Grow More With Vertical Garden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few years ago I was faced with an issue of needing to keep some seedlings warm, combined with not a lot of money to spend and limited resources. This meant being creative with what WAS available and the result is functional, cheap and reuses things that mostly would have been thrown away.

I already had an existing 4’x4′ compost bin created by putting together pallets. To this basic pallet compost bin I nailed a “ladder” framework. I then cut the bottoms off of 2 liter soda bottles, putting a hole in the cap before screwing it back on which insured water dripped out rather than pooling in the container. The bottom piece cut off – a small ‘bowl’ – I’ve used for starting seeds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce the framework was done and the bottles prepared the bottles were turned upside down and a small screw attached it to the frame. A larger screw was driven through the neck for solid support – I used 1-7/8″ screws but 2″ would have given a little more security. The bottles were arranged 10 across the 4′ span, with the base arranged so it funnels into the bottle below it. The bottom row drips into containers. In this way watering the top layer goes through to drip into the 2nd layer. If, in the case of rain, it is too much it continues to trickle down and finally out the containers if excessive.

Once the bottles were arranged, it’s a matter of filling them – I used a handful of broken up leaves in the bottom followed by a soil mixture. The mix is compost, soil, manure and bagged top soil. On one side there are 20 pepper plants are in these, one to a container, with ten zucchini on the top layer. The zucchini will be ‘trained’ over the top providing shade over the compost bin as well as making use of space.

The other thought to this was keeping seedlings warm in case of an unexpected cold snap. A sheet of plastic from a farm store – less than $20 – was employed to go over the entire frame. The natural heat from the compost bin provides enough to, in the south, raise the temperature just that few degrees to keep them from getting nipped by frost.

Fancier materials from new purchase can be used with the same idea but for what was needed these have worked very well. It allows up to 170 plants in a 4×4′ space. For those with limited space, such as a patio or balcony, it would be easy to adapt to allow herbs and vegetables too be grown even if you don’t have a yard or garden area.

As it was used, in direct sun the soil will get too warm and ‘cook’ the roots, so plan the location well. Yes it will fall apart in a few years – but $30 for five years is not a bad value.

Good Choices for Homestead Chicken Flocks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen selecting chickens for home food production it makes a difference if you are seeking eggs, meat or both. For most homesteaders and small farmers there is little more enjoyable than chickens that produce eggs for Sunday breakfast as well as growthy fryers for dinner. This leaves the choices mostly to the larger breeds developed for doing both.

Some people have a preference for white or brown eggs or for the skin color on meat. Here in the US it’s said yellow skinned birds are more favored than the white skinned “English” breeds. Another consideration if raising meat birds and hatching eggs to do so is the temperament of the roosters. There is no excuse for a mean rooster and those that are can easily become Sunday dinner themselves!

For the purposes of dual purpose with a focus on not only producing eggs and meat but also foraging for part or most of their food, these are the breeds I recommend and favor.

Sussex chickens are white skinned brown egg layers that are hardy. Difficult to find in the “light” or “red” colors here in the US they are more easily found in the speckled variety. These are unique and personable birds that have wonderful temperaments, straight combs and each one is unique due to the dots on their feathers, seen as they mature. Often young chicks can look as if “iced” with white drizzled on them. Eager foragers that were developed for the farm the darker colors help protect them from predators during the day as they seek food in the farmyard. They are a “threatened” breed with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Plymouth Rocks come in several varieties that sometimes are represented as breeds including barred rocks or white rocks for example. Among the other varieties are buff, partridge, blue, Columbian and silver penciled rocks, each with distinctive and beautiful coloring. They are hardy birds that grow well and lay brown eggs. These are more numerous than many of the other breeds but many have been “industrialized” so the original farm type is less common. Large size is needed with many of the breed being used as a crossbred for “Cornish rock” or game hens.

Wyandottes are another breed that have a long history in the US as a medium weight bird with rose combs that are less susceptible to freezing then the Rocks. Occasionally a single combed bird is hatched from rose combed parents but these should not be kept as breeders. For those who like a rainbow of colors these come in white, buff, Columbian, golden laced, silver laced, blue, silver penciled, black and partridge. They’re fast growing normally docile birds.

