Monday, June 22, 2009

Mrs Obama's Garden

Who knew that putting in an organic garden at the White House would cause such a stir?

Michelle Obama wanted to plant a garden in the White House lawn to promote the eating of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet and bring awareness to the local food system....and she wanted their garden to be an organic garden.

Well--she heard some grumbling from some of the agibusinesses and they don't like it.

"For too long, the ag guys have said, If we raise it you're gonna eat it. You don't have options," says Mitchell. "Well, now we have options."

The pesticide peddlers are not happy with Michelle Obama. The Mid America CropLife Association, which represents agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Crop Protection, does not appreciate the Frist Lady's organic garden at the White House.

According to a spokeman, "While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made [us] shudder." The Association wrote a letter to Mrs Obama encouraging her to consider using "crop protection products" and "to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy."

In a press release, it asked, "What message does that send to the non-farming public about an important and integral part of growing safe and abundant crops to feed and clothe the world--crop protection products?"

It is also asking its own members to send letters to the First Lady.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

STOP! HR 2749

Urgent Action Alert!!!
New Food Safety Bill HR2749

Background Information
A new food safety bill is on the fast track in Congress-HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. The bill needs to be stopped.

HR 2749 gives FDA tremendous power while significantly diminishing existing judicial restraints on actions taken by the agency. The bill would impose a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme on small farms and local artisanal producers; and it would disproportionately impact their operations for the worse.

HR 2749 does not address underlying causes of food safety problems such as industrial agriculture practices and the consolidation of our food supply. The industrial food system and food imports are badly in need of effective regulation, but the bill does not specifically direct regulation or resources to these areas.
To read a detailed account of the bill, go to: http://www.ftcldf.org/news/news-15june2009.htm

Alarming Provisions:

Some of the more alarming provisions in the bill are:
* HR 2749 would impose an annual registration fee of $500 on any "facility" that holds, processes, or manufactures food. Although "farms" are exempt, the agency has defined "farm" narrowly. And people making foods such as lacto-fermented vegetables, cheeses, or breads would be required to register and pay the fee, which could drive beginning and small producers out of business during difficult economic times.

* HR 2749 would empower FDA to regulate how crops are raised and harvested. It puts the federal government right on the farm, dictating to our farmers.

* HR 2749 would give FDA the power to order a quarantine of a geographic area, including "prohibiting or restricting the movement of food or of any vehicle being used or that has been used to transport or hold such food within the geographic area." Under this provision, farmers markets and local food sources could be shut down, even if they are not the source of the contamination. The agency can halt all movement of all food in a geographic area.

* HR 2749 would empower FDA to make random warrantless searches of the business records of small farmers and local food producers, without any evidence whatsoever that there has been a violation. Even farmers selling direct to consumers would have to provide the federal government with records on where they buy supplies, how they raise their crops, and a list of customers.

* HR 2749 charges the Secretary of Health and Human Services with establishing a tracing system for food. Each "person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds such food" would have to "maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food," and "establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons." The bill does not explain how far the traceback will extend or how it will be done for multi-ingredient foods. With all these ambiguities, it's far from clear how much it will cost either the farmers or the taxpayers.

* HR 2749 creates severe criminal and civil penalties, including prison terms of up to 10 years and/or fines of up to $100,000 for each violation for individuals.


Action to Take:

Contact your Representative now! Ask to speak with the staffer who handles food issues. Tell them you are opposed to the bill. Some points to make in telling your Representative why you oppose HR 2749 include:

1. The bill imposes burdensome requirements while not specifically targeting the industrial food system and food imports, where the real food safety problems lie.

2. Small farms and local food processors are part of the solution to food safety; lessening the regulatory burden on them will improve food safety.

3. The bill gives FDA much more power than it has had in the past while making the agency less accountable for its actions.

HR 2749 needs to be defeated!! Please take action NOW.

To contact your Representative, use the finder tool at www.Congress.org or send a message through the petition system (the petition will be on our website this evening) at http://www.ftcldf.org/petitions_new.htm.
Or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
To check the status of HR 2749, go to www.Thomas.gov and type "HR 2749" in the bill search field.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

FOOD INC.--the movie

Mark your calendars for July 3, 2009!
You will never look at dinner the same way again.


If you have not heard about it already, there is a new movie opening on June 12 that you might like to see! So far the only play date for the northeastern Ohio area is July 3 in Cleveland Heights @ the Cedar Lee Theatres.

One of the people staring in the movie is Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farm....the farm that Nathan apprenticed at a few years ago.

Watch movie trailer @ www.foodincmovie.com

SHORT SYNOPSIS OF THE MOVIE:

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.


Features interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

MOVIE REVIEWS:
"Does for the supermarket what 'Jaws' did for the beach. "- Staff, Variety

"More than a terrific movie—it's an important movie." - Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"A riveting cautionary tale. This is one movie that truly provides food for thought." - Patrick Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

"A cleverly written and well produced documentary. Kenner crafts an intelligent, visually compelling argument grounded in old-fashioned investigative research and journalism." - Maria Garcia, Film Journal International

"Excellent in every respect." - Pete Hammon, BoxOffice Magazine

BalloonFest 2009

I meant to post this earlier to give you more time to plan but my days got away from me.
This weekend (Saturday- June 13) Wellington is having its hot air balloon festival from 10am -10am and we wanted to let you know about it. It is going to be at the Lorain Co. Fairground so while your out checking out the balloons in our 'back yard', stop by and pick up some beef (or other farm products) while your in the area. Please contact us if you do decide to come. They are calling for some nice weather this weekend so it should be a good show. Hope you can make it.



*******From the Morning Journal -May 28 *********

Balloon Fest Takes Flight Next Month
By RON VIDIKA

WELLINGTON — On June 13, the skies above Wellington will be filled with hot air for the second annual Wellington Balloon Fest at the Lorain County Fairgrounds.

Howard Reynolds, co-organizer of the event, said last year's event had 11 hot-air balloons. This year, he said, there will be 18 balloons.

Balloon Fest begins at 10 a.m. with the start of children's games. There will be crafts, food and live bands, he said.

The balloons are slated to arrive at the fairgrounds at about 3 p.m., Reynolds said.
At about 6:30 p.m., the balloons will ascend and then return to earth at dusk, creating a "balloon glow.""They stay on the ground and a special burner gives out a bright orange flame and makes the balloon look like a light bulb," Reynolds said. "It's an awesome sight."

