Monday, August 29, 2011

August Blog Traffic is second highest ever

August was a very popular month for Little sprouts farm blog. The stats show august to be the second highest month since we started.. exceeded only by April when we did quite a bit of advertising on facebook.  here is the chart:

The total will hit right at 3000 hits for August. Pretty amazing to us for or little farm in southern Oregon to be this popular.  This does not include the traffic on our personal facebook page which is linked. WE have not set up an official facebook farm page yet, so our blog posts show up on our personal facebook and get a fair amount of traffic there.

It is also amazing how many people we meet , even our neighbors, that have seen our blog and facebook ads, but never knew we were right here down the street from them. When we finally hung out our farm sign on the driveway they were able to put it together finally.

I remember the day when getting the word out was a totally different process of producing flyer's or mailers, and doing mass mailing through the post office or businesses. It was a LOT of work to spread information just 20 years ago compared to today.  Today it is exceedingly simple and quick. Amazing.

UPDATE: as of the morning of the 30th... the blog hit just over 3000 hits.. sitting at 3006 for august.

Bee hive inspection

I did the first bee hive inspection this morning. What a fun task on the cool of the morning surrounded by happily buzzing bees. It truly is a pleasant sound.
The breakdown is this:
One hive is going like gang busters I've had to open the entire hive to fit them. One was about half open and all but one bar had comb. The comb were so big that most were attached to the front of the box. It was a little messy but I managed to get the hang if the hive tool to scrape the comb loose before moving the bar. I did break three or four in the process. A few were crooked and had a corner attached to the next bar. In the end I damaged maybe 6 combs slightly. Theses I kept in a clean bucket as our first fruits.
Two other hives are expanding but not as fast. In these I opened about half the hive more.
The other two hives are struggling. They don't seem to have grown and one seems to be lightly populated I fear these may not make it through the winter. I didn't add any space to them as the comb is only on about 5 bars and only about half of each bar.
Bees are certainly the most fascinating critters we have on the farm. Sure glad we decided to add them!

I must add.. this honey is Y-U-M-M-Y!!!!! There is nothing like totally unheated fresh from the hive honey. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why is pork dangerous?

Pork is actually a unique meat. While it is commonly available in every meat market across america, some religions and nations do not even consider it a food. It is popular in america in part because hogs gain weight quickly, quickly and efficiently converting feed into meat. So why is pork a controversial food? I had a bit of a revelation this weekend that might explain why pork is so unique. While it is true that the pig is actually quite close to human in a lot of way.. this is not what I'd like to focus on. In fact it is in one significant difference that the fascinating realization lies.

Humans and almost all mammals sweat. Sweating serves at least 2 purposes, the obvious one to keep cool. There is another important benefit to sweating though, one that explains why pork is a unique meat. Sweating is one of the most efficient ways to rid the body of toxins. As we (humans) sweat, the perspiration contains water, salt, and a host of other chemicals. If the body has been exposed to poisons, the perspiration carries it out of the body in a cleansing mechanism. Sweating is good for humans because of this cleansing effect. 

What in the world does this have to do with pigs and pork? well.. quite simply pigs do not sweat. They do not have sweat glands. To keep cool they use cool water or mud to lie in. So, if pigs dont sweat... they also lack the cleansing benefits of sweating. that means that the toxins they are exposed to stay inside the animal. Therefore, any toxins that the animal is exposed to has a high probability of being held inside the meat and fat when butchered. 

This is SIGNIFICANT! The world we live in is full of toxins from all types of sources. Hogs are no exception. If they cant efficiently rid their bodies of these toxins, then it becomes a dangerous food to consume. Perhaps this is one reason for the dietary laws prohibiting pork in many religions and nations.

The bottom line then seems to be this.. pork is dangerous to eat, unless you KNOW how the animal was raised to ensure that it was never exposed to any chemical or food that might be harmful to humans. This would include commonly used parasite medications, and medicated feed. Both of these are routinely used in most pork production facilities. The pork coming from these facilities then has a higher chance of being contaminated with these substances, making consumption of that pork dangerous.

On the other hand, hogs raised on nothing but organic feed, free from all chemical parasites control and medications, raised on organic pastures and natural feeds have very little chance of being exposed to bad chemicals, and therefore are safe to consume in this respect.

