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Knowing your GMOs


nutritionlabel

If you’re like me, you spend more time in the grocery store reading labels than putting groceries in the cart. We check for the amount of sugar, carbs, and fat. We check for GMO, antibiotics, and hormones. But are those labels accurate or are they sales techniques to make your think and feel that you are getting a higher quality food?

High risk GMO

Some agricultural products are high risk for GMO. This means that they are currently in production and except for yellow summer squash and zucchini, over 85% of these products are GMO. How many?

There are only nine. They are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, yellow summer squash and zucchini. I bet you thought there were more. Nope, just these nine. And, corn, even though we think of it as a vegetable, it really is a grain.

Canola, corn, and soy are used in the production of cooking oil. The healthier oil profiles, like high-oleic or low-linoleic levels in soy oils, are a result of GMO.

Low-risk GMO

Other agricultural products are at low risk or have a monitored status. This is because they could potentially become genetically modified. The products in this group include acorn squash, beets (table), bok choy, chard, Chinese cabbage, Siberian kale, delicata squash, patty pan, and turnips.

No long GMO

Sometimes a fruit or vegetable had genetically modified varieties, but, no longer due. This would be the tomato and the potato. It turns out the genetically modified tomatoes didn’t ship well and lost flavor. And the potatoes? They were rejected by the fast-food establishments.

Animal Products

Since animals are often fed grains (corn), they are in the high risk category for GMO. But also consider how much grain that animal has consumed. Grass fed or minimal grain fed beef will not contain as much GMO as corn-fed feed lot beef. Here it pays to know your farmer and understand what the animal has been fed.

Everything else

As I read the list, I see that our favorite vegetables – carrots and broccoli are not mentioned. Neither are peas or cauliflower. So as I read the labels in the store, unless the food falls into the first two categories, telling me it’s a non-GMO is a marketing ploy. So, don’t charge me more to keep me as a customer.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.
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Wow! A Double Yolk!


doubleYolk_ours

It’s happening again – we are finding double yolks in our eggs. My mother always thought it meant good luck, but does it?

Myths

With the odds of cracking open a double and triple (yikes!) yolk eggs are about one in one thousand, it’s understandable that there would be myths and superstitions surrounding this event.

Wiccans believe that the double yolk is a sign of good fortune, but the Norse thought it was a sign of doom – death was imminent for someone in the family. The most common myth is that someone in the family will get pregnant and have twins, or someone in the family will be getting married soon because of a pregnancy.

None of these occurrences have a time limit on them, and all could happen in a reasonable amount of time. But to attribute it to a double yolk egg, well, seems like a bit of a stretch.

Facts

Double yolks are caused the same way twins happen. The ovary releases two eggs too close together. In mammals, the result would be twins. For hens, the closeness of the release allows one shell to form around the two eggs forming a double yolk egg.

This typically happens in young hens whose system is not synced up properly or in older hens that are nearing the end of their egg laying days. In either case, it is the metabolism of the hen that causes this occurrence.

If the egg were fertilized, the result would probably be two dead chicks instead of twins since the egg shell itself could not expand to meet the growing demands of the chicks. The hens, themselves, could become egg bound or suffer from a vent prolapse.

There are some hens that have a hereditary trait to lay double yolkers. This would be more common in heavy breeds such as the Buff Orpington.

Safe and healthy?

If you get a double yolk egg consider it a protein bonus and scramble it up, but, if it happens when you are baking, it would not count as two eggs because the amount of egg white is less and could alter the taste of whatever you were baking.

In any case, enjoy your eggs and don’t be overly concerned about the superstitions surrounding double yolks.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Waiting!!!


Calf watch is officially on!

Part of our farm dream is to establish a quality herd of cattle. We are well on our way. Our two heifers were impregnated in November and are due at the end of this month. Similar to humans, the gestation period for cattle is about nine months. Like any pregnancy, the due date depends on a lot of factors and first births can be as early as two weeks before the due date.

Pregnant heifers re

Today, both heifers look very pregnant. Callie seems a bit bigger than Cherry. We hope both births go smoothly and the calves are a good weight for a first birth.

