Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Indigo Dye Day July 24 at Joybilee Farm

On July 24th at 10am Joybilee Farm opens for our 4th Annual Indigo/Woad Dye Day.  Some specific information about the Indigo/Woad Dye Day on July 24.

The farm is open from 10am to 5pm.

It is a drop in hands on demonstration.  People can purchase, for a nominal fee, quilting cotton or silk scarves ready to dye.  There are tables set up with different resist implements (pipes, string, clamps, bands, buttons, rocks, etc.  Each person takes their fabric and applies different techniques to fold, twist and clamp their fabric.  Then the fabric goes into the indigo vat.

To lay on a permanent colour the fabric must be alternately immersed and aired several times.  Each time takes 15 minutes.  Visitors should plan on allowing at least one or two hours at the farm to enjoy the full benefit of the indigo vat.  The darker the colour the more the piece needs to be vatted and then oxidized.  At the end of the day they will have witnessed the magic transformation of the indigo dyed fabric as it oxidizes from green to dark blue.  They will have created a beautiful textile – either for quilting, framing or to wear.

There is no admission charge to visit the farm on that day.  Farm Tours are available for $5 per person and a tour of the natural dye garden is included and further demonstrations of linen culture and processing.

For those with some experience in shibori or tie dye techniques, people are welcome to bring their own prepared fabric or yarn to the farm. Prepared vats can be purchased for $20 each, and can be shared by a group of friends. Each vat will dye 1 lb. of cotton or linen fabric or 1 kg. of wool or mohair to a med to dark blue. Indigo dyeing is contagious and people often start to pull off their clothing to dye in the vat.It good to have something to change into should the urge strike.

New this year:  Sarah will be demonstrating the extraction of natural indigo from fresh woad leaves -- an art that is almost lost in the post modern era.  For more information visit Sarah's website.http://www.woad.ca

Monday, June 21, 2010

Waiting -- Now its here!

On Friday, after 5 months of practicing on a rental harp, I called Dusty Strings in Seattle and ordered my very own Walnut Celtic Harp.  I was expecting a wait of several weeks, but the harp is already at the UPS depot in Danville, WA awaiting pick up.

I am just a few days from tuning my very own harp and plucking out some celtic tunes.  So excited.

Update June 28, 2010:  The harp arrived one week ago today.  It is tuned and being played daily.  What a wonderful voice it has!  Very resonant and mellow and much more amplified than the Ravenna 26 that we were renting.  I am falling in love.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Herbal First Aid Balm

After gathering herbs and preparing infused oils and tinctures for almost a year, I finally had all the ingredients for a batch of Joybilee Farm Hemp Rescue Remedy.  There will only be one batch of this powerful herbal healing Balm made each year as it takes many weeks to gather and prepare the fresh tinctures and infused oils that go into it.  Balm of Gilead is harvested and prepared in March.  Comfrey is gathered and prepared in June, Wild Rose is gathered and prepared in July along with St. John's Wort.  Calendula takes all summer to grow and is harvested after frost in September, about the time the local bees wax is available.

People have been coming to the farmer's market raving about how our Joybilee Farm Hemp Hand Balm heals sunburn, and soothes the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.  How it heals their dry, cracked skin from gardening.  Joybilee Farm Hemp Hand Balm contains the powerful healing properties of St. Johns Wort, Calendula, along with the anti microbial, anti fungal and anti inflammatory essential oils of lavender and certified organic tea tree. 

And for years we've been using the healing properties of organically grown Wild Rose, Calendula, St. John's Wort, Balm of Gilead and Comfrey to heal the pain of inflammation, sciatica and other joint pain in our home and with our livestock.  Now we've combined these herbs into a healing balm for those minor cuts, burns, aches and pains for our friends.  From insect stings, sunburn, diaper rash, cradle cap, to minor burns and cuts and joint pain from strains or arthritis, Hemp Rescue Remedy is available to help.  We combined these healing herbs in a base of certified organic hemp seed oil, natural bees wax, olive oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil for their skin softening and moisturizing properties. Then added the healing and anti microbial, anti fungal power of certified organic tea tree, lavender, rosemary and geranium essential oils. 

This is gentle and safe for babies and powerful enough to handle those daily first aid needs. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More on GMO free feed

We took delivery of our first load of Joybilee Farm feed mix.  It came in at min. 13% protein in the feed analysis, so not as high as we would like.   We were warned that adding dried peas to the mix would make the feed bitter and unpalatable to the livestock so we added only 20% peas.

However, in the whole or split form, the peas are sweet -- not bitter.  Our goats and sheep really like the GMO free feed.  In fact our milking does liked it better than the sweet dairy feed that they are used to.  We will try it again with a higher % of peas in the next run.

