Monday, May 11, 2009

Feed and Fleece

Button is a colored merino with a very fine fleece. From the top of the photo down you can see the results of different feeds and minerals. At the top she was getting a grass hay from Colorado and I am not sure what minerals she received. When she arrived at our farm she was placed on pasture that has a higher legumes and she was given a mineral block. We did not like the block as much so we switched to a mineral that comes in a tub and has molasses mixed in. When we bred her we moved her to a different pasture that is mostly grass. As winter set in Button was moved to the barn and fed an alfalfa hay and given the same mineral tub. When the tub was emptied and she was ready for grain, we fed her a grain mix that is fortified with minerals and also has molasses added to it because the sheep really like molasses. All of the changes, although gradual, had a huge effect on her fleece color and it is heavily banded. My mother said it looks like tree rings and I have to agree.
I have begun to be careful about what I put into my body. I buy organic dairy now because I do not want the growth hormones in my food. But, all of this makes me wonder. Button's fleece shows clearly what happened to her feed throughout the year. It is a good, strong fleece, but you can see the color variations. If switching feed like that causes those changes on the outside, what is going on inside? What is the food I eat doing inside of me? We have problems with obesity, we have much higher cancer rates, more acne, and other odd illnesses. We have salmonella poisoning in our food and come to find out that many of our grains and seed have salmonella at the DNA level of the seed. Who put it there? Monsanto is probably the largest contributor to the genetic modification of our feeds and seed. Unfortunately they are allowed to continue to play with our food and sue anyone who has their seed even though the Monsanto poison seed actually infected the other person's crop through natural pollination. Now Monsanto wants to plant seed that has a "termination" gene in it. It would grow one season and all seed produced from it would be sterile. They said we don't have to worry about that seed crossing with other seed, but is that really true? Would this planet go through a massive famine because the Monsanto seed crossed with other seed? So far our government has allowed Monsanto to sue farmers and backed Monsanto's "right" to patent their seed. Something needs to be done. Imagine if Monsanto patented a grass seed and your neighbor, 10 miles down the road, planted that seed. When your grass was ready to be pollinated, wind and animals carried the tainted seed pollen to your grass. Now you have Monsanto genetics in your yard. Those genetics are patented and they can sue you for patent infringement. That is exactly what is happening in the farming community.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Asparagus is my favorite vegetable. Fresh, pickled, canned, or frozen, it is always my favorite choice.

There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing this vegi. First, in order to have the best you have to grow it or buy it from a local farmer who hand picks it. Asparagus should always be hand picked. When you snap it, it breaks at the woody point. Store-bought asparagus is most often cut by machine under the soil. Because of this people recommend pealing the ends or cutting them, but even that is not good enough. The best method is to break it off. The problem with doing this on store bought asparagus is it is very expensive and you can lose as much as 2/3 of the stem because they did not pick it properly. It is very easy to grow asparagus and the roots are inexpensive if purchased from a place like Indiana Berry Company. The other thing to keep in mind when cooking asparagus is that the base and the tips cook at different rates, so an asparagus pot is the best method to cook it. Asparagus should be cooked until it turns that beautiful bright green and is al dente.

I have seen famous chefs say to pick the thin asparagus because it is more tender....wrong wrong wrong!!! Do they even eat the stuff? Asparagus should not be picked if it is thinner than a pencil and it is most tasty when it is nice and meaty. The moderately thick asparagus is the best (another reason not to get it in the store, store asparagus all seems to be on the thin side). Asparagus should also have a very tight and smooth head. You should not see any "sprouting" of the head.

I grow 2 different kinds of asparagus, purple and green. Purple asparagus has a higher sugar content and is better raw than green asparagus. It cooks up green and does not taste a whole lot different from plain old green asparagus.

This photo shows a huge asparagus spear (it is more than 1" in diameter) and another spear that is a little too thin and starting to sprout.
About 10 minutes of picking yielded me this:

How do they get white asparagus? White asparagus is just normal asparagus that is kept from light. Occasionally we get a spear that was hidden under the leaves and is white, but, I find white asparagus to be a little bitter.
Asparagus also grow wild in a lot of places. Look for tall fern like plants on the sides of the road, make note of where they are and then in May go back to the spot. If it is along the ditch of a person's home, ask permission to pick it. I have had people wander 30 feet into my property to pick my wild asparagus and I would prefer they asked. I have my own plantings and do not need the wild stuff, but I like to be asked.
I will most likely eat all of that asparagus and can some for eating this winter.