At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
TwoInTents Blog
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Le Menu (what's ready this week?)

Gosh it is cold out!  And snowy!  Yet it is amazing how the larks like to play in the weather.  Butterball likes to run in and out of his home, getting snowy and wet, then going right back in.  Dracula just stays inside all day.  The spinach is holding on in our cold frames, but not growing much because of the cold.  We’ll have to wait a little longer, probably.  This week, Thomas farms has been kind enough to offer some of their chicken: the birds are compassionately and naturally raised in Elbert County.  They’re raising money for a school trip to Washington, DC… so try the chicken!

NEW THIS WEEK:
Chicken from Thomas Farms

Fresh snow, ice and cold wind. Free. Take as much as you like. Pick up at the farm only. Limited, while supplies last.

READY FOR THE COOK:
Beef Sausages - - - traditional recipe from Europe. Hot or mild.

Mushroom pasta - - - We served this to some hardy volunteers, and they liked it! Either ask for pasta included or not. Portabello and oyster mushrooms, wheat, and natural olive oil, with a spice packet!

Roast Chevon - - - Fresh natural goat meat with your choice of natural wild spices or more traditional recipes.

December rose hip tea - - - rose hips, pine needles and cottonwood. This will perk you up, a warm drink on a cold night.

~~~BEANS~~~

Anasazi
Black
Black eyed peas
Canellini
Cranberry
Fava
Jacob's Cattle
Kidney
Lentil
Mung
Pinto
Soldier Beans

~~~EGGS~~~
Next harvest estimated in Spring

~~~FRUIT~~~
Next harvest, estimated in Summer

~~~FLOWERS~~~
Winter bouquets

~~~GRAIN~~~
Barley
Oats
Sunflower
White Wheat

~~~MEAT~~~
Goat
Beef

Chicken

~~~MEDICINAL HERBS AND TEAS~~~
Pine needles (delicious, nutritious, revitalizing!)
Rose Hips (delicious, vitamin C)
Thistle Root (supports liver)
Winter willow, aspen and poplar (antiinflamatory, powerful painkiller - use like aspirin)

~~~MUSHROOMS~~~
Dried portabello
Dried oyster

~~~VEGETABLES~~~
Mung bean sprouts (early harvest - warm winter!) - planted only upon demand
Coming soon (sooner or later): spinach!

~~~WILD HARVESTS~~~
Cottonwood

Tags:

New Maia cooperative forming!

Hello from your favorite farm in Agate! Big news!  We’ll be joining a brand new Maia Cooperative of local farmers and, just as when two people get married, when our farm and other farms organize a cooperative, so many good things can happen.
 
We’ll still be TwoInTents, but we’ll be working with a lot of new friends.  As one of the founding members of Maia, we are making sure that the same quality standards that we employ are kept: no chemicals, humane and compassionate treatment of animals, non-profit management, and a strong dedication to giving back to the community. 
 
By joining with Maia, we can keep our prices to you the same (or lower them) as we group buy seeds, equipment, animal feeds, vet care, building supplies and other things we need to do our job.  And, we’ll also be able to offer all kinds of new tasty treats, too!  The best news is that as our current customers, you can soon have a choice to help establish the quality standards you want, or contribute with volunteering, gardening or in other ways to either earn credit towards purchases, or greater ownership in the cooperative!  Maia will be working not only to help us feed you and your family, but to empower you to feed yourself, too.
 
One change you will see is in our prices.  In 2012, we will be offering “member” and “non-member” prices.  Current subscribers will be given automatic membership in the new cooperative, so don’t worry!  Another change is that you will see products from Maia, and other Maia members (Maia will also group-produce some items) sold by the pound, rather than by the 1/3 bushel or full bushel box.  These can be included in your box, and when a per-pound price is offered, a conversion to boxes will be offered too so you know how many gallons or bushels a pound is.
 
This sort of flexibility is what we aim for: to get you what you want, when you want it, and at the price you need.  Now that TwoInTents is working with Maia, you’ll have greater ability than ever before to help keep your food prices low, your quality of eating high, have greater selection, and do a lot of good for this planet and your community. 
 We think many small farmers working together is a good thing for every one.  Let us know what you think!
 