Brahmas are a delightful large bird with hens up to 9-1/2 pounds. Brown eggs and a small comb with feathering in light, dark and buff this is a bird that photos just don’t do justice. They are feather footed, often not favored for farm settings, but their gentle nature allow withstanding cold weather well. They do mature somewhat slower as they are a large breed at maturity and often favored for heavy roasters for the table. Not quite as prolific in the egg laying department as the other breeds these are still a nice large breed to have even if just a few to enjoy in the flock!

New Hampshire is a somewhat new breed with a deep body that has room for meat production as well as brown eggs. They are red in color with a little black in the tail. Long a favorite on small farms these are lighter colored than the Rhode Island Red.

Rhode Island Reds and white offer two colors that may be single or rose combed and have long excelled as a good layer of eggs for a family. Some roosters can be aggressive but normally these are quiet birds that may show traces of black in the tail and occasionally on the wing or body. From a breeding standpoint these should be not used in a program.

Araucanas and americaunas are distinctive for their “ear muffs” and sometimes beards that are visible from a young age. Their appearance is not the only distinctive quality about these birds as they also lay colored eggs in green and blue shell colors! These are hardy birds in a rainbow of colors that are active foragers and quite willing to do for themselves.

Orpingtons are a white skinned brown egg layer that matures at larger weights, about 8 pounds for hens with roosters a couple pounds heavier. Available in black, blue, buff and white these excel as a meat bird and were brought from England over 100 years ago. There was a boom for the breed when the commercial broiler ad roaster market demanded the larger sized birds but when that tailed off so did the popularity of the Orpington. Chicks can be somewhat passive and if raised in a group with other breed care needs to be taken to insure they all eat.

Dominiques were the bird of choice 100 years ago for their ability to raise a good meat bird, forage for food instead of relying on expensive grains and lay enough brown shelled eggs for a family. They were also expected to set and raise their own chicks to insure a steady supply of young birds for the table as well as replacement layers for the following year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABuckeyes are an American breed that has been likened to feathered cats of the barnyard for their fondness of mice. This is a breed that is critically endangered according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. This is a larger breed with a pea comb that leaves less to frostbite in cold weather climates. They are an active, free ranging breed with hens about 6 pounds and laying medium sized brown eggs. With a history dating back to Ohio in 1896 this breed has survived due to a handful of people who appreciate their hardy characteristics.

While many search for the dual purpose characteristics of meat and eggs it must be remembered too that these breeds serve another purpose as foragers. They help control bug populations as they seek morsels and should a mouse cross their path they will show you chickens are NOT vegetarians!

These are wonderful birds that can keep a family fed with basic care and TLC.

4-H Creates Memories, Leadership

JoeJanJerryAprilFor millions of people throughout the USA 4-H offers memories and lessons. It models leadership with the actions of adults getting involved to teach and lead children and teens. Although most popular in rural areas, 4-H has a variety of projects. From the motto “To make the best better” a strive for excellence is set.

Some will choose livestock projects – popular projects include rabbits, poultry, pigs, sheep and cattle. For those that can’t take livestock directly there’s many other projects. Dogs, veterinary science, geology, crafts, mechanics, sewing, gardening, cooking and a wide range of other projects are available to youth wanting to learn and compete in county and state fairs.

Typically 4-H doesn’t have dues associated with it, and the bold green clover is distinctive. A study from Tufts University showed 4-H members are twice as likely to get better school grades and plan to go to college. They’re also 25% more likely to positively contribute to family and community, and 41% less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Because a network of mentors and activities keep kids busy, it’s more important today than ever to keep 4-H alive.

Often run in conjunction with the extension service, budget cuts have hit the organization. Over a half million volunteers keep the organization moving, and 4-H teaches hands on not only in science and homemaking skills needed more all the time, but also in valuable citizenship and leader skills.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom aerospace to agriculture and health to nutrition, 4-H makes leaders. It presents safety programs not only in food but off road vehicles, equipment and other safety issues. Visual arts, wind energy, outdoor activities and a host of other projects prepare youth for the “real world”. It allows youth to explore interests that extend far beyond a field of corn or a beef cow.

