Time to Put Eggs Back on the Menu

The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food after many years of warning people not to eat high cholesterol foods. It has been discovered that for healthy adults, eating high cholesterol foods does not significantly increase the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. This is something that has been known for a number of years, but has just now been acknowledged by the government. (Why didn’t scientists and doctors know that dietary cholesterol didn’t significantly increase blood cholesterol years ago?)

So now you can eat your Jehovah-Jireh pasture-raised eggs without any guilt. We do recommend that you do not eat an excessive amount of eggs at one time – definitely not more than one dozen eggs at one time. I say that in jest, eggs naturally tell you to stop eating after you have eaten several eggs. They are not like some foods where you want to keep on eating.

To read more about the amazing reversal in scientific opinion on dietary cholesterol, you can check out this Washington Post article.

All of this makes me wonder how many other “scientifically” proven “facts” are error, and we will look back years from now with amazement of how naive and unscientific we were.

Poultry Processing Inspection and Certificate

Our chicken and turkey processing facility has been inspected by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and we have received certification. We are now certified to sell our poultry at other locations other than our farm, including stores. While this inspection is not required for on farm sales of poultry, it gives you a level of confidence that the chicken and turkey that you purchase has been processed in a facility that has been inspected and has been processed in a sanitary and approved manner.

We did some investigation into having drop off points for the chickens or to sell our chicken in some of the Maryland MOM’s stores. We did not get much interest in the drop off points and so at this point we will not be pursuing that. After talking things over as a family, we decided not to pursue selling chickens in the stores at this point. It would mean significantly increasing production and processing chickens every week. None of us enjoy processing chickens enough to do it every week and the wholesale price would also reduce our profit margin. We are open to any suggestions you may have.

Fake Honey

The price difference between corn or rice syrup and honey is big enough that it has attracted fraud. We have heard about this fraud for some time. Recently, we found the evidence that it is actually happening. The website of a manufacturing company in India that produces honey grade invert syrup says this: “Honey grade invert sugar syrup is widely used in honey processing and food processing industry. Chemically, honey is equivalent to invert sugar. It is often mixed with regular honey during packaging… Honey grade invert syrup has similar character to honey… Manufacturers often mix Honey Invert sugar with natural bee honey to keep up with the demand.” http://www.invertsugarsyrup.com/honey.php

Another manufacture of honey grade invert sugar states: “Honey Grade Invert Sugar Syrup offered by is extensively used in food processing and honey processing industry. Chemically, honey is equal to invert sugar and is often mixed with regular honey during packaging. This invert syrup has similar quality to honey…”http://www.tasteagro.com/honey-grade-invert-syrup.html

And a third website states this: “Invert sugar is a golden yellow coloured viscous liquid consisting of equimolecular mixture of glucose and fructose. Being 25% sweeter than regular sugar, this is generally applied as sweetener in food and pharmaceutical industries. This is often known as artificial honey for its composition being nearly the same as real honey… Honey-industry: Because of similar physical and chemical properties like that of natural honey, invert sugars can be mixed with honey for obtaining better texture and flavour. Sometimes, it is also used for bee feeding.” http://feedgradericeprotein.com/invert_syrup.html

Now we know why there has not been a shortage of honey in grocery stores even though honey bees have been dying all across America. Packers are mixing invert sugar, costing only about thirty cents a pound, with honey. The unsuspecting American consumer has been deceived and sold a fraudulent honey diluted with inverted sugar (likely GMO). http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/database/ingredients/130.invert_sugar_syrup.html

From a Customer: Turkey Retrospective

By Ross Mohan
Note: Ross has been a customer of ours for many years. Last Thanksgiving, he decided to try cooking a turkey for the first time ever. Afterwards, he sent us the following email about his experience. He humorously highlights the trials of trying to sort through the many methods of turkey cooking, things that many of you who cook can identify with.

