Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sprouting grains for the hogs

Here is a shot of how we are handling the grain sprouting for the red wattle hogs. We simply fill 5 gallon buckets with grains and load them in the gator. Then drive them out to the hog feeding area. After unloading into pallets we fill each with water. In 3 to 4 days they have sprouted! Then we pour them... Water and all.. Into the feeders. Right now that lasts them about half week.

The recipe being used currently is:

8 buckets organic wheat
4 buckets organic rye
4 buckets organic peas

We are adding organic whole barley to the mix next week and about once a week add a couple bags of organic cracked corn.

Sprouting the grains allows the whole grain to be digestible and adds nutrition over what would be dry grains. We could use cracked or rolled grains but I feel that sprouted is ultimately healthier than dry.

We are still looking at ways to simplify this but for now it works well.

102 turkey eggs

Our new incubator came in today after a little delay with UPS. And it is just in time, the other temporary incubator and the little one from last year were overflowing with eggs! We went right to work setting it up and filling it.

The incubator we chose is the Brinsea OvaEasy 190.  It had all the features we wanted (settable temp, automatic humidity control, clear front door, hatching tray at the bottom)  and is lighter than the wooden models. I also like the ability to control the egg turning frequency.

Unfortunately the auto humidity control can't be connected yet because they apparently neglected to include the connectors for the piping in the shipping box.  It seems to work ok though for now by just filling the water reservoir and controlling the humidity with the vent. Our home stays fairly constant on humidity this time of year.

In the picture you see the old 24 egg incubator sitting on top. Hunter is using this to hatch some of his chicken eggs. The little unit on top right is the auto humidity control and water reservoir.

So far we have 102 Narraganset eggs incubating. The first are due to hatch in 2 weeks. Candling them tonight showed that so far 100% are fertile and growing. There is room for only 6 more eggs and it will be completely full. That will be by end of tomorrow. At that point I will let the hens start sitting and hatch some eggs in the field, while we incubate the first 108 eggs. Once the first set of 24 or so are ready to hatch in 2 weeks they are moved to the bottom and 24 more can be placed in, providing a constant rotation. Our goal is to hatch about 200 turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If we get more than we need, we will offer young birds for sale also. Time will tell!

The battle over extinction of Organic Foods

I ran across this great read about the battle raging behind the scenes over organic vs genetically modified foods. The battle lines are drawn, not specifically around safety, but rather around the future existence of organic crops. As this article explains, the fear is that with continued use and expansion of genetically modified crops, and nature's persistent spread of genetic material across the globe, organic crops (natural genetics) will in fact become extinct. We are seeing evidence of this already in America after only a few short years of genetic engineering. So the question is simple... if you want to be able to buy organic produce, and meats raised on organic feed, you should take a stand against genetic engineering now. Every day that goes by, brings organics a day closer to extinction. One of the Little Sprouts farm rules is this: "NEVER CHANGE what you don't yet fully understand". I think its a perfect fit in this war. HERE IS THE FULL ARTICLE EXPLAINING THE BATTLE IN MORE DETAIL

How to protect against radiation?

With the worldwide spread of radiation in the news daily.... How do we protect ourselves from the effects of exposure? There is one thing we can all do for our families health. Find a local family farm that is organic, and sustainable. Buy your food from them. And end the American standard junk food. Even the experts agree that this approach increases our body's protection against cancer. The radiation levels are so low today that there is no immediate risk.. But many people want to be as safe as possible. Changing our diet and food source today starts the process of rebuilding our bodies and boosting protection... Whether things get worse or not. There was never a better time to make the change to natural healthy food.

On a related note... how to protect your farm or animals from radiation? Actually its the same answer. Going 100% organic in feed and farming practices will lower the risks of any damage from radioactivity. The healthier the plants and animals are when exposed to radiation, the more likely they will not be affected. Any use of herbicides, pesticides, chemical parasite control, conventional fertilizers, hybrid or GMO seeds, or the like will lower the health of the crops and animals and make them more prone to problems.

Today is the day to start down a natural and healthy path for yourself, your family, your plants, and your animals. Every tiny step taken now increases the chance for healthy success tomorrow.

Farmers Sue Monsanto over unfair practices!

Finally people are striking back against the ridiculously unfair practices of Monsanto, condoned by the current government. Only time will tell if this initial effort will have any effect, but its definitely a step in the right direction.

