Friday, September 30, 2011

Turkey picking blackberries

I found this little lady at the top of a blackberry bush looking for breakfast. She is certainly braver than I to sit amongst all those thorns!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sussex chosen as the breed of choice!

We have arrived at a decision on which breed of chicken we prefer for raising at little sprouts.  the winner is... Sussex. It is a heritage breed that works well for both meat and egg.  We ordered 200+ of them today, which amazingly will arrive next week.

Why did we finally choose the Sussex breed? Hunter actually hose them first. He studied all the heritage breed chickens when he wanted to expand his little flock and decided to try these. What we discovered is that we all love them. They are beautiful birds, and they are very sturdy... he didn't loose a single chick through adulthood! They are quite friendly and easy to manage. Their body shape makes them good for meat production as well as good being good layers. On top of that.. they are great foragers!

So we ordered a batch today so that come next spring, Little Sprouts will be in the egg business on a regular basis. We should be able to produce about 15 to 18 dozen eggs daily. We are also getting enough roosters to do our own breeding to keep the flock going indefinitely plus provide pastured chicken for sale. (I am a strong believer in raising all our own animals on farm instead of re-purchasing year to year).

That gives me a week to get some sort of egg-mobile built to house these little chicks in . We much prefer to start them in the pasture so we don't have the problem of them remembering that they used to live in the barn. So.. another project!

Stay tuned to see how the egg-mobile turns out. And next spring.. we will open officially for egg business!

Heres a pic off the internet showing what the birds look like fully grown:

Inexpensive electric milker

Today we graduated from our hand milker (the Henry milker) to an inexpensive electric milker. this home built model cost under $200 total.
The pump was $100 brand new. It is a  vacuum pump used by auto mechanics to purge auto air conditioner lines. I attached a auto fuel pressure/ vacuum gauge for about $10. The only other pieces are misc lines and connectors. The tall black thing is a 3 foot section of 411 inch abs pipe. To control the mac vacuum there is a plastic valve from a fish tank line on the back as an air bleed.
I strapped the black tank to the end on the stand for stability.
We are using the "syringe" style attachment for the goat teats that came with the Henry milker except there are two with a tee  so both can be done at once.
All together it only took 20 or so minutes to milk all 6 goats! And it is a relaxing experience...almost a spectator sport!
We are considering manufacturing these to sell to other small goat is incredibly hard to find an electric milker for under $800 these days.if you are us!

Organic farming wins again

Organic farming again wins the battle against conventional practices in both the businesses model and production abilities. Bottom line if...every study I have seen that properly compares the trip side by side concludes that organic outperforms in every way. Only organic can feed the world.
Study debunks myths on organic farms

Monday, September 26, 2011

What is the white stuff we call milk today?

There are so many reasons to shun the white stuff sold in stores today under the name "milk", that it is literally hard to explain why it is not really "milk".  I ran across this article that does a great job of walking you through the history of how we got to this ultra-processed food that is sold as milk, instead of real natural milk.

the problem, in my humble opinion, is that the situation with our food industry is so bad, the average american can not fathom how bad it truly is. We have a generation or two that has grown up on nothing but artificial food substitutes, and that is considered normal. Unfortunately this is the same generations that require the largest health care spending in the history of the world. Our ability to degenerate with a variety of diseases is still exceeding our ability to repair the damage caused by those diseases.

So I urge you to sit down, take a read through this article, and consider all the similar stories about other foods.. virtually every food available in the market today.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The pitter patter of three little toes

You can always tell when it is September around here...we wake up most mornings to the sound of little feet on our roof. Turkeys! At this age they love to explores..mostly up. They have enough weight to sound like an army of small children running across the roof. We consider this the little spirits alarm clock!
By mid November they tend to stay more on the ground..I assume because their weight makes it more of a challenge to fly up so high.
sometimes we will be watched through the sky lights in the roof. Tiny little faces observing us like we are in the zoo and they are just visiting. They seem fascinated by our home life.
life on a farm with turkeys!
(did you reserve yours for thanksgiving our Christmas dinner yet? Only a few left!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The honeybee, partner or slave?

My recent post here concerning our discovery that some of the "natural" honey we had been buying was in fact not natural (the bees are fed sugar) has generated some interest among readers. I have received email asking more on the topic, enough so that perhaps a followup post is in order.

