Thursday, January 31, 2013

The story behind the picture

Every picture has a story. I truly wish we knew the story behind this one.

If you look closely you will see skid marks across the tire tracks. These are llama skid marks. Now... our llama, rainy, is very calm. He only runs for two reasons... he is being chased or he is chasing an intruder. These skid marks are actually about 3 feet long, so he had some speed.

My best guess is he was chasing an intruder. That same night we lost 2 chickens on the other side of the pasture. Something manages to pull open the corner of a coop, bending hard fencing panels, and pull out 2 roosters. 

What was the scene last night? We will never know, but not one of the sheep is harmed, so I assume rainey did his job again, protecting the flock.

If only these skid marks could talk....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What is "local" food?

Calling All Superheroes: Save Local, Before It’s Too Late | Fresh Thoughts, Locally Grown
I agree with this blog post and wanted to pass it along. Local is one of the aspects of the sustainable farm movement. Local food means many things including... eating what is in season, eating what is for your climate, reducing shipping, increasing independence, providing redundancy in food sources, raising quality of food, promoting knowledge of food quality, keeping prices low, etc etc. There are so many reasons to buy local.
My primary reason is to foster that relationship with your farmer. Food means health or not. Do you want to trust the colorful label and professionally produced wording or the guy around the corner you can talk with, explore practices, and visit your food being produced?
Food is much too important to trust to a pretty label.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Newest Little Sprout Arrives!

The day has finally arrived. Our newest little sprout has joined the world this evening.
Oliver Austin Salch, born 8:50 pm. Weighed in at 7 lb, 6oz and 21 1/4 inches.
Mom and baby are doing great, and the birth was a unique family experience with all 4 of the other little sprouts participating. 
Every birth is such a miracle, such a testament to the awesomeness of Gods creation. No other event can match the moment a new life joins the world.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Little Sprouts sauerkraut back in stock!

We finally have a new batch if sauerkraut back in stock! Over the last couple months while we have been turning down orders for this tasty probiotic powerhouse, we have been working on increasing production abilities and improving the recipe. The results of these efforts are now available!
Flavor wise, we have adjusted the recipe to be slightly less salty, less cabbage flavor, yet still crunchy and not too sour. It came out with a nice blend of the carrot, apple and cabbage in a tart but mild juice. We are well pleased.
For now we only have carrot and apple kraut, but some plain is on the way also. We are able to make twice as much now, of two flavors simultaneously, and still produce a little other product also.
Saurkraut is a primary and necessary ingredient in most healing diets. The unique combination of cabbage, salt, bacteria, lactic acids and fiber are a staple for healthy digestion. Live saurkraut is used to aid digestion, build the immune system, rebalance gut flora, support detoxing, and improve absorption of nutrients. Its just an all around good food (as long as it it organic, naturally fermented without vinegar, and not killed through canning nor pasturization).
Little Sprouts kraut is all of these, plus we only use healthy himalyan or redmond salt. Since salt is a primary ingredient, the type of salt used is in fact crucial! Himalayan salt is pure, non chemical laced, and provides the full host of sea minerals. This gives our kraut an extra boost of health giving potential!
So feel free to order some through the online store. We feel sure you will appreciate the new flavor! (But please let us know either way)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New drop point in Medford!

Today we installed a fridge at our new official medford drop point! We now have the option for difficult to deliver to customers to pick up your order at Wise Women Care office on Crater Lake Avenue in Medford.
This does not in any way replace our standard free home delivery service. Our goal here is to provide easier options for those that have had difficulties for one reason or another. If your interested in using this drop point, just contact us.
Orders will be delivered to this spot on the Saturday of the Medford delivery. With the fridge we can deliver items year round that need to stay cool. It is available 24x7 since it is outside the building. You just need the lock code to access the area where the fridge is.
We send a special thanks to the staff at Wise Women Care for providing this service. (Which is also the spot we chose to deliver our soon to arrive newest little sprout!)

Little Sprouts enters a new chapter ... shipping!

Today is another milestone for the farm!  We just shipped our first product out of the area! For the last year we have been receiving frequent requests from those out of our immediate area to purchase from Little Sprouts. This year we finally are ready to explore that world.
If this goes well, we will be offering shipping on a wider variety of products and schedules. (We do have to abide by state and federal laws concerning what we can ship to where).
We wish to extend our special thanks to John, our first shipping customer. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we figure this out.
Stay tuned to see how successful this is!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bacteria are our friend, not the enemy