The bull, Pedro, is a calm, laid-back Black Angus. Our heifers are Red Angus. Cherry is a Maine-Anjou cross and Callie is part Shorthorn. Based on their genetics and their dispositions, we should have some very nice calves soon.

Just like women who are pregnant, we’ve been watching their feed. Plenty of good hay is always available. They are on pasture, so they can graze if they want. And they get supplemental feed to make sure they don’t lose weight, but not so much that they get fat.

Once the calves are born, we will have a whole, new routine here. But mostly watching the young calves being introduced to their world and just having fun!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

An egg a day – or there about


Egg_nest

Our customer base for our eggs is like most businesses – our regulars, our occasionals and our drop-ins. Some of our customers understand the egg production process and others are surprised.

No rooster?

We are often asked how we can get eggs from our hens without a rooster. Really? You are really asking that question? Okay, let’s do sex education 101 here. The hen will lay an egg every 26 hours. The reproductive system starts forming the new egg once an egg has been laid. The entire cycle take 26 hours. The hen’s body does not care if a rooster is present or not. The rooster is only necessary to fertilize the egg if we want to hatch more chicks. Want the eggs to eat? No rooster, no need to worry about scrambling a fertilized egg.

No eggs?

Yeah, the hens went on strike this week. No, but their body may have. After about ten months of laying eggs the hens go into a molt season. They lose a lot of their feathers, their bodies take a break, and then, they go back into the business of laying eggs. Of course, all the hens don’t molt at the same time because the all didn’t start laying eggs on the dame day.

We have Rhode Island Red hens. This breed usually starts laying eggs at around five months old. Ad, although we would like to think the entire group of hens that we purchased were born on the same day, they probably weren’t. And just like other mammals, their body cycle may be faster or slower than the norm. So they might start laying eggs a few days earlier than their feathered sisters and may go into molt sooner or even later than the rest of the hens in the coop.

One thing is for sure, I see a drop in the number of eggs that I collect each day. Once the molt is over, normal production is resumed.

More hens?

Every 18 months or so we purchase another set of chicks. Even though we are still getting eggs, with each molt the hens produce less eggs. So, we may get 14 eggs a day from a young group of hens, the number of eggs that we collect each day can drop significantly after the first year and each year thereafter.

We could cull the hens by removing the ones that are not producing or have slowed down, or we could just add more hens. Rhode Island Reds do make good eating hens, but, they need to be culled by the time they are three years old. Otherwise the meat may be stringy but still make good soup!

Other elements

The weather can also affect the ability of the hens to lay. We keep a light on during the winter to simulate longer days. We also keep the temperature in the coop above freezing. This has helped with continued egg production during the winter. We have a fan in the coop for the sticky, hot summer nights as well. But continued storms or high winds also affect the hens and drop egg production.

So, in all, we try to keep our hens happy so they produce almost an egg a day, but weather and their normal body functions will sometimes cause a decrease in production. It’s just the nature of things!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

 

How do these hens live?


hens cer

People often ask us if our hens are free-range hens. To them, it means the hens are allowed to come and go as they please. But, when we look at the government and Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) standards, free range is not as free as you think.

Caged

No need to expand on this – most eggs that are produced for the grocery store are from caged hens. They have a minimum amount of room and are primarily fed a corn or soy diet.

Cage-Free

Don’t let the word “free” sidetrack you. These hens are not confined to a minimum area, but, they are still in a cramped facility and do not have access to the great outdoors. So they are not as “free” as the term suggests. They, too, are primarily fed a corn or soy diet.

Free-Range

This is where it can get confusing. USDA requirements standards state that the hens must be given access to the outdoors. They do not determine how much or how often. HFAC standards state the hens must be outdoors, weather permitting, for at least 6 hours a day. These hens may still be fed a corn or soy diet.

Pasture-Raised

This classification has been added by HFAC and it means that the hens are outdoors year-round. They are allowed to go inside at night for protection from predators BUT they should not be housed for more than two weeks a year due to inclement weather.

