Dobie Speak

"While I am in one world, it is my fate to hear the music of the other. In the university (UT-Austin), I am a wild man; in the wild, I am a scholar and poet."
J. Frank Dobie

Who Needs Health Care Reform? EVERYONE? and Other Political Commentary

I have received my 2010 notice of rates for our health insurance handled by Aetna. We did pay $201/month with a $2,500/person deductible. Well hang on to your hat folks, effective April 1 it will be $875/month. That is just a 335 % increase. The deductible remains the same unless we can get covered in a different program, but at the same cost.

I am mad as hell at the indecisive Democrats, Republicans and Tea Party, just say NO folks, that do not support health care reform. If you think lawsuit reform is going to reduce health costs enough to make it affordable you are smoking more than toilet paper. I guess none or their friends or family have never had a preexisting condition!

Do you know what a significant cost driver of medical insurance and medical cost s. It's the folks that do not get any and still go to the doctor and hospital when sick or injured and do not pay or, get the pay-a little a month of the rest of their life plan. It is folks like us that buy insurance that are carrying them.

Then there are the Republican politicians that have 100% free health care for life (and never have introduced a bill to take it away) and say NO to everything except their annual pay increase. Oh they say yes some like for their ear marks. Most times the ear mark is in a bill they vote against too. Also, how many of them showed up to take credit for a stimulus project they voted against. Real hypocrites. They make Judas look like a nice guy.

Then there are the Tea Party folks that say no one should pay taxes and the government should stay out of our life. That is fine until they have a kid or grandkid wanting to go to college and takes the free cash under a Pell grant, or they want nice roads, good schools, lots of public services, and such. They are so sad that the banks and our financial institutions were saved. I guess they wanted a great depression. As for health care, they do not want government making decisions for them. Where the hell have they been. It's the big fat cat insurance companies that tell all of us what to do now. They tell the doctors how to treat us. Oh yes, I forgot, if you do not have insurance you get all the free care you want and n one to tell you what you can have. Nice!


A Tea Party web site sells these signs. Why not a YES sign for progress for all of us?

I do not want to forget the Democrats that also can't figure out whether to stand or sit to urinate on these issues either. There is lots of fingers to point their way too. At least most of them want some type of reform and are wanting to support our financial system so we do not have a total collapse.

No I am not pissed off. I am mad as hell. I pay taxes and a part of them goes to pay health care for those that do nothing to get insurance. I pay high insurance rates to carry these same folks. As far as I am concerned, if you can not prove you have insurance or a way to pay at the door, you should be allowed to just stay in the parking lot of the doctor's office or hospital. Why should you receive any health care?

So, the next time any of you say we do not need health care reform and how you want to eliminate all taxes, make a list of everything you plan to give up. Start with the basics: low cost and abundant food, sewer service, water to drink, electricity, roads and bridges, education, prisons for the bad guys, healthcare, police and fire protection. I am sure all of those that provide these services to you will work for free in your Tea Party Republican utopia.

I am not in favor of taxes higher than necessary. I know there is a huge amount of waste in government. I have no doubt that our politicians of both parties are far more interested in their own hides and getting re-elected than they are worrying about doing right for the country and its citizens. But, what can you expect from a voting population that seldom vote and when they do seldom vote in fresh people.

It just came as a big shock to me that I have two choices in health care. Pay out the nose and have insurance or join the slackers that buy none and expect someone else to take care of them. I took the hight road and will figure out how to pay it. I am not about to ask for health care for free.

Before I get off my soap box, a special one finger salute to Sen. Selby of Alabama for holding up all 70 of the President's appointments because his state did not get a tanker contract from the military that went to a USA plane maker instead of a French one he supported. This Senator is a classic example of why our political system is broke. I am sure they need jobs in Alabama, but to give them to a French company over an American one!

Wild Feral Hog Round-Up

For many months we have shared how we were working to make our farm and ranch hog proof by changing all the fences out to hog proof woven wire. We realized that in doing this we took the chance of fencing in a few hogs. This was an acceptable risk and we only had about 10 acres of heavy bush/forest inside the fences at Rocky Branch and less at home. Since early January, when we had completed the project, all was well until the last few weeks. More and more pasture damage was happening. We had obviously trapped some hogs inside our fence.

This morning I found what I thought was a single 250 pound or so mamma pig and a hand full of piglets in the woods. We had been checking the fences to be sure there were no holes under them or wash-outs. Getting my trusty 30-30 open sight lever action rifle, I returned and did not see them. It was very hard to get through the brambles and brush (where is Brer Rabbit when you need him) , but I finally got her in sight and got off one shot. Missed! The woods were too thick to get a clear shot. That shot set off a hog stamped that sounded like a lot more than one mom and a few small pigs.



I ran as fast as I could in the thick forest, but they were ahead of me and eventually out ran my effort to catch up. I got to a clearing where I could see into a flooded bottom pasture and some black and brown hogs were in the distance running. Running as best as a 60 year old can in steel toe boots carrying a rifle, I got to where I could clearly see. I was not dealing with a mama and piglets, but 15 fully grown wild feral hogs each weighing over 250 pounds and 15 or so piglets. They were more than a quarter mile from me and had run into the east fence with no place to go. I took off southeast of them and opened a gate into a forest where they could free range if I could get them there. Back tracking and walking in foot deep water in the bottom pasture the big hogs kept made several runs toward me. I did not have enough bullets to fight them off if they kept coming and I was too far from a tree to get up on a limb.

I took several shots, yelled, waved my cap and finally they turned in the direction of the gate. It was a sight to see so many feral hogs on the run with a long string of piglets behind them going as hard as they could to keep up. My strategy worked and that herd of trouble makers went out the gate except for four piglets. I got two of them and two got away. They are small so I do not know if they will make it alone. If they do, I hope they are the same sex and not a breeding pair.

Feral hogs are destroying the rural south. I think the only thing worse than the wild hogs are our elected politicians. They have a lot of the same attributes; self indulgence, self preservation, rooting where ever they please and leaving a trail of distribution in their wake. I was lucky today that none of the hogs made a run direct at me and we were able to get them out of our pastures and outside of the hog proof wire line. We still need to deal with the two piglets that got away, but maybe mother nature will handle them. As for the politicians, nothing is going to fix that problem.




Characteristics of feral hogs
  • Adult weight
    100 to 400 pounds or more
  • Adult height
    3 feet (males are generally larger than females)
  • Color
    Varies from solid black, brown, blond, white or red to spotted or belted
  • Feet
    Similar to deer tracks, but toes are more rounded
  • Gestation period
    115 days
  • Litter size
    Six on average
  • Number of litters
    Two litters per year and young may be born any time of year
  • Social group structure
    Travel in family groups called sounders, comprising sows and their young; boars are generally solitary, only joining the group to breed.

WHAT IF THERE WAS A CURE FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND NO ONE KNEW?

You can get a dose of coconut oil at the Morris Twin theater in Daingerfield. All their popcorn is popped in coconut oil. It is good.

WHAT IF THERE WAS A CURE FOR
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND NO ONE KNEW?

