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Posted 3/28/2012 7:22pm by Roberta.

We will have more of our 2011 Browning Homestead lamb in the freezer before Easter.  If you have given us an order at the South Kingstown Wintertime Market or ordered through our website, we will be confirming with you directly and arranging delivery at the market on April 7th, or by appointment at the farm.  If you want to order lamb and have not, please send us an email through our website (browninghomestead.com) because, as you lamb lovers know, it goes very fast.  If you're on our email list you should have received the email notice about lamb that you signed up for.  

Raising sheep and lambs is probably one of the more time consuming and difficult things that we do in terms of raising livestock.  When I first started raising sheep in the early 1990s, and was starting to read books about sheep,  I read of an old saying among sheepherders: 'some ewes can't count to two'.  It wasn't until my ewes started having lambs that first January that I started to appreciate that saying. January is a favored month for lambing among people who raise sheep, presumably to take advantage of the Easter market. My ewes were bred when I got them, so January lambing it was going to be.

Temperatures on January nights in Rhode Island are frequently well below freezing.  Cold, snowy, windy, bitterly cold and rainy nights were my ewes' favorite times to lamb that first year. There are differing philosophies when it comes to lambing and mortality rates in lambing - mine is one of zero tolerance.  Most of the sheep people I know are the same.  We do not leave ewes to struggle or lambs to die in the cold. "Survival of the fittest" during lambing time is not good animal husbandry.  

So lambing season is one of sleepless nights, getting up and checking ewes at all hours, trying to be there to help deliver if necessary (only twice in 20 years have I had to deliver a lamb), help dry lambs off if the mother is only drying one of a set of twins or triplets (hence the "some ewes can't count to two" saying), or starting the milk for the lambs by milking the ewe. Yes, I learned to milk a sheep that January.   I've also spent the better part of a day on a stall floor teaching a lamb to suck, so that I wouldn't end up with a bottle baby.  Twice I've had bottle babies when their moms developed mastitis.  Having colostrum and milk replacer on hand is part of lambing.  Sometimes a ewe just won't let a lamb eat, and that's another bottle baby lamb.  Bottle lambs need to be kept warm and fed often.  I did discover that a bottle lamb raised on fresh cow's milk grows fast and big, and that a cow that will feed lambs is something to see (that would be our cow Chloe).   

The most important thing I learned from my first lambing season was that if you don't love sheep, you should raise something that takes a lot less time and is much easier.  The second most important thing I learned that first lambing season?  No more January lambs!  Our sheep breeding program ("program" is a fancy way of describing when we put our ram in the field with our ewes) is timed so that our lambs come mid to late spring. Unless the ram didn't read the program... but that's another story.

 

 

Posted 3/15/2012 5:11pm by Socks M. Browning.

Yuck! I mean, no thank you. As soon as I heard the story on the news, I checked with Mom and Dad, and we do not have pink slime at our house.  I didn’t think so, since we only eat the same ground beef and burgers that we sell – always born and raised right here!  There is NOTHING added to our Browning Homestead ground beef.

In case you haven’t heard about it, pink slime is a food “product” that has been around for a long time. It’s called “lean finely textured beef” by the company that makes it, but it does looks like pink slime.  Essentially it’s a cheap “filler” made from fatty pieces of what’s left over after the meat cutting is done. Made by Beef Products Inc. (BPI), part of the process of making it involves spraying the leftover scraps with ammonium hydroxide gas.  (See the ABC News clip, link below. Fn1.)

Ammonium hydroxide gas sounds bad to me.  So I did some research and here’s something that surprised me: it’s used in a lot of food.  That doesn’t mean it’s okay for me, but I will let you decide for yourself what you think about it.  (After all, I’m just a little pot-bellied pig, I haven’t even been to school yet, so you should probably not take scientific advice from me.)  I put a link to information about ammonia use in food at the end of this column. (See  Fn2.)

The government says pink slime is okay to eat, so for years it’s been in ground meat sold in supermarkets, restaurants and school lunches. People have been eating it without even knowing it because the government says it doesn’t have to be on the label of the ground meat that contains it.  If you bought ground beef from the supermarket or have eaten at restaurants that use it, you’ve probably been eating it for years without even knowing it. 

And THAT is what I don’t like about the whole pink slime issue: people are selling food and not being honest about it!  Adding cheap waste meat processed into a slime brick to the ground beef is really just a way to increase the store’s profit on the ground beef they sell.  The consumer doesn’t know he’s paying for waste meat, and wouldn’t pay the price for the ground beef if he knew it was 15% waste product.   And I think if pink slime were really so good and “all meat”, they’d be selling 100% pink slime bricks.  Informed consumers could buy it and take it home and add it to their other meat to stretch it, or just eat pink slime.  But would you?

The best part of the pink slime stories on TV news and on the internet is that it gets people thinking about their food, where their food comes from, and what goes into their food. When you come to a farm like ours, or shop at the Farmers’ Market, you can ask the questions that need to be asked about the food you are buying.  Ask questions, verify the answers, and know your farmers and food!

