Thursday, September 27, 2012

Monsantos key man... president obama?

I generally steer clear of political debate and support in this blog, focuding on more important matters of health and mutrition. However this nees story came up thay crosses thd lines of politics and our nutritional and agriculture future. The whole issue of GMO crops, labeling foods made with them, stopping their parade to permanently corrupt human food across the planet, these are things near and dear to my heart.

This story points out that president Obama apparently just flat out lied about his support for GMO labeling. In fact, after stating his understanding and care for the antiGMO concerns during campaigning, he orchestrated the largest government sanctioned  adoption and proliferation of GMO anything ever in history. Obama is apparently the most actively proGMO president possible.

It is one thing to openly be proGMO and by extension PROBIG BUSINESS, but the problem here is that he publically says he supports labeling, organic gardening, nutrition... while privately working against it. That is just about the worst manner of leading... open lies.

Here is the article I refer to.... read it yourself and judge.

 Meet Monsanto's number one lobbyist: Barack Obama 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ghosts? Enemy attack? Natural disaster?

Today was weird... bizarre actually. Is this place haunted or perhaps a new form of crop circles? You tell me!

We left the farm today to head over to Klamath Falls. We found an older commercial freezer and cooler that would fit perfectly in the farm store. We left the farm about 2 pm. When we returned around 5 we found a bizarre not easily explained sight. See the picture!

The turkey roost in the orchard was no longer.... in the orchard! It was about 10 feet away upside down in the garden. The fence post between the two was bent almost to the ground. Apparently the roost had fallen over backwards... bent over the post , and ended up on its roof in the garden.

There were no signs of anything anywhere that showed any movement. No tire or foot tracks, no scrape marked on the ground. Nothing... as if the roost was picked up in the front and pushed over onto its back and rolled on its top.

Imbalance maybe! Unlikely.... any extra weight would be in the front pulling it over forward, not backwards.

Gust of wind? No record of it on our weather monitor, which recorded a top gust of only 15 MPH today. Plus the wind today was from the west, not the direction the roost was facing. And... nothing else was out of place. Strong wind gusts would have moved quite a few things

Other portable structures in the pasture jlon the north and south sides of the garden were untouched. Some were much lighter and less aerodynamic than the roost and yet they were sitting properly.

The only explanation I can think of is perhaps a mini tornado that came down just at the roost and left,  causing no other visible damage. Sounds far fetched but.... what other explanation is there? Hauntings from michevious ghosts?

Ideas anyone?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Organic foods a biosecurity risk?

This article from Dr. Mercola explains a lot! The recent us government push to support and approve as many genetically modified crops as possible as quickly as possible, while simultaneously suppressing right to know campaigns and discrediting organic methods all follows logically if Dr. Mercola is right.

Bottom line is this... the government has decided that organic food is a biosecurity risk. Only genetically altered foods are controllable and therefore safe. So to keep America safe from biological attacks to our food supply, organic methods must be contained.  That is an eyeopener!

Problem is they are wrong. Only using the same tactics as the tobacco industry to disprove connections between smoking and cancer can disprove organic food more healthy. In fact truly scientific studies done right who nonorganic food to be a huge health risk, and gmo food to be devastatingly dangerous and toxic.

We (the American public)  need to wake up now and think through what we are being told. Our lives and our children's future depend on it. We are custodians of our children's future, and thereby responsible to hand them a better world than we received. Look at the evidence and think through the facts and it is obvious, the reasoning of the conventional agriculture, factory farm, and gmo crowd is faulty and puts our grandchildren at great risk.

This is a great article to read through and discuss.

Organic Foods are Safer and Healthier than Conventional... True or False?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What touches the heart

I wake this morning facing today and remembering yesterday. Today is an especially important day as we open the farm to the annual rogue valley farm tour.... sharing what, how, and why we are doing what we do. This follows an especially moving day yesterday that makes today take on an even greater meaning.

Yesterday was delivery day as usual. The day we get out to meet our customers at their homes, visit with them a little, and leave what products they request. Its our chance to connect with the families we ultimately work for. Yesterday was a lighter than usual delivery due to end of summer travels and such which afforded us a little more time to visit.

What touches our heart is hearing the stories from customers about how the traditional foods of our grandparents are touching lives. Many of our customers struggle with serious health issues, life altering issues. These families have come to rely on good natural nutrient dense foods to counteract these health issues. It always amazes us when we hear the detailed reports from families of how this food helped that condition.... how their very lives are eased because of the healing properties of real food.

two  families in particular yesterday left us speechless. Their struggle is one of the more intense ones... and they only recently turned to traditional foods to heal. Their story of little successes is deeply touching ans awe inspiring. I obviously can't share the details here in respect to their privacy, but i can share the tears we shed after hearing their story and how the simple foods helped.

