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.


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.



Winning the Darwin Prize!

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


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


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:





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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"

Eggs, Eggs, and More Eggs…

Who would have thought that I would be awash in eggs.  Just a few short months ago, people were calling for our farm fresh eggs, and I had to tell them that our hens were in a “drought” situation.  We hoarded each egg they produced and kept only the very smallest eggs (virgin eggs we call them) for ourselves. It was the holiday months and everyone had guests and wanted to serve up some truly free-range pastured eggs.  My newest hens, mostly, had not kicked into laying yet… a few were starting to lay but not reliably.

Large, regular, & "virgin" eggs

The first time I had brand new hens start laying… I thought I had made a mistake and gotten the wrong kind of hens.  I was getting MICRO eggs! I was so relieved when someone told me that they often start out with tiny eggs, but they should get larger. And sure enough, they did! We started calling those eggs, “virgin eggs”.

Laying Hens

A hen starts laying around 5 months old. Daily (or almost daily) egg laying is triggered by the amount of daylight hours… so in the winter months hens typically stop laying, or greatly reduce their production.  On top of that, they are using their food energy for staying warm with the colder, wetter weather.  We do provide a balanced layer feed because if a hen’s on forage & don’t get enough of the essentials, they stop laying.  But besides access to extra food, to keep our hens laying, we have a light and timer in the barn that serves two functions.

One, it provides a light that the hens are attracted to, so that at night they head to the barn where their protected coop is located.  We have had predators come through an avail themselves of the “Heritage Farm” buffet. UGGGH. We got away with letting them roam completely free and then nest in the rafters of the barn, for quite a while, but then paid the price.  I lost most of my hens… and had to BUY store-bought eggs.


OMG, that was an education.  Organic ,free-range, cage-free eggs, hmmm. Nada. I was really surprised at what a snob I had become.  First off, all the labels say “vegetarian feed”… sorry, chickens are not, I repeat, NOT, by nature, vegetarians. Eggs from hens fed that kind of diet are, to me, bland & blah.  We were fairly new to the neighborhood, so in desperation, I had to hunt out someone who had real live free-range pastured eggs… and the difference was total. I was back to the rich tasting nutrient dense eggs I was used to. But my hens, now have a light they are attracted to at night, and they go into LOCKDOWN until morning.

Second, the light encourages egg laying during the winter months. Still not as prolific as the rest of the year, as they are using extra energy for their own needs. A hen needs roughly 14 hours of light to produce eggs. She will produce the most eggs her first laying season, molt (shed feathers) & take a break, before picking up again. Each year thereafter she will produce fewer eggs. Most hens are no longer “used” for laying after two years.

Darker yellow legs

Pale leg color

Interestingly you can tell who has laid a lot of eggs by the color of their legs!! Hens, of the same breed, have  legs of a certain color yellow. The hens with the lightest shade of that yellow will have laid the most eggs. The yellow (beta carotene) gets pulled from the chicken to go into her eggs.

EGG Production

All the eggs the hen will lay, are already there at birth. Just not developed but the germ cell is there. A chicken will have several eggs developing at various stages at once, like a production line. We’ve had a couple of new hens who haven’t gotten the process quite worked out… out pops an egg WITHOUT the shell (just the tough membrane encasing the egg), or all white with no yolk, or double yolks inside one shell. From start to finish, 25 1/2 hrs to produce an egg:  It takes about 20 hours for an egg-shell to form around the yolk/membrane, and only 1 minute to actually lay the egg.

I have been told that pastured eggs always have deep, deep orange/yellow yolks.  Since all our hens have the same diet, I know that this is NOT true.  It depends on the breed of the chicken… they will have varying shades of yellow to deep orange.  I do know that veggie fed hens have very pale, tasteless, almost watery egg yolks!

Rhode Island Red hen, laying champ!

Historically hens would lay up to a 100 eggs a year.  Some of the breeds today will lay up to 300-350 eggs; almost an egg a day.  These hens have NOT been genetically modified via some scientific voodoo magic; just simple selection for a specific trait. The best bred to the best producers… some traits are left by the wayside.  Going broody is definitely a trait NOT bred for.