Here is the news release about the lawsuit being filed against Monsanto. I found this through the new movement "Millions against Monsanto" which is a quickly growing grass roots effort to stop the madness in America.

It's so sad that this lawsuit is even necessary. Why do small struggling farms have to go to court to prevent this corporation from attacking them? Why is it possible for a large corporation to attack a small farmer, accusing him of doing something that he is fighting against ?

Let me explain... the basis of the Monsanto lawsuits is patent infringement. Monsanto owns the patent on genetically modified seeds. When these seeds are used in the real world, they spread just like all seeds do, to neighboring fields through wind, birds, etc. The genetic modification spread with them. All Monsanto has to do is to find traces of the genetic modification in the fields of a farmer who didn't buy the seeds and  Monsanto can sue that farmer for patten infringement. Monsanto doesn't have to prove that the farmer stole the seeds, nor that the farmer even wanted the seeds. In fact most farmers sued actually fought hard to keep the seeds OUT of their fields. The problem is , it is inevitable that the seeds will spread despite the best efforts to stop it. Still, the government lets Monsanto have this patent, release these uncontrollable changed to life, and then sue those that fall victim to natures whims.  Madness!

I like the analogy given. This is much like if you neighbor had  a car in their driveway. A tornado came through, picked up the car and dropped in into your yard. The neighbor than accuses you of grand theft auto and wins. You go to jail.  Madness? Many farmers have had this happen to them by Monsanto.  It is all public record, as unbelievable as it is.

Keep in mind here.. bad things often exist and simply because they are so bad that  common good natured people can't believe that something that bad exists. This... seems one of those cases. It is just too crazy for most people to grasp.

There is a facebook page for "Millions against Monsanto" that is quickly filling with story after story of the actions in the world of genetic modifications.  Its a great resource to learn about what is going on behind the scenes that was kept quiet for so long.

Little Sprouts does our best to stay away from GMO in every sense. In fact we don't even support the use of Hybrid seeds. We only use heirloom, traditional, naturally produced seeds for everything, and only buy certified organic nonGMO feed. As long as there is non-GMO available, we will find and use it, that is our promise to you.

Eggs produced in 67 square inches?

Most people have no idea just how sad the life of animals used to produce food in factories instead of farms truly is. How could you know? The doors to food factories are locked, off limits to even the customers that purchase the factory produced foods. That in itself is always a bad sign.

Today I offer another example to demonstrate just how inhumanely sad the life of factory animals is: The egg producing chicken. Do you purchase eggs from a grocery store? If you do, then this very likely applies to you, as virtually all eggs sold in grocery stores today come from factory imprisoned chickens, regardless of what the label says. ( you can search this blog for a previous post on the falsehoods of chicken eggs labels like "free range, organic, etc")

In this news post you find the story of a bill introduced in Oregon, in an attempt to make chicken egg production a little less inhumane.  Lets take a quick look at the details:

Current lay requires that factory egg production give chickens a minimum of 67 square inches of space. Do the math.. that's less room than a piece of notebook paper. The poor chickens spend their entire life in this tiny square of existence barely able to turn around, let alone stretch out and be a chicken. If that is not prison, I don't know what is!

The new bill introduced proposed moving that minimum size up to 116 square inches... so just a tad larger than a sheet of paper. WOO HOO! The chickens can now turn around in place!  No walking, no running, no wings stretched out, but they can turn around! What would we do without government??!  (before we get too excited, keep in mind it doesn't go into effect for 5 more years)

It's appalling to think that these factories are treating chickens this way, and then putting bright happy colorful labels on the egg cartons with pictures showing the equivalent of a family farm. They should be forced to put pictures of the inside of egg factories, showing the overcrowded disease ridden conditions that the eggs come from! Why do factories get to use pictures of OUR farm when they are in no way similar to any real farm. It's a factory, a prison, a sweatshop where the ones doing the work (the chicken) is treated with less respect than a factory robot. (sorry, i get passionately emotional about this).