4-H camp, judging and other activities teach critical thinking and formulating thoughts to support a point of view. This might be facing four hogs or a class of dairy heifers but the actions and thought process being taught goes far beyond livestock.

This is a great organization that is well worth the funds to participate. There is a cost to the books and such, and donations are always welcome to support the work of 4-H.

For many the 4-H pledge is much more than something to recite at meetings.

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.” This pledge has been recited since 1927, unchanged except for the last three words added in 1973.

For many youth in many areas – take a look at 4-H. It builds lives and memories.

Plan Now! It’s Fair Season

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACounty or state fairs bring up many images. The smell of corn dogs and soft pretzels; the view of an exhibitor walking out of the show ring with a beautiful animal and clutching that blue ribbon; the rows of crafts and vendors selling a variety of products. Why not take the step to exhibiting?

Most fairs will, in advance of the event, have a premium book available. These contain the rules for entry, the requirements for display, and information about entry fees, premiums paid and other general information. Generally you will need to buy an exhibitor’s ticket. If you have livestock obviously you will have to be there each day – but if you enter canned goods or crafts or other items you may or may not be able to be there for judging and don’t have to be there daily.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are so many possibilities for things to enter it can be overwhelming! Think about your hobbies and what you do. Are you canning salsa or ice cream toppings from mixed berries? Can a couple special jars for exhibit at the fair! Do you enjoy photography? Pick out some special photos to display. Are you making lap quilts, or soap, or wood decorative items for gifts? Enter them in the fair! One year the gift I’d made for someone for Christmas had been entered in a fair and won – I gave it to the recipient with the blue ribbon – an extra touch for no additional money. If you enjoy baking or making candy test your skills against others – there’s often plenty of room at the judging table there in many areas. Do you do cake decorating – or have a garden of beautiful produce, or a hive that produces honey? All of these things have categories to be entered.

Usually animals will need to have health tests – for example poultry must have current health papers. Cattle or sheep must have proper paperwork and health papers. Rabbits sometimes have a American Rabbit Breeders sanctioned show and sometimes don’t – check the rules carefully. Your crossbred rabbits will probably be eliminated from that competition but for shows not ARBA sanctioned there’s plenty of room for a judge’s opinion.

Do you feel you have the cleanest hay in the county? The best display of grains? Enter it! For gardeners – there are usually specific ways the rules will call for to be displayed. It might be requiring carrots to have tops no longer or shorter than a certain amount, or five green beans on a paper plate, or three peppers. When choosing your garden entry think uniform – you want the display to look as uniform as possible. The beans should be the same size; the peppers the same color and size; corn ears of the same size. Pretty counts – and is an extra consideration in addition to the pantry full of produce you have at home!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACanned goods should be equally done with a display in mind. Evenly cut vegetables, with mixed jars stirred so all ingredients show. Colors that are rich and pretty add to the appeal for a display.

Photography exhibits usually have many divisions – there’s black and white, color and computer enhanced. Often there’s a list of categories – portrait, landscape or scenic, animals, snapshots, commercial etc. There are different categories also for paintings and drawings – oil, watercolor, charcoal might be some listed.

With most fairs the premium book will list when the items must be checked in . This is the time they must be at the fairgrounds; make a note for some entries when that is in relation to the judging. Don’t cut it too close! If the time is no later than 6:00 pm don’t show up with a car load of entries at 5:50 – while you’ll get them it it’s somewhat inconsiderate to those doing the check-in, and if it’s done in more than one place something might not get in. For exhibits like artwork or crafts getting there early can be good – your item gets an early good spot for viewing. For some other things balance it accordingly. For example if the check-in is before 5 pm and the flowers won’t be judged until 3 the next day – you might plan on arriving around 4 – plenty of time to check in but also attempting to maximize the freshness of the cut flowers you’re displaying.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd take caution when transporting! Remember – appearance counts. Choosing beautiful cosmos flowers and displaying them as required is less important if the stems are crushed or a petal is torn while shipping them in. You don’t want your wonderful tray of tempting cookies broken or the frosted cake squished!

