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Monday, May 29, 2006

Time Killer

I was surfing blog's via Blog Explosion and found a site with this link on it-The Peugeot parking game. It's a real time killer. But if you can do this than you can drive a virtual car with a keyboard and we all know that is one valuable skill.

Wet T-Shirt Day

It was wet T-Shirt day at the farm today (sorry no pix). We were looking at building clouds and knew it would rain in the near future (plus the weather radar confirmed this). This meant the chicks out on pasture would need attending to before the rains hit or they would likely sit out in the rain and get all wet and cold and probably die. So I went up to put the chicks and their feeders in their tractor and close one of the doors and plug the brooder lamp back in (it has been so warm that there has been no need for supplemental heat to keep the chicks warm enough). It started sprinkling as I was walking to the chicken area and the drops were getting big but still intermittent when I reached the chicken area. This was beginning to freak the chicks out since they have not experienced a rain storm before. I put their feeders in their tractor and that got most of them to go inside and the rest soon followed as the skies opened up and a deluge began.

I started walking back to the house and by the time I got to the barns I was soaked to the skin and my t-shirt was wet. the wind kicked up and started blowing some empty buckets away so I grabbed them and put them in the barn. I finally got in the house dripping wet where upon my husband observed I was in a wet t-shirt and that made him happy.

Now the rain is over, I'm in dry clothing and it is getting oppressively hot and humid

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chick Drama

Chicks running around their chicken brooder tractor

We have had expected chick drama. We put the chicks out on pasture this past Friday evening after the storms had past. The first couple of days after the birds go out are a bit stressful as they are young and stupid and make a great appetizer to most hunters-51 bite sized morsels

They were fine their first night out, no predators disturbed them as far as we know though we did hear some coyotes to the north howling and yipping like they had just killed some prey. And to that Eugene said that was good as they would be satiated and not come to our farm and try to eat our chicks.

But than Saturday morning we had to get up early and go to a farmers' market. That meant at dawn the chick's brooder tractor was opened and they were let out to eat and drink and scratch at bugs in the ground. As we have done in the past, we left the dogs out to protect them. That was a big mistake as Nate looks at the chicks as not something to be protected but as some wonderful bite sized morsels. We got home and went immediately over to the chicks to check on them and Nate had busted through their little fence and had mauled at least two (Maybe more but since it is almost impossible to get an accurate count on chicks that move around I dunno. I counted between 35 and 49 live ones) and about 15 to 20 were outside their enclosure beginning to freeze to death (even though it was quite warm at the time-around 80˚F) and quite freaked out. I gathered together all the chicks and put them back in their tractor under the heat lamp and soon most were back to normal. 2 were in bad shape though and one died after a few minutes. The other one seems to have an injured leg but can get around to food and water and I think will recover in the next couple of days.

We punished Nate by pulling an Alpha dominance ploy of wrestling him to the ground and growling at him by the chicken area followed by a 15 minute period of isolation on the dog chain than being allowed back into the pack. It did not work, but than we did not expect it to the first time. In the night he once again tore down their fence and tried to eat some more but could not get through the closed up brooder tractor. Eugene saw the damage and replaced the tiny fence with a larger fence and put in more stakes this morning. About an hour after Eugene had fixed things he caught Nate in the act of tearing down the larger fence.

Nate behind his fence where he cannot go out
unsupervised and break down another chicken fence

We don't think Nate got any more chicks as the chicks have figured out that if they go in the tractor the dog cannot get them so this time they all went inside and did not scatter all over the placer outside the tractor. For tonight Nate will have to be kept in the back yard, which has a chain link fence. Arlo will have to be kept outside the chain link fence. Arlo is a seasoned chick guard and can be trusted not to kill them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fresh Food, it's What's for Dinner

A shot of zucchini (on right) and basil (on left) in one of our hoophouses

We are finally able to eat fresh from the garden and not the freezer. We have lots of lettuce, arugula, kale and other greens coming in now as well as zucchinis, squash blossoms, radishes, cilantro, fresh basil, chives & tarragon. We took a trip to the old farm to see if there was any asparagus there and there was some that had not gone into its' fronding stage and it is very good. We also got some rhubarb too.

Tonight's dinner is almost all grown by us. I am roasting a 5.25 pound chicken we raised last year. I put a rub of kosher salt, rubbed sage, garlic powder and rosemary all over the outside and in the cavity and now it is in a 400˚F oven. Along with the chicken I will make squash lyonaise from a costata Romanesque zuke Eugene harvested 2 days ago and some of our onions from last year. I will probably also make a salad from a left over bag of spring mix and put some radishes and feta cheese on the greens oh and may some organic vidalia onion I bought at Jungle Jim's. made some brownies for dessert which have nothing local in them but will be yummy none the less.