Even more appalling is the comment from a very popular egg factory that you see on the grocery stores in Oregon daily (read the news article to find the name).  The original bill required free ranging of chickens, but there was so much push back form factories that a compromise was done to only 116 sq inches. The co owner of this local egg factory explained  "He said free-range chickens are more prone to hen-to-hen aggression, pathogen exposure, and movement-related injuries."   that statement is so full of wrongness that I don't know where to begin! Bottom line is that this shows that factory production of food is so far from farm production of food that there is no common ground, no similarities, absolutely none. What he is saying is essentially that you can't free range chickens because they will just hurt each other, caging them is better for their own safety. I can't use the language that properly explains that comment! Farms all across America are filled with happy, healthy, free range chickens who do NOT need their beaks removed to prevent cannibalism, who do NOT suffer from disease, who do NOT attack each other under any reasonable management system. The fact that the co owner of this egg factory either does not know that, or denies that, shows that perhaps he doesn't understand the basics of chickens.


Back to the point, if you are buying eggs in the grocery store, and you see the images of peaceful green acres with chickens running around green grass and sunny skies, close you eyes and see reality: thousands of chickens in disease infested closed houses with limited or no fresh air or sunshine, so overcrowded that the chickens can not turn around in place, beaks removed to prevent cannibalism, dead chickens laying around here and there, and owners that think that is the best thing for the chicken. that is more likely the real scenario behind that label and those eggs.

At little sprouts you can come visit any time and see how our animals, your food, is raised. Our chickens have free range of our entire 10 acres, no limits. The actually live on green grass and sunshine. Yes there is the occasional scuffle between roosters or competitive hens over a scrap of food, but no injuries, no deaths, no battles to speak of. Our chickens live like chickens, as nature intended. The eggs they produce are full of nutrition and love.

I strongly encourage you to stop buying factory produced food. Make the  switch to real farms producing real food. Even if you don't choose Little Sprouts, choose to give your family real food from a local farm. Your children, and your world, will thank you.

Catching up on posting...

The last week has been incredibly busy at Little Sprouts Farm. So busy in fact that I have fallen way behind on posting. Over the next few days I will attempt to catch you up to date on the goings on here.To give you an idea, here's a quick list:

received 2 dozen chicks of a new breed
continue collecting turkey eggs at about 5 to 7 per day
ordered a new larger incubator to hatch turkey / chicken eggs
ordered and received poultry processing equipment
built a portable turkey transportation pen on the gator
processed 5 heritage turkeys on new equipment for our own use
lost power for several hours, threatening baby chicks being housed outside
settled in to daily milking routines on our new milking goats
picked up our new "farm sign" to be mounted at the end of the driveway
disconnected the lights on the turkey coop, since they are not necessary
more planting of heirloom seeds in the greenhouse
reinforced the fencing around the pig shelters
lost 2 heritage turkey toms to strange conditions, still researching
separated Hunter's chickens, so that he can collect and sell his eggs separately
contemplating a new and unique business / population model for the farm
watching closely the new nationwide group "millions against Monsanto"
settled into a new routine and process for sprouting grains for the hogs
following Oregon's laws proposing 1000 bird exemption for on farm poultry processing

whew.. makes me tired just listing it out! Things have been very very busy as you can see. 2011 is the year that Little Sprouts becomes a "real farm" and it is both exciting and tiring. Just like any business there is more to do than the day allows. I have been directly involved in starting several businesses throughout my career, and farming is no different in this respect. While it is a lifestyle, it is also a business that must show a profit to continue.

Hopefully I'll be able to catch you up to speed soon. We do have a collection of pictures stored up on the camera to post also.

Busy , fun, exciting days!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Portable turkey holding pen

We needed an easy way to transport  and hold the turkeys from pasture to processing area on processing day. Not wanting to spend any money on the task to buy real poultry cages, I  chose to just build one. The back of the gator made a nice size to hold a few turkeys, so I boxed it in with 2 pallets and a few boards across the top, then a pallet and string for a door. Wolla.. a nice portable turkey pen!

It worked great on the last processing day, except for when Hunter tried to put a rooster in. As soon as Hunter turned his back the rooster slipped through the pallet boards and ran away! For turkeys it worked really well though. For the next day I might replace the pallet in the back with a piece of plywood. That would be lighter and easier to handle. 

A few toms waiting in the portable pen

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Narangansett Turkeys processed today

We processed our extra Narragansett toms today. With too many toms it leads to frequent fights over the hens, and can lead to injured toms. We chose to process all but 3 of the toms today for our own family.  That left 5 to do.

Using our new processing equipment (more on that in another blog post) we quickly did  the job and ended up with 5 in the fridge weighing in at about 14 to 16 pounds each.  About right for their age. The amount of fat in them was a a bit light, but I suspect that is due to the time of year and lean diet they have. During spring / summer they put on a lot more of the healthy fat that makes them taste GREAT!