 

Help us help the poor, the sick and the elderly

        Sometimes people feel like they just don’t have time to help the poor, sick and elderly.  But even five minutes can help a lot.  Separating out aluminum or other metal produces a valuable product which, when collected over many months, could even buy food – or a whole cow! – to feed the poor.  But cooperation helps: it is easier to do good when you have friends.  Collecting those cans with friends results in a faster turnaround. 
        But you can also help yourself at the same time.  If you and your friends worked together to reduce your food bill by buying in bulk from a local farmer, you could afford to not only eat for far less cost, but also donate some of the savings to the poor.  While many of us here are vegetarians, those who eat meat might spend more than $5 per pound at the grocery store for beef.  And the beef prices are rising.  However, by buying a cow together, raising it together and butchering it together, the cost is far less than half.  Saving half on the beef means that even a fourth of the meat might be donated to the poor, the sick or the elderly.
        But, even if you’re not a farmer, you can enjoy the same benefits of cooperation by working with the farmers to buy meat and other foods.
        You can feed your family for less than $1 per meal per day, and when you buy from us, 15% is donated to the poor, sick and elderly automatically.  What you do with your savings can improve the total help. 
        Those who give of themselves give a great gift to God, and the heart that burns with such passion lights the way for others to follow.  When you have saved on your food bill, when you begin to give to the poor, the sick and the elderly, you begin to understand just how wealthy and strong you are; the gift is contagious.  Tell all your friends.
Tags:
 
 

Say hi to Truck

We let our birds wander freely on our farm, but most of them decide to stay at home in the pen. Truck likes the pen a lot, but also likes his daily walks.

When you visit our farm, you'll be greeted by Truck the rooster. If you're a dog, kitty, coyote or a fox, he won't be polite. Truck also doesn't like vandals, as he literally slashed the pants off of one who tried to burgle us last year. Good rooster. But if you're a nice person or one of the other animals around here, he's very courteous and will escort you everywhere. He doesn't sing much, and is a bit of a loner, but makes sure to visit everyone on the farm during the day. He especially likes laundry time, and will watch the clothes dry in the wind with attention. But he likes meal time better.

 
 

Dracula's blood thirsty days are done

Count Dracula the calf has decided halloween is over.  He and Pink Nose the Calf are now very good friends with Butterball the Alpaca, who has helped him work through his numerous "issues" apparently.  Butterball himself used to have a lot of aggression, but now is very polite and friendly.  We can remember so many examples!  Pairing animals with other species sometimes helps them kick odd habits, become more productive, reduces disease, and in so many ways improves their quality of life and economics. 
 
Dracula's blood thirsty days are done.  Alpacas are excellent buddies.
 
 

Warm, friendly turkey

Turkeys are warm and friendly birds, especially on cold nights when our other birds need a big friend.   For less than the cost of electricity, Tom the turkey keeps our egg laying birds alive, healthy and comfortable.  Tom has helpers out here on the farm: we keep two old goats who, while being worthless for meat or milk or other production, produce heat cheaper than electricity would cost and protect our poultry from the cold. 
 
Tom, our farm turkey, is a former house pet we adopted (yes, we don't even understand why someone would have a turkey as a house pet, but we live in a tiny home and presume that when you have a large house, you have room for pets like turkeys) and is also very frightening to the several wild cats that live near by.  His ferocious gobbles and chirps strike terror into the hearts of numerous small carnivores who would strike our flock.  He is not defensive, like a rooster, but is naturally intimidating. 
 
Don't let that fool you: he's  very friendly bird and will come up to talk to you when you visit. 
 
 

Good gravy, there's fungus among us!

Quick, start the water boiling!
 
Fungi are delicious and nutritious and very easy to cook.  A mushroom broth makes almost anything better, and if thickened a bit with some home ground flour from white winter wheat, makes good gravy.  Add some natural olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.  We like the taste of our favorite olive oil and vinegar from california and italy.  What is your favorite?
 
