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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Poultry Workshop is ON

I am doing a workshop at the OEFFA Conference Saturday March 3rd on raising chickens on pasture for meat. In a past post I wrote about the possibility of doing a workshop than in the comment of that post I said I was doing the workshop than I contradicted that and said the workshop was off because OEFFA did not want to give both Eugene and me free admission to the conference. this meant we would have to pay the price of one admission for the two of us to go do the workshop. You might ask why not just have one of you go and they other stay home and be bored. Simply because we both want to go and we both enjoy doing workshops together

All that has now changed and the workshop is ON.

Yesterday, around noon Carol Goland, the president of OEFFA , called me up to see what she could do to get us to reconsider doing this workshop. We spoke for only a few minutes and she immediately offered up two free admissions to the conference if we would do the workshop. Since that's all I wanted, I listened to her stroke my ego and than said we found her new conditions quite acceptable and yes we would do the workshop.

If you ever wanted to meet me and also want to learn much of what I know about day ranging chickens go to the OEFFA website and sign up for the conference and go to my workshop which, I believe, will be on Saturday March 3rd. I do good workshop, the old fashioned way with no power point or other bells and whistles. And the conference as a whole is a great experience. Imagine being in a building with hundreds of people all into organic/local food and farming. It's a heady experience

Another Nondescript Post

It's the last day of January, it is cold and a bit snowy (enough to make it look wintry but not enough to play in).

Things are at their slowest point. The seed ordering is mostly done for the year (there are still some rare and funky tomatoes to order from Seed savers Exchange, one of my favorite seed companies-a seed bank and seed growers network really). The real seed starting has not yet kicked in. We have started onions under lights and Eugene sowed some radish and lettuce seeds in one of the hoophouses a few weeks ago but the real work is still ahead of us.

Today we did house cleaning. Eugene was in the kitchen and decided to pull the stove and fridge away from the wall and clean underneath, next he was attempting to get the floor clean and swept and mopped it twice. It still looks like crap but at least we know it is cleaner. Mopping floors is something I do not like doing though I have had many jobs where mopping was in the job description and I learned over the years how to do a good and efficient job. I guess if I were paid $10 an hour to mop I would do it daily instead of monthly. While he tackled the kitchen I did laundry, cleaned the bathroom and tidied up the living room. Later on Eugene vacuumed the living room (now a daily occurrence) while I hung the laundry up in the spare room upstairs (no, we do not have a dryer and if we did I still would not use one. I have dried clothing about 4 times in the past 13 years using a clothes dryer, they are such an energy waster).

Yesterday was errand day. We go to get our share of raw milk every Tuesday and try to combine that with as many other errands as possible. So we hit the credit union to make a deposit, paid the mortgage, went to the post office to pick up mail and send off an order of garlic powder (I sell garlic powder I make from garlic I grow via my local harvest store, among other things). Than we drove south to Wehr Rd to pick up our milk and talked to Janet and found out she had had a nasty fall walking between the barns on her farm. She slipped on some ice and hit her head and had likely sustained a concussion. We also found out their newest cow had calved (bull calf) on Monday evening. That means more milk production for them. drove back to Eaton and stopped at Kroger's for food we cannot source locally and did our shopping for the week. Got home and made burritos for dinner.

I dunno what we will have for dinner tonight but it will involve some pork chops I cooked up Monday. I'm thinking biscuits made with souring raw milk from last week and sauteed cabbage and onions. What ever I cook it will make the kitchen floor dirty. Some habits one learns from working for years in professional kitchens are hard to break and getting food all over the floor is one of them. It would not be so bad if I had a pantry cook/dishwasher to clean up after me.

Tomorrow one of my most favorite people in the world is coming to visit. My friend Julie from college who is visiting her folks up in Van Wert, OH from California. She will be arriving with her son Patrick and we will have lunch and conversation. Maybe some sledding if it snows enough (doubtful, but you never know)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Barbaro Euthanized

I was hoping never have to post this news. A sad day for me and Barbaro's owners and his former trainer Michael Matz.

Perhaps the real tragedy is not that this 4 year old colt lost his fight with some really bad foot problems but that he will likely never have any offspring. You see in the rules of Thoroughbred racing no foal can be conceived through artificial insemination so even if Barbaro's owners had gotten sperm from their colt they could never have a registered foal by him so we will never know what kind of sire he could have been.

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro euthanized

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) — Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized today after complications from his breakdown at the Preakness last May.

"We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain,'' co-owner Roy Jackson said. "It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time.''

Roy and Gretchen Jackson were with Barbaro this morning, with the owners making the decision in consultation with chief surgeon Dean Richardson.

It was a series of complications, including laminitis in the left rear hoof and a recent abscess in the right rear hoof, that proved to be too much for the gallant colt, whose breakdown brought an outpouring of support across the country.

"I would say thank you for everything, and all your thoughts and prayers over the last eight months or so,'' Jackson said to Barbaro's fans.

On May 20, Barbaro was rushed to the New Bolton Center, about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia in Kennett Square, hours after shattering his right hind leg just a few strides into the Preakness Stakes. The bay colt underwent a five-hour operation that fused two joints, recovering from an injury most horses never survive. Barbaro lived for eight more months, though he never again walked with a normal gait.

The Kentucky Derby winner suffered a significant setback over the weekend, and surgery was required to insert two steel pins in a bone — one of three shattered eight months ago in the Preakness but now healthy — to eliminate all weight bearing on the ailing right rear foot.

The procedure on Saturday was a risky one, because it transferred more weight to the leg while the foot rests on the ground bearing no weight.

The leg was on the mend until the abscess began causing discomfort last week. Until then, the major concern was Barbaro's left rear leg, which developed laminitis in July, and 80 percent of the hoof was removed.

Richardson said Monday morning that Barbaro did not have a good night.

Brilliant on the race track, Barbaro always will be remembered for his brave fight for survival.

The story of the beloved 3-year-old bay colt's fight for life captured the fancy of millions and drew an outpouring of support unrivaled in sports.

When Barbaro broke down, his right hind leg flared out awkwardly as jockey Edgar Prado jumped off and tried to steady the ailing horse. Race fans at Pimlico wept. Within 24 hours the entire nation seemed to be caught up in a "Barbaro watch,'' waiting for any news on his condition.

Well-wishers young and old showed up at the New Bolton Center with cards, flowers, gifts, goodies and even religious medals for the champ, and thousands of e-mails poured into the hospital's Web site just for him.

"I just can't explain why everyone is so caught up in this horse,'' Roy Jackson, who owned the colt with his wife, Gretchen, has said time and again. "Everything is so negative now in the world, people love animals and I think they just happen to latch onto him.''

Devoted fans even wrote Christmas carols for him, sent a wreath made of baby organic carrots and gave him a Christmas stocking.

Although the get-well cards and banners eventually will fade or be trashed, the biggest gift has been the $1.2 million raised since early June for the Barbaro Fund. The money is put toward needed equipment such as an operating room table, and a raft and sling for the same pool recovery Barbaro used after his surgeries.

The Jacksons spent tens of thousands of dollars hoping the best horse they ever owned would recover and be able to live a comfortable life on the farm — whether he was able to breed or not.

