There's one in every crowd. That one who marches to their own drum. One year it was a turkey that herded the sheep. He'd drag his wings and strut around, circling the sheep. He wasn't part of their tribe so they ignored him.
The ram hangs out with the bulls. He head butts and pesters them. They ignore him, he's not part of their tribe.
The hog in the picture above supervises the comings and goings of the sheep. She squeezes under the pasture fence and watches over them. She doesn't bother them, just watches. They ignore her, she's not part of their tribe.
Join the Tribe
Our farm is different from conventional farms. To them our practices are a curiosity, but for the most part other farmers ignore us. We're not part of their tribe.
Our tribe is growing, though. Certified organic farms have increased 56% since record keeping began in 2011. Every year the land transitioning into organic practices increases. In 2016, there were more than 14,000 certified organic farms in the United States. Our hope is that more farms join our tribe. The environment, pollinators, and consumers all need the organic tribe to grow.
If the impact of herbicides, pesticides, toxins and GMO’s were evaluated, and the consequences of them were taken seriously, we wouldn't need an endless list of other designated days to commemorate healing ourselves or the environment.
World Cancer Day is about awareness. Gaining knowledge about treatment options and spending every day praying, struggling and working to save lives.
It’s about celebrating survivors, mourning the lost, and supporting loved ones.
I hope there’s a day, in the not so distant future, when cancer is eradicated and every day becomes designated, World Free of Cancer Day.
Murphy's Law of Farming states that, 'The minute your chicks arrive in the spring so will a cold front'. Making a protein tub brooder keeps chicks warm and healthy. A protein tub brooder is a more efficient solution than hanging brooder lights, and a protein tub brooder keeps the heat where it should be; surrounding the chicks. They also create a draft free area with plenty of ventilation.
For years we started chicks under hanging heat lamps. The electric bill reflected the inefficiency.
It's important to have more than one protein tub brooder in case the light in one of them burns out there's another warm area for the chicks.
2 *100-watt incandescent bulb or low-wattage heat lamp ( 1 for each bucket)
* Rough Service incandescent bulbs NOT LED or compact fluorescent
Black permanent marker
sharp knife, jig saw, or drill with 4” hole saw
Wash the protein tub or protein tub.
Flip the protein tub over and trace the outline of the brooder light in the center of the bucket's bottom.
Use a sharp knife or jig saw to cut along the outline. Cut the opening slightly smaller than the outline so the brooder light sits securely on top of the bucket.
Next use a jig saw or drill fitted with a 4” hole saw to cut 3 openings, evenly spaced, around the outer edge (which will become the chick's access to the brooder). Cut the holes an inch above lip of the protein tub. It's important to cut more than one entrance to prevent crowding at the opening. Multiple entrances improve ventilation.
Flip the protein tub over. Hang the brooder lamp from a lightweight chain. The chain is for safety, it prevents the lamp from falling inside the brooder. The brooder lamp should fit snugly on top of the protein tub with the lamp and wire guard sitting inside.
Use a 100 watt incandescent bulb or a low-wattage heat lamp in the fixture. Do not use a compact fluorescent or LED light - they do not generate heat. NEVER use a high wattage heat lamp and Never use a heat lamp with straw!
Spread pine shavings throughout the brooder area, both inside and outside the protein tub, to a thickness of 3 inches. Nestle the buckets into the shavings so the chicks can easily enter and exit the protein tub brooder.
Place feed and water outside the protein tub brooder. The chicks will eat and drink freely and go inside the bucket when they need to warm up.
Before your chicks arrive turn on the lights so that it's a comfortable temperature; 95 degrees the first week, reduced by five degrees each week following. Reducing the temperature is as easy as changing the bulb; a 100 watt bulb (or low-wattage heat lamp depending on the temperature) the first week or two. Change to a 75 watt bulb as the outside temperature warms up. Use brooder lamps until the chicks feather out and the outside temperature is comfortable.
Making a protein tub brooder is an efficient way to keep your chicks warm and healthy. This type of brooder is economical and easy to make. A protein tub brooder will last for years.
On our organic farm getting the chicks off to a healthy start is the key to their successful transition into the pasture. We've experienced fewer losses with better growth rates after making this brooder a part of our poultry plan.
It’s April first again. Much to the dread of the family, I love April Fools Day. I dish out pranks pretty well, but I don't enjoy being on the receiving end.
A few years ago I decorated a piece of styrofoam to look like a cake. It looked good enough to eat.