This will be a nice preview of  whats to come, plus take our population down to healthy ratios.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Heritage Turkeys for Thanksgiving! Egg update

It appears that our breeder turkeys are really getting with the program! Right now we have a total of 55 eggs incubating. The hens are laying 5 to 7 eggs a day, every day! And the best news is... so far.. we have 100% fertilization!

The first set of 17 eggs has been in the little incubator for 1 week now, so we candled them tonight. All 17 eggs were fertilized, and only 2 were bad. Those two had succumbed to bacterial death, most likely due to the length of time they spent outside before we discovered them. Those first few days can be crucial for a developing embryo, especially in the rainy season. Water on the eggs will usually mean low hatch rates.

We also have been collecting the rest of the eggs and placing them in an old styrofoam incubator just to get them going. I considered storing them, but to store a turkey eggs for hatching is tricky. Even if you store them properly, the hatch rate declines slightly every day. So we decided to put them in the incubator while waiting for our new tray type incubator to arrive. It is due next Tuesday.

So we had 40 eggs in the styrofoam incubator getting started, 15 in the computerized incubator, and 5 to 7 due each day. Turkey eggs take 28 days to hatch, and the turkeys need to grow at least 6 months to be market ready. So at this rate we will have plenty of turkeys for thanksgiving and especially Christmas!

It will be tricky to keep all the eggs rotating through the incubator and hatching, but I think we can manage. If all goes well we should end up with perhaps 100 to 200 turkeys for sale for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Better than a Webkinz!

What's even better than a webkinz for a child? (for those that haven't heard.. a webkinz is a stuffed animal line that has an online presence and kids love them). The pictured below show clearly whats better than a webkinz, or any stuffed animal for that matter... a real one! Here's pics of Hunter and Kaelyn enjoying some time with a little lamb.

What a blessing it is to see our children embracing nature like this!

Hunter and Kaelyn save a lamb!

In the midst of the confusion with the eagles soaring overhead, one of the lambs somehow got on the wrong side of the fence and ended up inside the orchard. The mom was frantically calling to it through the fence but helpless to get the lamb back to safety.  Hunter sprang to the rescue! He caught the lamb, carried it around... took a minute to enjoy petting and holding it, sharing the excitment with his sister and little brother, then Kaelyn walked it back to the mom to return it to safety.

It's so great to see the kids excited about hte animals and connecting with them like this. Hopefully we are raising another generation with a drive to be farmers, raising healthy food and preserving nature and our world.

Eagle Flock Descends on Little Sprouts Farm

NOTE: When this post was written, I mistakenly thought the birds were eagles. It turns out (thanks to a helpful reader) that these are in fact turkey vultures!

Today was an exciting day indeed!  Another day that demonstrates the awesomeness of nature.

We were visited by a fairly large flock of young eagles right in our pasture. At one time there were about 40 birds either soaring or sitting around the back of the pasture.

Some of the birds were circling overhead while quite a few had landed on an old tree stump in the back of the pasture and were pleasantly sunning their wins.  The wingspan of these guys is AWESOME to say the least. The animals (turkeys, sheep, and even the llama) were watching nervously, all huddled up and hiding near or in the sheep shelter. They knew these birds were nothing to mess with! I have to admit I was a bit afraid for the baby lambs myself. At less than a week old those little lambs would have been quite a treat for a hungry eagle.  The llama, Rainey, was doing his job, standing between the eagles and the flock with his ever watchful eyes trained on the bird's every movement. I am sure that had a bird come over to attack a lamb, he would have been right there to contend with it.

I attempted to get some pictures but the birds spooked as soon as I got close enough. What you see below is a few of  the shots I did get. I really wish we had a longer lens to get better closeups! As they majestically soared away towards the hills...

View walking up. Rainey watching carefully in the foreground. You can see the eagles sunning on the fallen tree stump.

As close as I could get before they took flight.

Spooked, the eagles take flight

Gaining some ground now, and soaring more than anything.

A few birds flew quite close to me.

finally taking to the clouds

Here you can see about 20, maybe half of the total birds, soaring above the neighbor's pasture.

Watching the birds soar, sit, sun, etc from the distance we were at, my best guess is that these are either young bald eagles or older brown eagles. I am by far no expert so if anyone can make a better identification from the pics please do so!

