Monday, June 30, 2014

New Product - GAPS legal soups!

Drum Roll please!

We are very happy to announce our first production run of GAPS LEGAL SOUPS made right here at Little Sprouts Farm!  These soups are perfect for anyone needing convenience but the high nutrition and careful cooking methods of GAPS intro or Full GAPS diet. 

OF course, they are just good nutritious soups for anytime!

The first run is a vegetable soup base (organic veggies, and our own chicken meat stock)  and an offering of 3 flavors of pork. You can order the soup as a vegetable soup or add the precooked pork to produce a quick meat based soup. Just heat and eat.. nutritious homemade soups!

We will be adding more flavors of soup and more proteins soon. For now, please give this a try and give us feedback!

Remember, you will need a paid farm membership to purchase the soup.  We can easily add this to your order. 


Saturday, June 21, 2014

New product - plum preserves!

We just finished the first batch of an exciting new product...  Locally and organically grown plum preserves!  Yum!

There are two flavors,  tart or semi-sweet.   The only difference is the amount of sugar added.  

The plums are soft but still mostly intact.  The flavor is bright and strong.  The aroma is heavenly.  You can use these as a topping,  as runny jam,  maybe as a pie filling or even as a snack!

Watch for these to appear in the store this week for sale!

Hunters vertical potato garden

Hunter was assigned the job of raising food for our new bug project (which is food for the chickens).  Turns out that an efficient food source is potatoes!  They carry enough moisture for the bugs to live without a water source,  and are long lasting sources of food.  So,  he is growing potatoes as bug food.

Instead of rows of potatoes  to dig up one at a time...  He is building a vertical garden,.  A box made of wood,  that expands upward as the plants grow,  causing them to produce layer after layer of potatoes from the original plants.  Much more efficient than waiting for a plant to grow big and pulling it out. 

The idea is to plant potatoes on the ground inside the wood box with a single greatest 2x6 as a bed.  Once the plants are tall enough,  another layer of 2x6 goes in and the plan5er is filled with more dirt,  leaving the plant partially under the new dirt.  A new layer of potatoes is created at this layer,  and the layer below can be harvested without killing the plant. 

Hopefully with a few of these boxes,  he can raise enough potatoes to feed a hundred thousand mealworms in a small spot of real-estate.

Costly Mistakes Happen - and then you move on

And when they do...... sometimes you cant fix it.

Another freezer accident.  In the confusion of moving 3 freezers around and getting a new one... one box of product got left out, sitting quietly to the side at room temps... all night.  I have no one to blame but myself. I clearly remember setting the box off to the side myself, planning to get right back to it...  but didnt.

So, end result. We have lost all of our for sale pig organs, and most of the turkey parts.  We will be shuffling through whats left to see which orders if any we can fill, but alas, I suspect we will have none left.   If you ordered pig or turkey parts, we will be cancelling that off your order.

Unfortunately, there wont be replacements any time soon.

Sad, costly, frustrating.

But, when there is nothing possible to do about the past.. you move forward.

Pasture fodder system- - take 2

Well..  Our first attempt at a moveable pasture watering fodder system failed miserably.  Time for a few changes and take 2!

First,  higher sides.  Turns out the turkeys could reach through the chicken wire in the top and eat the grain.  We raised the top another 6 inches.

Second,  lower slope.  This design has water dripping at one end and exciting the other.  The slope of the trays was to steep so that the grain would break lose and slide down the tray.  Now there is a very gentle slope.

Third,  sides on the pallets instead of the top.  This makes the top lighter and easier to handle.

After the first day this design looks better.  The grain is in place,  soaked from bottom up nicely and evenly,  and no missing chunks from tried snatching a meal.

Yet another duck pen

Ducks are perhaps the hardest small animal to contain!  We have tried numerous types of fencing to keep them code enough to collect the eggs,  and all have failed.  So...  Here we go again!

This time we use 16 foot hard panels, arranged in a zip zag walked square, and lashed together tightly with baleing twine. Hopefully this will work.

Duck eggs anyone?