Cost of admission to Balloon Fest is $5 per vehicle. All proceeds will benefit the Lorain County Office on Aging.

Should there be inclement weather, the balloons will fly Sunday at 7 p.m.

There is a raffle for a hot-air balloon ride offered by the Lorain County Office on Aging and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Tickets cost $5 each and the drawing will be June 4 in the office of the Lorain County Office on Aging, Elyria.

To purchase a raffle ticket, stop by the office of the Lorain County Office on Aging at 320 Gateway Blvd., Elyria, or send $5 in care of the agency, 226 Middle Ave., Elyria, OH 44035. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope so the ticket can be mailed back.Deadline to purchase raffle tickets is June 3. For further information on Balloon Fest, call (440) 326-4800.

***Our hometown newspaper --The Wellington Enterprise****

A lot of Hot Air to Lift BalloonFest Attendees Saturday.

The skies over Wellington will be filled with balloons on Saturday. The Wellington Chamber of Commerce and the Lorain County Office on Aging is hosting its second annual BalloonFest held at the Lorain County Fairgrounds; gates open at 10 a.m. and the admission fee is $5 per carload.

In addition to the balloon exhibit, attendees can enjoy games, entertainment -- including Bald Paul & The Irish Rockers at 3 p.m. -- and food vendors offering a variety of culinary delights such as kielbasa, polish sausage, italian sausage, gyros, chicken pitas, and french fries.

The Lorain County Office on Aging will be holding an arts and crafts show in conjunction with the Balloon Fest. More than 30 crafters will be featured, including jewelry, loom weaving, wood carving, handmade purses, and more.

The balloons will launch at about 6 p.m. and the festival will culminate with a Balloon Glow at 10 p.m.

Sponsors of the BalloonFest include several organizations and businesses including Linden's Propane, Mike's Cash-4-Gold, and Weber Health Care Center.

All proceeds of the BalloonFest go to the Lorain County Office on Aging to fund programs for the senior citizens of Lorain County, including Meals on Wheels, monthly food deliveries, housekeeping, chores, and escorts to physicians' offices. Last year, more than $5,000 was raised.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Strawberry Time- 2009

We officially kick off the 2009 strawberry season this week.


Are you ever tempted to buy those big red (tasteless) strawberries in the store because you want to eat healthy? They might not be as healthy as you think. Actually-- you will more than likely be adding more toxins to your body than what they are worth!!

Did you know that those store strawberries are loaded with chemicals? It's true! Strawberries are at the top of the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables list (or also known as "The Dirty Dozen" list) ---the items you should always try to eat organically. Strawberry growers everywhere use large amounts of pesticides and fungicides (fungicides can be sprayed on the berries before they are shipped to help keep them from molding so fast). The end result is a popular fruit that contains a myriad of toxic chemicals.

According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) peaches had the most pesticides overall, with some combination of up to 53 different pesticides found on the samples tested, followed by apples with 50 pesticides and strawberries with 38. That's 38 different kinds of pesticides that have been detected on strawberries. Peaches and apples had the most pesticides detected on a single sample, with 9 pesticides on a single sample, followed by strawberries and imported grapes where 8 pesticides were found on a single sample of each fruit.

The methodology used in nearly all the studies used to create the list (based on an analysis of 87,000 tests for pesticides on these foods conducted from 2000 to 2007 by the USDA and the FDA), tested the produce after it had been rinsed or peeled. This is an even bigger problem as far as strawberries go because you can't wash (or wash it well) or peel a strawberry. All that is sprayed on a strawberry is soaked right into the berry itself; it is like a sponge.

We're not going to get into the effects that pesticides have on the body right now or the known higher nutritional value that organic has over nonorganic as there are many places to find that info. Our main objective here is to point out that the buyer needs to be aware of this pesticide problem. You need to know where your strawberries are coming from and that organic is the best choice if you really want to stay healthy.

And what about our strawberries? They are grown organically which, in part, means we use no pesticides, fungicides, herbicides (weed killers) or the like on them. They are safe and healthy to eat.....and extra yummy!


And as far as our 2009 berry season.......

We think it is going to be a slower than normal year as there is going to be a limited supply....especially at the beginning. The reason you ask.... as it has been a nice spring? Our older patches don't have as many in them as they use to and the new patches were taken over by weeds this past summer.

As a result, we will only be opening the berry stand on an as-needed-basis. We think we will only be able to do phone and email orders this year (no u-pick) but if we have extras, we will put them at the stand and open for business on a first-come-first-serve basis. But for right now, we can't say if or how long that will last so ordering is still your best bet. If we do get enough to start putting them at the stand, we will post that here at the blog as an update....so check back often if you were looking to get some that way.

So if you want some strawberries this season from us this year, please us the 'Contact Us' post under 'Labels' to get our phone and email info, if you don't have it already.

Friday, May 29, 2009

End of the Rainbow

This evening we had a small rain storm come through and when I looked out the kitchen window, I saw that the end of the rainbow was right in the middle of the pasture so I grabbed the camera. We've not found that pot of gold or any leper cons running around yet but that's OK-we got a cool picture instead.

Really though--did you know that the rainbow is a sign of the promise made by God Almighty to Noah and us that He will never destroy the whole earth again by water like he did with the flood in days of Noah? The rainbow a reminder to Him and us.

God to Noah after he got off the ark:
"And God said , "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow apprears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9: 12-17

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stir Fried Kale

The kale we grow (and sell) is Red Russian Kale as it is one of the most tender kales out there plus it looks pretty interesting. It is now ready to be picked and enjoyed.


I have people ask me from time to time how I fix kale. It's not one of those widely used greens so I understand why some are 'afraid' of it. I have a, now very big, folder with recipes in it that I have found here or there that sound interesting that I would like to try some day. Well.... I finally tried one of those recipes tonight since we now have plenty of the star ingredient. It was pretty easy and turned out fairly good so I thought I would pass it on so you could have another way to add more greens to your diet....or finally add kale to your diet.

