Wednesday, December 30, 2009
After a great trip, we arrived home yesterday evening. I told Sandy not to come yesterday so I could do the evening chores and check on everyone when I got home. I went down to put everyone to bed and everyone seemed fine. But I noticed all the waters were empty. Not good. The neighbor doing the morning was in charge of filling waters. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he filled them the morning before and decided there was enough water left yesterday morning to get them through the day. I decided I'd take care of the water in the morning since it was already after 9 and all the animals were asleep.
This morning, the neighbor must have been confused about when we were coming back because he came by before we got up and let the animals out. I thought good, I won't have to fill all the waters and can concentrate on cleaning the extremely dirty stall and the coops. When I got down there, all the waters will still empty and the chicken's food hadn't been filled! The chickens are locked in the new coop and can't get out to forage for food. They are reliant on us to feed them. When I went into the coop to feed them, they attacked me! They were clearly very hungry. Now I'm wondering if the neighbor ever filled the food or water. Luckily, I got big water containers and filled them to the top before I left, so at most they should only have gone a day or 2 without water. But the chickens could have gone the whole time without food.
I appreciate that he was willing to help out, but you need to be able to rely on people to do what they say they are going to do. Especially when animals are involved! I'm the type of person that takes responsibility very seriously. If you ask me to do something I will do beyond what you asked. If you wanted me to feed and water your animals, you'd probably come home and find I cleaned the barn too ;). It is just how I am. It is really hard to learn that others don't take their word seriously.
Luckily, it is winter and not summer. They could have died without water for 2 days in the summer. I was planning on going to my family reunion in July, it is every other year and family from all over the world go. I don't want to miss it, but I can't put my animals in danger either. I will be looking for a new morning person and setting up a redundancy system where waters get filled twice a day. I hope I can find someone I feel comfortable trusting to take care of my animals. I trust Sandy but don't want to ask her to come twice a day, that seems like it is asking too much of someone. Thanks Sandy! The animals appreciate the care you gave them.
Update: Sandy filled the food and water for the chickens in the coop when she came in the evenings. It is clear the neighbor never did the whole time. Thank goodness I had Sandy coming in the evening!!! Thank you again Sandy. I really owe you!
Friday, December 25, 2009
I decided right then that I wouldn't lose anymore chickens. Mark talked to the neighbor that day about building us a coop on the side of the run-in. He built our house and the run-in originally so he seemed like an obvious choice.
The coop got done Tuesday and it is beautiful! We had it built in a way that if we want in the future, we can wall it in and have another stall. The chickens are all safely tucked in. They aren't thrilled with being locked up, but they are safe. I let them out when I am out with them.
This coop is my Christmas present from everyone. They are all donating money towards it. It is the best Christmas present ever, but my rifle last year is a close second.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I was trying to think of what to make the neighbors for the holidays. We had apple cider sitting around that needed to be used up, so I kind of made up a recipe. It turned out really good! It is moist and spicy. I made 5 mini loaves. It would make at least 2 full size loaves.
Pumpkin Cider Bread
• 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (I did use store bought, my pumpkins never grew)
• 4 eggs (collected that day if possible)
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• ½ cup apple sauce (I used my home made cinnamon apple sauce)
• 2/3 cup apple cider
• 2 cups white sugar (pure cane of course, don’t want any genetically modified sugar in my bread)
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare pans
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, apple sauce, cider, and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
I also made brownie bites today. Man are those good! I'm not sure if I ever shared that recipe or not.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Mark took a turn.
My sister, Maile took a turn.
Logan took a turn, he prefers the pistol to the rifle.
Nice shot! Thanks for the targets Grandpa Joe.
Time to re-load, this was my job most of the time.
Logan got his sling shot out to try. The gun is much easier.
Maile doing her Sarah Palin impression.
Me doing my Sarah Palin impression.
Logan showing Grandpa how to use the gun.
Grandpa takes a turn.
I took a few turns too, but you guys have already seen pictures of me shooting. Pellets guns are a lot of fun to practice with.
We have a friend who wants to come over and do some target practice. We're exciting about this because they have better guns than we do. We're thinking about getting a pistol someday but would love to try a couple out first. Hopefully, we can find a time to have our friend over.
Cute animal pictures coming soon.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Here is the normal view of our neighbor's barn.
