December 11, 2023
Bayer Chokes on Monsanto
(abstracted by Jack Kittredge from a NY Times article on Dec. 6)
Having bought the U.S. agrochemical behemoth Monsanto for a cash payment of $63 billion in 2018, the German pharmaceutical conglomerate Bayer appears to have made what Wall Street investors are calling “the worst merger in history.” In 2020 the firm agreed to pay almost $10 billion to settle a number of claims that Monsanto’s popular weedkiller “Roundup” – which Bayer bought and was liable for — caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since then, more and more cancer lawsuits have been filed and the corporation now faces over 50,000 of them. Plaintiffs have won the last four trials, being awarded verdicts totaling another $2 billion. Since the Monsanto purchase Werner Baumann, the CEO who masterminded the deal, has been replaced and Bayer’s total share value has plunged over 60% to $33 billion – less than half what they paid for Monsanto 5 years ago.
These facts, besides suggesting (for many of us of the organic persuasion) that this could be some sort of cosmic “payback” for Monsanto’s years of viciously pursuing (and often bankrupting) farmers they accused of illegally saving patented seeds capable of withstanding Roundup, libertarians see Bayer’s fate as proof that even if the executive and legislative branches of government are captured by vested interests, the court system can provide justice in large part because the jury system empowers common citizens to directly affect both rich and poor alike. (Of course, the tort system, which enables lawyers to split awards with their clients, certainly helps grease these wheels.)
It isn’t often that those of us in the “natural” and non-chemical branch of farming feel so clearly vindicated, and it unfortunately comes as the result of horrible disease and death for victims of these irresponsible criminals, but it deserves pointing out when it happens.
Expressing Gratitude this Week
This week’s winner of my highest level of gratitude goes to the body of Circle of Song, an eclectic group of 16 very different folks who not only get together to sing a lot of wide-ranging music, but real human beings who are dedicated to the well-being of each other. Each season at least one of us suffers a crisis of some sort, and the members are always there with comfort, food, rides, chores, you name it. As we get closer to our concert on December 16, we are driving all over northern Central Mass for extra rehearsals, pot luck dinners, and carpooling opportunities to deepen our relationships with one another. I am grateful to us, from Cailan who is 24 to Minnie who is 93 and how we enhance each other’s life.
Videos from this Week
Meat for Sale at MHOF
Watch the website. We will have it all up there by January 1, 2024.
Donate to the MHSC
Watch for the official annual letter this Wednesday. Of course you can always donate anytime here – https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=LSWR5U4EET7SW. Just Paypal or checks, no credit cards.
Many Hands Make a Farm
We now have copies available for sale of, Many Hands Make a Farm. The price is $25 each and if you buy one from us, the $12.50 that we clear will go directly to the Many Hands Sustainability Center. And if you would like us to sign your copy, we can do that too! We’ll ship one to you also. Enquire. Finally, we will be having a local book signing party on January 14.
Email Julie at email@example.com to buy directly from us or see the link at the bottom of the newsletter to buy online.
Every year, more and more American agricultural output is from fewer and fewer farms, whose size and scale enable them to dominate the market and set prices for many products while spreading the costs of labor and farm inputs broadly over their operations. Many of these massive farms receive subsidies from the government. Subsidies for grain, for instance, are available on an acreage or a crop yield basis… but in reality some of that tax money is channeled to subsidize corporate agriculture so it can produce cheap grain that can be sold on world markets at prices below what farmers in Mexico or Uganda or Thailand need to be paid to survive in farming. Seeing no avenue for a good life for themselves on the land, the young people in those countries look for other work. They migrate to already overcrowded cities—like Mexico City or Kampala or Bangkok—but most can’t find honest work to support their families. Instead, they end up involved in crime or terrorism, which costs US taxpayers again in the form of humanitarian relief or military intervention, by the US government attempting to address those problems. – pages 172 & 173 – Jack
From Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm – “This book offers a window into living a life of meaning, rooted in integrity, values, critical thinking, and persistent effort.”