OH-- by the way-- kale (along with cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts) contain chemicals that block the production of thyroid hormone, know medically as goitrogens. Kale (also chard, spinach, collard, mustard and beet greens) contain oxalic acid. Oxalic acid blocks calcium and iron absorption and may irritate the mouth and intestinal tract. Cooking destroys or neutralizes both of these harmful substances as does fermenting as in cabbage to saurkraut. So make sure you cook your kale.

Feel free to adjust/add ingredients to your liking.


*********************************

Stir Fried Kale

1 bunch kale
1 sliced sweet onion
1 ½ TBL garlic, minced
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Shred kale leaves and chop the stems into small pieces.
Heat a large skillet, covering the bottom with water.
Combine the onion, garlic and oil and put into the heated pan.
Sauté until soft.
Add chopped kale stems and continue to stir-fry 2 minutes.
Add shredded kale leaves and stir-fry until almost done, adding a bit of water as needed.
Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar & salt and pepper to taste.
Cook until done.

NOTE: This recipe can also be made using swiss chard. I also added some garlic bread seasoning from Frontier.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

just stuff

Sometime it's hard to think of a good title for a blog entry when nothing special is happen, so this time I just went with 'just stuff'...that took a lot of thought huh?!?!

Here are a few snapshots of things happening around here......


A momma robin thought it would be a good idea to make a nest in a crate we put up (but never took down) for the chickens when they started laying eggs. It's unusual that she would pick here as it is kind of open and close to the grown. I'm surprised the cats haven't found them yet. We hope the babies have flown away by the time we need the pen for the chickens that got a little while ago.


A close up--it looks like there are 2 babies.



The cows have gotten out of their paddock 3 times in the past few days. The high grass isn't helping keep the electric at full power either. They decided to run up and visit the hens so the guys needed to get out there right away and get them back before they destroyed everything.

The last of the blueberry blossoms. The blossoms actually have a very pleasant smell to them. For me, they probably rank 2nd after lilacs as far as best smelling. When I walk by, I make sure I take a few second to smell them before I move on. It's aromatherapy.



The front part of the garden is humming along pretty good. I have heard of people using old tires for potatoes so I decided to experiment this year. I cut quite a bit of it away and only left the shell. So far so good but we'll see what the potatoes look like when they are done and how many I actually get compared to the ones not in the tires.


Yesterday I planted quite a bit of the middle part of the garden and then found out after I was done that there was now a small chance of frost that night. Sooo..... I had to drag everything out to protect all my work and this is what it looked like when I was done. It ended up not frosting but if I hadn't covered it, it would of. The frosty night should now be over until October. Now on to planting the rest of it.

lj

Friday, May 15, 2009

Contact Info

We have had a few different people that have visited our farm blog and asked how to get a hold of us so they could get some of our products. Because of that, we thought it might be a good idea to put some contact info here just in case you wanted something too.

We hope to see you soon!

Address: 22735 Pitts Rd---Wellington OH 44090
Phone: 440-647-2485
Email: agrassfedfarm(at)yahoo.com

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chick Day

Our 1st batch of peeps arrived the other day. They were suppose to come last week but the hatchery had a conveyor belt problem which pushed us back. I'm thinking one belt stopped while the other keep moving --I think you know what happened from there. This creates a bit of a problem for us now as Nathan wanted these guys out of the brooder before the next batch came...now WE have a back up.





Nathan bringing the chicks into the brooder




This is how they come. There's 140 in this batch.




Nathan taking the chicks out of the boxes and putting them into their new home for the next few weeks. They will be in the heat controlled enviroment until they are strong enough to withstand being outside all the time. It is very important to keep them here as it needs to be warm as they don't have feathers right now to keep themselves warm enough and they are the perfect sized meal for a preditor. They don't have a momma hen looking out for them.




WATCH YOUR STEP NATHAN!!! This picture give you a good idea of how small they are compared to us....but they do grow fast.





But they, though, don't care where they step!! He's standing in the water.


It dawned on me that I can take videos with this camera so I took a short one to give you the sight and sounds of the brooder. This does a better job than a what a picture could do. Turn on the sound and you'll hear the peeps talking. They do talk to you if you listen. For just being handled like they were, they are telling us that they are content for the most part.


video


I can hear you now---"OH-- they are sooo cute!". Let me say this--they are only cute for a couple weeks!


If you are intersted in getting some fresh, pastured, grass-fed chicken, let us know as we are taking orders now for the 2009 season.


lj

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grass-Finished Lamb


The next product on our list to tell you about is our grass-finished lamb. The lamb is produced in virtually the same manner as our beef. The lambs are raised on pasture all the way until market. Sheep, like cattle, are ruminants. This means that they are capable of surviving on a diet consisting entirely of grass and don't need any grain.This not only makes the lamb much more nutritious, it imparts excellent flavor to the meat. Also, by pasturing lambs to finish, the potential for illness caused by bacteria is much lower, like with cattle.

Sheep and cattle can also form a unique symbiotic relationship if raised together. Pastures will grow a diverse mix of plants. However, cattle won't always eat all of these plants and neither will sheep, but, when paired together, they utilize all of the plants growing in the pasture. This is because sheep and cattle each prefer different kinds of plants than the other. This is the same type of relationship that is seen among different species in the wild, which lends to the vast amount of diversity in nature.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring '09

It has been a while since our last post so I thought we should put something here so you know we are still in operatation. I have come to the conclusion that blogs are for those that like to write a lot...and have lots of time to do so! None of us here ever liked English class very much, let alone all the writing assignments that went with it, so keeping up with a blog can be work for us.

I am going to keep this one short on words but give you a little picture 'tour' of what spring looks like around here. It was a beautiful day today and too nice to be sitting inside so I went around and snapped a few pictures.


The snow peas are now up and growing.


The green onions, spinach, lettuce and kale are all up too. It won't be long now until we get our first light harvest of garden produce. The swiss chard ended up being a bit spotty in it's sprouting so I replanted some of it.




All the animals are now back on pasture. The trip from the barn back to the pasture went well. That is good news as we were a bit nerves on how things would go in moving the younger more 'wild' cattle back out after being penned up for the winter. They got distracted by all the grass though so not much goofing around happened.



'King' chicken--with his harem. He likes to look down at the ground, make a cackle or two and then do a little dance with his feet and then the ladies come running to see what he has found. It is usually nothing and I'm not sure why they fall for that 'small old song & dance' every time but they do. And I'm not sure why he does it either but I'm thinking he likes the attention & power.


