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Episode-854- Shalali Infante in Micro Farming Livestock

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The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:   854
DATE:         March 7, 2012
TITLE:         Shalali Infante in Micro Farming Livestock



Shalali Infante has a 1.5 acre semi-urban homestead where her family keeps 3 mini-Jersey milk cows, they breed mini-Jerseys.  They also raise American guinea hogs and Nigerian dwarf goats (though they are phasing out the goats)  They also raise pastured chickens in the summer for sale and for our yearly chicken needs.

On top of this they produce 100% of all their meat and dairy needs. They do rotational grazing and supplemental feed.  They feed no grain to the ruminants and only feed sprouted grains to their hogs.  The chickens do get an organic prepared feed.
Shalali and her family also produce many of their vegetables (increasing every year) and do not buy oil (except olive oil for salad dressing) as they use lard and butter and tallow.  They also do some butchering workshops.

Again this is all accomplished on 1.5 acres!

Shalai joins us today to discuss backyard livestock and sustainability of food production with some of the sustainability coming from producing food for others and utilizing the income from that to feed your animals.


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Amy, aka Moonfire


Jack Spirko: Hi folks, this is Jack Spirko with another edition of The Survival Podcast, as always one man’s view of the changing world, the changing times, and the things that we can all do to live a better life if times get tough or even if they don’t. Coming to you once again from Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, high atop the highway 7 ridgeline from TSPN – that’s The Survival Podcast Network headquarters. Today is Wednesday March 7th, 2012 and we have a great show for you today.

I get a lot of questions from people sometimes asking about homesteading and how much land do you really need. I’ve got someone today that is raising cattle, goats, chickens, and hogs and they have a whopping 1.5 acre homestead. They’re doing all that, they’re largely self-sufficient, and they have a website that’s called pintsizedsized farm, again, and the young lady that’s joining me today will be Shilali Infante and I’ll have her in just a moment to talk about what it’s like to homestead on an acre and a half and to provide a tremendous amount of your own resources off that one and a half acres. I think you’ll be really impressed with how much they’ve done. And it’s not like they’re in the fertile fields of Pennsylvania or Virginia, they’re doing this, folks, in New Mexico. So I think you’ll enjoy it.

Before we do that though, let’s go ahead and take care of our sponsors – they do a lot to help take care of you. Sponsor of the day number one today: MURS-radio – that’s M-U-R-S, hyphen, radio dot com. What I love about MURS is it allows me to link security and secondary communications in a single package. So I have motion detectors on my property, and somebody is prowling around out there at night, then I hear “alert sector one” or “alert sector two” and I can investigate and see what’s going on. That’s whether it’s my dog trying to escape or it’s some prowler crawling around my backdoor, or maybe, like a listener just wrote in, maybe it’s raccoons trying to get in your chicken coop. All of those things are good things to know, and you have that secondary communication with that. You also have five frequencies and five subfrequencies. So there’s twenty-five different frequencies you can set things to, and that should give you a reasonable expectation of privacy. It’s public, it’s not encrypted or anything like that, but the odds that anybody’s gonna be in range and know which frequency to find to listen to what you’re doing – very, very low. So something definitely to check out. Again, the website is M-U-R-S dash radio dot com. Best way to make sure you’re dealing with our actual sponsors is to go to our website,, click on the banners of our sponsors in the upper right-hand margin.

Speaking of that, the next sponsor of the day is Safecastle Royal. Everything and anything you could possibly need for your prepping, you’ll find at Safecastle. From long-term storage food to tactical stuff to garden stuff to 12 volt stuff to go with your solar, you name it, they’ve got it. They also have an amazing program called the Discount Buyer’s Club - $49 one time, lifetime discount from everything they sell and guess what:  Member’s Support Brigade members, you get that for free. That pretty much makes your first year of MSB, if you use their discount program at all, one dollar. That’s a huge thing. And also – it just gets better with these guys, doesn’t it? – very first sponsor we ever had. The very first sponsor we ever had, Safecastle Royal, has been here from day one and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. That’s loyalty, so return their loyalty by giving them some business when you can.