Some hens will “go broody” meaning they will lay a clutch of eggs and after collecting up to a dozen, will then “sit” (i.e. incubate them for 21 days). She’ll hatch out her chicks and then spend the next two months raising them. But for this three-month period, she is not laying any eggs. You can see why in the commercial industry this mothering behavior is not useful. Me, I WANT the mom to do all the work, because she is MUCH better at it.

Most turkeys cannot breed on their own or raise their own chicks, due to the intensive breeding used to  produce big breasted turkeys. They physically cannot do the “deed”.   We raise heritage chickens and heritage turkeys to encourage specific traits; breeding and raising their own chicks.

Another stunning egg producer, A Golden Wyandotte

Heritage chickens are fairly easy to get that will go broody and raise a clutch successfully.  We’ve had a warm winter and I had TWO hens who marched out from the barn with a clutch of chicks… that I did not even know were nesting. We put a green bracelet on a hen that does this, so I know who I want to keep for eggs production.  Some hens will start but not finish, or can’t seem to figure out what to do with the chicks after they are born (sad).  I’ll put a yellow band on her so I know she should be discouraged from going broody, and that I do NOT want to incubate any of her eggs.

Turkeys are a basket case

We raise heritage turkeys so they can at least bred and produce fertile eggs. But those eggs we set aside and incubate.  I have one turkey hen who is interested in setting so we’ll see if she can manage a clutch this spring.

Right now we have three different breeds of heritage turkeys: midget white, heritage bronze, and what looks like to be a variation on the Royal Palm (white, with some black markings). We have them separated so that we can prevent cross-breeding.

I have had one Heritage Bronze, when we were on the ranch with lots of acreage, that went broody, disappeared , and came back with a clutch of turkey chicks.  We were so excited to see this, but the downside of her “disappearing” is that she & her chicks became coyote food. Circle of life, I remind myself! But here on the farm we can have more control.

I’m keeping breeding pairs to encourage egg production… but had to separate the males because they began to fight among themselves.  Only the dominate male will mate… with all the available hens. Whoops, not in my plan…. so we had to separate the breeds. Now I just need to get more females of each breed… but that’s a plan for this spring.  We have a couple of dozen turkey eggs incubating right now, so we’ll see what we come up with.  The extra toms will be on someone’s dinner menu.

Eggs Galore

But now that we’ve past spring equinox… I have eggs galore!  Seems like I somehow (I have no idea how.. well, wait.. there were some broody hens last fall…) ended up with close to 40 hens.  Rhode Island Reds, Golden Wyandottes, and Dark Cornish who are all great layers, it turns out… and mothers, as well!

Eggs, eggs, and more eggs!

It’s time for me to learn how to make mayonnaise! All you need is egg yolks, oil (canola oil, olive oil, etc), and some seasonings (salt, mustard) & a bit of lemon/vinegar with water. And deviled eggs, Quiche’s, egg-cheese casseroles…

Anyone need a few laying hens? I’ve got some to sell!

False Choices

False Choices

This is the link to the article I responded to, dissing the EWG (Environmental Working Group) work on the most heavily contaminated fruits and veggies: The Dirty Dozen (2012). They also listed the Cleanest Fifteen. I neglected to include the link (the title False Choices) to it so you could read it yourself!

My argument was that is was a false choice being set up.

You can NOT know that something is “safe” until you have done long-term studies and some effects don’t show up for 20-30 years.

We need real Info!

There are only “safe” limits for acute toxic effects.

The choice is not between eating food with pesticides or NOT eating veggies/fruit at all.

You CAN choose to eat organic, preferably local, and avoid the whole question. Yes, it will hurt the pesticide companies and their users, but my vote is the longterm safety of our children and the soil.

When you are told that 97% of tested products are “safe” according to federal standards… just what does that mean. First off, how much is actually tested.

If I test 100 apples out of 1 million, that’s not enough data to be significant…. and where did those apples come from… China, Canada, Chili?

And as I pointed out: safe federal levels ONLY refer to acute toxicity… not long-term exposure.

Results of MercuryPoisoning

Do you know where the term “mad as a hatter” came from?  In the 1800’s when everyone wore hats (i.e. big market in making hats) mercury was used in the process. Guess what mercury does to the brain, while it is being absorbed through the skin & the vapors breathed in. I’m guessing those “hatters” were told it was “safe” to use.