The couple, who own about 70 racehorses, broodmares and yearlings, and operate the 190-acre Lael Farm, have been in the horse business for 30 years, and never had a horse like Barbaro.

As the days passed, it seemed Barbaro would get his happy ending. As late as December, with the broken bones in his right hind leg nearly healed and his laminitis under control, Barbaro was looking good and relishing daily walks outside his intensive care unit.

But after months of upbeat progress reports, including talk that he might be headed home soon, news came Jan. 10 of a serious setback because of the laminitis. Richardson had to remove damaged tissue from Barbaro's left hind hoof, and the colt was placed back in a protective sling.

On Jan. 13, another section of his left rear hoof was removed. After Barbaro developed a deep abscess in his right hind foot, surgery was performed Saturday to insert two steel pins in a bone, one that was shattered but now healthy, to eliminate all weight bearing on the ailing foot.

This after Richardson warned last December that Barbaro's right hind leg was getting stronger and that the left hind foot was a "more formidable long-term challenge.''

In the end, the various complications from the breakdown at the Preakness were too much.

Of dog hair and Vacuums

Winter has come and it is cold and somewhat snowy. The pond is frozen and the dogs are staying inside most of the day and overnight. The new dog, Danny, has been spewing hair all over the place. Despite daily brushing and daily vacuuming there are still piles of blond dog hair all over the dark green carpets and floors in the house (lower level only, so far he has not decided to go upstairs-this makes the cats happy as they have a Danny free refuge).

This daily vacuuming is a pisser. First of all I am not in the habit of vacuuming more than twice a week, at most. Secondly (and far more important), this is turning me into my mother who was a vacuuming demon. So much so that she was the butt of many family jokes about her and her Electrolux (which I own but do not use-it's broken and heavy. Though lately I have been threatening to start using it simply to complete the transformation). I remember trying to get her to let me take a picture of her in front of an Electrolux at the Henry Ford Museum, she refused. The scary thing is I am finding quite a bit of satisfaction in this daily vacuuming and even if we get rid of Danny (anyone need a sweet but hairy dog?) I fear the vacuuming habit may not leave.

So my day, since Danny has come to live with us is getting up around 6:30am and letting the dogs out to pee (unless it is warm enough to leave them out all night-preferred method), Than I do the dishes and make coffee and look at email and other web stuff, ignoring the piles of blond dog hair festooning the living room, kitchen and computer room (which has beige carpeting so the hair is not so obvious. But it is still there). Eugene will get up around 7:30 and go out to get the paper and check on the seedlings and he takes the dogs with him. During the 10 minute dog absence I will get out the vacuum and suck up the piles of Danny hair and than start breakfast and drink coffee. Later on in the day Danny will get brushed (he's a burr magnet) and more hair is deposited on the dark green carpet. The dog seems to have an endless supply of hair to shed out in the dead of winter.

I hope that this will stop after a couple of months of being on a decent diet and getting lots of exercise. the poor guy has rarely had food that is free of corn and generally he has been fed cheap, low quality food. So much so that he has lost most of his teeth.

Danny does seem to be happy here considering his lot in life. Saturday he caught his first mouse while Eugene put plastic over the strawberry hoophouse. I believe that mouse was the first critter he has ever caught. Nate stole it from him immediately, probably for the best as I doubt Danny would know what to do with the mouse. Since than he has been VERY interested in finding more mice/voles. I say more power to you Danny.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Got an email this afternoon form the OEFFA president asking me if Eugene and I would be interested in doing a workshop at the OEFFA Conference on pastured poultry the first weekend of March.

I have no answered her yet as I have not decided if we should or not. We do like giving workshops and have done many on topics such as CSA, season extension using row cover and Hoophouses. I do not believe we have given a conference workshop on pastured poultry though we have done farm tours featuring this topic.

It's been several years since we have given a workshop at an OEFFA conference or been to one for that matter. In the past presenters got free admission and a free meal. I would prefer some payment beyond the free admission and meal (and all other conferences that I have presented workshops at farm Tours have paid, some quite well) but OEFFA is the home team so the get freebies from us.

But the question is do we do a workshop? Whaddya think?

But the question is should we do this?

BTW if you are looking for more information about this conference just click on any of the "OEFFA" links in this post

Small World

A couple of weeks ago regular readers of this blog know that we had our signage partially wiped out. The 6' portable sign was rendered scrap metal and broken plastic by a pick-up doing an uncontrolled power slide a few hours before dawn (that had to be an eye opener).

Since than we have had the property damage assesor out and she declared we had around $550 worth of damage from the accident. She felt the portable sign was worth $350 and the other damage around $200. The next step is getting a check from Safe Auto which will likely take a couple of phone calls next week.

This past Saturday after we got back from the farmers market (3rd Saturday of the month we do the Oxford Winter market) and had settled down to eat some lunch we got a knock on the door. It was Mickey the guy who sold us our plastic, yellow portable sign last June. Eugene had called him a few days earlier to see about getting a replacement and here he was ready to replace our sign.

We had talked about getting an additional 4' sign to put down in the valley the day before and the idea still seemed to be a good one so we told Mickey we would like two signs and he said okay and pulled a 6 footer and a 4 footer out of his van and than handed us 2 boxes of letters for the signs. We now have 3 boxes of letters (sans 1 "M" that got wasted in the accident). 2 have black letters and one has red letters-woo hoo! All for under $500.

After making the sale we got to talking to Mickey and he mentioned he had just been to Northern Michigan a few months ago. I asked where not expecting the answer to be Standish. And he was not expecting a woman born and raised in SW Ohio to know where the hell Standish, MI was. I said "Wow, my Dad lives there, well not Standish but Au Gres" We were both delighted to know we had Arenac county in common with each other and we both started rattling off town names-Omer (Michigan's smallest City), West Branch, Pinconning, AuGres, Point Lookout, The Singing Bridge, East Tawas (okay the last two places are in Iosco County). It turns out Mickey was born in Standish but left when he was around 17 due to women troubles and a need to grow up. This got him to SW Ohio and eventually making portable signs.

Small world I must say.

After talking about my favorite part of Michigan we showed him our store and started talking about organic foods and farming and by the time he left 2 hours later he was convince that organic food was the way to go. This is a conservative Bush (as in GW Bush... ) luvin' redneck who recently has realized that the food at Wal-Mart sucks and we had the opportunity to sway his mind in a good direction and took that opportunity.

You just never know....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wal-Mart Still Misrepresenting Organic

http ://

More on Wal-Mart Defrauding Organic Consumers & OCA Boycott

  • Press Release
  • By MarK Kastel
  • The Cornucopia Institute, Jan 17, 2007

Organic Fraud: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Accused of Widespread Distortion
Nonorganic Food Products Misidentified as "Organic"

CORNUCOPIA, Wisconsin - January 17 - When the staff at The Cornucopia Institute surveyed Wal-Mart stores around the country last September, analyzing the giant retailer's pronouncement that they would begin selling a wide variety of organic food at just a 10% mark-up over similar conventional products, they were surprised to discover widespread problems with signage misrepresenting nonorganic food as "organic."

