Turkey Tracks: First Freedom Rangers

Turkey Tracks:  April 16, 2011

First Freedom Rangers

Here they are!

Our first Freedom Ranger chickens!

All 77 (75 plus two extras “in case”…) arrived at the Lincolnville, Maine, post office bright and early on Friday morning, April 15th.  Pete went to pick them up, and I met him at the house.  Margaret was there, too, as she was taking 15 of them.

As you can see, they are big, and lively.  There wasn’t a frail one in the bunch.


Freedom Rangers are good layers and good meat birds.  We will have some of each.

Freedom Rangers DO NOT HAVE any Cornish chicken in them, which makes them unique for meat birds.  The market, as I discussed in Tipping Points 9 on meat chickens, settled on meat birds which are all, virtually, Cornish or Cornish crosses.  The Cornish breed grows to over 5 pounds in 6 weeks and has a HUGE white, tasteless breast–produced for a market that went crazy about fat-free meat.  These chickens grow so quickly and are so heavy that their bones and organs won’t support them.  They are Frankensteins.  Their flesh has no texture and melts in your mouth.  Their bones don’t have the minerals they should have, so bone broths made from these bones aren’t as healthy as they should be.

Last year we tried Silver Cross’s–a cross between a barred rock and a Cornish.  The meat texture was lovely–like chicken I remember growing up.  The taste–was wanting.

Freedom Rangers are the same bird as the French sell under their Red label–which is highly sought after in France for taste and texture.

We’ll let you know in about 3 months.  Meanwhile, on Howe Hill, we have one frozen chicken left in the freezer.

Interesting Information: “Autism, Chemicals and Food Additives”

Interesting Information:  March 27, 2011

“Autism, Chemicals and Food Additives”

Jane Hersey’s eldest daughter “showed symptoms of autism until her diet was changed.”  Says Hersey:  “Most parents of autistic children do not realize that help may be as close as their kitchen cupboards.”

Autism in the United States has “increased from 1 in 2,500 children to 1 in 110 children.”

Ben Feingold, MD, a pediatrician and allergist, formed The Feingold Association, which explores the link between diet and behavior. 

“Many parents have seen their children’s behavior and attention improve when they removed synthetic food dyes, artificial flavorings and certain preservatives from their diet.” 

“Children’s increased consumption of petroleum-based food additives may account for some of this [autism] rise, given that there has been a fivefold increase in food dye consumption per person in the United States since 1955.  (They even dye dill pickles yellow according to an article I read on food dyes in the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) newsletter–“Nutrition Action”  in the past 6 months.) 

“Try to limit your children’s exposure to scented cleansers, germicidal sprays, furniture waxes, room deodorizers, carpet and oven cleaners, insecticides, moth balls, oil-based paint and solvents like paint thinner.”  Also, wash new clothes and linens to stop “the off-gassing of formaldehyde and fire-retardant chemicals used in many fabrics.”

Choose “toothpaste, mouthwash, medicines, vitamins, soaps and lotions that have not been synthetically colored, flavored or scented.”  (I’d say if you have bad breath, eat more probiotics like those found in high-quality yogurt.  Bad breath comes from your gut, not your mouth.  Cavities are a sign of nutritional deficiencies, not unclean mouths.  (See The Weston A. Price Foundation web site for more info.)  (We use a half & half mixture of baking soda and sea salt, with a drop of essential peppermint oil on the toothbrush, to brush our teeth, and my gums have not bled at the dentists since I started using it.) 

The Feingold Association (www.feingold.org, 800-321-32887) publishes a FOODLIST & SHOPPING GUIDE identifying safe products. 

Jane Hersey wrote WHY CAN’T MY CHILD BEHAVE?

Jane Hersey’s article appeared in the March/April 2011 WELL BEING JOURNAL, 33-34.  This issue has an excellent article by Sally Fallon Morell of The Weston A. Price Foundation:  “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry.”

Interesting Information: “A reversal on carbs”

Interesting Information:  March 27, 2011

“A reversal on carbs”

“A growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates–not fat–for America’s ills.”

Walter Willet, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health:  ” `If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.’ “

Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University:  “`Now a growing and convincing body of science is pointing the finger at carbs, especially those containing refined flour and sugar.'”

Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health:  “`The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar.  That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today.’ “

Dr. Stephen Phinney, nutritional biochemist and emeritus professor of University of California, Davis, who has studied carbohydrates for 30 years:  ” `However, over time, as our bodies get tired of processing high load of carbs, which evolution didn’t prepare us for…how the body responds to insulin can change.’ ”  Phinney did a 12-week study in 2008 that compared low-fat and low-carb diets.  The low-carb diet lowered triglyceride levels by 50 percent though participants ate 36 grams of saturated fat a day.  (History and evolution show that grain agriculture–in a 24-hour day of human existence–comes in at 23 hours and 53 minutes.)

Dr. Eric Westman, director of the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University Medical Center:  “`At my obesity clinic, my default diet for treating obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is a low-carb diet.’ “

Naysayers:  Dr. Joanne Slavin, a member of the advisory committee for the failed USDA low-fat diet regime, and Dr. Ronald Krauss, senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and founder and past chair of the American Heart Assn.’s Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, a believer in the calorie in/calorie out paradigm–which cannot demonstrate success in weight loss because it doesn’t work.  (See Gary Taubes WHY WE GET FAT.)

 Here’s the whole article:  Marni Jameson, “A reversal on carbs,” LA Times, December 20, 2010, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/20/health/la-he-carbs-20101220

Interesting Information: The “Sweet 16,” Living Longer Gene

Interesting Information:  March 27, 2011

The “Sweet 16,” Living Longer Gene

Geneticist Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco, has discovered two genes, one of which helps you live longer with good health (Sweet Sixteen gene) and one of which causes ageing and death (Grim Reaper gene).  Her work has been “successfully repeated in labs around the world,” and “many experts believe [she] should win the Nobel Prize for her research into ageing.”  Eating carbohydrates “from bananas and potatoes to bread, pasta, biscuits and cakes–directly affect two key genes that govern youthfulness and longevity.” 

Ageing, it seems, is NOT caused by wearing out, but by genes affected by insulin.  To turn on the Sweet Sixteen gene, stop eating carbohydrates because they “make your body produce more insulin (to mop up the extra blood sugar carbs produce….”  More insulin means a more active Grim Reaper.  And, Jeff Holly “who specialises in insulin-like growth factor” confirms that the Grim Reaper “is linked to cancer of the prostate, breast and colon.” 

Kenyon herself has cut out all starch (potatoes, noodles, rice, bread and pasta) and eats salads (no sweet dressings), lots of olive oil and nuts, tons of green vegetables along with cheese, chicken and eggs.”  She avoids sweets, except for 80 percent chocolate.

Here’s the whole article:  Jerome Burne, “Can cutting carbohydrates from your diet make you live longer?” Daily Mail, 26 October, 2010:   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1323758/Can-cutting-Carbohydrates-diet-make-live-longer.html.

Interesting Information: Asthma Rates Soaring

Interesting Information:  March 25, 2011

Asthma Rates Soaring

From the following article in “Scientific American” magazine, April 2011, “Why Are Asthma Rates Soaring?” by Veronique Greenwood, pages 32-33:

“Asthma rates have been surging around the globe over the past three decades….”

“A reworking of the hygiene hypothesis that focuses on changes in the normal nondisease-causing bacteria that live inside and on the body (in the intestines or the airways or on the skin) has promise.  Studies by [Erika] von Mutius and others have shown that children who live on farms where cows or pigs are raised and where they drink raw milk almost never have asthma, allergic or otherwise.  Presumable because the children drank unpasteurized milk and handled livestock, they have different strains of normal bacteria in their airways that are somehow more protective than those found in city kids.” 

Erika von Mutius is an epidemiologist at Munich University. 

Ha!  It all gets back to having good internal beasties, which commercial milk, which is a highly processed fake, dead food, does not supply or enhance.  Bet the real ingredient for farm kids not having noticeable asthma rates  is NOT handling live stock, but drinking a living, nutrient dense food.  And, maybe, not eating a lot of processed foods made of chemical brews, rancid oils, powdered proteins, etc.  Or, poisoned foods.   Having said that, farm kids living around chemical spraying have high cancer rates…

Turkey Tracks: Blowing My Nose in Style

Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011

Blowing My Nose in Style

On January 19, 2011, I wrote a post called “Cutting the Waste Stream and Detoxing the Kitchen.”  One of my issues of the past few years has been how to cut back on the amount of paper we use.  My use of paper towels, napkins, and, now that I think about it, toilet paper, seemed/seems excessive.  So, I’ve been searching for ways to cut back. 