Next up:  I wanted to announce the winners of the contest, I’m shooting ya first names and states. Remember, I’m giving away two MSBs and I gave away two packs of seeds from High Mowing organic seeds. On the seeds – Shen in Texas and Justin in Colorado both won two multi-packs of seeds valued at about 57 bucks from High Mowing seeds. Again, those guys support the MSB by giving you guys free shipping on all your orders. That can really add up on large orders – in fact, it’s a lot better than a 10% discount, let me tell you that. The next one is Kevin in Arizona and Pauly in Nebraska both one free one year memberships to the Members Support Brigade.

Again, real quick at the end here – if you’re not a member of the Members Support Brigade, consider joining. Fifty bucks a year, or five dollars a month, you get access to everything right from day one. Discounts to over 32 vendors – I’m working on some more for ya. Black Dragon Tactical, Devon Standards Organization, I’ve got a deal in the works right now, just waiting on them to set it up, for a big discount on their body armor, the ballistic panels that go inside the briefcase – that’s gonna be fifty bucks. And the full body armor that you can wear that’s about $600 – I think I get get you over a hundred dollars off on that. And I’m working on the Roni Carbine adapter for the glocks, Berettas, ect. like that – getting you a discount there as well. So I do keep building the value of that, remember: military, law enforcement, peace corps., active duty or prior service, you can get a special discount in recognition of your service. Just send me an email at, put “military” or “service discount” in the subject line, one or the other, and tell me who you are, what you did or what you’re doing, and the years that you did or didn’t do it in, and I’ll give you a special discount code.

Main Show

Jack Spirko: With that I’ve got the housekeeping wrapped up and I want to now introduce our special guest. Again, her name is Shilali Infante, and she has a one and a half acre semi-urban homestead. They have three Jersey milk cows, they breed mini Jerseys, they raise American guinea hogs, they have Nigerian dwarf goats – though they’re phasing them out. They raise pastured chickens in the summer for sale and for their yearly chicken needs. They produce all their own meat and dairy – 100% folks. They do rotational grazing and supplemental feed, they feed no grain to their rumemants – they only feed sprouted grains to their hogs. The chickens get some extra organic prepared feed. They also produce much of their own vegetables and are increasing that every year. They put a priority on the meat first, so they’re just now getting around to some of that. They never buy any oil except for olive oil for salad dressing – they used lard, butter, and tallow for all their fat needs. They also do some butchering workshops to help people learn. She’s here today to talk to us about backyard livestock, sustainability of food production, and some of the sustainability coming from producing food for others and utilizing income from that to feed your animals. They have, again, a great organization called – you can get by their website and check it out. Really excited about this interview, if you can’t tell, cause that’s an awful lot to do on an acre and a half. Hey Shilali, welcome to The Survival Podcast.

Shilali Infante: Thank-you, I’m really excited to be here.

Jack Spirko: Well, I was just telling people you guys don’t have a lot of land. We have a lot of folks on the forum and the community that are looking, you know, to one day having 80 acres or 40 acres or even 20 acres, but you guys are doing an amazing amount of stuff on one and a half acre farm. You wanna just talk a little bit about some of the things you guys produce on an acre and a half?

Shilali Infante: Sure. We have three milk cows, and so with that I produce milk – well I don’t produce milk, I steal it from the cows. And so we make cheese – hard cheeses soft cheeses. We make butter – there’s buttermilk, and ice cream. When we are planting the fields my kids are out there helping me and they’re like grumbling, and it’s like, “You’re planting ice cream. Ice cream.”

Jack Spirko: <laughs> That’s an interesting way to look at it.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, and so we also have American guinea hogs, which are a heritage hog, and they’re known as a lard hog. They have a lot of fat, which is awesome for me – I love fat and I love lard. But what’s nice about them is they only max out to about 350 pounds, and that’s after about three years. So we butcher between 150, 175 at about ten months of age, and that’s a carcass I that can handle all by myself if I don’t have any help. I mean, I can put em down, and string them up, and skin them, and gut them, and cut them all up all alone if I need to. So that really makes it nice.