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Heritage Turkey Eggs

Today while putting the sheep back in the pasture, I made a discovery. I noticed a chicken racing across the pasture with what looked like a broken egg in its beak. Curious, I followed it and sure enough.. the hen was carrying a broken turkey egg! Tracing the path back reveled a whole nest of eggs in the corner of the sheep shelter! The eggs were mostly buried in the deep straw, but a little digging reveled quite a few eggs resting.  A little further inspection revealed yet another next in the other corner of the shelter.

So far there are 4 locations where the turkey hens are laying. One likes the alfalfa bails in the barn, two others like the corner of the shed where the mower is kept, apparently a bunch prefer the sheep shelter, and a couple actually use the turkey shelter. Unfortunately none are choosing to lay in the nesting box of the turkey shelter.  My theory at the moment is that the turkeys instinctively prefer a corner, a sheltered corner, to lay in. that makes sense from their point of view. Since the turkey shelter has no sides, they really don't like it, even with thick bedding. All I need to do is attach some sides about 2 feet tall and they will be happy to deposit their eggs there.

So for now we have about 24 eggs waiting for an incubator, and 15 already incubating. We are ordering a new incubator (watch for a post on the one we chose this time) and by the time it arrives we will have more eggs than will fit. maybe its time to order 2 ?

Lamb count up to 8!

I had let the sheep stay in the yard for a couple days to mow some grass. When it was time to herd them back into the pasture... I discovered 8 lambs! One more had just been born. In fact... It was so freshly born that when I realized it... I felt guilty for herding the mom so soon after childbirth :(

Nevertheless all are safe and sound in the pasture again.

Only 3 more moms to give birth this year...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The lamb count is up to 7 now! Jacob sheep flock increasing

While we were off busy at the Cheese and Wine Festival, the Jacob sheep were busy taking care of business at home. Last night we counted 7 lambs born! I had to grab the flashlight and count twice to make sure!

We are very impressed with the ability of the Jacob sheep to breed and birth naturally with NO intervention. So far we have not assisted in anything, allowing nature to follow its course. Even the timing of the lamb births has been right on -- not too early, not too late.

Here are some pics of the happy and expanding flock

This is one of the new ones, a day old here

Here's another newbie, also a day old

This little guy is about a week old here

Hanging out by the barn

Another new lamb!

Even at a few days old the little ones stay close to mom for safety. Here are the triplets running alongside mom.

Everyone heading back to the sheep pasture, kids in tow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

And the winner is....

At the wine and cheese festival we decided to do a giveaway. We announced giving away 1/4 of one of our pastured heritage hogs. After collecting names all day, the time came to pick one!

All the names go into a big box... shale shake shake...

Kaelyn dives in to choose the lucky winner...

And the winner is....
And the winner of the 1/4 share of pastured heritage pork is...

(drum roll please...)

Hannah Hall of Central Point, Oregon

It was our pleasure to speak with you tonight to inform you of the winning pick. Congratulations!

We would like to thank everyone that signed up today, it was great to meet you today!

Southern Oregon Cheese festival is a success!

What a day! The responses we received at the wine and cheese festival today were amazing! For quite a few hours the floor was packed and our booth was hopping! Many people asking questions, signing up for the giveaway of 1/4 of a hog, and browsing the photo album for the farm.  Its very encouraging to see and hear so many people in the area that are looking for a small local organic caring farm to buy food from.

We want to thank each and every person that stopped by the booth today. It was a pleasure speaking with each of you.

A special thanks goes to my 8 yr old son Hunter, who proved himself to be a tremendously motivated salesman! With very little coaching he did an awesome job pulling people in and filling our giveaway jar with names. By the end of the long day Hunter had passed out close to 400 brochures and flyer's! Hunter definitely outshined us all as the superstar of the day!

Hunter, our expert farm salesman, hard at work readying the booth!

Here's the whole crew, all in "Little Sprouts Shirts" and working hard to promote our farm.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oregon Cheese Guild Day!

The Rogue Creamery Cheese Festival is finally here! Little Sprouts has a table in the small tent (called the annex) right across from the Rogue Creamery tables.

If you are out and about, be sure to stop by and say hi, and check out all the goings on at the festival. More details can be found at

We are also pleased to announce that there will be show specials at our booth, and a drawing for giving away a quarter hog! Don't miss this chance to try the famous Red Wattle pork for free!