Now, Cornucopia, one of the country's most prominent organic watchdogs is even more surprised that more than four months after informing the company of the problems, which could be interpreted as consumer fraud, and two months after filing a formal legal complaint with the USDA, the federal agency regulating organic labeling, many of the deceptive signs at Wal-Mart stores are still in place.

"It is unconscionable that rather than correct these problems, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. instead responded to our concerns by attacking our comparatively modest public interest group in an effort to discredit our organization in the media," said Mark Kastel, codirector of the Wisconsin-based Institute. "It is not as if a product recall or store remodeling would have been required to correct Wal-Mart's deceptive consumer practices. They could have simply sent out an e-mail to store managers and corrected the problem instantly."

New store inspections throughout Wisconsin have found that Wal-Mart stores are still selling nonorganic yogurt and sugar identified as organic, and designated organic produce sections continue displaying many nonorganic items, among other widespread abuses. The Cornucopia Institute again contacted the USDA about the ongoing problem but the agency could not confirm that any enforcement action was imminent on the federal level. Cornucopia then filed a consumer fraud complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection on January 13.

"We were very impressed with the immediate and professional response we received from the Wisconsin regulators," stated Will Fantle, Cornucopia's research director. "Within hours officials from the state contacted us to confirm some of the information we submitted and we verified our past interactions with the USDA for them."

The USDA's organic program has been widely criticized for, among other management problems, not attending to questions of improprieties in a timely manner. In one case a certifier decertified a Florida orange grower who could not document that the oranges and orange juice he was selling were produced organically. More than two years later, pending USDA action, the products were still on the market and being purchased by unsuspecting consumers.

"The vast majority of all organic farmers and food marketers operate with a high degree of organic integrity. These abuses, and the lack of responsible enforcement by the USDA, endangers the credibility of the organic label for all of us, said Tom Willey of T & D Willey Farms of Madera, California, an organic fresh market vegetable producer.

"Wal-Mart cannot be allowed to sell organic food 'on the cheap' because they lack the commitment to recruit qualified management or are unwilling to properly train their store personnel. This places ethical retailers, their suppliers, and organic farmers at a competitive disadvantage," Kastel said.

A number of other organic food retailers throughout the country, including Whole Foods Markets and many of the nation's member-owned grocery cooperatives, have gone to the effort to become certified organic in terms of the handling of their products and have invested heavily in staff training to help them understand organic food production and merchandising concerns.

"Our management and our employees know what organic means," said Lindy Bannister, general manager at The Wedge Cooperative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "If Wal-Mart intends to get into organics, they can't be allowed to misidentify 'natural' foods as organic to unsuspecting consumers." The Wedge, the largest single store food cooperative in the nation, was one of the first retailers to go through the USDA organic certification process.

Cornucopia's complaints ask the USDA and Wisconsin regulators to fully investigate the allegations of organic food misrepresentation. The farm policy organization has shared their evidence, including photographs and notes, from multiple stores in Wisconsin and in many other states, with the agency's investigators. Fines of up to $10,000 per violation for proven incidents of organic food misrepresentation are provided for in federal organic regulations.

"The business practices at Wal-Mart are quite disturbing and certainly incompatible with the values that have transformed the organic food industry into a lucrative marketplace," said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association ( "We have called today for a boycott of Wal-Mart by organic shoppers until such time as the integrity of their merchandising and product line can be ascertained."

This past September, The Cornucopia Institute also accused Wal-Mart of cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory-farms and Third World countries, such as China.

The Institute released a white paper, Wal-Mart Rolls Out Organic Products‹Market Expansion or Market Delusion?, that concluded that Wal-Mart was poised to drive down the price of organic food in the marketplace by inventing a "new" organic‹food from corporate agribusiness, factory-farms, and cheap imports of questionable quality (available at

"If unchecked, Wal-Mart's alleged misrepresentation of organic food, along with their procurement practices, and cheapening the meaning behind the organic label, could endanger the livelihoods of many farmers and family business owners who have labored to build organics into a lucrative $16 billion a year industry," Kastel lamented.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Cornucopia Institute's White Paper, Wal-Mart Rolls Out Organic Products: Market Expansion or Market Delusion?, along with a photo gallery containing images of some of the violations observed and of organic items now being offered for sale at Wal-Mart stores, can be found on the organization's web page at as can Cornucopia's legal complaint filed with the USDA regarding Wal-Mart's alleged organic product misrepresentation.

High-resolution files of these photographs and/or a head shot of Mr. Kastel are available electronically upon request.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Farmers Fear Livestock ID Mandate

Farmers Fear Livestock ID Mandate
Tracking animals with RFID could prove pricey, they say
Marc L. Songini

January 15, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Independent livestock ranchers last
week were quick to criticize signals that the new Congress may soon
mandate implementation of the RFID-based National Animal Identification

Signing on to the NAIS program has been voluntary since it was first
proposed in 2003, but Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the new chairman
of the House Agriculture Committee, said last week that he may soon push
for the program to become mandatory.

“The voluntary approach is a good steppingstone in the process of
achieving a functioning animal ID system,” Peterson said. “But full
participation may ultimately be necessary in order to ensure that we
have a system that meets the needs of livestock producers and the

The farmers and ranchers, and the industry groups that represent them,
contend that a mandatory NAIS program would impose unnecessary costs and
technical challenges on their businesses.

NAIS calls for using technology to tag and track cattle and other
livestock from birth to the slaughterhouse. No technology has yet been
chosen for the effort, though analysts expect that most farmers would
use radio frequency identification tags.

The program aims to track animals through the supply chain to help
health officials find the source of meat-borne diseases such as bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the
program, last week insisted that participation in NAIS will remain
voluntary and that the agency won’t limit participants to using a
specific technology.

But Peterson argued that the effort has yet to see much success and
needs a boost.

“USDA’s success in implementing the NAIS to date has been limited at
best,” Peterson said. “Nearly $100 million has been spent to establish
the system, and yet we still do not have a functioning system.

Many other countries, including Canada and Australia, established
functioning programs at a lower cost than we have already spent.”

Frank Albani, president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of
Massachusetts, an organization based in Barre, Mass., that counts 900
small farmers among its members, argued that NAIS will benefit only RFID
gear vendors and large meat producers and retailers while hurting small
farmers. “They have [tracking] systems in place in Ireland and
Australia, and they cost an exorbitant amount of money,” Albani said.

Large agribusinesses have already installed systems to track animals or
meat that is shipped cross-country or internationally, he noted. On the
other hand, smaller farmers generally sell their wares locally, so such
a program isn’t needed for them, Albani said.

‘Points of Failure’

Karin Bergener, founder of the Hollow Rock, Tenn.-based Liberty Ark
Coalition, said that the exact cost of using RFID chips on animals
remains undetermined. However, she said that her group, which was
established to fight NAIS, has estimated that costs in countries such as
the U.K. and Australia can run as high as $69 per head of cattle, a
total that could erase the profit margin for some species.

She also noted that “the points of failure involved with such a database
are almost impossible to count.” Bergener also raised privacy concerns,
contending that the technology could also be used to track animal owners.