Friday, June 20, 2014

The magic of craigslist saves the day

Remember just a few weeks ago we suffered the loss of most of our sellable meat products by the storage freezer failing?  Well...  Believe it or not,  it happened again!  We just filled the new freezer with new chickens,  turkey parts,  organs,  lard,  broths,  etc....  And the new freezer fails!  Well,  not new,  it's a second hand freezer.  But still...  Really!?

Fortunately we discovered it this time before anything defrosted.  We were able to save the products by packing the freezer witn bags of ice to keep it cold,  and go back on the hunt for another freezer.

Amazingly,   through the magic of craigslist,  we now have a shiny almost new freezer holding the products just 6 hours later.  There are so many freezers on Craigslist at any time that a person can find just what they want and grab it within a few hours.  It's often faster than store shopping!

Amazingly,  on a Friday evening at 5pm, we were able to find the perfect freezer,  but then how to pay.  These days we don't have cash laying around...  In fact we don't have cash!    But the Lord provides in amazing ways.  On the phone with the seller,  she was generous enough to come down quite a bit on price,  but her final offer was still over our budget.. I agreed to her lowest price,  and amazingly when we pulled our our cash,  we had the amount she asked,  plus a couple dollars extra for gas! 

We rely on Craigslist quite a bit for both buying and selling,  and are seldom disappointed. We rely on our Creator constantly for all things,  and are never disappointed!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Well Fed Homestead: How to Bless a Farmer

Copied here from another farm blog,  too good to pass up:

The Well Fed Homestead: How to Bless a Farmer

How to Bless a Farmer
Posted: 19 Jun 2014 08:00 AM PDT

Typing this up made me cry….For us, and the fact that our “farm dream” didn’t work out….and for other farmers who are struggling. They work SO hard. Trust me, I know.  Treat them well. Do you want to see a change in our food system? BE THE CHANGE.

How to Bless a Farmer

1. Visit the farm and buy something

Most farmers will welcome visitors, unless it is a really busy season. We had to limit visitors to one day per week because we needed to get work done on the farm. Ask your local farmer when it might be a good time to stop by. Some farms will have a “farm store” with goods in them. Some farms will be taking orders for their CSA, or meat that will be ready in a few months, etc. Ask for any information the farmer might be able to give you about the food that he or she sells. Buy something that day or make a deposit on a future purchase. Make your visit profitable, and hopeful for the farmer.

2. Go to the farmer’s market

The farmer’s market is a lot of work for the farmer. It’s where they get to show off the fruits of the labor, in hope that you and others in your town will re-direct your grocery money to support their farm. It is so depressing for the farmer to go to all of that work, and have a “slow” day at the market. Go to the farmer’s market often, even in poor weather. Your farmers will be there, rain or shine, trying to make a living. Go!

3. Become a regular customer

Visit their booth or farm frequently. Let the farmers know your face is familiar, friendly, supportive, and that you want their farm to be in business a year from now. Sign up for the farm’s email list. Go to the same booths at the farmer’s market over and over. When you find a good farm, support them!

4. Spend a Saturday helping on the farm

Giving up ONE Saturday won’t hurt you. Chances are good that your farmer is spending every Saturday working the farm and rarely gets a break. Are you spending your Saturdays vacationing, doing fun activities, enjoying hobbies, or working on house projects? Think of all of these things that farmers have to sacrifice, in order to provide good food. Ask your farmer what he or she needs help with, and do it with a cheerful heart.

5. Recommend the farm to others

Your recommendation to your friends and family is powerful. Spread the word that you’ve found a good farm! Help the farm thrive.

6. Don’t complain about the prices

Don’t expect farm-fresh food to cost the same as grocery-store, government-subsidized food. Farmers are not rich. Think of how many $4 heads of lettuce they’d have to sell to really be bringing in the dough. Now think about how many hours it would take them to grow all of that lettuce, weed, and work at the market. It comes down to simple math–growing food does not make people rich. Support your farmer and pay the price without grumbling.

7. Tip the farmer

YES! Farmers don’t get tips, bonuses, health insurance, paid time off, bank holidays off, hourly pay, or even consistent pay. Tip your farmer and tip them WELL!

Can you think of other ways to bless a farmer?