This is what makes every shovel of manure a joy. What price can be placed on a neighbors health struggle? When we connect the dots and realize that these simple yet back breaking works of love are helping a small segment of our neighbors in such a big way, it makes any physical struggle we may endure a pure joy. Remembering the faces, the appreciation in those eyes, drives us on to continue and perfect.

Farming... true farming... is not about money or a career. Sure a farm must be profitable to continue to exist, but profit is not the driver. Farming is about healing people, and the land we were given. Its about alleviating suffering, about bringing the wisdom of the past to those that most need it, about honoring our call to care for this world and each other. Farming is a mission, not a job.

Then we are further touched by the requests for these products... almost pleas. Once it is obvious that good traditional foods heal.. truly heal not just mask symptoms... these is a larger demand than we are equipped to handle. We don't worry about competition because I can't imagine there ever being enough small Farms in this valley to meet these needs. Each farm can only do so much.... because it is in fact size and quantity of production that alters the very value of the food produced. It is simply not possible to grow a farm indefinatley and maintain the quality of product. We are doing our best to reach a size to meet as much need as possible while preserving the quality and benefits of the foods.

Still... we run out of certain products and have to turn down requests occasionally. We do so with a heavy heart when necessary. But again... this is what drives us forward... ever seeking to fill more needs without sacrificing quality.

Farming is hard back breaking work... but days like yesterday make it a joy. I came home from delivery and browsed the farm wishing I could do more, but feeling  blessed to be able to do what we do. Walking around the farm watching the animals roam and live .... I am reminded that this is a partnership. These animals and land are the source of the goodness we share. Our family is nothing but the caretakers of the magic of nature. The animals and plants are our partners in health. We owe them and the land we share a respect and gratitude.

For our family... the little sprouts... we will keep shoveling manure, feeding, plowing, planting, caring 24x7 for this little spot of heaven we have been granted with a happy and grateful heart... the smiles and gratitude of those relying on us ever in our mind.

Farming... not a job.... so much more.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Genetic engineering explained

The article below gives a great overview of genetically engineered foods, why and how, and evidence of safety concerns. The bottom line is that America is suffering from a health crisis, not a healthcare crisis. We are generally much more sick from major problems than ever before in history. Our nation is slowly withering away into sickness, incapability, and death. If this trend doesn't change soon there will be  too much sickness for our nation to exist as we know it. Strong words but hard to argue with.

At the root of all this sickness is one common problem, our food. The food of today is fundamentally different from that only 100 years ago. Genetic engineering is the next and perhaps final step in destroying human health. Final because it is irreversible. Once genetically altered plants are out... the original plant becomes obsolete so that there is no original in nature. The plant goes extinct and we are left with the imposter created for financial gain, not health.

Take a few moments to read this article.... it gives a great foundation of understanding.

 How Can the Wealthiest Industrialized Nation be the Sickest? 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rogue Valley Farm Tour comes to Little Sprouts

We are pleased to announce that Little Sprouts has been selected to participate as a destination of hte annual Rogue Valley Thrive Sponsored Farm Tour!

This sunday the tour visits a few local farms, spending enough time at each to learn about he operation and products produced. We are happy to be on the list for an arrival around mid afternoon. If you have not looked into tickets yet we encourage you to do so. It should be a fun and enlightening afternoon ending in a nice dinner hosted at Cliff Creek Cellers by Fulcrum Dining.

Here is the link to the event for more information:

Hurray and sign up today!

Fourth generation turkey coop!

With the new year comes a new approach to housing turkeys. Even though our turkeys are free ranged on pasture, they need protection at night. It has been a constant challenge to provide a coop large enough to house these big active birds while being moveable. This year's version I like a lot! Our farm hand Randy has certainly excelled at taking a basic design idea of mine and producing a work of art!

The key features of this year are :

all metal hard panel fencing - no chicken wire!
fully opening back panel for herding turkeys in
front door  that is strong and stable
hinges on the door that are auto closing
a size that fits a commonly available tarp for shade
strong roosts to hold mature birds
braced for wind
braced for pulling around pasture
corner stands for holding feed and water
door handle that works easily and is cheap
latches on front door and back panel that are consistent and strong

As I said.. I like it! With a couple of minor changes we are going to copy this one and make 2 more, retiring all of hte previous designs.  We estimate that we could build this 10x20 coop in 2 half days, start to finish.