A Case Study by Dr. Mary Newport
July 22, 2008

There is a growing epidemic of obesity,
type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease,
and predictions that 15,000,000 people
in the United States alone will have Alzheim-
er’s Disease by the year 2050.
In 2001, Dr. Richard L. Veech of the NIH,
and others, published an article entitled, “Ke-
tone bodies, potential therapeutic uses.”1 In
2003, George F. Cahill, Jr. and Richard Veech
authored, “Ketoacids? Good Medicine?”2 and
in 2004, Richard Veech published a review of
the therapeutic implications of ketone bod-
ies.3 These articles are not found in journals
that the average physician would read, much
less the lay public. Unless you are research-
ing the topic, it is unlikely that you would
ever randomly come across this information.

My husband Steve, age 58, has had pro-
gressive dementia for at least five years. He
had an MRI in May 2008 showing a diffuse
involutional change of the frontal and pari-
etal lobes and moderate left-sided and severe
right-sided amygdala and hippocampal atro-
phy with no ischemic change, which would
support a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
Disease. For non-medical people, this means
that he has shrunken areas of the brain.
Many days, often for several days in a row,
he was in a fog; couldn’t find a spoon or re-
member how to get water out of the refrig-
erator. Some days were not so bad; he almost
seemed like his former self, happy, with his
unique sense of humor, creative, full of ideas.
One day I would ask if a certain call came that
I was expecting and he would say, “No.” Two
days later he would remember the message
from so-and-so from a couple of days earlier
and what they said. Strange to have no short-
term memory and yet the information was
filed somewhere in his brain. My gut feeling
is that diet has something to do with the fluc-
tuation, but what. I knew that he was locked
up in there somewhere, if only there was a
key to open up the areas of his brain that he
didn’t have access to.

Steve has a BSBA in accounting, and did
billing, bookkeeping and accounting for my
neonatology practice from home, so that he
could stay with our girls. He loved computers
and was a fast typist. He could open comput-
ers up to repair them and fix practically any-
thing else without ever having instruction.
If he did not have a tool to do something he
would “invent” it and make a usable proto-
type. He loved to kayak and made an attach-
ment to keep his kayak moving in a straight
line. About five years ago he began to have
trouble organizing to do his accounting work.
He would procrastinate as much as possible.
He made mistakes with the payroll and I be-
gan to sit with him to help him get it right. I
thought it was just that our practice had got-
ten more complicated with more employees. He
knew that something was wrong and depression
set in. We took him to a neurologist about 4 years
ago, who did a Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE,)
and Steve scored a 23 out of 30, putting him into
the mild range of dementia. On this test, the lower
the score is, the worse the dementia. His MRI was
reported as normal at that time.

About three years ago, Steve started taking
Aricept and two years ago Namenda. We were
hopeful that, if we could slow his decline enough, a
treatment would come along that would turn things
around for him. He was changed over from Aricept to
Exelon in August 2007 after losing ten pounds
over several weeks. In the past 12 months there
was a noticeable change. He can no longer cook
for himself, remember to eat a good meal, use a
calculator or even perform the simplest addition,
however he still keeps busy all day working in the
yard or in his garage and he is still in good physical
condition. I now do all the cooking for a man who
used to cook for his family regularly. I give him the
medications because he can’t remember to take
them, much less take the right pills. Every night,
we hold each other before we go to sleep and I won-
der how many more times we will get to do this. It
has been a nightmare to watch his decline and feel
helpless to do anything but watch it happen. He is
fully aware of his dementia, and we talk about it fre-
quently. He is no longer depressed, probably with
the help of counseling, Lexipro and Wellbutrin, or
maybe worsening of his disease.

I subscribe to various alerts and check the
website www.clinicaltrials.gov periodically to look
for drug studies that he may qualify for. Two years
ago we tried to get him into a study for a promis-
ing anti-inflammatory drug, Flurizan, but he did
not qualify because he had a history of depression
within the previous two years. Wouldn’t you be de-
pressed if you knew you had Alzheimer’s? In fact,
depression may be a symptom or precursor of Al-
zheimer’s.

Until very recently, I didn’t see anything re-
garding the potential use of medium chain trig-
lycerides (MCT oil), or ketone bodies (also called
ketoacids,) the end product of their metabolism,
which may not only treat, but also prevent Alzheim-
er’s disease. Further, this is a potential treatment
for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease,
multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclero-
sis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), drug resistant
epilepsy, brittle type I diabetes, and diabetes type
II, where there is insulin resistance. Ketone bodies
may help the brain recover after a loss of oxygen in
newborns through adults, may help the heart re-
cover after an acute attack, and may shrink cancer-
ous tumors. Children with drug resistant epilepsy
sometimes respond to an extremely low carbohy-
drate ketogenic diet. MCT oil appears to be useful
as an aid in weight loss and body builders use it
already to improve their lean body mass (MCT oil
can be easily purchased on the internet.) Athletes
and soldiers could use MCT oil as a source of fuel
when the body runs out of carbohydrates, which
occurs rather quickly when food is not readily
available.

What do these entities have in common? Our
cells can use ketone bodies as an alternative fuel
when glucose is not available. Brain cells, specifi-
cally neurons, are very limited, more limited than
other cells, in what kinds of fuel they can use to
function and to stay alive. Normally, they require
glucose (sugar), but they can also use ketone bod-
ies. Humans do not normally have ketone bodies
circulating and available to the brain unless they
have been starving for a couple of days or longer,
or are consuming a ketogenic (very low carbohy-
drate) diet, such as Atkins. In Alzheimer’s disease,
the neurons in certain areas of the brain are un-
able to take in glucose4, 5 due to insulin resistance
and slowly die off, a process that appears to happen
one or more decades before the symptoms become
apparent. If these cells had access to ketone bod-
ies, they could potentially stay alive and continue
to function. It appears that persons with Parkin-
son’s disease,6 Huntington’s disease, 7 multiple
need to take 35 grams or just over two table-
spoons (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) of
coconut oil. The following morning, around
9 A.M., I made oatmeal for breakfast and
stirred two tablespoons, plus more for “good
luck,” into his portion. I had some as well,
since I cannot expect him to eat something
that I won’t eat.

On the way to the 1:00 P.M. screening,
I tried to prepare Steve by asking him the
season, the month, the day of the week, re-
minding him that we were going to Tampa,
in Hillsborough county. He couldn’t remem-
ber the word “spring,” came up with April
instead of May for the month every time I
asked him and he couldn’t remember it was
Wednesday. During the hour-long drive, we
went through these facts at least 10 times,
but he still couldn’t remember. Shortly after
we arrived he was whisked away for the test,
about 4 ½ hours after consuming the coconut
oil. When he returned, he was very unhappy
about his performance. Laura, the research
coordinator, returned shortly thereafter and
began to take his vital signs and blood pres-
sure, and, suspecting that we were continu-
ing with the screening process, I asked her
if she could share his score with us. She
said, “Didn’t he tell you? He scored an 18!”
more than he needed to qualify for the vac-
cine study. He remembered it was spring, it
was May, it was Wednesday, that he was in
Tampa, in Hillsborough county and that we
were at the Byrd Institute, all points that he
missed on the previous attempt at USF. As a
result of the screening, we learned that he is
positive for APOE4, but do not know at this
time if he has one or two copies.

According to the Ketasyn studies, Steve
should not have improved, but rather he
should have stayed about the same. Since then
he has retested for the Eli Lilly study drug,
now available closer to home and scored an
MMSE of 17 - he even remembered the date
of July 2, 2008 this time. We have decided, af-
ter looking at the potential side effects of the
vaccine for APOE4+ people, to go with the Eli
Lilly drug.