Pushback from producers prompted the USDA in November not to switch from
a voluntary program to a mandatory one, an agency spokesman said. At the
time, the USDA also shifted technical and implementation responsibility
to state governments. “We believe the best program respects states’
rights,” he said. “It’s up to the states [to determine] if they want
make it mandatory.”

So far, only Michigan has moved to require mandatory compliance with the
rules. All cattle in that state must have RFID tags by March 2007.

The USDA spokesman noted that the department has spent about $84 million
thus far to implement NAIS.

Meanwhile, Peterson is calling on his colleagues in Congress to seek
ways of making NAIS implementation cheap, efficient, secure and
mandatory. No timeline has been set to discuss his proposal.

Danny Boy

It's been quite busy around here for winter time.

We got a new dog-Danny Boy who used to belong to Eugene's mom until she died. Since than he has been living with Doreen, Eugene's sister and her two dogs, Caesar and Arias. things for the past 4 months were not going well at all at Doreen's house so she asked Eugene to take Danny and he agreed. I was not happy about this at all. the stories i was hearing from Doreen were not good. Danny was terrorizing her two dogs and her house was in an uproar. So I assumed that Danny would pull the same things here, plus terrorize the cats.

I could not have been more wrong. Danny has been playing well with Nate and Arlo and the cats have figured out how to terrorize Danny so he stays away from them and has not once thought about chasing them all over the house. As a matter of fact Danny is the happiest I have ever seen him. I think he likes farm life and what's not to like. He can bark all day and night and not be told to shut up. We have many bones in the yard to chew on, we have lots of smells to be checked out and sticky things to roll in. And the day after he showed up we got our first decent snow of the year which got all the dogs happy and excited.

Originally we were planning on finding a home for Danny but if he keeps on acting as he is we will probably end up keeping him and letting him live out his last years here. Of course, this could change if his attitude changes and he become a PITA. Time will tell.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Udder Truth

Here is an interesting article from Salon about raw milk

The Udder Truth

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winter Farm Life

This is a "what we small full time farmers do in the winter" post.

Okay today I got up late-around 8am due to a late night drinking raspberry moonshine and eating a spicy meat and fish soup at Julies' and Rosie's house. We had not seen our friends since before Christmas so we had lots to celebrate. Actually we went to their house to borrow a wine bottle corker so we can bottle up the pear wine the 4 of us started about 5 or 6 weeks ago. Did not succeed in finding the implement but had a good time none the less.

Any hoo, that caused me to get up about 2 hours later than I normally get out of bed. but since we had little planned for today getting up late was not a bad thing. After eating breakfast (reheated frozen pancakes I had made a few days ago). Took a short walk around the farm and marveled at the hoar frost on everything (it got cold last night, winter seems to be here, maybe). And I saw my first buzzard of the year. Normally the buzzards do not arrive until mid Feb but this has not been a normal winter.

Went back in the house and I decided to call the Safe Auto insurance people about our property damage since they had not called us back in a week. At 9:30am I called up "Austin" and actually got "Austin on the phone and told him that nothing had been done about our property damage and when was an appraiser coming out. he had no idea why no one had looked at the damage and said he would call me back. Surprise, surprise he did indeed call back about 3 minutes later and informed that the appraiser he had hired to look at the damage only did vehicles and not property damage so he had to find another company to look at out crumpled sign just sitting there in the front lawn. So he had to call me back again and did so 15 minutes later and said he had found another company and they should contact me tomorrow. So getting the sign replaced is in the works.

After dealing with safe Auto I attempted to do the Sudoku puzzle in the Dayton Daily News and failed (but I did solve it yesterday along with the crossword and the word jumble. I do not do the word find, never really liked that puzzle) and read that it is Betty White's Birthday, she's old, can't remember how old-85 or something.

I played around on-line for a bit reading email and looking at favorite website forums (I love posting on forums). Found that the Baker Creek Seed forum is still off line. I hope it is nothing too serious has happened to them, they have been down for 2 days now.

At 11am we turned on the price is Right. I love The Price Is Right and will be unhappy when Bob Barker retires this spring. I don't know who could replace him, though my money is on Adam Sandler, yes Adam Sandler who is a producer of TPIR. I have been watching this show since it was Truth or Consequences (really a different show but also hosted by Bob Barker).

After TPIR I ate lunch (left over Mac and Cheese with Italian sausage from pasture pork and some broccoli from the hoophouse) and than checked email and than talked for 2.5 hours with Rick, the guy we sometimes buy organic/sustainable produce from in the summer. We talked about produce and Monsatan buying up all the seeds and good OP varieties of peppers and onions to replace varieties now owned by Monsantan. We ended the call with me not coming to a decision of what I might or might not need from him this summer. Simply because I honestly do not know yet. It depends on how well business goes at the farm store this coming season. I assume even if I do nothing about advertising and marketing we will do better sales than last year. But doing some advertising in the local Eaton paper and the DDN I think will help out our bottom line dramatically.

After talking to Rick I got to thinking about dinner and decided to make pasta with a tomato based sauce that will use up the rest of the Italian sausages I have. And along with that we will have bread sticks so I put together a whole wheat yeast dough that I spiked with some fresh garlic that I ran through the rasp I generally use for hard cheese.

And while I was doing my stuff Eugene has spent a great deal of the day getting ready to do the taxes. Right now he is going through receipts and folders and getting things into perfect order. Unlike past years, I was really good about putting things where they ought to be so he is cruising through this and has had few tense moment. most of the tension is coming from faded receipts where we have to guess what it is for. But because I wrote most of this kind of information down elsewhere we have been able to figure everything out so far.

Now I must attend to my bread sticks and spag sauce.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What's in Your (not organic) Milk?

This is what you should expect from any milk that is conventionally raised (plus a bunch of antibiotics and cows being fed GMO grains). Organic milk from industrial organic sources may not have hormones in them but the milk is ultra-pasteurized which is also not good as pasteurization changes the chemistry of the milk profoundly. This is a huge reason I drink raw milk from cows raised on pastured who do not do drugs.

  • Injected into dairy cattle, the product can increase milk production from 10% up to 40%.
  • In November 1993, the product was approved for use in the U.S. by the FDA, and its use began in February 1994.
  • The product is now sold in all 50 states. According to Monsanto, approximately one third of dairy cattle in the U.S. are injected with Posilac [the brand name of rBGH]; approximately 13,000 dairy producers use the product.
  • It is now the top selling dairy cattle pharmaceutical product in the U.S.
  • The FDA does not require special labels for products produced from cows given rbST.
  • Use of rBGH in cows also increases insulin growth factor (IGF-1) in milk.

