Cheesy

blhoriginalpost

Boy, what a repository of bullshit this is.  There’s too much here for one post, but that’s okay. We’ll take it in bits and pieces.

I am a farmer and it is sugested [sic]. . .

When you read “it is suggested” you should get out your red flags and start waving them around.  It is suggested by whom?  Leah is a “farmer” of what?

It is “suggested” that GMOs cause allergies by people who don’t like GMOs.

I got sucked into the whole “oh, my God, the sky is falling; GMOs will kill us all” thing a number of years ago. I didn’t really find out anything. I just believed the stuff I read and decided it wasn’t “natural,” and therefore it had to be bad.

I had gardened off and on for decades and knew the value of organic matter in soil, and had always tried to use as many “organic” methods as possible mostly because I’m cheap, but also because I thought that was better for Planet Earth.

And then we moved to Kentucky, eight and a half years ago, and I embarked on a journey that would change my mind entirely.

corn

The first thing I noticed were all the soybean and corn fields. There are two of them right up the road from our house.  They alternate growing each crop annually. And they are Roundup Ready.  Drive down the road in the other direction from my house and you’ll see more corn and soy, also Roundup Ready.

It seemed that all my neighbors were crazy people.

I decided to ask them about it.

The thing you don’t do when you move into an area from someplace else is run around telling all the locals how it is supposed to be done. Instead, you put on your humble cap and sincerely ask. That’s what I did.  I didn’t understand it and I asked, “Why do you grow Roundup Ready seed?”

And they told me.

They said that they do it because it’s better for their bottom line, for their farms, and for their soil.  Yes, the seed costs more, but the benefits far outweigh the added cost of the seed.  They use much less diesel fuel, spend way less time in the field cultivating, and their fields experience much less erosion.

In other words, the evil Monsanto is not bankrupting people. They are, in fact, saving farmers money.

cornkernels

But what about saving seed? They can’t save the seed. Isn’t that horrible?

Well, no, it’s not.  Saving seed isn’t as easy or convenient as many people think.  You don’t just run out to the field and grab a few earns of corn that happen to be at the exact stage that is optimal for storing as seed and there you are.  Well, actually, you could do that but it’s not a good idea.

That’s because to do it right, you would need to take an ear from a plant here and a plant there, all over the field, shell all of them, mix them together, and that would be your “saved seed” for next year.  That would give you maximum genetic diversity.  Take one ear and save it and plant it and it’s sort of like incest (I’m greatly simplifying this, I know, but I don’t want this post to be a book), with less genetic diversity than is desirable.

The seed has be at the exact right stage to make sure it germinates the following year. It has to be stored under the right conditions. You can’t just shuck the ears into a white bucket and stick it in the basement.

In addition, much of the seed used for modern agriculture is hybrid. You can’t save hybrid seeds and have them produce reliably.

In short, saving seed, even from something easy like corn and soy, is kind of labor-intensive.

The way it’s done commercially is that entire fields are grown specifically for seed. They are harvested at the right moment, cleaned the proper way, stored perfectly and then sold to the farmers.  And the vast majority of farmers know this and quit trying to save seed eons ago, long before there was ever GMO anything.  It’s cheaper to let the seedsman do it in bulk.

And that leads me to cheese.  Sort of. I know it doesn’t seem like a reasonable place to go, but just go with me here.

peachescheese2

Like this cheese, in the photo I shared the other day.  My cheese.

potofmilk

I start with a pot full of milk. This is my largest stock pot, which I use almost exclusively for cheese. It holds five gallons of milk.

I bring it slowly to a warm temperature, about 90 to 100 degrees F.

rennet

At that point I add the rennet. That’s the white powder in the little bag.  See those measuring spoons? They aren’t the standard type. They measure 1/8 tsp, 1/16 tsp and 1/32 tsp.  My five gallons of milk requires 1/16 tsp of rennet.

