Tiny Forest

Tiny Farm. Boundless Compassion.

   Mar 02

Tiny Forest is Now Pick TN Approved!


The “Pick Tennessee Products” (PTP) is a Tennessee Department of Agriculture program helping consumers identify and choose high quality agricultural products produced and processed in Tennessee

I’m so happy and honored to show off this label. Tennessee rocks for the tiny farmer :)

   Mar 01

Peeling Eggs Meditation

Farm fresh eggs come with a caveat, they are hard to peel. The easiest way to have hard-boiled eggs that are not shredded or mashed (unless you want them that way) is to leave them in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before boiling. Eggs that are safely refrigerated can last fresh 4 weeks or more. If you want deviled eggs the day they were laid however, there is a technique to avoid shredded and mashed hard-boiled eggs.

1) Boil water sufficient to cover the eggs in a pot they can move around in. For one dozen that would be 2 quarts of water in a 4 quart pot.
2) Once the water is at a rolling boil, place the eggs gently on the bottom of the pan with a slotted spoon. Be careful to avoid dropping them in to the water or letting them hit the bottom of the pan hard enough to crack.
3) Continue boiling for 15 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and drain water (which will be scalding so please, please, please be careful with it).
5 Fill pot with very cold tap water. If your tap water comes out lukewarm add ice to it to make it very cold.
6) Leave the eggs in the cold water until the heat is withdrawn from them. The water should be room temperature or only slightly warm.
7) Break egg and peel. The egg should be neither warm nor cool. It should be comfortable for your hands to peel.
8) Be there as you peel.
9) If you drift away to the future, come back to peeling the egg.
10) If you drift away to the past, come back to peeling the egg.
11) If irritation arises, come back to peeling the egg.
12) Whatever arises, let it go and just peel the egg without any internal speaking.
13) This is your food and your nourishment. It came by way of healthy hens doing what they love to do. It came by a way of a beautiful roo. There is a cycle nourishing everything: mind actions, physical actions and verbal actions too.
14) There is a membrane that protects the egg and it can be tough to break but not impossible.

Easy. Of course not all eggs cooperate. Out of the dozen fresh eggs collected today, one looks rough and two wouldn’t release the yolk when I sliced them to make deviled eggs. I ate those :)

Commercial eggs in the U.S. are washed and therefore must be refrigerated. I don’t wash the eggs from my hens. I keep their bedding clean and dry when possible and the eggs are clean when collected. Even though the eggs are still protected and can be safely stored at room temperature, I refrigerate them.

There will be a small circle visible on the yolk when you crack open a fresh egg. It is similar to a bull’s eye. This shows the egg is fertile and under proper conditions would have developed and hatched. My hens go broody and build nests and hatch chicks. Last year a Buff Orpington hen hatched 18 chicks and raised each one of them until they were 7 weeks old at which time she was emaciated and needed to recover so she sent her chicks packing. One day she pecked at them all and fussed and a couple of days later they all went their separate ways.

It is important for me that a good rooster be present in a flock of hens though I don’t believe in old folk tales about flocks of hens without a roo. Hens do fine without a rooster. I think it is important as someone who can theoretically have a rooster, to have one… allowing this small gesture to a rooster. Most male chicks hatched in hatcheries are killed. The roos hatched here have shorter lives than the hens. I do not cull hens from the flock. They are here until they die. Roosters can’t be self-sustaining that way. Tiny Forest eggs are all fertile and if you have a mind to, you can also incubate them.

The hatch rate for the hens is very high but once eggs are refrigerated, and transported, the rate decreases. If you would like eggs specifically for hatching, please let me know. I gather them and store them differently for hatching. I keep a barnyard assortment and eggs will be mixed egg laying breeds.

   Feb 26

In my pockets right now…

bits of timothy, alfalfa, oats, and bits of straw ….

   Feb 26

Tennessee Rocks for the Tiny Farmer

So Proud of my Adopted State…

I feel as if my heart has been freed, as if I have been let out of a prison or given a clean bill of health after a long illness. Free as in freedom… is a happy state of mind, even if I am learning of the groundbreaking, historic opinion almost three years later.

On January 13, 2012, the TN Attorney General’s office  issued an opinion stating that raw milk products can now be legally obtained by partial owners of cows through the TN Cow Share Law.”

I had been questioning the inconsistencies in what I read online about dairy laws in Tennessee. Having given up on raw milk herd shares in 2009 when to me there was shadiness to it. I had a sense of guilt providing butter or cheese even if that was what the member wanted. Products like raw butter and cheese from raw milk were not explicitly written into the Tennessee Cow Share law the owner of a cow share or herd share could only receive the raw milk from his or her cow/ herd. Our Attorney General gave the opinion that an owner or partial owner can also receive raw milk products. I’m so happy, even if it shows a glaring lack of knowledge on my part about current Tennessee Law. Grade A Dairy, my unreachable goal, has very different laws protecting the consumer in what is a less intimate commercial market. It is only natural that a different standard of law guide raw milk dairying, which on a small, local scale allows a more personal connection between farmer and herd share member in a fresher, more direct route.

   Feb 18

Veganism and Anger

I don’t know how anyone can think that spewing angry, hateful comments is a sign of a peaceful way of life but maybe veganism isn’t about peace. In a campaign that could possibly educate people on the cruelty, pollution and questionable health effects of factory farmed dairy, the vegan response comes with meanness and denigration. Some vegans have zero tolerance for anyone with a different point of view- about 99.5% of us in a discussion on dairy. I’ve spent half of my life as a vegetarian and some of that time, vegan. I eat meat now only occasionally and try to raise the animals with compassion and with biologically appropriate food and diversion. It is out of compassion that I enter the hell realms of livestock auctions and live as a pauper so these animals can also live decent lives. To hear some vegans, you would think they are more compassionate than Jesus (who was not a vegetarian) or the Buddha (who declined to establish a vegetarian sangha). They might have you thinking that vegans are more compassionate than Nature who chose carnivores to prey on herbivores in a grand evolutionary scheme.