Check the premium book to see what the rules are for judging – some you’re allowed to be there, sometimes not. If possible to do so watch the judging – you might learn tricks and tips, or gather display hints. You might hear comments in the canning of too much or not enough headroom; or off color of baked goods. Whether it’s yours or not, and without condemning the person entering it – watching that and taking mental notes can make your entries even better next year!

For animals there’s another wide range of entries possible. You might have a goat doe and her daughters – which can be entered in their respective classes as well as, if offered, dam and daughter, or best 3 head, or bred by exhibitor (if you bred them). And don’t overlook the practical competition – if there’s a milking competition enter that. After all – you’re producing for the table so efficiency counts. Sheep fleeces, cheese, jerky and many other things are means of competition in some fairs.

Competing at a fair can add some fun to the fair experience and perhaps you’ll learn something to make your home produced goods even better than they are now. It’s a fun way to compete with something that you’re probably doing anyway.

Raising Sheep on a Homestead or Small Farm

  • Sheep are hardy and easy to care for.
  • Learn to do many things yourself – veterinarians often won’t.
  • Select a breed that works for what you want to do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASheep are a relatively easy animal to keep but need some basic care. The first thing you should do before getting sheep is read and get out a pen and paper for notes. Answer some questions and honestly look at your situation.

How big of an area do you have? How well is it fenced? How much food do you want to buy? Do you want to raise sheep for meat, for fleece or just to keep a few to keep an area mowed down? Do you know how to shear a sheep or are you willing to learn? Are you interested in preserving rare and unusual breeds? Do you have children (and what ages if so)?

These things are all a factor. The area you have well fenced determines what sized sheep and how many you can comfortably stock. If you want them to rely primarily on grass or hay you’ll need to choose a breed developed for that. If you don’t want to use a sheep for meat you don’t need to look at meat qualities. If you don’t want to learn to shear (and keep in mind the shears will run you between $250-300) the chances of finding someone who will are low – and that affects what breeds you need to look at. If there is small children who are apt to tease them the children need to be taught and you need to choose on temperament as a higher factor.

Most see the common black faced Suffolk at fairs and that is what they picture as a sheep. The truth is there’s many breeds. The Hampshire (also a black faced breed) is a large breed. Rambouillet and Romneys are larger still – not the breeds for small areas! Dorsets and polled (no horns) Dorsets have white faces and clean (no wool) legs. On the smaller end is the Cheviots and Shetlands, both developed in Scotland where they had to earn their keep. If you are willing to put the time into fleeces and have a plan to use it you might consider the Shetland, Merino or other “fleece” breeds. The Tunis is different in that they have red heads with a red tinge to the fleece. The Karakul has another unusual but very beautiful look. If you’re really against having wooled sheep you can get a few Barbados or half Barbados sheep. The California Red traces to them and Tunis. I’ve crossed the Barbados blackbelly on Hampshires and Dorsets and get black/brown and white fleeced sheep respectively but the fleece is much shorter, very soft and the useful part is *fleece* while the part normally discarded is hair. This makes it very easy to separate out.

Sheep like the Barbados are smaller, with ewes around 70-75 pounds. The crosses I found the ewes matured about 140-150 pounds – smaller than the wooled breed but not as light as the Barbados side. These would be good sheep for less fleece, hardiness and ability to graze and raise lambs on pasture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are special mineral tubs or blocks available for sheep. Use caution in buying them – sheep are sensitive to copper and often things for cattle or goats has higher levels of copper. They’ll need wormed on occasion – how often depends on your area and management. Fences need to be tight – if one sheep gets out more often than not the whole flock will be out. A bigger hazard is dogs and predators getting *in* and many people use a guardian animal for that reason. There are breeds, such as the North Country Cheviot, that will stand up to a dog but it’s really not fair to your animals to put them in a situation they will be mauled sometimes to death. Good fences are needed. With good fences, plenty of water and proper selection sheep are very easy to care for. They are developed to be raised mostly on pasture. If you are breeding and plan to keep a ram respect him from early on – don’t rough the top of his head or tease him. This means he won’t learn to toss his head and in my experience is much less likely to charge people.