Soon enough we will also have snow peas, garlic scapes, spinach (unless it gets too warm which is pretty likely), cukes, cherry tomatoes (the cukes and maters are being grown in a hoophouse so will be about 6 to 8 weeks earlier than the main crop of these items), small sweet onions.

We have been quite busy getting things ready for the peppers and eggplant to go out. We have had to burn holes into landscaping fabric for the above mentioned crops as well as the winter squash and melons we will be planting in another 10 to 15 days and the tomatoes that will be going out in about 5 to 7 days. Eugene was burning holes in some landscape fabric before lunch and when we came back out after lunch we saw that one sectioned had burned completely up leaving a 3' x 50' burned area. So when we got started again we were VERY careful about starting another fire. He was doing two layers at a time to save time and the under layer must have caught fire and smoldered hidden from view for a while than caught and burned up 100' of mulch. I wish I had seen this happen, it was likely a cool fire. We managed to get the other 12 or so pieces prepared and put away with no further mishaps. The next step is to put down the irrigation tapes and than put down the fabric and dig the edges in than plant the seedlings.

It's just that simple (not).

Pix of Chix

A couple of pictures of the chicks a few hours after they got home to their new digs. Right now they are in a brooder in the barn but will be going outside probably tomorrow or Friday if it is stormy tomorrow. We like to get our pastured birds out on pasture as soon as possible so they learn to eat greens (something they will not do if they are inside the first 3 to 4 weeks of their short lives) and also so they can use their muscles running, flapping wings and walking. This is also something they cannot do when inside in a brooder. If they are in a brooder for 3/4 of their lives they will be out of shape when they get on pasture and will tend not to want to move around except to get food and water. If they get outside and can move around before they reach their first week's birthday than they remain active for their entire lives.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Going To Pick Up Chicks

This morning we will be getting in a vehicle and traveling south to pick up our first set of chicks since we moved to this farm. This is pretty damned exciting!

We are lucky that we live less than 2 hours from a hatchery so we can go and get our birds and not have to use the US postal system. Using the mails costs a lot and it is very stressful on the day old chicks as well since they have to be in the mail system for up to 3 days (which most survive because they still have a bit of yolk in their systems that nurtures them). The sooner the birds can get warm and drink some water they better off they are. The other perk is Jungle Jim's happens to be on the way so getting chicks is an excuse to go to Jungle Jim's which is always a fun time. Not to mention I need quite a few food items such as a gallon of Maple Syrup, a gallon of olive oil, some spices, some flavorings, exotic cheeses, cheap but excellent wines (if we get there after 1pm), etc.. JJ's is a foodie's dream.

Before we leave though we have to find the chicken equipment such as the tiny red watering lids that fit on quart mason jars and are perfect for watering chicks that are under a week old. We also need to locate the plastic chick feeders. And I have no idea where the waterers might be since we have had no need for them since we moved and I have a feeling that the watering lids got tossed in a drawer and separated from the rest of the chicken paraphernalia. At any rate we want to have their brooder situation set up before we leave so when we return we are all ready to take them out of the box, dip their beaks, one at a time, into water and than release them into their brooder.

The brooder will be a chicken tractor with a heat lamp in it put out on pasture but to start we will put the chicks in a large round metal tub lined with straw with a heat lamp over head and chicken wire on top to keep the cats out. If it were a bit warmer we would put them straight out on pasture but with the temps dipping into the mid 30's tonight we will keep them inside for a few days before introducing the girls to pasture

Bye Bye Barbaro

I was so looking forward to watching The Preakness Stakes. Like many I was high on the horse named Barbaro. Instead of Barbaro winning the race and having a shot at becoming the first horse to win Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown since Steve Cauthen rode Affirmed to the title in 1979 he broke his right hind ankle in the first furlong of the race.

While I was really high on this horse as the race drew closer I had an ugly inkling something bad was going to happen that would prevent this horse from winning the Preakness. And when he broke through the gate in a false start I thought this must be it and made a comment to my husband that the colt would likely be gate training all next week. Than he had a beautiful start and things looked good for the first few seconds of the race until the announcer said that Prado was pulling Barbaro up before the quarter pole. NBC went on to show the rest of the race which was surreal because the jockeys in the race had no idea what had just happened but the crowd did and was pretty quiet while race was run-not the expect behavior of tens of thousands of human beings.