Join Next Year’s CSA now and insure our solvency!
Thanks to Dylan and Amanda, Cauldron Farm, Rich and Rachel, Shirley and Jean for joining up for next year already. We only need to raise another $3,000 before December 31 to break even on the farm this year. Join up now. The food promises to be tastier and more nutritious in ‘24 than it was in ‘23.
Julie promoting the CSA
Circle of Song Concert – December 16, Barre Town Hall, 7 pm
Changing The World Through Self-Transformation
Don’t miss it! We are putting on all of the finishing touches this week to make it a truly inspiring experience.
- Alleluia – Randall Thompson
- America the Beautiful -Ward/Meader
- Christian’s Goodnight – Sanky/Doudney
- Lullabye – Billy Joel
- Imagine – Pentatonix
- Dona Nobis Pacem – Mozart
- Ballade to the Moon – Daniel Elder
- Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord – spiritual/ar. Moore
- Long Time Ago – Copland
- My Lord, what a Mornin’ –spiritual/Burleigh
- Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light – Bach
Minnie always puts on a great spread for us after the concert. And we are always looking for new members. We will start up again in January on Thursday nights at 7 at the Barre Town Hall. Reach out if you are interested – firstname.lastname@example.org
Oakham Congregational Church Annual Christmas Cantata
Sunday night, December 17 at 7 pm. This is a joyous celebration. In the past I have played in the orchestra, but this year, Jack and I are singing as last-minute ringers. A wonderful festive Christmas celebration at the church.
Liberty Food Fest December 15 and 16 – Jack and Julie to speak
Are you ready to make the next growing season the best it can be?
Looking for camaraderie, as the nights get longer, and the winds blow colder?
The local food movement is about bringing people together, expressing gratitude for each other, and getting stronger as a region.
Join us December 15th and 16th for the Liberty Food Fest in Bellows Falls, VT.
This celebration of the local food system is going to lift your spirits.
Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge are of Many Hands Organic Farm are pioneers of the local organic food movement in the Northeast and are obsessed with creating fertility in the soil, a process which is dependent on building networks of both happy mycorrhizal fungi and people!
Joel Salatin is one of the most uplifting, motivational farmers out there, full of new ideas. You’ll leave his talk with an extra pep in your step as you plan out your next growing season.
Winona LaDuke will give you perspective on how to live in harmony with the earth, and you’ll have a renewed spirit and sense of purpose.
This is a celebration you don’t want to miss.
Volunteering at MHOF
Winter hours for the farm – M, T, F – 8-noon and lunch.
Jennifer’s recipe for the week
Soft Boiled Eggs with Veggies
Our traditional American breakfast consists of something like eggs, meat, potatoes and bread. While all these foods are great foods, the combination of them together makes it difficult to digest for most people. While Western nutrition looks at calories, protein fats and carbs, Eastern nutritional understands food in terms of tastes; sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent, and their qualities (gunas), hot/cold, heavy/light, dry/oily, easy/difficult etc. Our traditional breakfast listed above are sweet foods that are heavy, cold, and difficult for the body to digest. Putting too much heavy and cold on the digestive fire, literally puts the fire out. This results in the food staying in the stomach for much longer than it should causing the food to begin to ferment causing all sorts of digestive issues, gas/bloating, flatulence.
Eggs are best when paired with cooked vegetables, especially greens. They balance out the heavy quality bringing in lightness and they are easy to digest when cooked. They also offer the bitter taste, which is missing from most American diets. This is why we are often reaching for coffee in the morning, as it is bitter, it gets things moving. As in most of my recipes, I cook with ghee, which makes foods that it is cooked with even easier to digest and assimilate the nutrition. Ghee takes on the gunas of the food and brings the nutrition deeper into the tissues. Here is a link to a video I made on how to make and the benefits of ghee.