With sheep temperament and performance should count, whether you have 5 head or 500. A breeding flock should produce live lambs every year and raise them. There’s bound to be the occasional loss but those that aren’t sound have a home in the freezer.

Sheep can be wonderful animals to keep. They’re normally very hardy. They do need shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. If you have wooled breeds you will need to make SURE they are sheared in the spring – this is not negotiable. Sheep with a heavy fleece in summer heat can suffer heat stress and die. They’re more prone to fly strike and other problems.

While sheep are generally hardy have on hand and be familiar with a good sheep book – something like “Raising Sheep The Modern Way” from Storey/Garden Way. Many veterinarians don’t know and won’t treat sheep. This means when needed tasks fall to you – from docking tails and castration to delivering lambs. Sheep selected for lambing ease will help. My Barbados would have lambs unassisted in the field (less contamination than the barnyard) and the lambs be up and nursing in a half hour. Others spoke of staying up with Suffolks and other heavy breeds lambing and, thankfully, I never had that issue.

Depending on your personal schedule there is another way to insure you don’t lose sleep during lambing. Feed sheep at 10-11 a.m. and p.m. – it doesn’t need to be a lot of food. This triggers a natural cycle – when I did this I had only one lamb born before 7 a.m. and that was just barely.

Sheep are an easy animal to keep and they are not as stupid as some people say. They *do* have their own way of looking at the world. But for someone who wants to raise meat for the freezer without a lot of grain expense, and keep an otherwise unused area grazed down consider sheep.

Did you know…

There are dozens of breeds of sheep from those at around 50-60 pounds to some weighing over 300 pounds. A typical lamb is ready for market at about 100-120 pounds.

Growing Potatoes in Trash Bags

Guest post today from the Tree House Homestead

We are newish to the homesteading lifestyle, but we had finally found our “dream” home on 5 nice high and dry acres two years ago and decided to go for it. We had grown food off and on over the years on our little city lot and had fun experimenting with growing veggies out of the half-whiskey barrels either found, given, or bought on sale.


I remember growing tomatoes and lettuce out of those barrels with great delight. There was also a barrel just for the herbs and one even for a pumpkin. But, out of the 10 or so veggies we picked each year my stand out favorite was and still is potatoes. I love them of course for their taste and versatility in the kitchen. I love reading about how potatoes kept millions alive and fed like no other crop could. I am in awe at how easy they are to grow and I am amazed at how well they keep.

Each year we always pick something new to grow and usually try to grow something in a new and different way. My beloved potatoes are no different and after several years of the tried and true “hill” method of growing I decided to give one of the “alternative” ways that potatoes can be planted and harvested a try.

I am talking specifically about growing potatoes in a garbage bag. Now, you may not have heard of that before but I have read about it repeatedly from lots of different sources and of all the various ways to container grow the potato. There is the garbage bag like I just mentioned, and I have also read of growing them in tires, or cardboard boxes, or even rubbermaid bins or garbage cans. ( I would not recommend the tire method as apparently tires can leach toxins into the soil and thus your food).

The reasoning to plant using these methods is really three-fold. The first is for convenience, especially if garden space is at a premium or perhaps you live in an apartment and do not have access to a space of land for a traditional garden. A quick container made from something on hand such as a garbage sack or cardboard box is cheap and clever. Those two items in particular work out well for the balcony gardener as they are very light weight. Try hauling a half-whiskey barrel up a flight of stairs and you’ll see what I am talking about!

Then there is the whole “keeps the potatoes cleaner” line of thought. If you are pulling them out of straw or shredded newspaper instead of digging them out of dirt, you don’t have as dirty of a potatoe now do you?

The other main reason is that potatoes have a notorious habit of leaving little seed potatoes in the ground and soon taking over your garden. It can be almost impossible to get rid of them if they get loose! Plus, many people like to rotate their crops to minimize disease and pest contamination and potatoes are no exception for this habit.