Any kind of leg injury can be career ending for a racing or show animal but a broken ankle can also be life threatening because in order for the bones to heal the horse must stay off of the appendage but since horses cannot lie down for more than a couple of hours at a time without damaging most of their internal organs and horses need to stand on all 4 legs for balance this is a very tricky proposition. One solution is to put a horse into a sling that is put under the belly and attached to strong pulleys that are bolted into the rafter beams of the barn that will hold the horse up 24/7. And seeing as how Barbaro seemed to understand the trouble he was in, let his jockey pull him up (I have seen horses with such injuries refuse to stop racing and run full tilt on a broken leg and in one instance had no hoof by the time the rider was able to pull the horse up and had to be destroyed on the track) and was very calm right after the injury took place, allowing the handlers and vets to do what they had to do to stabilize him and get him to the hospital

Barbaro is a very valuable horse and the plan seems to be to save him for a breeding career. He has a lot of money backing him so everything that can be done to save his life will be done. Now it all depends on how well his surgery goes today, just how badly he injured his ankle and if everything works in the surgery how good a patient he will be over the next months and years.

I really feel for the Michael Matz Stable. Being so high on a horse, having what is considered the best 3 year old racing today and the very real prospect that this colt will win the Triple Crown only to have it cruelly wiped out in a split second. It's what they call racing luck. But life goes on Matz and his employees will have to go back to work because Barbaro is not the only horse in training in Mr. Matz's barn and the rest need feeding, stalls cleaned and work. And these chores will likely do a lot of good for the trainers, grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders, etc., who were all impacted by this event. Doing something useful is always good medicine when tragedy strikes.

I hope Barbaro comes through his surgery today with flying colors and goes on to be a good patient and recovers enough to have a long and successful career in the breeding shed but I have been around long enough to realize this is pretty unlikely and that the colt may not survive the weekend. All we can do is wait and see.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lettuce Soup

When life gives you too much lettuce it is time to make soup and that is what happened to me yesterday. I had way too much lettuce. It has not been selling briskly enough at market so after the Tuesday market I decided it was time to do something with all the Simpson leaf and Rouge d'Hiver red romaine lettuce that was too old to sell (though it was still miles above the lettuce at Wal-Mart in quality. Why, to get it to Wal-Mart quality I'd have to leave it in the fridge another 5 to 7 days).

So I figured I'd stew a hen and make chicken stock and add lots o' lettuce to that. I started the hen about 7am and let her cook for 6 hours. Removed her from the stock pot and skimmed most of the fat off the broth and than added 5 pounds of lettuce that I had cleaned and roughly chopped to the chicken stock. Plus about 5 small chopped onions and some kosher salt to taste. Let that cook about 30 minutes than put everything in a blender and pureed it all. Than I added cream and milk to half the puree and adjusted the salt and it was done. The other half of the puree I froze (3 quarts) and that is why I did not add any dairy products (they do not do well in frozen foods). And now I will have some lettuce food for the future.

It was an okay soup, I have made better lettuce soup before. The red romaine was a bit bitter (which probably made it super healthy, bitter foods are generally wonderful things for humans to eat). Eugene suggested adding some sort of nuts to it so today when I reheated leftovers I added about 1/4 cup of cashew butter and it did improve the soup quite a bit.

The hen was turned into a yummy chicken salad.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Nature Babies

We put up a bluebird box earlier this spring and within 2 weeks we had a pair of bluebirds living in it and brooding a clutch of eggs. Today I went out with camera in hand and got this shot of the babies

A praying Mantis egg case in the process of hatching out mini mantises. If you look closely at the bottom right of the case you can see one of the mini mantises (sort of). Unfortunately for the mantises there are several spiders in the winter savory where this case is located and have already gotten one of them.

NAIS Action

The agriculture appropriations bill is expected to be voted on the House
floor this week. Congressman Ron Paul has introduced an amendment to block
funding for the National Animal Identification System. The amendment will
probably be voted on late Wednesday afternoon or evening.

This is a great opportunity to stop NAIS. If the funding is cut off, then
the USDA cannot continue to give grants to state agencies to promote and
implement the program!

Please call your Congressman today! We do not have much time to rally
support for Ron Paul's amendment, so it is critical that everyone take
action without delay.

The Capitol Switchboard number (202) 225-3121. If you don't know who to
call, go to
and enter your zip code in the box on the left-hand side of the
screen. Your official's contact information will be provided.