At the time of this writing it has been
60 days since he started taking coconut oil
(May 21, 2008.) He walks into the kitchen
every morning alert and happy, talkative,
making jokes. His gait is still a little weird.
His tremor is no longer very noticeable. He is
able to concentrate on things that he wants to
do around the house and in the yard and stay
on task, whereas before coconut oil he was
easily distractible and rarely accomplished
anything unless I supervised him directly, a
source of some contention between us!
After about two weeks, and again at 37
days, after starting the coconut oil, I asked
him to draw a clock (see Clocks #2 and #3.)
There is an obvious marked improvement. I
promise that I did not help him. He tells me
that he could not even picture a clock at the
St. Pete screening, but with the last two at-
tempts, he was very concerned that the 6 was
opposite the 12 and the 9 opposite the 3 on
the face of the clock. He drew “spokes” to
and ALS9 have a similar defect in utilizing glucose
but in different areas of the brain or spinal cord.
MCT oil is digested differently by the body
than other fats. Instead of storing all MCTs as fat,
the liver converts them directly to ketone bodies,
which are then available for use as energy. Oral
and intravenous administration of MCT oil produc-
es hyperketonemia, 10 or circulating ketone bodies,
which are then available to the brain for energy, in
the absence of glucose19 and even in the presence
of glucose.22 In addition, hyperketonemia results in
a substantial (39%) increase in cerebral blood flow,
18 and appears to reduce cognitive dysfunction as-
sociated with systemic hypoglycemia in normal
humans. 19

About 2 months ago, we took Steve to the
Johnny B. Byrd, Jr. Alzheimer’s Institute at Uni-
versity of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida
for an annual evaluation and screening for a vac-
cine study (Elan.) He was fasting for blood work
and had an MMSE of 12, much too low to qualify
for the vaccine study – a minimum score of 16 was
required. We were very disappointed, but were ad-
vised that we could come back another time to try
again, since he met all of the other criteria.
We made an appointment in mid-May 2008 in
St. Petersburg, Florida to screen Steve for an Eli
Lilly gamma-secretase inhibitor and made another
appointment for Steve to be screened for entry
into the Elan study at USF the following day. The
evening before the first screening in St. Pete, I re-
searched the two drugs to help us decide which
drug to choose, should he qualify for both studies.
I came across another drug, Ketasyn, or AC-1202,
that was also recruiting healthy older people to
test the tolerability of three different formulations.
Investigating further, I learned that this treatment
brought about significant improvement over a 90-
day period in about half of the subjects who had a
certain genetic profile (APOE2 or APOE3.) The
APOE4 group remained about the same, whereas
the controls (people taking the placebo) contin-
ued to show decline. The results were even more
impressive for people who were already taking
certain Alzheimer’s medications. In a pilot study,
some people improved on memory testing with the
very first dose. Upon doing an internet search for
Ketasyn, I found a January 2008 patent application
(see www.freepatentsonline.com ,)10 a continuation
of a 2000 application, 75 pages long, with a well-
written and thorough description of the science of
Alzheimer’s disease and description of the “inven-
tion,” including these study results and numerous
potential formulations in combination with other
substances that may enhance its effect.

I learned that the promising “ingredient” in
Ketasyn is simply MCT oil, and that a dose of 20
grams (about 20 ml or 4 teaspoons) was used to
produce these results. The MCT oil that these re-
searchers used was obtained from Stepan Compa-
ny and consists of primarily 6 and 8 carbon chains,
however they state that MCT of any combination of
medium chains (6 to 12 carbon chains are medium
chain) would also be effective. Just once in this ap-
plication, the author mentions that MCT oil is de-
rived from coconut or palm oil (this is incorrect,
the author should have stated palm kernel oil.)

I didn’t know at that point that I could easily
purchase MCT oil online, so I researched coconut
oil and found out that coconut oil is about 60% me-
dium chain fatty acids (MCFA), contains no cho-
lesterol and also contains omega-6 fatty acids and
some other short and long chain fatty acids of up
to 18 carbon chains. 11 Coconut oil can be found in
many health food stores and even some grocery
stores. Wal-Mart sells a non-hydrogenated (no
transfat) brand of coconut oil in a one-liter size
(almost 32 ounce containers) for about $7 in our
area of Florida. It can be purchased in quantities
as small as a pint and up to five gallons online. It is
important to use coconut oil that is non-hydroge-
nated and contains no transfat. There is a widely
held misconception that coconut oil is the “artery
clogging oil,” a term coined in the mid-1900’s by
the president of Proctor and Gamble, the manufac-
turer of Crisco and other hydrogenated vegetable
oils. The early studies in animals used hydrogenat-
ed coconut oil, which we now know produces the
notorious trans-fats, and the essential fatty acids
were excluded from the diet. 13

The largest producer of coconut oil is the Phil-
ippines, where coconut and its oil are food staples,
and it is also produced in India, Thailand and other
parts of Southeast Asia, the Caribbean islands and
even in south Florida. The Philippines has one of
the lowest incidences of cardiovascular disease in
the world. Studies have shown that total cholester-
ol to HDL ratio improves with non-hydrogenated
coconut oil.14, 15, 16, 17 The people in this part of the
world also eat fish regularly, providing them with
omega-3 fatty acids, which probably contributes as
well to the lack of cardiovascular disease. My nurse
friends from the Philippines tell me that many of
their relatives back home cook everything in coco-
nut oil and have coconut in one form or another at
nearly every meal.

I have also learned that after coconut and palm
kernel oil, the food that medium chain triglycerides
are most concentrated in is human breast milk. 12 It
is also found in smaller concentrations in goat and
cow’s milk, as well as the butters from these milks.
In fact, we used to add MCT oil 20-25 years ago to
premature formulas to add calories, and MCT, co-
conut and palm oils are currently added to prema-
ture and full term infant formulas, along with ARA
and DHA to mimic breast milk.

Back to Steve, it was too late to find coconut
oil before the first screening. On the way, I remind-
ed him repeatedly that we were in St. Petersburg,
in Pinellas County. On the MMSE, he remembered
the city but not the county, and he couldn’t remem-
ber the season, the month or day of the week,
much less the date, even though he had to initial
and date numerous pages of consent forms be-
fore the MMSE. He had to be reminded on every
single page where to initial and what the date was
and even how to write out the date. He scored a
14, too low for entry into the study. Dr. Margarita
Nunez spent considerable time with us and asked
Steve to draw a clock (see clock #1), which she
said was a specific test for Alzheimer’s. She took
me aside and told me that his “clock” indicated he
was leaning more towards severe than moderate
AD, a devastating, but not surprising revelation to
me, considering that I am his wife of 36 years and
now his caretaker.

Thinking, what have we got to lose, we stopped
at a health food store on the way home and picked
up a quart of 100% “virgin” coconut oil. I calculated
that in order to provide 20 gm of MCT, he would
help them line up. I did not ask him to try to
put in a time, the next part of that test.
Steve has not been able to type for at least
two years, but he feels that he can picture
the position of the letters on the keyboard.
At this point he is afraid to sit down and try
to type, worried that he will be discouraged
if it doesn’t come back right away. We are
considering trying occupational therapy to
see if he can relearn some of the skills he has
lost. I cannot explain why he has improved,
except that perhaps the 10 and 12 carbon
chains are important, or the APOE4 people in the
Ketasyn studies were not taking omega-3 fatty ac-
ids. We eat salmon at least twice a week and take
fish oil supplements twice a day and have for at
least the past two years.