One of the biggest advantages is the rear panel completely folding down! That is awseome. Herding this many birds through a small 2 foot door has been a real challenge in the other designs. With this one we simple release 3 latches and the entire back wall lays down flat, presenting a 10 foot wide entry way. The birds just walk right in and roost on their own! What a beautiful thing this is!.

It will comfortable hold about 50 mature birds, twice the earlier coops, and provide ample roosts for all birds to be off the ground at night.

It pulled amazingly well into position given its size and weight. the RTV had no trouble maneuvering it around the pasture, even through the running creek.

We are considering producing plans for this one to sell online, perhaps even selling fully built coops.

The most important feature.. this entire back panel folds down flat to the ground by releasing only 3 latches. The turkeys  walk right in through the 10 foot wide opening. 

Here you can see the bracing, an a frame at each and and one in the middle. Stable top to bottom enough so that two grown men can sit on top of the coop!

The front is a solid door frame around the same hard panel fencing. A very consistent door, always a problem with moveable coops. 

Also take note of the corner braces that serve as holders for water and feed. This allows for moving the coop without first removing all the waters and feeders, saving time and effort. 

Duck habitat improvements - pond water filtering

With the ducks growing up we spent quite some time on the makeshift "pond" where they hang out. Its not really a pond, but a wide spot in a low spot. The challenge is to keep such a small body of water reasonably clean and safe for the ducks... since ducks are hard on ponds and smaller ponds are harder to keep clean. This is a real challenge.

First thing we did was devise a cheap version of a silt and manure collector. We sank a submersible pump into the lowest part of the water, and ran 1.5 inch water pipe to the far end of the water. This positioning keeps the entire body of water moving (very important!). The positioning of the pump also allows it to suck in a sizeable amount of floating sediment and debris. The pump itself is a type that can move solids (mud and muck) .. without plugging up.

Next step is to capture sediment... pond sediment is extremely valuable. It contains high amounts of natural fertilizers from the duck "deposits". Believe me.. it is amazing how much "deposits" 120 ducks make every 24 hours! So at the far end of the pipe, we have a series of 3 plastic 32 gallon trash cans. We cut slots right under the top rim about 6 inches long in each can. Then they are positioned so that the waterfall from the slots in each can pours into the next, creating a cascading waterfall. Beneath the turbulence the water calms and the sediment settles out to the bottom. Just this simple setup is collecting about 30 gallons of sediment per day. Since hte whole setup is mounted onto a pallet, I can pick the 3 cans up with the tractor, transport them anywhere in the pasture, and dump them for fertilizer. NOTHING GOES TO WASTE AROUND HERE!

An improvement on this design when we get time is to install baffles into the trash cans. This could be the grates from flourescent lights. They would be easy to cut into circles and drop in from teh top. This would provide enough stabilizing effect on the water to let it drop even more sediment to the bottom. Perhaps 2 or three layers of these sized to sit low, middle, and near top of each can. 

In the future we might create a drying bin to place hte sediment in. Drying it in the sun would allow us to package it and sell it for fertilizer.  Another profit center :)

The aeration from the cascading water also oxygenates the water so that beneficial bacteria (probiotics) can grow and prosper, further eating the organic waste and cleaning the remaining water. Its a win win! to help this along we dumped a triple dose of pond enzymes and bacteria.

It will take time, but this setup should reach equalibriam with reasonably clean water soon, and than maintain it until the winter rains come.  here are some pics of the water system:

The next step of course is pond plant.. a real challenge with ducks, especially heritage ducks. They seem to be eating machine that love salad! We tried a few floating plants and they would disappear completely before we even walked back to the house! Even something as prolific as duckweed has no chance with 120 hungry mouths scooping the water clean.  So we ordered a collection of water plants.. 6 different varieties and shapes, to see if anything would survive. WHAT A CHORE! planting in the water and mud is quite an ordeal. At one point I almost took a bath with the ducks.  

After a few days, about half of the plants are still there.. the rest trampled or eaten or both. The ducks do like them.. huddling around them in the day sun, but they simply cant resist eating a snack while resting under. the leaves... the snack being the leaves!

