Monthly Archives: August 2012

This Really Bugs Me

Move over Frankenfish and Enviropig there’s a new bug in town. British biotech company, Oxitec has applied for permission from the FDA to release genetically engineered mosquitos into the Florida Keys. The company says their experimental mosquitos will help control mosquito populations by affecting how they breed, adding that these GE mosquitos are needed to stop the spread of diseases such as Dengue Fever. Local residents say their methods of mosquito control are working, there hasn’t been a case of Dengue Fever in the Florida Keys since 2010. Join more than 80,000 people in urging the FDA to deny this application at change.org

Have you heard of Ractopamine? Chances are you haven't. It's the drug that makes pork 'The other white meat'. Pork isn't white meat by nature it's made lean by feeding ractopamine - trade name PayLean (made by Eli Lilly) to hogs. It's also fed to beef cattle and turkeys.

Taiwan has banned the importation of pork from the United States because of this drug.  The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) isn't happy. The NPPC would like Secretary of State Clinton, USDA Secretary  Tom Vilsack, and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to make it clear to the Taiwanese Government that unless the ban on ractopamine fed pork is lifted there won't be U.S. support for negotiations on Trans-Pacific Partnership. China and the EU have also rejected pork from hogs fed ractopamine.

Here's an idea... what if pigs weren't fed ractopamine? What if the customer, in this case Taiwan, China, and Europe were allowed to buy meat produced in a manner that they determined safe for consumers?  What if countries weren't strong armed into buying drug fed pork? What if free choice were allowed and meat labels disclosed all the chemical inputs that produced it? Would it make a difference when choosing what your family eats? Just some food for thought. Here's more on ractopamine.

Adam and Eve never had a date...they had an apple.

He's Still the one  
It all started twenty-five years ago with tickets to a Jimmy Buffett concert. The line of cars waiting to pull into the parking lot was long. It was July 3rd, 1987. Traffic on the Kennedy expressway was bumper to bumper. For over thirty minutes we sat waiting for traffic to move ahead. At this rate the concert would be over before we'd get in. Instead of waiting we changed plans and flew to Las Vegas.
Nevada was great. Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the fourth of July celebration that ignited the dessert (which was still burning two days later when we flew home) made this the best first date in history. Deciding the adventure should continue we got married five weeks later. Today we're celebrating 25 years together. It sounds like such a long time - a quarter of a century, but years have gone by amazingly fast. We've had a few fights over the years, nothing serious. However, there has been one ongoing battle that's insignificant in the big scheme of life. It's an issue that's never been resolved: I clean the kitchen while Keith's still using it.  While Keith's organizing his ingredients I'll follow behind him putting them away before he's had a chance to use them. I've been known to wash pans and put them away before they've even been used.
The biggest debate has been spoons. Whenever Keith uses a spoon, or any kitchen utensil for that matter, he leaves it on the counter top. When I see them I put them away. This is usually followed by a brief argument. Keith will ask, "Did you take my spoon?"
Looking at the ceiling and shrugging my shoulders, which is my usual response, I'll ask, "What spoon?"
"The one I was just using and put down less than a second ago. Stop cleaning up after me, I'll put everything away when I'm done."
After all this time together I know he won't put it away when he's done. He's to accustomed to having me clean up after him, or before him in this case. I'm efficient. Keith thinks I am annoying. The war rages on.
This weekend we're putting our twenty-five years to the test. We'll be making cheese together. I like to cook and Keith loves cheese.  Our three Jersey cows and Lulu, the Holstein are part of the celebration. They'll be bringing milk to the party, plenty of milk. In the past we've made goat cheese and ricotta cheese but for this project we Purchased kits which include supplies and recipes to make cheddar, mozzarella, farmers cheese, and ricotta. I'm going to line up several spoons for Keith to use. When one is cleaned up another will be ready. No more arguments, at least not about spoons.
During our twenty-five years together we've gardened, flown, bought a small farm, planted trees, raised livestock, bought our first bull, bought a bigger farm, traveled, lost our hair (Keith), lost our hair color (Glenda), enjoyed our dogs, raised a couple unique pets, and have had two great kids (ages nineteen and fifteen). We can't wait to see what the next twenty-five years will hold.

More Good News
The Kroger Company has been working with animal welfare experts and has science based standards for animal welfare to ensure that their suppliers treat animals humanely. After reviewing the opinions of these experts Kroger Company believes that a gestation crate-free environment is more humane and that the pork industry should work toward gestation crate free housing for pregnant sows.

Piglets in their creep

chickens grazing
chickens on pasture

Hats off to Both Maryland and Georgia

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed a bill banning arsenic in poultry feed, making the state the first to have such legislation. The law specifically mentions two Pfizer drugs that contain arsenic: Roxarsone (which the company voluntarily withdrew from the market last year) and Histostat (which is currently on the market). The new law prohibits the use, sale or distribution of commercial feed containing arsenic, the law takes effect January 1, 2013.  Read more
In June Georgians celebrated pastured poultry week. Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP) spread the word about the important virtues of pastured poultry. Restaurants in Athens and Atlanta helped spread the word by promoting pastured poultry on their menus. Georgian Chef, Shaun Doty demonstrates how to cook a pasture raised chicken

Drought conditions continue to dominate the news. We've decided to have a positive attitude towards whatever life throws at us. If it's out of our control, it's out of our scope of worry. The site below has maps tracking drought conditions in the United States since 1896. The data is fascinating. Take a look at 1934, 1936, and 2012. Here's the   Drought's Footprint  Our neighbor remembers the drought of 1936. He and his brothers would walk their dairy cows onto the road and have them graze the ditches because the pastures didn't have any forage left for them. Some area farmers were cutting down cottonwood and poplar trees and feeding the leaves to their cattle. I hope this cycle ends and there will be plenty of snow cover this winter. I can't believe that I am hoping for snow.

Welcome to Forest Hill Farm, Iowa's only certified organic farm offering 100% grass-fed beef and lamb. Our farm is certified  through OCIA!

The beef is from our organic Red Angus steers. It's 100% grass-fed, dry aged, and rotationally MIG grazed. The Sheep and lamb are also certified organic, 100% grass-fed, and rotationally grazed.  The pastured hogs are heritage breeds; Gloucestershire Old Spots and Berkshire. They graze our pastures along with chickens, turkeys and ducks.  There are a few goats in the pasture, too who cause trouble when they can. We'd love to serve you as a customer, please email for details.