Original post is here :
 http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheWellFedHomestead/~3/Kl_xX3gWsc0/how-to-bless-a-farmer?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email 

More piglet surgery

We found another injured piglet in the newest large black litter.  Not nearly as bad as the first,  but bad enough to need attention.  The cut was in the same place, in front of the rear leg.  We glued this one together and sterilized it...  And away she goes.

Another large black litter

Can you see the little one hiding in the straw?

Here is one we have been waiting for..  Our first large black sow just gave birth again!  Aren't they cute!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Emergency ! saving a baby pig from the new black tamworth litter

Always something exciting going on! Yesterday was no exception. at evening feeding time, I couldn't find the light colored tamworth mom, so I went searching. Found her in the very back of the pasture,  with a brand new set of piglets! Problem was, the situation was not ideal.

She had dug a nest in  a fresh mud puddle to give birth, but the mud was  just at the wrong consistency. It was very sticky clay. Two of the babies had wandered far enough to get themselves stuck in clay quicksand.  They were submerged up to their necks and struggling to breathe.  I dug one out and cleaned the mud off of it (mom wasn't too happy with all the squealing right near her, which made things interesting) and that piglet seemed ok. took a bit for it to find the ability to walk again, but eventually it was nursing with the clan.  The other piglet was not so lucky.

The second piglet, when i got it out of the mud, was slashed open from the backbone to the belly right in front of the right rear leg. It was surprising that she could walk! But she seemed oddly unaffected, except that her skin would open wide with each step to expose  the inner workings.  MY best guess is that while submerged tight in the mud up to her neck, a larger pig came along and unknowingly stepped on her, hoofs sinking in and slicing her side open.

She seemed strong and plenty mobile, so we let her nurse for two or three cycles to make sure she was strong.. then  went to work.  I gathered her up in my shirt and ran to the kabota (more squealing) where brenda waited to whisk us to the "hospital", meaning the stainless steel processing table in the bird processing tent. It felt a little like a scene from MASH tv show!

Some careful flushing of the wound revealed surprising little damage below the skin.  We flushed it out well with warm water, then iodine, then hydrogen peroxide, then sprayed a little vetricine.  Once all that dried and the wound was clean and reasonably sterile, out comes the super glue. A farmer's best friend! I have glued many a turkey together after overactive breeding with high success.  So while brenda held the baby pig warmly, i glued away a little bit at a time until the wound was closed.  Another layer of iodine, and spray of vetricyn and she was patched up as well as we could.  Back out to mom!

In the mean time, we had moved a shelter nearby where mom was, in hopes she would choose the shelter over the mud home to prevent further injury.  Mom did go in, but never laid down. I suspect the problem is that early on the tamworths were pushed away from the shelters by the large blacks, so mom was scared to claim it as her own. Instead she decided to lay down just outside the mud hole to nurse. The situation seemed safe enough, so we left her alone with babies.

Fortunately she didn't seem to mind the medicinal smell of the hurt piglet. she accepted it right back in and let it nurse. So for the evening, that is all we could do.  The family is together, 6 piglets and mom.

First attempts at flushing the wound with warm water to remove the mud. Fortunately this was fresh clean mud.

Here you can see the wound, it extends from her backbone to belly.

She was a great patient. Held still and quite through all of the procedure.

Wound mostly clean, flushing with hydrogen peroxide now. 



The emergency team!

Starting to "stitch" it back with superglue. 



All stitched up and ready to go. 

Heading back to mom in a warm blankie.

From a distance we watch to make sure the siblings accept her new  smells. No troubles seen. She can even walk normally!

And finally back nursing with mom!

First morning stroll

The little black tamworth piglets finally ventured out with mom this morning to the watering hole.  What a beautiful morning to see the world!



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Products Available!

We have been busy restocking our shelves and freezers, as well as introducing new products this spring. You can find all of these items in our online store here:

NOTE: some items require a paid food membership to purchase. 

Here is a list of the items just now available!

HONEY 

From our own top bar hives, the purest, most natural, minimally processed honey from bees never fed sugar or seen any chemicals

STOCK

Meat stock from our pastured, soy free, heritage breed, organically fed chickens! This is unlike any chicken stock available in the stores.  Thick, rich, flavorful for drinking, soups, stews, whatever!