After dinner I asked Cookie to cut the cake for everyone. Goober, our young son, got forks, napkins, and plates.
He instructed his big brother on how to cut the cake. He pointed out which piece he wanted. As cookie was cutting he looked up at me, "The cake is “really tough”. He cut through the first piece, and cried out, “It’s a fake!” Younger son examined his slice, then he burst into tears. My fatal error that year was that I didn’t have a real cake to backup the fake one.
I still laugh about it. As a matter of fact, I’ll be laughing again this year. Cookie is heading back to Vietnam on Tuesday. So, on Monday, April Fool's Day we're celebrating his birthday.
I have styrofoam ready.
“April 1 This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.” Mark Twain
Today it seems like everyone is prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Cell phones, GPS, four wheel drive, and accurate weather forecasts give a feeling of safety. A false sense of security blankets our instinct to avoid dangerous situations.
Because we farm - we're weather dependent. We plan for worse case scenarios like feeding hay when equipment won't start, frozen waterlines, power outages, etc. There's a basic plan for just about every weather event.
When the windchill falls below zero the cattle are fed along the timber. The trees make a great windbreak. Bales of hay and straw are unrolled for feed and bedding.
Planning ahead is essential, the livestock depend on us.
Sometimes, when it comes to running errands or grocery shopping, we aren't as diligent and get caught off-guard.
Without moonlight to guide us, our path was illuminated by farmyard lights. We walked through the hills. We parked the truck on the side of the road. It was a surprisingly pleasant evening for a walk, temperatures near 30 degrees, very little wind, the drizzle was nearly over. We watched our footing carefully, a layer of ice covered the ground. As we walked I remembered reading about The Children's Blizzard of 1888.
The Blizzard of 1888
After weeks of bitter cold temperatures a moderate warming was a welcome relief on the prairies. Temperatures approached near 45 degrees on January 12, 1888. Farmers ventured out to replenish supplies of hay and visit town to conduct business. Children, lightly dressed, walked to school. They were eager to see friends, play outdoors, and enjoy the comparatively balmy weather.
In 1888 twenty-two weather stations, overseen by the Signal Corp, monitored weather data and relayed the information by Western Union to sixty “Flag Stations” throughout the prairie states to keep pioneers informed. On this day the message to fly the “cold wave” and “blizzard” flags never reached the volunteer flagmen. Warnings never came or arrived too late for the settlers of the Dakotas and Nebraska. They were caught off guard.
In the Dakota Territory the lunch hour had just ended. Children were at their desks when the wind began to howl in an eerie wail. A dark cloud descended rapidly from the northwest. Within minutes the sun disappeared, by all accounts nightfall had arrived. Ice crystals blasted the clapboard buildings. The wailing wind was deafening. Snow swirled in through every crevice. Gale force winds gusted to nearly eighty miles per hour.
Pioneers that lived through the blizzard of 1873, and the 1880 “snow winter,” where thousands of cattle froze to death on the prairie, had never seen a storm arrive with such speed and violence.
Visibility on this January day was so poor you couldn’t see more than a few inches ahead. Folks on the prairie were snow blinded by the blizzard, many died within a few steps of their homes.
Many teachers released school and sent their students into the storm. The children became disoriented and couldn’t find their way home. In other schoolhouses teachers kept their students inside. When the supply of coal, school books, and desk were exhausted they surrounding cold stoves praying for rescue. They clung together for warmth.
Parents anxiously awaited the arrival of their children. Rescue parties searched schools and bare prairies. Hope of finding loved ones faded as the temperature fell and the storm raged on. Mothers stood in doorways calling out for their children. With their voices exhausted they rang cow bells or beat pots. They hoped the sound would direct their children home. The wind chill fell to 30 degrees below zero.
Farmers watering their cattle or out gathering hay from their stacks got caught by the storm. They knew from experience to get under the storm; visibility is better close to the ground. They crawled to find shelter.
In Minnesota a large number of farmers died when they became disoriented after securing their livestock. They couldn't find their houses which were just steps from their lean-to or dugout barns.
Iowa fared better, the storm didn’t rage here until dusk. Chores and errands were done for the day. In Keokuk, Iowa the temperature plummeted 50 degrees in eight hours. Company B, Second Regiment from Davenport, Iowa was headed to Des Moines to escort William Larabee in his inauguration parade. Company B, trapped by the storm, did not arrive.