My grandfather died from a rare leukemia that was later found to be related to the “benzene” that the men in oil fields routinely used, to clean their hands.

It take a while to get the answer!

He died at 50. He started working in the oil fields when he was 25. I guess enough “retrospective data” was finally collected to get the answer on longterm toxicity with that chemical.

It’s the day in/ day out exposure to this stuff (pesticides, herbcides, neurotoxins) that has me concerned.

The reality is that it is only with conscious choice, that we can begin to control how much exposure we do have.

The “bean counters” are only interested in profit margin… even if they cut their own throat, longterm, in the process! Sad, but I think, too true.

Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen, pt 2

I’m appalled at how much “crap” is on fruits & veggies! The stuff that is supposedly, OK.

Dirty Dozen Fruits/Veggies

The Western Farm Press, dissing of the results of the EWG (Environmental Working Group), tell farmers everywhere to discount the research done.

When we are told by “officials” that eating foods with residual chemicals on them is better than nothing…

I have to differ…. because that is NOT the choice.  We all have access! Yes,  it will cost more or we will have to narrow our food choices.

I think of it in this context:

taking a daily micro-dose of a neurotoxin WILL eventually catch up with me. Not today, not tomorrow, but certainly down the road!

But I do have a choice in this. I can vote with my fork, and make a difference.

FoodNews.org is the link.

Overview: 12 Dirty, 15 Clean

“Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure, according to some researchers.”

How can someone say that with a straight face?

They would say, use EWG‘s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. Do I agree with this statement: Absolutely NOT!

The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.

But don’t let me, or anyone else do your thinking for you… Check it out yourself; go to the Environmental Working Group  website, EWG.org, and look at how the studies are done.

Basic Principles to work with:

Dirty Dozen  … leads to a print out of the following info… for your wallet!

Be very careful about imported fruit/veggies… they do not have the same safety standards and most of it is never tested. Also, SWEET CORN. If you have concerns about GMO foods, then you need to buy organic sweet corn, as almost all commercial corn in the USA is genetically modified.

Below the video clip is a list of the Dirty and the Clean… with some informative data about each group. See what YOU think!

Highest Pesticide Residue

The Dirty Dozen – Buy these organic

If you need to really watch your budget (and who doesn’t!), these are the ones I would be sure to purchase from a reputable organic producer.

Of the 12 most contaminated foods, 6 are fruits: apples, strawberries, peaches,  nectarines, imported grapes and blueberries. Notable findings:

  • Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (97.8 percent) and imported plums (97.2 percent).
  • 92 percent of apples contained 2 or more pesticide residues‚ followed by imported nectarines (90.8 percent) and peaches (85.6 percent).
  • Imported grapes had 14 pesticides detected on a single sample. Strawberries, domestic grapes both had 13 different pesticides detected on a single sample.
  • As a category. peaches have been treated with more pesticides than any other produce, registering combinations of up to 57 different chemicals. Apples were next, with 56 pesticides and raspberries with 51.

Celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce and greens (kale and collards) are the vegetables most likely to retain pesticide contamination:

  • Some 96 percent all celery samples tested positive for pesticides, followed by cilantro (92.9 percent) and potatoes (91.4 percent).
  • Nearly 90 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides, followed by cilantro (70.1 percent) and sweet bell peppers (69.4 percent).
  • A single celery sample was contaminated with 13 different chemicals, followed by a single sample of sweet bell peppers (11), and greens (10).
  • Hot peppers had been treated with as many as 97 pesticides, followed by cucumbers (68) and greens (66).
– imported
Grapes – imported
Red Pepper
Sweet bell peppers
– domestic
Kale/collard greens

Clean 15 – Lowest in Pesticide

Here’s where you can save your grocery dollars if you need to, and buy non-organic.

The vegetables least likely to test positive for pesticides are onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cabbage, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

  • Asparagus, sweet corn and onions had no detectable pesticide residues on 90 percent or more of samples.
  • More than four-fifths of cabbage samples (81.8 percent)  had no detectible pesticides, followed by sweet peas (77.1 percent) and eggplant (75.4 percent).
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on vegetables low in overall contamination. No samples of onions and corn had more than one pesticide. Less than 6 percent of sweet potato samples had multiple pesticides.
  • Of the low-pesticide vegetables, no single sample had more than 5 different chemicals.

