Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving turkey harvest 2013

We had a fabulous thanksgiving season.  Even though the harvest was smaller than we wanted (dye to incubator problems back in sprung)  it worked out well.  This year we had plenty of volunteer help on processing day,  do overall it was a pleasant and not totally exhausting few days. 

We thank everyone who showed up to help!

Here's some memories of this year's event...

Kaelyn watching the dunking into the scalder

She decided to try her hand it dunking a bird!

She's doing it!

Even her dunking partner Keitley is impressed

Todd's son learns about the plucker

Here is the table crew... Hannah, Marissa, April, and Keitley

The knives cant be sharp enough! Sharpen early, sharpen often!

Grandma making the rounds back and forth from the kitchen

Hunter moving furniture !

Todd wrestles with a turkey ready for the cones
Made it!

Todd shows his boy the realities of farm life

Daniel working the plucker... why is this man smiling?

Keitley and Hanna working at the table

April learning to process a turkey, Marissa is an old pro!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Turkey week has arrived!

This is the biggest week for little sprouts. Thanksgiving is when we sell the most birds in a single day for all year. Busy busy. Fortunately this year we have plenty of help on the way....

But of course the weather changes dramatically overnight... From unseasonably warm and dry to frigid and wet. The mercury hit below 20 the last two nights. That always makes it fun standing outside in the cold with constantly running water.

So this year I decided to light the scalder the night before so I don't have to deal with frozen hoses while rushing to fill the scaler to get it heating. But.... Alas by the time we got home from deliveries the hoses were already frozen. In my zeal to break up the ice I did a bad thing... Pulled the spigot right out of the ground! Pipit broke under 8 inches of mud, water and ice. Hmmmm

So there I am, in the dark cold of 28 degrees standing ankle deep in need and ice digging down to the pipe, thankful for the shop vac!  Took some work and half frozen hands but... Finally cape the pipe.

The scalder is full... Heating up overnight... And with dawn comes preparation. Even an exciting new method and tool we will be trying...

So here we go into a week of intense turkey processing.... Mostly ready... All that is needed is some rest....

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's Here! the biggest news in Little Sprouts History Begins Today!

After months of silent preparation, we are finally at a point to announce arrival of the biggest even in Little Sprouts Farm history...

We are in the process of building a full commercial kitchen, and most importantly asking YOU for help.

All the details are here, on our KICKSTARTER WEBSITE

A little background:

The purpose of the kitchen is to allow us to produce  new kinds of foods going forward, that we can not do reasonably today at the scale required....  The kitchen contains a separate fermentation room, as well as full kitchen facilities,  to allow for production of cultured foods as well. The building itself is portable, built into a refrigerated container, so if we ever move it can go with us!

In addition to the cultured foods, the kitchen has facilities and space to allow us to produce some convenient healthy traditional foods in a new line we are announcing soon, specifically for people on GAPS and SCD diets type.  No longer will you have to spend hours per day in the kitchen to reap the benefits of these healthy foods. We will offer convenience of grocery store packaged foods with actually healthy, GAPS legal contents!

Unfortunately our own life savings were not quite enough to cover the cost of implementing this farm plus adding a kitchen and fermentation room,  quite frankly we have invested every dollar we had into this place.  So to complete this one last component, and allow us to go the last step to making convenient foods for sale.Please prayerfully consider a contribution to the cause.

Little Sprouts Asks for Help with Funds for Commercial Kitchen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hunter's Story

The video below is very special to us. It was recorded a few months ago as our sun Hunter made his first public speaking event. He decided on his own initiative, to tell the world the story of his struggles with ASD, and how through hard work, good food, and much prayer, his life was changed.

Hunter's mission here is to raise awareness that health conditions, even as deep as ASD, can be healed  or at least lessened by  good nutrition. He truly wants to offer hope to all those that are facing the same challenges.

Here is his story, in his own words.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Milking goats... So much to learn...

Every day is a new experience in learning around here.  Recently we have been focusing on a fee specific areas to improve those areas one by one in some way.  This post i would like to share about our milking herd of goats.