Meanwhile, the European Commission had commissioned two independent committees of internationally recognized experts to undertake a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on both the veterinary and public health effects of rBGH. The veterinary committee fully confirmed and extended the Canadian warnings and conclusions. The public health committee confirmed earlier reports of excess levels of the naturally occurring Insulin-like-Growth Factor One (IGF-1), including its highly potent variants, in rBGH milk and concluded that these posed major risks of cancer, particularly of the breast and prostate, besides promoting the growth and invasiveness of cancer cells by inhibiting their programmed self-destruction (apoptosis). Faced with this latest well documented scientific evidence from both Canada and Europe, the U.S. bowed to the inevitable and failed to challenge the Codex ruling in support of the European moratorium. [emphasis mine]

In short, rBGH causes increased levels of IGF-1 in milk. IGF-1 (in high levels) causes breast and prostate cancer. Non-rBGH milk normally contains IGF-1 too - just in lower levels:

Milk contains IGF-1 for good reason: milk is designed for babies, and IGF-1 helps us grow. IGF-1 affects growth, as well as other functions, and is normally found in our blood. Higher levels of IGF-1, however, appear to stimulate cancer cells.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Rain is Almost Over

The weather still sucks but it is getting better if frigid cold is better to you. It is to me, we need some cold weather to kill pest insects that are having waaay too easy a time overwintering thus far. And the fruit trees and brambles need cold weather to do their thing when the weather warms.

We got 4.3 inches of rain from this storm. The ground is saturated to be sure. Ain't gonna be able to to do any plowing or tilling for quite some time it seems

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bright Comet

DAYTIME COMET: Comet McNaught is now visible in broad daylight. "It's fantastic," reports Wayne Winch of Bishop, California. "I put the sun behind a neighbor's house to block the glare and the comet popped right into view. You can even see the tail."

This trick is best performed around local noon: Go outside and stand in the shadow of a building. Face south. The comet lies 5 degrees to the left of the sun. (Five degrees is the width of your fist held at arm's length.)

Photo credit:
Thorsten Boeckel
of Bavaria, Germany

You may not see anything at first, but don't give up. Scan the blue sky until your eyes alight upon the comet. Once seen, you'll wonder how you could've missed it.

This weekend is a special time for Comet McNaught because it is passing close to the sun. Solar heat is causing the comet to vaporize furiously and brighten to daylight visibility. At magnitude -4 to -5, McNaught is the brightest comet since Ikeya-Seki in 1965.

Binoculars dramatically improve the view of the comet, allowing you to see structure within the tail. But please be super-careful not to look at the sun. Direct sunlight through binoculars can cause permanent eye damage.

This is Deeply Disturbing

The Times January 14, 2007

GM hens lay eggs to fight cancer
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

SCIENTISTS have created the world’s first breed of designer chickens, genetically modified to lay eggs capable of producing drugs that fight cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Researchers at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, which created Dolly the cloned sheep, have bred a 500-strong flock of the birds.

The breakthrough offers the prospect of mass-producing drugs that currently cost the NHS thousands of pounds a year per patient, at a fraction of the price.

The ISA Browns, a common breed of egg-laying hen, have each had human genes added to their DNA to enable them to produce complex medicinal proteins. These human proteins are secreted into the whites of the birds’ eggs, from which they can be easily extracted to produce drugs.

The Roslin scientists have achieved a world first in creating birds that “breed true”, meaning the added human genes are passed on from generation to generation. This opens the way for the creation of industrial-scale flocks and offers a potentially unlimited cheap source of medicinal proteins.

One of the chicken lines produces human interferon of a kind closely resembling a drug widely used to treat multiple sclerosis. Such drugs have a potential worldwide market worth hundreds of millions.

Another line could be useful in treating skin cancer, by producing miR24, an antibody that could also potentially treat arthritis, which afflicts 7m people in Britain.

The institute is understood to have created at least two other lines of genetically modified chicken, whose eggs could produce drugs with the potential to fight cancer.

The research is a triumph for Dr Helen Sang, the leader of the Roslin team who, since 1997, has sought to make the technique work without new genes being lost as they are transmitted down the generations. Ian Wilmut, the Edinburgh University professor who created Dolly at Roslin, was an adviser on the project.

“This is potentially a very powerful new way to produce specialised drugs,” said Dr Karen Jervis of Viragen Scotland, a biotech company that is working closely with Roslin. “We have bred five generations of chickens so far and they all keep producing high concentrations of pharmaceuticals.”

Other researchers have already produced transgenic chickens — with artificially altered DNA — but the ability to make desirable proteins has generally vanished in a generation or two.

At present, therapeutic proteins are mainly made in bio-reactors, vats of bacteria or other cells that have been genetically modified. However, extracting the relevant proteins is expensive and difficult.

In Roslin’s research — to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tomorrow — the scientists will describe how they extracted embryonic cockerels from hens, before the eggs had formed.

The embryos, just small clusters of cells, were then each injected into surrogate eggs and “infected” with a virus genetically modified to contain human genes. These genes contained the blueprint for the human proteins that the researchers were trying to produce.

The virus carried those human genes into the cells of the embryonic cockerels where they became incorporated into the bird’s DNA.

When the so-called “founder cockerels” hatched, they were mated with ordinary female hens. Their progeny were found to contain the same human genes and, to the delight of the researchers, the females all produced the desired protein in their eggs.

“In theory, this technique could be used with a wide range of genes, so that hens could be used to make many different proteins,” said Andrew Wood of Oxford BioMedica, whose researchers collaborated on the project. “Potentially, this could lead to treatments for ill-nesses including Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and a range of cancers.”

The ISA Brown, a French breed that is a cross between Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White chickens, produces about 300 eggs, per hen, a year.

Some scientists are cautious about the advance, pointing out that biotechnol-ogy firms have been promising a new generation of drugs from transgenic animals for nearly two decades.

So far, however, perhaps the world’s most successful transgenic animal is the glofish — a tropical fish modified with DNA from a sea anemone and a jelly fish to give it a fluorescent skin. It is used as a pet.

Last year saw a breakthrough for such technologies when European regulators approved the world’s first medicine derived from transgenic animals. ATryn, an anticlotting agent for people with a rare inherited disease, is made from the milk of goats whose DNA has been modified to incorporate human genes.

Dr Barbara Glenn of Bio, which represents the American biotech industry, said the Roslin research was likely to be the first of many similar breakthroughs. “This technique is simply a way of producing human proteins, which is why it is applicable to so many different diseases,” she said.

For the NHS, the hope is that such technologies will help to minimise its annual bill for prescription drugs which was £8 billion last year; an increase of 46% since 2000.

Andrew Tyler, the director of Animal Aid, which campaigns to improve animal welfare, said genetically manipulating farm animals was a reckless and dangerous procedure. “The fallout for the animals of creating GM individuals in enormous. The modification process produces many casualties, with young animals being born with defects and females suffering miscarriages and other problems,” he said.

Cold N' Rainy

It's cold and rainy today, was yesterday too. Will be the same tomorrow.

The weather sucks

Thursday, January 11, 2007

1st Harvest of 2007

Lettuce we use in our spring mix in a hoophouse

I just finished my first sorta big harvest of the year. I got in a pound of kale and 3 pounds of spring mix. Eugene is bringing in turnips. The kale and most of the spring mix is already called for by a long time faithful customer who was smart enough to email ahead and make an appointment to get her fresh greens.