Dear Cathy, Myron and Horst Family,
We had a lovely Thanksgiving and hope you did as well.
Our special meal was superb, in no small part thanks to the superb quality of the turkey you raised and sold us.
Having never cooked a turkey before (yes, really — I’ve always been a spectator ’til now) I did everything I could to ruin the bird.
I say this only partially in jest. Allow me to explain.
I read dozens of recipes. Brine. Don’t Brine. Wet. No, dry. Deep fry (Good Lord!), Spatchcock, Butterfly, cook ‘high and hot’, no, ‘low and slow’, no, ‘fast and then slow’, covered and then open, no open then covered, convection oven, no: conventional oven; bake, then broil….I kept reading….deep into an anxious and uncomprehending night. That night, I slept fitfully. (Covered, unbrined, low and slow.)
Finally, the next morning, it came to be 11am on Thanksgiving Day, the time of day for when — for a 16 lb. bird — the proverbial rubber meets the road. I had no plan. My anxiety radiated so powerfully the kitchen fluorescent lights were flickering.
I shuddered, my eyes rolled up into my head, and I think I might have even blanked out and then somehow I got the poor bird into the oven. Unbrined. Uncovered. Unstuffed. (I did manage to spill a variety of spices and some oil haphazardly on the surface, but only in an effort to minimize ease of later handling.)
Yet, I was not done with my subversive efforts.
As my wife and mother-in-law toiled away at lasagna, tabouleh, soups, pies, stuffed grape leaves and Waldorf salad (a family favorite of my own mother’s…) I managed to poke that poor bird in the oven with a meat thermometer like a madman no less than a dozen times starting at 15 minutes into the roast. By the time I was done, it looked like a pincushion.
I don’t know how or why — but due certainly to my boundless culinary expertise — I detected that the bird was “done” after approximately two hours of cooking. Clearly impossible, so I denied the evidence of my lying eyes (and my handy meat thermometer) and kept cooking it for another hour.
I’ll spare you the details of the carving except to say that it involved my mother-in-law actually arm-wrestling at the dining table with the drumstick. (And losing.) So, how did this bird come out, really?
In all seriousness, it was….a miracle.
Everything was cooked perfectly. The light, the dark, and everything in between. The skin was golden and fragrant, the meat was beyond moist, the steam rose fragrantly and languorously from the plate and the “oohs” and “aahs” started early and did not cease. My wife and I received compliments such as “this is the best turkey I have ever had” and “I have never had such moist and flavorful meat” and “we are so impressed with your kitchen skills.”
Now, all kidding strictly aside, this result had very little indeed to do with my cooking, and nearly everything to do with the quality of what you folks do up there in Dickerson. We salute you and thank you.
We’ve been eating this turkey for days in soups, curries, sandwiches and salads, and it remains delicious. I simply wanted to write and say “Thank You” one and all for your hard work and for allowing Providence to warm our kitchen and table this season.
Ross & Roula Mohan

The Importance of Recycling Energy, Part 2: How to sequester carbon in the soil

This is a continuation of Part 1 in the September Jehovah-Jireh Farm Newsletter on the importance of recycling energy.

Note: Using organic farming methods to sequester carbon in the soil is an important subject that was presented to our government officials several weeks ago. Since I wrote part one, I found out that Mark Smallwood, the director of Rodale Institute, walked from Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania to Washington D.C. to hand deliver a White Paper detailing research proving that regenerative organic agriculture can absorb carbon from the atmosphere and reverse climate change. The White Paper is titled: Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change, A down-to-earth solution to global warming. The full text of the White Paper can be found at: http://rodaleinstitute.org/regenerative-organic-agriculture-and-climate-change/
Incidentally, Mark Smallwood used to work for MOM’S Organic Market in their main office in Rockville, MD. and also helped us one time to process chickens at our old farm.


We today have an important opportunity to make a significant step forward to sequester carbon, build topsoil, control erosion, and feed the world through organic farming. There are many that are greatly concerned that we have irreparably harmed the environment, are destroying life, and leaving future generations with an environmental mess because our excessive use of fossil fuels. Many feel hopeless and that too many people do not care what they are doing to the environment.

