Friday, December 30, 2016

New Farm Advertising Campaign

We have done very little advertising for the farm since we launched Little Sprouts some 6 or 7 years ago. The customer list has grown slowly from a dozen to a few hundred in that time by word of mouth, interviews, etc.  But as we approach 2017, and have left the off farm income behind, there is a desperate need to speed things up.

So, we have launched a new advertising campaign. It is primarily based on "doodle" add, where a hand draws the story on a whiteboard in a video.  I personally love that format! It is entertaining, crisp, simple.  So here we go!

At this point, all of the ads are made in-house, with some special software.  It has been a learning curve and challenging, but below you can see the first results! Yep.. I know.. it looks amateurish. That's ok.. we are amateurs! Constructive feedback is appreciated, but lets keep in mind that no professionals are involved.. so keep expectations realistic!

The Ads themselves are, for now,  graphics and music. The combination of audio and visual tells the story without narration, well that's the goal anyway... so be sure to turn on the sound as you watch.



Save The Children

video

Monday, December 26, 2016

New Favorite Recipe: Turkey Dressing

This Christmas dinner we tried something new, and it worked out unbelievably wonderfully, so we would like to share this with you.

We very very rarely touch breads, but Christmas dinner is one time where we will splurge a little... with dressing. But the turkeys we made were smoked long and slow, so doing the stuffing inside the birds is next to impossible. The question then is how do you get that stuffed turkey taste from dressing made in the oven?

It is actually quite easy... fat! The realization came from thinking "what gives dressing cooked inside the bird that amazing flavor?". The main difference is, dressing inside the bird soaks up all the fat that renders out while cooking, fat from skin and suck. Based on that, I came up with the following recipe and it was nothing short of AMAZING.

Broth - make your own by boiling some giblets (hearts, gizzards, livers, etc) in a small amount of water with a few peppercorns, a quartered onion, and a pinch of salt. The amount is roughly 2 cups per box of bread crumbs, but check the dressing box for recommend proportions.

Fat - remove all the fat possible from inside the turkey. A heritage turkey properly raised will have about a handful of orange or deep yellow fat inside the body cavity and around the neck area. pull all that you can out and put in a small pot to render slow on the stovetop. If there is not enough rendered fat for the amount of dressing desired, add sticks of grass fed butter to it. Again, use the dressing box as a guide, but use about 50% more total fat then they suggest.

Veggies - my favorite is equal parts onion, carrot, celery. Chopped to quarter inch or so pieces

Garlic - Peel an entire head of garlic and mince it up with a knife

Stuffing mix - we use 1/3 wheat dressing, 2/3 corn dressing

Now your ready to build... First mix the chopped veggies and garlic to the dry dressing mix. Gently mix this together in a large bowl by slowly flipping.  Then add the liquid broth slowly as you continue flipping gently. Be gentle as to not break up the bread any more than necessary.  When it is all uniform and the moisture is pretty much all soaked in (about 10 to 15 minutes) then add the liquid  fat, preferably warm. Again, flip slowly to coat all evenly without breaking the bread apart.

Now just shovel this into a flat glass baking dish and cover with foil. Then into a hot oven at 350 degrees for about half an hour.  Check, it should be bubbly at the bottom. If so, remove the foil and continue baking another half hour or so, until the top is brown and a little crispy.

There you go! The best dressing ever, made in the oven, taste like it comes from a bird.

NOTE: do NOT try this with a storebought turkey. They wont have enough fat, and what they do have is not healthy anyway due to raising and feeding.  This will only work with a heritage turkey raised where it can get access to lots of bugs.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

First book in paperback on Amazon

Just in time for Christmas, our first book is now available in paperback on the amazon website. It's definitely exciting to see the book on amazon.. Actually surreal is a better term.



You can order it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1520227116

This is being fulfilled through "print on demand" service, which is great for a new author! They actually print the books, one at a time as they are ordered. that way there is not the huge investment up from in making the first shipment of books on speculation.