And then we have Nigerian dwarf goats, which we’re actually transitioning out of. They were my son’s project and now he’s at college and working, so they’re on their way out, although it doesn’t seem like it because we’ve got about nine of them. And we raise chickens for eggs, and then we also raise chickens for meat. Every year we raise 150 chickens – 50 for us, 25 for my folks, and we sell 75 to people that wanna come by on the day of butcher. And sometimes we raise turkeys, sometimes we raise ducks, depending on what preditors we have that makes that happen or not.

Jack Spirko: And how are you able to do this much on, you know, an acre and a half? I mean, that’s not a tiny piece of land, but it’s not huge. You mentioned planning the fields, and then that’s gonna end up making ice cream. So are you pretty much giving them most of their diet through grazing, or do you happen to bring in some supplemental hay and stuff like that?

Shilali Infante: Oh, we definitely bring in supplemental hay. Yeah, we bring in about four tons of hay a month. When we have grass, what I do is we have about an acre in pasture. And so when we have grass, I have it set up that from the barnyard we have the water and the feeder. With electric netting we make a walkway for them to go out to each section, and every day there’s grass I move them to a different section and then put up a back fence so they can’t go back to the previously eaten section. And so they just get a taste of the grass, it does contribute somewhat to their diet but not a whole lot.

Jack Spirko: So you’re doing paddock shift there. How many of these little Jerseys are you running?

Shilali Infante: We have three miniature Jerseys, and I’ve got one bull now. We’ve raised beef for us to eat, and up until now we’ve traded with a farmer who didn’t have dairy cows. And he would get milk and we would get grazing for our steer. He now has dairy cows, so we’re gonna have to figure something else out.

Jack Spirko: ..something else out to feed the meat steer every year. Is that what you’re doing, maybe one or two a year?

Shilali Infante: Right. Yeah, well, it’s been like one every two years cause cows don’t read the book that I read and don’t get pregnant when I tell them to.

Jack Spirko: Oh I see. <laughs>

Shilali Infante: So the breeding aspect is finally starting to come to this whole process of what I’m trying to do. It’s been almost six years now, and finally the breeding piece is coming in. And I chose miniature Jerseys because they’re a hardier breed, they’re like the original Jerseys that came from the Jersey island, and they haven’t been bred up for dairy. And I can feed them and get milk without having to feed them grain. I can just do grass and pasture, hay and pasture. And so, a lot of the modern Jerseys, if you get one like a culled cow from a dairy, you’re probably gonna have to feed grain no matter what, because they’ve been bred up to produce that milk, irreglardless of what their inputs are. And so they’ll take it from their bodies and get sick, whereas my girls, they’re metabolically balanced. If the bale of hay they get is awesome, I get more milk in the bucket. If it’s terrible, I get less milk. If it’s cold out, they give less milk. If it’s perfect temperature I’ll get more milk. Also they respond to their environment and their inputs, and I don’t have to worry about them getting sick, metabolically sick.

Jack Spirko: How big is a miniature Jersey? I mean, what is their size when they’re fully gown?

Shilali Infante: To qualify as a miniature Jersey, they must be under 46 inches at the hip or under at three years of age. Some of them still continue to grow. I have one girl, I have actually the best cow in the world. I was so lucky that she was the first cow I ever got, and just amazed that I have her. She’s 47 inches now, 43 at the base. She was 46 inches but she grew a little bit.

Jack Spirko: Is she the one snuggling you on the front page of your site?

Shilali Infante: Yes, yes. That’s my girl. I drove to Virginia to get her. But anyways, so they can be about 700 pounds. And then I’ve got a little one that’s actually 600 pounds, but she’s 43 inches, which is quite a bit smaller. And then I’ve got one that’s in-between the two, and she’s about 500 pounds, she’s just a smaller cow. You know, frame-wise. I prefer the slightly larger ones for milking. You get those teeny tiny ones and you’re squatting on the ground with your knees up around your ears to get under em to milk.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, milking a big goat or something is what that’s gotta be.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, yeah. Right now we have a miniature Jersey bull, but I’m actually his daddy because I do the inseminations now. He’s tiny. So people like to buy, like you can make more money selling smaller ones, and so we breed down for them. But for ones that I’m gonna keep, like when I replace the girls, I’ll be looking for a midsize instead of a tiny one.

