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GrassRoots Meats Newsletter   August 2014
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Life on the Ranch 
Ranching and farming certainly offer a different kind of lifestyle. While winter on the ranch brings some much needed rest and a chance to catch up on indoor projects, in the summer I wonder if I am a ranch widow.  Allan works from sun up till sun down, and dinner before 9:00 is date night around here.

Although we still need rain in Arboles (ranch headquarters) and Bayfield (one of our leases), Pagosa Springs has been getting a nice rain nearly every afternoon. And our Oklahoma and Texas leases are catching enough rain to keep the pastures fairly lush. In spite of the lack of rain in some areas, all of the animals are gaining well and are quite healthy. We were thinking the other day that we hope one day soon we will be looking back on this drought, remembering what the ranch looked like without the helpful rains. In the meantime, every drop is a kiss from God. As they always are, but we only seem to notice when the kisses are slow in coming.

I haven't lost a chicken in awhile, so life is good, although since our chickens literally free range all day long finding their eggs can be challenging at times. Most of them lay routinely in the layer boxes we built in the chicken house, but a few like to lay in the hay shed, always finding new places to "hide" them. It's Easter around here every day!

Our garden is nothing to brag about this year. The weeds are getting away from us but we are doing our best to keep up. Next year we are going to make some changes that we hope will make it a bit easier (see next article). In the meantime, we are waiting for the squash, tomato, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, bean, potato, onion, beet, corn, pea, carrot, pepper, and melon plants to produce their colorful bounty and grace our dinner table with the much needed reward for all of the hard work that went into caring for them.

Fun Gardening Website
I was venting my frustrations about our garden with a friend of mine who is a master gardener and he later sent me a link to a really fun gardening website. I was particularly interested in their raised row gardening method, and Allan and I hope to try a modified version next year. Actually, we will begin the process this fall, and continue in the spring once the snow melts.

Thought you might like to visit the website yourself, so below is the link. Check it out and let me know what you think.



Is Organic Milk Really Better? 
Who doesn't love raw milk?  But when raw milk is not available, is organic milk a good substitute?

A recent article in Mother Earth News reported that "The first large, nationwide comparison of organic and conventional milk composition, conducted by Washington State University (WSU), found that organic milk has a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

"The 18-month study on the nutritional qualities of milk, published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE, compared nearly 400 samples of organic and non-organic whole milk from 14 commercial milk processors. The study found that organic milk has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.28:1 - just about perfect in terms of an optimal diet, according to WSU's explanation of the findings. The ratio of omega-fatty acids in conventional milk, according to the study, was up to 2.5 times higher, at about 5.8:1."


What I found especially encouraging was that "Organic dairy cows, by standards set by the USDA National Organic Program, spend a minimum of 120 days per year outside on grass pasture and eat forage-based feeds, such as hay, when grass pasture isn't available."  While we would hope that they are spending more than 120 days on pasture, knowing that they are on pasture at all and not eating GMO grains is comforting.


All Chicken Is Not The Same 

Quoted from a recent article by Dr Mercola:  "Demand for food at cheaper prices has dramatically altered the entire food chain. Today, food production revolves around efficiency - the ability to produce more for less. This mindset has significant ramifications for both animal and human health, and the environment. 

 

"Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens, and pigs, are crammed into confined animal feeding operations known as CAFOs. These animals are (raised) in crowded, unhealthy, unsanitary conditions. As noted by the Cornucopia Institute, the price of chicken has dropped dramatically over the past few decades, becoming the cheapest meat available in the US. As a result, consumption has doubled since 1970.

 

"Seeing how chicken is supposed to be a healthy source of high-quality nutrition, the fact that it has become so affordable might seem to be a great benefit. But there's a major flaw in this equation. As it turns out, it's virtually impossible to mass-produce clean, safe, optimally nutritious foods at rock bottom prices.

 

"A typical poultry CAFO measuring 490 feet by 45 feet can hold at least 30,000 chickens or more. Animal Welfare Guidelines permit a stocking density that gives each full-grown chicken an amount of space equivalent to an 8.5-inch by 11-inch piece of paper.  

 


August Specials 

And now on to the best part - our monthly specials. August is hot - and so are they!

  • Beef Tenderloin/Filet - $20.99 per pound - a savings of $7.00 per pound
  • New York Steak - $14.99 per pound - a savings of $5.00 per pound
  • Top Sirloin Steak - $7.99 per pound - a savings of $6.00 per pound
  • Beef Liver - $2.99 per pound - a savings of $2.00 per pound
  • Lamb Leg Steaks - $8.99 per pound - a savings of $5.00 per pound
  • Lamb Stew Bones - $2.49 per pounds - a 50% savings

In Closing . . .   
Our grand kids Kyler (12) and Taylor (16) raised pigs for their 4-H project this summer, feeding them only organic feeds.  County Fair is this weekend, but unfortunately the piglets were a little small to begin with and they did not reach the 220 pound weight restriction for the show. Taylor's pig is a sow and we are probably going to breed her, perhaps taking a run at it again next year. Kyler's barrow, on the other hand, will make some pretty good eating for his family. 4-H sure helps kids in so many ways, but it can also be full of disappointments as well.

Hope you are having a wonderful summer, and that August is a month of fun in the sun, wherever you are!
  
Lois & Allan



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