Paper Towels:  I’m happy to report that our paper towel use is practically nonexistent.  So nonexistent that I can’t remember when I used one last.  Putting a bowl of cheap white (so I can see stains) wash cloths on the kitchen counter is working beautifully.  They can be used to where I would have once used paper towels.  (I do not use them to wipe out the cast iron skillet, but more on that in a minute.)  They can also be used inside a bag of lettuce or anything going into the refrigerator than needs a bit of drying.  I could also use them to drain bacon slices, though I’ve mostly just put the cooked slices on a plate.  Once cooled, they reabsorb the fat, and meat fat does not make you fat or hurt your heart, contrary to the low-fat ideology of the past 30-40 years.  As for cleaning the skillet, we pour off extra fat for the dogs and chickens, or for us sometimes, like saving bacon fat or using the glorious fat from a beef or lamb roast on toast the next day–all traditional practices lost over the past 40 years.  A swishing with hot water in the sink takes out the residue in the skillet, and drying the pan with a bit of heat preserves its all-important coating.

I also bought two washcloths for each of our bathrooms, put them under the sink, and use them to spot clean the bathroom.  (Our cleaning woman already uses rags and washcloths to clean the house–she brings them with her.)  That’s working well, too. 

All the washcloths just get thrown into the laundry every week.  If some are dirtier or greasier than others, they go into the pile of dish cloths, etc., that might need either a bit of clorox (winter) or line bleaching (summer). 

Paper Napkins:  We’ve been using our cloth napkins at the dinner table–and reusing them until they are demonstrably dirty.  Growing up, we did not wash cloth table napkins every day.  One had a set place at the table and reused one’s  napkin.  Not doing so saves on water, soap, and energy as well as NOT using paper napkins.  But, for me, who for most of my life has had a chronically runny nose (driven I now realize mostly by food allergies), paper napkins were needed as kleenex just wasn’t strong or thick enough.  So, one day this winter, we had lunch with old Tufts friends of  John’s, Jack and Barbara Moore, of the schooner Surprise, and Jack pulled out a BIG, sturdy, handkerchief from his pants pocket.  It was one of those colored bandanas like we now use to decorate the necks of dogs.  When I said “YES!” and explained my search, he told me he bought them at Reny’s (our local version of a mixed-bag kind of store) for under $2 each.  John and I went that same day and got some.  John got a manly navy blue, and I got these:


They were a little stiff at first, but are now, after several washings, soft as butter.  And, I love them!  They’re so much nicer than paper napkins, and they are so much bigger and sturdier than any of the white handkerchiefs I could find online.

Toilet Paper:   Well this issue is tougher, as Colin Beaven discovered when he started his “No Impact Man” blog and the press became obsessed with the family’s toilet habits.  (Beaven’s blog resulted in a book and a documentary.)  To backtrack, Colin, his wife, and their young daughter attempted to erase or to balance  their energy use footprint for one year, though they lived in New York City.  Toilet paper requires a lot of energy to produce, process in sewage, etc.   And, Beaven points out:  “More than half the world believes that washing their nether regions is far more hygienic than using toilet paper, a practice largely confined to our Western culture.”   I wasn’t surprised to read Beaven’s  information as a few years back, my book club had read Mohja Kahf’s THE GIRL IN THE TANGERINE SCARF:  A NOVEL, wherein the Muslim/American female protagonist does a whole riff on how Muslims view Americans as walking around with and sleeping with dirty nether regions.  Think about it. 

I tried, here at home, to wash rather than to wipe after reading Beaven’s book.  It’s not hard as long as you’re  next to the sink where you can put warm water into a container stored by the toilet.  It’s a bit awkward from lack of practice, of course.  And a container that pours is better than one that doesn’t.  It’s impossible in a public restroom or in someone else’s home.  You do need a container and a drying washcloth or towel–not items one carries around or that friends’ bathrooms supply.  In any case, it is MUCH cleaner, so the half of the world that washes rather than wipes is right about the cleanliness aspect of this issue.

Anyway, I’m pleased with how we’ve been able to curtail our paper use.  It’s a step in a needed direction, a step that refuses to be part of the extraction economy.  And a reminder that sometimes those who live in different cultures or who lived “back in the day” might have better practices than we do.        

