup in the hole at the center of the lid and attach it to the smaller holes in the lid with the locking ties. Punch new holes for the ties if necessary.

A completed microfarm.
A completed microfarm.

• Place the braces inside the tub at the corners

• Place the cut-out piece of the lid on the braces with the wicking basket on the bottom

• Insert the PVC pipe into its hole, with the end cut at an angle at the bottom to make it easier for water to flow into the tub

• Fill the tub with soil and soil amendments

• Use the PVC pipe to add water to the bottom of the tub once you have planted your crop. Be careful not to waste any water. You can make a “dipstick” with such items as a dowel or yardstick, or to check the water level in the tub through the pipe.

Posted on: April 5th, 2012  Make Your Own Sustainable “Farm”

How do I find that darn thing! i.e. Blog workings

If you are like many people (who did not actually grow up with a silver computer in your hand) and have to actually figure how things work,  I have a few minute things that can get you where you want to go.  Me, if I have to hit keys more there three times, I’m DONE! I’m part of the KISS generation (Keep it Simple, Stupid!).

A BLOG is just a running “diary” of whatever one chooses to write about.

While I would like to add some “bells & whistles” to my blog you run the danger of getting way too complicated for people who don’t actually LIVE in the blogosphere!

I discovered that the column on the left side has several really cool features so thought I’d run through them, for the novice “bloggie”… :)

  • It has a place to enter your email address, and then you are sure to get each post!
  • Tips on how to USE a Blog Page!

  • Next you see a calendar with dates highlighted.  You can put your cursor over  a highlighted date  for a second or two, and it will give you the name of the blog post of that day! Click on that date and it will bring up that post.
  • Under the heading Archives, the months are listed with a number… the number of blog postings written that month.  If you click on the month, the calendar will show that month and you can, again, put the cursor on the date and after a few seconds, the title of the blog post will show up.
  • Recent Posts heading is pretty obvious… just a listing of the last ten!
  • Education has some links to things I think are important and I want a “HOME” for them so I can get to them quickly and refer others to them. Well worth your time to go through them.

  • Tags is an interesting approach to finding info.  I’m suppose to tag my posts with a words that reflect what is discussed in that post.  You can actually click on one of those words and all the posts that related to it, will come up.  The LARGER the word, the more often it is mentioned.  It’s called a “word cloud”.  You can see that  “family” appears very small & “calf” is huge.  You know that I have mentioned “calf” a heck of a lot!
  • If you move to the main column, the actual post title... you’ll see some words under the title that relate to the blog… another way to track down info.  If you click on the word “economics” you’ll get all the blog posts that have that category listed.  The Tag words are a little more specific in topic: birth, dairy cow, milk. Sometimes the word will be in both groups.
  • PICTURES:  if you click on a picture it should show up on another screen, only much larger (you know, so you can actually SEE the picture)!

Hope this brief review makes it easier for you to use ANY blog site!  Lots of interesting info out there… and you don’t even have to leave home to get it. Whoops… that can be a problem though.

Take care, Get outside, Grow something… get into touch with the “real” world!

Too much time on the computer/video/tv/books trigger depression!!! A simple solution… re-engage.

(Hey, chickens and a container garden are good beginning places for almost everyone!)

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