That’s not very much. See the measuring cup?  It has warm water in it, and in the bottom is the 1/16 tsp of rennet. I stir that until it dissolves and then stir that water/rennet solution into the milk.  I have to really stir it for quite a while (two or three minutes by the clock) to make sure it’s distributed well.

Then I cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for about 45 minutes.

When I come back, this is what I find.

milkafterrennet

It might look the same, but it’s not. The paddle is literally cutting the milk.  It coagulates into a mass, sort of like jello.

I cut it into squares with a long bread knife. As I do, a clear liquid starts to seep from the cut squares. The clear liquid is whey.

curds

The squares are called curds.

This is how all cheese is made. The only difference between one type of cheese (cheddar) and another (Parmesan) is in how long the curds and whey are kept at a particular temperature and how rapidly they are heated.

At this point, for my cheese, I start slowly heating the curds, and as I do, the curds become smaller and firmer and there is more and more whey.

When the curds get “done,” that is, they become a little squeaky and almost chewy, I drain the whey (the pig loves it) and salt the curds and they go into a mold and a cheese press.

cheesepress

Here’s mine. The weight on the end is an eight-pound weight, but that translates, because of leverage, to about 60 pounds. The red weight is only three pounds, and it is the one I use first, gradually increasing the pressure for about two hours.  Once it gets to the max, it stays there overnight. Whey is expressed further from the pressure.

The result is a wheel of cheese that weighs about five pounds.  One gallon of milk makes one pound of cheese.

The resultant wheel goes down to the basement to cure. The longer it cures, the sharper it gets.

But what I want to talk about here is rennet.

Remember the calves and their little pens that we built so they won’t die?

Calves are born with only one part of their stomach active. That part, the abomasum, secretes rennet.  When a calf drinks milk, it goes straight to the abomasum, bypassing all the other parts of the ruminant stomach.  Immediately rennet is secreted, curds form, and the resultant curds sit in the abomasum for a longer period of time than just plain milk would, and that’s how a calf digests milk.

If the calf overfeeds, the abomasum gets too full, and plain milk, not whey, gets pushed along into the intestinal tract, and plain milk is like a gourmet feast for bacteria.  The calf gets diarrhea, the bacteria get all out of balance and the calf can become very, very ill in a very short time. This is called “milk scours,” and I hate it.  Calves beg for seconds on their bottles. They act like they are dying of starvation. They are not, and giving them extra is cruel. It can kill them.

When a calf is about a month old, sometimes a bit sooner, sometimes a little later, he will start to nibble grain and hay. As he does so, the other parts of his stomach that digest those things begin to “wake up” and become functional. And the amount of rennet secreted begins to subside.  We bottle-feed our little guys until they are eating hay and grain well, and show no signs of scouring at all. This is generally at least eight weeks and sometimes as long as twelve.  Plenty of farmers wean them much sooner, but we are softies.

But back in the bad old days, there was only way to get rennet to make cheese.

rhonda

You had to take a young calf that had never eaten anything but milk and kill it and then harvest the abomasum and dry it and powder it.

Imagine Kraft cheese.  Think about all those calves.

As the demand for cheese increased in the USA, back when I was a child, people became a bit squeamish about killing all those calves for rennet.   The result was an uneven supply of rennet and resultant higher prices for cheese.

So food scientists began looking for another way.  They looked at vegetable sources for rennet. They found some. Vegetable rennet is available today, and you can find cheese in some health-stores made with vegetable rennet.  I will tell you right now it sucks.  It simply doesn’t do as good a job as the substance that evolved in cattle to make curds.

The scientists knew it sucked too, so they looked a bit more.

And in the late eighties, they figured out a way.

Wanna guess?  Got any idea?

They genetically modified bacteria with genes from calves to produce rennet.  They tested the hell out of it.  And in 1990, this genetically modified rennet was approved and has been used to make cheese in the United States ever since.  The vast majority of cheese made here is made with GMO rennet and has been for nearly 27 years.

dinnerslopcheese

You know, cheese.  Like this.