You can too (if you live in SW Ohio)

The kale is looking pretty bad but the spring mix looks and tastes fantastic. After living all last winter with no greens from the garden it sure is nice to have them. Kroger's and Wal-mart do sell things like spring mix and kale but the stuff sure does not taste anything like what we grow. I can see why people are under the impression kale tastes bad. If you buy it from a big grocery store is more than likely will taste bad. Buy it from a farmer and it will more than likely taste wonderful.

The reason for a harvest with no real market is because winter is slated to makes its' arrival Monday and tomorrow we are getting day one of 4 days of rain. We have a farmers' market in 9 days (3rd Saturday of the month) that we will go to if it is above freezing and it seems that this evening and maybe tomorrow will be the only days to get things in. I do not like harvesting so far in advance of a market but kinda old veggies are better than frozen ruined veggies and that is what we are facing.

Other than getting ready for this farmers' market I have been finishing up garlic powder and have found I now have two broken dehydrators so I guess the garlic powder project is over for the year. Eugene got out the BCS with the plow on it and opened up 4 more beds as well as planted another bed of spring mix in one of the hoophouses for March harvest. He may have also planted radishes, I will have to check with him later on this evening about that.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Busy Winter Day

For a Monday in January it has been a fairly busy day.

We were contacted by a professor at Miami University about some of his student coming out to interview us about what we do for a living and maybe later on putting in a day or two of work out here. This is something we have done for years-been a repository of sustainable farming knowledge for students at MU and at Earlham College. I graduated with a degree in anthropology from Miami and Eugene got his BA from Earlham and so we help out students and teachers from our Alma maters as well as teach the next generation a bit about sustainable/organic farming and why this is so important . And it is something I really enjoy, college kids are fun, especially the hippy, Birkenstock, dreadlock wearing, treehuggung types.

I also finished up one batch of garlic powder and started another. It is taking forever to dry garlic this year and the whole garlic is beginning to go bad about 2 months earlier than average. processing and cleaning garlic took up about 3 to 4 hours of my day.

In the middle of the garlic project I got a phone call from Allstate asking about the property damage that occurred Saturday morning. they wanted a police report that we did not have and said they would be out to look at things and assess the damage sometime soon (tomorrow? Wednesday? who knows?). I hope soon so we can clean up the mess/fix one sign. At any rate, I gave the guy the name of the deputy sheriff who was on the scene and that seemed to be enough for the insurance adjuster.

Oh and got a call from the periodontal people reminding me I have an appointment with pain Wednesday at 4pm. I go in to have a tooth scraped and a tooth implanted. this will be expensive (about $3,000) and quite painful. The last time I used this guy for a huge bout of periodontal disease (I had the mouth of a 75 year old at age 35 and had to get everything scraped but my front teeth) I had to go in for 2 separate surgeries and than visit monthly for 6 months (it was supposed to take 12 to 18 months for me to heal but I did it in 6 months-This is what eating nutritious fresh organically grown food can do for a body).

Once I was done with the garlic I hopped on-line and was informed by WOOF that it is time to update my listing on their site. I have a listing there to attract interns/volunteers. I also emailed a friend to get the phone number of a new Italian restaurant in Germantown, OH that he went to last week and declared wonderful. But he found out the owner/chef cannot find any fresh greens especially arugula which is one of our specialties. We grow some of the best there is.

Now I am blogging and thinking about what to have for dinner, maybe cole slaw using the yummy cabbages we are growing. Tomorrow we go to pick up our raw milk allotment for the week.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

This Mornings' Events

A shot of the Boulder Belt sign with the skid marks that look like the truck missed the sign. It did not. At least this is fixable

We have had an eventful day. It all started before dawn around 5:45am when Eugene and I were awoken by a loud noise that sounded like a vehicle had crashed. We looked out all the upstairs windows but failed to see anything. Perhaps because it was pitch black, perhaps because all the windows were fogged up (old double hung with pitiful leaky storms on them). Whatever it was, we could see nothing so we both crept back under the warm womb like covers and tried to go back to sleep.

I could not go back to sleep so I got up and went downstairs and started on the dishes. I heard the dogs start barking and noticed that a cop had pulled up on our side of the road with his lights on. So obviously we had heard a wreck but I still could see nothing except the blue and red lights flashing in a festive manner (the irony of emergency vehicle lights, they are festive looking but rarely do they mean anything but trouble of some sort). Deputy Muncy got out of his car and started walking around with a flashlight and than I saw a whitish truck about where our yellow sign used to be. So I yelled upstairs that there was a cop on our property and there also was a truck facing sideways on our property.

Eugene got up and dressed and we had a small argument about whether or no the truck came off of Kayler Road, jumped 127 and landed on our property in what is at the moment a small lake (we have had a lot of rain the past couple of days). He thought that was the case and I thought he was north bound on 127 and slid into the grass and likely took out our yellow sign. So he went out to check things out and talk to the deputy and the driver. Turns out I was more right than Eugene. the truck was north bound on 127 . He got up to the top of the hill/curve at the 40' Pitch and lost control and went into a power slide and hit the side of our permanent white sign and took out a post (but missed the two small boulders that were no more than 24" to the west of the truck) and than broadsided the movable yellow sign and demolished it. It is now a tangled mess of yellow plastic, plastic stripping and iron with plastic letters distributed all over the yard. The good news is no one was hurt, just signs and trucks were damaged along with sod.

This is not the sign it once was. No fixing this one

Now we are waiting on his insurance people to get out here and look at the damage. We figure they will either show up after we have left for the Epiphany party/Christmas tree burning and drinking of beer fest we have been invited to this evening or some time Monday. Until they show up we cannot remove the heap o' sign

Friday, January 05, 2007

Say No to Burpee Seeds

I just found out that Monsanto bought out Burpee seeds as of Jan 1 of this year. Monsanto, it seems, is attempting to buy out all the seed companies in the world and that is bad because those who control the seed sources control about everything else.

I hope Monsanto does not do stupid things like drop most of the seed varieties it now owns (which is likely) or turn many of these veggie and fruit seeds into GMO (again this is very very likely).

Until a few minutes ago I was allowing Burpee ads to appear on my AdSense ads. That will no longer happen as I will not knowingly allow any Monsanto owned companies to advertise on this blog because as far as I am concerned Monsanto is an evil multinational corp that has brought no good to the planet as well as having a proven track record of being against organic farming and smal diversified farms

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quick! Confiscate the Butter!

Here is another raw milk story, this time from Michigan. It seems other depts of agriculture are acting just like the ODA in using gestapo tactics in halting the sale of raw milk.
October 30, 2006
Quick! Confiscate the Butter!
State sting asserts Michigan milk laws, chills farmers
By Patty Cantrell
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service


Growing onsumer demand for fresh, unprocessed milk from happy cows runs up against regulations designed for big business and long distance.

For three years now, southwest Michigan farmers Richard and Annette Hebron have kept their family operation in business with weekly deliveries of fresh, un-pasteurized milk and other farm products direct to some 150 members of their Family Farms Cooperative in Ann Arbor.

And, for three years, regulators at the Michigan Department of Agriculture left the Hebrons—and a growing number of other small farmers who also produce and sell raw milk—alone. The reason is that, even though Michigan law requires that all milk sold at retail be pasteurized as a precaution against food borne illnesses, the raw milk the Hebrons provide with two other farms in the cooperative is not really sold that way. Customers buy shares in the cows that produce the milk, which qualifies them for an exemption in Michigan’s dairy law: People who own cows can drink their own cows’ un-pasteurized milk.