Ask him/her to vote for Ron Paul's Amendment to HR 5384 to block funding for NAIS because (choose a couple of reasons you think most appropriate, or
use your own):

1. NAIS will be too costly and burdensome for farmers and ranchers.

2. NAIS invades the privacy of every American who owns even one livestock
animal, whether a horse, pet pot-bellied pig, chicken, cow, goat, sheep,

3. NAIS will not protect us against disease or bioterrorism because
(a) it does not address the causes of disease;
(b) it does not address how diseases are transmitted;
(c) we already have sufficient means of tracking diseases and controlling
(d) the recommended technology (ISO radiotags) can be easily reprogrammed,
so that it is ineffective against intentional introductions of disease.

4. NAIS will greatly expand the government bureaucracy, at the cost of
individuals' rights and the free market.

5. NAIS will raise the cost of food, while not providing any additional
food safety.

6. NAIS has been developed by the USDA without Congressional hearings or
debate, and without any real involvement of the tens of thousands of
individuals who will be affected.

If you have questions about this action alert, please contact Judith McGeary

Please call now. And forward this alert to all of your contacts, so that we
can create the support we need for Congressman Paul's amendment!

Judith McGeary (Austin, TX Chapter Leader)
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

If you wish to join Judith's mailing list on NAIS, please go to

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The 28th Annual St Alphonso's Pancake breakfast

Saturday was a fun day. Went to the farmers' market bright and early and saw lots of people that I had not seen in a while. because it was cold and rainy the market was not well attended and we did not sell out by any means but it was still a fun market. And to make the market even better I was told right at the end of market by Shannon, a former intern of ours and all around good flower child, that St Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast was being held at Camp America that very day.

Alphonso's is perhaps the best hippie party on the face of the planet. Named for the Frank Zappa song,"St Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast" this is the 28th year for this party and I believe the 23rd time I have attended.

This party was started in 1978 by an albino keyboard player named Dan Sell who lived in a desanctified church on N Elm St in Oxford, OH. The first party had beer, live music, drugs and everyone was instructed to bring a t-Shirt that would be silk screened with an image of Frank Z wearing some sort of pious gown and holding a stack of pancakes. I was not personally there (I would have been 15) but I happen to know most of the folks who were. The party grew over the years and and had to be moved outside of town. It has been held at at least 15 different rural venues throughout the countryside in Butler, and Preble counties in Ohio and Union county Indiana. Originally it was held the first Sunday in April (unless that Sunday was also Easter) as a nice spring kick-off event. There was always a commemorative T-shirt to be bought, the beer truck, lots of great live music played by popular local bands and the green pancakes (yep pot filled pancakes that some years were like eating a hunk of pasture in half baked dough. MMMM Pancakes...) topped with Jim beam spiked syrup. For the first 15 or so years the party started around dawn and ended at dusk. Lots and lots of half drunk, tripping hippies would set off on their pilgrimage to the country for a full, wonderful day of partying, come rain, shine or snow (I gotta say my favorite Alphonso's had to be the one held at Chinaman's farm south of Oxford. It snowed most of the day but no one cared.). But as the original partiers got older, some stopped coming and a new crop of hippies took over the care and feeding of the party the start time got later and later in the day. But the end time stayed at dusk until this year. Now the party goes from noon to 1am.

I did not go last year as it was held in a park in Hamilton, OH and they charged admission to get in and it was a rainy day. It just seemed to be the wrong Karma for the party which has always been a free affair (except for the t-shirts which helped to pay for the event and the yellow hat that used to be passed around for donations to pay for whatever the t-shirt sales did not cover). But this year Alphonso's was held at camp America in Preble County where it had been held in 2004, the Cicada year.

Eugene and I set off for CA around 5pm (by far the latest I had ever gone to one of these) and did not know if we would know anyone there but figured we should at least buy a couple of T-shirts and see some bands. Got there and within minutes I had run into a friend from highschool, than a I saw Crazy Rick who lead me to the Mackeys who told us the kegs were dead but the had Wiedemann's in their minivan. Grabbed some brews and wandered back to the building where the bands were playing and ran into Beth Hannon, a woman I've known since High School and she informed me she had just bought Camp America which I find to be way cool. And she got a real deal on the place as it was sold at a sheriff's auction about 4 weeks ago. So it looks like Alphonso's has a home for a while.

With each meeting of a friend I got a hug and ended up the day with about 20 hugs (yay).