Hens that are Free-Range or Pasture-Raised are usually healthier and produce better eggs. One reason behind this is the hens have a better choice of food. A hen’s diet should consist of insects and other seeds, grains, grit that are found in nature.

Although we always keep pelleted food available for our hens, they do not eat as much of it when they are allowed to roam as when we keep them in the coop.

So, are our hens Free-Range hens? For the most part, yes. They are allowed outside or at least in the barn during the day and return to their coop at night. However, we do not let them out mid-June to mid-July as this is when our resident fox is teaching the kits how to hunt. And although hens make a tasty meal, we would rather not supply the fox with ours. During the summer they do have a fan to keep the heat down in the coop. We also keep them housed in the dead of winter because they can get frost-bite. Again, a heat lamp in the coop keeps the temps within range for their health.

Will we ever get “certified” for our eggs? Probably not. But rest assured, our hens are happy and enjoy roaming the pastures with the goats, cows, and horses.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Golden Beauties


Dandelion field

The beginning of May turns our farm into a field of gold – dandelion gold. And though most people who want a lush, green lawn do everything in their power to kill off the dandelion, this flower is so beneficial.

Dandelions are a source of vitamins. This is why they have been used in herbal medicines by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. They have been part of Chinese traditional medicine for over a thousand years. Dandelion tea is a gentle diuretic that can flush toxins from the liver and keep the digestive system functioning properly.

They are important to bees and other insects. Interesting enough, although the dandelion has a nectar that has been labeled the first food of the bees in spring, they do not require the bees or other insects for pollination. Dandelions have a root system that will continue to produce those beautiful golden flowers. The roots can grow as deep as 15 feet and, if the root clones are divided, one inch of root is all that is needed to start another dandelion!

The roots are beneficial if you have clay soil as they break up and aerate the ground. They pull up the calcium from the ground that could be useful to other plants. So, in a sense, dandelions can help fertilize the lawn!

Dandelion roots have been used as a coffee substitute and can be priced at over $30.00 a pound! At the table, dandelions are a powerhouse of nutrition. The leaves have more vitamin C than tomatoes and more vitamin A than spinach. They also contain potassium, iron, and calcium.

In addition to salad and tea, dandelions give cookies, jelly, and ice cream a unique flavor.

At our farm, May is dandelion picking time. We use eight cups of dandelion petals in every gallon of wine that we make.

boiling dandelions

So, don’t reach for the herbicide if you see dandelions in your yard. Pick them and enjoy them with your favorite meal as a side dish or a drink!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

How Beneficial is Wine?


glass of wine_rec

Since we are hoping to open a winery in the next year or so, I thought I would add articles on wine to this blog as well.

Winemaking is as old as civilization itself and has been a part of living. Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast so the host would not lose face by running out of wine!

But wine is an alcohol. Is it bad for us or as good as some of the articles want us to believe?

Wines contain antioxidants. The amount depends on the fruit, usually grapes, that the wine is made from and the age of the wine. Several antioxidants are lost as the wine ages, so, maybe the vintage wine in the cellar tastes good, but, it may not be as good for your body as a younger wine.

How quickly do these antioxidants disappear? One study reported that 90% of the anthocyanin* content is lost in the first few months. So while none of the flavor is lost, the health benefits that we are looking for could be.

Wine also contains tannins. While grapes, red grapes in particular, have the highest concentration of tannins. Tannin can also be added to a wine if the fruit does not contain a sufficient amount. In wine, the tannin adds the bitterness, astringency, and dryness to the wine. It is also a natural antioxidant, which is good for the wine and those of us who drink it!

As far as most research goes, there is no conclusive proof that wine is as good for you as we would like to believe, but, just eating grapes would not provide the same amount of tannin and other antioxidants that are contained in wine. That is because all grapes are not created equal. American grapes, regardless of how red they might be, do not have the same benefits as red wine grapes. That’s because it was bred out of them!

My philosophy is – eat a well-balanced diet and pair it with a good wine!

Na zdrowie!

* Anthocyanins are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH.
KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.