I have been researching on the internet ev-
erything I can find about coconut oil, MCT oil,
fatty acids, ketone bodies, fatty acid composition
of breast milk, ketones and various disease states.
When I researched ketone bodies, I came across
the name of Dr. Richard Veech of the National
Institutes of Health. I contacted him to ask ques-
tions about all of this and he very kindly spoke with
me and emailed me articles he had written on the
subject. I have had numerous questions and ideas,
and he has continued to provide me with answers
and more papers to read. I am thinking not only
about people with neurodegenerative diseases
like my husband, but also the sick and premature
newborns that I take care of, and potential uses
for those at both ends of the spectrum of life and
everyone in between. I wonder about autism and
whether something very important is missing in
infant formulas and in the diets of women who are
breastfeeding. 23

Beta-hydroxybutyrate is the primary ketone
body that is the end product of fatty acid metabo-
lism and appears to protect neurons when glucose
is not available. 20 Dr. Veech can make an ester
form of beta-hydroxybutyrate in his lab from MCT
oil that can be taken orally and converted to energy
by neurons and other cells. Potentially, higher lev-
els of ketone bodies could be obtained by ingest-
ing beta-hydroxybutyrate directly. He has done
studies on animals, but needs to produce this in
quantity to be able to do human studies. He could
start testing this year, if only he had the funding.
He needs $15 million to build a plant to produce
his beta-hydroxybutyrate. That is a lot of money,
but not so much if you consider that it is $1.00 for
every person that is expected to have Alzheimer’s
disease by the year 2050.

We visited Cincinnati at the end of June and all
of my family and Steve’s family noticed a very sig-
nificant difference in how he interacted with them
socially compared to a year ago. Instead of looking
lost, he was involved and interested in what they
had to say. He recognized relatives (brothers-in-
law, nieces and nephews) by name immediately
that were unfamiliar to him a year ago. His facial
expression was more animated. He participated
actively in conversations, understood jokes im-
mediately and even came up with his own humor-
ous comments. He still had difficulty finding some
words, but he was talking in sentences and even
stringing sentences together. In the morning he
would come to the kitchen and ask me to walk the
“big hill” with him before breakfast to get some ex-
ercise. He is a very different person than he was a
year ago and perhaps even two or three years ago.
He has serious atrophy of his brain and will never
be “normal,” but for now we are very pleased with
where he is at and, should coconut oil stop or slow
down the progress of his disease, it will be worth
every drop that he takes.

My sister Lois told a lady she works with about
the coconut oil and Steve’s response to it. Her fa-
ther began to give this to her mother, who has Al-
zheimer’s and she has had a similar response, with
more alertness, conversation and sense of humor.
On July 9, 2008, Steve had blood samples
drawn at various times before and following break-
fast and dinner. He received 35 ml of coconut oil at
each of those meals. He did not receive any other
coconut oil or other coconut products during the
rest of that day. Normally, he receives more coco-
nut oil than that on the average day. Steve’s ketone
body levels began to increase after breakfast over
3 hours, but at relatively low levels, dropped again
before dinner and were steadily rising about 3
hours after dinner. We do not know when his levels
peaked because we did not draw any further levels
thereafter. Dr. Veech stated that it is surprising that
Steve would improve with these relatively low lev-
els of ketones. This study reaffirms his belief that
it is necessary to go forward with the production
and testing of his ketone body b-hydroxy butyrate
esters, since considerably higher levels of ketone
bodies, timed and controlled could be achieved,
and more ketones would be available for the neu-
rons to use, and therefore greater improvement
could be expected.

It is urgent that funding become available
to move forward for the sake of the millions
who currently suffer, and will in the future
suffer, from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s
disease, Huntington’s chorea, multiple scle-
rosis, ALS, type I and type II diabetes, as
well as any number of other conditions that
involve a defect in transport of glucose into
neurons and other cells.

Until Dr. Veech’s beta-hydroxybutyrate is test-
ed and available for use, a simple dietary change to
coconut oil could make a difference for people who
believe they are at risk and for those who already
have one of these diseases.

To duplicate the dose of MCT taken in the
Ketasyn study, about 7 level teaspoons should be
taken at one time, once a day, which should circu-
late ketone bodies for about 24 hours. I do not know
if it is necessary to take this much at one time or
if the dosage could be spread out over the course
of the day. Studies obviously need to be done to
determine this. We actually give this amount to
Steve at least twice a day to make sure that there
are no periods without ketone bodies circulating.
Many days he receives at least 50% more than this.
The amounts we are taking would not be excessive
in areas of the world where coconut is a staple. If
a person can tolerate more, or can work up to tol-
erating more, it may be a good idea to do so. As an
alternative, one could take 4 teaspoons of MCT oil
once or twice a day, or more often as tolerated.

Some people may experience a sense of
“fullness” or even have diarrhea after taking this
much to start, but this problem can be reduced by
starting with one or two teaspoons and increasing
over a week or so to the full amount. We put it in
oatmeal, combine it with salad dressings, use it to
cook with, and put it on anything that one would
normally put butter on, such as potatoes, sweet po-
tatoes, rice, pasta or noodles. Coconut ice cream
can be purchased at Asian stores, contains coconut
oil and is the most pleasant way I can think of to
make ketone bodies. Likewise, coconut milk is a
combination of coconut oil and coconut water and
can be found in the Asian and condensed milk sec-
tions of many grocery stores. It is a pleasant substi-
tute for milk, and can be added instead of milk, for
example, to make scrambled eggs, French toast,
Clock #2 - Two weeks after starting coconut oil.
Clock #3 - Thirty-seven days after starting coconut oil.
Clock #1 - The day before starting coconut oil.
and mashed potatoes. You can figure out portion
sizes of various combinations of foods containing
coconut and coconut oil equivalent to at least 35
grams of fat from coconut oil.

If you are using any type of hydrogenated veg-
etable oil or any oil with transfat, do not use any
more and get rid of it! Extra virgin olive oil, but-
ter and other natural, non-hydrogenated oils are
okay to use along with the coconut oil. It is possible
to use coconut oil in place of all other oils, how-
ever, since it contains no omega-3 fatty acids, it is
very important to eat salmon twice a week or get
enough omega-3 fatty acid from other rich sources
such as fish oil capsules, flax meal, flax oil (not for
cooking) or walnuts.

It is inconceivable that a potential dietary pre-
vention and cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and other
neurodegenerative diseases, has been out there for
so many years, and yet has gone unnoticed. It is
very likely that these diseases are becoming more
prevalent due our current diet. The American diet
has changed drastically from what it was before the
1950’s, when our parents and grandparents used
lard and coconut oil to cook. Cardiovascular dis-
ease was rare at the beginning of the 20th century,
and has skyrocketed, along with other devastating
diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes type II, obe-
sity, since mass produced hydrogenated vegetable
oils containing trans fats were introduced into our
diets and replaced these other natural fats. Sadly,
the incidences of cardiovascular and other serious
diseases are becoming more and more common
among people in other areas of the world who have
changed over from their indigenous foods to the
“western” diet.

I plan to tell everyone I can and get this infor-
mation to persons in positions to investigate this
with the hope that Dr. Veech and other MCT oil
and ketone body researchers get the funding they
need. Feel free to make copies and pass this write-
up on.