There is hope!

Plants to a large extent were the original source of our present day fossil fuels. Plants are also a key element in recycling energy and putting the CO2 gasses back into the soil where they belong.

There are a number of ways to sequester carbon in the soil. What I want to share with you is a simple, easy method that we have used here at Jehovah-Jireh Farm.

In the first seven years here on this farm we have sequestered approximately 325,570 lbs of Soil Organic Carbon on 35 acres. That represents recycling as much CO2 as the yearly output from approximately 146 cars. That was accomplished by increasing the soil organic matter on most of the farmland by almost one percentage point. That is without spreading organic matter or fertilizers other than lime. The only manure was the droppings from chickens when they are on the pasture and from the sheep and cows while they are grazing. The amount of  carbon sequestered is according to soil tests that were taken at the end of 2013. It represents the carbon sequestered in the top six inches of soil, although there has been much more carbon than that sequestered at greater depths in the soil. 

The method that we used to sequester the carbon was letting the grass grow a foot or more tall and then grazing or mowing the grass and letting it decompose into the soil. This is a method that we discovered as we mowed the grass in the American chestnut orchard located here on the farm and observed the significant increased growth of the grass and the increased growth, vigor, health, and blight resistance of the American chestnut trees. Mowing pasture grasses is one of the best, the easiest, and cheapest of fertilizers.

Grasses often have more root mass and depth than the mass and height of grass above the ground. When the grass is mowed from a height of 24″ down to 4″, the roots slough off to correspond to the amount of grass left above the surface. As these roots that sloughed off decompose, they build organic matter in the soil to the depth the roots had been. It is not just the organic matter on the surface of the ground from the mowed grass that contributes to the organic matter of the soil.

Pasture based farming, using rotational grazing and managed mowing, is an important method of sequestering carbon in the soil in a very stable manner. Rodale Institute has proved that the proper organic crop growing methods are also an important carbon sequestering method. It is my opinion from my observations and research that pastures can sequester carbon faster, easier, to a greater depth, and have it more stable in the soil than can be accomplished with organic crop farming methods. That does not mean that sequestering carbon by organic crop farming methods is unimportant; it is important. But what it means is that globally we can sequester much more carbon by raising animals on pasture in pasture based systems rather than growing grain and feeding the animals grain in confinement operations. Plus, the grass-fed meats with higher omega-3 fatty acids are much more healthy for the consumer.  

Typical response of grasses to grazing. Above ground growth is more lateral and roots “die back” to match needs of above ground biomass. Diagram C. Luke 2011 http://www.sonoma.edu/preserves/prairie/management/restoration.shtml


Up to 90% of a plant’s mass is in its root system. What is below the soil is much more important for sequestering carbon than what is above the soil. The plant on the far right has much more root mass than the mass that is in the grass above the soil level. The grass clump on the far left sloughed off most of its roots when it was cut short. The roots can then decompose and build carbon deep in the soil where it will be stable and stay in the soil for a very long time.

The above illustrations show the importance of managing plant roots by grazing and mowing to build carbon in the soil. The roots below the soil are more important for sequestering carbon than the grasses above the soil. This is significant, because it allows us to utilize the grass for feeding livestock and producing an income from the land while at the same time using the roots to sequester carbon deep in the soil, making the soil more drought resistant, reducing rain run off and erosion, and making the soil more fertile.

The depth that carbon is sequestered in the soil is important. Carbon that is greater than 12″ deep (30cm) is very stable in the soil. The Rodale Institute’s White Paper points out the importance of depth in the sequestering of carbon:
“It is likely that current data sets underestimate soil organic carbon stocks in organically managed systems because soil carbon is often measured at plow depth when recent findings suggest that more than half of the soil organic carbon stocks are likely in the 20-80cm depth. Beyond 30cm in the soil profile, the age of carbon increases continuously, much of it persisting for thousands of years.  How carbon acts in this subsoil range is poorly understood, but increasing rooting depth, application of irrigated compost (compost tea), choosing deep rooted grass-legume cover crops and encouraging earthworm abundance are all promising pathways for introducing carbon to depths where it is likely to remain stable over long periods.” (p. 10)

To get the greatest depth of roots in the soil, it is important that grasses be allowed to grow at least a foot or two in height before grazing or mowing. Grasses in home lawns will not be able to contribute much to carbon sequestering because they are never allowed to grow very tall.