The Weather System
The weather term for such a storm is anticyclone. Winds spiral inward toward the center of low pressure in a counter-clockwise pattern. The lowest air pressure was over Iowa and Nebraska. Higher pressure over North Dakota and Montana caused a vacuum effect over the mid-section of the country. Cold rushing air created great friction and static build-up. Snow thunderstorms raged across the plains. A phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire caused static build-up. The air was electrified. Sparks emitted from people's fingertips and caused hair to stand on end. The shocks were so fierce the pioneers refused to add fuel to fires.
Children buried themselves in haystacks, huddled together in darkened classrooms, or froze to death on the prairie while searching for shelter. This was the fate of those caught in the blizzard.
On Friday, January 13, 1888 skies were clear, the air was bitter cold. Relieved students and teachers were grateful to be found alive. One teacher, who had ventured outdoors with her seven students found safety inside a haystack. They were alive, barely. Another teacher acted swiftly when the storm tore the school's roof away. Tying a makeshift rope out of torn cloth she tied her students together. Walking in a line, eyes frozen shut, they hit the side of a building and were saved.
Other unfortunate children got caught in the storm and were found frozen to death.
It's estimated that two hundred fifty fatalities littered the prairies, most of them children. Countless survivors of the initial storm succumbed to infection when frostbitten limbs were amputated. Others perished from pneumonia. It's estimated that this storm claimed five hundred lives.
That was then, This is now
When our truck wasn't able to compete with the ice we packed our gear and started walking. We talked about survival skills and common sense ideas…like staying home.
A diet of grass based meat works as well as Weight Watchers without having to buy packaged meals, attend meetings, or calculate points. Grass fed meat and dairy are leaner than grain fed products, they also have fewer calories. When it comes to loosing weight, Grass Fed Beef -is the dieter's choice
The typical amount of beef eaten in the U.S. annually is 67 pounds. Changing from grain fed to grass fed beef will save you 16,642 calories per year. A six-ounce beef loin from a grass-fed steer may have 92 fewer calories than a six-ounce loin from a grain-fed steer. Source: Pasture Perfect by Jo Robinson
It's A Big Deal
Loosing 4.75 pounds a year doesn't sound like a huge difference but it only requires switching to grass-fed meat. Adding exercise and calorie restriction amplifies your results. There's a bigger benefit to grass-fed meat than weight loss, though.
Organic Diets Lower Cancer Risks
A new study published in JAMA International Medicine found that eating organic foods can reduce your risk of developing cancer by 25%. Some study participants, the volunteers that ate mostly organic food, were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That's the cancer linked to Monsanto's Round-up (currently there are 8700 plaintiffs suing Monsanto). There is also a significant reduction in postmenopausal breast cancer in consumers of organic foods.
The researchers were surprised by the enormity of protection that organic food provided. The study followed 68,946 volunteers for four and a half years.
Julia Baudry, the study’s lead author and a researcher with the Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research said, "We did expect to find a reduction, but the extent of the reduction is quite important."
She noted the study does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancers, but strongly suggests ,“that an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk."
An organic diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer because organic production prohibits pesticide use. Pesticides are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen function. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified two pesticides, malathion and diazinon, along with the herbicide glyphosate (Round-up) as probable human carcinogens. All three are linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Grass-fed meat and dairy are higher in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which researchers have noted lowers the risk of breast cancer. Finnish researchers found that women who consumed the highest amount of CLA had 60% lower risk of breast cancer than those with the least CLA.
Eat Clean in 2019!
Fat Cattle and Lean hogs is an oxymoron, cattle are naturally lean. Hogs are, by nature, fatter. Confinement operations want leaner hogs so they feed ractopamine (Paylean supplements). Again, confinement livestock producers are working against nature.
As a consumer you need to work with your body to promote healthy living. Give yourself a fighting chance, switch to an organic diet that includes grass-fed meat, dairy and eggs it will be a great boost for your health.
We want to take a moment to let you know how thankful we are for having you as a customer.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Warmest wishes from Forest Hill Farm
A "Corny" Celebration
In New England in 1623, a famine devastated the newly settled Pilgrims. Corn, their primary crop, became so terribly scarce that they rationed it kernel by kernel. Each person was given five kernels a day. That's all! When the famine was finally over, receiving the five kernels of corn became a symbolic ritual. On Thanksgiving Day, people each received five kernels of corn on their plate as a reminder of those hard times - and of their gratitude to God for their many blessings.
