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  (Agate, Colorado)
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Nutrition increases wool production

Nourishment is important to many kinds of farm production, but also for wool production.  Texas A&M University has known through the efforts of James Addison Carey III (Effects of Range Management Practices on Wool Production, 1984) that even rotation of grazing pastures can result in a significant difference in fleece weights (3.35kg vs 3.04 kg) because undernourishment results in a temporary reduction in the number of active follicles which are associated with fiber shedding. 

Mr. Carey explains, “if the wool data for lactating ewes and non lactating ewes had been analyzed together, no significant differences would have been found between any of the grazing management treatments. When the physiological state of the ewes was considered, a reduction (P<.05) of 10% ingrease fleece weight was noted in the lactating ewes (3.14 kg) compared to non lactating ewes (3.52 kg). This agrees with the 10 to 14% reduction in annual grease fleece due to full cycle reproduction found by other studies (Doney, 1958; Brown et al., 1966; Seebeck and Tribe, 1963; Slen and Whiting, 1956). Brown et al. (1966) concluded that about one-third of the reduction in wool growth by Merinos during pregnancy and lactation stems from a decrease in fiber numbers and two-thirds from a decrease in fiber volume.  Observations on the number of fibers per unit area of skin by Brown et al. (1966) indicated there may be a greater decrease during pregnancy than during lactation, although this change was evident in both phases of reproduction in the study by Slen and Whiting (1956). These results indicate that ewes producing lambs are more sensitive to grazing treatments than non producing ewes. Therefore, when wool production is used for an endpoint and treatment differences are expected to be small, only ewes that wean lambs should be used as experimental units in grazing studies to detect these small differences.”

The reason, of course, is that ewes which are also producing milk or lambs have more need for food. 

Mr. Carey also explains that if you are maximizing fleece production, you should stock many sheep per hectare, but if you are trying to maximize lamb production, you should ensure each ewe has as much food as possible.  The reason is that fleece production responds less than lamb production to shortages of food.  “Stocking rates had no significant effect on grease fleece weights per ewe, and grease fleece weights per hectare increased with increased stocking rates. Fiber diameter decreased significantly (P<.05) as the stocking rate increased. These findings would suggest that a six ewe per hectare stocking rate would be optimal; however, lamb production data on these same ewes indicate that a stocking rate of six ewes per hectare severely depressed lamb production.  There was no difference (P>.17) in grease fleece weights between the two ewe, four ewe and six ewe stocking rates; however, there was a significant (P<.05) linear effect in fiber diameter (25.5, 24.5 and 24.1 microns, respectively), as stocking rate increased.  These results tend to agree with the findings of McManus et al., (1964) and George and Pearse (1978) that stocking rates had little influence on wool quality and that increased production per hectare would more than offset the decreased production per ewe. Wool production per hectare was higher as stocking rates increased; however, at the higher six ewe per hectare stocking rate, lamb production was severely depressed in the second year of the study. The percent of ewes weaning lambs in the six ewe per hectare treatment dropped from 90% in the first year to 29% in the second year, compared to 90% for the two ewe and four ewe per hectare stocking rates in the second year (Bryant et al., 1984).”

That said, an improvement of 10% in wool production is not only significant, but worthwhile.  Especially when lambs are brought into the equation: lambs are worth much more than fleeces.  Supplementing feed on small pastures makes sense.

How the banks are raising food prices

Money presumes a future payment of a commodity.  In antiquity, money meant cattle and grain. A “drachma” was a weight of grain. Japan's feudal system was based on rice per year – koku. Today, this system is still in effect for most farmers, who borrow against a future crop to gain money today for seed and operational expenses.  Well, the demand for metals or precious stones to fund this credit system allowed mines to become profitable, and as people dug deep into the earth looking for shiny things that farmers could exchange for seed money.  The mines were too complex to be owned and operated by a single person, and quickly came under the management of the government.  The government found it important to support farmers with seed money, developing the process of modern agricultural subsidy.

The farmers who borrowed from their future crop to gain seed money today and the investors who lent money for a future crop eventually learned how to form a corporation, a business entity in which investors own the farms and hire the farmers, and the profits are divided into equal shares based on investment and labor.  With labor becoming valued as highly as investment, the labor union was invented, allowing workers equal bargaining power to the investors.  With the organizational power of a corporation, suddenly private ownership of mines was possible and gradually governments got out of the mining business… and got into the banking business.