One more plus to mowing pastures in addition to sequestering carbon is that it creates a beautiful manicured farm landscape. Beautiful pastoral farm landscapes do a soul good like a medicine. We need to create more beauty around us.
Our charcoal/biochar kiln experiment at Jehovah-Jireh Farm.

In 2009 we experimented with making charcoal to sequester carbon and to build up our soils. Inside this charcoal kiln were five metal 55 gallon barrels filled with split firewood. We made six batches of charcoal to use in the garden and in the chicken bedding. Making charcoal/biochar is labor intensive. In half of our garden, we applied about an inch and a half of charcoal and incorporated it in the top six inches of soil in a three foot wide by 70 feet strip perpendicular across the various rows of vegetables . Unfortunately, we did not see any improvement in growth, drought resistance, or brix improvement to the plants grown in the charcoal enriched soil in any of the years since then. Five years later, there is no noticeable difference in the color of the soil where the charcoal was applied.

Our experiment with biochar was not successful. It does not mean that charcoal/biochar is an ineffective method of sequestering carbon in the soil. The Terra Preta soils in South America show otherwise. Charcoal/biochar is a method that needs more research. 

There is much more to learn about how to sequester carbon and to build topsoil using atmospheric carbon. We want to experiment with increasing the brix (sugar content) of our pasture grasses. By increasing the photosynthesis of the plant leaves, the sugar (and carbon) content of the plant can be increased. The plant sends these sugars to the roots to feed the roots and microbes in the soil. By increasing the sugars in the plant, we should be able to significantly increase the carbon sequestration in the soil.

There is much more that we would like to experiment with to improve the soil. We thank you for your support of our farm in buying our farm products. Your support is what enables us to do these experiments in our living laboratory (the farm).

Historic House Preservation

We are curators for the Maryland State Park System and are doing preservation work on the house that we live in. For those of you who live in Maryland, our house is part of your state park system.  Over the last several weeks we removed the plaster from the log walls in the kitchen on the first floor, insulated between the logs and started getting it ready to chink between the logs. It appears from evidence that we saw in the demolition process that the log cabin could possibly date back to the 1700’s. We found several names scratched into a section of log chinking and four sets of initials carved into a board on the staircase. The main part of the house was built around 1900.

Below are the before and after pictures of one of the upstairs rooms of the log cabin section of the house that we finished up this past month. For being part of the upstairs of a log cabin it is a large room measuring 17′ x 18′. We used this room for our homeschool school room for the last eight years. Since we have only two children left in school, we decided to make it into a library and a cozy place to read and do internet research in the evenings.

Library Room West End Before in 2008:


Hidden behind the plaster in the previous picture were beautiful hand-hewn log walls. We removed the old chinking between the logs and added insulation before rechinking. The windows were replaced and the floor refinished.

You have heard of how God provided this farm for us and why we gave the farm its name. God’s provision has not stopped there and has continued in the years since. The last several months have been like Christmas as we bought furnishings for this room and bought antique cabinets for the kitchen. Each time as we went to an auction, we would pray that God would provide what we needed at a good price and to keep us from buying things that we didn’t need. It was amazing how the prayers were answered over and over.

