All Plants for Food

One day I noticed in the Bible, in Genesis 1:29, that God said that He had given every plant that produced seed and every tree that produced seed for us for food. My first thought was really? What about Poison Ivy, Dogwood, etc? In researching, I found that yes, most plants have some food or medicinal properties. One valuable website lists over 7,300 plants and their edible parts and medicinal uses.

There are only about twenty different plants that provide about 90% of the food that we eat, and yet there are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world. There is much more food around us than what we realize.

A Cheap "Air Conditioner" When Working Outside

A simple way to stay cool this summer when you have to work outside in the heat is to first wet your shirt under the faucet, wring it out, and then put it on. The evaporation of the water will keep you cool. If you start working with a dry shirt and then get hot enough to sweat your shirt wet you never really feel cool. A shirt wet with water feels much cooler and more comfortable than a sweaty, sticky, smelly shirt.

Illegal Substance Produces Healthier, Larger Chickens

This month our chickens look like they will be larger than what they usually are in the summer months. We have seen a significant improvement in the health of the chickens and a better growth rate which we attribute to feeding them one to two gallons a day of an "illegal" substance for the first three or four weeks. If we sold you this substance, or even gave it to you, we could be arrested for doing so! This substance is raw skim milk from our grassfed cows. We skim the cream off our surplus milk, make butter for our own use and feed the skim milk to the chickens. Raw milk from grassfed cows is an important food for health. Hopefully, one day it will be legal to buy raw milk in Maryland.

World Food Crisis

An indicator that the intentional creative destruction of local farms was a bad idea is that there is a growing shortage of food worldwide. The food shortage is only partially caused by biofuel production. The total world production of food is not enough. The poorest countries are being hit the hardest because they can’t afford the higher cost of food. The price of rice has increased from $460 a ton to over $1000 in just a few month’s time. That also means that humanitarian relief can now feed less than half as many people as before with the same amount of money. Twelve countries have had food riots, and the prime minister of Haiti was run out of office because of their food shortage.

Our dependence on other countries for food is greater than most people realize. Most people have no idea the total volume of food that they consume each year. Nor do they realize how difficult it would be for each family to produce all the food that their family needs for the entire year if they had to. I know we didn’t realize how difficult it was until we started farming. We raise almost all the meat we eat. We produce all the eggs we want. Our two cows provide most of the milk, butter, ice cream, and yogurt we eat. We have a large garden, and Cathy freezes and cans lots of vegetables. You would think that we were almost self sufficient, but we are not! We still spend around $6,000 at the grocery store or for other off farm food purchases for our family of eight. That amount includes total grocery store purchases which includes toilet paper, detergents, etc. Producing everything  you eat for an entire year is difficult.

There is a slogan that applies to the present food crisis: "Think globally, act locally". The more food we produce and consume locally, the less food that has to be imported and taken from poorer countries who can’t compete with us price wise for the food. If we eat more potatoes and less rice, it means more rice will be available for others. We encourage you to consider doing some gardening this year. If you have not yet started a garden or even just a few tomato plants, it is not too late to do it.

Pet Food

Pet food has become more expensive, along with other food. Here is a suggestion for cutting costs and at the same time giving your pet an even better quality food. Feed your dog or cat the parts of the pasture raised chicken that you get from us that you can’t eat – the carcass. The savings on pet food will reduce the real cost of your chicken. Dogs will readily eat raw chicken bones and they need the calcium and minerals in the bones. When a fox kills and eats one of our chickens, all that is left is a pile of feathers. Raw chicken bones are not brittle, and a dog can eat them and readily digest them. There is a growing trend of feeding pets a BARF diet (Bones and Raw Food). You can do a Google search to find out more information.

Many pets are getting the same degenerative diseases as human beings. They are eating the wrong foods and poor quality foods, just like most people are. Your pet has a shorter lifespan than what you do which means that degenerative diseases show up sooner than they do in people. If your pet eats a similar diet to your own, and they get a degenerative disease, it may be a warning sign to you that your diet is not what it should be. While the diet needs of humans and animals are not totally the same, we can learn a lot about human health and nutrition by observing our animals and learning from them what makes them healthy.

How to prepare the chicken carcass for your pet food.
When you take the fresh chicken home, it is relatively simple (after you do it a once or twice) to cut off the leg and thigh on each side of the chicken. Using a large sharp knife, cut the skin separating the thigh and the carcass. Then bend the leg to give access to the hip joint and cut through the joint in the hip. Cut off the wings in a similar manner. Then slice off the breast meat starting along the breast bone, and carve the meat off following the rib cage. If you didn’t cut it up quite right, that’s alright. There is no real loss. It just means you get a little less meat and your pet gets a little more. You can cut the carcass into smaller pieces using a knife to cut and break the backbone at a joint, or you could use a clean hacksaw to cut through the bones. The carcass pieces that you don’t feed the first week you can put in small packages and put in the freezer.