Turkey Tracks: How to Sew On a Button

Turkey Tracks:  February 15, 2011

How to Sew On a Button

A friend told me recently that s/he wanted to learn to sew on a button. 

We meant to sit down so I could demonstrate.  There are a few tricks.

But, the internet is a wonderful thing for this kind of information.  Here’s a terrific video showing exactly how to sew on a button, including the bit of information I would have included about creating a thread shank between the button and the material about equal to the thickness of the material that the button will be handling. 

I would also note that sometimes, if I don’t want to see a knot on the inside of my jacket or sweater or whatever, I will start sewing my button on from the front side, so the knot is hidden.  I also, like the demo here, return to the front side to clip off my thread, but, first, I do a quick knot into the thread shank to doubly secure the thread.


Turkey Tracks: Chicken Feed Recipe

Turkey Tracks:  February 9, 2011

Chicken Feed Recipe

Our chickens are very tired of being “cooped up” in their coop and attached cage, both of which are now banked high with snow and which are, therefore, dark.  You will recall that the chicks were venturing out in the snow paths we made, lured by me and sunflower seeds, until a bird (an owl?) killed May May at dusk one day.

The cage, actually, has about 2 feet of snow on its top as well–which probably provides quite a bit of insulation, especially since I layered tarps over it before the first snow fall.  Inside the coop, we have a red 60 watt translucent light, which gives them a bit more heat.  (The temps up here were in the teens last night.)  I plug in the light in the morning when I feed the chicks so they have some light in their coop during the day.  I turn if off about 8 p.m.  They don’t really like the light on all night, so I only leave it on all night when the temps fall into the single digits.  They get quite cross when they go all night with the light on.

Chickens are very social, so I try to visit them several times a day after they have finished laying.  They don’t like to be disturbed when they are laying.  I open the roof, and they come to see me.  Several will fly up to perch on the opened roof edge and like to be petted and rubbed.  All of them talk to you.  I throw a handful of sunflower seeds into the cage, which is now many inches deep with coop bedding that falls out when the cage door gets opened in the morning.  They scratch around looking for the seeds, and it gives them something to do.  They are VERY bored.  (The dogs are too.)  The other day I sacrificed some of my compost worms and took a full bowl out to the coop.  Mercy me!  Those chickens were so excited.

Chickens love greens, and now all the grass is covered with snow.  I give them as many greens as I can–leftover lettuce, cooked greens, the stems from cleaning greens, and so forth.  I’ve even been known to BUY them some lettuce.  But, what the really love are sprouts, so I’ve been sprouting mung beans for them–something I do this time of year anyway to get fresh greens into our diets.  If I leave the sprouts growing longer, they start to grow leaves, and the chicks really like those.  Here are some sprouting in the kitchen window:

 That rock in in the window is a piece of the old, old Bryan mill stone from the mill out on what was once the farm in Reynolds, Georgia.  My Uncle Buddy gave it to me long years ago now.   The mill was gone by the time I was a child, but he remembered it.

I also give the chickens a big bowl of milk, some hamburger, a bit of bread to soak up the milk, kitchen leftovers they like, and whatever greens I can muster up first thing in the morning.  They love cooked oatmeal, like a warm mash, on a cold morning.  Ditto ground corn cooked in a bit of milk.  This food is their second choice, after greens.

I don’t feed my chickens commercial organic feed, which is full of industrial by-products, like spent, rancid oils, SOY, and  synthetic protein, needed because the corn/soy ratio doesn’t supply enough protein.    Chickens fed commercial feed, even organic feed, produce egg yolks with soy isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens that act like hormones and which affect human reproductive and nervous systems.

Here’s what the mixture I make for them looks like–and I’m darn lucky to have access to all of these organic grains.  Looks good enough to grind and cook, right?  I could, if I didn’t put grit into the mixture.  See the tiny rocks–grit–mixed it?  That’s what chickens use to help digest their food inside their crop, or gizzard.   Anyway, I keep all the grains, seeds, and beans separate out in the garage, so I can use them if I like.

I got the master recipe from a farm out west somewhere, called Greener Pastures (www.greenerpasturesfarm.com/ChickenFeed Recipe.html).  Thanks so much for sharing, Greener Pastures!