If you have a loved one or a patient with
Alzheimer’s or one of these other degenerative
neurologic diseases, consider trying coconut oil.

Dr. Veech suggests that, if possible, a videotape of
the person before starting and at various points af-
ter starting the coconut oil would be very useful to
document change. He suggests including segments
of the persons face, speech and gait (walking).
He also advises to have ketone bodies
measured. What have you got to lose?

Dr. Mary Newport
10030 Orchard Way
Spring hill, FL 34608
Home: (352) 666-1025
Cell: (352) 428-0251
Preemiedoctor@aol.com

Coconut oil and MCT oil websites:
www.coconutoilresearch.com
www.nutiva.com • www.amazon.com
www.tropicaltraditions.com
www.oilsbynature.com
www.cheapvitamins.com
Palm kernel oil website:
www.oilsbynature.com
Coconut oil and coconut milk are also avail-
able at most health food stores and many
grocery stores.

References:
1. “Ketone bodies, potential therapeutic uses,” RL Veech, B Chance, Y Kashiwaya, HA Lardy, GC Cahill, Jr., IUBMB Life, 2001, Vol. 51 No.4, 241-247
2. “Ketoacids? Good Medicine?” George F. Cahill, Jr., Richard L. Veech, Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association,
Vol. 114, 2003.
3. “The therapaeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin
resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism,” Richard L. Veech, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 70 (2004) 309-319.
4. “Diminished glucose transport and phosphorylation in Alzheimer’s Disease determined by dynamic FDG-PET,” M Piert, et.al., The Journal of Nuclear
Medicine, Vol.37 No.2, February 1996, 201-208.
5. “Glucose metabolism in early onset versus late onset Alzheimer’s Disease: an SPM analysis of 120 patients,” EJ Kim, et. al., Brain, 2005,
Vol. 128, 1790-1801.
6. “Cerebral glucose metabolism in Parkinson’s disease with and without dementia,” RF Peppard, et.al., Archives of Neurology, Vol. 49 No.12,
December 1992.
7. “Cortical and subcortical glucose consumption measured by PET in patients with Huntington’s disease,” Brain, October 1990, Vol 113, part 5, 1405-23.
8. “Reduced glucose metabolism in the frontal cortex and basal ganglia of multiple sclerosis patients with fatigue: a 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron
emission tomography study,” U Roelcke, et. al., Neurology, 1997, Vol. 48, Issue 6, 1566-1571.
9. “ALS-linked Cu/Zn-SOD mutation impairs cerebral synaptic glucose and glutamate transport and exacerbates ischemic brain injury,” Z Guo, et. al.,
Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow Metabolism, March 2000, Vol. 20 No. 3, 463-8.
10. “Combinations of medium chain triglycerides and therapeutic agents for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases
resulting from reduced neuronal metabolism,” United States Patent 20080009467, Inventor Samuel T. Henderson, Accera, Inc., Broomfield,
Colorado (Ketasyn).
11. Nutrient analysis of coconut oil (vegetable), NDB No: 04047 – www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp .
12. “Lipids in (human) milk and the first steps in their digestion,” M Hamosh, et. al., Pediatrics, 1985, Vol. 75, 146-150.
13. “Nutritional factors and serum lipid levels,” EH Ahrens, American Journal of Medicine, 1957, vol. 23, 928 (used hydrogenated coconut oil).
14. “Trans fatty acids and coronary artery disease,” NEJM, 1999, Vol. 340, 1994-1998.
15. “Effect of mixed fat formula feeding on serum cholesterol level in man,” SA Hashim, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1959, Vol. 7, 30-34.
16. “Modified-fat dietary management of the young male with coronary disease: a five-year report,” JL Bierenbaum, JAMA, 1967, Vol. 202, 1119-1123.
17. “Cholesterol, coconuts and diet in Polynesian atolls-a natural experiment; the Pukapuka and Toklau island studies,” IA Prior, American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition, 1981, Vol. 34, 1552-1561.
18. “Changes in cerebral blood flow and carbohydrate metabolism during acute hyperketonemia,” S.G. Hasselbalch, et.al, Am J Physiol, 1996,
Vol. 270, E746-51.
19. “Effect of hyperketonemia and hyperlacticacidemia on symptoms, cognitive dysfunction, and counterregulatory hormone responses during hypogly-
cemia in normal humans,” T. Veneman, et. al., Diabetes 43:1311-7 (1994).
20. “D-b-Hydroxybutyrate protects neurons in models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” Y Kashiwaya, et. al. including RL Veech, PNAS, May 9,
2000, Vol. 97 No. 10, 5440-5444.
21. “High carbohydrate diets and Alzheimer’s disease,” Samuel T. Henderson, Medical Hypotheses, 2004, Vol 62, 689-700 (Another article of interest).
22. “Effects of b-Hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults,” MA Reger, ST Henderson, et. al., Neurobiology of Aging, 2004,
Vol. 25, 311-314.
23. “Breastfeeding, infant formula supplementation, and Autistic Disorder: the results of a parent survey,” ST Schultz, et. al., International Breastfeeding
Journal, 2006, Vol. 1 No. 16.
Other Important Resources
“Ketones: Metabolism’s Ugly Duckling,” TB VanItallie, TH Nufert, Nutrition Reviews, Vol 61, No 10, 327-341.
“Fuel Metabolism in Starvation,” GF Cahill, Jr., Annual Reviews in Nutrition, 2006, 26:1-22.
“Ketone Bodies as a Therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Disease,” ST Henderson, Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics,
Vol 5, 470-480, July 2008.

Which Way Do Your Cows Face?

I have looked at our cattle grazing for years and I never noticed which way they were facing. The last few weeks I have and its more north-south than any other direction. Go figure.
Cattle shown to align north-south

Science reporter, BBC News
By Elizabeth Mitchell


Cattle partake in some directional grazing

Have you ever noticed that herds of grazing animals all face the same way?
Images from Google Earth have confirmed that cattle tend to align their bodies in a north-south direction.
Wild deer also display this behaviour - a phenomenon that has apparently gone unnoticed by herdsmen and hunters for thousands of years. In the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, scientists say the Earth's magnetic fields may influence the behaviour of these animals.


The Earth can be viewed as a huge magnet, with magnetic north and south situated close to the geographical poles.
Many species - including birds and salmon - are known to use the Earth's magnetic fields in migration, rather like a natural GPS.
A few studies have shown that some mammals - including bats - also use a "magnetic compass" to help their sense of direction.
Dr Sabine Begall, from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, has mainly studied the magnetic sense of mole rats - African animals that live in underground tunnels. "We were wondering if larger animals also have this magnetic sense," she told BBC News.



This sense may be quite widespread in the animal kingdom

Dr Begall and colleagues first decided to study the natural behaviour of domestic cattle.
The researchers surveyed Google Earth images of 8,510 grazing and resting cattle in 308 pasture plains across the globe.
"Sometimes it took hours and hours to find some pictures with good resolution," said Dr Begall.
The scientists were unable to distinguish between the head and rear of the cattle, but could tell that the animals tended to face either north or south. Their study ruled out the possibility that the Sun position or wind direction were major influences on the orientation of the cattle. Dr Begall said: "In Africa and South America, the cattle (were) shifted slightly to a more north-eastern-south-western direction.