UPDATE: Today  the USDA announced that it would give schools the option of buying ground beef with or without the pink slime. (See Fn3.) The USDA is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef for the national school lunch program. About 7 million pounds of that is from Beef Products Inc., though the pink product in question never accounts for more than 15 percent of a single serving of ground beef. See: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2012-03-15/Schools-will-get-to-opt-out-of-pink-slime-beef/53544636/1

Fn1.See the process diagrammed on ABC News link: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/70-percent-of-ground-beef-at-supermarkets-contains-pink-slime/

Fn2.  Ammonia use in food: http://www.foodinsight.org/Resources/Detail.aspx?topic=Questions_and_Answers_about_Ammonium_Hydroxide_Use_in_Food_Production

Fn3. USDA announces school choice:  http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USDAOC-334e83 

BPI’s  webpage “Pink Slime is a Myth”   http://pinkslimeisamyth.com/2012/03/10/lean-beef-trimmings-high-quality-and-safe-2/

 

Posted 2/28/2012 4:45pm by Roberta .

Reading an article entitled "10 Bad Cooking Habits to Break" reminded me of a topic that comes up a few times during each farmers' market - taking your meat off before it gets to final temp and letting it rest before eating.  We try to remind new customers that meat will continue to cook when removed from the heat source, and to remove their meat 10 degrees below the final cook temperature. The rest also allows the juices to distribute evenly - making it all the more delicious.

http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/10-bad-cooking-habits-break-162400734.html

Posted 2/23/2012 7:42pm by Socks.

 I was outside this afternoon and I didn't even need my sweatshirt.  Don't worry, I do have my own personal pot-bellied pig house to go into when the wind blows; that's where I like to take my naps when I'm outside.  When I'm inside my little house I lay with my head in the doorway, so I can see anything that is going on, and my snout gets the full sun. I love the sun on my snout. When I sleep inside my big house, like on the couch or in my blanket pile, I like to have my head covered but my snout out of the blankets. 

In case you didn't know, my snout is sort of like a people nose; I can breathe through it like people, but I also can do alot of other things with it that people can't do. For one thing I can dig with it!  People can't dig a hole with their nose, but I can dig a hole and push the dirt  with just the slightest movement of my snout.  Someday I'll do a video blog about my snout. 

Also, my snout is very sensitive. I don't like to bump it or have anyone pat it too hard, and I really don't like to put my snout on ice and snow - too cold!  Once last summer I got some ice cubes in my water dish. That wasn't too cold because it was a really hot day, and I had fun getting those ice cubes out of the dish onto the floor. It only took me a minute. 

Here's a photo of me and Mom waiting in the truck for Dad at Shaws. (That's a store that I can't go into.  They aren't nice like Critter Hut where they let me go right in.)   I got really close to the camera to show what a handsome snout I have!

Socks' waiting in the truck at Shaws

Posted 2/15/2012 7:39pm by Roberta .

In our photo gallery is a photo of corn that we grow, with the paranthetical "Not GMO".  Leading to the very good question: What's GMO?  As someone who has been regularly reading agricultural journals and publications for twenty years, but not a scientist,  I hardly knew where to start (and be able to end this in a few paragraphs). So I went to Google and submit this as the barest introduction to GMOs.

GMO stands for "genetically modified organism". It is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes." (wiki)

The Monsanto Company is a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as Roundup. Monsanto is also the world’s leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it sells 90% of the USs GE seeds. (wiki)

GMO corn is genetically modified to withstand being sprayed with herbicides like Roundup - the weeds die but not the corn plant. Whether or not ingesting GMO corn has negative health affects on animals or people is being studied and debated, but what we do know is that where there are GMO crops there is Roundup (the corn is sold as "Roundup Ready") being sprayed. And glyphosate is a carcinogenic chemical.

"A recent study conducted by a German university found very high concentrations of Glyphosate, a carcinogenic chemical found in herbicides like Monsanto’’s Roundup, in all urine samples tested. The amount of glyphosate found in the urine was staggering, with each sample containing concentrations at 5 to 20-fold the limit established for drinking water." Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/monsantos-infertility-linked-roundup-found-in-all-urine-samples-tested/#ixzz1mVIe5wUm

For additional information about GMOs and particularly Monsanto’s role, I recommend a movie titled "Food Inc.". There are many impacts to consider of the genetic modification of living organisms, including the devastating affect it has had on farmers being able to grow and keep their own non-GMO seed stock. Watch what Monsanto does to a farmer when their GMO plants "infect" a farmer’s non-GMO field of grain, in Food Inc..

 

Posted 2/15/2012 5:12pm by Socks M. Browning.

An exploratory committee is trying to persuade me to run for public office, but I don't think I'm cut out for the rough and tumble world of politics.   I'd much rather serve as an ambassador for our farm and teach people, especially children, about farm life.  I do like how the flag drapes around me though. 