This, I think, is the calf you meet in an earlier post. John gave her the name Isabell. She likes being out of the barn and able to run wild when she so pleases. She has a male playmate now that looks very similar to her. They like to have foot races across the pasture and through the herd.


The hens like to mingle with the cattle when they are close enough....and sometimes the cattle like to play with them by chasing them around.


Looks like it might be lunch time.


A few flowers that are blooming.






The view out by the road. Which, by the way, we have lots of eggs!! Spring is the time we get the most eggs per day so please stop by soon and pick some up.

Hope you enjoyed your day as well.
lj


Friday, March 20, 2009

Food Safety ????

If NAIS isn't enough, things heat up as our governnment tries to nationalize our lives even further.

2 bills introduced or supported by our congress people:

HR 875 has 3 co-sponsors from Ohio:
Rep. Marcy Kaptur-D 9th
Rep. Betty Sutton-D 13th
Rep. Tim Ryan-D 17th

S 425 was sponsored by our own senator from Ohio:
Sen. Sherrod Brown-D

Both of these bills are in the first step of the legislative process. Introduced bills and resolutions first go to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate. They say the majority of bills and resolutions never make it out of committee so let's keep it this way with these 2 by contacting those involved (and the committe members) to let them know you don't like these bills. You like your safe, local foods the way they are and you want your smaller farmer to stay in business. While your there, also let them know that it will really do nothing for food safety....it's just more government control....at taxpayer expense.

Want to know who your congress people are or how to contact them:
go to: www.congress.org


----------------------------------------------
Lose Your Property for Growing Food?
Big Brother legislation could mean prosecution, fines up to $1 million

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Article from worldnetdaily.com

Some small farms and organic growers could be placed under direct supervision of the federal government under new legislation making its way through Congress.

******
Food Safety Modernization Act

House Resolution 875, or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in February. DeLauro's husband, Stanley Greenburg, works for Monsantothe world's leading producer of herbicides and genetically engineered seed.

DeLauro's act has
39 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 4. It calls for the creation of a Food Safety Administration to allow the government to regulate food production at all levels – and even mandates property seizure, fines of up to $1 million per offense and criminal prosecution for producers, manufacturers and distributors who fail to comply with.

Michael Olson, host of the Food Chain radio show and author of "
Metro Farm," told WND the government should focus on regulating food production in countries such as China and Mexico rather than burdening small and organic farmers in the U.S. with overreaching regulations.
"We need somebody to watch over us when we're eating food that comes from thousands and thousands of miles away. We need some help there," he said. "But when food comes from our neighbors or from farmers who we know, we don't need all of those rules. If your neighbor sells you something that is bad and you get sick, you are going to get your hands on that farmer, and that will be the end of it. It regulates itself."

The legislation would establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services "to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes."

Federal regulators will be tasked with ensuring that food producers, processors and distributors – both large and small – prevent and minimize food safety hazards such as food-borne illnesses and contaminants such as bacteria, chemicals, natural toxins or manufactured toxicants, viruses, parasites, prions, physical hazards or other human pathogens.

Under the legislation's broad wording, slaughterhouses, seafood processing plants, establishments that process, store, hold or transport all categories of food products prior to delivery for retail sale, farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, aquaculture facilities and confined animal-feeding operations would be subject to strict government regulation.

Government inspectors would be required to visit and examine food production facilities, including small farms, to ensure compliance. They would review food safety records and conduct surveillance of animals, plants, products or the environment.

"What the government will do is bring in industry experts to tell them how to manage all this stuff," Olson said. "It's industry that's telling government how to set these things up. What it always boils down to is who can afford to have the most influence over the government. It would be those companies that have sufficient economies of scale to be able to afford the influence – which is, of course, industrial agriculture."

Farms and food producers would be forced to submit copies of all records to federal inspectors upon request to determine whether food is contaminated, to ensure they are in compliance with food safety laws and to maintain government tracking records. Refusal to register, permit inspector access or testing of food or equipment would be prohibited.

"What is going to happen is that local agriculture will end up suffering through some onerous protocols designed for international agriculture that they simply don't need," Olson said. "Thus, it will be a way for industrial agriculture to manage local agriculture."

Under the act, every food producer must have a written food safety plan describing likely hazards and preventative controls they have implemented and must abide by "minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water."

"That opens a whole can of worms," Olson said. "I think that's where people are starting to freak out about losing organic agriculture. Who is going to decide what the minimum standards are for fertilization or anything else? The government is going to bring in big industry and say we are setting up these protocols, so what do you think we should do? Who is it going to bring in to ask? The government will bring in people who have economies of scale who have that kind of influence."

DeLauro's act calls for the Food Safety Administration to create a "national traceability system" to retrieve history, use and location of each food product through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Olson believes the regulations could create unjustifiable financial hardships for small farmers and run them out of business.

"That is often the purpose of rules and regulations: to get rid of your competition," he said. "Only people who are very, very large can afford to comply. They can hire one person to do paperwork. There's a specialization of labor there, and when you are very small, you can't afford to do all of these things."

Olson said despite good intentions behind the legislation, this act could devastate small U.S. farms.

"Every time we pass a rule or a law or a regulation to make the world a better place, it seems like what we do is subsidize production offshore," he said. "We tell farmers they can no longer drive diesel tractors because they make bad smoke. Well, essentially what we're doing is giving China a subsidy to grow our crops for us, or Mexico or anyone else."

Section 304 of the Food Safety Modernization Act establishes a group of "experts and stakeholders from Federal, State, and local food safety and health agencies, the food industry, consumer organizations, and academia" to make recommendations for improving food-borne illness surveillance.

According to the act, "Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law … may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act."
Each violation and each separate day the producer is in defiance of the law would be considered a separate offense and an additional penalty. The act suggests federal administrators consider the gravity of the violation, the degree of responsibility and the size and type of business when determining penalties.

Criminal sanctions may be imposed if contaminated food causes serious illness or death, and offenders may face fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years.

"It's just frightening what can happen with good intentions," Olson said. "It's probably the most radical notions on the face of this Earth, but local agriculture doesn't need government because it takes care of itself."