Saw lots of muddy dreadlocked hippies floating on their own grooves (okay, like LSD and other psychotropics-I dunno what, as my days of tripping are well behind me). Watched a woman who did the exact same dance to every song the bands played. The music could be a space jam, heavy metal, blues, jazz, technofunk-it didn't matter she did the same dance to all. I was amused.

My friend Chuck who had been travelling gave me a way cool fridge magnet that sez: "Stop Using Jesus As An Excuse for Being a Narrow Minded Bigoted Asshole" with a nice pix of Jesus with his sacred heart.

Around 9pm we decided to go home since we had a pack of wet and hungry dogs to deal with and it was getting late for us farmers. It took about 1/2 hour to get back to the car because we kept running into people and talking but finally we were able to break away.

I gotta say the party is different from when I was a wild 20 something child (okay it really isn't that different, I am. I drank a couple of beers and went away pretty gosh durned sober. There were plenty of fucked up happy people. I was not one of them) but it was one of the best Alphonso's I have been to in about a decade. No one got hurt, no fights broke out, no one called the cops-it was a good time, despite it being cool and rainy.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rainy Days on the farm

It's been cold and rainy for the past two days and it looks like it will continue to be cold and rainy for at least another 10 days. Seems we have a renegade low pressure system that has isolated itself from the jet stream and is just sitting over southern Michigan and send NW winds and rain down to SW Ohio (okay, all of Ohio).

Because of the nasty weather, instead of preparing for the Saturday farmers market, I ordered chickens and promotional produce banners (I got 7 of 'em with things like Organic, Fresh Produce, Fresh Sweet Corn!, etc., on them) Will put them up along the road to lure customers into buy fresh & local produce. Eugene has been working on the vehicles. He has already tuned up the van and replaced the wheels on the mower and about 15 minutes ago came in for a BCS manual so he must be working on a tiller box or the sickle bar mower attachment

I ordered 50 Cornish rock cross pullets for pastured rock Cornish hens. We pick them up sometime Sunday May 21. Will also do a trip to Jungle Jim's, simply the best grocery store in the Midwest, if not the entire USA. I have great need for good olive oil, good cheese, basmati rice, vanilla powder, maple syrup and a few other items.

It will be nice to have some livestock. Chicks are fun to raise. We will raise them on pasture for 5 to 7 weeks than take them to be butchered and sell the dressed, whole birds to the public. We are in a new place and don't know what the predator problems will be. Hopefully Arlo will make it clear to Nate that chicks are for guarding and not for eating and we will not lose any the first couple of nights they are out in their brooder tractors. once we can get them through the first week we should be alright for the rest of their short lives.

At some point this afternoon I will go up to the market garden and grab a crate of radishes and see about cutting spring mix and perhaps harvesting some cilantro and tarragon. Fortunately I cut the lettuce this past Tuesday and because we had such poor sales on Tuesday I have plenty for tomorrow. That said, I do not expect a great crowd to come out in this cool wet weather. But perhaps I will be surprised and we will do well tomorrow.

While we humans do not always appreciate cool wet weather the spring crops like spinach, lettuce, spring mix, broccoli, onions, peas, etc., love this kind of weather and should respond to a couple of weeks of cool wet weather with high quality, great tasting produce

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I am Middle Aged Today

Today I became officially middle aged. Yep it is my Bornday, I was born at 6:02am May 11th 1963 in Oxford, OH on a rainy Tuesday.

Today it is a rainy Thursday. Most people would want nice weather on their borndays but most people are not sustainable small produce farmers and this rain means I get a guilt free day off from farming and can go do birthday things. At this point I have no plans for my birthday but perhaps Eugene does and just hasn't told me about them yet. Dinner out is one possibilty. We did discuss fishing but being in high winds, cool weather and heavy rain just does not sound like a whole lot of fun to me.

Vegging around all day after 10 days straight of work does sound appealing, maybe watching junk TeeVee (I love the Price is Right, it show's the soul of N. America) and the Daily Buzz is always fun in the early morning (been watching since they started up August 2001 in Miamisburg, OH-Good irreverent Newz). Sometimes they even read the emails I send in on occasion.

Yesterday morning before it started raining we finally got done with the onions. This year we out did ourselves and got around 4000 seedlings and onion sets in the ground. I'd say we are Onion tight and perhaps this makes this my onion birthday.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm not a Happy Camper

We did our second Tuesday farmers' market and it really sucked. Made very little money, few people showed up to buy things (I guess lack of customers can lead to lack of sales). Took home way too much lettuce and spring mix.