Forest dormitory: Deer "beds" are seen in a line

"But it is known that the Earth's magnetic field is much weaker there," she explained.
The researchers also recorded the body positions of 2,974 wild deer in 277 locations across the Czech Republic.
Their fieldwork revealed that the majority of grazing and resting deer face northward. About one-third of the deer faced southward.
"That might be some kind of anti-predatory behaviour," speculated Dr Begall.
Willy Miller - a Scottish cattle farmer - remarked: "I've never noticed that my cows all face the same way."
Cows are social animals: "[They] all sit down before it rains [and] huddle together in a circle formation during blizzards. But from a cow's point of view, that's just sensible," he told BBC News.
Professor John Phillips, a sensory biologist from Virginia Tech University, US, commented that this sixth magnetic sense might be "virtually ubiquitous in the animal kingdom".
He added: "We need to think about some really fundamental things that this sensory ability provides in animals."
The challenge remains for scientists to explain how the animals behave in this way - and if Scottish cattle are the exception to the rule!

Wednesday Twitter

Onions planted, new raspberry plants mulched, cold all day Tuesday, lost baby calf- heifer.

"As in the case of love, no man has lived until he has felt sorrow."

There was an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this week. I have copied it below and it is well worth the time it takes to read. It an insightful essay that a 17 year old wrote it as if he was expecting a shorter life and not one that ended 70 years after he put pen to paper. I have read and re-read it several times now and each time I find it refreshing and thought provoking.

Carpenter listed only a few things, at the age of 17, he thought were necessary before death. His list is far shorter than the one tackled in the recent film Bucket List or what you or I may put together at any single point in our life.

Before i die I want to....
Bring happiness to others
Accomplish something great on my own
Travel overseas and live in a foreign culture
Have felt a truly great love
Feel a great sorrow

All of these are worthy objectives in a life that has had meaning. I have never given it enough thought to write my "to do" list before I die on paper, but I have considered it This us more significant as I get older and time is less abundant to finish some things I have in mind to accomplish. In January 1999, weeks after arriving at the farm as my permanent home, I wrote this list that is different, but items I wanted to accomplish in the rest of my life.

Lower stress (done)
Stop smoking Done April 1999)
Flexible hours (done)
Work I enjoy doing (done)
Feel I am making a difference (done)
Have time to "give myself away" (done)
Have time for Eva and the kids (sort of done)
Be relaxed (somewhat done)
Play piano (still a dream)
Learn Spanish (slowly in progress)


I suppose after I wrote the first list I must have had some more thoughts so composed a second list later in 1999 that was more my lifestyle target. I guess at the time i wrote it I had been so busy in my corporate life that I longed for a quieter time will less stress. I was hungry for a change of lifestyle and I indeed found it in farming and ranching.

1. Slow down
2. Savour life
3. Stand still
4. Fix only what you can fix
5. Keep life simple
6. Remember life has four legs: growing up, education, working, retirement - balance each
7. Keep a quiet time
8. Keep asking yourself, "are you too busy?"

Perhaps this op-ed piece will prompt me to write a more specific list. As for the the items in Carpenter's list, I have already accomplished, for better or worse, each of them. In time, that last glass of wine awaits me to see what is next. Before then, I think i will keep on keeping on and make a new list.
  • FEBRUARY 6, 2010
Before I Die . . .
'As in the case of love, no man has lived until he has felt sorrow.'


By EDMUND N. CARPENTER, II
The following essay was written by Edmund N. Carpenter, age 17, in June 1938 while he was a student in Lawrenceville, N.J. Carpenter would go on to win the Bronze Star for his service in World War II and to a civilian career as an attorney. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he became president of Richards, Layton & Finger, a law firm. He died on Dec. 19, 2008 at age 87 and is survived by six children and 15 grandchildren:

It may seem very strange to the reader that one of my tender age should already be thinking about that inevitable end to which even the paths of glory lead. However, this essay is not really concerned with death, but rather with life, my future life. I have set down here the things which I, at this age, believe essential to happiness and complete enjoyment of life. Some of them will doubtless seem very odd to the reader; others will perhaps be completely in accord with his own wishes. At any rate, they compose a synopsis of the things which I sincerely desire to have done before I leave this world and pass on to the life hereafter or to oblivion.

Before I die I want to know that I have done something truly great, that I have accomplished some glorious achievement the credit for which belongs solely to me. I do not aspire to become as famous as a Napoleon and conquer many nations; but I do want, almost above all else, to feel that I have been an addition to this world of ours. I should like the world, or at least my native land, to be proud of me and to sit up and take notice when my name is pronounced and say, "There is a man who has done a great thing." I do not want to have passed through life as just another speck of humanity, just another cog in a tremendous machine. I want to be something greater, far greater than that. My desire is not so much for immortality as for distinction while I am alive. When I leave this world, I want to know that my life has not been in vain, but that I have, in the course of my existence, done something of which I am rightfully very proud.

Before I die I want to know that during my life I have brought great happiness to others. Friendship, we all agree, is one of the best things in the world, and I want to have many friends. But I could never die fully contented unless I knew that those with whom I had been intimate had gained real happiness from their friendship with me. Moreover, I feel there is a really sincere pleasure to be found in pleasing others, a kind of pleasure that can not be gained from anything else. We all want much happiness in our lives, and giving it to others is one of the surest ways to achieve it for ourselves.

Before I die I want to have visited a large portion of the globe and to have actually lived with several foreign races in their own environment. By traveling in countries other than my own I hope to broaden and improve my outlook on life so that I can get a deeper, and more complete satisfaction from living. By mixing the weighty philosophy of China with the hard practicalism of America, I hope to make my life fuller. By blending the rigid discipline of Germany with the great liberty in our own nation I hope to more completely enjoy my years on this earth. These are but two examples of the many things which I expect to achieve by traveling and thus have a greater appreciation of life.

Before I die there is another great desire I must fulfill, and that is to have felt a truly great love. At my young age I know that love, other than some filial affection, is probably far beyond my ken. Yet, young as I may be, I believe I have had enough inkling of the subject to know that he who has not loved has not really lived. Nor will I feel my life is complete until I have actually experienced that burning flame and know that I am at last in love, truly in love. I want to feel that my whole heart and soul are set on one girl whom I wish to be a perfect angel in my eyes. I want to feel a love that will far surpass any other emotion that I have ever felt. I know that when I am at last really in love then I will start living a different, better life, filled with new pleasures that I never knew existed.

Before I die I want to feel a great sorrow. This, perhaps, of all my wishes will seem the strangest to the reader. Yet, is it unusual that I should wish to have had a complete life? I want to have lived fully, and certainly sorrow is a part of life. It is my belief that, as in the case of love, no man has lived until he has felt sorrow. It molds us and teaches us that there is a far deeper significance to life than might be supposed if one passed through this world forever happy and carefree. Moreover, once the pangs of sorrow have slackened, for I do not believe it to be a permanent emotion, its dregs often leave us a better knowledge of this world of ours and a better understanding of humanity. Yes, strange as it may seem, I really want to feel a great sorrow.

With this last wish I complete the synopsis of the things I want to do before I die. Irrational as they may seem to the reader, nevertheless they comprise a sincere summary of what I truthfully now believe to be the things most essential to a fully satisfactory and happy life. As I stand here on the threshold of my future, these are the things which to me seem the most valuable. Perhaps in fifty years I will think that they are extremely silly. Perhaps I will wonder, for instance, why I did not include a wish for continued happiness. Yet, right now,
I do not desire my life to be a bed of roses. I want it to be something much more than that. I want it to be a truly great adventure, never dull, always exciting and engrossing; not sickly sweet, yet not unhappy. And I believe it will be all I wish if I do these things before I die.