It is also available now in Amazon as a kindle download through this  link:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NGZ5LUX


Hopefully this is the beginning of a new trend in small farms making healthy foods across america!

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2016

New product - guinea fowl

For the first time ever, we have organs, feet and necks from guinea fowl available for purchase in the online store. Son we will have the whole birds available also.

These are the birds we are using for biological pest control in our animal feed gardens. The flock is retired in the winter and a new flock hatched next spring. (Otherwise the birds would eat the whole winter garden!). So that means they are almost exclusively bug fed all year as their natural diet, and totally free ranging as they stand guard protecting the garden from bugs.

The feet and heads make excellent medicinal stock, loaded with collagen, cartilage, minerals and all sorts of medicinal nutrients. Just put in a small stock pot with water, maybe add some onion, realsalt, cap of vinegar and a few black peppercorns then simmer for several hours.

The organs can be cooked as any organ meat, added to a variety of dishes for extra nutrients in almost anything.

To try these, better hurray, supplies are limited! (But more are coming as the weather improves).

Converting ODT to EPUB or MOBI using Calibre

This post will likely seem off topic for the typical readers of our blog. It is concerning the process of publishing eBooks. Now that we are deep into the throws of the publishing world, these details are a big part of daily life!

Background: The books I am writing are being written in Libre Office on Ubuntu, saved as .ODT files. The conversion to PDF is simple, as Libre office has a "export to pdf" function that works amazingly well and all features of Libre seem supported in the resulting near perfect PDF file.  PDF is fine for self publishing and distributing off a website such as this, but none of the major eBook retailers support PDF. 

The reason is simple... PDF is a really cool and flexible set design format. It allows creativity to place objects and text around the page as in written works. EBook reader, however, do not accept PDF.  They prefer a format that allows restructuring on the fly to fit a variety of screen sizes and shapes and resolutions. this presents a problem for PDF becasue  the exact thing that PDF is best for, fixed structure, is something not allows in the ebook reader world. These readers work more like a web browser, dynamically flowing text to match as things are scaled up and down on various platforms. 

So, The next step in our process was converting to EPUB and MOBI (for Barns &Noble and Kindle respectfully).  WOW, what an experience this was! I chose to use the converter software called Calibre becasue has the highest recommendations and most control. Calibre will acept many formats and spit out many other formats, mostly right. What it cant do is deal with a fixed structure format in a flowable world.  This caused many hours of searching the help pages, the internet, and finally trial and error.  There just isn't much information available because of the vast number of possibilities of input format to output format. 

I wanted to document what I learned specifically about converting ODT to EPUB using Calibre on Ubuntu. (I dont thin the OS matters at all, but worth mentioning). Here is the list of issues to deal with that are not well documented:

A. Graphics and captions

Libre Writer allows frames to hold the captions of graphics in a nicely formattable way.  NOT COMPATIBLE WITH CALIBRE! The frames themselves do not get interpreted properly and mess up the page.  The only option seems to be:
  1.  remove captions and paste graphics only (anchored to paragraph text)
  2. Place the cations into the graphics themselves
B. Table of Contents

Libre Writer does a fabulous job of building and maintaining a table of contents automagically. Unfortunately this is wholly incompatible with Calibre.  Instead, use the Calibre "create table of contents" feature based on headers in the document, and remove the embedded table of content entirely. This is ok, as it actually makes no sense to leave it. EBOOKS have no page numbers, because the pages are fluid as the text flows to fit. The Calibre created TOC is not based on page numbers, but clicks to go there. That works well.  Unfortunately this does mean keeping two copies of a finished doc, one with TOC for PDF, and one without TOC for EPUB

C. Track Changes

Calibre has this interesting quirk, anything it doesn't understand is just thrown into the front of the ebook, sort of like its saying "I don't know about his part, so look here first. Changes pending under the Libre "track changes" feature are one of those that it doesn't understand. Be sure to accept or reject all changes within the document before conversion to EPUB. 