A common practice among conventional beekeepers (even those selling natural honey) is to harvest all the honey produced by the bees and feed sugar in it's place. The common belief being that sugar and honey are identical and fine for bees to live on.

To help understand the choices being made behind the scenes, here are the three basic scenarios possible in beekeeping:

  1. Harvest 100% of produced honey throughout the year when it is ready
  2. Harvest 100% of produced honey once a year
  3. Harvest honey throughout the year at times when production is high, leaving enough honey or enough time to replace the honey until the next production period. 

options 1 and 2 require feeding of sugar, because there are periods of time when the bees have lost their entire feed store. Remember that bees produce honey not intentionally for other animals or man, but for their own survival. honey is the natural food for bees during non-nectar months. Without honey or a suitable replacement, they die from starvation. 

the difference between 1 and 2 is frequency and affect on the finished product. in #1 honey is harvested whenever it is ready, and it if hat happens to be when there is no nectar flowing the bees are fed sugar water as a replacement until they can find nectar/pollen  to live on. The feeding of sugar allows some straight sugar to get into the honey in much the same way that pollen and nectar do. The finished product during these times is not pure natural honey, it is honey contaminated with sugar. This is unavoidable during these times. The only difference between 1 and 2 is that 2 happens once a year, 1 happens multiple times a year. In wither case the is either periods of time or percentages of honey that contain traces of sugar. 

option 3 is a partnership with the bees. Only the "excess" production is taken so that the bees live year round on the natural food they are intended to eat. When weather is good, plants thrive, nectar flows..honey production goes up and the careful beekeeper takes advantage of these times to properly harvest only the excess. 

Why does this all matter?  well.. there are two aspects to the problem.. the quality of the product and the health of the bees. 

For honey to be labeled "Natural" I believe it should be produced naturally.. from bees that are living in in their natural environment. No bees in nature have access to sugar water. Sugar in itself is a completely unnatural product, since sugar is evaporated cane juice (at best). Where do you see pools of evaporated cane juice in nature? It simply doesn't exist. sugar itself is a man made product produced by separating a natural plant into pieces and discarded the undesirable pieces (fiber). Only those foods occurring in nature can be truly considered natural. sugar simply is not.  Therefore honey produced by bees fed sugar can not be considered natural honey. In farming the feed makes the product, and in this case the feed is nothing but a man mad processed food substitute. 

The other major issue is the health of the bees themselves. Anyone that believes sugar water is equivalent to honey is sadly misinformed. Honey is a fermented product full of beneficial nutrients and substances. sugar water is.. well.. a man made processed food substitute devoid of nutrition. To deny the difference in health for bees between the two foods is just foolish. Perhaps if bees were allowed to live on their natural feed, the colony health problems in bees would be lessor or non-extent. how we can feed processed foods to bees and expect them to maintain health ? 

Perhaps an even bigger issue is respect for God's creation. Farming is not about profit, it is about a harmonious balance between man and animal and God's creation. When man is motivated by profit, the balance is thrown off and something suffers. Think for a minute from the bee;s point of view. the beekeeper that takes only the excess of good times is working in partnership with bees. The bees get protection, place to live, oversight, etc. and the beekeeper gets the excess honey produced.  On the other hand you have the situation where the bees are kept for production only, forced to eat cheap unnatural foods that barely keep them alive.  all of the fruits of their labor are taken by the keepers. This is not a partnership.. this is slavery. Are god's creatures due any less respect than any other creatures? Is slavery warranted on animals that produce food for us as the earth's keepers?  

Perhaps this seems extreme, but it is the basis of why we do what we do here at little sprouts farm.  Respect for God's creatures is important, as is health, and product quality.  Neither of these should be compromised in the search of personal profits. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

First Family Pear Picking

The season finally arrived for pear picking! This year the pears were as good as ever.. so we ended up with perhaps 800 lbs of pears the first day.

We will be feeding these to the hogs, the turkeys, and the goats. They are organic, naturally grown without human intervention.

Here's some pics form our fun day:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mention in the Local Dish

We were recently visited by a representative from "The Local Dish" which is an online magazine and blog dedicated to food in the pacific northwest.  They are running a series of articles on local food production and blessed us with a visit!.

Here is the first article mentioning us, I understand a more in depth video is due to follow soon.

It was a pleasure showing them around our farm and explaining our approach and motivation behind starting Little Sprouts Farm. We thank the magazine for their interest!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Natural Honey? Are you sure?