As for death itself, I do not believe that it will be such a disagreeable thing providing my life has been successful. I have always considered life and death as two cups of wine. Of the first cup, containing the wine of life, we can learn a little from literature and from those who have drunk it, but only a little. In order to get the full flavor we must drink deeply of it for ourselves. I believe that after I have quaffed the cup containing the wine of life, emptied it to its last dregs, then I will not fear to turn to that other cup, the one whose contents can be designated only by X, an unknown, and a thing about which we can gain no knowledge at all until we drink for ourselves. Will it be sweet, or sour, or tasteless? Who can tell? Surely none of us like to think of death as the end of everything. Yet is it? That is a question that for all of us will one day be answered when we, having witnessed the drama of life, come to the final curtain. Probably we will all regret to leave this world, yet I believe that after I have drained the first cup, and have possibly grown a bit weary of its flavor, I will then turn not unwillingly to the second cup and to the new and thrilling experience of exploring the unknown.

Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Why Worry?

A cattlemen I know recently wrote in his newsletter.... "Worry is like a rocking horse, It gives you something to do, but it is a waste of time and doesn't get you anywhere.
For some reason, most people spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about things they have absolutely no control over".

Monday Night Twitter

Yea, I know its not Twitter, but I am not up top speed on that yet.

Onions did not get planted, all the berries got sprayed, rained 3 inches, worked 8 hours on computer entering 2009 berry crop statistics in excel, Eva worked by a nice fire all day.

Bublebees for the Berrry Patch

How would you like a job where you get to sleep for 8-9 months, wake up and work a week or so, then just lay back and reproduce for a few months while someone else feeds you and takes care of the kids. Then at a ripe old age, you die. Sound good? Well that is the life cycle of a queen bumblebee. We have a lot of bumblebees on the farm, especially when the clover is in bloom, but they come late spring after the berry field has been through its flowering season.

Pollination of the berry bushes is a necessity for a good berry crop. It is essential for optimal fruit set and maximum production. We have depended on our local wild honey bees that are in trees in the forest and bees from Johnson's Bee Farm, in Paris, that over winter hives down the road from us. Last year we were hit hard by a late freeze (April 7) in the middle of flowering and pollination. Perhaps half the crop was lost in the freeze and it stunned the bees. The result was less berries and they were not as big as they should have been.

This year we will bring in bumblebee hives from Minnesota. While we are letting nature pollinate our crop, we are assisting by starting the process early. Our quad of four hives is scheduled to arrive March 16 and the bees will live for 6-8 weeks.

The advantage of bumblebees over honey bees is that they will work in adverse weather conditions. Honey bees do not work in misty or rainy conditions, when it is colder than 59 degrees and when it is windy or heavy cloudy days. Bumblebees will work on days down to 41 degrees, windy days, cloudy days and will work on misty/rain days unless the rain is very heavy.

Honey bees collect pollen and take it to the hive to feed their babies, the queen, the workers in the hive and to produce honey. Bumblebees have no permanent colony. In nature, the queen emerges from the ground where she has been in hibernation since late summer in mid-spring and starts a colony. She will be able to lay eggs immediately and in 4-5 days the larvae emerge. She has to forage and collect pollen and nectar to feed these first larvae. When the first worker bees mature, the queen no longer forages and stays in the nest laying eggs. Each colony will have about 400 bees. The size of the colony depends on the amount of food available and the queen's health. Over time, productivity falls off as the workers die. The original queen stops laying eggs and also dies. The young queens and male drones that were produced mate and the young queens abandon the nest. Then the colony dies off. The queens bury into the ground and hibernate until the next spring and the cycle starts over again.

Apparently the only purpose of bumblebees is to pollinate plants. I find that to be one of nature's cycles that can not be easily explained.





1. Standard flight opening (in and out)
2. IN only flight opening (not normally used)
3. Transparent inner cover
4. Upper cover, which can be opened
5. Feeding hole through the wick
6. Feeding level, visible from the outside
7. New sugar water formula feed supply
8. The hive compartment with brood

Sunday Morning Twitter


Rain is coming. 400 onions to get in the ground. Spraying pre-emergent under berry plants. Not resting It is cold today; cloudy


What Happens If No One Produces Milk?

I can share two stories about the dairy business locally that will shock you. Despite the high price of milk and milk products in the store, few, if any, family farm dairies is making enough revenue to cover its costs. Perhaps the factory dairies can due to the way they produce milk. At one time, just west of us was the dairy capital of Texas. There were many wonderful family dairy farms with the cows out on lush pastures in summer and wheat/rye grass pastures in winter. They were participants in the community. A few remain, but they are going fast. The only dairy left in our county is struggling. I sell them hay to feed their dry cows (ones not in the milk cycle) and the calves, but they only get enough to survive. The milk cows are getting protein that consists of limited hay, ground corn stalk silage from Oklahoma and brewer's waste from Houston. This is not such a bad diet for a dairy cow, but fresh alfalfa hay would be better. We can buy milk at the farm for $2/gallon and this is profitable for the dairyman versus the market price he gets for most of his milk. I like to get it when the tank is empty after a milk pick-up, and the new milk in the tank is fresh and warm.

West of us near Sulphur Springs times are tough too. The Ag Bank there has a number of dairy loans. Some are to folks that came from the Netherlands a decade or so ago to settle in Texas and get way from the low milk price market in Europe. They did well for years, but not now. A few weeks ago the Ag Bank got an overseas call from the Netherlands; collect. Two different dairy farm families from Sulphur Springs that had loans with the bank were calling. They had a chilling message. The cows need milking. We took the flight from Dallas last night to amsterdam with our families and will not be back. We left the keys in the trucks, tractors, and the house. It's all yours. I can just imagine the stunned banker sitting in an office wondering how the bank was going to immediately get out to the farms and milk the cows before it was too late, and then operate them until they can be liquidated.

Basic business economics has changed the dairy business. Large farms are needed to break even. the farms in East Texas moved out west of Fort Worth where there was room there to expand. Then there was a problem with the dairy farm waste harming the environment, in particular the local water supply for Waco, and the farms moved west again. Now the dairy capital of Texas is split between the El Paso area and into the eastern side of New Mexico and West Texas. Here, there is no grass for the cattle to graze on. They eat alfalfa not raised there and the size of the individual dairy operations has expanded to up to 3,000 cows which are milked in rotation 24 hours per day,. Out on the west coast in California they do this in buildings with no surrounding farm land, and the cows never leave their stall except to be milked. They live their life there being bred, milked and having babies. When they are dry they are moved out of the barn to a dry lot or to a kill plant for ground beef.

I do not know the future of milk production on family farm, but I expect most will come from factory farms that the government ensures survive using prices supports targeted to large factory farms.

The story below is from a Texas online publication about a five generation dairy barn in Maine that is quitting the business.

