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Friday, January 22, 2010

A Victory for Raw Milk

U.S. Dept of Agriculture, the FDA, and various state governments have been waging a war against raw milk for years.  Swat teams hold women and children at gunpoint wihle they haul away "evidence" and "contraband" (raw milk, computer records, dairy equipment) and consumers are treated like children who can't make decisions for themselves.   This, of course, is all under the auspices of "protecting" us against our own stupid decisions.  Like other socialist policies, this looks well-meaning on the surface, but the loser is always the private citizen, and the winner is always corporatism and agribusiness.

A recent ruling in a Canadian court is a ray of sunshine in an increasingly bleak landscape.  Michael Schmidt, an Ontario farmer, was acquited of 19 charges brought against him by the Ontario Ministry of Health.  Schmidt had been running a cow share program to provide raw milk to those who would prefer their milk and cheese unpasteurized.  You know, the way it's been consumed for millenia.

In today's world, common sense takes a back seat to hysteria and corporate interests, and the uninformed eagerly nod their heads in acquiescence, thankful for Big Brother's solicitude.  Others, like myself, see what is happening to our food supply, investigate claims made by public health officials, and compare that to historical data.  I, for instance, concluded that raw milk, raw honey, and other raw foods can't be the threat we're told or the human race would have died out long ago.  Obviously that didn't happen, despite the lack of officialdom looking over our shoulders and monitoring our every mouthful until the recent past.

If every judge were as thorough as Ontario Judge Paul Kowarsky, it would be a better, safer world.  Those who want to drink pasteurized milk would be free to do so, and those who like raw, would be safe from gestapo tactics.

Food protection advocates energy would be better spent protecting us from genetically modified foods, contamination of open-pollinated crops, and providing labeling laws that allow us to know just where the threats in our food actually lay.  Instead, they harass small farmers and private food coops, discourage the buy and eat local movement, and work to convince the European Union that GM products don't really need to be labeled, using the long arm of the U.S. government to further the interests of Monsanto

As for me, I plan to continue drinking my own raw milk and making my own raw cheeses.  I have my very own raw milk machine, and she's a lot friendlier than agribusiness.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Adding enamel to teeth

I just came across an interesting claim that monosodium phosphate will actually thicken the enamel on your teeth and prevent cavities.  If it's true, I want to know!  Quickly!  I have a dentist appointmet next week that could perhaps have been avoided.  In the course of my investigation, I found  It's hard to tell whether the referred to book is necessary or just a good marketing device.  Actually, there's a reference to and the book on  Call me jaded, but I had to wonder if the owners of Toothsoap posted the wiki answer.

I'm going to spring for some monosodium phosphate and some toothsoap and report back in a month or two.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if this were a journey to a new land where tooth decay is unknown, rather than a short walk down the primrose path?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Legacy of Shame

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Legacy of Ashes, a book by Tim Weiner about the CIA.  Truly, the book should be renamed Legacy of Shame.

Well written and informative, if a bit biased, the one question that isn't directly addressed is:  Should the U.S. even have an intelligence branch?  The answer has to be yes.  No nation can exist without knowledge of the world around it, and even during the American Revolution intelligence operations were necessary.

But another more pressing question is whether the U.S. should throw out its moral foundation to interfere in other governments under the guise of national security.  My vote is NO.  There is NEVER a good reason for assassinations, fixing elections, and meddling in the internal affairs of other nations.  The whole mindset has led us to where we are today: hated and despised by the rest of the world, feared even by U.S. citizens.  We are bankrupt in more ways than one.  The CIA needs to be eliminated, and a new intelligence agency that provides information only--even by placing people in sensitive positions--needs to be formed.  Then all we need is operatives and politicians with moral fiber.  Yeh, right, if that's even possible in today's America.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts on a Snowy Day

It's snowing.  Has been since sometime during the night.  As I look out the window, I see the chickadees making runs to the birdfeeders, snatching seeds then flying off, to return again a minute later.

It's very quiet, not the sound of a motor anywhere.  A perfect day to stoke up the wood stove, curl up with a book, and let the world go by.  I watched the end of a movie this morning, Delhi 6.  Good movie, even though it was subtitled thoughout.  As I sit here in my quiet corner, I wonder how people can live in such teeming masses, all of humanity crowded next to each other.  Yet even as I say that, I'd love to go to India and experience it.  I'd like to experience life on many planes, but this one, the one I have today, is the one I want to always come back to: enveloped in quiet, surrounded by warm furry and feathered bodies:  cats, horses, goats, chickens, and anything wild that comes through on wings or feet.