The banknote was first developed in China in the Tang during the 7th century, with local issues of paper currency. Its roots were in merchant receipts of deposit during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), as merchants and wholesalers desired to avoid the heavy bulk of copper coinage in large commercial transactions.  Before the use of paper, the Chinese used coins that were circular, with a rectangular hole in the middle. Several coins could be strung together on a rope. Merchants in China, if they became rich enough, found that their strings of coins were too heavy to carry around easily. To solve this problem, coins were often left with a trustworthy person, and the merchant was given a slip of paper recording how much money he had with that person. If he showed the paper to that person he could regain his money. The King was the most trustworthy person around, and soon banks were governmentally licensed.

But corporations began to offer their own notes, representing shares of future revenues (called “stock”) and debt notes (called “bonds”).  Non-farm and non-mine businesses gained the ability to earn investment money through bonds and stock.  Stocks and bonds have intrinsic value, just like the shiny objects that they can be traded for.  Marketplaces evolved where stocks and bonds were traded, just like farm products or construction materials.  Bought and sold, these markets facilitated the exchange of shiny objects to those who needed them most, who could pay them back best.

Times were good.  People began to bank, or save, excess money, and the banks in which they deposited the money found they could loan out banked money at interest and still be able to get enough money to those depositors when it was called for.  This doubled the money supply: the same dollar could be loaned and banked.  With a doubled money supply, economies grew and farmers found they could sell their production for a higher value: people had more money!  This encouraged more farming, which led to more babies being born, which allowed more people to undertake industry and bank more money. 

But this is the rule for free economies when banks are owned or regulated by the government to be non-profit.  Our own economy is somewhat different.  There is not free competition between banks to keep interest rates low, and banks here have a tendency to increase interest to the highest amount the market will bear, shrinking money supply, decreasing agricultural prices.

Against nuclear weapons

I admit that it took me longer than it should have to written this opinion statement.  In due diligence, I tried to understand why anyone would be for nuclear weapons.  It seems that some people believe nuclear weapons are a deterrent to wars of aggression.  However, a quick examination of history shows that, since the invention of the nuclear weapon, nations with nuclear weapons still have been involved in wars of defense.  Including our own.  Also, wars do sometimes happen accidently or without cause.  In the course of my research I learned all kinds of disturbing things not fit for a family newspaper.  I learned about bombs designed to maximize deadly fallout so that all life will be killed on this planet.  I learned about weapons so powerful that they would destroy their user in a suicide attack.  I learned about deadlier weapons still, chemical bombs, biological warfare, and even some nasty robots that might have less hesitation about killing civilians than the Nazi SS officers they were apparently designed to imitate.  So, I will sum up my argument with pictures from, as I am simply left speechless. 

A Real-Life Memorial

For many people in America, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer fun, the end of the school year, a time for barbeques and vacations.  Yet it bears reminding that Memorial Day is a day for us to all stop and remember those brave Americans who have served in the military. 

By far the most famous of art commemorating our armed forces is “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” by Joe Rosenthal.  Taken February 23, 1945, this photograph shows five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising of the American flag from the highest point of the Japanese island of Iwo Jima after the desirable position was captured by American troops during World War II. 

Of the six men depicted in the picture, three (Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, and Michael Strank) were killed during the battle; the three survivors (John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes) became celebrities upon their identification in the photo.

Rosenthal, with two other photographers, reached the summit as the Marines were attaching the flag to an old Japanese water pipe. Rosenthal put down his Speed Graphic camera (which was set to 1/400th of a second shutter speed, with the f-stop between 8 and 16) on the ground so he could pile rocks to stand on for a better vantage point. In doing so, he nearly missed the shot. The soldiers began raising the U. S. flag. Realizing he was about to miss it, Rosenthal quickly swung his camera up and snapped the photograph without using the viewfinder.Ten years after the flag-raising, Rosenthal wrote:


Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don't come away saying you got a great shot. You don't know.


It became the only photograph to win a Pulitzer Prize in the same year as its publication.

Misery does not actually love company

While our customers are pain free and happy with their poplar, aspen and willow, we gave a thought to those that weren't.

A new study from the University of Leeds in England followed hundreds of rheumatoid arthritis patients over several years of treatment to determine whether their treatment was improved by having nurse-led care.  The results were “inconclusive,” meaning that the results of nurse-led care were statistically the same as the results of regular care: nurse-led care did not make any difference in improving the health of the patients.  At least the nurses didn’t hurt.


Data sources

Electronic databases (AMED, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, HMIC, HTA, MEDLINE, NHEED, Ovid Nursing and PsycINFO) were searched from 1988 to January 2010 with no language restrictions. Inclusion criteria were: randomised controlled trials, nurse-led care being part of the intervention and including patients with RA.