The fruits least likely to test positive for pesticide residues are pineapples, avocados, mangoes, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon and grapefruit.

  • Fewer than 10 percent of pineapple, mango, and avocado samples showed detectable pesticides, and fewer than one percent of samples had more than one pesticide residue.
  • Nearly 55 percent of grapefruit had detectable pesticides but only 17.5 percent of samples contained more than one residue. Watermelon had residues on 28.1 percent of samples, and 9.6 percent had multiple pesticide residues.
Sweet Corn
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
– domestic
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Because you want to enjoy what you eat, not worry about what you eat!

Throw some mud in the water: Boiling Mad, pt 1

OK, NOW my blood is boiling! The name of the game: Confuse the Consumer.

Erggg… it’s so hard to keep my mouth shut when “data” gets slanted or manipulated… here is my response, in two parts.

When the Western Farm Press (goes out to farmers all over the USA) says to ignore the results of EWG studies done, I have to ask what their interest is. I mean I could say something like:

New mom, New babe

“Hey, pregnant mom, don’t take that medication ’cause it might hurt your baby, but here, have some wonderful strawberries.

Oh, by-the-way, they were grown in Chile and are loaded with neurotoxins which are systemically absorbed and can’t be washed off!”

Only, guess what! That is not slanted or manipulated data. It’s well know and the EWG (Environment Working Group) has highlighted those issues in their annual Dirty Dozen report.

Many of you know that I am coming from a background in High Risk Labor & Delivery. From working in the newborn intensive care units, to working with high risk moms (heart problems, diabetics, premature labor, mutilples…twins, triplets, etc), working in family centered units with midwives; in the home, in the clinic, and in the hospital. A fairly broad exposure to the field of Maternal-Child nursing.

Systemically Contaminated Foods

Pieces of the Puzzle - Autism

After 30 years in high risk obstetrical nursing… I have some big concerns about the accumulations of “small” amounts of toxins (pesticides, herbicides, neurotoxins) in our bodies, and in the growing fetus.

I’m concerned about the sky-rocketing rates of autism; from 1/10,000 to 1/100! Yes, one out every 100 babies is diagnosed with autism. And guess what, it’s the middle class and affluent who are experiencing the highest increases.

Do I know that contaminants are directly related? NO, but I worry that it does.

It’s been demonstrated that the “placenta” is NOT a barrier, and what mom takes in, the developing fetus is exposed to, during very critical stages of development.

Toxic effects, know only over time

Most medicine/research advances are made when data is collected RETRO-ACTIVELY, meaning… we look back over time to see what happens. We look at that data, and alter our views.  Short term studies are only good for acute issues (drink a poison, you get an immediate response).

Long-term studies are needed to parse out the real effects.

And I have no desire for my children/grandchildren to be the “test subjects”. “Whoops, we thought it was safe… I think we might have made a slight error”…. Right!

OF course we need to eat fruits and vegetables. It’s the “additives” that I want to stay away from. We do have a choice about the “additives” that find their way into our foods… we can talk with our dollars because that’s the only thing Industrial Ag listens to.

Repeatedly, in medicine and in the industrial corporate world, we are told something is OK, only to find over time, that it was absolutely Incorrect. Because it takes time to get to the real answers… and it’s not the sellers who pay the price, it’s the consumer. You pay both short-term and long-term.

Research & Documenting

We need information, without a vested money interest in the results

I would encourage you to look at the Environmental Working Group website.  I find it balanced, thoughtful, and educational.  Look at how their studies are done.  It is in a very friendly format that is easy to understand (not like those usual dense research reports that I have a hard time wading through).

Look at the FAQ’s: frequently asked questions…. the concerns that other people have had… and the group’s response.  Are their answers dogmatic or rational thinking responses.

I think you can tell pretty quick what a site’s bias is and whether it is based in emotional appeals and/or trying to manipulate you. Or if they are explaining their concerns and giving you the data to make your own decisions.

Good & the Bad Guys

Anything you want, it will get served up… somewhere

I agree… you can find anybody on the web to support any side of any argument, theory, conspiracy, etc. The challenge is to educate ourselves intelligently.

We discuss with our interns, working on the farm, how do you tell when something is true? I mean, you can find info to back up anything you believe… and the tendency is to only look for info that will back up what you WANT to believe.