This legal truce between the MDA and such “cow-share” arrangements ended abruptly, however, on Friday Oct. 13, when state troopers stopped Richard Hebron on his way to Ann Arbor and produced a search warrant that allowed state agents to seize Mr. Hebron’s products, paperwork, and cell phone.

As the alarmed farmer watched the officials confiscate the privately contracted, un-pasteurized milk, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, and butter, his wife, Annette, was enduring the same thing back home. There, plainclothes agents were packing up other products, taping shut freezers and coolers, and confiscating the family’s computer and business records.

Four hours later, in Ann Arbor, police and other MDA Food and Dairy Division officials produced a third warrant and searched the warehouse of a store that the cooperative uses as a distribution point for its products.

What Is Retail?

Katherine Fedder is the MDA official who approved the sting operation, which included months of undercover work by a spy from her agency, who infliltrated the co-op. She said that her department’s concern is not about cow shares but about location. Delivering to the warehouse of a specialty wine and food shop in Ann Arbor, she contends, may violate the state’s dairy laws because it is a matter of bringing un-pasteurized, unlabeled milk to a licensed retail establishment.

But Mr. Hebron and the store owner say this warehouse space is well away from the store’s retail traffic and that, lacking any clarifying language in Michigan law, they thought it was perfectly legal to make the privately owned, un-pasteurized milk products available to co-op members there.

Ms. Fedder takes issue with the negative reaction to the sting by the press and others, which have described it as “Gestapo-like.” But if the suddenness and severity of the MDA’s Friday-the-13th raids don’t qualify for jackboot status, they certainly are a wake-up call to entrepreneurial farms and their direct-market customers.

Local farm-to-table enterprises like Mr. Hebron’s are revolutionizing food markets by responding to new consumer demands. They are springing up like wild, untamable mint outside the typical, centralized, national and international channels that most food now travels: Nearly every morsel averages 800 to 1,200 miles before reaching our plates.

“Cow share” arrangements like that of the Family Farms Cooperative are increasing because a growing number of consumers like raw milk’s taste, its reported and perceived nutrition and digestibility benefits, and the simple fact that it comes direct from smaller, nearby farms.

But the entrepreneurial spirit re-connecting these local farms and consumers is also challenging the normal regulatory course of business at the MDA, which is charged with enforcing public health rules designed, in this case, to keep the mass-market milk supply safe.

Communication Breakdown?

The ordeal has left the Hebrons and their two partner farm families traumatized, confused, and struggling to stay in business. Two weeks after the search and seizure, the Hebrons had yet to be charged with a crime, were waiting for news, and trying to soldier on without access to seized equipment and records.

A simple warning call from the MDA could have alleviated the agency’s concerns, said Mr. Hebron. “They could have come in and talked to us about it and we could have rectified the situation.”

The MDA’s choice of a sting operation raises an urgent question: How willing is the MDA to explore other ways to protect consumers and regulate farmers who are, in this case, buying and selling milk products that they prefer over what is available in mainstream stores? In other words, are state regulators willing to consider alternatives to regulatory rules written primarily for big business and long distances?

The agency’s treatment of the Hebron’s also is drawing criticism because it conflicts with the agency’s long-espoused commitment to helping farmers understand and comply with regulations. The sting stands in stark contrast to the MDA’s kid-glove treatment of some large livestock operations, such as the 2,500-cow dairies that now dominate the mainstream, industrial milk market, which the Hebron’s customers are deserting. Despite repeated complaints from neighbors and well-documented evidence of severe water pollution, livestock operations suspected of violating environmental laws generally receive months and even years of warnings before the state takes enforcement action.

In an interview with the Great Lakes Bulletin News Service, the MDA’s Ms. Fedder declined to say whether officials attempted to communicate with the Hebrons before the raids. She did confirm, however, that her division assigned an undercover agent to the cooperative last spring. This came after a local health department, apparently in the Hebron’s vicinity, reported in April that two children had become ill after allegedly consuming raw milk. Ms. Fedder also confirmed the facts in an Oct. 19 Business Week commentary: The local health department was unable to trace the illness back to raw milk or any other specific food.

Despite the lack of evidence that the Hebron’s milk was related to any public health harm, the undercover operation proceeded and evolved months later into the sudden sting operation.

Rights and Responsibilities

Ms. Fedder insisted that the MDA respects private consumer choice and tolerates cow-share arrangements because the law says nothing about them: Her concern is about raw milk showing up in retail stores as demand for it rises.

“That’s where we will draw the line,” she said. “My biggest concern has always been a mother who goes into the store and grabs something she didn’t intend to grab versus a person with a high degree of knowledge of what they’re consuming and the choice they’re making.”

Ms. Fedder points to the majority of public health officials, who advise people not to drink raw milk. Mainstream milk producers also repeat this point in a campaign they have launched to defend the industry’s practices and processes—and to discredit and oppose the labeling of raw milk, organic milk, and milk from cows that have not been fed artificial hormones or daily doses of antibiotics.

Yet, ironically, food safety is a major factor in the rise of un-pasteurized milk providers, up from just a few known Michigan providers in 2003 to nearly 30 today, according to, a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, which promotes the benefits of raw or un-pasteurized dairy products.

Raw milk consumers like the fact that they’re working with, and helping keep in business, small farmers who may be needed to keep the milk supply safe and secure in a time when more and more food is coming through increasingly consolidated, sometimes quite vulnerable channels.

A recent New York Times piece by author and researcher Michael Pollan pointed out, for example, that 80 percent of America’s beef is now slaughtered by just four companies, 75 percent of precut salads are processed by two companies, and 30 percent of milk by just one. The recent national recall of bagged spinach demonstrates how one small problem along America’s mass food production line can cause lots of damage.

Katherine Czapp, a member of the Family Farms Cooperative, believes Michigan regulators need to take such facts into consideration and give consumers and farmers more security and clarity in their efforts to exchange the food products they prefer.

“I think they need to look at places like California, where it is legal to buy raw milk off the shelf, or Pennsylvania,” said Ms. Czapp, who is also an editor of the Wise Traditions Journal, a publication of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “Let’s see what they did there to make that legally possible.”
Patty Cantrell directs the Michigan Land Use Institute’s entrepreneurial agriculture program. Reach her at

Links, Links and More Links

I was over at Small Meadow Farm's blog and found all sorts of interesting things to read and links to surf. I especially like the rant "Food for Thought". There is also an entry about The Rodale Institute's challenge to the NBC biased reporting on organic foods last month which you can read here. It's nice that an entity with a lot of clout is going after NBC. Maybe NBC will be courageous enough to do a segment using the Rodale take on organics vs conventional. We can only hope.