The word "thank" comes from an Old English word that means to think. Perhaps we could use this definition to add new meaning to this holiday - this "Thinks-giving."
Thinking people are thankful people. When you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner, give each person five kernels of corn. Ask individuals to think about each kernel and the blessings it represents:
First kernel- the beauty and bounty of nature God provides.
Second Kernel- our rich heritage of courageous men and women who helped establish this land of freedom.
Third kernel- the work each of us has - in school, at church or on the job - and the privilege of doing it to the best of our abilities.
Fifth kernel- God's power and presence throughout our past, present and future.
Make your Thanksgiving celebration a "corny" occasion this year for the whole family. It's a good way to think about how fortunate we really are.
From the Norway Lutheran Church 150th anniversary cookbook, Saint Olaf, Iowa
Turkey Brining Recipe
2 gallons water
1 can apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup sea salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 TBS peppercorns
1 cup brown sugar
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 oranges, cut in quarters
Mix all the ingredients together. Place thawed turkey In a food grade bucket or brining bag. Pour in brine. Refrigerate for 24 – 48 hours. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Bake or smoke turkey according to your favorite recipe.
Let Your Heart Be Full of Thanksgiving!
Welcome a stranger,
Seek out a forgotten friend
Keep a promise
Brighten the heart of a child
Encourage the young
Express your gratitude
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth
Speak your love
Speak it once again…
Let your heart be filled with
A few years ago Eva, our shepherd was in an accident. She had a wound on her paw that wouldn't heal. For over a year we tried several remedies. She wore boots like the dog's in the Iditarod, took antibiotics, went through miles of bandaging, nothing worked until she started healing with honey.
One veterinarian suggested re-breaking her leg to readjust the rod and plate. The theory that if Eva could walk straighter it would take pressure off the wounded paw. That seemed like a traumatic solution.
Then a family friend, who's also a veterinarian, suggested sugaring or honeying the wound. I decided to use crystallized honey. Every day we cleaned Eva's paw, spread honey on the wound and bandaged it. She started healing within a few days. By month's end the healing was nearly complete.
Bacteria can't grow in a high sugar environment, and honey is antimicrobial, too.
The healing properties of honey are well documented. Organic honey is perfect for cuts, burns, skin ulcers and surgical wounds.
The Results of Healing with Honey
More Sweet, Healthy Benefits of Honey:
Consuming honey instead of sugar reduces weight gain, improves memory and reduces anxiety
Diabetic ulcers and infected wounds that stagnate under traditional care heal rapidly with honey
Burn victims and amputees, including civilian casualties during the Iraq war, respond well to honey bandages, making painful skin grafts unnecessary
A spoonful of honey helps alleviate side effects of head or neck radiation in cancer patients
Honey proves more effective and safer than children's cough medicines
Functioning as both a prebiotic and probiotic, honey stimulates intestinal health
Cataracts respond well to honey from sting-less bees from South America
In the early spring, when the apple, peach and cherry trees are blossoming I keep the bees interested in pollinating the fruit trees by cutting the grass very short. This keeps the dandelions down until after the trees have finished blooming. It’s my trick to get bigger fruit crops.
Later in the spring there are still plenty of dandelions to keep the bees happy . And there's a variety of clovers and flowers planted for the bees, too. It’s a pollinator paradise.
On a trip to Seed Savers Exchange I bought Blue Boy Bachelor’s Button, Lambs Ear, and Heritage Farm Poppy seeds. The bees love these.
On our farm the pollinators are safe from pesticides and herbicides. We’re an organic farm, it’s all about health and quality of life.
Recipes to Help Both You and the Bees
This lemonade is a great energy booster. Not only does it taste great it helps the honey bees and your local beekeeper.
1 cup Fresh squeezed lemon Juice (if you don’t have a citrus juicer this one works great)
1 cup local honey (support a local beekeeper, don’t by commercial honey, It's probably not be real honey, anyway)
6 cups water
Put the honey and lemon juice in a blender and mix at high-speed for one minute.
Pour into a pitcher, add water and ENJOY!
You can add fresh fruit, raspberries or strawberries taste great. Adding ginger or mint is an extra tasty treat, too.
Meyer lemons make this even better, they’re sweeter than regular lemons. When they’re available buy them in bulk and freeze the juice.
Bug Jugs and Bee Safe Herbicide
Plant bee friendly gardens and keep them pesticide free. These recipes protect your fruit trees and kill weeds without using glyphosate.