If you want to go wild, add in some nice pine needles and rose hips to the gravy, and you will have a dinner that can't be beat. 
 
 

Butterball the alpaca no longer a turkey

Butterball is our newest alpaca friend here at the farm. He was a turkey, though, and had a lot of fight in him. We try to make fighters into lovers here at the farm, and the same way that you would help a human child with too much fight is the same way you help animals best. Interspecies love. A human child would react well to a puppy, or a kitten, or even a chicken or a goose. Or a cow. Or most other species. Some nature time, with the numerous birds and bugs. Most animals are the same way.

Louie the alpaca is now best friends with Wild Thing the goat, and Wild Thing (who was quite wild, and not afraid to gore a human from past mistreatment - though not so angry at other animals) and Louie tamed each other. Now they are even friendly to people. Butterball is becoming a horse lover, and he and our gelding are getting along swimmingly now, after just a couple of days! Butterball is totally changed, and will come up to people and even be caught.

Those with even more fight than Butterball need some hands on training with people. Mental challenge helps the animals, too, and learing how to come, stay, go back, turn left or right not only keeps them better behaved, but makes them very easy to care for. And, should our animals ever get out, they are quick to go back home. Roundups are no challenge here at the ranch, and they shouldn't be: say "go home!" and all the animals do.

A little love leads to more love, and more love leads to universal love. A little training and intelligence leads to greater understanding and peace. In both people and animals.

 
 

Are tree leaves nutritious for animals?

We are currently testing the nutrient levels in the blood of our animals as we feed them tree leaves, and while tree leaves may seem unusual, they are common foods for animals in most other places.  The TDN, RFV, and mineral content varies considerably from forage to forage, even two different fields of grass will be significantly different in most respects depending on species of grass, or variety of alfalfa.  The FAO and many foresters agree, trees are no different.  However, studies (FAO: 4.1 The Nutritive Value of Tree Legumes, Dr.B.W. Norton http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Publicat/Gutt-shel/x5556e0j.htm) indicate that there is little difference between tree leaves and most standard hays.
Many people supplement based on a belief of what they are feeding their animals.  Often, they are wrong in their assumptions, and attempts to perfectly balance diet are futile unless you are working with laboratory formulated feeds, such as those which are manufactured by Purina and other vendors.
Leaves are excellent food for not only ruminants (it is the food of choice throughout most of the world, though in the Americas, we are just discovering this), but also animals with simpler stomachs.  Even people eat quantities of tree leaves without harm.  Some tree leaves are poisonous in small quantities, others are poisonous in large quantities; others are wholesome and healthsome in even minute quantities.  Many trees have medicinal properties. 
The answer for those who supplement to overcome deficiencies in diet when using conventional grass and alfalfa feeds is the same for those who supplement to overcome deficiencies in tree leaf diets: hedge on the side of too much rather than too little.  Few nutrients cause disease when overfed in moderate amounts.  In Colorado, selenium deficiency is common because the soil is so poor in selenium. Most leaves have about 10% crude protein, with about 60% digestibility, and while oaks may have up to 15% mean taninnic acid equivalent, most trees typically have much less than half that and 15% is not bad, if the oaks are diluted with other feed ("Nutritive Value of Tree Leaves in the Kansas Flint Hills," JR Forwood and CE Owensby: Journal of Range Management 38(1), January 1985).  I, myself, enjoy the linden leaves best.  They make an excellent salad. 

Vampires and Bottle Calves

Are there vampires?  Some people will say so, especially after seeing some movies.  We have a vampire kept here at the farm.  We keep him locked away from the other animals for their safety.  We urge caution when dealing with him: eat a clove of farm-fresh garlic before working with him.
 
He is a bottle calf.
 
Is it cruel to raise bottle calves?  Some people will say so, saying it encourages the dairy industry to produce too many calves (a byproduct of making milk - mother cows won't make milk without a baby to feed) and that it is cruel to take babies from their mothers. 
 