Posted 2/12/2012 12:50pm by Roberta .

Thanks to my father-in-law’s habit of saving things, I’ve been enjoying old issues of Mother Earth News.   This morning I found an article about the nutritive value of free range eggs vs. supermarket eggs, by Cheryl Long and Umut Newbury (Mother Earth News, Aug/Sept 2005).  This led me to the internet looking for citations to the 2005 article, where I found another Mother Earth News study done in 2007. The 2007 study confirmed the 2005 conclusions:  free range eggs are more nutritious and have significantly less cholesterol than supermarket eggs. The 2005 article indicated free range eggs had half the cholesterol of supermarket eggs but the 2007 study indicated one-third the cholesterol.   The conclusion of the 2007 study was that free range eggs have:

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

than supermarket eggs. 

The study could have included additional data, such as test results from commercial eggs and details about what the free range hens were actually eating.  The fact is that all “free range diets” are not equal.  For instance, our hens’ diets are seasonal in Rhode Island – different plants and bugs are available in each season. Typical winter in Rhode Island does not provide the hens with the plants and insects that are plentiful in the warm months.  We supplement our hens’ diets in the winter with grain, vegetable scraps, fruit, raw bones, seeds and small amounts of raw meat. Given free choice, the chickens always eat what they prefer first, and will try to steal from each other what they especially like.  I like to think that they prefer what their bodies tell them is needed.

The bottom line is that eggs provide an abundance of nutrients for a remarkable price.  And if we compare the amount of nutrients we receive from our food to the price we pay for those nutrients, eggs are one of the most inexpensive sources of protein available. 

I don’t know if the Mother Earth News’ study results are accurate, but I do know that my Gramma  Mulholland was born in 1883 on a farm and lived her whole life regularly eating eggs, until she died in 1984.  Of course, she also swore by “everything in moderation”.   But that’s another story…

 [Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-10-01/Tests-Reveal-Healthier-Eggs.aspx#ixzz14U1oRz67]

 

 

Posted 2/10/2012 7:24pm by Roberta .

There's a snow storm headed our way for tomorrow, but farming doesn't stop for weather, and neither does the farmers' market!  We'll be at the South Kingstown Wintertime Market at 10 am as usual.  We have orders due and if the customer comes out, we'll be there. 

Customers who don't go out in the snow and need meat for the coming week can call us at the farm (783-9239) to make an appointment to come to the farm to pick up their meat.  

Posted 2/3/2012 10:32pm by Roberta.

The beef freezers are full again!  Bill picked up our packaged beef cuts this afternoon at Westerly Packing.  We have tenderloin steaks (filet mignon) and NY strip steaks now, as well as lots of ground beef, stew beef and other slow cooking favorites back in stock for those winter comfort-food recipes! 

Did you know that the term "tenderloin" technically refers to the entire strip of tenderloin?  When it is cut into slices, those slices are the filet mignon.  We have our tenderloin cut into 1 inch thick slices, and they generally weigh in the .20 to .25 pound range.  We ask Westerly Packing to package them in individual packages, so that you can buy just what you need.

In addition to being the most delicious tasting beef meant to grow on grass and natural forages, our cattle are generally between 42 to 44 inches at the shoulder, with full grown bulls (over 3 years old) weighing around 1000 pounds and full grown cows (over 3 yrs) weighing around 750 pounds.  We keep our beef growing to between 26 - 28 months old, compared to many who process at 12 to 18 months.  Cattle grown on grass grows slow, and our smaller breed is ideal for today's healthy eating families who are eating less, but healthier, meat.  We think our naturally smaller cuts are an ideal fit for today's beef eaters.  

If you're interested in learning more about the Dexter breed, here's a good article from Mother Earth News: Ideal Small Farm Cows: Dexter Cattle.

 

 

Posted 1/31/2012 7:46pm by Socks M. Browning.
Hi!

My name is Socks and I was born on November 15, 2010, which makes me the newest member of the Browning family. I am also the one and only Potbellied Pig at Browning Homestead Farm.  No one ever confuses me with the Gloucester Old Spots or the American Guinea Hogs, although some people at the summer Farmers' Market think I'm a dog at first glance.  One little boy thought I was a dog that looked just like a pig!  He made us all chuckle. 

I'm happy to say that people at the farmers' market have always been very kind to me, and the children are very gentle when they pet me.  I don't mind being pet at all, I usually hardly stop grazing.  My family always brings my special water jug with fresh cool water from home, and some treats too.  My favorite treats used to be craisins, which are dried cranberries.  Then I had my first fresh cranberry and that became my favorite snack. Crunchy and tart, and not too fattening.  I have to watch out for that because I'm a pig, and I don't want to be an unhealthy pig.

Well, that's just a little bit about me.  I'll be back with more about the farm and all the work and fun that goes on here.  

Please feel free to send me an email with any questions you might have about me or farm life!

Here's a pic of me in my Batman sweatshirt:

Socks M. BrowningSocks

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