Here was yesterday's view. This was the thickest fog we've had since we moved here.
Aurora on a spool.
The house from the road.
Our neighbor's cows.
The amazing thing is these pictures were taken at 3 in the afternoon. The fog was like this all day.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Now, I was using the wheelbarrow this morning. I have to move 6 months worth of waste hay and goat poop so we can have another stall built on the run-in Monday. It is a huge pile! I worked for an hour this morning and I didn't even make a dent in it. Mark is hiking so it is up to me to get it moved. Sometimes I think this is not the lifestyle for a small woman. And as goats like to do, they were helping me move the pile. But come on, this rumor is crazy!
In case you've been hearing other rumors about me and missed the last time I had to debunk them, go here.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Here is the neighbor's creek. Usually you can't see the water from this point in our pasture. This day the water was about 1/4 of the way up his pasture.
I had a creek in my garden. That isn't normal
Our creek, way over it's banks. It is up into the pasture and everything around the creek is under water. In the summer, our creek went totally dry so this is a lot of water!
I have some videos we took of our creek during the rain, I'll post them tomorrow probably. Today, the rain finally stopped, but the farm is earning it's name! The wind is insane out there.
Lastly, I want to apologize for not reading anyone's blog for the last week or so. I'm feeling overwhelmed right now with work and just don't have time to read blogs. I'm not ignoring you all! I'm having to work during all of Logan's activities just to keep caught up. I'm not done most nights until 10 and then I have time to pop onto Facebook and that is about it. Classes end next week, so things will calm down again then.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
To top it all off, all the girls who are laying decided instead of laying in their normal, individual spots, that they all wanted to lay in Buttercup's spot. I'm not sure how Buttercup feels about this. It does make collecting eggs easier for me though. I'm not sure why everyone is acting funny today, maybe the change in the weather?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Our beautiful girl Sweet Cecily has started laying. Being an Americana, she lays colored eggs. Her color is this pale green.
We still have another Americana that isn't laying yet. Logan is hoping for pink eggs from her. 5 of our 8 girls are now laying. Soon, we will be rolling in eggs and begging people to take them. I never meant to have this many layers, but the chickens just seem to find their way here.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Their favorite thing to do is push each other off. Here is Aurora pushing IO off the middle spool.
They also like to pose and show how cute they are. Aren't we cute?
Aurora thinks she is cuter than Orion and is going to prove it. "I'm cuter!"
Aurora wins, she is cuter.
Logan, who thinks he is a goat, doesn't want to miss out on the pushing fun. He also thinks he is pretty cute.
Aurora still can't get IO to admit she is cuter.
Orion and Eris battle for big spool supremacy.
Eris wishes she could claim this victory, but Orion fell off all on his own.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here is Calendula with her boyfriend Dusty Miller, our beautiful roo that we just adore. Now the bad news, even though this picture was taken yesterday, Dusty Miller is not longer with us. He got eaten this morning (not by us).
We are heartbroken! It seems silly to be this upset about the death of your free exotic chick, but he was a really special boy. He followed me everywhere when I was outside. He spent a lot of time out front. He loved to explore the neighbor's pasture and we knew it was just a matter of time before something got him. He refused to stay home! We will miss him and his wandering ways. No more "where you going Dusty Miller"
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
We currently have:
4 miniature goats (3 nigerian dwarfs and 1 mini nubian)
16 chickens (what? really? how did I get so many chickens?)
2 inside cats
Animals sold or given away in the last year:
5 meat birds
1 duck named Thyme
1 sheep named Andromeda
1 rooster named Spike
Fatalities on the farm:
1 duck named Sage
Scissor Beak (my sweet deformed meat bird)
Kudzu (boy do we miss her)
5 meat chickens I butchered that are now in the freezer
Crops that did well:
2 stalls in the run-in
A goat climbing structure
A small chicken run for the Mille Fleurs
4 raised beds
For one year, I'm happy with the progress on the farm. I'm less happy with my progress in getting established in the community. If you are my friend on Facebook, you read my post about being lonely and not having many friends that I can get together with. I will need to make a bigger effort to become more established in the community in the next year.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Here she is before I put a roof over the pen.
She has a boyfriend! Our beautiful Dusty Miller has decided Calendula is his girl. He hangs out by her most of the day. They talk through the bars but haven't been out together yet. Yarrow won't let Dusty have any of the other girls.
