I think I have four orphan-rear lambs this year. I say I think, because I never can be sure which lambs are nursing off the bucket.

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I’m cleaning off some things on my desk, and one is the slide deck & notes from a presentation by Dr. Robert Van Saun at the KHSI Expo last August. This was a fantastic presentation titled “Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Sheep to Promote Health and Performance.” He focused on pregnancy feeding. Those of you who know me well will recognize that this topic was right up my alley, especially on the subject of macro and micro element supplementation; and its health consequences.

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I spotted this in a magazine a while back. What in the world? You may know, I carry a fair amount of disdain for commercially made dog kibble; preferring to feed my dogs real, actual food. So, this ad cracked me up and caught my interest enough to visit Purina’s website to try to get at, what on earth are they thinking??

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imageNPR featured a recent study that showed that domestic dogs are genetically optimized to digest carbohydrates, unlike their wolf ancestors. This is cool; it seems to fall in line with what many biologists are now thinking- that dogs weren’t intentionally domesticated by people, but rather domesticated themselves by adapting to living near humans, and living off of the human waste stream.

It further explains why dogs can do at least ok, if not thrive, off of kibble, which is largely made up of grain sources. Wolves cannot: when fed dog kibble, they decline in health, and ultimately cannot reproduce. Wolves require a diet high in animal proteins to fuel their big frames and large brains. image

For those of us who make dog food at home, this is helpful new information. Many people have felt compelled to mimic a wolf’s diet, thinking that they should return to what’s biologically appropriate for a dog’s ancestors to best feed the dog. But reproducing the high-meat diet of wolves is expensive and difficult! This gives new credence to the idea that including grain in most dogs’ diets is fine, if not optimal for the typical dog. It’s certainly much more affordable and feasible than doing a mostly-meat diet.

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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MilkI have been curious about the raw milk movement for a while. Unpasteurized milk is supposed to bring so many health benefits: enzymes, probiotics, and undamaged vitamins and minerals. It’s thought to aid digestion, and be tolerable for people who have been declared “lactose intolerant.”

It’s been in the back of my mind to try to find a source for it, but I assumed I’d have to drive a long ways to get it, and that would be unsustainable. It would be great if we could milk our ewes, and they could certainly support it. But we aren’t set-up for it, time-wise, or equipment-wise, at this time.

Naturally, I was excited to read in the latest Conservation District newsletter about a brand new raw milk dairy that opened just south of Monroe. It’s called The Art of Milk. Yay! I drove out Saturday to pick up a couple of bottles to try. It’s only a four-minute drive from downtown, and the farm is very well-marked with a gigantic sign that says RAW MILK. They have an espresso-stand style drive-up window for added convenience.

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