NEW: Chicken Head and Feet stock! There is nothing more medicinal than traditional stock made from the heads and feet of our chickens. Now you can enjoy the benefits and flavor of this magical stock without the mess and trouble. We slow stew the stock for hours, then cool and freeze in ice cube trays. The end result is 2 oz frozen chunks of stock that can be added to anything. not enough to change the flavor, but enough to add nutritional value to any meal!

MEATS

NEW: Pig Organs!
We now offer organ meats from our pastured, soy free, organically fed, heritage breed hogs.  Each is vacuum sealed individually and frozen.  Chop these to add to any meat dish for super nutritional value!
Available: Hearts, Livers, Kidneys

Ground Pork - available in 3 packs of one lb packages

Whole Stewing Chickens - Pastured, organically fed, soy free heritage breed chickens, older birds perfect for slow cooking and making stocks. Incredible flavor and often loaded with fat!

Chicken organs and parts - From our stewing hens, there are heads, feet, gizzards, necks

Turkey Feet and Heads - from our own pastured, soy free, organically fed heritage turkeys

LARD

We have plenty of frying lard available. it comes frozen and vacuum sealed (no waste!) . This lard is healthy, made from our pastured, soy free, organically fed heritage hogs and processed minimally to retain all its nutritional value without any chemicals.  Use this anywhere a fat is used for cooking! It is heat stable and heart healthy!

CHEESE

Samples! We are now offering samples of aging cheese to members of our new cheese club. Help develop our recipes!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Moving the Brooders

It finally came time to move the new brooders. These brooders were built to be movable instead of cleanable... keeping in line with our pastured approach to raising animals. These young are put right on real ground from hatching.  They learn earlier to forage, and have a much cleaner environment  of fresh grass and soil full of seeds, bugs, etc.

So, we took the tractor and gave it a go!  Here's the pics:

Getting ready to hook the straps over the tractor forks

The safety / supervisor crew watching closely

Hunter likes to get up close and personal in his work

Is it going to lift straight?

YES! Success!

Slowly now.. moving to the new spot

And there they are! fresh grass and ground!

Everett filling the waterers again. 

Pig Grazing!

What a beautiful sight, pigs out on open pasture grazing the grass, weeds, and flowers just like cattle! The red wattles we started with had less appetite for green than these large blacks seem to. These guys spend an afternoon walking around chomping on mouthfuls of various grasses, even passing up grain to do so sometimes! 

Here is a couple of videos of the pigs grazing on the back pasture

video


video

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The silver appleyard flock

Here is our second generation silver Appleyard ducks.  They were all hatched from the original 3 hens and 1 Drake. 
When these guys grow up...  We will have enough to stay offering duck meat at least once a year.
The Appleyard is a sturdy beautiful heritage breed.  These guys have been on open foraging since they left the brooder.  They don't look like they have missed any meals!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Camping on the sun porch

What do 11 little piglets do when mom kicks them out of the shelter for a little mom break?  Easy....  Sit on the sun porch and soak up some morning rays!
Here they are...  Doing just that.  If you look closely you might see mom peacefully napping just inside the door while the babies are out.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Homemade Milk Measuring adapter

Managing a herd of dairy goats requires some reliable way to measure the amount of milk each goat produces each month. That way it is possible to tell when their natural cycle is coming to an end, and when to rotate them around a rest / breeding cycle that is best for them as well as maintaining the milk production constant year round.   To do this, we recently purchased a Waikato milk meter.



This is a simple manual device that goes inline with the milk tubes, and captures 2% of the milk into the graduated tube in the front. IT works great... for larger goats. With the mini nubians it does a wonderful job as is. BUT for the Nigerian dwarfs, 2% is not enough milk to .. measure! SO i took it upon myself to modify it. or rather to create an adapter that will capture 90% of the milk instead.

First, heres how this device works:

The milk flows up the middle pipe, entering the chamber at the top in the center with force. It splashes against the dome which has a ring on the inside. This ring serves to direct the milk down. On one side is a square pipe that captures 2% of the milk and sends it down to the measuring tube. The rest of hte milk exists at the bottom back towards the vacuum.