I found this post particularly interesting, especially the part speaking about microbial life in the soil and how that life deals with modern agri chemicals. Most virtually all commonly available food, is produced with no knowledge of this important and fundamental aspect of life. That, in my opinion, is why conventional produce is fundamentally different than organic produce. Why factory produced meats are fundamentally different from farm raised meats. Why our nation is as unhealthy as it is today, with each generation requiring more and more health care just to stay alive. It all starts with life in the soil, or the absence of life.
Probiotic foods (I.e. cultured veggies, meats, dairy, and drinks) are without a doubt the most important food we eat, but we can't overlook the foundation of all life. The fact is that all higher life ultimately depends on bacteria, fungus, microbes of all types to exist. This unseen world teeming with such a variety of life that our world pales in contrast, is in fact the driver, determiner, supporter or destroyer of life in our world. The farmers first responsibility is to preserve the soil, meaning the life in the soil. Growing food in dead sterile soil is.... well... like growing death instead of life.
With all the honorable against genetically modified life, my prayer is that we do not concede nor forget the underlying battle of life itself. First was the battle between life (microbe) supported agriculture or modern sterile chemical supported agriculture. That battle still rages underneath the current headlines of gmo dangers. We can't take our eyes off the need to return to life supported food through organic and beyond organic principles.
This is why I contend that the farmer is at the root of modern healthcare, the root of survival for our next generation, the root of life and quality of life. Farming is not just a job, its a life mission.  It is equal or exceeds in importance politics, healthcare, national defense, everything except our relationship with our creator himself. Farming is the root of life and the root of farming is the life in the soil!
Here's the article I am referring to.
Fighting Microbes with Microbes

Heartbreaking - another dairy shut down

This is a rather long blog post, worth every word to read.
I find myself speechless at the moment (a rare event indeed).
Morningland Dairy—The Final Solution | Morningland Dairy's Uncheese Party
My prayer is twofold: first that Little Sprouts never be positioned to walk down a similar path, second that if we do, we follow that path with conviction, wisdom, and heads held high.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Raw milk - liquid gold!

We have seen a recent surge in demand for raw milk products lately.  We have been receiving quite a few requests per week from people looking for milk, yogurt, kefir, etc. Why the sudden increase? I think its threefold. Another local farm that sold raw milk has decided to leave the valley, winter is usually higher demand due to lower supply, and raw milk as a health food is gaining popularity. I have some thoughts about each of these to share:
It is very sad that we see a farm leave this valley. As I have always said, we need more farms here, not fewer. We could realistically have a hundred or even a thousand small farms just in the Rogue Valley to provide local food to the local population. You simply can't have too many farms! To hear their previous customers out there fighting to keep their food sources active in the face of limited supply is very sad. Raw milk has very limited supply in most any community, and long wait lists with many names. I wish there was somewhere to point people to as a replacement but the reality is its hard to come by.
Secondly, winter time is always lower supply. It is common practice for farms to dry up milk producers in winter. This makes a short supply even shorter. We at Little Sprouts take a different approach though. Instead of "'resting" our herd of goats in winter, we rotate individual goats through an appropriate individual cycle indicated by their own needs. At any given time about a third of our overall herd is resting, while two thirds are producing. That gives us a steady milk supply of milk year round while supporting even more rest than a standard yearly cycle. With this system our girls can rest as long as their bodies require. We don't breed on schedule, we don't force anything... we allow nature to take its natural course individually. Then they milk for as long as their bodies support milk production, whether that be 3 months or 2 years. The point is that each goat does what its body dictates, and yet we have a steady supply for our customers.
The third thought is demand increasing. More and more people are waking up to the reality that raw live fresh milk is a totally different product than cooked, dead, dismantled and reassembled milk products in the store. There is a wealth of info about this out there I won't repeat here. The bottom line is raw milk and pasteurized milk are fundamentally different, to the point of being opposites. As more people realize this and shun the factory produced milk substitutes called milk in the store, demand increases. 
Unfortunately, without government subsidies that only large factory operations receive, producing raw milk at a profit is a challenge. Without a profit the production becomes a community service that many small farms can't afford. So supply dwindles even further over time.
Raw milk is liquid gold to those who understand its benefits, but a labor of love to most farms.  We enjoy our goats immensely, and have reached a level of profitability that is sustainable for now so raw milk is definitely here to stay at Little Sprouts.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New farm members -- one available to a good home

We are blessed with 2 new additions to the goat herd this week! One little male and one little female. (The black one is the female). They are not siblings but were born only a couple days apart.
The little buck will be up for grabs if anyone wants him. He is a pure mini nubian from our own breeding. If you are interested please contact us. He is still "intact" but of course you could change that. We only ask a $25 rehoming fee for anyone that wants him.
The female will become part of our milking herd when she grows up.
No matter how many times we experience birth, it is always a blessed and welcome miracle. Nature is so breathtaking!