Two other farms are interested in the mix, for poultry and for pigs.  So that should increase the feed mills interest in serving this niche market.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Update on GMO free feed mix

We are trying our own feed mix from the Sure Crop mill near us.  We designed it ourselves and so it is still experimental but it is without Canola, Soy, Cotton or Corn so most likely will be GMO free.  We found that even buying certified organic feed would not guarantee us that the mix was GMO free due to crop contamination with GMO crops during growth. 

Here's what we've come up with:
Whole Oats 23%
Whole Barley 23%
Whole Wheat 23%
Split Peas 18%

To this we will add separately at the farm:
15% whole or freshly ground flax seed (for both oil content and protein) 

This feed mix is around 15% useable protein so not as high as we were hoping for, but all animals also receive an alfalfa/grass mix hay and right now they are on free range.  We will try to tweek this feed over the summer so that it has a higher protein total for winter feeding.

Ruminants and poultry can handle whole flax seed as their bodies are able to digest it.  Rabbits, and dogs will need the flax ground to digest it.  However, ground flax spoils rapidly after grinding.  We will grind it daily as needed -- a bit of extra work, but the extra nutrition that flax offers will be the benefit. 

Let me know if you are going GMO free with  your livestock and how you are meeting their nutritional needs without soy, corn, canola or cotton. 

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Recipe: Crackers (GMO free)

I promised yesterday to write out my cracker recipe for GMO free cooking, because some of my friends mentioned to me that their crackers didn't turn out very well, so they needed to buy store bought, which is full of stuff you don't want to eat.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning, by Alden Amos. (love this book and reference it at least once a month).

Here it is:

Multigrain Crackers (GMO free)

(Prep: 20 minutes mixing and 12 minutes baking total - 1/2 an hour)

2  cups whole wheat flour
1/2 c. oat flour (make it by putting oatmeal in a blender and processing until flour fine)
1 T. cane sugar (or maple syrup)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. flax seed, freshly ground
1/4 c. poppy seeds or sesame seeds
2/3 c. water
1/2 c. raw milk (from clean cows without GMO implants) or use water.

Mix dry ingredients.  Add oil and mix until crumbly.  Add seeds and water and mix to form a firm ball.  Knead until smooth and satiny.  Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.  

Divide dough into quarters.  Roll on a floured board until 1/8 inch thick or thinner.  Cut with round cookie cutter (I use a mason jar ring).  Place on oil and floured baking sheet.  Prick with a fork.  Sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 400F. for 7 to 9 minutes.  Flip over and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes, or until crackers are lightly brown.  Cool on rack.  Serve in a cloth lined basket.

Good with soups or for snacks.  

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Getting off GMOs -- stop eating poison

I've been talking to my friends and neighbors about the dangers of genetically modified food and the fact that it continues to reproduce its genetically modified genes -- bacteria, viruses -- inside your body long after you cease to eat the gm food.  That it causes DNA changes in your body and leads to chronic disease, super bugs, immune suppression, allergies and possibly even cancer.

I am concerned about their responses.  Here's the myths I am hearing.

"GMOs are in everything.  Its impossible to avoid them, so why try."

"Its too expensive to eat GM - free food and I eat the best I can for the money that I have."

" I don't have time to change my eating style."

"I'm on the side of science.  The FDA says GMOs are "safe" and doesn't even require that Monsanto test its GM crops because they are no different from normal crops"

"If its for sale in the grocery store it must be safe to eat".

"People who are concerned about 'Frankenfoods' are just conspiracy theorists so don't listen to them."


I'm on the side of objective truth, testable truth.  Here's the truth that addresses these myths:

There are foods that have not been genetically modified, so if we prepare our food from scratch and avoid all food that has been genetically modified we can be sure that we are avoiding GMOs in our diet.  What we eat is the most important factor in good health and longevity.  Avoiding soy, corn, milk (if you live in the USA and don't have your own dairy animals), beet sugar, canola and cotton seed, as well as products derived from these, will be a good start to getting GMOs out of your life. Choosing certified organic products is a good start, but GMO contamination sometimes happens even with organic products. Preparing food from scratch may cost you time but it will save you money, in most cases.

90% of the products in your local grocery store in the prepared food section, contain GMOs.  Preparing your food from scratch may take a bit longer, but is more healthy for your family and will save you time in the long run, as well as money at the grocery store.  Read the label and if you see products like corn syrup, soya oil, canola oil, lecithin, vegetable protein, vegetable oil, sugar, cotton seed oil, whey -- the product most likely contains GMOs that aren't listed on the label.  High fructose corn syrup has been implicated in chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.  It takes as long to whip up a bottle of homemade salad dressing as it does to read the label on the bottle in the grocery store, put it in your cart and take it through the checkout.  And its about 1/10th the cost of store bought.

For those who think they don't have time to change their eating style, I ask if they have time to be sick?  Now is the time to change when you still have your health.  Many foods can be prepared while you do other things -- multi tasking.  And there is such joy in creative cooking and knowing that the food you feed your family is healthy.