Review methods

Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer. Quality assessment was conducted independently by two reviewers using the Cochrane Collaboration's Risk of Bias Tool. For each outcome measure, the effect size was assessed using risk ratio or ratio of means (RoM) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) as appropriate. Where possible, data from similar outcomes were pooled in a meta-analysis.



Seven records representing 4 RCTs with an overall low risk of bias (good quality) were included in the review. They included 431 patients and the interventions (nurse-led care vs usual care) lasted for 1–2years. Most effect sizes of disease activity measures were inconclusive (DAS28 RoM=0.96, 95%CI [0.90–1.02], P=0.16; plasma viscosity RoM=1 95%CI [0.8–1.26], p=0.99) except the Ritchie Articular Index (RoM=0.89, 95%CI [0.84–0.95], P<0.001) which favoured nurse-led care. Results from some secondary outcomes (functional status, stiffness and coping with arthritis) were also inconclusive. Other outcomes (satisfaction and pain) displayed mixed results when assessed using different tools making them also inconclusive. Significant effects of nurse-led care were seen in quality of life (RAQoL RoM=0.83, 95%CI [0.75–0.92], P<0.001), patient knowledge (PKQ RoM=4.39, 95%CI [3.35–5.72], P<0.001) and fatigue (median difference=?330, P=0.02).



The estimates of the primary outcome and most secondary outcomes showed no significant difference between nurse-led care and the usual care. While few outcomes favoured nurse-led care, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether this is the case. More good quality RCTs of nurse-led care effectiveness in rheumatoid arthritis are required.

Early dietetics in Texas

Sometimes a glance back at the origins of a science are as enlightening as the most recent research.  So little has changed fundamentally since its beginning, while so much detail and understanding has been gained!  Nutritional science, pioneered by the likes of Dr. John Kellogg, MD and others, had as an original an innovative goal the improvement of the quality and duration of human life through a treatment of food as a medicine.  This brought western dietetics in line with eastern medicine, and set the foundation for today’s astounding advances.

However, the complex science of dietetics was difficult to bring to the people.  Thinking of food as something more than what filled the stomach or an enjoyable luxury required a leap of understanding that the average American was unprepared for.

The first dieticians had to explain things in very practical terms, not only producing new cookbooks, but also explaining the importance of eating well.  Jessie P Rich of the University of Texas was one of these pioneers and, on November 22, 1913, ten years before Dr. John Kellogg would write his own attempts to bring the science of nutrition to the public, wrote Simple Cooking of Wholesome Food for the Far Home.  Rich begins the work by explanation of nutrition’s importance to children, “No subject on the farm at the present time is receiving so much attention as .the proper feeding of the farm animals.  The cows are given a measured amount of meal, and succulent material, and the pigs a carefully estimated ration intended to develop a pig best suited to its intended use. How is it with the boys and girls on the farm? Is their food as carefully studied and administered as that of the farm animal?  Is it prepared in a way to give the greatest amount of nourishment for the least expenditure of bodily energy? No farm asset is as valuable as its boys and girls, and yet they are more neglected, when it comes to the question of proper food and cooking, than the less important asset—the stock.” 

And with this excellent introduction, Rich explains the way food is used in the body, introducing basic food chemistry of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.  Rich is then able to explain the importance of food safety, and provide excellent arguments for vegetarianism: cooking food makes it lose nutrition, and the foods that are safe to eat uncooked are not meat.  Rich advocates the integration of beans and eggs, cooked at a low heat, into the diet as the best sources of protein.

While filled with many quality and vintage traditional Texan favorites, the potato soup seemed like the best to me. 


Potato Soup


Three medium sized potatoes, one quart milk, two slices onion, three tablespoons butter, one and one-half teaspoons salt, two tablespoons flour. 

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water; when soft, rub through a strainer. Scald milk with onion in it, remove onion, and add milk slowly to potatoes. Melt the butter, add dry ingredients, stir until well mixed, then stir into boiling soup; cook one minute. Season and serve.

Exploding Crazy Asian Melons!

In China, watermelons are exploding.  The story, picked up by ( by Lydia Leavitt in her May 21st publication, Chinese farmers plagued by exploding watermelons. 

“China Central Television (CCT) blames the phenomenon on the overuse of a chemical designed to make fruit grow faster, claiming famers were overspraying crops to get ahead of competitors Then again, agricultural experts are seemingly unable to explain why chemical-free melons were also exploding, as they point to weather and abnormal size as the main cause.  According to Xinhua news agency, 20 famers in a village in Jiangsu province imported watermelon seeds from Japan - 10 of whom eventually watched their crop explode. Interestingly enough, only one out of the ten had treated his \\exploding watermelons with the growth chemical,” reports Leavitt.