So, after reading about these methods and being really excited by the idea of it we decided to give it a try. But, also being somewhat of a skeptic and more scientifically minded we decided to give BOTH methods a try to really see the difference. For our experiment last year I planted 22 seed potatoes in black heavy duty garbage sacks, and my husband planted about 15 in the soil. We both used the same soil, manure, and compost. For the sack method I “hilled” my potatoes with straw. We used dirt to hill the plants for the ones in the ground.

I made sure of course to poke holes in the bottoms of each bag to allow for drainage and both sets of potatoes were watered together at the same times using our sprinklers. I did have to move the sacks around a few times to get the positioning just right for them to get watered.

Well, I kept adding straw as the green plants would grow up, but I noticed relatively quickly that my plants did not seem as big and healthy as the other in-ground group of plants did. Also, I noticed that some of the bags would dry out too quick and that some of the other bags had too much water retention.

My plants seemed to reach a point where there was no further growth happening and I decided to go ahead and harvest them. I did that on July 22, 2008 according to my blog records. We were harvesting potatoes from the in-ground plants well into September, a full two months later!

What I basically determined was that A)- the bags got too hot due to the black coloring absorbing the sun’s rays. B)- there was too much of a variance in the amount of water from bag to bag, and C)- watering with the sprinkler did not work out as well as perhaps watering each bag by hand would have. I have learned that if you are going to use something other than soil to hill your potato plants you will probably get better results if you can somehow deliver the water directly to the roots at the bottom and not have it filter down through your straw or other hilling material.

I did not do a weight or even a count of how many potatoes per plant from either the garbage sack or the in-ground group. But, I would roughly say that we got twice the amount in both size and yield from the in-ground group as compared to the sack potato group. With the ones planted in the ground I got two big harvests, plus a final round-up of potatoes at the end of the season, versus only the one harvest from the bags. I think if I were to ever give it a try again I would use smaller bags, hand water at the base, and put them in partial shade to keep them from getting too hot.

Also, as a side note, I had read in other people’s accounts who used the alternative container method report that they could just reach in and pull out clean potatoes right out from the straw hills. With my 22 plants I did not have that happen on a single one! All the potatoes were growing in the soil only at the base. I also have to complain that it took A LOT of straw in order to hill the plants adequately (especially to keep the plant dark enough around the stalk area to encourage the potatoes to grow out into it).. I was really looking forward to that as I loved the idea of it. In the in-ground group, potatoes were growing into the hills of soil as well as at the base of each plant.

Since we have more land now our garden is on the largish size we try to keep hand watering to a minimum. We set up our hoses and sprinklers so that everything gets a good soaking and it is even throughout the garden. Keep in mind that the year we did this experiment  we had also planted 20 fruit trees in our orchard as well as 30 new pine and fir trees on the back side of our property. All of those had to be hand watered which took 2 hours to get them all watered! All in all it was satisfying to figure out that our preferred method of planting in the ground was also the right method for us!

Cooking With Lamb

Author: Vickster

We all know and have read about the health benefits of eating a varied diet, consisting of a selection of one product out of the 5 main food groups. (Fruit & Vegetables, Meat & Fish, Dairy Products and Milk, Bread cereal and potatoes, and fatty and sugary foods) When it comes to choosing a meat product Lamb is one of the most flavorsome of all the meats.

With lamb you have a varied choice of cuts i.e. Breast, Leg, Shank, Shoulder, Loin, Chump Fillet Scrag and of course Minced Lamb.

When people think of a joint of lamb they tend to think of roast lamb and mint sauce, whilst this is truly delicious there are so many other recipes that you can choose using different cuts of Lamb.

If you have the opportunity to buy a whole lamb from a local farmer so much the better, the flavor of the meat and the tenderness is so much better than the lamb that we tend to get in the supermarkets.

You also have the benefit of knowing that the Lamb has been reared on a local farm and hopefully has been well looked after. If you do have to buy lamb from the supermarket then make sure that you but the leanest cuts with firm creamy-white fat.