Real science is on the side of not releasing GMOs into the environment.  Mosanto and GMOs are on the side of profit not science -- profit at the expense of human health and animal welfare.  Animal studies have shown that genetically modified soy, corn and cotton are detrimental to health, can cause death and sterility in animals.  Many of these studies have been supressed by Mosanto and the university administrations that are dependent on funding.  Mosanto is a key funder of youth science fairs, university grants and biotech programs.  When you see a study -- its important to check who funded it before you accept it as pure science.  The biotech companies are not required to test the safety of genetically modified food before it is released into the environment.  The Food safety guru in the USA -- appointed by the Obama administration is a former Mosanto VP, Michael Taylor.

Grocery stores sell food for profit not for good health.  Its important to learn to read the labels and make choices.  Is GMO free eating just for the rich?  Those who can buy food can still chose healthy food.  Those who are dependent on food banks and soup kitchens have fewer choices.  But as people become aware of the dangers of GM food they will begin to donate food to the food bank that is GMO free.  Even the poor can learn to cook for themselves, if given the opportunity.

Those of you who home school your children will recognize this last one.  That last one about conspiracy theorists is a logical fallacy -- it doesn't address the real issue but sends up a smoke screen to discredit an opponent.  It isn't allowed in a debate. 

Yesterday I talked to a friend who is a retired bee keeper.  He kind of laughed off the concerns until he heard that GM alfalfa is due to be released this Spring for planting in the US.  Then he got very serious.  Without alfalfa and clover (related to alfalfa and could be xpollinated by it) you can't make honey.  Releasing GM alfalfa would affect not only livestock and wild animals that graze the alfalfa fields but also the honey that is produced in North America.

Once a GM crop is released into the environment it is impossible to restrain those genes.  Wild deer, big horn sheep, moose, elk all graze in farm fields planted to forage crops.  Are we prepared to see a drop in wild life, similiar to the bee colony collapse we are witnessing among bees that graze the gm crops now?  And what about the large predators -- cougar, bear, wolf that feed on these wild animals? 

Maybe you need to be a farmer to see the connection between GM crops and health.  But if you care about the earth, wild life, global warming, and human health you need to be concerned about the plague of genetically modified crops being released into the environment.  And you need to be concerned for the sake of your own health and the health of your family and the health of your neighbors and friends.  Please take the time to do the research, if you are skeptical. 

We are still trying to ensure that the protein supplements that our livestock eat are GM free.  Our goats and sheep are fed whole oats and whole wheat and do very well on their GM free diet.  But we can't find a chicken food that doesn't contain soy or corn.  If you have a recipe for chicken feed that is GM free let me know.

Come back tomorrow for a recipe for GM free crackers.  My friend Evelyn said she bought crackers in grocery store and found hydrogenated oils and GM ingredients, but her homemade crackers aren't very good.  My recipe is fail safe and worth the 20 minutes of prep time -- less time than it takes to drive to the grocery store and stand in line at the check out. 

Have a great day, friends.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Recipe: Salad Dressings (GMO Free)

Salad dressings and mayonnaise are very difficult to find in GMO free versions in the grocery store.  Plus they are usually filled with so many strange chemicals that making your own, fresh, at home is a more healthy alternative.  Its also less expensive, which gives you more money to purchase healthy food for your family. 

Make some in just 3 to 5 minutes:  (Makes 250 ml (1 cup)

Oriental Vinaigrette Dressing 
1/4 c. olive oil, grape seed oil or other GMO free oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. GMO free Tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. dried onions
1 fresh garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. water.
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a mason jar, put on lid and shake until well blended.  Allow to stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.  Refrigerate unused portion.

This is a perfect dressing for a salad made from suey choy (chinese cabbage), bok choy, bean sprouts, and grated chinese radish (diakon or red heart), and chives.   Top with sesame seeds or cashews for some extra protein and flavour.

Lemon and Poppyseed dressing (GMO free)
1 med. certified organic lemon
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. grape seed oil, olive oil or other GMO-free vegetable oil
1/4 c. water
1 tbsp. liquid honey (creamed honey may contain GM canola) or maple syrup or cane sugar

 Grate peel from lemon and place in a blender.  Express the juice from the lemon, remove seeds and add to blender.  Discard rind.  Mix all other ingredients into a blender.  Blend well for 1 minute.  Dressing will become creamy and have bits of black poppy seeds.  Allow to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

This dressing is very good on a baby spring greens salad with its fresh, mild taste.  Try adding dried cranberries and slivered almonds to the salad. 

If your berries are store bought instead of home dried, check the label for soya oil, corn syrup, 
canola oil or added sugar, before buying -- these 4 ingredients are often the cause of GMO contamination in processed foods.  Avoiding non certified organic sources of soy, corn, canola and sugar will carry you a long way in avoiding GMO foods in your diet.  And you will save money by preparing your own food from scratch at home.