When you drop by, be sure to mention that your a blog reader :)

First Set of Turkey Eggs are Incubating!

Yesterday we placed our first set of heritage turkey eggs into the incubator! Hopefully most will be fertilized and hatch successfully. Only time will tell. Some of these eggs were laid up to a week ago and were left outside until we found them. They might be ok, depending partly on how wet they got outside.

We have 15 eggs incubating now. That's all our little Suro 20 incubator will take of the big eggs. This year we are upgrading to the Suro 50 incubator to more than double the amount we can hatch at once. That will also allow us to run two incubators, which is important because we learned that putting eggs in that hatch at different times is very difficult. When the first ones start hatching they interrupt the development of others and potentially spread germs that prevent hatching. Nature intends all eggs in a nest to hatch pretty much together.

Our process for incubating is simple. For the first 25 days we use 99.7 degrees F and 55% humidity.  At day 25 we turn the temp down to 98.5 and 70% humidity. The higher moisture helps soften the shells to hatch easier and also provides less of a shock for the young birds when they enter the world.

Last year we had really good results with this, at about 90% hatch ratio. That is, as long as we didn't wash the eggs and they didn't get wet through other means. Water and eggs is NOT a good thing! Water can dissolve nature's protective coating on the eggshell, and carry bacteria inside to attack the developing bird. Much better to just rub them clean with a dry sponge and let nature take it's course.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Three more lambs born today!

We have three more lambs! All three belong to one Mama sheep, making it triplets! When I found them there were two mostly black lambs with Mom in the back of the pasture. The third was mostly white and was in the shelter with Dad. The mom was frantically calling to the lost one but he didn't respond to her. Instead the little lamb walked right up to me and sniffed. I picked him up and arrived him to within 10 feet of mom and she headed over. Finally the little lamb realized it was mom and followed her a few feet away to nurse.

These lambs are so cute... I'll post some pics as soon as possible!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We have a Winner in the Bacon Taste Test!

We did our first informal taste test of the "heritage cured" bacon today! You may remember a blog post about 2 weeks ago about producing some old fashioned "heritage" brine's without nitrates, and running them through the smoker at the local butcher shop.  Well we can proclaim that the experiment was a grand success!

We taste tested three flavors today with our immediate family. I was the only one that knew which flavor was which so its a "blind taste test", thought informal. The flavors tested were:

1. Molasses and Pepper brine (no nitrates at all)
2. Celery and Honey cure (natural nitrates)
3. Standard bacon nitrate cure

I am glad to announce that our family unanimously chose the no nitrates cure for flavor and aroma. This is very good news because one of our goals was to find a true no nitrate cure for bacon and ham that is as good or better in flavor than even the celery cure with natural nitrates.  For us, we have found it!

Next we have 3 flavors of ham to test and choose.  Yum!

Our plan is to offer our own recipes for our customers that order ham, bacon, and hocks cured. We will of course offer the standard nitrate cure, but now we can also offer the extra health benefits and outstanding flavor of "heritage cures" that are completely nitrate free.

Dad and lambs

One of the great benefits of our 'full community approach' to raising farm animals is the interaction between males and offspring. Here's a pic of our ram watching carefully over his little ones while mom is off feeding somewhere. Given the chance.. Animal fathers can be very paternal!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Red Wattle Pork is now available Soy Free!

Good news for the health conscience! Little Sprouts has added one more item to the long list of "what is done right" about our pork.  Let's review:

Humanely raised
Heritage breed
Antibiotic Free
Organically fed and raised
Naturally Bred
Open community living

and now.. drum roll please..... Little Sprouts Red Wattle pork is SOY FREE!

That's right, after a couple of months of searching and investigating, we came up with an acceptable formula for feeding that meets the hog's nutritional requirements while eliminating soy in their feed completely! They are now fed a combination of organic soaked and sprouted grains, organic peas, and an occasional organic corn treat.

Yes, you read that right, we are now not only soy free, but also minimal non-gmo only organic corn!

All of the hogs have lived on this feed for about a month with some interesting results. The hogs have not only done well, but are bigger than expected. We butchered one of the nine in this set and were pleasantly surprised to find a hanging weight of almost 200 pounds! They actually gained more weight than without the soy and corn in the commercial feed! This is really good news for us as the producer because the feed is also cheaper! We are putting on more weight with less feed when we go no soy and little corn.

