Sunday, June 28, 2015

NewsFlash -- Little Sprouts Meats now available at Medford Food Coop

That is right.. for the first time ever, Little Sprouts is going to begin offering meats through a retail outlet, namely the local Medford Food Coop!

Starting this Thursday,  July 2, Some of our USDA inspected meats will be available for purchase through the Food coop in Medford.  The Little Sprouts team will be there throughout the day to offer information, and FREE SAMPLES of some of the meats to customers.

We invite you to stop by to say hi, sample the meats, and take some home with you.

Little Sprouts meats are quite special. Our meats are "all of the above", meaning we feature everything you need in one product instead of forcing you to pick and choose which benefits are important. Have them all!

  • Pasture Raised
  • Humanely Treated
  • Organically Fed
  • SOY free
  • GMO Free
  • No Antibiotics
  • No Hormones
  • No Vaccinations
  • No Chemical Parasite Control
  • Heritage Breed
  • Locally Raised
  • Small Farm Produced

We stand behind our meats as well as all of our products as the healthiest we can make. PLUS they just taste great. The texture, flavor, freshness, and quality is second to none.

We hope to see you Thursday!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Back in Stock - Pork sausage!

We are very pleased to announce that we have our highly popular pork sausage back in stock for two flavors:

  • English Bangers
  • Garlic and Pepper

Both of these are a new improved recipe, and both are mouthwatering good!  The pork is our own soy free, heritage, pasture raised, antiobiotic and hormone free, organically fed  hogs. But .. also ALL of the ingredients are certified organic!  The casings are an improved brand of natural hog casings. It is incredibly rare to find a sausage where the meat is raised to these high standards AND the ingredients are organic.

Order some today and try them on the gril, in the pan, in the oven, however you like. you will not be disappointed!

New Items - Lamb Breakfast Sausage!

We are very pleased to announce the arrival of a totally new product that is a MUST TRY!

Breakfast link, made from our own pastured. heritage, organically fed, antibiotic and hormone free, soy free lamb!

You will not find a healthier breakfast meat, and this recipe is a surprisingly mouth watering flavor.  We offer two varieties, mild and spicy. Neither one tastes like lamb is expected to taste and both are delicious!

Even better, this is USDA processed so it is available for purchase by free farm members without needing a paid membership.

Order yours today.. you wont be disappointed!

Friday, June 19, 2015


We are exploring a new thing this year... called fertigation. It is the concept of fertilizing through a drip irrigation system. There are several advantages:

  • More efficient - fertilizes the plants directly, not the entire ground
  • Simpler - fertilizing is as simple as pouring a mix in a bucket and click a switch
  • Feeds the roots all season - Fertilizer can be added with each watering, for the life of the plant
  • Prevents "washing out" of nutrients from over watering
And there are other advantages... it is a fascinating concept. Once you have drip lines installed, fertilizing and watering become almost totally automatic.  

For the main garden section, we chose to go with a metered injector. This is a little device that measures the water flowing through, and adds a precise amount of fertilizer to make a predetermined mixture of fertilizer to water. Its not so much adding fertilizer to the ground as it is filling the irrigation water with nutrients. This unit has its own on / bypass switch on top so it can easily be set to not run when not fertilizing. 

We simply added this device in front of the main valve distribution, and added a buckets for the fertilizer. Then just mix and watch!

Initially we ran it manually, meaning we would mix the fertilizer into  the bucket, and manually turn on the valves to water / fertilize until the fertilizer was used up. Eventually we will set it up so that once a week we just mix a big batch of fertilizer in a larger drum, and let the system run through the normal watering cycle all day. unattended fertilizing!

Here is the completed setup. The distribution valves are sitting on a nice table (old duck shelter) with hoses gently bent to prevent kinks. The injector sits on the right with the supply line, and the bucket of fertilizer below on the pallet. The timer is behind the valves. 

A closeup of the injector system. That black cylinder connected to it is the water filter. 

This injector has moving parts. More prone to "wear" but more accurate on delivery at low water pressure.  When running, this system only has about 10 to 20 psi on the feed line, so we had to be careful with which injector to use. 