We don't personally agree with taking calves from their mothers so early, and would not do that to any mother animals of our own.  However, it is also cruel to allow these orphan animals to be without care and not adopt them.  But ultimately, you simply can't discourage the dairy farmers from doing what they do by any means.
 
A farmer will typically make about the same amount of food off an animal whether they raise it by milk or after it has been weaned: someone has to buy milk for the calf, whether you feed the mother or buy milk replacer.  When the animal is sold after it is weaned, the farmer naturally wants to recover any investment and raises the price to account for food, and the numerous calves that natually die.
 
Human children rarely die in the United States, but in other nations, they die easily for lack of medicine.  Cattle are the same way, but there is sometimes no medicine for cattle even if a farmer is willing to pay for it.  There is no calve's hospital emergency room (as there is at children's hospital), there is sometimes an inability to diagnose problems.  Even if you give the animals solid shelters where the wind and wet doesn't get in, and plenty of nurses to keep them warm, some calves naturally are loners and will not snuggle up to their nurses when it gets cold for whatever reason; electrification of barns is sometimes impossible in rural areas - at our farm, electricians won't even service us.  When temperatures get sub-zero, the old and the young are going to get sick and die with greater likelihood than in better temperatures.  Winter is a time of trial and death for many animals.  And unfortunate people, too. 
 
We prefer weanlings when we can get them for a good price, but this is not always an option.  When we buy bottle calves, we try as much as possible to select those that are more obviously at least a few days old, and give them some colostrum when we get them home.  They have free choice hay at first, as well as free choice calf starter grain, and get WARM milk-replacer three and then two times per day. 
 
We are very careful about weaning.  Calves need to develop their stomachs to be able to digest non-milk foods.  We give them probiotics, mineral and vitamin supplements, and of course the solid foods (hay and starter grain) throughout their first two months, though after the first month they are transitioned to leaves instead of hay.  Clean water is available for all the animals through the day, and although the ducks mess theirs up quickly, there are other sources of clean water in the same pen for the other animals to drink.  We aim to wean them from the milk replacer at about one month, because its most economical, but they are given sufficient calf starter grain for the next two months.  Calf starter grain has all the milk proteins in it that they need for healthy growth, and so as soon as they are ruminating well they are able to eat their milk instead of drinking it.  They get the same nutrition this way, but cheaper and with less time required to feed them. 
 
Calves will naturally suck on everything in sight for several months, even if you are feeding them well.  Unfortunately, since they don't have a mother, they get their nutrition in a concentrated form and it does not satisfy their psychological drive to nurse through the day.  One of our calves, named Count Dracula, has developed a bad habit of sucking tails until they bleed.  He likes chili pepper to season his meal, and we can think of nothing to distract him.  He used to be pacified by ropes to suck on, but prefers the warm, tit-like tails of his companions and nurses to cold ropes.   Count Dracula is now isolated with a nurse who can withstand his sucking, and we can only hope he learns a new habit.
 
 

Le Menu! (what's available this week?)

Hello from your favorite farm in Agate!

These last two weeks were sure cold!  The spinaches beginning to take hold of our cold frames are slowing down noticeably, and all the animals are becoming homebodies.  This means extra work for us, as we keep their pens tidy and clean.  The manure is put into the soil where it is eaten by the microorganisms still active through the winter and prepares our soil for springtime: manure in last year's aisles prepares next year's beds! 


NEW THIS WEEK:
Fresh snow, ice and cold wind.  Free.  Take as much as you like.  Pick up at the farm only.  Limited, while supplies last.

READY FOR THE COOK:
Beef Sausages - - - traditional recipe from Europe.  Hot or mild.

Mushroom pasta - - - We served this to some hardy volunteers, and they liked it!  Either ask for pasta included or not.  Portabello and oyster mushrooms, wheat, and natural olive oil, with a spice packet! 

Roast Chevon - - - Fresh natural goat meat with your choice of natural wild spices or more traditional recipes. 