*****
Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act

Another "food safety" bill that has organic and small farmers worried is Senate Bill 425, or the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Brown's bill is backed by lobbyists for Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson. It was introduced in September and has been referred to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Some say the legislation could also put small farmers out of business.
Like HR 875, the measure establishes a nationwide "traceability system" monitored by the Food and Drug Administration for all stages of manufacturing, processing, packaging and distribution of food. It would cost $40 million over three years.

"We must ensure that the federal government has the ability and authority to protect the public, given the global nature of the food supply," Brown said when he introduced the bill. He suggested the FDA and USDA have power to declare mandatory recalls.

The government would track food shipped in interstate commerce through a recordkeeping and audit system, a secure, online database or registered identification. Each farmer or producer would be required to maintain records regarding the purchase, sale and identification of their products.

A 13-member advisory committee of food safety and tracking technology experts, representatives of the food industry, consumer advocates and government officials would assist in implementing the traceability system.

The bill calls for the committee to establish a national database or registry operated by the Food and Drug Administration. It also proposes an electronic records database to identify sales of food and its ingredients "establishing that the food and its ingredients were grown, prepared, handled, manufactured, processed, distributed, shipped, warehoused, imported, and conveyed under conditions that ensure the safety of the food."

It states, "The records should include an electronic statement with the date of, and the names and addresses of all parties to, each prior sale, purchase, or trade, and any other information as appropriate."

If government inspectors find that a food item is not in compliance, they may force producers to cease distribution, recall the item or confiscate it.

"If the postal service can track a package from my office in Washington to my office in Cincinnati, we should be able to do the same for food products,"
Sen. Brown said in a Sept. 4, 2008, statement. "Families that are struggling with the high cost of groceries should not also have to worry about the safety of their food. This legislation gives the government the resources it needs to protect the public."

Recalls of contaminated food are usually voluntary; however, in his weekly radio address on March 15, President Obama announced he's forming a Food Safety Working Group to propose new laws and stop corruption of the nation's food.

The group will review, update and enforce food safety laws, which Obama said "have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt."

The president said outbreaks from contaminated foods, such as a recent salmonella outbreak among consumers of peanut products, have occurred more frequently in recent years due to outdated regulations, fewer inspectors, scaled back inspections and a lack of information sharing between government agencies.

"In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your president but as a parent," Obama said. "No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Planting Time

You know it's spring when you can finally can get some seeds in the ground. It will be nice to have fresh garden produce again, won't it?!?!?

A few days this week it got into the mid-sixties so I decided to get to work in the garden. Some of the beds needed repaired before I could go much further with them but some where OK. Was able to get some spinach, snow peas, lettuce, kale and swiss chard planted. I'm hoping it wasn't too early for the chard--I guess we'll find out. Now I just watch to see if everything comes up.

Getting the bed ready for some snow peas that I then planted the next day in a t-shirt and flip-flops as it was 65* outside. It was nice to wear flip-flops again!

_____________

I know this isn't about planting but I wanted to share this picture. I was doing maple syrup and planting at the same time though, which is kind of diffucult as just one of these jobs is a job in itself. Can't say I ever remember doing both before at the same time. We finished the last batch of syrup today, so now we (I) can concentrate on getting things ready for the growing season.

When we came back from gathering some sap a while ago we saw this. At first we thought the syrup shack was on fire (something we always have to watch for) but when we got inside to check it out, we found out that it was only steam. At first I thought it was because I filled the pan too full before we left, but then we figured out that it was because John had rebuilt the opening to the furnace in a break between sap flows and made it much more air tight. With this new setup the sap was boiling much better. It was kind of cool watching all the steam come out of the holes in the building as well as the steam stack.

louise

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's A Girl

Yesturday started calving season here on the farm. Our first calf of the season is a girl (she's called a 'heifer' in cattle lingo). She is the first calf that the guys have actually gotten to witness being born....we've always seem to just miss all the other ones being born in the past.

Meet our new addition.


The little lady is just a day old sitting and sleeping in the corner trying to stay out of the way. They sleep a lot just like human babies do. This time is about the only time you can go up to it and pet it because in a few weeks it will be runing all over the place and it will be hard to catch. It's surprising how fast they can run for being so little.
Our only goat (it's a pigmy) is eating hay-- always thinking it's better on the other side of the fence. Now he has someone his own size again.



Mom came over to check things out and to make sure her calf was still OK since we were all close by watching it. This is her first calf.


The guys had to section off some of the barn to make a 'nursery' so the little one doesn't get trampled because it's still a bit to soon to put everyone back onto pasture. The black cow (the one in the bottom right corner) is looking like she will be giving birth very soon so she was moved into the nursery today in preparation.
I don't know if you can see him or not but if you look in the background behind the fence, you can see our Angus bull (he has horns) munching on some hay.....he's the father.



As mom was over checking out her calf, she starting munching on some hay. She was a bit of a sloppy eater with more falling out of the mouth than what made it in... so the calf got buried in the process.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Action Alert! Stop NAIS

If you want to help stop NAIS, you action is needed NOW.
If you don't know what NAIS is, see the earlier post on it (title: 'Want Food Freedom?' OR under the label of: 'In The Know')


USDA COMMENT PERIOD ENDS MARCH 16

In January, the USDA proposed a rule to require farms and other properties where animals are raised to be registered in the federal NAIS database for existing federal disease control programs. The rule also sets the stage for future mandatory animal identification. If you haven't already submitted comments on this proposed rule, please be sure to do so before March 16! An easy way to comment online is through the Organic Consumers Association's automated system, at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26665

Please be sure to personalize the letter! It can be as easy as a couple of sentences at the beginning stating who you are (for example, a farmer, consumer, property rights proponent) and why you care about NAIS.


CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON NAIS, MARCH 11

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a hearing on "animal identification programs" on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. This is the first time in several years that any Congressional Committee will hear testimony about NAIS! It is critical that the thousands of farmers and consumers who oppose NAIS make their voices heard in this process!

STEP 1: Before the Hearing:

At the end of the alert is a list of Subcommittee members. If one of the Subcommittee members is from your state, call that member. If your state does not have any representation on the Subcommittee, contact your own Representative and ask him or her to approach the Subcommittee to urge them to oppose NAIS. If you're not sure who represents you, go to http://www.congress.org

When you call, ask to speak to the staffer who handles agricultural issues, and talk with them about your concerns about NAIS. Use a brief personal story to explain how NAIS would impact you. Emphasize that you want them to ask hard questions of both the industry and USDA representatives, and to make sure that people representing those who oppose NAIS are also heard at the hearing.