A lot of recipes that we tend to use beef mince for are in fact so much better if you use lamb, how can you make Moussaka with beef, and all curries are so much better made with lamb try it for yourself and you will see the difference.

Because lambs are young when they go to slaughter the meat is always tender, ever heard of a tough bit of lamb, I very much doubt it. If you can get it the neck fillet is one of my favorite cuts and you can do absolutely anything with it that you like.

Cut it into large chunks and roll in some spices and fry quickly in a frying pan and it’s meltingly soft and so full of flavor. Mince it up and make Moussaka or Shepherds pie I bet you notice the difference from beef. Cube it for all your curries.

All the joints can be roasted, make some slits in the skin with a sharp knife and place some slivers of Garlic in each slice with some thyme or rosemary it gives the meat a most wonderful smell.

There are so many things that can be done with such a succulent piece of meat. If you are stuck for ideas or have never cooked lamb before try looking for some recipes online, or try cooking it on its own and when your confidence grows start to add things to the meat.

Source: Free Articles

About the Author

Vicki Churchill is the owner of a site that specializes in simple cooking ideas, ways to serve up stunning dishes with minimum effort and cooking tips and ideas.

Fake meat, animal rights and country living

A discussion somewhat came up on a list about new technology. Although a debate has two sides and involves questioning, the exchange of ideas is touchy at best.

The discussion was started by an anonymous animal rights supporter talking of freedom for the animals. An article of “8 Ways In-Vitro Meat will Change Our Lives” brings several points. It predicts an exodus of unemployed farm workers moving to the city to work producing petri-meat, a rousing success to ending raising animals for food. The end to disease spread animal to human. “Farmscrapers” with no soil means all is local. Indeed “urban multi-level greenhouses that utilize hydroponics and interior grow-lights to create bug-free, dirt-free, quick-growing super veggies and fruit (from dwarf trees), delicious side dishes with IVM.” All the no-longer-farms are then available for vacation homes – those areas people in the city go to because the city is too stressful. Hmm.

This leaves out many small farms and “homesteaders” of course. Most will not be using stem cells on the kitchen counter. A closer look at IVM brings some odd points. Celebrated by activists as the answer it’s developed by the corporations they despise.

From another report: “For cells to mature, they must soak in a nutrient-rich soup. The current soup—costly “fetal bovine serum,” or calf’s blood—may soon be replaced by an inexpensive, plant-based substitute that offers a major advantage: It avoids using any animal-based products, satisfying the ethical concerns of some vegetarians. As the cells mature, they must also be stimulated to move as they would be by bone growth and body movement in a living animal. This is done by giving electric jolts or by manually stretching the polymer scaffolding that anchors the cells. In the course of stimulation, the cells convert from what scientists describe as “meat-flavored Jell-O” to the striated, textured fibers we associate with steak.”

Many argue that movement means pain, even if disconnected from the brain. These cells, by that argument, must experience pain to move, something not done by a cow walking across the pasture. Additionally, there is not control over what cells are produced…a little hoof in the meat could be not as tasty as imagined.

Then there is the issues with using stem cells. It’s often opposed for medical reasons so why is it ok to eat it? Still other reports claim soy is the answer to the climate crisis. The balance there is soy is not a healthy option – it’s used for hormone control. The increase in soy could be factors in early puberty of children, blamed on dairy and cattle ranchers.

Many pushing for less processed food are said to support IVM…a highly processed food. Developed not in the pasture by farmers but a laboratory. Progress?

I’ll stick with the real stuff.

Misinformation aimed at kids

Recently a page from a cartoon supposedly to educate kids came to my attention. It was regarding cattle, specifically dairy cattle which, if common sense and half a thought entered into it with even some basic math it’s discounted. When emotion overrules facts it’s not educational – it’s slanderous.

