imageHey folks, a treat for today~ a few weeks ago, I posted about being excited to learn that there was a new raw milk dairy near me. The post generated a LOT of discussion, speculation and opinions- more than usual, by far! In retrospect, I realize as some were speculating about the farmer himself, I regret that it didn’t occur to me then, well, why don’t we just ask him?

Art Groeneweg, the owner, happened upon the post, and was watchin’ for me when I pulled up last weekend to buy my milk. We had a great talk, I am endlessly fascinated by the whole subject; from the realities that farming has to change from the “standard way” in order for farmers to keep making a living, to some of his dairy peers thinking he’s gone crazy, to the fact that Art feels his cows are calmer and easier to handle now that they’re not amped up on grain anymore. It’s truly insightful to learn from someone who has a long family history of dairying, who can remember the “old way” it was done, but knows the modern conventions backwards and forwards as well.

Art offered to address some of the comments and questions that came up in the last post. And he promised to answer more questions- but in due time; he’s not a blogging junkie like some of us who read every day!

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imageA couple of years ago, I wrote about this issue in the news of A1 versus A2 milk. In a nutshell, some research has hinted that a certain gene in milk cows may create milk which, when consumed, causes health problems in humans. The gene is easily tested, and easily bred-out of cow populations. And consumers want this milk. So why isn’t it more available and known in the U.S.?

Since then, I’ve been meaning to write again about it, as I’ve stumbled across more info on it. But forgot until today, when someone ping’ed me with a comment.

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Eggs

Can you guess which chicken egg is store-bought? 🙂 Chickens that get to free-range and eat green plants, insects and other things produce much darker-colored yolks than grain-fed, confinement-raised chickens. In my opinion, the true free range eggs are much more flavorful and delicious as well. I feel certain that they probably contain more nutrients and trace minerals, though I’ve not found a study that has proved this. Probably another case where there is no funding for such a study.

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image Business Week had a good article on the subject of antibiotic use in agricultural animals recently. I love the quote at the end, from a now-reformed farmer who admits for a while, he was “wearing a syringe like a holster”- constantly dosing his pigs with drugs, because he believed it was the right thing to do. Until he was gored and got a nasty infection that wouldn’t heal, due to drug-resistant strains of bacteria that came from his hogs. He ditched the super antibiotic habit, and found that he saved money and didn’t need it like he thought he did.

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j0431028[1] I recently subscribed to AcresUSA magazine, “The Voice of Eco-Agriculture,” after realizing that I’ve been referencing a lot of their online articles lately. They have some interesting writing, often pursuing agricultural subjects that are rather futuristic-thinking, and maybe a little bit renegade. Thought-provoking, anyway.

This recent article on A1 versus A2 cow’s milk is really intriguing (December 2009 issue, interview with Keith Woodford on page 60). I’ll let you read the article to gain a full understanding of the issue rather than trying to explain it all in my own words. In a nutshell, there has been a discovery that a long time ago, the domestic dairy cow population experienced a genetic mutation that resulted in an strain of cows (called A1) which vary from the “original” genetic design (called A2). This mutation impacts a casein protein in their milk, and there is some evidence that this protein variation could be linked to a host of human maladies, including diabetes, autism, and heart disease.

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Washington State University - World Class Face to FaceHere is a plug for an upcoming event in Stanwood, WA that should be well worth attending. WSU’s Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is an amazing array of 135 classes on all sorts of topics,a jam-packed day of learning, plus a prime rib lunch. The hardest part is choosing which classes to attend! 😛

Here is a sampling of some of the topics:

Fruit Tree Maintenance, Hands on Hay judging, Frisbee Dog Training, Growing Giant Pumpkins and Vegetables, Building Your Own Greenhouse, Native Plants for Wetland Restoration, Arc Welding- Hands on, Soap Making, Cheese Making, Growing Vegetables Year Around, Wild Game Dressing in the Field, Raising and Processing Pastured Poultry, Palatability Control Points for Direct Marketed beef, pork and lamb, Plethora of Pasture and Forage Classes, Chain Saw Maintenance, Beginning through Advanced Specialty Canning, Frisbee Dog Training, Marketing Small Businesses, Cider Making, Honey Bees, Raising Beef, Sheep, Swine, Goats, Spinning, Weaving, equine classes and more.

How can you resist? Get yourself over to the Skagit County Extension website and register asap, as I understand the classes fill fast.

WiltshireCross Well, not summer camp exactly. But I just got back from a four-day trip to Corvallis, OR to attend the Katahdin Hair Sheep International Expo and Sale. I really enjoyed it, they had great farm tours, speakers, and a sheep sale. I bought a few sheep too! I’ll try to write about the highlights, as best as I can capture all that I absorbed there.

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