I am thinking that the governing board of the OFMU, which now controls this market, is not paying much attention to it. Instead they have put everything into the Saturday market. Granted, the Saturday market is a lot bigger but if they continue to ignore the Tuesday market it will likely die in a year or two. I know if we do not start doing better in the next 4 weeks we will have to stop coming. We cannot continue to go to a market where we make well under $100 (we really need to make around $250 each week at this market and in the past we did).

I swear this market did better for us when I was in charge of it (last year I was able to hand over the reins to the OFMU Market manager after running it for the past 5 or so years. But I was still on the OFMU board so I was able to get support for this market) and basically did nothing but get permits from the City of Oxford and send out an email to my customers most weeks reminding them of the market and of course show up every week for the past 11 years.

Last year we made $115 more than we made this year on the same week. Granted, we did have strawberries (which sell themselves and have been quite successful for us) but I can see from the records we also had far more people coming to this market in May and sold a lot more of the other things we brought.

If any OFMU board members read this I am asking you people to start putting some effort into this Tuesday market. Oxford needs a mid week market as there are people who cannot make it to a Saturday morning market not to mention it is currently the oldest market in town. Lets celebrate this market, not ignore it and this market has generated quite a bit of traffic for the Saturday market. You would be surprised at how many regular Tuesday market customers did not know about the Saturday uptown market (they knew about the Talawanda market, though) until they were told about it by us intrepid Tuesday vendors. At the very least, I would like to see a sign at the Saturday market advertising the Tuesday market. Though it would be better if the OFMU board put some time and imagination in promoting the Tuesday market the way they promote the Saturday market.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ohioans Restore Legality of Raw Milk Sales

This will appear in the May 9th editions of the Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News and Cleveland Plain Dealer

In 1997, a bill was passed in Ohio banning the sales and consumption of raw milk. Over the last year the Ohio Department or Agriculture has been implementing various approaches to fully enforce that law. Raw milk enthusiasts from the across the state are gathering in Columbus on Wednesday, May 10th, to testify for the legal restoration before the House Agriculture Committee.

While raw milk has been associated with some illnesses, it has been very difficult to blame the product itself, but rather the culprit is the handling of the product. While other products may have a higher opportunity for contamination, i.e. salad bars, raw milk has been singled out as the one food product to be banned. Actually, the farmer is banned from drinking raw milk from his own cows.

Recent statistics show that the average farmer family consumes 1½ gallons of the banned substance. Would farmers allow their families to consume raw milk if they believed in any way their production and collection processes weren't sufficient to eliminate any health concerns?

Many Ohio consumers call this a consumer rights issue. The state does have the right to insure public health my implementing laws to protect all of us. But in this case, the ODA has chosen not to view the farmer as being banned from that consuming. The farmer is still allowed to consume milk from his own animal. If the product is bad for the citizens, it is bad for the farmer. It can't be a real public health issue if the farmers are allowed to continue to consume their own product. So this is a rights issue.

While there is evidence of some illnesses related to raw milk, there are growing volumes of testimonies showing how raw milk has improved health including improvement of chronic illnesses. Raw milk's enzymes and healthy bacteria complement the body's ability to heal itself. Recently testimonies relate improvements in dental health, asthma, eczema, Lyme disease, Gillian-Barre and digestion; fewer doctor visits; and reduction of pharmacy products. (One Ohio group documented on a DVD the testimonies of 21 different families who have experienced improved health they contribute to the consumption of raw milk.) One Californian dairy incorporates their customers' testimonies in their public advertising – "Got Lactose Intolerance? Got Frequent Cold? Got Allergies? Get Raw Milk".

The benefits of raw milk consumption have been documented in the past. The Mayo Clinic used a raw milk diet to promote healing. "For fifteen years, I have employed the so-called [raw] milk treatment in various diseases … the results obtained have been so uniformly excellent that one's conception of disease and its alleviation is necessarily modified." Dr. Crew, Mayo Foundation, Minnesota. In 1928, an Ohio State Professor noted that, "The dividing line between a food and a medicine sometimes becomes almost invisible. In many diseases nothing heals the body and restores strength like [raw] milk." Dr. J. F. Lyman, Prof. Of Agriculture Chemistry.

With the threat of raw milk sales in Ohio being banned, Ohioans have turned to purchases from adjacent states. Others are even having the product mailed from prohibitive driving distances. Ohio sales receipts are therefore transferred out of state.