We are moving Calendula out to the run-in today. She will be staying in her pen out there for at least 4 more days while the other chickens get to know her. She should be joining the flock this time next week.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This is Coriander.
This is my beautiful girl, Chamomile.
And their man, Chicory.
I can't wait to get an incubator and start trying to hatch out eggs from these beauties.
They spent their first night in the bathroom because it was raining but they are now outside in a temporary pen while I build their permanent pen. They won't be free ranging with the rest.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Copies of your personal message will be sent to your representatives, so be sure to write a personal message.
Now, what’s happened since last Sunday…
As you recall, on Thursday, October 15, state inspectors from the meat division of the Georgia Department of Agriculture came to our pickup site, looking for illegal meat. Of course they found none (all of our growers are fully licensed for all of their products), but they did discover our load of raw milk many of you had ordered from Cows R Us dairy in South Carolina and seized the entire load on orders from Peggy Gates, director of the dairy division of the state Ag Department. Instead of taking it away themselves, they left it on my truck and told us they’d be at my house the following Monday to destroy it all.
I spent the next few days trying to prevent the milk’s waste by arranging to get it donated to Nature’s Harmony Farm, who could have used it to feed to their pigs, but Peggy wanted to be personally present when the milk was destroyed and she was not available any sooner than Monday morning.
So, I invited to my home everyone who had milk on the truck, along with a few other interested parties. Several dozen people did come out, but at five to nine, Peggy’s secretary called to say they she had been “held up at another inspection” and wouldn’t be arriving until 1:30. Some people had to leave, but the delay also allowed several more people who couldn’t come in the morning to come after all. Among those present was a cameraman for the documentary project “Farmageddon” (http://www.ftcldf.org/kudos/canty2.html), and several of us had our own cameras running the entire time as well. Peggy Gates came with Marybeth Willis, an agent with the FDA out of their Atlanta office (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/MilkSafety/FederalStatePrograms/InterstateMilkShippersList/ucm114736.htm), and one of the meat inspectors that had originally impounded the milk. They wasted no time in wasting the milk, and from the time they gave us the orders to dump it all (they wouldn’t do it themselves) to the time they left took twenty minutes. The whole thing is up on YouTube in two parts, and I invite you to watch it and share the links with anyone who may be interested. Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMfQXxVAPgk and Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPey52Ybp0U. Thanks to our very nice Rubbermaid coolers and the record cold weekend temperatures, the milk was still cold and fresh to drink. Except for the two gallons that were passed around, it all ended up pour out in the grass at my house.
Unfortunately, they gave us no wiggle room at all for allowing the South Carolina dairies to offer their milk in the future. Marybeth from the FDA declared it a federal crime to bring milk across state lines for any reason. She specifically said that if you go to the dairy yourself, buy a gallon for your own use, and bring it back to your own home in Georgia, you would be a federal criminal. It doesn’t matter how it’s labelled, even if specifically as “POISON — DO NOT DRINK”. They handed out copies of the FDA rule in question, 21 CFR 1240.61 (PDF here: http://www.ftcldf.org/docs/21_CFR_1240.61_pasteurization.pdf), but this may be the first time they have enforced such an absolute interpretation of that rule. With that interpretation, there is no way to have South Carolina raw milk offered through Athens Locally Grown.
So, how can we get that changed? There are two way: through legislation and through court action. Both are being worked on. Ron Paul earlier this year introduced HR 778 (http://ftcldf.org/federal_bills-HR778.htm) that would specifically allow what we’re doing while keeping in place the ban on bulk shipments and other practices that caused the ban to be put into place in the first place. It seems there’s little likelihood of it passing, but its important to let our legislators know that we want this sort of legislation just the same. On the other end, a federal judge could rule that the enforcement of the rule as it has been done against people like us is unconstitutional, and could also allow direct-to-consumer purchases cross state lines while keeping the other bans in place. I have signed the paperwork to become a plaintiff in a federal suit to try for this result. I can’t say more yet, but I will keep you informed when the suit is filed, hopefully very soon.
(The federal raw milk rule aside, the fact remains that our truck was searched without a search warrant, and the milk was impounded and destroyed without due process. We’re as yet undecided about what action to take about that. Both state and federal agents were involved.)