The other fascinating find is that the hogs no longer want to eat the commercial feed! As a test we kept them on only sprouted grains and peas for a week or two, then offered some of the same commercial pig feed that they were originally raised on. They nibbled at it, but refused to eat it. Instead they finished off all of the sprouted grains offered and then left for the pasture to graze! I'm sure they would eat the commercial feed if hungry enough, but there is an obvious preference for the fresh organic sprouted grains.

We are currently taking orders on this batch of hogs that have been soy free for about 30 days. These 30 days are some of the most important, where they put on the final weight before butchering. If you want to have the absolute healthiest pork  you can buy, call or email to buy yours today!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finally! Freedom for Local Farmers?!?

News that can be described as ASTOUNDING! This is "stop the presses" serious!

A very small part of America has finally done a bold and proper thing, and lifted that heavy restrictions on small farms that were intended to protect people from factory farming practices. 

This is truly amazing and welcome news. Let's hope and pray that it starts a trend to return freedom, competition, and diversity to America's food system! I do know that, Oregon, is proposing similar legal changes, but with caps on total production quantities.

This is definitely a historic day!

Antibiotics and the Meat Industry

I ran across an interesting blog posting that contains a very interesting and revealing quote from "the meat industry". Who is the meat industry? In this sense I am referring to the collective group that uses industrial factory methods to produce the vast majority of meat in America today and distribute it through your local grocery store.  In this case, the spokesman is Dave Warner of the National Pork Council.

Here's the link to the blog post.

The quote of interest is this:

“Show us the science that use of antibiotics in animal production is causing this antibiotic resistance,” Dave Warner of the National Pork Council told the Washington Post back in June 2010, responding to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance document advising against the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock.

Assuming that this is a true quote (I have no way to verify fully), this is a sad state of affairs for our nation and our children. Let's look behind the words and translate. What Dave is actually saying is:  "We are going to continue the practice of routine feeding of antibiotics to animals in spite of the overwhelming evidence that this causes problems and suffering which science has no answer for, because no one can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is a true problem."

But wait.. When is it moral to say you will continue practices that there is a good chance is causing society physical harm, until it is proven definitely bad? There was another industry that took this approach which you may remember.. the tobacco industry. How many years did it take until they gave in to government pressure and admitted that their product harmed people. Is there a parallel here? In both cases, the motivation is  the same.. greed, money, profits.

Morally it is only right to stop a practice that has a decent chance of causing harm. The practice should stop until it can be proven safe. Ironically, this is even true for medicines. Antibiotics themselves can not be administered to people until they are proven to have a low chance of serious side effects, and if side effects do arise, the medicine is quickly pulled form the market. However, with our food supply, it is reversed... antibiotics (the exact same ones used sparingly on humans) are administered on a daily basis to animals we consume.  How does that make sense?

If science knows that antibiotic use creates resistant bacteria, and therefore use of antibiotics is reserved for truly needy cases in humans, why are the same bacteria exposed to the same antibiotics daily for no reason except increased profits for the corporation? This isn't even about farmers... it is about large corporate entities.

Personally I think the constant use of antibiotics is simple immoral, inhumane, and inexcusable in light of the evidence for permanent harm to our children's generation. At Little Sprouts Farm we will never administer routine antibiotics, in fact we do not have or use antibiotics on any animal for any reason.

I urge you to take a stand, for the sake of our next generation, and refuse to buy any meat that you do not know for sure is free of antibiotics. Find a local organic responsible farm and spend your food dollars there, support them, work with them, and be part of the solution. It is really that easy, and it is effective!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How to judge hay or alfalfa quality

Ever wonder how to gauge the quality of hay or alfalfa? Here is one quick easy way- a shovel. While the ground is wet but not waterlogged simply pull up a shovel full of topsoil where the hay grew. Now count earthworms. The more there is... The more valuable the hay grown is.

This works because the ultimate test of grass quality is nutritional content. The higher the nutrition per blade and the more balanced... The better feed it is. Nutritional content is built primarily by soil microbes. Applied fertilizers have little to do with it. The soil microbes are responsible for making nutrients available to the plant. Things like bacteria and fungi create the elements that plants can use.

One way to judge how healthy the microbes are is by the quantity of earthworms living with them. More earthworms mean more microbes. So ultimately how many dozen earthworms are in a shovel full of dirt tells you how healthy will be the animals living off plants grown in that dirt.