We’ve gotten some good responses, and two of the best:

  1. when the data is confirmed coming from multiple fields.  From math, from history, from biology…
  2. when you use the information/theory/belief and predict outcomes that are consistently true over time
I would enjoy hearing your opinion on this issue. I’d like to know if others share the same concerns.
  • are you aware of the residual chemicals that can not be removed by washing, on your food?
  • do you ever think it’s important, for safety reasons, to choose american vrs imported?
  • did you know about the dramatic rise in autism rates?
  • have you changed your buying patterns once you  became more aware?
  • does your pediatrician ever say anything about organic foods?
Please use the comment section to respond… it would be great to hear everyone’s experiences or thoughts!

Back to the Basics
Eat Healthy, Eat Local, Eat Quality

Pastures… never enough!

We are on the look-out for pasture…. always. We drive by fields that have lush growth and nothing happening on the land… and salivate.

Pasture for livestock

And I’m a city girl turned “farmer’s wife” in my older years… We’ve just been doing this for about 5 years, but my world view has changed dramatically.

Someone said one time to Jim & I, that once you start working with livestock, you will never look at land / grasses/ weeds the same way again.

By God, they hit the nail on the head with that statement. We don’t see weeds: we see succession growth, nutrients, and value the diversity of plants and what it brings to the soil and animals!

Those black dots you see in the picture, to the right of the brush pile… are our rather short Lowline Angus! They are taking advantage of some really rich diverse pasture. We use simple electric net to fence to manage where they graze.

We’re always looking for land that we can trade for grass/forage management… with the use of our mini Lowline Angus. Our cows add back fertilizer & bacteria that enrich the soil, leaving it healthier.

Sequenced growth

sequenced growth pattern

Did you know that there is a certain sequence to growth on land… if a field is burned there is a whole sequence of plants that grow. From those that can deal with the dead top (burned), and send down deep roots to pull up nutrients hidden in the depths of the soil.

Those plants bring up the “goodies” and then other plants take hold, using those nutrients. The soil is enriched and the new growth will eventually shade/kill out the original plants.  There is a progression of various grasses, shrubs, plants, and then eventually trees.

If you are VERY knowledgeable about the land, you can tell what nutrients are missing by what kind of plants/weeds are growing!

It’s actually all about the soil and its microbial base

An underground world of activity!

It’s the microbes in the soil that do ALL the real work… breaking down, releasing nutrients, and aerating the soil.

Plants can’t get to the nutrients locked up in the SOM (soil organic matter) until the microorganisms break it down into simple compounds so that it can be absorbed by the root hairs.

Turns out that if you transplant certain trees/shrubs, etc., and bring some of the soil where they were grown, you get a higher/quicker success rate.  It’s because the plant has a symbiotic relationship with the microbes in the soil where it has grown.  It decreases the stress on the plant to bring some of it’s “micro-buddies” along to help it reestablish itself in a new area.

Questions for Interns…

We ask our students two questions in particular:

1) WHAT is a weed? and 2) What value do weeds bring to our garden?

The usual response is… ugh, anything that is ugly, doesn’t produce something we can use, etc.

For me, a weed is simply something that is growing where you don’t want it, at that time.  My weed may be your delicacy! Did you know nettles are highly prized for great food value, and cattails have a myriad of food and health properties? Not to mention providing a habitat for beneficial insects that will actually protect your plants.  And sometimes the weeds attract the “pests” to them, taking them away from the plants we want to produce (aphids for example).

2) What value do they bring?

Depending on the timing… they preserve the top soil, they prevent erosion, bring up nutrients into the soil, help dry out the soil after the rains, or conserve moisture by shading the bare soil, when they die, their roots die and aerate the soil as well as release nutrients back.

A garden totally lacking in “extra plants” can be very sterile.  When I go out and pull weeds I remind myself of all the value they have brought.That way I don’t resent the “extra” work I have to do.  Instead of thinking I’m a poor gardener or lacking in focus by keeping my garden pristine… I have come to have a certain appreciation for weeds. It’s just part of the process.

And WHEN is it time for them to go? When they compete too strongly with the plants I’m growing for food.  When they are  shading out others, taking too much moisture, or choking them to death (good ol’ bindweed… wraps around the stem and climbs up reaching for the sun… but can choke the plant to death!!!).