From the top you can see the center tube, the ring around it in the dome, and the tube on the left (the front) that captures the milk

With the dome removes you can see the center tube and square milk capture tube.
So now the "adapter". I took the lid from a mason jar, a plastic lid, and drilled a center hole, then cut a square on one end, to fit over the pipes. This then slides down over the pipes and forms a catch cup that catches most of the milk. I then cut a slot in the side of the square tube at the base of the adapter, which allows the milk to flow into the square pie and the measuring cylinder.  the slot should not bother the use of hte device without the adapter, so it can go back and forth from a nubian to a nigerian measuring device.


View of the "adapter"
Here are some shots of it in place:





So tomorrow morning we shall see if this works!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back in stock: broths, turkey feet, chicken meat, lard, etc

Finally our shelves are filling up again.  Last week we made available whole chickens and chicken organs, then honey and our special recipe plain kombucha. Now this week we bring to you chicken meat stock, some turkey organs, and frozen cooked chicken chunks,  and lard.  Plus, another harvest of honey. ( the first honey harvest sold out within hours of posting)

These products will become available in the online store as they are put in the stock shelves,  and you can order them for delivery on your next delivery cycle.  They are offered first come first serve,  so order early!

We are happy to finally starting to recover from a tough spring of mishap after mishap.  We are committed to building up our variety of products again and even expanding.  We appreciate your patience and hope it was worth the wait.

When you just can't satisfied

What do you do when you really pregnant and just can't seem to get satisfied with food??  Climb in with  it!

Hobby farms and the demise of the full time farmer

Warning: This is perhaps the most controversial post  I have ever done, and I must say I have hesitated for weeks on how to present this idea.  As you read through, please keep an open mind and  consider the points raised.  What finally prompted me to post this is a recent blog post from another small family farm that didnt survive. this one hits close to home. A family that started a small far, committed all their savings, time, and energy into making the best food possible, but in the end failed to make a living. they were forced to sell and move back into obscurity in town, leaving their customers with no where to turn.   With that tragedy in mind,  please consider my comments. 


There are 3 types of farms in America today :
  • Hobby farms
  • Family owned for profit farms
  • Corporate owned big ag

A common question is... What's the difference between the hobby farm and the family farm?  This is both a great question and the essence of this posting.

Hobby farm is (my own definition)  any farm not intended to make a profit. It is not the size that defines hobby,  but the motivation. A farmer that does not have a goal of making a living wage off the farm is a hobby farmer. A hobby farm is one that assume the need for off farm income to survive. The main goal of most hobby farms is to produce high quality nutritionally superior food for a small group of people at the lowest cost possible. 

Contrast this with a for profit family farm.  This is the farmer that does not work off farm to support the family,  but depends on the farm income. Sure sometimes things go wrong and outside income is necessary,  but the goal is to live off the farm exclusively. It is not what the family does for fun, it is what they do for food, clothing, and shelter. the main goal of a small family farm is to produce high quality nutritionally superior food for the largest number of people possible without sacrificing quality, while making a living in the process. 

The corporate farm is of course dedicated to maximum profit at all costs,  raising production and dropping quality  while consuming government handouts. Size is a factor here, because bring efficiency at the cost of quality and longevity.  the main goal of the corporate farm is profit, at all costs. 

The question of this post is this... what is the greatest competition to small family for profit farms?  the conclusion I have come to is surprising, even shocking.  But I believe it is real.  The most harmful competitor is in fact NOT big ag, not large conventional farms. It is the hobby farm... it is those good intentioned individuals with honor and high ideals.  Hobby farms are what is enabling big ag to dominate.

Before you get upset, and throw this post away, please hear me out. 

Big Ag -- primarily sold through grocery stores, is easy for small farms to compete with. They lack quality. They lack integrity. They lack personal bond with customers. They lack principles of healing the earth, being kind to nature.  there are dozens of things that big ag can not do, and has no interest in doing, because of their size and focus.  They are , in essence an easy target. the only thing they offer the public is convenience and low price, at the cost of health, nutrition, environment, etc.  Those that shop for food by price, at walmart, will not even consider buying eggs for $7 per dozen. those willing to pay $7 per dozen for decent eggs are not willing to grace the door of walmart for food. 