It presented a question about cows having babies at 15 months old. The ‘answer’ used an example of mice hitting maturity at a few weeks old and stated cattle are mature at a year old. There’s something they left out. Cattle have a 9 month gestation period so if they’re bred at 12-15 months plus 9 that’s what? (Come on readers play along!) Now if she has a baby at 15 months subtract 9 – that’s when she would have had to become pregnant in order to have a baby at 15 months! BEFORE PUBERTY!  It leaves out entirely that one must be mature in order to get pregnant! So now there’s many readers who think they just magically get impregnated at 12 months, perhaps microwave speed to have a baby 3 months later?! Yes I’m making light but it’s serious when people believe what they’re told without questioning.

It then goes on that eating corn and soy – grains – aren’t natural for the cow and make her belly hurt, make her sick. Think it’s tough getting kids to eat now?!! “If it makes a big cow sick I’M NOT EATING IT!”

It also points to the difference of a name and a number. OK let’s run with that one. Just for a minute. Names are good – numbers for identification aren’t. (Throw out the social security number – name is enough right?!) Let’s say it’s a standard classroom or office work place. How many Janes? Cathy? Marie? Being as cows don’t have last names it’s all first names only. Now in our human group let’s say there’s a group of 200 people – Cathy/Kathy come forward. You weren’t feeling well so here’s something to help – oh wait which one? Which one needs vitamins and which one needs treatment?

Cows don’t speak English – when faced with multiple animals of the same name it can mean treating the wrong animal. It can mean breeding the wrong animal. If Blackie is being bred to Thunder (bull) does it matter which Blackie? If one of them is his daughter or sister and the other is a newly purchased champion it certainly can make a big difference! Number 3120 vs number 7839 tells exactly which Blackie with no chance of mixup.

Most things in the country are done for a reason and that includes numbers on cows.

food politics & obsession

The major appeal for many to buy land and move to the country is food. Perhaps it’s just a garden and chickens of all the way up to beef, pork and hay fields. Whatever the choice, food drives America. Growing it, moving it, cooking it, avoiding it, campaigning for/against it…people are obsessed with food.

Even if they live in urban areas or cities the obsession is still there. Local is the only way! many cheer and while that’s a great idea few have been able to answer how NY City eats all local from November to March or longer! Or where local beef in LA is – an area that won’t even host rabbit shows to be politically correct with activists.

There’s others that want only ‘natural’ unprocessed food. Many of these banner wavers are vegetarian or vegan that abhor meat. “We don’t need it” they chant along with recommending soy milk and tofu. This hit me as just the most oxymoronic thing I’ve heard all month. Any idea how soy milk is made? Here’s a hint – there are no udders on a soybean. Look HERE for an explanation.

Note the part about additives. “Soy milk is nearly always fortified with calcium, vitamins D, and certain B vitamins. Highly concentrated flavorings, such as vanilla, carob, chocolate, and almond are often added to the finished product. Many companies add sugar and salt to the drink to make it more palatable to the consumer” – so all the nutrition milk already has in it is added (natural vitamins – seems processed to me!) as well as sugar to make it – well – able to be consumed!

Note also “The soybean is a low acid food and as such, is a good host for the breeding of harmful bacteria.” Also the byproduct – unused by humans in the processing “transforming it into a high-fiber, high-protein animal feed.” Which means, like it or not, soy milk production creates animal feed from what humans cannot use.

Too much soy damages the health – not blaming farmers but the plant itself is not meant for high consumption. A range of dietary disorders comes from soy – which can have benefits at low levels, like many other foods! Balance!

Then there’s the other fighting words – raw milk. Some states it’s banned. Indeed a woman in California wanted raw milk despite this so purchased a cow share that let her use milk from her cow. “Before joining the program, consumers were given a binder full of information the health risks and required to sign an agreement relieving the dairy of liability, said owner Blake Alexandre.” Despite this she drank the milk (from her own cow!), got sick, sued the dairy and settled.

The right to consume something comes with a responsibility. Holding farmers and gardeners responsible is the fastest way to have a problem in the food supply. No testing is going to find everything. Another statistic showed about 125 people had serious issues with raw milk in a year. In perspective, millions DON’T have a problem with it.

Food will be a bigger factor in the months and years ahead. It’s coming to places the US hasn’t been in a long time – only this time it’s man-made via restrictions, lawsuits and other issues.