Today we live on a world where you never seem to know for sure who to believe. Our food is no exception. Labels abound with wording that leads you to believe certain things, but are you being mislead? A recent revelation at our house demonstrates the extent to which this is a problem.

Honey.. one of the simplest foods in the market, right? There are really only two choices.. raw or not.  Simple, direct, believable. Raw honey means it has not been heated enough to alter it or kill the enzymes and nutrition... not raw means it has been heated enough to kill everything and render it a simple sweetener with no other food value.

But wait....

Our family relies a lot on honey. We as a family use no sugar at all, shying away form even foods that have sugar as a content. this is a huge commitment as you can imagine, as sugar exists in virtually every food in the supermarket today. We see huge advantages to this lifestyle and diet choice, but hat is subject of a separate blog post. For now let me simply assure you that being totally sugar free is a huge issue for our family.

What does this have to do with honey? Well, have you ever seen a honey jar list sugar as an ingredient? Probably not. Therefore it is safe to assume that honey is just .. well.. honey.. without sugar? unfortunately .. NOT TRUE.

We recently realized that the "raw natural honey" we have been buying in the store is not natural, nor true 100% honey. Why? Commercial honey producers routinely follow a process whereby they steal all of the honey from a hive, and feed with liquid or powdered sugar to keep the bees alive until they can make more honey. This is done, as most agriculture mistakes, in the seeking of higher profits. Unfortunately is has a severe side effect.... Some of the sugar ends up in the honey. Think about it.. honey is made from nectar and pollen that is collected by the bees, mixed and "fermented" in sealed blocks within the honeycomb. Feeding sugar instead of pollen or nectar means the honey produced is going to contain traces of sugar, which has been verified to be the case.

Another negative aspect is this.. sugar is by no means as complex a food as honey, so when you feed sugar for extended periods to bees you necessarily weaken them through bad nutrition. Imaging a child eating ice cream 3 times a day.. will they be healthy? Since honey is a created food from collected and ingested food sources.. doesn't it make sense that the health of the bees and nutritional value of the honey also depend on the fundamental food source?

Personally I as appalled when we realized that even a local brand, labelled as "raw and natural" honey was nothing of the sort. The beekeeper routinely feeds sugar after stealing all the honey to increase his personal profits. So.. in my own understanding that means that he has chosen to take higher profits at my family's health risk, but practices that he is hiding behind nice words on labels. "natural" obviousness does not mean to him "as in nature" because in nature bees never eat sugar. We personally find this unacceptable, and will no longer buy honey in the store.

It is sad to realize that what we assume to be the case in food is not, once again. This is one of the motivating factors to our operation of little sprouts farm in a completely open environment. we encourage everyone to KNOW OUR FARMER.. your food producer, personally. Dont trust what a marketing person puts on the label.. talk to the guy that produces it. Ask him every question about how it is produces, what justifies his calling a food "natural".   If all consumers would hold the people behind hte labels accountable, labels would have meaning, or at least be unnecessary. . 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New goats arrive!

Today was a pleasant surprise... We brought home two  more goats in milk plus two of the cutest baby goats ever.
Here are the kids bringing the newbies to the barn and milking stand tonight. How refreshing to see the children so excited over new life on the farm.
The babies (5 months old) will spend their nights in the center stall in the barn where they can see, touch and interact with mom but not nurse. After the morning milking the babies will spend the daytime with mom. Seems like an easy way to share the milk with the babies so everyone gets good nutrition.

Stuck turkey

This poor little fello reminds me of winnie the poo getting stuck stealing honey. I found this baby turkey stuck in his feeding trough. Fortunately he wasn't hurt.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our nigerian dwarf goats

Finally here are some pics of our nigerian dwarf goats.

George..  the happy male enjoying life with a harem. 
Georgia... currently not milking, but perhaps soon if George has anything to say about it. 
Lilly who is also ready to be breed,
Samantha, the most colorful one!
Natalie, being camera shy
Rachelle, one of our first. 
Maggie, Hunter's favorite.

As you may have noticed.. Maggie and Georgia are not Nigerian Dwarfs.. they are MiniNubian. That is what you get when you cross a  nigerian dwarf with a nubian. They produce a bit more milk than a nigerian , but have higher cream content than a nubian and are easier to handle.