Another avenue is finding legal Georgia raw milk. Georgia actually does allow the sale, so long as the dairy is registered as a “pet food” producer and the containers are labelled as such. THe trouble is a) there is no testing of the final product, b) anyone can get a license by just paying $75, regardless of the cleanliness of their dairy, and c) there aren’t any near Athens. In contrast, South Carolina has established a strict testing regimen that ensures milk being sold raw has bacterial levels below that required of pasteurized milk. If Georgia were to adopt laws similar to South Carolina, it would take time for the raw milk to enter the market.
So, in the meantime, only milk from Johnston Family Farm will be available through Athens Locally Grown. I’m not knocking their milk in any way — it’s of the highest quality and the best milk you can buy in Georgia, from anyone. But for those who want and need clean raw milk, it’s just not the same.
Also, we’re not able to regularly drive to Split Creek Farm or to Fred’s Bread (both near Anderson, South Carolina) anymore, without significantly raising the “delivery fee” portion of the final price to cover our cost of going out there. However, we will go out there on the 19th of November, so you can buy cheeses, fudge, bread, and other items for your Thanksgiving table. I know I was planning on having some of it on mine.
And finally, thanks to your generosity, our tip jar was overflowing this past Thursday. Cows R Us did get paid for all of the milk that was wasted, and our shared cash box was filled back up to cover the expense on our end. Thank you so much for that. I can’t begin to tell you how stressful this last week has been, but you have given your support in every way possible, and that was wonderful beyond belief. Thank you.
Here are some news links from the past week. The news spread nationwide, partly due to the new strict interpretation and enforcement of the FDA rule, but here is some local coverage:
ABH News: “Some sour as state grabs raw milk” http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/101709/new_505698081.shtml
ABH News: “Unpasteurized drinkers cry foul over spilled milk” http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/102009/new_506640054.shtml
ABH Editorial: “Raw milk advocates should work within system” http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/102109/opi_507140444.shtml
ABH Commentary: “Raw milk is danger to public health” http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/102509/opi_508629389.shtml
NewsTalk 1340 Interview (10/22/09) http://feeds.1340wgau.com/NewsmakersWithTimBryant
Raw video of the milk dumping: Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMfQXxVAPgk and Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPey52Ybp0U
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
So, Logan and I started digging and Logan found a few sweet potatoes under one of the plants. It was very exciting! So, we kept digging and finding more and more potatoes! I was really shocked.
Here are just 2 of the plants we dug up.
Here is our final sweet potato harvest. 20 pounds! (They are all piled up here, so it is hard to see how many it really is. I guess I should have spread them out for the picture.)
And to add to all the excitement, a couple of our new girls have started laying. You can see their eggs here with Buttercup's eggs. I forgot how small first eggs are. They are so cute!
Friday, October 16, 2009
I belong to an organization called Locally Grown, where we place orders on the internet with farmers around the state and SC, the farmers deliver the ordered goods to a central location and we pick up our orders at a specified time. I get all my meat, my produce and milk and eggs (when my animals aren't producing) there. It is the only source of raw milk in GA since it is illegal to sell raw milk in GA. The milk comes from SC and is picked up by a volunteer and brought to our pick up location. We buy the milk directly from the farmer in SC.
Anyway, yesterday at the the pickup time, representatives from the state of GA seized all the milk! They said it was illegal for us to have it in GA (which it is not). They entered the truck that contained the milk without a warrant and taped all the coolers shut.
I dried up my goat last week so my milk was part of the confiscated load. Now I will have to buy milk at the grocery store or try to find someone with a goat in milk that will give me some milk. I'm glad I have milk goats and can produce my own raw milk, at least most of the time.
Part of me finds this funny coming from the state behind the whole Peanut Corporation of America fiasco. Sure, FDA inspected and approved facilities are perfectly safe, but not those local farmers. Right.
Needless to say I'm angry and think this is ridiculous! Whose business is it if I want to drink raw milk? This is why I'm a Libertarian.
Here is the email that was sent from the organizer of Locally Grown:
Hello! It’s late and I’m exhausted, but I wanted you all to know what happened today at our Athens Locally Grown pickup.
When we arrived, we were greeted by three badged inspectors from the Georgia Department of Agriculture who were there waiting for us. “We read about you on the internet,” they told me.