D. Page Breaks

Calibre will add page breaks where it or you wants to. This si controllable in the conversion settings. You can choose which level of headings create breaks, H1, H2, N3, etc.  The default is to break after both H1 and H2. This is easily adjustable if its not what you want.

E. Embedded fonts

If you care about the final look and formatting, embed the fonts used. Dont depend on the font being available on the reader device. Substitute fonts are never perfectly alike and causes weird changes.  This is easily settable in the conversion setting of Calibre

F. Tables

this is perhaps the most difficult one! Tables are a way of force formatting text on a page. Again, totally incompatible with the goal of eBook readers.  There are options on this:

  1. Do not use tables, organize in some text only fashion that makes sense
  2. Use tables and let Calibre "flatten them", which pretty makes the table unreadable
  3. Use Tables and let Calibre leave them tables, which makes them mostly unreadable since they fall off the edge of the reader screen into oblivion
  4. Build the table in a graphic program, save as an image, and paste it into the document
Number four is the only one that truly works and preserves the layout of the table. It is a pain though since it means more objects to manage to build a book when changes are necessary. 

E. Cover
Several options on what to do with a cover. Calibre can expect an outside file as the cover, but if you do that and also produce PDF, you must maintain two copies again (one with and one without cover embedded).  What I ended up doing is making a full page graphic for the cover, text and all, and putting that on the first page of the document.  then do not tell Calibre to use a graphic nor to use the first page. Just leave all cover settings alone. That produces a PDF and EPUB that look identical with no intervening steps. 

One thing I did do is to set Calibre to scale the cover proportionally... that preserves the look of the cover as it stretches onto different device screens. 

F. Properties

Calibre is supposed to pick up "customer document properties" from Libre Writer, but I have not been able to get this to work. What that means (if I cant solve it) is that each time a new file is converted, you have to enter the properties like author, publisher, etc manually. You do what these to allow for better searching within the ebook retailer. 

That's about it for now...  Nearly at a usable EPUB file !







Monday, December 19, 2016

The Little Blog that Could

As 2016 come to a close, we are amazed at what this little blog has accomplished. Started just to document our struggles in building a farm from scratch coming from corporate america, it was reached many countries and grown in popularity.  Six years into documenting our journey, December 2016 shows us approaching 8000 readers per month. 


While by internet standards, this may seem pretty dismal, to us it is phenomenal! From zero to 8000 in 6 years with virtually no paid advertising, from a tiny family farm in southerm oregon, its amazing.  And on top of that, to see the list of countries that visit our blog regularly, its humbling!

Our prayer is that we remain diligent to use this voice to heal families and farms around the world, and turn this earth a bit more back to the paradise it was meant to be. 

Thank you for following along our journey. Each of you, whether a reader or a customer, is precious to us. YOU matter to us more than we can express. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

New Product! Cascade Organic Beef and Beef Bones!

At long last.. after many many requests, Little Sprouts Farm is offering Organic Beef for sale!

No, we are not raising cattle. We simply do not have the facilities for those large animals.  However, we have become re-sellers for the best beef on the planet... Cascade Organic Beef! You can now order this highest quality beef right on our online store and have it delivered free to your door!


Cascade Organic Beef  is the one beef producer that meets our highest standards. They raise beef the way that we would if we were able to!  The most important points are:

Grass fed and Grass Finished - no grain!
Organic pastures
Fermented Alfalfa fed during winter
Highest Omega 3 of any beef
Closed Herd - no unknown genetics
Humane treatment

One of the most unique aspects if the way COB raises the omega 3 content of the beef... fermenting alfalfa! You see, as grasses or alfalfa dry in hay, the omega 3 content diminishes greatly.  Since grass doesn't grow in the winter, normally cattle live off dry hay all winter. But that dry hay has low to no omega 3 left! COB solved that problem by setting up a large scale hay fermenting process. The cut grass or alfalfa is packed into huge "tubes" over a hundred feet long and 12 feet round. This happens right after cutting while the grass is still reasonably wet and thereby contains high omega 3s. Then it sits for months fermenting in the tubes, preserving the omega 3 but also rising the probiotic content, making the hay more digestible, all sort of benefits. Its like eating sauerkraut instead of raw or dried cabbage!All that nutritional benefit transfers to the meat and bones.

speaking of bones, we will also carry the organic beef bones that you can use for super nutritional bone broth, stews, soups, stocks. Bone Broth is one of the most basic, necessary healing foods for any family. Its incredibly easy to turn a bag of frozen cut bones into super nutritional healing bone broth right at home.