It is currently set to a 2% mix, meaning for every 100 gallons of water flowing through, it will have mixed 2 gallons of fertilizer mix. We dilute the fertilizer mix based on this to match the manufacturer's recommended dosage.  

Here is a quick video of the machine in operation.

By the way, all the products you see here, including the drip tape itself is easily available online  through Drip Depot, based right here in southern oregon. 

Sprouting Peas!

Our supply of locally grown Barley has just dried up, so we are switching to other types of feed choices for sprouting. The first shipment is.. peas! Starting with a couple of tons . dried field peas, organically grown.

Each of these barrels has a two 50 lb bags of dried peas soaking in water... a tad too much! Peas expand greatly when rehydrated!  Next batch will be only one bag per barrel.

Within 3 to 4 days these should have nice sprouts on them, ready to be used for a highly nutritious meal for hogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and even goats!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Replanted the melons, a third time.

For some reason we are really struggling to get melons this year. We have planted, and then spot planted the area twice, and still very few sprouts. After both plantings we only found a couple dozen plants ,  out of 8 rows of 180 feet each. Not good!

I dont know what the cause is.. possibly these particular melon seeds arent viable, or just dont like our weather, or.. I dont know. But it didnt work.

So, today we removed the drip lines, pulled up all the successful plants, and retilled the entire plot again. The ground is much fier now.. since the last tie left it a bit too rocky. Perhaps this affected the sprouting.  Anyway, within a couple hours we had the plot tilled, drip lines reinstalled, and a new planting done.

This time we went with a variety of watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe.  Hopefully with this variety and the finer ground things will work out. Its too late to fix for this year if this one doesnt work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Upgrades for the hogs at foothill

The unusually hot weather this week  brought some concern about the hogs growing nicely at foothill. The water system was struggling to keep up with demand. It seemed that he battery was dying every day and leaving the waterer dangerously low. With a steady supply of water, hogs are in danger of suffering deeply in this dry heat.  So, we decided to fix things better.

First, the power system on the water trailer. We had already replaced the small solar panel with a full sized 15 watt panel.  Next we replaced the small 100 watt solar controller with a  300 watt digital one. This gave a reading on the power pull of the motor which was more than expected at 6 to 9 amp! no wonder the original system wasn't keeping up.

I replaced the smaller battery on the water trailer with a true deep cycle with much larger capacity. Then installed a pressure gauge in line with the water line after the pump. Using the readings from the pressure gauge I was able to set the pressure switch properly to turn on at 5psi and off at 15psi reliably.  This gave a reliable power and water source.

Here is the completed new setup
Here is a shot of the pressure gauge installed using a typical Y hose connection and adapter

Top view of the battery, pump, and solar controller

Then I went to work at the other end of the delivery hose.  The hose leads to a 4 way connector which feeds:

  1. Hog Waterer float valve
  2. loose hose with shutoff on end for manual water delivery
  3. empty
  4. Pressure tank
The pressure tank is helpful. It is just a standard 5 gallon pressure tank  for a hot water heater. This is a sealed tank with an air bladder inside.  The air bladder softens pressure changes and stores a small amount of water to reduce pump cycling.

With the new water pressure set to 5-15 psi, I released enough air from the tank to leave it at 10psi. In theory that stores enough water to account for 5psi pressure change. 

The distribution 4 way splitter.  note the small pressure tank in the upper left corner.

The waterer itself. 

Then... the poor hogs were SO hot. Even in the shade they were just laying still in distress trying to breathe. Remember.. pigs dont sweat.  They need external water / mud to keep cool.  So... More water to the rescue!

We purchased another hose, a home water timer, a nozzle, and made a pig shower... a virtual pig water playground! The timer turns on for half an hour every 6 hours during the day, and the nozzle shoots the water far enough into the pen to keep the electric fence safe.  this occasional spraying will provide quick relief as well as a muddy spot where they can dig and lay to cool down. The resulting mud will help to keep them cool.

