The Myth of Certified Organic

The Cornucopia Institute produced a scathing report on the USDA Organic Certification program, detailing the corruption and political shenanigans that run rampant through the program. They called the report “Organic Watergate.”

I have said for a long time that if Monsanto’s puppet companies can be “certified organic” then the certification is meaningless. In fact, the USDA has done nothing more than serve as a vehicle which allowed the deadly six to “buy” the term “organic” and prevent anyone else from legitimately using the term. They did this in a calculated bid to prevent the organic food movement from posing a threat to their agricultural near-monopoly.

Now there is hard evidence to prove my point.

As the Institute’s researchers point out – “Although not a constitutional crisis on par with what happened during the Nixon administration, the USDA’s blatant disregard for the requirements laid out in the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), and the intent of Congress, is illegal and has inappropriately favored corporate agribusiness over the interests of ethical businesses, farmers and consumers.”

Why am I not surprised?

Even more inappropriate activities of the USDA are detailed here in a press release on the Cornucopia Institute’s website.

It is interesting to note in this press release the tension that is building between the FDA and USDA; while I have no love for either organization the politics of farming often are a microcosm of the greater ills foisted on us by the bloated bureaucracy of our dysfunctional government.

I encourage everyone to declare your independence, at least in the area of food. Don’t allow yourself to be force fed by the agri-gangsters that pull the strings on puppet government bureaucrats. Step out of the artificial agrimania and into reality – where you know your food and your farmer, and where you take responsibility for what goes into your mouth.


Big Brother is watching – is he also destroying evidence?

Is the Department of Agriculture for the state of Illinois hiding something? According to this story from, there’s quite a buzz in Illinois (and elsewhere) over the treatment of a certain beekeeper.

First, a little history. Terrence Ingram, the beekeeper in question, is a highly qualified professional with many years of apiary experience. During the past fifteen years Mr. Ingram has been investigating the possibility of a link between Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide in colony collapse in the United States. His research was getting close enough to a conclusion that it apparently made some people in high positions nervous.

On March 14, 2012, while the Ingrams were not at home, the Illinois Department of Agriculture entered Mr. Ingram’s private property and stole $5,000 worth of bees and apiary equipment. Interestingly enough, the theft specifically targeted the bees that Mr. Ingram was using in his research regarding Monsanto’s Roundup.

One quote is particularly chilling to me; Tom Kocal of the Prairie Advocate News quotes Mr. Ingram as saying:

“I own four businesses. I am here all the time. Yet they took our bees and hives when we were not home. What did they do, sit up on the hill and watch until we left? We had not yet had our day in court to prove that our hives did not have foulbrood!”

This quote reminded me of the surveillance that was conducted against Linda and Larry Faillace and others as documented in the movie Farmageddon. It is clear to me that there is a terrorist war being waged against anyone who dares to challenge the supreme powers of the USDA, the FDA, and State Agricultural agencies, and against those who dare to oppose the deadly six corporations who control most of the agricultural industry in the United States.

to add insult to injury, after his bees were stolen from his private property without due process, Ingram was ordered to pay a fine for not destroying the bees; however, as the department of agriculture itself acknowledged, no evidence was ever provided that the department had “abated” the bees either. In fact, the department has refused to say what it did with the bees, or where they are now.

As of June 2012 Ingram had filed a petition for reconsideration. Interestingly, the most recent update I could find on the web was this podcast interview with Off the Grid Radio.

You can watch an interview with Terry Ingram about his ordeal below:

Borage and Anemone

Finally, a (kind of) clear pic of the new arrival. Mom is Anemone, baby is Borage. We name our goats after plants, and each year we increment the letter of alphabet; so last year’s goats all start with “A” and this year’s goats all start with “B”. All those dropped in 2013 will start with “C”.

Borage is a full blooded Boer, although we don’t have any papers on him.

I was acting like a first time father when he first got here; I was afraid the birth didn’t go well, and then I was afraid he wasn’t nursing well. This morning when I checked on him though his belly looked full and he seemed to be doing well. <Whew!>

Welcome to Big Oak Ridge, little guy!

I don’t agree with all of the conclusions of this video, obviously, but when you couple some of the information and statistics from this video with some of Joel Salatin’s observations, it makes it pretty obvious why we must have a paradigm shift in how we produce food and get it to the consumer.

The thing that amazes me is that so many of these people who recognize the issues with our food supply, still think the “solution” is to put the food supply entirely in the hands of government and quasi-government entities, and to INCREASE, rather than decrease, regulations.

So, on the one hand, the “green folks” recognize the problems; but on the other hand they are loathe to acknowledge that free market economics and locavorism could address the vast majority of the issues we face in the food system.

I’m still open, though, to exploiting ALL of our technologies, and all of our current advantages AND disadvantages, as mentioned in this Video.

One thing this video acknowledges is that a “one size fits all” solution is simply NOT going to happen – which is why LOCAL CONTROL is one imperative that we must work towards – both in the regulatory arena and in the agricultural arena. Federalism in the food system, with no exceptions or exemptions for small scale, local producers, is NOT the answer. If the Federal governments must regulate (and they will certainly continue to do so) they should almost exclusively regulate the “deadly six” type corporations, and exempt small scale, artisan, and local high quality producers from the burdensome regulations that prevent us from being able to share our knowledge, abilities, and products with our friends, neighbors, and customers.

Farming as Dance, The Choreography of Polyculture by Joel Salatin

Joel is witty, wry, and, quite frankly, probably a genius. I never tire of listening to him because he just makes sense. Paula and I watched this presentation last night.