In my email inbox I found this interesting set of links from the OEFFA list serv:
Industrial food is safe, healthy, and nutritious.
Industrial food is cheap.
Industrial agriculture is efficient.
Biotechnology will solve the problems of industrial agriculture.
Industrial agriculture benefits the environment and wildlife.
Industrial agriculture will feed the world.
Industrial food offers more choices.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Making Garlic Powder

Dried garlic awaiting the blender

In winter I make garlic powder. This a simple enough process, basically I dry fresh individual garlic cloves in a dehydrator and than pulverize the dried garlic in a blender and store the resulting powder in an air tight container with desiccant pouches to keep it from caking into a ball of garlic goo.

Garlic powder is by no means the most lucrative item we sell but I do use a lot of garlic powder myself and it is the best way to use up the garlic that has not sold by this time of year and is threatening to either sprout or rot.

In some ways I wish I had never opened the email from Whizbang productions (or maybe it was publishing, I can't remember) soliciting me to buy their book on how to make garlic powder. I did not buy the book but I did ask around on a couple of farming lists including one that had the author of the garlic powder book about how to go about making garlic powder and got enough information to go ahead and start drying garlic and grinding it into a fine powder. And now I am hooked on the stuff. The wan, tastes vaguely of garlic powder you can buy commercially at any grocery store for a couple of bucks for a big jar is not the same stuff. My home grown/home made garlic powder is powerful good. It is a rich golden color and has an assertive complex flavor. Just a bit will do for most things

I have changed how I do things a lot from my first batch about 6 or 7 years ago. I have gotten much more efficient over the years at cleaning the garlic for processing. And I have learned you never ever use a blender with a plastic carafe (the garlic impregnates the plastic with its' essence permanently as well as scrubs microchips off of the sides of the plastic carafe leaving one with a garlic plastic mix-yuck!). Always use stainless steel or glass and get one with a powerful motor. I found food processors (at least a Cuisinart) will not work at all because there is too much space in the bowl and you also have the plastic vs hard garlic issues that you get with a blender with a plastic carafe.

When I started doing garlic powder it would take me about 2 to 3 hours to separate and peel hundreds garlic cloves. Than I figured out in the 2nd or 3rd year you did not need to peel them before dehydrating and that alone save hours of work (I probably would have read this tip in the garlic powder book that I was too cheap to buy and could have saved myself a lot of work)

Right now the whole house smells like garlic as I have two dehydrators full of drying garlic. It's nice, like being in a bakery that is making garlic bread. I do not worry about vampires coming by when I am making garlic powder which I will be doing for the next month or so

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Compost in Winter

This is our slowest time of year. There is not much daylight so even if it is a mild winter (like it is so far this winter) and you have a bunch of crops planted in hoophouses, things still will not grow fast-crops or weeds. So there is not not much harvesting to do nor weeding to be done as compared to what will start happening in about 2 to 3 weeks when the day length gets longer and the sun higher in the sky. So we do not do much. But we are not completely dormant.

3 compost piles, the one in the foreground is still being built
and the other two have been freshly turned

One thing that can be done this time of year is composting. We have 4 compost piles cooking that were built this past fall and have been turned a couple of times since they were completed (one of the tricks to good compost is once you start turning the pile and letting it cook do not add more material) and should be ready to use by mid to late spring.

Eugene does pretty much all the compost turning because I have a bad rotator cuff in my left shoulder (from a riding accident I suffered on my 17th birthday during a 3-day event) that goes out after 1/2 hour of such work making my left arm useless for several days if I rub it down with arnica, longer if I do not.

Putting compost on beds is something we can do as long as the piles are not frozen and there is no snow on the ground (okay we can apply compost on top of the snow but if there is snow, generally the pile is too frozen). since we do not have a lot of compost right now Eugene in the photo is putting down a scant layer which will feed the critters in the soil that will in turn feed the plants.

Before we can apply the compost it has to be screened. Here we have Eugene carrying the tools of the trade (sans a wheel barrow to put the screened material into), a soil screen and a shovel (the dog is optional). Screening is simple-take a shovelful or two of compost, drop it on the screen and sift it through leaving the big uncomposted chunks and rocks behind. You are left with material suitable for putting on beds or for making soil for soil blocks and other seed starting.

Non GMO Resolution

Press Release

Source: The Institute for Responsible Technology

Iowa, Dec. 26 -- Consumers of any age can improve their health with one New Year's resolution. "Avoid eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," says expert Jeffrey M. Smith, who points to evidence of mounting health risks associated with gene-spliced foods.

Smith urges consumers to cross off brands that contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients, which are in 60-70% of foods sold in the U.S. The principle offenders are non-organic soy and corn derivatives and canola and cottonseed oils. Thus, Ragu tomato sauce would be off limits, since it contains corn syrup and soybean oil, but Light Ragu or Barilla brand sauces, which contain olive oil and no corn sweetener, are non-GMO.

"Consumers in the U.S. are being used as human guinea pigs by biotech companies, which rushed their GMOs to market without adequate studies and before the science was ready," says Smith. "Once Americans learn they are feeding these high-risk foods to their children, they will demand non-GMO alternatives." In Europe, where consumer knowledge about GMOs is considerably higher, shoppers' concerns prompted food manufacturers there to remove all GM ingredients. Smith sees this trend building in the US, with more and more healthy brands declaring ingredients "Non-GMO" on the label.

Smith's new book, Genetic Roulette: The documented health risks of genetically engineered foods, due out in the spring, links GMOs to risks such as allergies, immune system dysfunction, potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, stunted organs and death. "Many of the beliefs about DNA that were popular when GM foods were introduced ten years ago," he says, "have been proven wrong. Swapping genes between species turns out to have far more unpredicted dangerous side effects than we thought."

Animals choose non-GMO

Smith also documents how several animals, when given the option, choose non-GM food over GMOs. These include cows, pigs, elk, deer, raccoons, squirrels, mice, rats and geese. He says a non-GMO New Year's resolution will help people elevate their choices to match the wisdom of the animals.

Cloned food may be FDA deja vu

“The FDA’s recent announcement declaring milk and meat from cloned animals as safe,” says Smith, “reminds us of their 1992 approval of GM crops. When the agency’s internal files were made public years later, they revealed that the FDA’s GMO policy was dictated by corporate manipulation, not sound science. Warnings by government scientists were ignored by political appointees from the biotech industry.” Smith adds, “And like GMOs, the FDA does not want labels on cloned food, thereby forcing the entire population into their dangerous uncontrolled experiment.”

Jeffrey Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception, the world's bestselling book on GMOs. He is the founder and executive director of The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) and a leading spokesperson on the risks of GM foods. Go to for eater-friendly tips for avoiding GMOs at home and in restaurants. Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception, the world’s bestselling book on GM foods. His forthcoming book, Genetic Roulette, documents more than 60 health risks of GM foods in easy-to-read two-page spreads, and demonstrates how current safety assessments are not competent to protect consumers from the dangers. He is available for media at

Spilling the Beans is a monthly column available at

Permission is granted to publishers and webmasters to reproduce issues of Spilling the Beans in whole or in part. Just email us at to let us know who you are and what your circulation is, so we can keep track.

The Institute for Responsible Technology is working to end the genetic engineering of our food supply and the outdoor release of GM crops. We warmly welcome your donations and support.

© copyright Jeffrey M. Smith 2007