But, that leaves two sources to consider for the individual who cares about nutrition and environment:  hobby farms and for profit family farms.  They both offer a superior product to anything available from the grocery store. BUT there is a fundamental difference. Hobby farms often operate at a loss or break even.  I have often heard the comment" if i can just cover my feed cost with these egg prices I will be happy".  You can substitute any product in that phrase and it fits.  hobby farms just want to cover costs, and usually employ little to no labor.  Therefore their prices, for excellent food, are artificially low. It is food sold "at cost". 

This sets the bar of pricing low, so that when a small family farm tries to make a profit, their pricing must remain higher than corresponding local hobby farms.  The difference is that hte for profit farm has no other income, so must make at least minimum wage on its products to exist. the hobby farm can sell literally at cost to produce without labor.  therefore, the biggest competitor to family farms is the hobby farm. 

Why is this a problem? well.. obviously the hobby farm must have a second income to exist. the food itself does not provide income. it must be subsidized by other non farm labor.  That necessarily splits the focus of the hobby farm, and limits its production abilities. There can not be an individual dedicated to producing as much good food as possible because time and energy must be left to do things that actually make money.  therefore, quality and quantity can not be what it could be. hobby farms, by definition, are part time farmers.  
For example... Pasteurized non-organic milk from stressed unhealthy coos for $4 per gallon in the store does not compete with milk we produce.  BUT milk from local hobby farms sold for $15 per gallon does. Yet, any dairy person will tell you that $15 per gallon at best will only cover costs of producing it.  They dont make a profit, they do it because they love to, or because they want to help the world. yet, setting the price bar this low, at cost, prevents many more dairies from going into operation to provide milk to even more people at $20 per gallon at a profit.  You see, selling good food at cost of production HURTS everyone in the long run.

Now I ask you.. how does this model scale?  while I certainly agree that food should be reasonably prices, the reality is.. if you dont have small for profit farms you are left to only part time hobby farms and big ag. will that feed the world?  how are we to change the health of our nation if we are limited to part time farmers and big ag?  we NEED small family farms to produce the bulk of the food, and they need to make a living doing it. 

Where am i going with this?  I am not entirely sure.  one thing I know is this.. if hobby farms would price their food high enough to make minimum wage while producing it,  instead of making food at cost, there would be LOTS more food available to more people of high quality.   many more families would venture into the farming world full time, producing much more food at reasonable true prices. 

Am i against coops , food sharing, bartering, etc etc? no. not against. but I throw out for a discussion a warning that if we continue to produce good food at cost, we will someday ONLY be able to find good food from people willing to do it at a loss, part time, in dwindling quantities.  And that is a sad day indeed.

So, bottom line is.. good food production is not in jeopardy from big ag, they are not the enemy.  the Monsantos of the world will never take out small family farms.  but, the sad reality is, hobby farms might. Just as the previous owners of farms that have gone out of business without a second income to support it.  hear their stories. feel their heartbreak.  then go support a full time local family farm. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sneaking a quick snack

This teenager pig decided to sneak in on the babies nursing!   He made it in without mom noticing,  and got quite a snack before she realized one of the little mouths wasn't her baby....  And she was not happy!

Pigs!

Black Tamworth arrive!

Exciting day!  We have put first litter of black Tamworth piglets on the ground!   This is a cross between the large black and the Tamworth.  She had 12 healthy piglets,  and all seem to be doing fine.

Unfortunately....  A couple of the young boars in the community pasture decided to be a tad overly eager and started chasing the new mom trying to make already.  In her efforts to fight them off,  a couple of the piglets got stepped on!  So we quickly ran in to seperate the bunch.  It took a bit of convincing (read farmer  vs pig fight) They were determined!

After getting the boys away,  we stationed a guard,  Josh.  He got a quick lesson in pig control,  a chair,  and guard duty.  Levi decided to pull up outside the pasture supervising.   Today we will provide a quiet post for her to raise these babies without being bothered,  and it's time to process some boars! But for the moment,  Josh stands guard.