So here again it matters greatly where the meat comes from and how it was raised. Questions that can not be answered to satisfaction from supermarkets selling pork raised anywhere around he country. If you want to protect your family from toxins, it seems mandatory to only buy pork form trusted local farmers, who you know have not exposed the hogs to anything harmful.

Pigs dont sweat, so anything they are exposed to while alive has a higher than normal chance of being on your dinner table. Why take chances with your family's health? Know your farmer, ask questions, keep asking until you are satisfied that the pork is completely free from anything harmful. Your family is worth it. 

Oak and Madrone clippings

Today we brought home another full trailer load of tree clippings. This time it was mostly oak with a little madrone mixed in. Today we were able to work in the shade in ashland, so even though it was HOT... working was quite pleasant. Everyone got into the act... hauling clippings and stacking them on the trailer. Hunter, Kaelyn, and Levi all worked really hard and had a fabulous time doing it. They each tried to outdo the other, and were joking and singing along the way.

All the children worked as hard as they ever have, and Kaelyn took the prize by hauling the largest branches in! She was soooo proud of herself. Unfortunately she got bumped in the head with another branch and took some time out when the pictures were being snapped, so she doesnt appear here much. Nevertheless, she truly did work her heart out today!

Here is the story of the event, told in pictures.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Turkeys...what a fun bird to raise

For the last several days we have woken up to the pitter patter of little turkey feet on our roof. Yes..once again these birds have disregarded all attempts to confine them to the pasture.
There is a common belief that turkeys are dumb. Well let me assure you that nothing is further from the truth. These birds are much smarter than chickens...more resourceful, independent, better problem solvers, better able to care for themselves. They are truley amazing birds with some similarity to eagles. After raising them for a few years it is evident why they almost became or national bird.
Keep in mind that I refer to real turkeys...not the commercial things grown in factories that are sold in stores. Those birds are not anything like a real turkey. I have no doubt the belief that turkeys are dumb raises from the commercial birds such as this that are so genetically controlled for single attributes that they are likely brain damaged.
We love our birds. They are challenging and funny. They care for themselves and provide hours of entertainment. In the end they provide the tastiest meat and unbelievable broths and soups.
Every morning hearing them dancing across our roof is a welcome sound.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kefir Grains for sale

We have been making our own Kefir at home for quite a while now from our own organically raised goats milk. Making Kefir is much much easier to make than yogurt, and many people say Kefir is healthier than yogurt. Now our grains are more than we need so we are offering them for sale so you too can make this super healthy probiotic drink at home.

Kefir is an age old drink made from "grains" and milk. The "grains" are actually small colonies of bacteria and yeasts that live in a symbiotic relationship, growing each time used to turn ordinary milk into a super health drink. There are plenty of website listing the history and benefits of Kefir, just google KEFIR and browse the list.

Kefir is much like yogurt except :

It is smoother and more liquid, more like smoothie.
It is made with both bacteria and yeast, so is a more complete probiotic food.
Easier to make - grows at room temperature.
The grains or starter culture last virtually forever.

To make Kefir all you need do is drop the grains into a fresh milk and let it sit on the counter covered with cloth or paper (let air flow in and out). The next morning the milk magically will have turned into Kefir.  It's truly that easy!

If you;d like to get started making this tremendous drink at home, just buy the starter set of Kefir grains from us, and we will walk you through the process. You never have to buy grains again! They are reusable and grow so each ime you have a little more.  Eventually you can share with your family and friends !

Our price for the Kefir grains is $10 per teaspoon.  A teaspoon makes a cup or so of kefir. If you;d like to make more at a time, before the grains grow and expand, just buy more to start. The more you add to milk, the more milk you cna turn into Kefir.

Just call or email to purchase your Kefir grains. .. $10 per teaspoon.  The are fresh, and ready to drop into your own milk and start working for you.

Jaerhon chickens

Here are our norwegian jaerhon chickens. we added this breed to our flock a few months ago. At this point I have to say that these are the first chickens we are not totally happy with.  we started with two dozen of these but only 8 have made out to adulthood. They don't seeme as sturdy as other heritage breeds.another problem is these are the first roosters that have been aggressive. One bit kaelyn on the nose while she was carrying it
We will keep the hens but the rosters will go on the freezer as soon as they grow a bit.

