The Weblog

This page contains news, event information, and other items added by myself, the intrepid farmer-in-process at Old 99. I send out a message every week, but most are set with a delete date about two weeks later. I archive some of the posts if they have content other than weekly availability of produce and meat.

You can send me questions too, which if they are of a general nature, I can post to this Old99 blog.



 
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Old 99 Farm, week of Feb 21 2015


Specials this week: stewing hens: a dollar off per kg ($6/kg) and ground beef, a dollar off ($13.40), both pasture raised and finished.

Looks like we’re in for below normal temperatures for the rest of the month, about 15dC below in fact. While Alaska and the North face a heat wave. See a powerful interactive site put out by U Maine showing graphics on global climate changes. http://cci-reanalyzer.org

Furthermore, about 10 percent of the world’s food is produced by overpumping groundwater. In essence, we are using tomorrow’s water to meet today’s needs — a theft from the future likely to grow as droughts worsen and spread. [due to climate change, says National Geographic]
http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/02/17/climate-change-poses-existential-water-risks/

Is there too much ‘apocalyptic climate news’ and is it counterproductive? Joe Romm at ClimateProgress has tackled that one several times. He says no, and shows why here: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/02/22/3617410/oscars-doomsday-climate-messages/, “The two greatest myths about global warming communications are 1) constant repetition of doomsday messages has been a major, ongoing strategy and 2) that strategy doesn’t work and indeed is actually counterproductive.” In fact there is not nearly enough information getting out to the public (that would be us_) for informed policy action.

But here at Old 99 we try our best, and bring you a couple of snippets so you can talk the kids at breakfast (or to the parents, as the case may be ).

Cami and I got started on greenhouse planting this weekend, with three greens crops in the ground: lettuce, arugula and mesclun mix. Not that they’ll germinate any time soon, but when the soil does heat up to about 10dC, they’re be waiting!

We have many pork, beef and lamb cuts in the freezers, eggs, flour and root cellar crops. Plus the specials mentioned above.

Healthy eating,
Ian and Camelia

Old 99 Farm, week of Feb 15 2015


Just finished a 485 page book, The Third Plate, by well-respected chef/author, Dan Barber. Yes, it’s about food and food production, and it’s provocative.

For example,“At the heart of today’s optimistic farm-to-table food culture is a dark secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has also offered a false promise for the future of food. Our concern over factory farms and chemically grown crops might have sparked a social movement, but even the most enlightened eating of today is ultimately detrimental to the environment and to individual health.”

He’s a permaculturist, without using the word, and, judging by the encyclopedic range of quotes and books listed in the bibliography, he hasn’t heard of it. No matter. It’s wonderful when ‘earth care, people care, fare share’ can be invoked without mentioning the ‘p’ word.

Example: “Food production is a disturbance, but the goal is to “disturb feelingly,” to disturb in a way that mimics natural systems. Whether you’re talking about a goose, a fish, or raising wheat, you’ve got to intimately know the environment from which it is coming and mimic nature to produce the best flavor.”

My point? Most people here on this list are interested in healthy food that tastes good. But care less about the systemic consequences of how that food is produced. We should, because if we don’t, one household at a time, we’re just as responsible as Monsanto, laggard politician or any monocrop farmer of ruining the world we live in. And that to such a degree that our children will curse our graves.

The solution, Barber says, lies in the “third plate”: an integrated system of vegetable, grain, and livestock production that is fully supported—in fact, dictated—by what we choose to cook for dinner. The third plate is where good farming and good food intersect. See his TED talks at http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_how_i_fell_in_love_with_a_fish

And in other news…

In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated how much carbon we can emit and still keep a decent chance of limiting warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels. This is known as a carbon budget. Two degrees is the internationally-accepted point beyond which climate change risks become unacceptably high.

As of 2010, we could release a maximum of about 1000 billion more tonnes of carbon dioxide and still have a 50:50 chance of staying below two degrees, according to the IPCC.

A very recent paper (published online in Nature, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v517/n7533/full/nature14016.html on Jan 7 2015) compares this allowable carbon budget with scientists’ best estimate of how much oil, gas and coal exist worldwide in economically recoverable form, known as “reserves”.

Were we to burn all the world’s known oil, gas and coal reserves, the greenhouse gases released would blow the budget for two degrees three times over, the paper finds.