What do you do when its 25 degrees for chores on a sunday?

Creative fun!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Little Sprouts snowman for 2013

With the first good snow of the year a couple weeks ago, our little sprouts were hard at work creating the first snowman of the 2013 winter season. This one they did 100% on their own, no parental advice nor involvement! As you can see they did a fabulous job working together to create a work of art.
Some moments you just want to capture forever...


With the holidays past and the new online store up and running, we finally have time to get back to making yummy nutritious foods!  The shelves are no longer bare in our new coolers.
This week we stocked up on kombucha, chocolates, yogurt, kefir, and lard. Plus the chickens are back into near full production after the door mishap, so we have ample chicken eggs again.
The lard produced this week is amazing! Perhaps worth its own blog post. We slightly altered the rendering process... ever so slightly... and it made all the difference in the world!  We not only got greater yield, but the lard that came out is incredibly soft, totally moisture free, brilliant white, odorless and tasteless. Brenda made a test batch of wheat free chocolate muffins that had no hint of pork whatsoever. By far the best lard we have produced. And the good thing is its reproducible!
Our peanut butter cups are also quite the rage, they are hard to keep in stock but we made quite a few batches this week.  Funny thing about healthy chocolates.... the more we make.... the more we sell.  Its all incredibly hard to keep in stock.
The kombucha is also selling quite well, especially the new flavors. We doubled production and still find ourselves short on product often. Soon we will need to double again.
Catching up on yogurt and kefir orders was challenging. We had a few special customers come to pickup extra for medicinal purposes which left us totally out for a while.
We also put a good batch of saurkraut in the crocks this week, ready for sale in a week or two. Carrot and apple! Yum.
I must commend Brenda... all this extra product was produced during a week she has been on bedrest due to our pregnancy. We wanted to ensure the newest little sprout waiting till at least next week to arrive, so she coordinated all this from the couch! Not an easy feat.
Bottom line is... it feels good to end the week with enough product to fill almost all orders. We hate to run out! For this year we are switching to a schedule whereby we produce larger batches less often. We can do this because we have more storage space in the new coolers finally. Overall this will be more efficient.
So... enjoy the store full of product (both online and real). At the recent rate of new customers we have been blessed with it may not last long!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First test of heritage meat chicken

Here's a picture of our first test of a heritage meat chicken. This little broiler was brined and smoked for dinner tonight. It weighed in at a modest 5 lb 8 oz at 9 months of regular grower feed. We haven't yet tested growing them on broiler feed.
If this breed tests out in all respects, we will be raising a flock this year for sale.
What do you think?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Eggs, eggs and more eggs!

An egg!  We found the very first egg in the new chicken flock!  Amazing on two counts... we haven't lighted these chickens yet, so the first eggs are laid in January without artificial light. And... it was found in the rooster coop!
Obviously while separating hens and roosters someone got misplaced ;) It is difficult to tell gender at this age sometimes. 
But.... this means we will have more than double the number of eggs for sale really soon! That great news for everyone waiting to partake in Little Sprouts eggs.
As a reminder... why are these eggs so special? Because they have everything in an egg that is desirable, not just one aspect, they have it all:
Truly Pastured
Soy free
Certified Non GMO
Organically raised
Antibiotic free
Hormone free
Omega 3 rich
Heritage breed
Fertilized (will be by sales time)
Unwashed or washed (your preference)
Farm fresh
Why are eggs so important? A well produced raw egg is the basis of most healing diets. The pastured fresh raw egg yolk is a miracle food, a powerhouse of healing and nutrition. Many healing diets encourage as many pastured raw egg yolks per day as practical. The egg, when done right, is just about the most perfect food. Just be VERY careful never to overdo storebought eggs. They are not the same thing in a number of ways and are in fact often quite dangerous to eat.
So this one little eggs is happy news! We have been waiting to have a larger supply so that we can start pickling eggs again. Looks like by Feb. this will be possible! Yummy pickled eggs are coming back!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Why is Little Sprouts Milk, Yogurt, and Kefir so Creamy?

Incredibly smooth and creamy is one way to describe our milk, yogurt and kefir.  The yogurt is naturally thick without added gel or stiffeners, and the milk has an incredibly smooth soft flavor and texture.  How is this possible? This picture tells all:

This is a half gallon of milk that was left untouched in the fridge for about 3 weeks as an experiment. When milk sits undisturbed, the cream separates out and floats to the top.  With cow milk this happens almost overnight, but goat milk takes much much longer. We wanted to see just how much cream is in our goat's milk so we let this set.  Look closely and you will see the cream line just about half way down the jar. This means that the cream content is just about 50%.  Not bad! You can also see the thick cream across the top edge. It is really thick!