Milking is tough.  Any farm will tell you there is no money in raw milk.  The equipment cost,  constant cleaning,  facilities required,  Huge labor needs,  supplies,  feed,  etc..  All add up to milk that is outrageously expensive.  It is quite common at farms to cut where ever possible,  usually resulting in reduced nutrition quality if the milk through cheap feed or breeds that produce higher quantity with lower fat.

We seek a different approach.  As you know from this blog, we seek quality first,  nutrition us the goal itself.  So what can we do to maintain quality while making some profit to offset the Huge commitment?

We may have stumbled on and things that work....  Here's what we have done so far:

1. Added a third breed,  LA Mancha goats.  These girls produce similar fat content to mini nubian at slightly higher production.  Production is up without lowering quality and flavor by mixing proper ratios of la Mancha,  mini nubian,  and nigerian dwarf.

2. Changed filtering method.  All our milk is filtered,  but we were using a gravity method. This is cheap but strips more fat than we liked.  So we changed to an inline filter system...  Same daily price but faster filtering and more fat (cream)  left in the milk.

3. Feed...  In addition to organic alfalfa and grass hay,  we added our own crop of organically grown oats and peas, mixed with some sunflower seeds.  Thus has greatly increased the production over just alfalfa,  increased fat (cream),  and lowered cost you!

4. Minerals...  We add our own blend of sea minerals,  essential goat supplements and organic nongmo goat feed.  This balances and rounds our the nutrition for health.

So far this plan is working wonders to quality and quantity while  keeping costs lower.  There is only one problem....  Since the  girls aren't hungry on the stand,  and we offer plain oats on the stand....  The milking experience is no longer special for them!  Behaviour has suffered making milking itself a chore.  We need something really special as a treat while milking....  But what is left?

Hunter came up with what may be the perfect answer...  Scratch and corn!  It is organic,  non gmo,  and then LOVE corn!  We can't free feed corn because of the high carb content throwing off their nutrition but...  A fee bites on the Stand to milk with mat be just enough incentive to make milking the highpoint of their day again!

We will try it today and see if this is the missing piece.  If it all works out we will be able to increase the herd share while increasing the quality and flavor...  And actually make a dollar or two without raising prices.

Stay tuned!

Why do we even need to consider Obamacare?

I believe that to understand an issue fully it is necessary to dig deep....  To ask the question "why"  repeatedly and thereby uncover the root cause of things.  Here we are embralled in one of the heaviest debates if our nation's history...  Health care...  How do we bring health care to the millions of Americans who don't have it?  Let's dig a little deeper.

Why are we talking about Obamacare?

Two things come to mind :

1. America has the most advanced medicine in the world...  Able to work "miracles" of healing.

2. America has millions and millions and millions of people needing miracles of health care to stay alive.

Without both of these points being true,  we would not be talking about health care.  When you boil these two down you get: "America needs constant miracles of healing through advanced medicine to stay alive"  or "America is perhaps the sickest nation on earth". 

Consider this...  A hundred years ago there weren't these miracles of modern medical science. But life expectancy was not far from today.  Now look at you family,  friends,  neighbors....  How would we fare today without modern doctors,  hospitals,  treatment,  medicines?  I propose that current life expectancy would be much lower than even 100 years ago with modern healthcare.  So basically we as a nation are much sicker than ever,  and rely of modern medicine just to keep up with our grandparents life expectancy! 

So...  Why?  Take away modern treatment and ask what changed...  Why does America need so much healthcare?

The answer lies is the one thing we all do daily to stay healthy....  Eat.  But our food today is totally different from a hundred years ago. The entire food system is changed fundamentally.

I arrive at a conclusion of:
1. Our world and even food supply is full of toxins largely thanks to modern agriculture.
2. Our food is devoid of life sustaining nutrients thanks to modern agriculture.
3. Our food supply is sterilized to provide long shelf
4. Our food supply is built in laboratories to provide artificially good flavor,  texture,  and unnatural consistency.
5. Our food is refrigerated to freeze it in time instead of fermented and full of life to preserve it.
6. Our food supply is remote,  supporting big corporations that need constant profits,  transportation around the world in a fresh state,  and maintain consistency and that fresh state for weeks.