Raw milk is the gateway product for many farmers because consumers will purchase other farm products during their visit. Loss of raw milk sales has a dramatic impact on farm sales. We are losing farms weekly in Ohio. What an economic loss! The sale of raw milk could help reverse that trend.

The ODA has conducted sting operations against Ohio farmers. In one case the ODA, revoked the license of an Amish farmer for violating labeling laws because that farmer accepted $2 for providing a gallon of milk to an ODA undercover agent in an unlabeled container furnished by the agent. While public outrage over the actions of the ODA in entrapping the farmer has moved the agency to issue the farmer a new license, the ODA is still seeking a permanent injunction restraining the farmer from "any violations" of Ohio's dairy code. A trial on the injunction is scheduled for late June.

Several months ago, Representative Arlene Setzer, Dayton, introduced the Raw Milk Bill, HR534, which would restore the legality of purchasing and consuming raw milk. It allows raw milk to be purchased from the Grade A Licensed dairy farms. By having consumers go to the farm, they witness the health of the cows and have a relationship with the farmer producing their raw milk. Since the milk will not be further processed, it is important that the consumer trust the farmer's ability to handle the product with sufficient care avoiding introduction of any contaminants.

The first public hearing for this bill is Wednesday. May 10th, in Room 116 of the State House. Concerned raw milk consumers are coming from across the state to communicate their desire to have raw milk's ban lifted in Ohio and restore raw milk sales to the legal standing before the 1997 bill. Over half of the other states in the nation provide for the legal sale of raw milk. Ohio consumers want the same right restored to them.

For additional Real Raw Milk information – WANTMILK.ORG.

We Have a CSA Member

Looks like we have our first CSA member of the year. Woo Hoo!

A Earlhamite who is looking to develop a relationship with us and our farm. I believe we may have a new member who "gets it".

We have been on the fence about even doing the CSA this year since we do not know how much food we will need to supply a CSA, the Eco-Farm store and two farmers' markets. I figure we will need more food than we produce but since we will be buying in some things perhaps it will be alright. Especially if we keep the CSA limited to under 10 members.

I have been surprised at how little interest we have had in our CSA program this year. So far I have had only 2 people express any interest at all. And those folks did not even inquire about the CSA until late April Early May. To do a CSA right the farmer really needs to know who will be a member in March so the grower can plan out the plantings for the CSA members. When they want to join so late it can be hard and shortages may well happen because the farmer was not able to plan properly.

You see, sustainable farming is all about prior planning. We have to look at the long term view. A well run farm will have 10 and 20 year plans, just the act of spring planning starts 6 months prior to planting that first seed. This year we put in several crops such as grapes, apples, peaches and asparagus that will not bear fruit for at least 2 years and in some cases 5 years. We do a 4 to 6 year crop rotation and that again means looking way into the future when we plan out where we will put things.

And the CSA is supposed to dovetail with this long term view but I forget sometimes that our culture is all about instant gratification and doing things NOW and not thinking too far ahead. If people would learn to think years and decades into the future we would not have an energy crisis, a lot of debt and other ills that plague our population. If we did like many Native American cultures and thought about how our actions will effect our relations 7 generations into the future instead of just thinking about how our actions will effect us right now we would have a far better world.

All that said, if you are interested in the Boulder Belt CSA click on the title of this entry and you will be taken to a page with all the information.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dragon Fly

this is an emerging dragon fly taken with the new Olympus camera

Kentucky Derby

Yesterday was Derby day. I rarely miss watching the Kentucky Derby. I used to work with trotters and pacers and have retrained several ex-race horses to be jumpers and dressage horses. So I was excited to see that Michael Matz had a horse in the race. For the non horsey, Mr. Matz was one of the US Equestrian Team's top jumper riders and trainers and a couple of years ago he made the switch to thoroughbred racing horses.

I have long wondered what would happen if a top show trainer started trainer top flight race horses. Show riders generally are also the trainers of the horses the ride so they develop a truly intimate relationship with their show animals. They get to know them very well and develop a deep trust with each other. This is a very different relationship that goes on with thoroughbred racehorse trainers who never ride their horses and therefore never develop the kind of trust a show rider will have and therefore looks at the training of a horse differently. It is a lot like the difference between how an organic farmer looks at the farm and an conventional grower looks at a farm. Both work but in very different ways. The organic grower and the show horse trainer tend to operate holistically and the others tend to operate linearly

Because the show people tend to take this more holistic outlook in how they do things I have long assumed that if one of these guys were given a stable of top flight horses they would quickly climb into the top ranks because they would add things to the training regimes that trainers who do not ride would not know about. I do not know if Michael Matz takes his horses and trots them up and down hills at his farm but it would not surprise me at all and this sort of work would give a race horse a nice edge in that they would improve their balance and endurance and this is work most jumper, 3-day event and dressage trainers would do with their horse to get them fit and keep them happy.

