Sunday, November 29, 2015

First winter harvest!

The first harvest from the winter garden graced two thanksgiving tables this year... beautiful heirloom beyond organic turnips! These turnips seem to have no problem with temps as low as 18 so far! Hardy, fast growing, and oooo so tasty! Light flavor, only very slight radish type heat, and smooth crispy texture. We left ours raw, sliced and served with a little oil and vinegar dressing. YUM!

We ventured out on a beautiful thanksgiving morning, cold but bright sunshine, to find these treasures under a thick frozen frost.

Hunter and oliver picked the best and biggest for the thanksgiving celebration.

Then we had the pleasure of sharing the first harvest with this plot's land owners, Stephen and Linda.

We so appreciate the people that trust us with their land, and enjoy sharing the harvest with them freely. Without land, farming is next to impossible, and taking stewardship of some else's land is a deep responsibility. We feel a special honor for each of the people that have granted us this privilege.

The winter gardens are intended primarily for pig feed, but we will have some available for sale later in the season. Coming soon. Is also: Kale, purple cauliflower, purple kohlrabi, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, and cabbage!

If you have any land available that you would like utilized for growing beyond organic produce, contact us!

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"It all comes Down" ...

Thanksgiving week is here again.. a week of reflection, thankfulness, recognition of blessings material and not. In the middle of celebrating family and friends with good food, good company, and thankful hearts... We should keep in mind one basic truth...

We dont truly "own" anything...  Every day we are here, from birth to death, we are living on limited borrowed time, walking on land given to us as a stewardship, with things loaned to us to utilize and accomplish. But... sure as the sun comes up.. we will all leave this place empty handed. All the works of our hands, all those things we tend to be so proud of, will pass along to someone else.

My dad almost died as a young man... by all accounts of medical science, he should not have lived to give life to me and my siblings.  His survival was "a miracle".. Yet he did live. He lived to see me, the youngest of 4, grow and forge off into my own family.  All his live, as long as I can remember, he said "I am living on borrowed time, I would not be here except by the grace of God".

That stuck in my head... every moment we shared, every breath he took, was borrowed time. And yet.. are we any different? None of us really owns anything... it is all given to us, as stewards of this place we call earth, to see what we will do with it. Each of us is given abilities, resources, and time, but only limited time. We walk on ground for a short lifetime, own things for a short lifetime, and control our own piece of the earth, for a short lifetime. Any of us could leave tomorrow just as easily.

This song, from Patti Casey, entitles "it all comes down" ... brings this point home.  

My question to you, as you listen to the music and hear the words deep within your soul is this...

"What will you do with your day?"   

think about it.. this day, today, is yours. Tomorrow might not be.  What will you do with the time given to you?

As a farmer, given stewardship of multiple acres of land, and numbers of animals... This is a sobering thought. How will we leave the land when we are done? will it increase or decrease in fertility? will it be neater, cleaner, more useful or used and abused?  What will our legacy be, when the next generation inherits the space we call ours today, when that stewardship passes? What example have we set for the next "owners" ?

I urge you to use today.. and every day we are given going forward, as a day to make this world a better place... do what we can with out "borrowed time" to make life better for those coming after.

And perhaps, this Thanksgiving as we go around the table to list off the things we are thankful for... we can recognize that the very act of breathing is the greatest blessing we can be given. Let us celebrate life... and use that life to spread light to the world we live in, leaving it a better place than we found it.

Lyrics to "It all comes down":
From the time that you set foot upon this earth to pass your days
You are walking on borrowed ground, and you may stake no claims
To the soil and to the water, to the creatures lying by
Even the breath you take is loaned from on high