I was reading The 5000 Year Leap, by W. Cleon Skousen, this morning.  Chapter 15 covered The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, one of the foundations of our Founding Fathers' economic and political philosophy.  We've left that far behind.  For the first hundred years, America embraced Smith's ideas and the U.S.A. became the wealthiest nation in the world.  We produced the most goods, grew the most crops, and exported the greatest amount.  Real wealth, that's what America gave to the world, and though there was still poverty, it was not the glaring abject proverty that's seen all of the rest of the world.  Americans opened their hearts and their wallets and became possibly the most generous people in the world.

That's all changed now.  In the early 1900's, by slow degrees, free market capitalism began to fall into disfavor, as Marxism slowly encroached through the offices of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and almost every president since 1950.  What I find particularly telling an 1865 editorial by Lord Goschen in the London Times: 
"If this mischievous financial policy, which has its origin in North America, shall become endurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous without precedent in the history of the world. The brains, and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That country must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe." Hazard Circular - London Times 1865 (emphasis added)

Is it any wonder that our economy has been under attack, that the Constitution has been undermined, that the "dollar"--which used to be defined as 372.5 grains of fine silver--is almost worthless?  We're now fighting over the last 2 or 3 cents, and hyperinflation is breathing down our necks.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Little Guy

Last April when I bought some day-old chicks locally, I was offered a Silkie with a flipped foot.  At the time, we weren't sure if it were a pullet or a cockerel, but I took it, hoping it was a pullet.  Nope, a cockerel, but so darned cute that I didn't care.  I suspected that as time went on, but when he started crowing, it was a sure thing. The problem is, that all my other chickens are full size, and they sometimes pick on him unmercifully.  He's housed in his own little area in the tackroom, and locked in a cat carrier-cum-private-coop at night. During the day he gets around surprisingly well on that flipped foot.  He can't roost, but he moves well enough.

I call this little bantam SilkieLou (if it had been a pullet, the name would have been SilkieSue), but he actually has many names.  My son calls him AfroCluck, my sister calls him Buckwheat, and her friend Bill calls him Afro or Little Buddy.  My mother just calls him "that funny looking chicken".

SilkieLou actually comes when called--usually.  Or at least, he croons when you call so you know where to find him.   He's a great favorite with everyone at the farm, and Bill, who is a city boy, can't believe that he thinks a chicken is so cute.

A few weeks ago, SilkieLou disappeared.  We called, we hunted, we looked in every nook and cranny, behind every box, under every overhang.  We looked outside, under bushes, beneath vehicles, sure that he couldn't have gotten out of the barn, but not wanting to take any chances of overlooking him.  We called, we listened, but to no avail.  After two nights, we were sure he was gone forever.  48 hours later, the Silkie showed up, hungry and thirsty.  The whole household celebrated!  Such can be the effect of a lowly chicken on the spirits of us all.

I'm looking around for a Silkie pullet or two now.  I think he deserves to have company, and maybe his own little haram.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Time to catch up.

The summer fled by, the fall is gone, and we're right in the middle of a cold Maine winter.  I now have four goats. I added an Alpine, only to find that I really prefer my Saanens.  Ali is a beautiful doe, registered, belted Chamoisee, but her personality is much different from the others.  Where the others want to be outside, she wants to hang around the barn.  The others are sociable with each other as well as with horses and humans.  Not Ali.  She wants to hang out with people.  She's also a very dominant doe, so it took a while for things to calm down after she came.  Now she and Beatrice share a stall and Emily and Sanuba share a stall, and all is quiet.

Three goats are bred:  Ali is due April 1st and Beatrice is due April 20th.  Sanuba may be bred.  I thought long and hard about whether to breed her.  She was, after all, only 8 months old in November; but she's a big girl, and weighed about 100 lbs, so on the last day of her heat, I put her in with the buck.  She ran from him, butted him unmercifully when he got too close, but he finally cornered her and she never came back into heat.  If she's bred, she's due on April 26th.  Emily, aka "Tank", can wait until next year.