Here are some pics of the planting experience

The last step is shelter. We built two structures.. one for nesting and laying and another for escaping the hot oregon sun.  The nesting shelter is built from leftover pallets with fiberglass roofing top and sides. It could perhaps be deeper, but we'll wait to see how it works.  The shade shelter is simply the old roof from a horse shelter propped up as a tent with some 2x4s. The weight makes it sturdy enough to stand in the wind.  I suspect we will need to reposition this all for the winter winds, as it is now set to hide the summer sun. 

So there it is.. a functioning duck habitat. Winter will present a few challenges but we have learned to take things one step at a time here. most projects change as we learn more about them.. so it is pointless to think too far ahead. For now the ducks are happy and ready to start producing great pastured eggs and buckets of healthy fertilizer. 

Egg sizes explored

Little Sprouts sells eggs unsorted, meaning cartons randomly contain eggs that would be considered any size from extra small to extra large. We do mix the sizes somewhat evenly so the average weight of a carton remains constant. But does it really matter? We have discovered something quite interesting about egg sizes.

When you compare sizes... it is mostly the whites that differ, not the yolks. Even when comparing an extra large egg to an extra small one, the yolks are virtually identical. The whites can vary hugely accounting for the difference in shell size. The pictures here show just such a comparison.

Why is this significant? Well for one thing... as we now know it is the yolk that contains virtually all of the nutrition of the egg. The yolk is loaded with nutrients our bodies desperately need. Most healing diets (such as gaps, body ecology, etc)  use raw egg yolk as a primary healing food. Egg whites, being mostly just protein, are actually discarded. Bottom line.... egg yolks, especially raw, are the important part. Egg whites, are more of a filler than a nutrient.

During our journey on gaps, where our family healed a long list of common and not so common ailments, we relied heavily on egg yolks. Often going through 3 to 4 dozen egg yolks per day for 2 adults and 3 children. They truly are a miracle food, especially raw.

Note.... this post only applies to farm pasture raised soy free eggs... never consume eggs from factory farms raw and always limit those "eggs" as conventional wisdom dictates. Factory produced eggs are a negative nutrient at best... life threatening at worst. Pastured soy free eggs are a totally different product than storebought factory produced "eggs".

So.. from a health perspective, the size of the shell is immaterial. Once cracked, it becomes difficult if not impossible to tell between a extra large and an extra small egg. If your eating for health, smaller eggs represent no less benefit.

Here are some pictures of an egg comparison. Try this yourself!
The egg on the left would be considered small by weight standards, the  one on the right an extra large or even jumbo

The yolks are amazingly similar, in fact the smaller egg on the left appears to have a slightly larger yolk.

The side view shows the extreme difference in white content. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Khaki Campbell Duck Egg has arrived!

We were very excited to find the first duck egg from the campbells. We found a couple of duck eggs laying around hte pond last week, and sure enough we are now getting a consistent 1 egg per day. this means they are of age and the number should climb steadily and quickly.  There are 120 ducks, including 8 males, so doing the math  of 3 eggs per day for every 4 birds shows :

112 females / 4 = 28  * 3 = 84 eggs = 7 dozen per day

This breed is listed to have the capacity to lay all through the winter without lighting, although at a slower rate, so we should have duck eggs available year round.

So yes.. exciting news for those waiting for a steadier supply of duck eggs! It is almost here!

As usual, these eggs will be soy free, non-gmo, omega 3 rich, pastured (with pond) organic, fertilized, and fresh! Ducks eggs tend to be a little richer than chicken eggs, and those truly allergic to chicken eggs can often consume duck eggs without a problem.  That puts duck eggs in high demand!

maybe time to start on another  new flock!?!?!

Worms, update

Been wondering what became of the mealworm project? Several months ago we placed some mealworms in a plastic storage bucket, hoping to grow enough to supplement the birds in winter. The method we started with was much too labor intensive and soon fell off the list of chores.

Surprisingly, after no attention for several Months, we opened the box to find a thriving community of worms and beetles!  That have me an idea.  Perhaps we can use the hardiness of the beetles to make life easier.

So. ... we pulled an old sand box (from our California days) from storage and put it use.  We dumped all the individual worm boxes into the sandbox,  and placed it into the barn.  There are literally thousands of not millions of worms in various stages of development.  The sand box has a  fitted solid top to keep the chickens out and provide darkness for the bugs. The bedding is a  combination of chicken feed,  goat feed,  and alfalfa making a couple inches of material across the entire bottom.

The plan is simple. Feed them occasional scraps, keep it covered, and weekly pull out a bucket of worms,  beetles,  and feed. That can be feed directly to the birds quite easily as part of the regular feeding.