So where do we look for the underlying answer to why we are debating Obamacare?  Seems to me that we look to agriculture....  Our food. If we return to the foods of a hundred years ago,  we remove the need for health care to the point that it is,  on average,  a minor issue.  We trade our cabinet full of Medicine,  our schedule of Dr visits and treatments,  our constant need for health support in over the counter medicine for true good health and naturally long life.

There is an alternative to Obamacare...  It's called health.  We can individually opt out of the healthcare system itself through good old fashioned nutrition!  It truly is that simple!  I know from personal experience and from the experience of dozens to hundreds of our farm customers.

So...  I urge you....  Find a local farm that understands this...  The offers the foods of a hundred years ago... Raised properly for nutrition instead of profit, and buy all you can from them.  Invest in nutrition and permanent healing instead of covering of symptoms through medicine,  remove the need for healthcare! 

Sure...  Real food is expensive...  It will cost 2 to 5 times more to buy real healthy food.  That is a fact. BUT...  Let me ask you....  How are you doing on cheap food?  How many pills do you need per day?  When wax the last Dr visit for a problem ?

Would you rather pay to treat illness or prevent it?

That is the real bottom line choice here,  because for 99 percent of us,  there is no other option!  Pay a loss l nutrient dense farmer Or pay the Dr and pharmacy.

My advice....  Find your local farm that understands this...  Talk to the farmer... If he doesn't know how to grow for nutrition,  look elsewhere or gave him call us.. Opt out of the need for frequent health care and opt into true health!

If enough people did this...  We would not be talking about Obamacare.  Period.

Friday, November 8, 2013

More free pig food!

Here is another load from our friends over at Easy Valley Farm.  It's a lot of work stripping such a big garden add they have,  but look at the spoils!  This trailer is super heavy with hundreds of overripe melons in the center. 

Party time in the pig pen!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

To GMO or not to GMO ? that is the question...

 As the battle around GMO based foods heats up here in Jackson county, now is a good time to summarize and reiterate our stance on the subject.  So here are my own top thoughts on the matter of GMO based foods.

Lets lay down some known facts to frame the discussion:

1. The unintentional spread of pollen from GMO crops can not be prevented. 
2. GMO crops have not, to date, produced higher yields than non-gmo crops
3. The safety of GMO foods has not been proven, and has not even been thoroughly studied. 
4. The primary purpose for genetic modification is to allow the use of higher, or built in, pesticides and herbicides, leaving higher traces of poison in the foods that reach the supermarket and tables. 
5. the primary supporters of GMO agriculture is the companies that produce them, and the government officials they bribe and support. 
6. GMO crops are more susceptible to failure from unexpected weather patterns, putting our food supply at risk. (which partially explains #2)
7.  GMO varieties eventually cause permanent extinction of non-gmo varieties (because of #1)

the bottom line here is that the only entities that benefit from GMO crops is, in fact, the producer of the GMO crop itself and the producers of the chemical poisons used on the GMO crop as herbicides and Pesticides. Well, i suppose there is one other benefactor... the politicians that get paid to promote and support GMO crops.  Everyone else looses. 

One of the little known facts about GMO that I'd like to point to is this...  The foundational system of these crops is flawed, in a bad way.  All throughout history, farmers have kept their own seed from crop to crop, generation to generation. With each successive planting and harvest, the genetics of the plants slowly improve because of the "survival of the fittest".  The plants are adapting to the particular ground, the weather patterns, the farming style,  the environment, etc of that particular farm. The plant improves every year even without the farmer doing anything except keeping a percentage of seed each year to plant the next years crop. that is how nature works. 

until... gmos enter. With gmo's it is a requirements that the seeds come from a central producer each year... the company that produces the genetic trait.  It is the same seeds, planted all across the country, every year. that means that each year the crops are starting from scratch again. There is no chance for improvement, no adaptation to local weather, ground, or farming styles. The genetics are tightly controlled by a single entity, the corporation producing the gmo seeds. Regardless of the benefit of hte genetic trait itself... the seeds loose all of the other advantages of local adaptation, so to gain one positive trait, it loosed a dozen others.  It is a net loss. 

This is why genetically modified crops have not, to date, produced higher nor cheaper yields. What they gain in a particular trait they loose in many others and from year to year, the lack of other positive traits reduces yield more than the single beneficial trait increases it. 

