Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tough Week

Wow, sometimes life is challenging.  I could use this blog to only share the "good stuff" of happy memories, dreams and successes. But, as you know, that is not real life. Real life is made of challenges, failures, heartache, all the stuff that makes the good times even better.

This last week has been such a week of disappointments and challenges.

In the background of severe supplier issues on some items, the hectic fall "harvest" as the weather changes, the usual "dad, this isn't working", the lack of cash flow when you need it,  behind all of that is the closing windows of opportunity. In farming, the weather is king. Farmers can not change weather, much as we want. It is what it is. We cant control it, we can only accommodate it. And sometimes, like this week, that doesn't work out.

I am referring to the windows here in Oregon of September planting for a fall/winter garden. Basically, if we do not have seed in the ground, sprouted by the first cold rain, it is pointless. There will not be enough heat left to grow anything before winter. So mid-September is the crunch time.  And this year, we missed it.

First there was just so much going on, that could not be put off. That pushed us into the very last minute for planting.  But then, when we were racing to get the ground prepared and seeds in... problems arose. I did manage to get the old goat pen tilled, but on the last pass of that area, the tiller "hung". The tines literally stopped and the tiller jumped behind the tractor. Not a good sign. After that, it would work, but only so long as the tines were no more than half an inch deep into the soil.

Racing the sundown of the last day, I thought, "ok, I an use the hand tiller to finish the rest of the areas".  More work... but doable!

Well... so I thought.  It refused to run. Apparently the gas gummed the carb as it sat and it would start up, but then die from lack of gas flow. I began working on it... to see it it would easily fix. But as you may know.. a carb cleaning job without dismantling can require lots of starting, and starting requires lots of pulling on the rope. Pulling on the rope... works well until the rope BREAKS!

Ok, so plan B (with a very tired arm)

Back to the big tiller. I assumed there was a problem in the gear box, so I removed the gearbox cover and drained all the oil. Peeking around, couldn't find anything wrong! Everything seemed perfect! So.. ok.. put that all together and refill with fresh oil. Head out to the garden again.

Same problem, put the tines in the soil and they just stop.

Closer inspection from underneath found something interesting! a half inch pip had somehow become wrapped around the tiller tine shaft. Ok, conceivable that could stop the tines under certain conditions and make the clutch slip. SO half an hour later it was removed.

Head back to the garden....  no difference.

Frustrated, I pulled up the parts diagram for this particular tiller model and found that the gear drive has a key between the gear and the shaft. That key being bad would be the explanation for the failure. The pipe must have taken out the key.

So  no tiller, no garden, no winter feed.

Frustrating week.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Lamb is Back In Stock! --- Order now for immediate delivery!

Yes! After a long wait... we finally have lamb products back in stock! And some exciting ones at that!

This year we have:

Ground lamb in 1 lb packages
Mildly spicy breakfast links
Mint Cranberry Dinner Links! WOOHOO!

The mint cranberry is our favorite! After much testing and adjusting, we developed this recipe our-self, in our kitchen. It is quite honestly an exquisite blend of tart, sweet, and minty.  You have GOT to try this one!

And the best news?  All of this lamb is, as always, super nutritious.

Pasture Raised year round on organically grown grass
Heritage Breed
Free of antibiotics, hormones, chemical parasite control, and vaccinations
Humanely treated with love
Naturally bred in communities as in nature

The jacob sheep that we raise is (in our humble yet passionate opinion) the best lamb anywhere. It is milder, yet more flavorful than any other breed we have tried. Often people do not even know that this is lamb! It taste quite similar to grass fed beef.

If you are looking for an alternative to beef that is just as tasty, yet perhaps more nutrient dense, this is it! But hurry, we often sell out quickly and it only becomes available once a year!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Absolute Worst Bug in the Garden

This year was almost met with catastrophe!

As you probably know by now, we raise our animals on primarily produce grown in our own gardens (instead of buying commercial feeds). It's a lot of work, but the cost / benefit factor is amazing. This concept is the basis of how to make small farms profitable!

But, this year, 2017, we almost lost half the garden, the ever important zucchini and pumpkin, to a bug.

Gardens are full of insects, some good and some bad. Bugs  are constant battle gardeners of all sizes fight. But this bug was unlike any other! This bug, one single bug, had the potential of wiping out half our plants in a slow steady death. To make matters worse, this bug is invisible and elusive! Once it rears its head up, it is difficult to track down without very specialized tools.

Not the typical cucumber beetle, not squash bugs, those are mostly controllable with Guinea Fowl and simple soap.  No.. this bug is very very different. Immune to all normal methods of containment and riddance. This bug, is a real challenge!

Over the last 2 months we have been fighting this bug on an almost daily basis. The plants were suffering, and stunted from it's effects. The harvest was dramatically less than expected, and some plants even just died. We feared that unless we can get a handle on this, we would loose the remainder of the harvest and end up having to purchase animal feed from off farm! That would be devastating in our present financial position.  So last week, I decided it was time to get to the bottom of this situation once and for all.

You see, this bug is not the typical insect, not even an insect at all! This... is a computer bug. Those elusive defects built into anything computerized by a programmer's oversight or failing, that allows things to go astray in some way. What does this have to do with a garden? Water... the blood of the earth. without water in the proper amounts, nothing lives. Our entire watering system is "computerized" meaning, run by a digital timer. Most things digital have inside a computer running a program, and therefore, can have bugs. The difference here is that in a device such as a timer, you cant "debug" the program using normal means. It is hard coded into hardware and is what it is, unchangeable, untraceable.