STEP 2: At the Hearing:

If you are in the DC area, please try to come to the hearing!

WHEN: Wednesday, March 11th - 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: 1300 Longworth House Office Building (go to http://www.aoc.gov/cc/cobs/lhob.cfm for maps and parking information)
WHAT: Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry -- Public hearing to review animal identification systems.

The subcommittee will hear invited testimony only, so you won't be able to speak at the hearing. But it is still good for the subcommittee to know that a lot of people care enough about this issue to show up in person!

Immediately after the hearing, we encourage you to visit the Subcommittee members' offices. Be polite and concise during your visit. Let them know that you were at the hearing because you are against NAIS. Briefly bring up one or two points that you felt weren't covered at the hearing that show the problems with NAIS. Keep your visit short and thank them for their time.

STEP 3: After the Hearing:

You can submit written testimony to the subcommittee before the hearing, at the hearing, or up to 10 days after the hearing. Send your testimony to the Hearing Clerk, Jamie Mitchell, at Jamie.Mitchell@mail.house.gov Be sure to put "March 11 Hearing - Animal Identification Programs" in the subject line. Keep your comments clear, polite, and concise.

We will send out some guidance after the hearing for key points to make in your testimony, based on what is said at the hearing. If you are submitting comments before the hearing, you can draw ideas from the "Reasons to Stop NAIS" posted on the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund's site at http://www.ftcldf.org/nais.html (scroll down past the news items and lawsuit information) or from the comments submitted by FARFA on the USDA's proposed rule for NAIS, posted at: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/files/090202_FARFA_Comments_USDA_rule.pdf

SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Below are the Subcommittee members, their party and state, and phone numbers. You can also send an email by using this format: firstname.lastname@mail.house.gov We strongly recommend that you make at least your initial contact with the ag staffer with a telephone conversation.

Mike Rogers (R-AL), (p): 202-225-3261, (f): 202-226-8485
Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), (p): 202-225-6131, (f): 202-225-0819
Jim Costa (D-CA), (p): 202-225-3341, (f): 202-225-9308
Joe Baca (D-CA), (p): 202-225-6161, (f): 202-225-8671
Betsy Markey (D-CO), (p): 202-225-4676, (f): 202-225-5870
David Scott (Chair), (D-GA), (p): 202-225-2939, (f): 202-225-4628
Leonard Boswell (D-IA), (p): 202-225-3806, (f): 202-225-5608
Steve King (R-IA), (p): 202-225-4426, (f): 202-225-3193
Walt Minnick (D-ID), (p): 202-225-6611, (f): 202-225-3029
Frank Kratovil, Jr. (D-MD), (p): 202-225-5311, (f): 202-225-0254
Adrian Smith (R-NE), (p): 202-225-6435, (f): 202-225-0207
Tim Holden (D-PA), (p): 202-225-5546, (f): 202-226-0996
David P. Roe (R-TN), (p): 202-225-6356, (f): 202-225-5714
K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), (p): 202-225-3605 or 866-882-3811, (f): 202-225-1783
Randy Neugebauer, Ranking Minority Member (R-TX), (p): 202-225-4005 or 888-763-1611, (f): 202-225-9615
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), (p): 202-225-5431, (f): 202-225-9681
Steve Kagen (D-WI), (p): 202-225-5665, (f): 202-225-5729

For more information about NAIS, go to www.FarmAndRanchFreedom.org

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Want Food Freedom?--STOP NAIS !!

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you:

--fewer food choices
--fewer local, grass-fed and organic options
--fewer small farmers/ranchers
--invasion of animal owner's personal privacy
--destruction of personal property right
--bigger agribusiness
--more government invasion
--higher food cost
--increased taxes

Sounds like something we all look forward to doesn't it? This could very well be the scene across our landscape soon if we don't stop the efforts of our government (and big agribusiness) to put into place the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

You may not of heard of NAIS yet (as the media isn't covering it) or if you have, you might think that it doesn't effect you as you don't have any animals. BUT if you like buying your food from local farmers, this system just might put them out of business which means you loose your food source which will ultimately give us all fewer choices and higher food prices as only the big guys will survive...so in the end, it does effect you! And to add insult to injury, if you have a few animals as pets, this will effect you all the more. This is not just a farmer/rancher issue--this is a food freedom issue!

There is a newly released, 8-minute video on the NAIS from Liberty Ark Coalition that does a very good job of explaining this invasion. To view video go to: http://www.libertyark.net/NAIS-new/NAIS%20Clip/

I would suggest after you view the video, that you poke around their website and read more about NAIS and become more familiar with it and see for your self how over reaching this is.

This program is at the moment voluntary (it's become a forced voluntary in some states) but the goal of the USDA is to make it mandatory for all.

WHAT IS NAIS?

---- A (short) background ----

The National Animal Identification System poses a serious threat to all farmers, ranchers, livestock owners, and companion-animal owners, whether they are organic or conventional, small or large, involved with animals for business or for pleasure. If it is made mandatory, every person with even one horse, cow, chicken, pig, goat, sheep, or virtually any other livestock animal on their premises will be required to register their homes and property into a database and subject their property and animals to government surveillance.

The USDA has been working for over five years to force NAIS onto American animal owners. NAIS is designed to identify and track each and every individual livestock and poultry animal owned by family farmers, hobby farmers, homesteaders, and pet owners across the country.

USDA claims that NAIS is a disease tracking program, but has refused to provide any support for its claims. In reality, NAIS will impose high costs and government surveillance on every farmer and animal owner for no significant benefits, and will likely force many small producers out of business. NAIS does nothing to improve food safety for consumers or prevent animal diseases. This program is a one-size-fits-all program developed by and for big Agribusiness.

NAIS will increase consolidation of our food supply in the hands of a few large companies and put the brakes on the growing movement toward local food systems.

A grassroots movement has already successfully stalled USDA's plans for NAIS, which originally called for the entire program (premises registration, animal identification, and tracking) to be mandatory by January 2009. It is imperative that people speak up to protect the right to farm and the right to choose our food supply!