As if that wasn't enough, there is yet another insidious but hidden fault in the foundation. Since the genetic trait is owned by a single entity, and all the seeds are identical.. all across the nation...  anything unexpected that happens in the weather or growing conditions will and has doomed crops all across the nation to fail. They are all susceptible to the same problems! Again, in times past, every farmer , every area, has a slightly different seed, adapted to its local environment. So if an unexpected weather patter arises, only a portion of the nations crops are susceptible, the rest are immune. that is insurance.. the bulk of the food supply is safe. With GMO's, the food supply is at great risk to seemingly minor weather patterns. 

So there you have two important foundational reasons that the use of GMO crops is bad for our nation... and puts our food supply at risk. Even when you set aide the safety argument, and the political argument, and the uncontrollable contamination argument... even if the genetic trait IS beneficial, even if you disregard the resulting production of super weeds and super bugs... with all that put aside, genetic modification in and of itself is flawed foundationally for the above two reason and should be stopped. 

In my humble opinion, this is not just a question for Jackson county, it is a matter of national security.  IF the worst happened, and our crops were all switched to GMO either intentionally or unintentionally,  we are at risk for national food shortages due to simple weather pattern changes Or bio terror attacks from our enemies. 

To GMO or NOT ?  its simple... NOT. not here, not anywhere.. because the loss is greater than the gain. 

The Power of You.. an Individual

This is a subject that came up during a recent radio interview I was honored to give.  It is the notion of "voting with our food dollars".  Perhaps you have heard that expression or one like it in the past... but during this interview the idea took on a new meaning for me. 

You, as a food consumer, have three choices:

1. grow your own food
2. buy factory produced "food" from the grocery store
3. find a local farm to buy from

While ultimately the best, #1 is simply nor practical for many people for a variety of reasons.  For those that can, I commend you highly! For those that cant.. read on....

You are standing in front of the egg case at the grocery store, presented with a myriad of options for eggs, some cheap, some not, some with pretty labels and bold claims, some not.  Which to choose?  simple.. NONE!  Any choice you make (with the possible but rare exception  of a local farm offering eggs through the local store) will support a food system of centralized production for profit, extensive shipping, and distributed consumption.  But how you might ask.. how does your $3.50 make any difference  in supporting that system? Your just one person, one purchase, one vote.. it doesn't really count.... 

Here is why you matter. As a small local farmer I can assure you that while the $3.50 sent off to a remote producer or not doesn't affect that corporation's bottom line noticeably... that single purchase DOES directly affect the bottom line of the small local farmer offering eggs in your community.  At the scale of the small farm, every single customer, and EVERY SINGLE PURCHASE either helps or hurts  the farm's bottom line.  YOU and each purchase you make are a significant impact on his business and his future.  I strongly doubt any small farmer would disagree with me.  It's not so much that you bought from a remote corporation.. but rather the significance of doing that is that you DIDN'T buy from your local farmer. He feels that lack of sale significantly. 

Sure I agree that there is power in numbers, in groups, getting a whole segment of people to change purchasing decisions.. But what i realized is that  EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL like yourself, and EVERY SINGLE PURCHASE is significant in and of itself as a positive or negative impact to your local farm.  It doesn't take a group, it doesn't take a "movement"... YOU have the power to grow or shrink a local farm, just in your own wallet. YOU as an individual, hold their fate in your hands. 

So I ask you, what will you do with this revelation that you DO have power, not just the power of a vote, but the power of action with direct and significant impact? Will you buy that dozen eggs with the pretty label from the egg case, or will you take a stand, find a local farm, and purchase that dozen eggs from them instead? 

Your choice DOES matter :) YOU have tremendous power.  Use it wisely!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is a farmer?

What is a farmer?

The sun awakens to find the farmer already busy.  Never a shortage of things to do, his day starts early.  Awakened not by the sun's rays but by the mere promise of them, and a chance to spend another day laboring under the baking warmth of that sun or the blistering cold of of the clouds.  Weather is everything, and nothing.  Every day starts and ends the same, whether it is a beautiful fall day, a blistering summer day, or a white wintery day. Weather .... to be respected, used, watched, enjoyed, and endured, but whatever the case, the farm's day is the same. 