I explained to them what Athens Locally Grown is, how we work, discussed that I’ve been diligent to make sure all of the growers who sell through the market have the appropriate licenses when needed, and so forth. The inspectors were very friendly during this time and everything that followed — I do not fault them in any way.
They talked to the growers as they arrived. They were particularly interested in the meat, and indeed found all of that to be legal.
When my wife arrived with the raw milk ordered by ALG members directly from the Cows R Us dairy in South Carolina (A USDA Grade A dairy fully licensed to sell raw milk), the inspectors entered our truck and began opening our coolers.
To be clear, I did not give them permission to enter or search my truck, and they did not have a warrant to do so. When they discovered the coolers to be full of clearly labelled raw milk, they immediately began calling their supervisors. They chain of calls made their way up to Peggy Gates, the director of the Dairy Division of the Consumer Protection Division of the State Department of Agriculture. She immediately gave orders to seize the entire load of milk.
I did try to explain to her all of the very strict rules that we follow to keep things legal. She was very gruff with me and was not at ll interested in hearing what we do. “I know exactly what you’re doing” she told me. She told me what we were doing is a Federal offense (it is not, and of course she has no jurisdiction over FEderal statute). In the end she declared all 100 gallons an “imminent health hazard” and ordered it seized.
Oddly enough, the inspectors could not seize it themselves, as they only had several small sedans. So, it was impounded in place on my truck, and I was ordered not to disturb the milk in any way, or else I “would be guilty of a felony”.
The inspectors and director Peggy Gates herself personally will be coming to my house Monday morning to witness my “destruction” of the milk. I am hoping they will not be also coming to arrest me, but they do have that power.
Let me reiterate that I believe we have not violated any laws whatsoever. What we are doing is also being done by thousands of groups and individuals throughout the country, and I have been extremely careful that we are doing what has legal precendent. Namely:
•You order via the website directly from the dairy
•The dairy receives the orders without any intervention from me. They have a name for every carton of milk
•We pick up, on your behalf, exactly the cartons that have been pre-ordered. We have a name for every carton of milk
•You meet us at the pickup location and get your milk.
•We do not store it beyond the pre-established pickup time.
Given those steps that are followed to the letter (and those of you who ask me every single week “can’t you just bring an extra gallon or two with you?” can attest that they are), I do not believe that the Georgia Department of Agriculture has any authority over those cartons of milk. We are not violating federal law. We are not violating state law.
So where do we stand? Right now, raw milk can no longer be offered through Athens Locally Grown. I have 110 gallons of milk sitting on my truck until Monday morning, when a team of officials will be coming to my house to witness its destruction (and hopefully nothing more). Until Peggy Gates changes her mind (which seems unlikely), that is that. It may well take a court order to change things. I know our membership includes a fair number of lawyers, and if any of you wish to help in this, please let me know. I really don’t know where to even begin.
I’ve taken a big financial hit today too, so please forgive our putting out a tip jar next week. I paid the dairy $440 for the milk on the customers’ behalf (and yes, I’m a customer too. I’ve got two gallons of my own sitting on the truck) and since the market operates on a break even basis (during the best of times), I don’t have that sitting in the bank.
I’ll keep you all informed. I’m surprised it took so long for them to harass us, and I’m also surprised by how unsympathetic they turned out to be. And by “they”, I really mean director Peggy Gates, who issued the order. Her website address is http://agr.georgia.gov/00/channel_title/0,2094,38902732_125874866,00.html and her office’s phone number is (404) 656-3625. Please don’t harass her, but it may help if they do hear your stories., why you order raw milk, and why you are a member of Athens Locally Grown.
I know many of you were relying on your milk delivery today, especially since our truck’s engine problems kept us from bringing a full load last week. I’m sorry. Hopefully something will happen soon to make them loosen their grip and allow us to once again bring your milk that you ordered directly from the dairy to you.
Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you see fit.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
They are their own little flock. It is cute to see them run around together. They even have their own level in the coop to themselves. Calendula will be bunking with them when she finally goes outside, since they probably won't pick on her.
They don't have names yet. We name all poultry after plants. So if anyone has any suggestions of 3 plant names that kind of go together, I'd love to hear them. We already had ducks named Sage and Thyme, so I'm not sure I want to go that direction.