It’s a Boy!!

We had our first kid today…after owning the buck for just 5 month and two days, we were a bit surprised to see signs of  impending delivery this morning at chore time. Shorty after lunch, KC checked on her and noticed that baby was on his way…we did a bit of reshuffling as he took charge of the day care while I headed for the barn to play “Goat Doula.”  Momma is a small 100% Boer doe about 17 months old and baby was good sized…so I had to assist a wee bit. But “Jr” is on his feet and looking for his first meal. Pictures later…

New Cheese!

I finally got around to making my first hard cheese…it is a simple 30 day cheese called Farmhouse Cheddar. It takes about fours hours to get to the pressing stage and 12 hours of pressing…then 4 days of drying and 30 days to age. It’s a bit of a process but I’m hoping to be able to serve Big Oak Cheddar for our family Christmas party!


Next Year’s Orchard

After our late winter tree trimming seminar with Roger Dotterweich, we were excited about the 2012 orchard. Unfortunately,  the severe freeze in late spring dashed any prospect of fruit from our orchard this year. But Roger’s  pruning tips and “magic” fertilizer caused our trees to double in size with hopes of a great crop in 2013.

We are extremely eager to see how our peach trees will produce.  In 2008, I remembered reading an article in a Mother Earth News magazine about growing peach tree from pits. I learned that, unlike most fruit trees which are grafted onto apple stock, the fruit of the peach, nectarine and almond were the only fruits that grew “true to seed.” So, in August of 2008, I gathered 10 peach pits from some peaches within our growing zone.

 Following the directions for saving the seed and storing it over the winter, I placed the seeds in a jar of moist soil and tucked them away in the back of my refridgerator.

In late Winter of 2009, I began to check my seeds every week or so and soon noticed little roots growing. I removed the seeds from the jar and planted them in large paper cups and placed them under the lights in my growing rack. When the time came to set my vegetable plants in the garden for the growing season, I had three thriving little peach trees about 10″ tall.  Instead of putting them in the orchard, I convinced my husband that they needed extra care and that we should set them in the end of one of the rows in our  vegetable garden. Mistake #1. By the end of the growing season, the two surviving trees were 18-24 inches tall and we assured oursleves that we would move them “first thing in the spring.”

Spring came and life got busy and we kept meaning to move the trees but never got a “rountuit.” At the end of 2010, the trees were 4-5 feet tall and we assured ourselves that we still had time to move them if we did it first thing in the Spring. Mistake #2

Spring of 2011, the trees looked so much bigger than they had in the Fall and we were now uncertain that we could move them without killing them…so they lived on in the garden. In fact, they were flourishing!! The had an abundance of beautiful pink blossoms and were covered in wee fuzzy peaches. We were so excited that we forgot that they were now taking over one quarter of our garden.

By July, we were counting the days until our peaches would ripen…they grew bigger each day and we could almost taste the peach pie and jam. In August, the first peaches began to show a rosy blush and we could smell peaches in the air. Each day we checked the trees and were sure that we had at least two bushels of peaches. Then the peaches began to rot and fall off.

We checked for signs of bugs and hoped that the peaches would ripen before they all died…we even brought a few green ones into the house, hoping they would ripen on the window sill. We got a precious bite or two but even those peaches rotted before becoming fully ripe. We spent the winter wondering what we had done wrong-enter Roger.

When Roger came to show us how to prune and feed our trees, he explained what had happened to our peaches; “While you are in your house enjoying a lovely dinner, your fruit trees are out here yelling…we’re starving, feed us too!!” He told us that the tree has a “fight or flight” mechanism that tells the tree, “It’s either you or the fruit, but you don’t have enough nutrients for both of you.” and the tree drops all of its fruit to survive.

After our seminar with Roger, we fed all of our trees according to his guidelines. Our trees doubled in size but unfortunately, the freeze took all of our fruit…which brings us to Fall of 2012. I saved a few peach pits from the peaches we bought from a local  produce stand and we are on our way to starting a new peach orchard next Spring.

The Big Oak Goat Update

Our little herd is doing VERY well. After last year’s disasterous start, we have had no issues in 2012.  Our big does weighed 150 pounds during their  last thorough check up. It is such a  blessing to see all of our animals thriving and well.

We added a few new faces to our herd this year. We purchased a four year old Apline doe in April; she did not kid as we were led to believe but is a pleasant addition to our little group. In June, we took the plunge and added Basil,  a purebred Boer buck. Although he was young when we got him, Basil seems to be maturing and growing into a nice herd sire. In August, although we really were not looking for any more goats, we got a screaming deal on three little Alpine does. Their lovely coloring added some variety to our herd and they are very loving and tame. Adding the dairy stock to our herd has calmed the Boer girls; they will even allow us to pet them now.

In case you lost count, our herd now numbers eight goats. They are doing a great job of reclaiming our overgown pasture, especially around the pond. That’s what we love about goats! With the onset of cooler weather, the does have been coming into heat and Basil is showing a great deal of interest. I am pretty sure we can announce that we are expecting!! A goat’s gestation is 145-155 days. We are looking forward to seeing our first kids near the beginning of the New Year.

Our granddaughter, Nia came to visit the “sheep-goats.” We spent some time learning that they were just “goats” and that they were VERY friendly…especially if the beak of your Angry Bird hat reminds them of a cob of corn 🙂

Purslane as a thickening agent.

A great use for a nasty weed.