Funny how you never hear anything about this.  Nobody gripes or protests or marches against cheese. Nobody says, “Oh, gee, I have all these allergies, and I’m sure it’s because there are GMOs in cheese.”

But all those calves got to live.

Now, if I have piqued your interest in this subject because I am saying things you never heard before, you might find this interesting. This video gave me a whole lot to think about.

Dave and I had a lot of conversations about it. We did a great deal of reading. And then we went to the store and bought some Roundup.  Sure makes fences easier to maintain.

 

 

 

A Form of Blackmail

I see this stuff float through my Facebook feed all the time. I chose this one because it’s so ridiculous and funny. If you’re going to make a meme, spell the words right.

But this one contains the scare words: genetically modified.

GMOs. Oh, no. The sky is falling.

But there are memes like this one, too, that look more sensible.

And I bought into them for a long time.

Stay with me, here, regardless of how you feel about this quasi-religious topic, because I’m not trying to argue for GMOs. I’m trying to make a much larger point about change.

When we moved here to our little farm in Kentucky, we were all anti-GMO. We were “organic” people. No Roundup on this property. Honestly, I wasn’t sure why I felt that way. It just seemed that “natural” had to be better.

All those unpronounceable things had to be bad.

I just accepted it. I didn’t really question it much.

And then, one day a few years ago, I found this.

The video is about an hour long. If you want to watch it, I’ll wait. If you don’t, here’s the brief synopsis: Mark Lynas was a big mover with Greenpeace, an environmentalist’s environmentalist. An activist. He had a complete change of heart and mind about GMOs, went to a farming conference and spoke, publicly apologizing for his former activism and explaining why he had changed his mind.

That didn’t completely change my mind, but it was the catalyst that made me start asking questions. And Dave and I searched and read and looked and asked.

And then we went and bought a big jug of Roundup and sprayed our fenceline.

Changing one’s mind is not “flip-flopping.” It’s not shameful. It’s often very positive.

I grew up in a culture that taught me that Jesus never, ever changes his mind, so I shouldn’t either.

And that brings me directly to this.

From Dan Keller’s wretched Storify page, this is a copy of one comment made during a private message I shared with Camille K. Lewis.

This is what Camille does. It’s a kind of threat. A kind of blackmail.

Camille’s message is “Shut up, or I am going release more of this sort of thing.”

An additional message, one to other people, is “This is what I’ll do to you if you dare disagree with me or criticize me in any way.”

I consider private messages and emails to be just that – private. The only time I deviate from that position is in a case like this – where Camille has decided that they are not private.

So, here I present, with a wee bit of commentary from time to time, every single private message I ever shared with Camille K. Lewis.

Disclaimer: The people who are spoken about negatively (and wrongly) here to any great extent already know about this stuff. We have been in communication and I have profusely and sincerely apologized for my wrong-headed opinions. There are also negative opinions that I expressed that I still think are valid. While I wouldn’t have chosen to put them out publicly on the internet, Camille has made that necessary.

First Private Message

This accompanied a friend request. It’s the only one I have for which I don’t have a year, however, I believe it was in 2011.

And here comes the whole reason for the friend request. See the remark about the Havens story I have outlined in red? That’s what Camille wanted. I had told that story and she wanted to establish a “relationship” so she could find out if I could be of any further use to her.

She knew that I’d had a problem with Leah Hayes in the old Survivor group and so she took the opportunity to plant the “Leah Hayes is mentally ill” story, something I fell for, hook, line, and sinker.

Second Private Message

Third Private Message

This exchange followed some conversation in one of the groups where Camille said that Bob Senior’s wife died of tuberculosis, ten months after they were married. Thinking that Camille was the Great Historian and She Who is Accurate in All Things, I just believed she knew what she was saying.

Notice the highlighted part. I thought that’s what Camille was doing – looking for the truth, no matter what it was.