The implication is that any fossil fuels that would take us over-budget will have to be left in the ground. Globally, this equates to 88 per cent of the world’s known coal reserves, 52 per cent of gas and 35 per cent of oil, according to the new research.

For us Canadians, that means 75/24/82 percent of oil, gas and coal respectively. Just consider how THAT will affect your standard of living???

Here at the farm, we had the mercury dip to -30dC last night; it’s finally in a range where Celcius sounds a bad as Fahrenheit! Frozen water lines, tractors that won’t start, frozen combs on roosters. Global warming is a misnomer, it should be climate weirding, because even these deep freezes are a consequence of global climate balancing.

Yes we have food. Delicious food, tho perhaps not as good as Dan Barbers. You will enjoy the carrots for sure. Pre cut squash in one kg bags, frozen, celeriac, leeks, and green onions, as well as eggs, flour and meats.

Healthy eating,
Ian and Camelia

Old 99 Farm, week of Feb 8 2015


Yes, you can wish me Happy Birthday, I am fully enjoying being a senior citizen! Just recently I was offered the seniors’ discount at the petfood store; what a bizarre moment of recognition.

I like to put content up here that has nothing, and everything, to do with local food, health and eating well. Sometimes it sounds like a soapbox tirade I suppose. But I wonder how many readers have gained an insight or felt challenged in their presumptions about how life is? Let me explain my motivation…

For example, “we” are currently wrangling about how much to devastate the Earth. That’s the long and short of it when it comes to fossil energy, climate upset and species extinction.

As Susan Solnit puts it in her essay, “Climate Change is (global-scale) Violence” against places and species, as well as against human beings. Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values. Because the revolt against brutality begins with a revolt against the language that hides that brutality. http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/28933-climate-change-is-violence

In every arena, we need to look at industrial-scale and systemic violence, not just the hands-on violence of the less powerful. When it comes to climate change, this is particularly true. Exxon [and the other Alberta Tar Sands miners] has decided to bet that we can’t make the corporation keep its reserves in the ground, and the company is reassuring its investors that it will continue to profit off the rapid, violent, and intentional destruction of the Earth.

But what do we do, the locals? Well, we shop and patronize, invest and borrow, read and converse, etc. All this could be informed by a morality that prizes earth care. But we are all gamblers, with a fatal mental malfunction, we think we can dodge the bullet (win the lottery) next time because so far we have (or haven’t). In the end, the gambler’s fallacy is one of the factors that lead people, companies, and entire civilization to a rapid collapse. It is what Ugo Bardi has called the “Seneca Cliff” from the words of the ancient Roman philosopher who first noted how “the way to ruin is rapid”. In the case described here http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.it/2015/02/senecas-gamble-how-to-create-your-own.html, we might call it the “Seneca gamble” but, in all cases, it is a ruin that we create with our own hands.

This week we have root crops, especially carrots, wheat and spelt flour, garlic, meats, eggs and honey. I’m making a batch of beef bone broth for sale by the liter.

Healthy eating, and unstoppable caring,

Ian and Cami

Energy Update: 2015 could be it


Richard Heinberg has been researching and chronicling the consequences and trends of fossil fuel, Fossil Sunlight some call it, for 17 years now.

I started tuning in around 2003, when the term ‘Peak Oil’ was still new. That was 12 years ago.

Here is a recent short essay by Heinberg, posted at http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-02-02/after-the-peak, from which I append two extensive quotes (in the likely event you don’t go read the whole thing). He poses three questions to focus our attention, included below.

Ironically, just as the rate of the world’s liquid fuels production may be about to crest the curve, we’re hearing that warnings of peak oil were wrongheaded all along. The world is in the midst of a supply glut and prices are declining, tireless resource optimists remind us. Surely this disproves those pessimistic prophets of peril! However, as long-time peakist commentator Ron Patterson notes:

Peak oil will be the point in time when more oil is produced than has ever been produced in the history of the world, or ever will be in the future of the world. It is far more likely that this period will be thought of as a time of an oil glut rather than a time of an oil shortage.

Within a couple of years, those of us who have spent most of the past two decades warning about the approaching peak may see vindication by data, if not by public opinion.