Another website to check out that is also covering this NAIS issue--
http://www.farmandranchfreedom.org/

Monday, March 2, 2009

Honey Maple Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie recipe actually uses 2 natural sweeteners -- honey and maple syrup.
I do use a tad bit less than what the recipe calls for as there is also sweetness that comes for the raisins and/or dried fruit that you also add. We have gotten use to things being not as sweet that I can usually cut the sweetener down some in most recipes and it still turns out OK....plus it's more economical as I can make my sweeteners go further that way.

I have thought about it more than once that adding flaked coconut (unsweetened, of course) to this would be good too, but I've not done it yet. If you try this, you might want to add less oats to make up for the added dryness of the coconut.

One last thing--The darker grades of maple syrup do work better for baking/cooking as the maple flavor stands up better to the other ingredient.




1 c. butter, softened (I use 3/4 c. butter & 1/4 c. coconut oil, softened but not melted)
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/4- 2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. raisins (I use a mixture of raisins and other dried fruit that I have on hand and it's usually ends up being a bit more than 1/2 cup.)

Mix butter (coconut oil too if using it) and sweeteners together then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix to combine. Drop about 1 1/2 tbsp. of dough onto greased or parchment lined baking sheet (***or see note below). Bake @ 350* for 15 minutes.
Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen


(***The cookies can be a bit crumbly so one day I decided to not make them drop cookies and try some thing different to see if that would help. I chilled the dough for a short while to make it a bit easier to work with, then instead of dropping it, I took a chunk of it and formed it into a flatten disk and put that on the cookie sheet. They are now more uniform and hold together so much better).

louise

Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't Follow the Chickens!

If you are one of those that doesn't want to consume your animal products from confinement operations (CAFO) for varies reasons or don't live by a CAFO, you still might be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

You may not know it, but the agriculture industry is the biggest user of antibiotics and they're playing a major role in our antibiotic-resistant bacteria problems. Antibiotics are continuously used to ward-off diseases due to the confinement nature of their operations.

The findings below gives us all the more info that we need to boycott meats produced in this manner. Yes they produce cheaper products, but in the long run it is hurting us more than we thought....so it is worth it? The solution: buy from a local farmer that does it the humane, healthy and grass-fed way!


***** from: Acres, March 2009 ********

Researchers at John Hopkins University have uncovered an unusual means whereby humans may become exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria: driving behind chicken-laden transport trucks.

The new study was conducted on the Delmarva Peninsula coastal region shared by Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, which has one of the highest densities of broiler chickens per acre in the country. The investigators collected air and surface samples from cars following 2 to 3 car-lengths behinds poultry trucks for a distance of 17 miles. The cars had air conditioning and fans turned off with windows wide open.

The strains of pathogenic bacteria collected were found to be resistant to 3 antimicrobial drugs widely used to treat bacterial infections in people. These drugs are approved by the FDA as feed additives for broiler poultry. The bacteria were found on a pop can inside the car, on the outside door handle, and in breathable air samples collected inside the vehicle. The study is the first to look at exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the transportation of poultry.

The findings can be found in the first issue of the Journal of Infection and Public Health (www.jiph.org)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free-Range, Pastured Eggs


My apologies to all for not posting in a while. School has started up again and my attentions have gotten diverted to other activities. However, I would like to continue my series about our products. Today, I will talk a little about our free-range, pastured eggs. What makes our eggs so different and special from other free-range eggs? The same thing that makes all our meat products different: grass. The laws regarding free-range eggs only specify that the birds need access to the outdoors, not grass. This "access" could merely be a concrete or dirt yard. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens within the industry.

The great thing about our production methods is that our chickens actually get to act like chickens. They get to run through the pastures, breath fresh air, and scratch around for seeds and bugs. This is how eggs were produced 100 years ago, and that is what we are trying to accomplish today. This is what produces the dark yellow yolks our eggs are known for. Also, because our hens live in a portable house with a wire floor, their droppings fall directly onto the pasture and fertilize it. To discover the amazing health benefits you can get by eating our eggs, you can refer to the post titled "Egg-citing News!" under the labels "Our Products" or "In the Know."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pure Maple Syrup

OH--HOW SWEET IT IS!

There is nothing like the taste of pure maple syrup either on a stack of pancakes/waffles, french toast or added as an ingredient to a recipe. Maple syrup makes a great natural sweetener with the addition of a natural maple flavor.

A few weeks ago we started the 2009 syrup season here at the farm. It is not an easy process in many way as it is just hard physical labor plus it's time consuming but afterwards it is rewarding as we get to enjoy the fruits of our labors. I would like to give you a little glimps of the maple syrup making process so you can see what is involved in making real maple syrup.

Before I get into all that though, I thought I would first give you some maple syrup facts:

--Ohio ranks 4-5 each year among the 12 syrup producing states.
--Syrup season begins when you have above freezing day temperatures (ideally in the 40's) and below freezing night temperatures(ideally in the 20's). This creates internal pressure that causes the sap to flow up through the tree.
--Syrup season ends when it continues to stay warm and the tree buds begin to swell. The sap develops a bitter tastes at this point.
--It takes on average, about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.
--In a GOOD year, each whole tapped into a tree will yield about 10 gallons of sap which equals about 1 quart of syrup.
--Sugar content of sap = 2%...it's clear with 98% water.
--Sugar content of syrup = 67%....it's light brown with 33% water.
--Native Americans taught the settlers the process of "sugaring".
--A grove of sugar trees is called a "sugar bush".
--When the sap flows it's "sugar weather".
--Place where the sap is boiled down into syrup is a "sugar house or "sugar shack".
--The word "sugar" is used more than "syrup" in industry lingo because the sap was made into hard sugar instead of syrup because it was more easily preserved.

Here are some nutritional facts about maple syrup:
--Maple syrup contains as much calcium as does whole milk.
--Good source of potassium, manganese and zinc.
--Contains trace amounts of other minerals, vitamins and amino acids.
--Low in sodium.
--No fat or cholesterol.
--Lowest in calories of all the natural sweeteners.

The ingredients of pure maple syrup: pure maple syrup.

The ingredients of Mrs Butterworth syrup: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Molasses, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Natural and Artifical Flavor (Caramel Color, Corn Syrup), Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Mono and Diglycerid.

Now you tell me which one you think is better for you....the God-given one that is nutritious and only has one ingredient OR the man-made stuff that has no nutrition what so ever in it.....actually it will probably pull nutrients out of you to digest it?


