At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
TwoInTents Blog
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Le Menu! What's available at the farm?

It is the season when every young man’s fancy turns to mud.  A man grows tall in the country in the winter, about 5 inches taller, to be precise.  Spring showers bring may flowers, December snows bring January mud.  Wow it’s mucky!

This week we have some delicious sprouts to try from the Maia cooperative.  They are grown in Denver hydroponically, which is different from how we grow them – while we grow them in the soil, the key to delicious sprouts (and mushrooms) is actually the sunlight they receive.  The sunlight helps the young plants develop not only vitamins and minerals, but all kinds of flavor!  Sprouts are alive, and it is best before you eat them (or if you eat them at night, the afternoon before you eat them) to put them in the sun for about 15 minutes.  They’ll be much better for it… and so will you!

We are also excited about a new batch of olive oil from our friends in California who raise their olives for us with organic methods free of chemicals.  What are we to do except combine sprouts and oil with some delicious lo mein or stir fry?

But don’t forget us when you get your winter cold.  We have a coldbuster tea just for you!  It’s really tasty, so even if  you’re not sick, give it a try!

And for our meat eaters out there… please don’t forget that Thomas Farms has chicken, and a student trip to Washington, DC to fundraise for!  And we still have a few sausages left from our own farm.  Try these in your lo mein if you’re not into tofu.

NEW THIS WEEK:
Chicken from Thomas Farms

Mud.  Fire sale prices!  Come out for a visit and come back with pounds of it on your shoes…


READY FOR THE COOK:
Sprout stuffing - - - wheat, barley, sprouts and fresh olive oil meet a delicious blend of secret spices for a filling stuffing!

 

Cold buster tea - - - Willow twigs, pine twigs and thistle root.  Great with a bit of lemon or honey!

 

Sausages - - - traditional recipe from Europe. Hot or mild.

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

~~~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~~~
Sprouts – alfalfa, clover, radish


~~~WILD HARVESTS~~~
Cottonwood

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Before you buy seeds...cooperate!

We are getting ready to buy seeds, and we buy seeds in cooperation - which means that it is cheaper.  Our cooperative, the Maia Cooperative, allows us to buy in bulk and reduces the cost of planting, even if we want to plant a large variety of things.
 
While a seed packet of black seeded simpson lettuce may cost you about $4, the seed packet will only contain about 500 seeds. When 384,000 seeds costs Maia only $20, you can recieve the same 500 for 1/768 the cost (about 2 cents). That's good value! Even if you want to plant organic yellow squash (packet $4 for 30 seeds), Maia can order some 5,000 seeds for $35, and your packet now costs about 21 cents. 
 
Everyone likes a varied diet, but the cost of seeds these days is crazy.  So before you buy your seeds let us know what you'd like this year in your garden, as well as what you'd like this year in our fields (which are your gardens too!).  We would love to cooperate with you, too.

RESPONSE TO COMMENT:

hi Bill!  We buy seeds not only from large breeders and distributors, but also from small breeders and distributors like yourself and other members of the maia co-op...
The question of sustainability is complex, but shouldn't be confused with self-sufficiency.  Self-sufficiency is truly impossible: we don't make our own vehicles, either.  While we recycle heroically - most (90%) of our farm and ranch is built out of recycled materials - and are very ecologically conscious - using green energy, and transitioning to zero petrochemicals, foresting our lands and otherwise undertaking good stewardship and sustainable farming - we prefer to trust to experts, like yourself, whenever possible.
Breeding and collecting seeds is important work, and a specialty unto itself.  By using the very best selected seeds, and seeds that are tested for disease and germination, we produce with greater quality, and require less water and other ecologically taxing inputs.  We commend you and your work!
The seed library is a good idea... does your company, Native Seeds/SEARCH offer similar library services?
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Ready for a bath?

The ducks and geese just don't know what to do with ice. They want a bath and try to dive into their frozen pond, but for whatever reason these days, the water is as hard as ice.  We dump out the ice and pour in water, and they enjoy it a lot.  But if they take a break from splashing, it freezes up again. 

Bathing and splashing keeps our birds healthy: it allows them to clean their bodies and their mouths and noses, and large quantities of water ensure that they stay healthy with adequate water in their diet.  Healthy birds are more productive birds, they are happier birds and produce with higher quality. 

We wash our other animals periodically too: our cows, horses and camelids get a bath every month.  Our goats get a brush down or a bath then too, but the goats are our cleanest animals.  They are also our most hardy.  Cleanliness makes animals stronger.  That's why we also clean out pens every week.  While some farms simply pile up manure in a corner, we take it out for composting, either in the ground in the gardens, or in compost bins for aging.  This is better for the gardens and better for the animals (and the reason why we put our gardens so close to the animal pens - we don't have to carry manure so far!). 

In the wild, ducks and chickens would be eating not only vegetable matter and seeds, but plenty of bugs.  We have very few bugs in the summer because we have so little manure hanging about.  What few bugs there are usually get eaten by the ducks and chickens who, though they are free to roam, like to hang out in the pens where they stand the best chance at getting the odd fly or mosquito.  Sometimes a duck will chase a fly dozens of feet (and usually will catch it).  In the wild, most animals don't have a need to bathe, but ducks and geese and other water birds do.  And cattle and horses do when they are kept in a pen.  It's important to keep in mind the needs of animals to make sure they are healthy, happy and productive.

 
 

Truck got stuck in the snow today

Truck the rooster got stuck in a snowdrift while out on an adventure today. He wanted to get to the other side, walked right in until he was stuck up to his belly. We went to rescue him, but before we could some persistent flapping got him free and he managed to fly to the other side. Just goes to show that sometimes we are truly stuck, other times we have to simply try harder.

 
 

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

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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.
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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

 
 
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