Another suggestion for cutting pet food costs is to feed a raw egg to your dog or cat. A dozen large eggs weighs one and a half pounds. Eggs are a cheaper source of protein for both you and your pet when compared to meat. We feed some of the cracked eggs to our cats. They love eggs and it puts a shine to their fur. However, if we feed them too many eggs they get tired of them. They need more variety than just eggs. Spice up their life and give them some variety of good healthy foods.

Creative Destruction Related to Farms

When I (Myron) was young, the United States produced a lot of extra food that was exported to many countries. The U.S. was called the breadbasket of the world. But times have changed. The number of farms have decreased, population has increased and we now import almost 50% of our food. What has perplexed me is that the government doesn’t seem to care that each year we have to import a greater portion of our food. Part of our national security is our ability to produce our own food and not have to rely on other countries for our food. There are many things we can live without, but we can’t live without food.

Recently, I found out the reason why farms have been declining in America. It is part of financial engineering by the Federal Reserve in an attempt to create a higher standard of living for Americans. The economic theory is called "Creative Destruction". The philosophy of creative destruction also explains why the U.S. government changed regulations for domestic manufacturing and clothing factories so that it became too costly to produce their products in the U.S. The result has been that most of our manufacturing segment has moved oversees. Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that the concept of creative destruction is not a conspiracy theory of someone speculating on the motives of the Federal Reserve. It is a philosophy that the Fed has clearly stated it is using. The following are former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s own words from a speech given on Oct. 21, 2007:

"We have been doing things different for quite a long period of years. And many of them turned out to be awful. So I think that the issue always rests in capitalist market economy which as you point out has its roots and its necessities in creative destruction because remember it is only creative destruction that creates higher standards of living.

"Because by definition creative destruction is essentially moving the capital from less productive obsolescent industries to cutting edge technology related industries and by definition the moving a body of capital from the low output per man hour type industries to higher man hour output industries and that obviously raises the average and its only the average increase in productivity which generates higher standards of living. There is no other way that we have found and that includes having oil in the ground or gold somewhere. Adam Smith is right it is essentially the wealth of nations is determined by productivity and productivity can be advanced only in broad economies such as those which we deal with by a form of competitiveness and that generates creative destruction.

"As I say in the book I’ve just written there is a very significant problem here of the destruction part. Because remember when you move the capital from the lesser productive industries to the more, you also have to move people. And its always been a major problem in the fact that there are losers as well as winners and how to handle that problem is always been critical and necessary in order to maintain a viable market system. But the truth of the matter is there is no other system which has worked as well." (From the website:

Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, in a speech to the governors of the southern states, said the following:

"The destructive side of capitalism’s creative destruction is evident in lost jobs. Let me share a few numbers for the states you govern. The number of workers in apparel manufacturing in your states decreased 80 percent between 1990 and 2005. In the same 15-year period, payrolls fell 18 percent at paper manufacturers and 15 percent for furniture makers. The number of farm workers decreased 6 percent, and the number of mine workers declined 5 percent. That is pretty painful stuff. And it is not ancient history. It all occurred within a time frame that is fresh in the memory of everyone in this room—between 1990 and 2005.

"And yet, despite these employment losses, each state in the Southern region now has a larger job base than it did in 1990. North Carolina, for example, has created 1 million net new jobs since 1990. Texas’ employment has risen by more than 3 million since 1990.

"Why? Because the creative side of creative destruction outpaced the destructive side. Your economies replaced lost jobs in declining sectors with new ones in emerging, higher-value-added sectors. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of data processing and Internet service provider workers in Southern states increased 65 percent. Professional services workers grew 63 percent. Financial services employees increased 31 percent. Retail employment grew 23 percent. By 2005, the financial and real estate services sectors employed as many Southern workers as the manufacturing sector. Lodging and food services accounted for the same share of the Southern workforce as construction.

"Health care sector employment in the South alone grew by 2.3 million from 1990 to 2005. Let me put that in perspective: For every manufacturing job lost in the Southern states between 1990 and 2005, the health care sector created 2.4 new jobs."  (from the website

Time will tell if creative destruction is the greatest thing the Federal Reserve ever did, or if it will turn out, to use Alan Greenspan’s words, "to be awful". There are a number of questions that comes to my mind.  Is creative destruction sustainable in the long run when we give up industries, food and clothing, that are basic necessities of life? If creative destruction is sustainable, why do we need 2.4 new health care workers for every manufacturing job that was lost? Is our health decreasing so fast from eating cheap food that we need that many more health care workers? Do politicians really believe that increasing the health care industry is more sustainable for the US economy in the long run than producing food?

Cathy and I are of the opinion that the intentional creative destruction of local farms and the government’s encouragement of eating cheap food has been a mistake. However, rather than focus on the negative, on our farm we are rowing against the flow of creative destruction to provide you with nutritious, nutrient dense, healthy, local food that is difficult to find, but which is important for your health. This year we encourage you to eat local for your health and the financial health of the local farms who are rowing against the flow of creative destruction.

The Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA)

Our family has come to the opinion that the state park land where our farm is located, is the most interesting Maryland State Park to hike and explore. As curators of the Mackintosh Farmhouse we felt that it was important that we find out the history of the Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA). We did not expect to find much. What we found is fascinating. The MNRMA is a treasure for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

By a casual observation of the property, it appears to be an undeveloped woodland in the Washington DC metropolitan region, that was saved from development by the park system. However, unlike most of the metropolitan area that is more developed today than any time in history, this area was much more densely populated 200+ years ago. It was a thriving community completely cleared of trees. At least five old roads dating back to the late 1700’s can still be seen in the woods on the east side of the Monocacy River. Most of the current trails follow some of these old roads. As you hike the old roads you realize that this land was touched by other human beings hundreds of years before. What was life like for them? What did the area look like then?

Monnockessy Indian Towne

In 1712, the Tuscarora Indians built a large town on the southern part of the Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA) south of Route 28. This is one of the few known Indian towns located in Maryland. The town was located on the west bank of the Monocacy river and spread 1 1/2 miles to the west. Most of the lodges in the village were round forms constructed of poles covered with birch bark and pine branches. Some of the Indians lived in wigwams. They planted lots of maize (corn) with some of the lodges having as much as 300 bushels at a time. The Tuscarora Indians were traders. They traded with other Indian tribes and traded the skins with white traders. There were often 3-5 white traders living in the village. By 1738, the Tuscarora Indians had moved out. Our family has not yet explored this area of the park.

Indian Camp Sites?

Hiking through the woods, not following any trail, we found what are possible old Indian campsites located along Furnace Creek which is on the opposite side of the Monocacy River from the Monnockessy Indian Towne. They are huge rock outcroppings near the creek.

Johnson Iron Furnace – Maryland Historical Trust site #F-7-9

The Johnson Iron Furnace site is located in the MNRMA close to the parking lot on Route 28. All that remains now are some holes in the ground and some terracing into the hillside. The Johnson Furnace was built in 1787 by the Johnson brothers who also owned the Catoctin Iron Furnace which is also part of the Catoctin State Park. The Johnson Furnace produced 12-15 tons of iron a week, and employed both free and slave blacks, and also white men. About one acre of woods was required per day to make charcoal to feed the furnace. The furnace continued operation until about 1822. By the time the furnace ceased operating, several thousand surrounding acres had been totally cleared of trees.

Old Roads

There are numerous old roads that can still be clearly seen in the woods that probably date back to the late 1700’s or before. Along some of these old roads, we found what appears to be old house sites. The same year that the Johnson Furnace started, 1787, the Amelung Glass factory, four miles north, also started production. The Amelung Glass factory employed 340+ workers, had several stores, a doctor, and a blacksmith. The Johnson Iron Furnace employed probably over 100 workers. This accounts for the numerous roads. The road that went from the Johnson Furnace to the Amelung Glass factory, went past the Mackintosh Farmhouse (our house). You can see the old road bed between our house and the red shed. It is over grown with brush and we would like to clear it out at some point.

Lime Kiln?

There is a stone structure that some call a lime kiln, others call it a furnace. It is in need of identification and preservation. To the best of our knowledge, it is not listed on the Maryland Historic Trust list of historic structures. The Lime Kiln is located some distance from the Johnson Iron Furnace.

Old School Site

The C.O. Titus map of 1873 shows a school located in the MNRMA. We found a stone wall in the woods located next to the old school site. There are no visible remains of the school.

There is also the remains of an old school at the end of Ed Sears Rd. across from our lane. It is located on private property about 100 feet from the road just outside the MNRMA. The presence of two schools located about a mile apart, shows that there was a much larger community that existed years ago.

Quarry for the Monocacy Aqueduct

There is a quarry site located in the MNRMA where stone was quarried to build the Monocacy Aqueduct on the C&O canal. You can still see channels cut into the rock where they drilled to blast the rock and cut it into big blocks.

One of the First Railroads In America

The site of one of the first railroads in America is located in the MNRMA. A railroad was built from the stone quarry to the Monocacy Aqueduct to transport the huge blocks of stone. It was a horse drawn railroad.

Stone Silo

At the end of Dr. Belt Road on another curatorship property owned by the park system is a unique stone silo. It has a ring of holes two thirds of the way up the silo. Holes in a silo will cause the silage to rot. Therefore these holes are not there because it is a silo. It appears to have been built as a lookout/fort during the civil war. It is located on a high spot overlooking the Potomac River and into Virginia. It would have had a clear view for quite a distance up and down the Potomac River.

There is much more to research and to find out. Unfortunately, the history of the Monocacy Natural Resource Area has not been documented with signs for anyone hiking in the park. Most people probably hike through not realizing what all is there. But then it also means that this is a place to explore and discover its hidden history. For pictures of the structures and old roads we found, you can visit the photo gallery on our farm website.

Trail maps can be found on the following web pages: and

The history of the MNRMA is not the only only reason that we think that this is a very interesting park to hike and explore. As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of different kinds of birds, especially in the area surrounding our farm. We never had this many birds at our other farm. Most of the trails are fairly easy to hike. Very few people know about this park and the trails here, so it is a great place to get alone and enjoy the woods, the wildflowers, wildlife, etc. and many times never see another human being. All this, so close to Washington DC.