We encourage you to browse the online store... and try some of Cascade's products with this month's order. You wont be disappointed!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

New Product! Heirloom Seeds!

We are proud to announce that Little Sprouts is now offering the very heirloom seeds that we use to grow our animal feed, direct to you. These seeds are the varieties we have tested and use on our farm in bulk. But you can order small packets to fit a normal garden area. 

INCLUDING!  The now infamous Gete-Okosomin squash!




One story has it that the seeds were found in an old clay pot, dated to be over 800 years old.  However, there is an alternate story:


The true story may be even more captivating, Lobe said. Although less theatrical, the real story of Gete-Okosomin (which means “big old squash”) reveals rich agricultural knowledge among Turtle Island’s original inhabitants.
“This is not an abstract archaeological thing,” he said. “It’s a way to connect back to the first people and acknowledge their agricultural heritage.”
Further digging into the story reveals that the seeds came from elderly gardeners on the Miami Nation of Indiana, who gifted them in 1995 to David Wrone, an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin. The seeds had not lain dormant for centuries, Wrone said, but the Miami people had grown them for as long as 5,000 years.
The Miami were careful stewards of the seed, taking care to hand-pollinate them and maintain their purity. Wrone planted the seeds and grew several squash weighing 30 pounds or more.

This alternate story is according to  https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/history/genealogy/the-shocking-true-story-of-that-giant-squash/

Either way, these are amazingly awesome heirloom squash representing centuries old agriculture.  And now you can have them in your back yard, courtesy of Little Sprouts!

Browse through our online store now and put together your garden list for 2017. Supplies are somewhat limited, so don't delay!

https://csa.farmigo.com/store/littlesproutsfarm

New Product! Rosita Cod Liver Oils

Just in time for the January delivery, we have an exciting new product available! The world's freshest and ONLY Extra Virgin Cod Liver oil!



This Cod liver oil is special, very special.  Here is the description straight from the producer's web site:

Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil is real Norwegian cod liver oil that is fresh, raw & handcrafted from wild livers using a very rare ancient extraction technique which uses nature to separate the oil from its liver. No chemicals, solvents and mechanical devices are ever used during the extraction process. The oil is completely unrefined and produced under the total absence of heat, a process that protects its nutritional value. This type of cod liver oil is both precious and rare – something that is almost impossible to achieve on an industrial level. This ancient oil is of the highest quality with all the health benefits that are naturally present in the oil of a “living” codfish liver.
The bottom line, there is no better oil available and none that even come close to pure and natural, but free of contaminants.  Yes, it costs more, but when you need the best, this oil is produce without compromise.

To read more about this amazing product, go to the producer's website at http://evclo.com/

Now you can order this foundational health supplement from Little Sprouts along with your regular monthly order, and receive as many bottles as you need through our home delivery service.  No extra charges, no freight, just pure clean true cod liver oil.

Come visit at the Grants Pass Growers Market Today

We are set up at the Grants Pass Growers Market today, the last market of 2016.


Come by and sign up for free home delivery to Grants Pass area and get $10 credit for your first order!

See you soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Meet the newest Little Sprout!

The finally arrived yesterday when our newest little sprout joined the world.



Samuel Arthur Salch
Born Dec 13 at 3:07pm
8lbs, 1oz  and 20 "

We are happy to report that everyone is doing fine, healthy and strong.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

First eBook Released! - Join the Revolution!