Jack Spirko: So when we say mini, I think that some people maybe don’t get an idea – it’s still a very large animal, it’s just a lot smaller than your full-size cows.

Shilali Infante: Right. I mean, you’re looking, the smallest miniature that I’ve ever heard of, a friend of mine owns one in Nebraska. And she, I believe, is 450 or 400 pounds. And she’s 36 inches at the hip. And you’re not gonna get that much milk production from them either. I mean, you might get a couple gallons, which would be good for a small family. But they’re really expensive to purchase. My cows go anywhere from 2000 to 3500, my heifer calves.

Jack Spirko: So, your meat cow that you’re raising maybe one every other year, are these from your Jersey offspring, or are you going out and buying a calf at market and raising it, you know, for breed, like an Angus or something?

Shilali Infante: I’ve done both. I’ve actually raised a Jersey Holstein steer for beef, and it was fine. You don’t get quite as much meat, but they’re a lot cheaper to pick up. It worked out. Then I had that one. And I raised the whole breeding issue before we had it more under control. One of my girls, she actually won’t take from AI no matter what I do. So the neighbor had an Angus bull and I took her down there and any baby at some point is better than purebred. I mean, if you can’t get a purebred, any baby is better than nothing, is what I’m trying to say. So, that one was a half mini Jersey, half red Angus, and we just butchered him in January. Oh my goodness, the meat is awesome, and it was about 600 pounds of meat processed.

Jack Spirko: Oh wow, that’s a significant yield. That would be most families for most of the year for their beef needs.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, yeah. We hadn’t had beef in two years cause I won’t buy meat. I mean, I might buy, like, some sausages or once in a while I’ll buy some lunch meat. If we don’t produce it, I don’t buy it. And so we’ve been out of beef, so we’ve been eating a lot of pork and a lot of chicken and a lot of goat and a lot of lamb. And I’m trying to meager it out so we don’t run through the whole beef in like three months cause we’re still like happy to have it now.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, I understand that. I have a hard time living without ribeyes. A life without ribeyes is a sad life for Jack. I’d have to have a few more, I guess, to keep in stock of ribeyes. But you mentioned the hogs. Now you guys are running these guinea hogs. Can you tell us a little bit more about them as far as like their temperament, you know, you can probably breed them a little less effort than breeding cattle, and what have you.

Shilali Infante: Yes, we keep a breeding pair on the farm. We named the breeding pair – we don’t name anything that we’re going to eat, unless it’s a food name. So all the babies are bacon. Every single one is bacon.

Jack Spirko: Okay. Bacon, ham sandwich..yeah, okay.

Shilali Infante: Yeah. I don’t have a problem butchering, I love meat. So I don’t have a problem. Our sow is Penelope and our boar is Orwell. And we got them when they were two months old. We drove to Kansas and picked one up, and the other one flew in from Saint Lewis. And so a lot of things can happen now, cause pigs have flown.

Jack Spirko: Okay, yeah, yeah. <laughs>

Shilali Infante: So I raise them very friendly, those two. I mean, they’re like, if Orwell does something wrong I can smack him on the nose and he acts almost like a dog that’s gotten into trouble. He cowers back and looks at me like “Why? What’d you do?” And even when Penelope’s in heat he’s safe to be around. And so guinea hogs are known for their easy temper. So if you have one, the breed association encourages you to cull ones that have a bad temper. I had one sow, I was gonna up my production of pork. And so I had the sow that I got from someone else, and she wanted to kill me. And she tasted delicious.