There are no vacations for the farmer... no days off, no weekends, no appointed breaks, not even sick days. The plants and animals under the farmer's charge are just as demanding  each day as the one before.  It matters not what else is happening in the farmer's life, the farm demands its routine day in and day out. Life continues in a never ceasing rhythm, oblivious to everything else in the world. 

Yet the farmer sings, or at least his heart does, as he trudges through the mud, snow, or dry heat.  His heart is full of appreciation and despair, celebration and concern. Studying each tiny insignificant spark of life on his land, the farmer is aware of all, and appreciative of everything. The fluttering of a leave across the pasture, the dance of a bug on the ground, the deafening silence of the sprouts emerging from dead ground... It is a symphony that the farmer enjoys every day as he manages and serves.  Life is everywhere, brilliant and demanding. Giving and needing.  Yes, the farmer sings... but not his own song, he sings along with the tune of nature, of life, of everything. 

The farmer stops to be veterinarian to a wounded animal in his care... patching, treating, loving.  Then off to be botanist, zookeeper, chemist, biologist, physicist, geneticist and lets not forget general laborer shoveling manure.  What does he do ?  He does everything... and yet nothing.  Nature is the author, the lowly farmer is just the manager. It continues with him or without him.  He does not create... but only molds, influences, serves. The breath of his responsibilities are both wide and deep. There are no colleagues to ask opinions of, no supervisor to seek direction from, no team to seek council from.  He is alone...  and yet he is not. For inside the farmer lies the spark of the Creator Himself, the wisdom of the ages, hidden beneath layers of knowledge and guessing but it is there... driving his decisions in the general direction of success amidsts all the mistakes and failures. 

Before the day ends, the farmer plays the roles of businessman, setting prices, evaluating competition, managing a list of government regulation longer than the day,   customer service, retail management, advertising, marketing, packaging... the hat he wears keeps spinning to a new title. There is no specialty, no major, no  specific talent.. the farmer must be proficient in life itself, in  all aspects of it, to succeed. He is a marvel of knowing everything while knowing nothing.  Gut instincts drive everything forward, the thing no school can produce,  silent inspiration so deep it is within his soul. 

He contemplates those that live off his efforts. Those children, elderly, the familes that rely on his expertise to bring life to their table.  He scratches at the dirt he owns, no ... that he works, for no one owns the earth but the creator,  he scratches at the dirt to inspect the life that lies within. Worms, bugs, bacteria, fungus, things too small to see, to numerous to count, and too varied to be known.  The elements of life may not have names yet, or he may not know them, but he knows they are there. He manges the balance of the life forms , he plays the role of god in providing a world for this microscopic land of things we know so little about, yet depend on for health. 

As the sun sets, he stops for a moment to watch and respect the passing of another day. His eyes gaze over his land under the inexplicable beauty of the setting sun. His animals, his crops, his world... breathing in the peace of a job well done and the anxiety of a job left undone.  His eyes close and he tests the aroma of the wind as it passed judgment on his efforts of the day.  Has nature approved of his work? Has the world improved today because of his contribution? It is all in the wind... as the day ends. He listens to the sounds of quiet... of peace... of completion. The continual circle of life.. days, nights, births, deaths,  rain, dry, cold, hot... He listens... to find his place in the world. 

What is a farmer?  He is everything, and yet nothing.  He is invisible but yet he is on every table he serves. His labors go unnoticed but also they thrive within the bodies of the next generation raised on his food.  He is the glue that binds each generation to the next.. enabling the circle of life to be complete.   

He is a farmer.... a tired, energetic, joyful, worried, anxious, content, farmer.  As his head hits the pillow, he is at peace with the world, with nature and with his creator. One more day is done. 

Yes indeed... What is a farmer?

Feed time... Check the menu

Here's a quick look at the average menu around here.  Every day we feed some combination of the following:

Sprouted  organic oats and sunflower seeds
Oyster shell
Meal worms
Rare earth minerals
Scratch and peck feeds
Our own Garden produce
Organic Fermented fruit
Organic Alfalfa leaves

Getting hungry yet?