At that point a weed must go; and often replaced with a good mulch which works wonders, and as it degrades, IT returns good stuff to the soil, as well.

Sunny California…

Darn those lovely little yellow blossoms

70-80 degrees F…in Febuary, no less! It’s the end of the month; we’ve had very little of our “winter rains” and lots of sunshine.

My little season extension greenhouse, that was meant to provide us with winter crops and an early start for cool season crops… has been a bit too warm.

Darn it, my cool weather broccoli is flowering instead of producing heads for my dinner table!

tolerant of the warm winter weather!

Lucky for me, the spinach, green onions, and strawberry plants are more forgiving of all this warm weather. They are humming along just fine.

But our simple little greenhouse, we actually have to open the door to cool it down… and block the entrance so my chickens don’t have themselves a feast in my “special greens”!

They just LOVE to sneak into the greenhouse.

Milking Chocolate

Henry, at 2 weeks old, waiting while mom gets milked today.

At two full weeks, Chocolate was still leaking milk from her udder.  Obviously she still had much more milk than the calf could use so we decided to go ahead and start milking her.

The first time she was not too thrilled… until she saw some GRAIN.  Then she willingly went into the milking trailer. She fussed a little bit (we put a hobble on so she could not kick), but after the first milking she got into the rhythm of it… and no longer tried to kick.

I guess we were taking a little toooo long, the first time. When she was DONE, she was DONE. Uh, never mind that WE WERE NOT. She backed herself right out of the stall with the milking equipment still attached. Our poor intern was thunder struck. All I could do was laugh; it had happened to me in the past. Go with the flow. BUT, have to get the head stall bar put back in, so she could not back out of her own free will.

Portable Milker attached

In the picture you can see the silver Inflaters, on the teats, which pulsate with a light rhythmic vacuum, and milks the cow out in about 10 minutes, into the large bucket. It is suspended from a back-strap… and goes with the cow when she moves around in the stall. The time consuming part is the cleaning of the udder and the teats to insure they do not contaminate the milk.  The bucket is taken directly back to the house, filtered, and refrigerated.

COMMERCIAL DAIRIES have it backwards!

I was shocked at another dairy, impressively spic and span (sterile almost), to see them do virtually no cleaning of the udder/teats. What they did do, left drainage on the teat that would be pulled into the milking lines.  Now I KNOW why they MUST pasteurize their milk. I would never drink raw milk from such an operation.

We also pay extraordinary attention to the proper cleaning of the equipment, after use, to prevent any source of contamination building up. Understanding  clean aseptic technique is critical. It reduces the transference of organisms, rather than killing every living thing.

Why don’t I keep a pristine clean milking stall? Because 99.9% of microbes are either beneficial or benign (i.e. don’t cause a problem).  If I kill them off all the time (with chemicals, etc.) I am providing a petri dish to grow bad bugs. Those bugs that can survive my killing chemicals!  In nature, there is NO such thing as an empty niche. Odds are, over time, it will be a bad bug we can’t kill off.

With good “aseptic technique” we prevent contamination in the first place.  Any milk that is questionable goes immediately to the pigs… nothing is wasted and there is no urgency to preserve every drop for our personal use. We err on the side of caution… something the industrial business model does not always follow, sad to say.


Interestingly, during Chocolate’s pregnancy she had NO interest in grain. Now remember, she is an “Old World Jersey”, a heritage breed that has not been quite as domesticated as standard jerseys.  Her body mass is fuller (standard jersey’s can look emaciated as they put all their energy into the udder/milk process). She has more reserves (more meat on her bones).  She does NOT produce as much milk as a standard jersey.  She does well on pasture and has not been bred to need grain.

During her pregnancy she was quite uninterested in any grain, but now that she is producing milk, she has developed a distinct “LIKE” for grain.  She’ll get a small amount, a scoop (couple of cups) each day along with hay, with her milking. I’m guessing that  with the extra milk production she needs more “energy” to provide it. Or, if not needing it precisely, she likes it.

We also add in some kelp meal & D.E. (diatomaceous earth) to her daily ration.  They provide her with micro nutrients that might be missing in the soil the hay was grown in.  The D.E. also functions as a natural dewormer that we use with all our livestock.

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