We Decided to Sell the Herd
02/03/2010

The system for supporting dairy prices is so complicated, nobody understands it. And, by the way, it doesn't work.
By Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith
We thought we could be just a dairy farm. But as prices for milk collapsed, we had to diversify Snafu Farm.
Our dairy herd is for sale.
My husband has been a dairy farmer his whole life, up until a few weeks ago. Ivan worked his way through school at his uncle’s dairy farm, then worked as dairyman on several farms before buying his own herd. We eventually built a barn and milk room on our farm.
 The farmer’s price for milk has been down for months and dairy has not been profitable for most farmers for a long, long time. Even the glimmer of hope we were seeing in anticipated price increases wasn’t enough to keep us going. 
Now we are selling the herd.
As difficult as this has been on a personal level, I also deal with the challenges of dairy farming from a policy perspective.  I am a state representative in Maine, serving on the committee that oversees agriculture. I start the day with farm chores before showering, putting on a suit, and heading to the state capitol.  So I empathize with the farmers who come to our committee, as I balance their plight with the hundreds of other issues that come before the legislature each year.
When I first became involved in farming, I needed the obvious pointed out to me.  For instance, a cow, like any mammal, does not produce milk until she gives birth. This means there is a two-year cycle to milk production. The heifer (young cow) should be a year and a half old before being bred, and there is a nine-month gestation before the calf is born and milk is produced.
As dairy farmers love to say, once producing, a cow doesn’t have a faucet to turn milk on and off according to the demands of the market. How many other businesses have to plan for a two-year inventory cycle on their product?
Dairy farming is a complicated business. A dairy farmer must develop expertise in many areas over the years. A farmer has to be ready to act as veterinarian, equipment mechanic, electrician, bookkeeper and public relations director. There is a herd to keep healthy and productive (fed rations balanced to ensure the cows are getting the right mix of nutrients, protein, and roughage). There are fields to tend to and crops to harvest, equipment to maintain, neighbors to talk with and sometimes to accommodate.

Nancy Smith
We invested in our herd and milking operation and now we have to sell it all.
American dairy farmers operate within a federal pricing system created decades ago.  Originally designed to protect farmers (and America’s food supply) from volatility that could destroy farms, this system is so complex it’s said jokingly that only two people in the country understand it, and that they are not allowed to travel together lest we lose them both in an accident.
All I can tell you is that the system no longer works. One day of trading cheese futures determines what farmers will be paid for their milk. Meanwhile, the federally-set price paid to farmers is often well below what it costs those farmers to produce the milk.

Nancy Smith
The policy behind dairy farming and milk pricing is well intentioned.  And here in Maine, we have a state program intended to supplement the federal price. When the federal price drops below the cost of production (as determined by a university study for different size farms), Maine’s farmers are provided some addition income from the state. It’s not nearly enough to cover our full costs of production, but it sure does help.
The state pays for this program in part through a so-called “milk-handling fee” collected by wholesalers and based on the federal price. The fee is higher when the federal price is lower, which is exactly when the farmers need more support, but also when the cost to retailers is lower. So the system both supports farmers and helps stabilize the price of milk for consumers. It works well, and is in fact the envy of many other dairy states. But it works in Maine for reasons that are not common elsewhere, including the fact that Maine’s consumption of dairy products is fairly close to how much we produce.
All of Maine’s efforts to support dairy farms are principally designed to stabilize the industry. We cannot save every dairy farm.  As a policy maker, I accept that there is only so much we can do with laws, regulations, and programs.  We have policies in place to offer assistance and balance. As a farmer, I face these challenges every day.
]
Daily Yonder
Rep. Nancy Smith
The cost of the animals, equipment, land, and buildings is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even for a relatively small farm like ours. (We have — or, I should say, had — 40 dairy animals.)  Many farm families respond by adding income, either by diversifying their farm or having a family member work off the farm.
We do both. Ten years ago we began raising and marketing natural meats and poultry. And I have earned a small salary from the legislature for eight years.  Sales of the natural meats and poultry have steadily increased, and our efforts have shifted to this type of farming.  As we step away from dairying, we will increase free-range poultry, grass-fed beef, rose veal, and natural pork.  Our neighbors are willing to pay a premium for locally grown, healthful meats from animals humanely raised.
This is the future of our farm, not dairy.
The federal pricing system creates regional disparities that pit farmers against each other in national policy debates.  No one wins in this setting — not the farmers and not the consumers who depend on them for fresh, healthful dairy products.
Rep. Nancy Smith represents Monmouth, Litchfield and Wales in the Maine legislature, where she serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation.
From
The DAILY YONDER
1415 Alameda Dr. Austin, TX 78704 512-428-9067

Can You hear Their Voice?

When I am busy working out in the fields, focused on the task at hand, I sometime drift off in my mind on subjects that have no relationship to what I am doing. Wednesday, out in a light rain on a cold day, I was digging holes in preparation of planting raspberry plants. It was going to take a few hours to just dig the holes, so I was in robot mode. It came to me that I can no longer hear the voices of my mother, father, grandparents and other close friends that are no longer with me. I wondered if others can no longer hear the voices of ones they were close to.

It is sad that as we age a lot of our memories are built around photographs or video of things that happened in the past; people we knew that move away or died. Of course, I can still remember a lot of things that do not require sensory stimulation. Some even have sound. I never knew Don Henley of the Eagles personally except through casual contact. His dad had the auto parts store across from Joe Pierce's Gulf Oil service station where I worked. When we needed parts, a filter or whatever I went there and got them. Sometime Don was in the sore, but it did not make a great impression on me and he was older. What I do remember is that he had a band called the Four Speeds which played at the old American Legion Hall in Linden, Texas (
now Music City Texas). At 14 or 15 we would go over for a dance, maybe it was a shock hop, and the Four Speeds were featured. The band had won the Battle of the Bands on KEEL radio in Shreveport (AM, not FM). KEEL was my window to the rock and roll world on my first pocket radio. Some believed you would go to hell for listening, but that never bothered me. I had never seen a live band until I saw the Four Speeds and it was amazing to me. I can still see the dark hall, teens shuffling about to rock and roll, and just before the break, I still hear Henley and his band play Ghost Riders in the Sky. How is it I have such a memory of this and can not hear my parents voices?

Digging those holes, and then planting the 80 plus bushes gave me a lot of time to think about this. Standing to stretch out, I paused remembered. I could see people without voices. Maybe it is just me, but I suspect this is a universal problem. My grandmother Dolly Kafer stands in the kitchen window washing up after making bread. She is wearing a simple long cotton dress and her gray his braided. Its summer and hot. She is calling to the chickens in her vegetable garden outside the window, but I do not hear her. I only see her. Granddad Kafer spoke poor english as a German-Russian immigrant, this I remember. He wore bib overalls every day, the kind that were not blue, but gray with tiny pin stripes. It seems he never tied his boots on properly. He is standing by the corral looking at cattle, we are in the tack room and I can smell the leather and animal sweat, he driving a team pulling a grain wagon, but its like a silent movie. Uncle Henry, clamped down on a cigar, is in the milking parlor, big Holstein cows in a row. I can smell the parlor and see it. It's a mix of milk, sweet feed and manure smells. I can hear the milking machine, the sound of milk hitting inside a metal bucket for those that needed to be hand milked, but he is silent as I see him move in the parlor.

It's a friend in college that was close and committed suicide and a high school friend that graduated before me and died in Vietnam. Why can I not hear their voices any more? Their deaths took away a part of my youth and make the world seen all to real.

So there I was, in a muddy field, planting berry bushes in the rain wondering. Why can I not hear their voices?