(It all comes down)
In the end, all the works of your hand
Though built of stone and honesty no earthly house shall ever stand
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end like a hand full of sand
(And it all comes down)
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end
As you walk along those borders with the deed held in your hand
Just remember you don't own this you are a steward of this land
So seek wisdom and show mercy leaving some for another day
For you will call upon yourself the same someday
(It all comes down)
In the end, all the works of your hand
Though built of stone and honesty no earthly house shall ever stand
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end like a hand full of sand
(And it all comes down)
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end
When you drift down like a leaf to find your final resting place
You will return what you have borrowed you will have to show your face
And did you help some troubled soul did you try to lend a hand
For only kindness in the end alone shall stand
(It all comes down)
In the end, all the works of your hand
Though built of stone and honesty no earthly house shall ever stand
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end like a hand full of sand
(and it all comes down)
(and it all comes down)
down in the end 
(It all comes down)
In the end, all the works of your hand
Though built of stone and honesty no earthly house shall ever stand
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end like a hand full of sand
(And it all comes down)
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end
(And it all comes down)
(And it all comes down)
Down in the end

Friday, November 13, 2015

Video for Medford Food Coop

We recently had the privilege of being included in the video spots for the Medford Food Coop!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fresh Pork Bellies Available NOW

We have just added fresh pork bellies to the online store, available for immediate purchase!

These are the same pork bellies, from our pigs, that we make into the "cant keep in stock" little sprouts bacon. Now you can try your hand at making bacon at home. It's incredibly easy!

These pork bellies also go excellent in any soups, stews, or bean dishes. Cut it up and fry into veggies... The oil that renders out under heat is pure healthy lard.  You can rest assured that these pigs were raised right, no chemicals to accumulate in the lard, no toxins, nothing but pure natural saturated fat.

If you'd like advice on making your own bacon, feel free to email. We have tried many different ways before settling on our now famous minimalist approach.  You can save lots of money making your own bacon at home.

Hop into the online store now and order your first.. homemade bacon or REAL pork belly for pork and beans.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The first model weed burner

Here it is.... our first model homemade weed burner. A garden wagon and extra propane infrared heater, 50,000 btu. The burner is dragged along behind the wagon, suspended from two metal bars and supported by two metal skids.

In this view you can see the tracks of the burner skids / wheel as we pull it along. Everything between those tracks is now dead. 
This test worked out well, except that its a bit hard to pull, and a bit slow for our scale. We needed to burn about 20 100 yard rows.. at half an hour per row speed... that's a bit too long! It looked like the fastest we could pull is about 15 minutes per hundred yards. Faster than that and not enough heat was applied.

After this test we will rebuild with two improvements:

1. move the burner lower by removing the sloped guard and mounting the burner directly on the skids
2. Add a propulsion system

The burner sitting on the skids. 

Another view. The white wire is to turn the burner on and off, connected where the thermostat would go. 

here is a side view of the completed unit. 

posted from Bloggeroid

Sprouts.. Nutritional powerhouse

This paragraph from the linked article below should catch your eye:

 "A powerhouse of nutrition, sprouts can contain up to 30 times the nutrition of organic vegetables grown in your own garden, and allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat. During sprouting, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bioavailable. Furthermore, both the quality of the protein and the fiber content of beans, nuts, seeds and grains improves when sprouted. The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids also increase dramatically during the sprouting process."

Think about that.. 30x increase in nutrition by turning a seed into a sprout!

This is why we feed hogs and poultry sprouts instead of dry grain. Sure... Its more labor to sprout grain every day instead of just opening a bag of feed, especially at 400lbs per day... But 30x is worth it!

Or animals are raised from birth with sprouted grains and organic produce we grow ourselves. There is simply no substitute! 30x nutrition! No factory formula feed can compete with that. And since "you are what you eat"... What farm animals eat determines YOUR quality of health. Most farms buy the cheapest feed they can... Not us. Little sprouts is dedicated to our customer health... You. We won't skimp on quality!

So when your enjoying the incredible flavor of our ribs, loins, chops, sausage, chicken.... Rest assured we used every aspect of nature we could to increase the health benefits. Health matters, and everything done at the farm makes a difference on your plate.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Weed control without chemicals

Weeds... A blessing and a curse.

We actually use weeds. They have several beneficial aspects for soil and garden, as an integral part of natures regenerative cycle. Weeds are also very nutritious and inexpensive animal food. However, as beneficial as weeds are, they must be controlled. Too much too soon will stunt other plants, overtaking them in the race to survive.