As a side note... Ever wonder why it is necessary today to feed animals direct minerals? How did the animals survive without that? The answer is... We must supplement today because so few hay and alfalfa growers understand that the minerals present in their hay is not from fertilizer... But microbes. The hay and alfalfa commonly available today is so low in nutritional content that the animals fall to malnutrition without supplemental minerals. How much better to give them natural grass grown in ground teaming with tiny unseen life that feeds us all!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Turkey antenna!

This little hen found a new place to roost for the night.I'm sure glad her friends didn't join her.... The old TV antenna would never have held that weight!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

GAPS, GFCF, SCD - Diets of healing need best foods

A growing and large segment of our developed world has discovered the health benefits of special healing diets such as GAPS (Gut and Physiology Syndrome),  SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet), and GFCF (Gluten Free Casein Free). There are other variations of these, all of these diets have a few things in common:

1. They all promote healing of a wide variety of conditions within the body, from  autism, behavior problems, tooth problems, dry skin, etc.

2. They are all based on a return to animals products, specifically animal fats to varying degrees

3. They all rely on unprocessed, natural wholesome foods.

We are not promoting nor even discussing the merits of any one diet over another, but what I would like to point out is that whatever diet you are using for your family's health, you require a steady supply of top quality animal products in your food. In fact, the quality of animal products is even more important because the quantities of animal products consumed increases.  How animals are raised, fed, cared for, and treated will directly affect your family's success with any of these diets.

Consider this example. An increase in animal fats consumed is a core component of most of these special healing diets. The reality is that the fat of an animal is where much of absorbed toxins resides, just as in humans. That means that animals raised in factory heavily medicated conditions can be loaded with toxic chemicals  By increasing your family's intake of these fats, you actually can increase the amount of toxins you are exposed to. It is an unfortunate truth that factory production of animal products is impossible with a wide array of chemicals and antibiotics.

I urge you to consider the source of your food, especially when using a diet to heal. Only small farm naturally raised meats and fats are the healthiest. The larger the operation is, the more risky the product becomes because practices on the farm start to resemble factories as size increases. Ultimately what you want to ensure the best foods available are these considerations:

1. Small size - allowing more natural methods without chemical intervention

2. Variety - multiple species should be living in a natural balance, one relying on the other, eliminating the need for chemicals and raising overall health

3. Openness - be wary of any situation that has closed doors. Healthy animals are not endangered by human visitors.

4. Organic practices - regardless of certification or not, are organic practices followed completely?

5. Feed  types - is all animal feed appropriate for the species (herbivores eating only grass, omnivores eating everything healthy

6. Available unprocessed - does the producer do any processing that alters the quality of health benefit of the food (pasteurizing, nitrates, etc)

7. Personal relationship - are you able to form a personal relationship with the person that is growing your food? Is there trust, openness, care between the producer and your family?

Too often we see food on a grocery shelf and just assume that all of the above is applied. But is it? Are you sure that the unknown corporations behind the labels care about your particular health problem? Are you certain that they will always choose nutritional value over profit when faced with tough decisions? I would propose that if your family has an identified health problem, and you are treating it with high nutrient foods, then the source of that food is one of the most critical elements to success.

I strongly encourage you to give some thought to this, and find a small local trustworthy farmer that understands your situation and will work with you to heal your family. Little Sprouts is one example of a farm that is committed to providing the best nutrition possible at reasonable prices. Our focus is not on corporate profits... we only want to make a decent living while helping people and families to achieve the best health possible.

We have our own personal experience with healing diets and completely understand the challenges, triumphs, and failures you go through with this approach. In future blog posts I'll discuss a bit more about our own family's experience and outcome. I can assure you that for us this  is a life mission, a ministry, as much as a business. You, and your family's health, as well as our own, is our top priority.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lambs are born!

This morning brought a very exciting surprise! My lovely wife ventured out in the rain to collect the morning chicken eggs and noticed Rainey (our llama) sitting in the pasture in his "guard position". Curious what he was guarding, she walked over to peer in the shelter. There in the straw was not one, but TWO freshly born lambs. So new, they were not even completely dry! One was resting in the straw and the other was up wondering around his new world. Mom and both twins seem to be doing well.

We got a few pics of the happy threesome (mom and the twins) out for a bit of hay. The pictures speak for themselves! These little guys are only hours old in these pictures.

What is that hiding behind Rainey and the mom?

There is one!

And there is the other.. glued to mom.