I do know from working on both harness tracks and show barns that the race trainers do not know about a lot of techniques that show trainers use. For example, the idea of teaching a horse how to extend and collect their gait is foreign to most racing people but I have noticed the great race horses know how to do this naturally. This leads me to believe any horse taught collection and extension would be an improved racehorse. And there are many other training techniques that the show people use that would improve any racing performance.

Yesterday it was proven to me with Barbaro's impressive win going away from the pack in a virtual hand ride that Mr. Matz is likely including a lot of ideas from what he learned in his decades of working with show jumpers in the training of his race horses and it is working. I believe we are seeing the beginning of a stellar race training career. And we just might see a triple crown winner this year as well

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bird Flu Facts

"Bird Flu"
Do you know that 'bird flu' was discovered in Vietnam 9 years ago?
Do you know that barely 100 people have died in the whole world in all that time?
Do you know that it was the Americans who alerted us to the efficacy of the
human antiviral TAMIFLU as a preventative?
Do you know that TAMIFLU barely alleviates some symptoms of the common flu?
Do you know that its efficacy against the common flu is questioned by a
great part of the scientific community?
Do you know that against a SUPPOSED mutant virus such as H5N1, TAMIFLU
barely alleviates the illness?
Do you know that to date Avian Flu affects birds only?
Do you know who markets TAMIFLU?
Do you know who bought the patent for TAMIFLU from ROCHE LABORATORIES in
Do you know who was the then president of GILEAD SCIENCES INC. and remains a
major shareholder?
DONALD RUMSFELD, the present Secretary of Defence of the USA.
Do you know that the base of TAMIFLU is crushed aniseed?
Do you know who controls 90% of the world's production of this tree?
Do you know that sales of TAMIFLU were over $254 million in 2004 and more
than $1000 million in 2005?
Do you know how many more millions ROCHE can earn in the coming months if
the business of fear continues?
So the summary of the story is as follows:
Bush's friends decide that the medicine TAMIFLU is the solution for a
pandemic that has not yet occurred and that has caused a hundred deaths
worldwide in 9 years.
This medicine doesn't so much as cure the common flu. In normal conditions
the virus does not affect humans.
Rumsfeld sells the patent for TAMIFLU to ROCHE for which they pay him a
Roche acquires 90% of the global production of crushed aniseed, the base for
the antivirus.
The governments of the entire world threaten a pandemic and then buy
industrial quantities of the product from Roche.
So we end up paying for medicine while Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush do the

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Farmers' Market Starts and Other Issues

Today is our first market of the season. I feel like I should be a bit nervous and running around getting things together but other than harvesting crops, I think we are pretty much ready to go. And I should be out harvesting as it is dawn but we are having a thundershower so I will wait until the rain passes.

Picked up my new digital camera yesterday and of course I cannot use it because I am not running a new enough version of mac OS X. I have 10.2 and I need at least 10.3 to use the software that came with the camera so I can download the images to my hardrive via a USB cable. Not a huge problem as I have a 1 gig memory card on order form Amazon that should arrive in a couple of days and I will go to a local electronics box store to see if they have a card reader that is affordable (I suspect it will cost much less than buying the upgrade to Mac OS 10.3 which is around $100 US.). Despite the hardware/software incompatibility problems the camera is way cool and can do so much more than the old one.

After getting the camera and spending a couple of hours figuring out I cannot download pix to my Mac I went and started our tomato crop for the year. We are doing 11 different kinds of tomatoes: Glick's Pride, Big Beef, Pink Brandywine, Yellow Pear, Red Pear, Sungold, Yellow Taxi, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Green Grape, Opalka and a Opalka cross we have been growing out for 3 years now trying to get one of the mutations to stablize out. We are going for the stripe genetics in hopes of creating a new striped sauce tomato. Should know something in maybe the next 4 to 7 years.

I started the tomatoes in small soil blocks and as soon as they germinate I will make 10 to 12 trays of 2" soil blocks and will move them into those. They are slated to be transplanted around June first and I do not want huge plants because they are quite hard to put into cloth mulches so that is why I started them so late in the season.