Tilling and cultivating have mixed blessing as weed control. Heavy mixing of the soil may seem effective to kill weeds, but such actions also expose the seed bank of the soil to bring an explosion of weeds with the next watering. The end result possibly worse than the first.

Mulching helps, after sprouting, but is expensive at scale in both effort and resources.

Pre sprouting helps... But is slow and must be carefully planned.

Weeding manually is time consuming, especially at scale.

Tractor driven cultivators compact the soil, causing unseen damage, and cost diesel.

No till approaches simply do not scale well.

Chemicals... Even as a last resort. Even organically approved ones, are poison. Poison and food just do not mix.

So... What's left to control the explosion of beneficial but harmful weeds? We are exploring a new approach... Burning!exposing the soil and fresh weed sprouts to heat intense enough to kill the weeds without disturbing the soil.

We built a homemade weed burner from an old garden wagon and infrared propane heater. Initial tests are very impressive! It can cover much more ground with less labor than and manual weeding. It exposes no live weed seeds to sprout, leaves the seed bed untouched for immediate planting, cost only a couple dollars per hour to run, it is very controllable for consistent, straight weed free rows, and within hours, or even minutes, the destruction of weeds is obvious.

Our plan is...

Light tilling to prepare the seed bed
Water along the planting area to sprout all available weed seeds
Burn along the seed bed to kill all weed sprouts at or below the surface
Plant !

This weekend is our fist real go. Initial testing has been excitingly successful! Stay tuned for pictures and explanations!

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Surprisingly healthy hog bones!

We processed a few hogs this week for customers that bought a half or whole hog straight off the farm.  Lately we have been doing all the processing in a USDA plant, so we were not present to evaluate the health of the hogs. Yes, during processing you can tell quite a bit about the health of the herd, so on farm processing is quite helpful.  This week, we found a great surprise!

First off, the livers and organs looked beautiful. That's where obvious problems would show up. But all of these hogs were near perfect.

We noticed something else, a first... about the bones. A part of processing, of course, is to remove the feet.  Usually this is a process of clipping a few ligaments and "snapping" the feet off by hand. We have watched this done numerous times without fail. It normally doesnt take that much strength to pop the joints apart. Until now...

The butcher had a very difficult time! In fact, a few times they had to resort to a bone saw to separate the joints, as it was impossible to snap it apart with human strength.  The first one we did was a retired breeding sow, so I thought maybe it was maybe age. But no.. all the rest of the growers had the exact same strength in their joints.  Amazing!

It is not due to only breed, as we have processed this same breed mix several times before without these extra strong bones. The only explanation I can come up with is diet. These are the first set of hogs that have been fully produce fed. All the squash and pumpkin seeds are loaded with the goodness that build bones. In between produce batches these hogs were fed sprouted grain and fodder. Again.. a step well beyond commercial hog feed in nutrition. Sprouts and fodder are "live foods" as opposed to dead dry cracked grain used in commercial feed.  There just is no substitute for live food!

There is one other possibility that could contribute to extra healthy bones.... Leaves! Last year we collected a few tons of fallen leaves in the fall and spread them in a particular garden area. There was maybe 6 to 8 inches of leaves that decomposed and worked into the soil. Then in spring we planted that area with melon that never really made well (a different story)... but the weeds grew like CRAZY! especially.... purslane! it was thick and consistent .  When the pigs finally were let in to "clean up " that area, they ate all the purslane, roots and all.  How does this help? well... the leaves hold a high mineral content, because trees have very deep roots, and deep roots means bringing up deep minerals. Those minerals get deposited in the soil, and a prolific weed like purslane will pick up the minerals and make them bioavailable.

So , bottom line, we were impressed with the bone health of these hogs. what does that mean to you? Extra nutritious pork and broths made from the bones. We have never seen bones and connecting joints this healthy, so the broths and stocks made from these bones should be super nutrition!

The moral of the story is..  everything matters... your farmer can raise or lower the nutrition and health of your food by his processes...  What has your farmer done for you? Ask them!