When winter hits,  we will bury one or two of the flat panel ceramic brooder heaters in the bedding. With a cover it should be like summer year round!

The only risk at this point is that the worms or beetles climb up the sides. There is some possibility of that by watching them so far. Need a bright idea about this challenge.

If this works,  the birds well have a constant diet of bugs all winter!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Farm to home delivery? Really?

One of our most common questions is. .. how can you afford to do home delivery,  why not just meet us somewhere?

The answer is simple. .. economics.  Home deliveries just make sense.  Let me explain:

1. Fuel.  Our farm is about 20 miles from Medford.  Most customers are in Medford or Ashland.  At present each week we deliver to 20 it 30 customers. That means we drive maybe 120 miles total and use about half a tank of gas, maybe 50 dollars.  Compare the alternative. .. 25 customers would have to drive about 30 miles each to pickup. That's over 600 miles each way.. . 1200 miles round trip.  At least 10 times more driving and much more fuel spent.

Sure the argument can be made that this cost is spread over 25 customers, but still it is there.  The money is being spent to purchase our products. We want to keep the total cost down and this is one way to do it.

2. Convenience. Our goal is to make buying from a farm as convenient as the grocery store.  Our family spent over a year driving every week to pickup raw milk.  Its tough.  People just don't have extra time today to do this.  We burned out quickly and put  in our own goats. Even with the best intentions, most people simply can't spare the time and expense of pickup.

What about csa ? We support csa , but don't offer one.  It seems more convenient to order what you need instead of getting  a box of surprise.  What often happens then is you still need certain things not in the csa delivery, and end up going to the store anyway. We want farm purchases to be the normal way of supplying your family table,  not the extra things that show up. We support csa but believe true home delivery meets needs more.

3. Customer relationships : we love delivery day! What a great way to meet and chat with each of our customers. On any given delivery route maybe half of the customers are home.  Its heartwarming to say hi,  share a story,  and hear how everyone is doing.  We believe farming is about people,  families,  health. We cherish the chance to maintain contact with each family. There isn't a big truck that carts away the fruits of our labor,  instead we hand them to the people who need them.

4. Customer base: business wise,  the most expensive thing any business does is get a new customer. That is what advertising is all about.  While we certainly need to keep growing,  deliveries allows us a easy way to offer new products to a close group of motivated customers. Each time we produce new products most go to existing customers. The average sale per delivery increases as we gain more representation on the dinner table.  As we broaden our product line,  delivery becomes more efficient and customers rely on us more.  Its a win win.

5. Training: our name Little Sprouts Farm represents our goal of handing a working farm to our children. What better way to do this than let them grow up experiencing first hand the joy of hand delivering the eggs and cabbage we worked to produce?  The  children benefit from the motivation as well as learning customer service first hand.  Already the children ask earnestly to deliver to certain customers who buy their own products.  "But Mommy that's my customer" is music to our ears.

6. Advertising: we have received numerous calls from people who saw us driving around the neighborhood. The advertising value of this is huge!  An added benefit is that it is highly targeted.. .. the most exposure is where we already deliver to!  So over time each stop expands into multiple stops. 

Overall this is a model that works well.  We have grown tremendously in 6 months since starting deliveries.  We can't keep product in stock it sells so fast!  Its easier for customers and beneficial for us, and our customers are our friends. We are very pleased and like all things, we give credit for the delivery aspect as inspired from above.

See you on Saturday !

Products restocked and expanded

Now that we are back in full operation after last month's unexpected trip,  we have some exciting news! 

New products!

Pickled eggs are packed and ready for sale.  These are the slightly spicy version,  pickled in live vinegar and our own recipe. Available in pint size of 4 to 6 eggs.

Yogurt!  Raw goat milk yogurt!  By popular demand we have made yogurt. It is incredibly smooth and mild.  No added ingredients,  just raw goat milk and yogurt starter.  Plain,  simple,  healthy.  For legal reasons this is available only within our herd share program.

Ice cream!  That's right.. .. we have true homemade hand churned ice cream!  Ingredients are goat milk,  egg yolk,  honey,  and vanilla powder. This is uncooked, simply mixed and frozen. You can't buy ice cream like this from any store!  No added cream.  The egg yolk adds enough fat to make the milk freeze creamy.  It is actually a healthy treat!  For legal reasons,  this is as valuable to herdshare members only.

More to come!  We are busy restocking our coolers for this week's delivery!