The things God provided:
The Queen Anne wingback chair in the left corner in almost new condition – $60
The lamp on the table between the chairs – $5
The rose colored Queen Anne chair on the right in excellent condition – $2 These two wingback chairs provide a neat cozy corner for reading.
Most of the china tea pots on the shelves between the windows – $10
The antique oak drop leaf extension table – $80
The two antique bow back chairs at the oak table – $2 each
East End Before:


Things God provided:
Antique Drop leaf mahogany desk with claw and ball feet on the left for Myron – $65
The red cabinets in the corner were purchased cheap a number of years ago and painted to match the wall.
The large cherry sewing cabinet to the left of the door was custom made by Myron as a wedding gift for Cathy.
The small bentwood rocker was Cathy’s when she was growing up.
The antique mahogany drop leaf desk to the right of the door also has claw and ball feet, for Cathy – $80
The antique Walnut extension table in the center of the room – $80 The legs were designed in such a way that we could cut off several inches off of the legs and lower the table to make it easy to use with laptops. As I write this, the girls are using it for crafts.

The two cherry desks along the wall Myron made one for each of the children for school. The legs are adjustable to grow with the child.
The double sided red bookcase creates a nice room divider for the cozy corner. It was free from a job when Myron worked in construction. We repainted it to match the room.

What Gives Our Chicken and Turkey Meats Superior Flavor

We hear many compliments about our chicken and turkey meats. But the one that we hear the most is how good they taste. We all know that chickens and turkeys raised on pasture taste better than conventionally raised poultry raised in large chicken houses. The grass and other plants in the pasture are an important part of the flavor, but it was not until this past month that I found out something else that we are doing that significantly contributes to the flavor and health benefits of our chicken that is different than most other pasture-raised chickens.

Last month, Cathy and I and some of our children had the privilege of attending the Mother Earth News Fair at the Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania. One of the seminars that I attended was given by a professional butcher who understood the importance of grassfed meats and the science behind it. One of the things that he said was that muscles that have more activity are the meats that have the most flavor. Muscles that have had very little activity, such as beef tenderloin, are the most tender but also have the least amount of flavor.

He said that fat is what gives meat flavor. Muscles that are exercised more have small amounts of fat dispersed throughout the meat because the muscles need the fat stores for energy as they work. It is those small deposits of fat that gives those meats more flavor. Here in America, people have prized tender meats over flavorful meat. Tender meats are achieved by confinement rearing that limits the exercise of the animal or poultry. The result is that conventionally produced chicken, beef and other meats are usually lacking in flavor.

The thing that we are doing that is different than most pastured poultry producers that we allow our chickens to run. Most pastured poultry producers use the “Salatin pull pen” or “chicken tractor” method. It is a method in which 50 to 75 chickens are placed in a small 10 foot by 12 foot bottomless pen on pasture. The chickens probably get less exercise than what chickens do that are raised in large chicken houses because they are limited by the small confining space. I say that from my observations from working on a large confinement poultry operation when I was in college and from when we tried the “pull pen” method. In the large chicken houses, because they are not confined to a small 10′ by 12′ area, the meat birds can move about more.

Not only does the exercise give our chickens more flavor, but the fat that gives it flavor is a good fat. The fat is in a meat that has been able to get omega-3’s from the grass and store those omega-3’s in the fat. The exercise gives the chicken meat a more firm texture, but it is still tender and a good eating experience.

One of the keys to flavorful meats is animals that have been able to get plenty of exercise. In buying meat, ask the farmer how they raise the meat. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend among grassfed producers to move toward confinement on pasture such as mob grazing of beef. In mob grazing, a large number of animals are confined in a small paddock, such as 1/4 acre, on the pasture until all the grass is eaten or trampled into the ground. They are then moved to another small paddock. The cattle are moved three or more times a day, but they are confined in a small space 24/7. Mob grazing is supposed to do great things for the soil, but in my opinion, it is not humane to the animals.

Mob grazing 1000 head of cattle. There is approximately 1.2 million pounds of weight in cattle grazing this strip. http://mobgrazing.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html
Not all mob grazing is this intensive but the animals do have to be bunched in a “mob” with the equivalent of  200,000 plus pounds of animals per acre so that they consume most of the grass in a short period of time.