- 2 eggs
- 1 small Shallot
- a handful of Brocoli crowns
- a handful of Asparagus, chopped to bite size
- 1 small baby Bok Choi
- Pink Himalayan Salt and Black pepper to taste
- 3 T Ghee
- Guacamole or Avocado slices
- Balsamic glaze
- Fill a pot with water and a dash of salt and bring to a boil.
- Once the water boils, gently add eggs to water and boil for 7 minutes (this is the perfect time for a soft boiled egg of medium size. Julie’s smaller white eggs may for for only 6 mintues)
- Meanwhile, on medium heat, sauté shallot and ghee with salt and pepper for three minutes.
- Add remaining vegetables and cook until tender.
Option to serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to bring in the sour taste and top with guacamole or avocado slices.
Emails from subscribers
You must be the master of trick photography. Those chickens look really happy and really healthy. No feather packing.
And they are outside. And it’s not even summer.
It must be trick photography because all of the industry experts that have testified before the NOSB, with 30,000-100,000 birds in each building, pretty much have their birds under stress and abused and if they let their birds outside, like you have, they’ve suggested that they would all die.
You and Jack must be the masters of deception,
Silly Mark – 😊 Julie
Thanks for the video with the beautiful sounds of happy hens! Aren’t chickens just the best? We kept them for 13 years (until last year). We added them to our experiments in nutrient-dense, no-till, organic-style, sustainable living. But we didn’t count on falling in love with them! The sweetness of dandling a hen cannot be fully communicated. Plus the high amusement at their antics, their bounteous poop, and breaking down of raw organic matter over a single winter into finished black gold are things we never anticipated! I really miss them, but we’re not up to keeping animals at this point in our lives.
Thank you so much for the vibrant produce — it was truly the best we’ve had since we stopped growing our own. I MIGHT have a way to grow a few things next year at someone else’s house where I’ll mentor them as beginner gardeners. We’ll see.
Thank you for your kind words, Debbie,
I am glad you found us and are happy with our food. And all you say about chickens I agree with completely. Good luck with your mentoring your beginning gardener friends. Have a wonderful Christmas season. Julie
Love, Love, Love the tour of the chicken house. Chickens will always be near and dear to my heart and I love how you treat yours.
Friend Dan said this is the first year we hadn’t gotten eggs. We missed them, but will look forward to getting them again at some point.
By the way, my neighbors who have subscribed to your newsletter really love it. We all look forward to reading it first thing Monday mornings.
Reports about our 5 turkeys: They were delicious. One person put one in the freezer for Christmas.
Hope to see you folks soon.
Thanks for the report, Bob. Sorry I couldn’t sell you any eggs this time. They have become incredibly popular. And great to hear that the turkeys were a hit. I do enjoy writing the newsletter each week. I hope it continues to be of value to you. Have a wonderful Christmas and until we see each other again. Love to you too, Julie
Monday was a big day for getting all of our tarps organized and folded and stacked neatly in the back of the south field on a couple of wooden platforms. These 30’ x 100’ and 30’ x 150’ pieces of heavy plastic (silage tarps) are very heavy and hard to manage. But we had 11 of us managing the job. And we got it all done!
The tarp mess when we started
Putting the tarps onto the platform
The builders finished up the chicken house roosts and then Jonathan graded out front.
Jonathan grading the approach to the chicken house
The carpentry crew is now on to fixing the barn woodshed which has rotted in places.
Stu, Jack, and Jonathan in heated debate over whether to put the window back into the back of the barn woodshed, while quiet Matt listens and Clare is entertained by this “guy stuff.”
The larders accomplished 43 quarts of the golden liquid (which cools to a pure white.
Julie and Clare stripping the fat
Pouring off the lard
The leaf road crews collected 11 totes of leaves, bringing our total to 22 totes collected.
Adding one last tarp full of leaves before hauling them away.
Another beautiful week on the farm.
“Gladys, do you think this hay is adequate for our bedding?”
Link to buy J and J’s book – Many Hands Make a Farm-