If our main goal during the past 17 years was to alert the world about looming challenges, now it is to foster adaptation to fundamental shifts that are currently under way. The questions that need exploration now are:

  • How can we help build resilience throughout society, starting locally, assuming we will have little or no access to the reins of national policy?
  • How can we help society adapt to climate change while building a zero-emissions energy infrastructure?
  • How can we help adapt society’s energy consumption to the quantities and qualities of energy that renewable sources will actually be able to provide?

We have to assume that this work will have to be undertaken in the midst of accelerating economic decay, ecological disruption, and periodic crises—far from ideal operating conditions.

On the other hand, there is the possibility that crisis could act in our favor. As their routines and expectations are disturbed, many people may be open to new explanations of their predicament and to new behaviors to help them adapt to energy and monetary poverty. Our challenge will be to frame unfolding events persuasively in ecological terms (energy, habitat, population) rather than conventional political terms (good guys, bad guys), and to offer practical solutions to the burgeoning everyday problems of survival—solutions that reduce ecological strains rather than worsening them. Our goal should not be to preserve industrial societies or middle-class lifestyles as we have known them (that’s impossible anyway), but to offer a “prosperous way down,” as Howard Odum put it, while preserving whatever cultural goods that can be salvaged and that deserve the effort.

As with our recent efforts to warn society about peak oil, there is no guarantee of success. But it’s what needs doing.

Old 99 Farm week of Feb 1st 2015


We had an energizing time at the Guelph Organic Conference last weekend, taking in new ideas about permaculture farms, growing vegetables for seed, biodynamic farming, farm family succession, and much more.

We’re in the ‘persephone’ months when daylight is less than 10 hours a day, but it’s about over; sunrise now is 7:33 and sundown is 5:34. Plants will starting growing in the greenhouse and I’ll soon have greens again.

Till then the offerings are root crops, squashes, eggs and meats.

Healthy eating
Ian and Camelia

Market Day Change Reminder


Ian’s internet is down today, so I’m posting on his behalf and following on his latest post. Next week’s market day is Wednesday, regular hours. Kindly, please place your orders on time. Thank you in advance,
Camelia

Old 99 Farm, week of Jan 25 2015


Hi, surprised to be hearing from me on a friday evening? Next week I’ll be going to the Guelph Organic Conference on Thurs through Sunday. If want to go with us, we can carpool for up to 4 people.

I’d like to have the market here on Wednesday evening, usual 4 to 6. If you would prefer to pick up at a different time, I can make arrangements, like leaving your order in the cooler in the store.

My grain mill is now back in service so i will be able to offer wyw milled whole wheat and spelt flours.

Does anyone on on this list already belong to the Ontario Natural Foods Coop as a buying club member? I’m thinking this could be interesting to create a club based here so you can pick up what you buy through ONFC at the same time as you come to the farm.
If you are interested in joining, or already are a member, pleased drop me a line via email. There is no charge for membership.

Carrot recipe
German Carrot Salad (from Acres USA mag Nov 2009)
1.5 cups shredded carrots
10 TBS veg oil
4 TBSP vinegar (white wine suggested)
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TPSP honey
1 bunch fresh dill chopped or 1 tsp dried
salt and pepper to taste
1 shredded apple (optional)
Combine all and let sit for 30 minutes min or up to 24 hrs preferred so flavours mingle.

Yes, I have lots of carrots!

Healthy Eating
Ian and Camelia

Old 99 FArm, week of Jan 19 2015


Needless to say, this is getting to you too late to be much help as reminder to order this week. (The regulars have mostly placed their orders without my mail in their inbox)

We have some chicken broth for sale this week, at $10/liter plus jar exchange. (bring a jar take a jar) I’m using mason jars with sealable lids.

We have Hubbard squash in 500gm freezer bags, cut up and ready to cook. This is a trial, to see if the reason squashes aren’t that popular is because of their size.

Lots of eggs.

See you tomorrow!
Healthy eating,
Ian and Cami

Old 99 Farm, week of Jan 11 2015


The Guelph Organic Conference is coming up soon, Jan 29 to Feb 1, but the main event is the sat/sun weekend. You can go for free, no admission on the weekend, and visit over 200 booths in the tradeshow, or $40/day for workshops (choose 5 from 20 on sat, 3 from 12 on sunday) The tracks are themed: Organic Crop Production, Organic Livestock Management, Urban Agriculture and CityFarm issues, Pollination, Horticulture and Production, and Permaculture & Restoration Agriculture.
Friday evening there is an Organic Foods/Holistic Health symposium for $40. See the website www.guelphorganicconference.ca for details. Prices go up after Jan 14.

