Dog Days of Summer

We are right into the heat of July here on the farm, the time of year when we always pray for rain.  If there is going to be a drought, which is devastating for farms like ours that depend on hay and pasture, it usually begins in July and lingers into August.  So every drop of rain is welcome.  

The stable of our 150 year old bank barns, empty as they are all summer while the cows are out grazing, retain some basement coolness even on a hot summer day, and it was one of those when we recently installed new timbers to strengthen the main floor in Mark’s barn.  It’s always satisfying to build with materials that originate right there on the farm.  These are 3”X8” poplar beams which were sawn right here on the farm.  The trees composing a windbreak on the western edge of the home farm, were planted in 1983, the year we transitioned to organic methods.  They need to be thinned out, so we will have a good supply of homegrown lumber for the next few years.

Summer Specials – All Organic grass-fed Beef and Pastured Pork and Chicken

Here are some hot items for easy meals in the summer.

Check out a recipe for bone-in breast, baked in 15 minutes here;

We tried it and it was scrumptious!

You Are What You Eat

The line above can accurately be placed in the category of “axiom” ; “A statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true”. The direct link between good nutrition and vitality is not in dispute.  Everyone wants to be healthy – to live a long, disease free life.  Yet the basic means of ensuring health – a healthy diet – which is at the discretion of each person, is more often than not ignored or relegated to a minor role.  When we talk about “Health Care”, what comes to mind?  Doctors and drugs.  In every election polls show that the peoples’ concern for ready access to doctors and hospitals is near the top of all issues.  We demand more spending on more beds, more doctors and nurses, free prescriptions etc.  And yet the research is clear that without a doubt, eating better food could drastically cut the cost of treating disease by preventing it. Most of us are at least partly culpable in this willful irresponsibility.  We prefer to neglect what could be done each day to preserve health, and run to the doctor for help when we fall sick.

I will make my own confession publicly to illustrate the point. 

About 5 years ago, I started to have some pain in my right hip.  It would come and go, sometimes being severe enough to keep me awake at night.  I am very physically active, and continued to work and play sports, and I consoled myself with the idea that as long as I could keep on doing these things at my age, there cannot be any serious problem.  My trusted chiropractor who has helped me through many aches and pains for over 50 years, was of the opinion that the cause of pain was not deterioration of the socket joint but only inflammation.  He advised me to drink more water and avoid sugar.  I didn’t doubt that this was good advice, but I followed it only half-heartedly for a while, and then went back to my usual routines.  I like desserts and when Christine makes Rhubarb Dream Bars or Oatmeal cookies I can put away 2 or 3 helpings a day, maybe topped off with a bowl of ice-cream before bed. Ice cream with maple syrup.

Then in the past year, the left hip also began to hurt. It got to the point where I would be conscious of how I rolled over in bed to avoid the pain.  First thing in the morning, putting on pants and socks was a tedious process.  The morning after a game of squash or tennis, I was in greater distress, moving slowly, like an old man.  (I am only 64) Finally, after a Sunday afternoon ball game with the grandchildren when I found myself unable to bend down to field a grounder, I realized that something had to be done.

What to do?  One option would be to go to my doctor and get a diagnosis. But long ago, when our kids were little, Christine and I developed the habit of doing our own research before consulting with the medical profession.  Back then it was “The Family Health Encyclopedia” – our one and only resource.  Now, thanks to the World Wide Web, it’s so easy.  I typed in “inflammation”, browsed through some titles and selected a YouTube video to watch.  The presenter – a chiropractor – listed 10 foods to avoid.  Sugar and white flour products were #’s 1 and 2. He had a list of good things that combat inflammation too. No surprises here for me, being involved as I have been in organic food for so long. Nuts, blueberries, sour cherries, yogurt, sauerkraut, fish, olive oil, etc.  The guy was also peddling a supplement that would supply all you needed and let you go on eating whatever you pleased – inflammation free. I ignored that part.  But his nutritional advice rang true and the words of my chiropractor friend came back to me.  I announced to Christine that I was going to give it a shot.  

I must say that I was unprepared for the impact of my new diet to manifest so quickly, and I am still inclined to consider what came about as bordering on miraculous.  Within a few days I was noticing less acute pain, but the skeptic in me noted the absence of any objective metric for discomfort. Likely my hope of improvement was inciting the imagination to conjure up positive results. But I felt a little better each day, enough to enthusiastically embrace the restrictions on eating.  Cautiously, after one week, I shared with some family members the first hard evidence of healing; I could get dressed standing up!  Then about 2 weeks in, one fine morning, I rolled out of bed, stood up, walked out into the kitchen, and it struck me;  I hadn’t felt any pain!  Thanks be to God!

What can I learn from this singular experience?  As far as eating and drinking goes, I am no purist.  But I will definitely avoid sugar and white flour.  Turns out it’s not that hard once you set your mind to it, and in addition to healing my hip pain,  all the doctors agree that there are a host of other benefits.  Why didn’t I do it sooner?  Don’t know… But I will end with some good advice that was written on a carton of organic milk.  “Let Food Be Your Medicine”.

In the American diet, the top sources are soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. But added sugar is also present in items that you may not think of as sweetened, like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.

The result: we consume way too much added sugar. Adult men take in an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the National Cancer Institute. That’s equal to 384 calories.

“Excess sugar’s impact on obesity and diabetes is well documented, but one area that may surprise many men is how their taste for sugar can have a serious impact on their heart health,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

You can read the complete article from Harvard at:,pathological%20pathways%20to%20heart%20disease.