This recipe uses wheat, which has a fair amount of protein, as the base grain and peas and lentils for proteins.  Everything is organic.  So, here’s what I’m mixing up:

3 parts hard red winter wheat

3 parts soft spring wheat

1 part whole corn (I up this in the winter to almost 3 parts to help the chicks gain and hold fat, and in the summer I throw out a bit of whole corn for scratch feed.)

1 part steel-cut oats

1 part hulled barley

1 part hulled sunflower seeds

1 part green split peas

1 part lentils

Any other seeds/grain I think they’ll like for a change:  millet, sesame seeds, etc.

About two cups of grit per mixture.

Interesting Information: 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 83 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 214 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 387mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 10th with 32 views. The most popular post that day was Tipping Points 2: Winning the Cancer War.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were mail.yahoo.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, slashingtongue.com, en.wordpress.com, and digg.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for louisa enright blog, socks, louisa enright, oreo cows, and cow markings.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Tipping Points 2: Winning the Cancer War April 2010


Tipping Points 9: Chicken Feed May 2010


Turkey Tracks: Hand Projects: Socks and a Rug October 2010
1 comment


About April 2010


Interesting Information: Cancer Rates, Delmarva Peninsula June 2010

Interesting Information: Cancer Rates, Delmarva Peninsula

Interesting Information:  June 14, 2010

Cancer Rates, Delmarva Peninsula

The Maine Organic Farmers’ and Growers Association quarterly journal came last week some time.  The journal always list up-to-date information about toxins.  This issue had a piece of information that I’ve searched for, off and on, for some time–cancer rates on the Eastern Shore.   

The area where my niece Catherine died, called the Eastern Shore, is part of a larger geographical structure called the Delmarva Peninsula–for the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia which make it up.  The Delmarva peninsula is known for chicken production (growing and slaughtering) and for truck gardening.  The produce goes to neighboring urban areas, among them DC and Baltimore. 

Catherine lived just downwind from a chicken processing plant.  Neighboring fields were covered routinely with chicken manure.  These plants pumped bloody water into the bay.  Indeed, pfiesteria piscicida was discovered in the Chesapeake Bay very near her home south of Onancock.  Pfiesteria piscicida kills, massively kills, fish.  And, it has been associated with both the handling of pig and chicken manure in large, industrial practices, as a quick google search demonstrates.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pfiesteria_piscicida  and http://www.grist.org/article/last/

Anyway, here is the article from the June-August 2010 MOFGA journal, pages 9 and 10.  I’ve just retyped it exactly as it appears:

“Sheila Pell reports in Emagazine that some 70 percent of U.S. broiler chickens, as well as turkeys and swine, are given the arsenic-based growth promoting feed additive roxarsone.  While some of that organic arsenic remains in chicken meat, most is excreted and breaks down into inorganic arsenic, a strong promoter of many cancers.  In Prairie Grove, Arkansas, which is surrounded by large poultry factory farms, and where manure from those farms is used extensively as fertilizer on area fields, incidences of rare cancers are high.  A decade ago, the town’s 2,500 residents learned that 17 children there suffered from cancers including brain and testicular cancer and leukemia.  Likewise, the  Peninsula, another area with factory poultry farms, has one of the highest cancer rates in the United States.  Manure that isn’t used as fertilizer is added to cattle feed.  The National Chicken Council claims that roxarsone, an antibiotic, contributes to “animal health and welfare, food  and environmental sustainability.”  (“Arsenic and Old Studies–Pressure Is On to Ban a Hazardous but Profitable Feed Additive,” by Sheila Pell, Emagazine, March-April 2010; http://www.emagazine.com/view/?5064). 

High cancer rates on the Delmarva peninsula…  It’s nice to see it confirmed…

When Catherine was dying, and we all started at looking at why she might have gotten such an aggressive cancer–it killed her in a year despite every medical intervention tried, including a stem-cell transplant at Duke–we wondered about all the cancer in young people where she lived.  We wondered about the water.  We wondered about the truck gardening.  We really wondered about the chicken industry.

The Eastern Shore in perfectly suited for large industry, in that while there are some wealthy people who have vacation homes, most of the area is poor.  The chicken and produce industries provide jobs–though many of them, I suspect from looking at who was working in the fields, are going to illegal immigrants.  Anyway, no one locally will fight what is happening to the environment–even though many families have been struck with the nightmare of cancer.

Arsenic has never been banned in the United States, and it is still used agriculturally.