On to the process of making maple syrup:

When syrup making temperatures look like they are going to hold out for a while, you start the process by putting a whole in the tree....we call it "tapping the tree". Sugar and black maple trees are best to tap. If you start too soon your holes will dry up before the real flows start and you will have to retap-- so it is a bit of a guessing game at this point as to whether it's time to tap or not. After the hole is drilled, you hammer in the spiels (the thing that directs the flow of the sap out of the tree) and put on a bucket holder.


After the bucket holder is on, someone needs to follow with a bucket that has had a lid put on it (this keeps out rain, snow and other unwanted stuff) and hang it on the tree. Walking around in the woods and carrying all the items you need from tree to tree in this weather can be exhausting as the snow can still be deep and hard to walk in....or it's wet and muddy everywhere. Our farm has a little over a hundred buckets to hang. My mom volunteers to help us make syrup as she wants to do it 'for the exercise'...gotta lover her...she's getting her exercise alright. She is a big help! Thanks mom.





It is kind of neat to walk through the woods and see all the buckets hanging and listening to the pinging of the sap dropping in them.


Now we've gotta get that sap out of the woods! After the buckets are full, they need to be collected and this can be a great chore at times. Early spring is not the best time to be trying to get around (at least in our low lying woods) as you have to navigate through spots like these to get in and then hope you can get back out with a wagon fully loaded without getting stuck. This is all melting ice that you see in this picture.


In the middle part of our woods, we have a dry stream bed that flows through it and it's NOT dry in the spring. I am sometimes amazed that we don't get stuck more than we do. When this picture was taken, we had over a foot of snow on the ground that was melting (last winter we had a big snow storm that come after the seasoned started and getting around was just horrible). After the snow and the top layer of ground had melted this time, it was another real challenge! When it was time to collect sap, because it was so bad out, the fear of getting stuck was very high on the list. We decided to park the wagon in the higher dry spots and bring the sap to the wagon instead of the wagon to the sap. It's not easy walking through all this plus also carrying 2 five gallon buckets full of sap...and not to spill any of it. We've talked about going the tubing route, but we are not quite big enough to warrant the cost....and that has it's own set of problems.


After the sap is collected, it is brought up to the sugar shack in the back yard so it be watched while it boils down. Yeap- it's a shack, it's not anything pretty, but it works! What you see in the picture is the steam coming off in the boiling down process. It takes a good deal of wood to keep the fire going so it can stay boiling. Someone has to keep stoking it and adding more sap as needed....and round up wood when required.



When enough of the water has been boiled out of the sap, it is maple syrup--well almost-- it's not quite ready yet. We take it off, get another batch going if we have it, and move the boiled down batch to the next stage.
It is now brought indoors for a final consistency check. After that is completed, it's ready for filtering (which is what is being done in the picture above). The filtering process gets out all the twigs/leaves, ants, syrup sand, etc. This can be a slow process especially at the end when the filter is plugging up. Every batch is different in how fast it goes through the filter but it never seems to go through fast enough. When it is done being filtered, it is graded (by it's color) then we need to reheated so it can be bottled.
Now we have maple syrup!

Maple syrup does has many uses beside pancakes. Use it as a natural sweetener in coffee, tea, milk shakes or smoothies. It is delicious on oatmeal, granola and grapefruit. Maple syrup adds a wonderful flavor in baked beans and baked apples. It is a great glaze for meats or vegetables like sweet potato, squash, carrots. Many baked goods are yummy with maple syrup added for sweetness and flavor. There is also a cleanse program called 'The Master Cleanse' that uses it too for it's nutritional qualities.

Some people complain about the price of maple syrup but hopefully you will get an idea of why that price is justified as there is quite a bit of labor that goes into making it. Real maple syrup is, by far, more nutritious (and tasty) than its 'competition'. You should expect more from your food.

With all that, I want to encourage you to get some today and enrich your life by adding some pure maple syrup to your diet. We now have some new 2009 maple syrup to offer but don't wait too long to get yours as it is many times sold out by the time we make more the following year. Small containers are welcomed specialty gifts for family and friends or a great addition to a gift basket.

louise

Friday, February 13, 2009

Roast Leg of Lamb

A week or so ago, I was tired of thinking about what to make for suppers, so I told Nathan it was his turn and he needed to pick something to fix for supper one night and make a meal for us all. After thinking about if for a while and going through some of my cookbooks, he decided to go with a recipe from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook. Because lamb is a new product that the farm has started to carry, he (and us) wanted to try some of it......so he went with a Roast Leg of Lamb


I know this picture is not going to do it justice or make it into any cookbook, but I needed to take it quickly before it got too cold and everyone started eating chunks out of it. I want to give you an idea of what it looked like though.

I thought he did a very good job! Maybe he ought to do this more often. The lamb had a pleasant (but not strong) flavor and was very tender. I was very pleased with the taste. Along with the leg of lamb, we also had grilled veggies, basil pesto pasta, and garlic bread. The pesto was from a pasta sauce mix from Simply Organics that wasn't too bad.

I will have to say it was very nice to just show up at the dinner table when the meal was ready and to walk away when I was done eating.

This recipe is simple as he just put on a paste then baked the leg of lamb in the oven. Hopefully you'll find this recipe helpful and want to make some for your family as well....maybe you can even get one of your kids to do it for you like I did, which would make it all the more enjoyable. : ) Enjoy!

Roast Leg of Lamb
The paste would also be good on grilled rib, loin or sirloin chops

5-6 lb leg of lamb (we used 2 of our half legs)
Rosemary, Thyme and Mustard Paste (recipe follows)
Paste:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. course salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 T. rosemary, chopped
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried mustard
6 T olive oil

Rub paste all over leg; rest leg at room temperature for 1-2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 500*F

Place leg in roasting pan, set in oven, and immediately lower the heat to 250*F; continue roasting until thermometer reads 120*F for rare, 130*F for medium or 140*F for well-done. Cooking times will vary based on the size of the leg and the desired doneness, but allow at least 2 1/2 hours (at 250*F) for a medium-rare 5 1/2 pound leg.

Remove the lamb from oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for a minimum of 15 minutes before serving. The lamb will continue to cook during this time and the tempature will go up another 5-10*F

Louise