The timer is strapped to a plastic fence post, which is braced against another plastic fence post with wire ties. Actually makes a sturdy base just high enough
With water running, pretty good distance for a 12v pump! Some of the pigs came running over to investigate the sound of falling rain!

Success! happy pigs playing and lounging in the rain drops

One final thing to do here is to install another solar panel. A single 15 watt panel can charge at about .8 to .9 amps in the bright sun. That gives about 10 amp hours per day of power at best.  But the pump draws 6 to 8 amps..  so for just filling the waterer for drinking it would work fine, but   to run 3 times a day at 30 minutes each for the shower adds   90 minutes run time at an average 7 amps...  thats about 10.5 amp hours per day.. more than one panel can recharge.  Adding one more should make the system balance nicely. 

"Thank you Mr Farmer!"  says the now happy pig

Move aside guys! make room!

AAAHHH, cool rain!

Ever seen a group of happier pigs??

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Afternoon snack

A new litter of pigs enjoys a late afternoon snack...


Today's heat brought new life into the world!

Pumpkin sprouts
Zucchini sprouts
Cucumber sprouts

The melons also sprouted, but not as well as expected... Might be a problem there...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Drip system up and running

Here is the brain of the drip irrigation system up and functional. Perhaps not pretty yet, still needs to be mounted safely to something... but its working! And just in time. The 1/3 inch of rain yesterday is already dried up in the dry winds today. From the surface you cant even tell it rained!

I chose a Galcon timer/ controller with DC valves. This is a 6 station timer that is quite unique... each valve can be programmed independently! not often you find that in timers. Most have set programs that you put valves into or not. This one lets you set a program PER VALVE independently. Very Nice! Plus it is fully battery powered, great for the back of the pasture.

The setup is simple... a 3/4 inch garden hose feeds the system. This first goes through a Y to allow for a pressure gauge, then a typical mesh filter.  The filter then connects to a 6 outlet 1" manifold.  Why 1 inch?  well.. because thats all that was in stock :)

The valves connect to the manifold, which i highly recommend. CUsing a manifold makes removing valves for any reason a simple matter, and they aren't that much more expensive than a custom built PVC connection point. 

After the valve is an adapter back to hose threads for each valve, and a 5/8 inch hose going to the section to water. each section is sized to take about the same amount of water to drive it, meaning a similar total drip tape footage.  At the end of the hose is a pressure reducer to make sure nothing gets more than 10psi, a valve for local control, and a 3/4 feed pipe where the drip tapes are connected.

For now.. nothing is glued... I am hoping this will hold. IT is low pressure all the way through, and PVC is reasonably tight.  Not glueing allows for multi year use of the feed pipes with changing configurations. IF they tend to pull apart in use, I will be forced to glue, but hopefully it will work. 

That's it! pretty simple. 

The manifold and controller setup

here is what it looks like at the drip tape end. You can just see the first tape connected at the top of the picture
At first, right after planting up until the plants have reasonable roots, the water runs 2 to 3 times a day for an hour or so. This keeps the ground wet enough to germinate in the tracks from the planter.  As the ground saturates, we turn that down and once the plants have roots it will be cut back to an hour every 2 to 3 days.  The efficiency off drip tape is amazing!

Monday, June 1, 2015

And lastly.. Zucchini is in

We managed to get in a few zucchini plants just before the rain started today. There won't be any planting for a few days now as we received a nice 1/3 inch, just enough to soak the top inch of soil.

There are now 8 rows of 300 feet of zucchini, about 2500 plants total.  Err also managed to add one more row of pumpkins making a total of about 2500 pumpkin plants.

There is one more unplanned section, that will have to wait until the ground dries a bit.

It was a challenge... Had some problems with our fancy seeder. First the chain came lose from overuse. I had to remove a link to shorten it. Then the wheel in the back that compacts the soil after planting, it cracked in 3 places. Some duct tape fixed that for now. When this season is planted.. Time for an overhaul!

Tomorrow I will connect up the new drip watering system and post pictures. There are a total on 6 independent zones... More on that later.

For now the rain brings some much needed rest.