December rose hip tea - - - rose hips, pine needles and cottonwood. This will perk you up, a warm drink on a cold night.

~~~BEANS~~~
Anasazi
Black
Black eyed peas
Canellini
Cranberry
Fava
Jacob's Cattle
Kidney
Lentil
Mung
Pinto
Soldier Beans

~~~EGGS~~~
Next harvest estimated in Spring

~~~FRUIT~~~
Next harvest, estimated in Summer

~~~FLOWERS~~~
Winter bouquets

~~~GRAIN~~~
Barley
Oats
Sunflower
White Wheat

~~~MEAT~~~
Goat
Beef

~~~MEDICINAL HERBS AND TEAS~~~
Pine needles (delicious, nutritious, revitalizing!)
Rose Hips (delicious, vitamin C)
Thistle Root (supports liver)
Winter willow, aspen and poplar (antiinflamatory, powerful painkiller - use like aspirin)

~~~MUSHROOMS~~~
Dried portabello
Dried oyster

~~~VEGETABLES~~~
Mung bean sprouts (early harvest - warm winter!) - planted only upon demand
Coming soon: spinach! Just sprouting.

~~~WILD HARVESTS~~~
Dock Seed
Cottonwood

 
 

Those in prison: a prayer for the immigrant

Let us tonight remember those in prison, both those who suffer for their crime, and those who are wrongty held to account for the crimes of others, or for those crimes which they had long ago suffered and atoned for.  Let us remember those in prison whose only crime was desiring democracy and human rights.  Let us remember their suffering with compassion, and encourage their families who are by their imprisonment bereft of their family's leadership and support.  Let us remember their discomfort and humbly thank the almighty God of justice who knows their pain more than we can.

Let us today remember our immigration law, a law whose inhospitality is a shame to our nation, placing those who seek our friendship and help in prison, or returning them to their torment far from the home of their hearts.  Let us remember the fear of our prisons compels even good citizens to acts of cowardice when their hearts would have them undertake righteous acts of goodness on behalf of their brothers and sisters.

Let us remember today that these are our prisons.  That we are a free people, a democratic people, a people of laws of our own making.  That we build these prisons with our own money, that we staff them with officers of our courts, undertaking the orders of our own Judges.  Let us today pray that when we ourselves are Judged, in the courts we made or before our own maker, we shall have greater mercy than we have bestowed upon our own condemned.  Let us remember the limits of human mercy, and stand in awe of that tremendous mercy we needlessly fear.

Tonight we pray, remember us, these wretched beggars, who ask for what we do not deserve, who fear that which loves us, and hates that which would do us homage.

 
 

Edible and Medicinal Nature Tour!

On December 8, TwoInTents will leading a nature tour of the wild edible and medicinal plants of the I-70 Corridor in Bennett, Colorado. You can feed your family all year long with what nature provides; we always have enough. Please RSVP at 720-833-8795.

 
 

Tire bales make great shelters!

We have built three new shelters in two days out of tire bales!
 
Each tire bale weighs 2,000 pounds, meaning that it not only provides excellent heat absorption during the daytime (keeping animals warm at night), but also that it recycles that much waste.  We are building multispecies shelters so that our animals may be better housed together, and besides 30 tire bales per shelter, scrapwood, recycled tarps and other recycled materials are put to use reducing our costs of production (making food, fiber and other anima products cheaper for people).  More than 70,000 pounds of waste are recycled in every pen.
 
The tire bales are engineered to withstand more than 60,000 pounds of force in any direction, making them the new, hottest material in civil engineering!  The tire bales require a bobcat to move, which is very hard on the soil of the animal pens.  Luckily, we rotate pens, reclaiming them between uses, so that our animals always have good turf to walk on.
 
Though recycling is big money, agriculture is always on the forefront of the industry, developing low-tech methods of recycling.  However, low-tech often inspires high-tech, and we understand that tire bales are going out of style as higher uses for the old tires are found: a new machine just invented will allow recyclers to earn nearly $10 per tire by converting the tire into diesel fuel (about 1.5 gallons per tire), scrap steel (more than a pound per tire) and also carbon black.  That's about 23 times more value per tire than baling them!
 