The small family farm is one of the key aspects that built America. Once upon a time, small family farms covered the landscape from seas to sea, producing good local food for the masses.  Today, not so much. Today the small farm is hard to find, and when you do, it is supported by off-farm income!

The reason? many actually... But the bottom line is, the conventional model does not work! With the conventional model, even organic, much of the profits of farming is passed along to other industries. Sustainability is an elusive thing with so much dependence on "imports" from outside of feed, fertilizer, labor, etc.

The answer? We have been working on this for years now. Producing a small farm model that can show a profit while producing healthy local food.

Now (drum roll please) we are sharing our model with others, with you. We are producing a series of downloadable books explaining every aspect of our model, in enough detail for you to implement a system that WORKS on your farm.

the first eBook is available for download now! It is not entirely "polished" but we didn't want, this information is just too important. So we are releasing it now, in its slightly unfinished form, and offering free updates as it is matured.



More books will follow as quickly as possible. For now, please consider buying a copy for yourself.

http://littlesproutsfarm.blogspot.com/p/books.html

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Worry - Shy away from conventionally raised pork

There is a constant string of discoveries that point to the need for locally produced pasture raised meats. This one in particular is especially concerning.

It appears that there has been a discovery of a very concerning gene on a medium sized pig farm. The farm has about 1500 sows, that they raise only on farm, no outside genetics or breeding. This particular gene has been found in multiple samples from different sources around the farm.

Why is this so concerning? becasue this gene has the ability to make a variety of bacteria into "superbugs" that are strongly antibiotic resistant. AND, the gene can apparently be transferred to humans where bacteria on the humans can acquire antibiotic resistance.  In other words.. someone could be carrying this gene without knowing it, get a cold or flu or other infection, and discover that the usually easy to deal with bacteria are resistant to all known antibiotics. Not a good situation!



Let me say that it is completely unknown where this "gene" came from or how it got onto the closed ecosystem of this farm. However, as you read through this article, towards the bottom, it makes a clear mention of this:

They made multiple visits last year to the farm, where the sows give birth in tight pens and the piglets are taken to separate pens of 25 each after they are weaned. They found samples of the bla IMP-27 gene in several different samples and in several different species of bacteria, including E. coli and Enterobacteriaceae.
So, this is NOT a pasture based operation where the pigs live outside in the sunshine and fresh air, it is NOT  an organically based operation since the use routine antibiotics on farm. We can "assume" that they are also not using heritage animals with strong immune systems, since those animals are usually raised within the first two criteria of pasture and organic. It is also a pretty safe assumption that these animals are fed commercial soy based "barely good enough" hog feed instead of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Dis any of these issues cause this gene to show up? Its hard to say, BUT we do know that consistent use of antibiotics (as they admit to doing here) causes antibiotic resistance.  I strongly suspect that the combination is what creates a sort of "negative synergy" that gives birth to this and lots of other problems.

The point here is, this is a medium sized operation. It is not technically a "factory farm" or CAFO. And still, the lack of adherence to nature gives rise to these very concerning problems.  It is the practices of conventional breeds, low quality feed, confined spaces that create the need for consistent antibiotic usage and thereby crate these "superbugs".

How do YOU, the consumer avoid this? As we always say.. KNOW YOUR FARMER! Know how he does things... the key points to look for are:


  • Heritage breeds for strong immune systems
  • Pasture living for fresh air and sunshine
  • No confinement births for a naturally cleaned environment
  • Good quality organic feed
  • At least some feed that is fresh, not from a bag with minimal nutrition
  • Completely free of antibiotics, hormones and vaccinations


These form a "minimal accepted standards" for the resulting meat and meat products.

The source of your family's meat is critical... a pretty label or a good flavor or a cheap price are NOT reasons to buy meat. Doing so puts your family into deep health risks, Buy meats only from farms that you KNOW and TRUST and follow at LEAST the above list of criteria.

The full article is here:

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/researchers-find-rare-superbug-gene-us-pig-farm-n692236