The egg situation has stabilized, thank you for helping out via my buy 3 get 4 incentive. Wouldntya know it, the hens drastically cut back this week, for as yet unknown reasons, so I might be short now! Needless to say, regular terms are in effect as of yesterday.

We harvested several bushels of carrots from the greenhouse, very tasty due to the cold: Eliot Coleman calls them ‘sugar carrots’ and sells out every year. We have the baby size and regular size.

Another helpful book from the Weston A Price Foundation is now available at local bookstores: Nourishing Broth, about the legion health benefits of bone broths and their many uses. I’m right into it. There is a chapter on each of 11 different diseases or afflictions that broth can help. And then many recipes for broth and its uses.

As of Jan 11th, we can offer 57+ items including the following crops: salad greens, mint, beet root, chard, celeriac, carrots, squashes (hubbard, butternut, Sibley, buttercup, spaghetti and delicata), mixed greens, green onions and lettuce. There are lots of eggs and honey.

Camelia is cooking prepared foods from our produce: garlic pesto, cucumber relish, quiches (on order).

Would anyone be interested in bone broths prepared by Camelia? We could sell in 1 or 2 L jars, with deposit. Would you pay $10/L? Options could be beef, chicken, lamb or pork. Feedback requested.

We have lots of ground beef and a quarter side. I have 5 lambs in the freezer, as well as veal. The pork is selling well as are the stewing hens.

Healthy eating
Ian and Camelia

Old 99 Farm, week of Jan 4 2015


First thank you to the thoughtful Old 99 loyalists who gave us a gift of something home cooked or brewed, or a card and well-wishes over the Holiday Season. You reeally made our day!

I learned recently that Jan 1st is a very important day for chickens in California. Yes their new egg law is being implemented. Proposition 2,(2008)requires that all shell eggs for sale in the state come from hens afforded enough space to turn around and stretch their wings and fly, well, maybe walk and hop.

How much space do the scientists think a hen needs to comply with the new law? A spacious 116 square inches, as it turns out. That’s a nice upgrade from the very stingy 67 square inches (less than a piece of writing paper) afforded to hens unfortunate enough to be born into the battery cage neighborhood.

To comply many egg producers are just reducing the number of birds per cage which in the short run, means fewer eggs laid. Out of state producers have to comply too, if they want to sell in California.

The industry spin is generally the same; California voters approved the measure ultimately causing a decrease in the size of the flocks supplying the egg market *with a corresponding increase in the cost of eggs. *

There’s an economy of scale example to illustrate in real-life why small pastured producers have eggs that cost more. But are eggs at today’s prices expensive?

If a price of eggs costs $6 per dozen, that’s really 50 cents per egg. That means two sunny-side up eggs for breakfast is $1. You can’t buy a latte, a 20 ounce root beer, a pack of cigarettes, or a gallon of gas for a $1. The US pastured poultry average for a dozen of eggs is $5.20 per dozen with premiums paid for organic and soy-free production.

While the hens supplying California’s cheap egg markets have more space to live, it doesn’t result in a better quality egg. And it doesn’t eliminate cages. This is part that nobody is really talking about. Here in Canada, there is no law forbidding confinement cages for layers. That’s why you can buy eggs for $2/doz. But do they taste good? Are they nutritious? do you care about animal rights to not subsidize that industrial mode of egg production?

I figure pasture produces better quality and provides a suitable welfare environment for the chickens. There are many studies to back up the nutritional differences in pasture-raised eggs. Also, there is no caged production and the living space for pastured hens can be measured in square feet with additional space for foraging. My 90 birds have 400 sq ft inside and 8000 square feet of outside space and were eating grass on Xmas day! (Mild winter helps:)

That is the context for my “Let’s all eat eggs” campaign here for the next while. I have happy hens producing more eggs that you’all are buying. So puleez, get your neighours and co-workers interested in pastured eggs. I’m offering a free dozen with every 3 you buy. That works out to $4.50 a dozen. Buy three, get four. Sounds like an omelet to me!

The greenhouse offerings are still plentiful, with salad greens, kale, collards, spinach, green onions, and carrots. More root crops in the cold cellar. Lots of meats in the cooler, including stewing hens.

Healthy eating
Ian and Camelia