Nature in fact can be considered cruel too if you have seen a beautiful wolf killing a newborn foal in a pasture or a coyotes take down a deer. The prey is not killed instantly. It is bitten and torn and chewed while alive. Yet, we love nature. We want to preserve nature. We flock to National Parks and Forests while simultaneously supporting companies polluting our rivers and strip mining and clear cutting. Humanity is like this: generous and greedy, hateful and loving, foolish and wise. Factory farming on the other hand is just cruel and most Americans agree yet continue to support. In a discussion on dairy, I was called “worse than a murderer or a rapist…” In a discussion that I entered championing animal welfare, compassionate rearing and a common ground to advance animal welfare (and indeed animal rights) I was flagged and chased by two vegans who spewed angry and hateful remarks that were not only misdirected , they were misinformed. Anger and hatred does not bring one closer to inner peace. They are not an approach toward compassion; they are movements away, a rejection of compassion. It is understandable to an extent. The cruelty is horrifying and the newborns calves are defenseless; it is maddening. Industrial dairy has very little to feel proud about. Yet, dairy is part of our national food supply. It is not going to disappear so what benefit does isolating animal welfare advocates have? Is vegan about compassion or about hatred?

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says “There is no way to peace. Peace is the Way.” If we put peace as an objective in the future, then for the two vegans who attacked me, the end justifies the means. This means that violent tactics (like ones used by animal rights extremists) are sanctioned for a non-violent goal. Said like this, it sure appears ludicrous. And it happens in this way because there is no inner peace, not because we like or support animal cruelty. I feel physical pain when I see an animal hurt. This is a natural sympathetic response that is common in most humans and even in animals. When peace is within, we still feel pain sympathetically but we don’t lash out or shut down. We try to understand what is happening and we make a concerted effort not to repeat, not to support, not to condone. We can harness our energy to bring about positive change. We can work in the trenches without becoming “one of them”. The movement toward peace is peace itself. We respond with understanding and we create a more peaceful world moment by moment.

The Zen tradition also has a rather quirky expression: everything is perfect. Hard to understand if one’s idea of perfection is an unattainable ideal. What it means is that everything is the way it is and can not be otherwise in this moment. It does not mean we are complacent. It does not imply surrender. It is what it is, right now. To fight with what is, is a sign of insanity. Our choice in the moment will move us toward compassion and a better world for all beings or it will continue or even escalate the suffering. When we choose anger and hatred, we perpetuate suffering. We are creating more anger and more hatred in a world that is already brimming…. we are not actually helping alleviate suffering.

   Feb 16

How to Build a Straw Bale Garden – Modern Farmer

An alternative I would like to try this year since the soil here is so poor that last year it supported nothing.

How to Build a Straw Bale Garden – Modern Farmer.

   Feb 16

7 Materials For Your Container Garden

A wonderful way to grow veggies when your soil is in poor condition or you don’t have much space. Though it is very rewarding to watch your seeds become seedlings and mature into productive plants, buying started plants is just as rewarding and less time consuming if you have a busy work week.

7 Materials For Your Container Garden.

   Feb 09

Tiny Forest is now on Facebook


Looking for meaning in the words wholesome and natural, I realized that it was up to me to give those cliches fresh meaning. I love farming and working with animals. Looking for a diet that is planet friendly, compassionate and respectful, I realized it was up to me to set high standards and walk the walk… at times alone. Liking clean water and fresh air, I realized it was up to me to protect my environment. I farm. Support your local farmer. Please like the Moo Crew at Tiny Forest Hemritage on facebook :) Tiny Forest Hermitage


   Feb 08

Models for Moos

Livestock that is raised on small farms with best management practices protecting our waters is greener for the Earth and the community.


Manure doesn’t overwhelm the farm and can be used as fertilizer and composted and sold to community gardeners since it will contain zero antibiotics, steroids, or insecticides. At Tiny Forest, the manure is used to replenish and repair the eroded soil. Meat processed and consumed locally is far greener for the Earth in terms of transportation savings and the refrigeration required in transport. Livestock production and slaughter en masse create a majority of food-borne illness. Animals raised in deprivation and stress is symptomatic of a sickness we have been developing worldwide- one of greed and looking the other way when confronted with the suffering of animals raised for meat.

We need more model farms at a local level- the kind school buses can drive by in the mornings and afternoons- the kind that we drive by on our way to work in the mornings without losing our smile or giving us a smile as we pass by. Industrial agriculture smells; it is barren of green. The cows wildly lick their tongues in the air, a mental disturbance developed from no grazing or hay. How can anything safe and wholesome come out of there. We want to shield our children from those farms. We close our windows when we drive by.

Tiny Forest aspires to a model for local, sustainable, environmentally-responsible possibilities everywhere. We need more models to help over 9 million calves born to the dairy industry annually in the U.S. alone. Many destined to be killed at birth or sent to crates for short, miserable lives. We need for farming to be at the heart level: deeply green, deeply compassionate, with reverence for life. These are not incompatible with our food.

   Feb 06

Atapi has Freshened

Our first kids at Tiny Forest! At 11:15 pm on February 5 (2015), Atapi, a shy but persistent lamancha doe freshened with two kids (as of this writing). 23 degrees outside but her shed is dry and filled with straw. Atapi is up and eating and drinking, not sure if she is finished. DSCN0127
Welcome to this grand adventure! Now we will have some milk :)

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