The timer we prefer is made by Galcon:
This timer is battery driven, 6 zone, easily programmable, calendar or cyclic, water windows, overload protection, weatherproof, reliable, and has 2 severe bugs in it's programming! 

Such was this bug.  Until.. I found it!

Here's what happened. The timer we use (LOVE this timer! best ever, aside from it's now 2 bugs) has two separate modes it can operate in... calendar and cyclic. A  calendar mode say "turn on water at 9am on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for 3 hours".  A cyclic mode says "turn on water for 3 hours every 2 days".  Very different, with pros and cons to each. We tend to use cyclic for sprouting and growing to ensure frequent short but consistent watering, and switch to calendar for maintenance and harvest.  And therein, the switch between the two, is where the bugs is born!

This bug is related to yet another really cool feature of this timer. Water windows! I love water windows! The challenge with sprouting through drip tape on a water timer is the hot southern Oregon summer days. In order to keep the surface soil "moist" to germinate seeds it is necessary to water frequently throughout the sun filled days. But if the water kept going all night, it would flood! So to prevent this, we use cyclic timing with water windows. A water window is quite literally a window of time when and only when the water can turn on. outside the window, watering is restricted. Its a perfect answer!

Well, except for this bug.  What happens is... I set the cyclic timing for frequent short watering during the day, and the water windows to disable water at night. But then as the plants reach maturity, I change the program to calendar. Since calendar is a "deterministic" mode where you say definitively when to turn on and off water, the window is not necessary, and the setting of the window removes itself from the programming screen. That's appropriate, right? you don't need windows so it should not be visible in the programming details.  BUT, the programmer who wrote this, forgot to disable the FUNCTION of the window along with removing it's CONTROL from the screens.  Naturally, we assume if something is not settable, then it is disabled, right? well no, not in this case.

So, when I switched a couple months ago from cyclic to calendar, the water windows dropped off the screen but stayed enforced! any calendar timing I set, would be overridden by the now invisible water window and water would not run! Some zones got full water, some partial, some NONE (or so little it was effectively none). WE tried to manually water, but trying to maintain the right water balance between this unknown semi automatic amount and an added manual amount was impossible, the plants suffered from this "bug".

Once I discovered what was going on (after days of trial and error and deep exploration), the fix was simple. Just switch each zone back to cyclic temporarily, disable the water windows that then showed up on the screen, and switch back to calendar mode.  Easy enough! The bug was eradicated within minutes, once I saw it.  But, damage is done.

fortunately, the garden has sprung back to life within a week of fixing this. The proper water amount has doubled or tripled the plant size in only days. Well, to be honest, we also applied a good amount of good homemade fertilizer (another post) and sea minerals in an emergency treatment. But ultimately, the water is what did the trick.

So, lesson learned, bugs come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. This particular bug, the computer bug, is perhaps the worst of all. But it was conquered and now avoidable!

Monday, August 14, 2017

6 week nutrition course - sprouts presents

We are pleased to announce that Dave Salch of little sprouts farm has been asked by Siskiyou Vital Medicine to present one session during this upcoming course on nutrition. Dave will be presenting the session on "food quality", explaining the differences in food options and how to identify food that damages, sustains, or heals.

The 6 week course by Siskiyou Vital Medicine covers many aspects of nutrition at a deep and personal level, Bringing understanding to your own nutritional needs and your relationship to food itself. Expect to be challenged, motivated and enlightened!

From the Facebook page of the event:


Ron Veitel, BSc and Sonja Halsey, ND of Siskiyou Vital Medicine will be presenting My Nutrition Map, a personal guide to nutrition and wellness. This course is designed to help you transform your nutrition experience, taking you from Ugh to Ahh in six weeks! 

The My Nutrition Map 6-week course is FREE to SVM members and $125 for non-members. Space is limited so call to reserve your now, (541) 210-5687.

We have personally had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Siskiyou Vital Medicine since they moved into our valley a few years ago. SVM has met a need in healthcare for the rogue valley in a unique way through the introduction of direct primary care plus a holistic and personalized approach to healthcare. We highly recommend SVM to anyone seeking to truly solve health issues at the core, not just cover them with pharmeticucals.

Sign up for the course now, space is limited! You can register on the Facebook page at :
posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is it real? How to buy real oils

The bottom line here is... Know your farmer. Know how your food is produced, because it's a dangerous world out there.

We previously talked here about the fake honey, with no pollen and no medicinal value. We covered the fake Olive oils that are invisibly cut with other cheaper oils to increase profits. We even talked about eggs, milk, meats, etc. But never have we seen such a difference in a product as this new one... Pumpkin seed oil.

On the left is a local pumpkin seed oil, it is rich and dark green, almost florescent. It tastes like.. well... Pumpkin.

On the right is a "organic non GMO pumpkin seed oil", grown in China, bought from a local health food store. It tastes like.. sesame oil with a hint of pumpkin. It is mostly clear, with a slight green tinge.

Now... Why does this matter? Because studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil is in fact a very effective treatment for prostate issues. But of course it must be real. Does the oil on the right have the same effect as the oil on the left? How can it?

Another thing to consider is those studies... Which product do they use? From where? Is it real? If the product is not true, how can a study be accurate? If a study says that a natural treatment is not effective, did they choose the oil on the right to test? How do you know?

Know your farmer. It matters. Labels are meaningless, even government certifications are meaningless. Remember the shipment of soy beans that left another country as conventional and arrived with certified organic paperwork on it? That was quite an ocean trip!

Know your farmer!

Our goal is to make sure that we offer to you only the things that we have verified ourself and know that it's real. That's our commitment to you.
posted from Bloggeroid