Cream in milk is what makes it taste, well, creamy. It it what makes the yogurt and kefir thick and smooth. Cream is the magic. Not only is this tasty but also naturally healthy. Goat milk is highly digestible and nutritious compared to cow milk. In fact, most people allergic to cow milk can drink goat milk without a problem. 

How do we achieve nearly 50% cream content? I cant say I am an expert, but it seems to be a combination of breeds and feeds.  We use a combination of Nigerian dwarf and mini Nubian breeds in a tightly controlled ratio. They are fed a majority of organic non-gmo alfalfa and grains (only as a treat), plus plenty of wild brush.  We are also very diligent about keeping the bucks away from the milkers, and quick cooling to prevent any "goaty" flavor. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Getting ready for winter breeding

Lots of changes around here this week! Let's recap:
Processed a few more turkeys, all toms not needed for breeding. These toms look excellent! All consistently large with good fat content. We have a few more to go before we retire the processing equipment for the winter. Some turkeys will be available for sale through the winter as frozen.
To facilitate processing we finally put a real shelter over the equipment creating a mostly closed area. Even have a little propane camp heater to warm up by! This makes the experience much more comfortable. I remember three years ago learning how to do this on a card table in the freezing rain. How far we have come!
The turkey numbers are now small enough to fill only one turkey breeder coop. That frees up another coop. We have split the next chicken flock into his and hers living quarters. These chickens were getting much too big to all fit in one! There are 270 or so birds total. Now the hens can mature into laying hens and the boys can fatten up for heritage meat chickens using our soy free broiler chicken ration. These will be our first meat chickens for sale.
We also moved the ducks into the old pig pen. They are easier to protect from predators here, and mostly will stop escaping the pasture and ruining our back yard! Ducks wreck havoc on lawn grass! The smaller area can be lighted so egg production will climb again. Also this area is destined to be next years garden so what the ducks leave behind will be gold to the plants!
Next steps are adding lighting to turkey coop, chicken coop, and duck pen to get egg production going. Also we still need to design some laying boxes for these new pens and get the solar winch rebuilt and working.
Never a dull moment!

Online store is up and running

This week marks the beginning of a next step in the life of Little Sprouts. We turned on our new online store! You can now easily order products online by browsing through the store to see what's available. This is a long awaited move for us. It will save much time around order processing while providing tracking and automated receipts, track inventory automatically, and lessen errors. Woohoo!
This online system also manages our home delivery routes and farm memberships. You can either order ala carte style or choose to subscribe to certain item. A subscription means that you want to receive a certain quantity of a certain item each delivery without ordering each time. The food just arrives on schedule. Not only is this easier for you, but it greatly helps us in planning expansion. We know what the minimum demand is that we must plan for. Subscriptions are always filled before ala carte orders, so you can be almost certain to receive your subscription.
A next step will be taking online payments. For now you still pay on delivery or mail in a check. Soon we will be approved for online checks and perhaps credit card and paypal payments. Our hope is that most subscriptions will be set up for monthly payments while orders are paid as they happen.
We are using the new software for Medford deliveries this week. And Ashland next week. So far only a few bumps here and there, but mostly going well. We don't have all the product pictures in yet (takes a while to take good food pics!) So those will be popping in over time.
You can find the store under the products page link above.
Thank you again for your support and patience through our changes. We truly appreciate your patronage and confidence!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Testament to modern science...

Photographic Adventure Reveals the Frightening Deadness of Genetically Engineered Corn Field
This article describes a testament to modern science. With all our technology and wisdom, we have created something unique on the face of the earth. We have created a sustainable vacuum, emptiness, death. Vast areas where nothing can live except one thing... Our food.  This cries against every law of nature and the fundamental process of life. This stops the food chain in its tracks and destroys the circle of life.
Its not just gmo crops at fault here, underneath it lies the businesses of poison based agriculture. Underneath that less the approach of mono cropping (planting but one thing across vast fields) and behind that  lies a selfish desire for cheap tasty food instead if wholesome nutrition.  This destruction of our lands is not new with gmo science, the science allowing huge single crops has been maturing for decades. Gmo crops are just the next extension of that science rooted in the desire for cheaper food. But... It is the step at which people start to see the damage in a new way. The point at which we must put a stake in the ground and say enough is enough.
What we desperately need to ensure a decent life for our grandchildren is to stop the madness today. The best way to do this is to buy only organic and local. This truly does work. Its fundamentally the desire for riches that brought us to where we are (the brink of worldwide irreparable disaster) and we can use the love of money to return to healthy sanity. If a majority of people would demand (through their purchasing dollars) local organic food only, monocropping would disappear in short time (not decades). This is capitalism, money talks. Let's use it to change our world for the better.