While agricultural scientists are not exactly sure why the watermelons are exploding, they are energetically researching the bizarre tragedy.

Bizarre melons are not new to the region.  In Japan, watermelons are grown to be cubes by molding the young fruits.  The cubic melons have a higher sale price because of their novelty, but also because they are more space efficient in the refrigerator, and ship with less damage. 

The explosive Chinese melons are a stern reminder of the dangers of too rapid experimentation.  Conservative, Japanese style adventures in plant modification are best.

Forget the tent

When camping out in the wilderness, it is easy to bring too much.  In considering what to leave behind, give a thought to forgetting the tent.  By bringing a stout sleeping bag (Coleman offers some very nice affordable bags) and a large tarp, you are sure to stay dry and warm.

The tarp should be big enough to wrap under the sleeping bag to act as a moisture barrier with the ground, and also on top to prevent rain and dew from wetting you from above.  It should be long enough to tuck under your feet and keep the wind out, and tuck over your head if you wanted to shield yourself from the wind and weather (be careful to leave a ventilation hole: don’t tuck yourself in too tight).

Veteran campers will acknowledge that on a clear night, bagging is better than tenting, and only under severe conditions will a tent be preferred to the convenience and pleasure of the raw natural experience of bagging. 


Le Menu (what's cookin'?)


The baby prairie  dogs are scampering and it must be springtime.  Except its already June!  The ground is so cold and wet we are going to have to replant our squash seeds!  Luckily, some things enjoy the weather: the linden leaves are absolutely wonderful this year, as are the dandelions and our pine teas.  And the ducks and geese are very happy indeed.  Every year has something special to enjoy!

This week we have treats from our greenhouse: look under the goodies section!

We were busy building up greenhouses for our tomatoes and peppers, which are not liking la nina too much.  That was a lot of work!

Rat update: for those coming into the middle of the story, we adopted 3 baby field mice who were abandoned by their mother.  This week, we released them into a sheltered corner of our farm!  We will miss them.  Rats are important to any ecology, and especially to agroecologies.  We treat all our animals - wild and domestic - with a high degree of compassion.


> New items

> Old items 


Give us a call or an email if you want samples!  Let us do the cooking...Prepared meals available.



>>>> Greenhouse lettuce! - LIMITED AVAILABILITY ORDER EARLY!


> Olive Oil (imported from California - olives don't grow in Colorado, silly! We make sure there is no chemicals used, just like on our farm. It is very buttery oil, very sweet)

 > Sprouts - Greenhouse is being used to shelter tomatoes and peppers, so please order one week in advance

> Meat shares - from the Rev. Ronald Taylor's ranch.  These meats are from a neighbor of ours, he uses no hormones, and both grains and pastures the cows on natural feeds.  He raises holsteins.  In the hard economic times, he is adjusting his prices to allow microshares.  If there is more beef than expected, you can either pay the difference or return to him what you did not pay for! 

     * 1/2 Beef Share: $800 down, $4 per pound, plus share of processing

     * 1/4 Beef Share: $400 down, $4.50 per pound, plus share of processing

     * 1/8 Beef Share:  $200 down, $5 per pound, plus share of processing

      * 1/16 Beef Share: $100 down, $5.25 per pound, plus share of processing

       * 1/32 Beef Share: $50 down, $5.50 per pound, plus share of processing



> Dandelion (also a blood cleanser herb)

> Fava greens (eat like chard, beet greens or pea greens)

> Lambsquarter

> Linden (leaves) (very sweet, sugar substitute)

> Sprouts (pea, bean, sunflower)

> Thistle (also a liver support herb)


-- BEANS --

  > Black

  > Fava

  > Jacob’s Cattle

  > Pinto

  > Trout


-- GRAIN --

  > Barley

  > Oats

  > Sanfoin

  > Safflower

  > Sunflower (SEED)

  > Rye

  > Wheat


-- HERBS --

  >>>> Juniper (BERRIES)

  > Catmint

  > Garlic (BABY)

  > Garlic (GREENS)

  >>>> Garlic (WILD)

  > Wild Onion (limited availability)



  > Aspen (LEAVES, BARK) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Cherry Blossoms

  > Lilac Blossoms

  > Plum Blossoms

  > Poplar (BUDS, ROOTS) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Willow (BUDS, ROOTS) (antiinflamatory, pain relief, fever treatment)

  > Yucca (ROOT)



  > Two legs 

  > Four legs

  > Six legs

  > Eight legs (?!)  :::: )

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