And baling the tires is about 4.5 times more value than loose tires (which we also use on our farm).  Technology improves, and suddenly, the recycled material which farmers could get for free is rendered into products envied by civil engineers and becomes beyond their ability to buy.  Luckily, there's more kinds of rubbish than tires, and the farmer will find new materials to use: there's always new forms of junk.
 
 

Le Menu (what's available to order?)

Hello from your favorite farm in Agate!

This week we are building up pens out of tires that were donated. This recycling puts tons of waste to productive use, and is sanctioned and encouraged by the EPA. While we do use loose tires, we have just recieved compressed "tire bales," each one weighing about 2,000 pounds. Luckily, the weather's been nice and warm. We are building two shelters inside every pen: one for large or medium sized quadrapeds, and one for birds (usually ducks and chickens). We mix different kinds of seeds in our fields because biodiversity results in greater health and production for our plants. The same is true for our animals. With our plants, biodiversity allows predators to live in our field, and defend our plants, their shelter-homes. It also improves soil microflora, allowing the microorganisms to keep each other in check and not cause disease. With our animals, the birds (who are free to roam, but usually stay at home - except for a few of them) help reduce insects and other pests in the pens, and in numerous other ways keep our quadrapeds safe and sound. In return, the larger quadrapeds keep our birds safer from hawks, feral cats, foxes and other predators, and our medium - sized quadrapeds keep the birds warm at night (a goat is a very warm body in the coop in winter, and produces more heat and better heat than an electric heat lamp or fire). Our animals are so happy at home that we can leave our gates open and our cattle do not even wander out the door: a safe, clean pen with plenty of high quality food and fresh water, adequate shelter and friends (of the same and other species) is a great place to be. Better than the vegetable gardens we plant right on the other side of the fence!

NEW THIS WEEK:
*** Turkey from Thomas Farms, also in Elbert County, a partner farm of Two In Tents. Their birds are naturally and compassionately raised by an ambitious young farmer, still in grade school. Choose white or dark meat to be added to your regular box! Or the whole bird. We are out of turkey right now, but highly suggest trying Thomas Farms turkey.
*** Goat and beef from Albrecht Ranch, also in Elbert County, a partner farm of Two In Tents. Their goat and beef is naturally and compassionately raised by an ambitious young farmer, just out of college. Choose your cut, or get quarters or halves or whole animals in your regular box. We are running low on goat and beef right now, but are proud to work with Albrecht Ranch while our animals do their best to grow up.

READY FOR THE COOK:
Mushroom stuffing - - - Inspired by seeing some beautiful wild oyster mushrooms dried on the tree while out on a walk (they were a little far gone, but the farm-raised articles are still good!). Includes portabello and oyster mushrooms (dry) with wheat and a delicious bean mix, seasoned with pine, cottonwood and rose hips.

Goat rib soup - - - Chevon in the pot with mushrooms, wheat and barley makes for a hearty dinner.

December rose hip tea - - - rose hips, pine needles and cottonwood. This will perk you up, a warm drink on a cold night.

~~~BEANS~~~
Anasazi
Black
Black eyed peas
Canellini
Cranberry
Fava
Jacob's Cattle
Kidney
Lentil
Mung
Pinto
Soldier Beans

~~~EGGS~~~
Next harvest estimated in Spring

~~~FRUIT~~~
Next harvest, estimated in Summer

~~~FLOWERS~~~
Winter bouquets

~~~GRAIN~~~
Barley
Oats
Sunflower
White Wheat

~~~MEAT~~~
Goat
Beef

~~~MEDICINAL HERBS AND TEAS~~~
Pine needles (delicious, nutritious, revitalizing!)
Rose Hips (delicious, vitamin C)
Thistle Root (supports liver)
Winter willow, aspen and poplar (antiinflamatory, powerful painkiller - use like aspirin)

~~~MUSHROOMS~~~
Dried portabello
Dried oyster

~~~VEGETABLES~~~
Mung bean sprouts (early harvest - warm winter!) - planted only upon demand
Coming soon: spinach! Just sprouting.

~~~WILD HARVESTS~~~
Dock Seed
Cottonwood
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