And this was the first little chink in the wall for me. After all that crap – she read the damn thing and Senior’s first wife did not die of tuberculosis. She died of pneumonia in a day when there were no antibiotics. Notice that I didn’t reply. What do you say to that? It reminds me of another situation.

Fourth Private Message

Please notice below that I stressed that this is just hearsay. I thought Camille understood what that meant.

Fifth Private Message

Note: I did not have the slightest idea that William Peck was an ongoing fake identity. I knew nothing at that time about the use Camille made of him to mock Jocelyn Zichterman. I thought that she’d just made a fake email address and that William Peck was an actual BJU employee. Remember, I haven’t been on the campus to amount to anything in many years.

I thought it was just a harmless prank.

The good news, of course, is that she admitted that she invented Peck.

Sixth Private Message

Do notice that this message has nothing at all to do with Greg Easton, as Dan Keller claims.

Seventh Private Message

I have no idea what this conversation is about. I just don’t remember.

Eighth Private Message

Note: Dear Greg, I am sorry. You were not wrong. I never saw the original post in context. I just went with what Camille had told everyone – and she did, in fact, tell everyone that you posted photos of her children. I should have looked up the original before making any comment about it. But then, you already know that.

 

And here we have the first mention I remember of “special visitors with shiny badges.” Camille simply loves to pretend that she is making police reports right and left.

And she is so surprised that Greg banned me. Like she never heard of such a thing before. I was such a sucker at this point.

And we’re back to lawyers again.

Ninth Private Message

In the weeks that followed this exchange, I began to wonder about all the “I called the FBI” stuff. Camille seemed to rattle on and on about it, but nothing ever happened.

Unless I have the dates all scrambled (and memory isn’t really very reliable) it was just about this point that Camille began openly attacking me in public. One day, she made some snarky comment about my atheism, and alluded to how often I mentioned it. I went back and checked my previous 25 or so comments in that group to see if she was right. She was wrong.

Ordinarily, I don’t care if somebody chooses not to like me. It’s okay. I’m not out here trying to win the “Miss Congeniality” award. But Camille was on my Facebook friend list and she was openly hostile to me for no reason that I could see. So I did something about it.

I didn’t want to unfriend her, simply because it seemed overly dramatic – but neither did I want her to see the stuff I post on my wall. It’s pretty heavily atheistic. And I reserve the right to post anything on my Facebook page I wish, from cute puppies to anti-Jesus tirades.

I created a special category called “Friends Except Camille K. Lewis” and set all my posts that way. It was like that for months, until I finally decided it was just ridiculous to continue (since I wasn’t “following” her at all) and unfriended her.

Tenth Private Message

Eleventh Private Message

And this message has been discussed at length here.

 

Twelfth Private Message

Coming eight days after the Havens message, this was our last exchange. The whole thing – all the “I’m calling the police” and the stuff about Murray Havens, published completely unvetted, and the “Bob Senior’s wife died of tuberculosis, only no, she didn’t” and the “Greg Easton posted photos of my children, only, no, he didn’t” – it all just got to me and I quit.

I finally confided to a friend about the Murray Havens story and was told that if I tried to talk to Camille about it, she would destroy me. The rest is history.

So What?

So, we circle back to GMOs.

Camille completely took me in. Cathy Harris never did. I read two pages of Cathy’s blog and thought “this is not real.” Maytag was obvious from the first time I ever noticed her. But Camille took me in. I believed her. I thought she knew what she was talking about. I really thought she’d called the police. I thought she’d vetted the Havens story. I thought she’d researched Mrs. Jones, Sr’s death enough to know the cause. I thought she was telling the truth when she told me that Greg Easton put up photos of her children and when she told me that Leah Hayes was mentally ill.

And like Mark Lynas, I thought GMOs were horrible.

I was wrong about all of it. I have been wrong before. I will undoubtedly be wrong again.

But Camille K. Lewis is not going to hold a few private messages over my head like a club and threaten me.

Don’t friend Camille, don’t do PMs with her – just don’t. You have been warned.