Hunters suxxos chickens

Here is a shot of Hunters chickens of the suxxos breed.
I found these huddled on the barn tonight. They seem an extra ordinaryily sturdy breed...and quite beautiful.

The unequalled life of farming

Why would a successful southern california executive walk away from the high society thrills of fancy served dinners, fancy cars, expensive tastes, etc for dirty jeans, hard physical labour, a tired back, and low income? In a word passion! Farming is not a is a lifestyle full of passion and fulfilment unlike anything I have every experienced.
This article does a great job portraying the lifestyle of farming... Those moments where your soul is touched walking through you land studying the plants and animals...the lives.. Totally dependent on you for survival. Gods creation awaiting your wisdom and itself looking to you for guidance and nurturing.
Sure there is passion around changing the world...saving the environment... Changing families...saving lives all through providing good food and nutrition.that should be enough to drive anyone to this lifestyle, but there is so much more on an intimate personal level.
Every birth here touches our should.every death crushes us.  A simple walk around the farm is as full of new exciting experiences and discoveries as any vacation.watching life emerge from an eggshell our studying trip tiny bugs fighting for survival in their little world are fascinating and mind boggling.the complexity all around us every day is a testament tip natures complex balance we have yet to appreciate fully.
farming is a lifestyle...a fulfilling one marked by hours of back breaking work sorted with moments of intense wonder, fun, fulfilment, appreciation, respect, and deep enjoyment.vacation? Why? Where would we rather be? We spend our days doing what we love in a setting that is as beautiful as any place on earth....inside nature

Farming Makes a Comeback to do more fencing!

More Tree Trimmings -- Milk production increasing

Two very encouraging things are  in front of us. First.. people are calling from all over offering their tree trimmings and brush to Little Sprouts. From the Craigslist ad we are getting 2 or 3 calls per day now. It is so encouraging to meet so many truly caring and generous people in our world. What a great experience for our family to get to know these good people and share a few minutes of chat and labor with them.  It demonstrates to us just how much good is left in this world.

The other encouraging thing is that the goat's milk production appears to be restored, after only 3 days on tree trimmings. That was one of the motivations in this experiment... The goat milk production had decreased as expected when we cut our their daily grains. over a week or so without grain it dropped to about half. All the dairies we have spoken with tell us this is expected, it takes grain to make a decent milk yield. Considering this  we fell back on our Farm Rules. One of them is that we create as natural an environment as possible for each animal. Goats in the wild would not exist on just grains. Studying them, we see that they are drawn to trees.. leaves specifically. Whenever they are loose in our yard they go right to the bushes and trees and strip them clean. Leaves seem to be their food of choice. So we started collecting tree trimmings. After 3 days of as much tree trimmings as they want... plus their grass and alfalfa hay, the milk production is back from half to full. It is a bit too early to tell, but so far this is very promising! If we can sustain a full milk production without feeding grain, by feeding what they are naturally drawn to, I suspect the milk will e of higher nutritional content. This is, after all, the end goal, nutrition - not quantity, BUT if  we can achieve quantity plus nutrition... thats the best possible situation. We will do some more experimenting and have the milk tested as soon as we can to tell for sure. For now.. more tree trimmings!

Today we headed over to ashland to pick up a variety of tree trimmings and leaves. We managed to pretty much fiill the trailer and had a great time doing it. Our many thanks to those who contributed to today;s collection!

Packing dried leaves into bags

More leaves

Kaelyn takes a break for some fresh organic grapes

Working together!

One last bag

Kaelyn helping dad load cut branches. Always by my side. 

Is this too big to life?

Look out DAD!

Hunter loads into the trailer, stacking for best fit.

Wow Dad, look at this one!

What could be better than that smile for a job well done?

Keep em coming!

Whats this little guy have on his mind?

Up on one leg!

YES! Standing!

back down :) maybe try again after a rest

What a team! we loaded the whole trailer togther!

Levi heads back in to check things out

The job quality inspector

What do you think? are we done?

Yep.. looks like time to head home -- he is smiling :)