Jack Spirko: <laughs> That’ll teach you to have an attitude, if you get turned into pork chops.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, I won’t have it. I mean, I let her finish raising her litter, and then she got put in the freezer. Life is too short. I had a cow that wanted to kill me too, and I kept her for a year. And it’s like no thank you, I’m not doing that anymore. And I didn’t eat her, she had potential as a nurse cow, so she got to go to a different farm where she could raise babies and it was a better situation for her.

Jack Spirko: It’s amazing how different breeds and even different individuals have different temperaments. I remember the, I don’t know what kind of breed they were, but these real lean cattle that they had in Panama that they pretty much free ranged. If you got near a calf, I mean, it was all-out warfare with the mom cow. We have these black Angus free ranging in Texas and you have them in campgrounds, they wander right through and they don’t even look at ya, they don’t seem to care.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, different breeds have different temperaments, and individual cows too. It’s just, I mean, it’s amazing. Like Sally, the one that’s my favorite cow, the one that’s on the website front page, she loves me. I mean, as much as cow can love me, you know? I mean, she’s still a cow. But she has affection for me.

Jack Spirko: I have to say, I often called calves cute, I’ve never really called a cow, a full-grown cow cute. But she’s pretty cute, sitting there with you.

Shilali Infante: She’s beautiful. She’s the most beautiful cow in the world. And I am not biased.

Jack Spirko: <laughs> So on these guinea hogs. You guys get meat, but you’re also, what, getting lard and other products as well?

Shilali Infante: Well we get the lard. We can use them to do some tractoring for us. Like we’ve got a new field that we wanna open up and we’ve had them in there for, probably almost a year now. Just trying to tear up the Bermuda grass, which is like a lawn. And we wanna, you know, the Bermuda’s okay but we wanna add some other stuff, so we’ve just been letting them have at it. What’s nice about the guinea hogs is they won’t – they’ll make a wallow, I mean any hog will make a wallow, but they won’t totally trash your fields. Like you can have them in the fields and they won’t rove through them like a regular hog will. And so we’ve used them to rough up the turf, and we’ll go through with the tractor too. But they’re a more gentle hog. And so we do butcher them. We butcher probably average about three or four a year. The sow will have two litters a year – she probably could have more but we let them regulate their breeding, and because she’s still nursing she doesn’t come back into heat. And so she doesn’t get bred again till she’s done with them. So it actually comes out so she has, probably a litter about every eight months.

Jack Spirko: Okay. And a litter is probably what on average, six, eight, something like that?

Shilali Infante: Yeah, she likes to have seven. She had ten the last time and three ended up squished. And we joke that she went “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, squish..” She’s only, I mean that was the largest litter she had up to that point. She had five the first, and then she kept having seven, and then when she got ten it’s like “Okay, this is too much.” I don’t know, but, I mean, it happens. She’s lost only those three out of all of her litters, which is amazing. She’s a great mom. And what’s really nice about this breed is, like, a lot of farmers can get very injured or killed by their sows if they have any piglets. Like you can’t even go in the pen with them.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, they can be really dangerous.

Shilali Infante: Yeah. We go up, and we hold them. If it’s a stranger, cause we have a lot of families come to the farm, and the little kids like to see the pigs, she’ll look out, and if it’s a stranger she’ll be a little watchful. But if I’m with them, she’s totally fine. We pick them up, we make them scream. Little piglet screaming is like the funnest thing, as long as you’re the one making them scream. If you’re the person sitting next to them you’re like “Put it down! Put it down!” When she’s nursing them, I mean this might sound kinda weird, but I’ll go in and I’ll spoon her when she’s nursing them. And, you know, it’s just really sweet and special. And we get to be involved with them from very, very young.

Jack Spirko: I think that probably the affection you have with them, and the interaction, is why you have so, even for a docile breed, so little issues there. It makes me think of, like, our dogs. The first thing we did with them when we were bringing them up is we would give them like bones and treats and stuff like that. And we’d give it to em, and take it away, and give it to em, and take it away. So if somebody brings their kid over to my house, and they go try to grab the dog’s, you know, bone away from them, they don’t end up getting growled at or anything. The dog’s just “Oh okay” cause he expects to get it back. And I think we can have that type of husbandry with livestock, with pets, with anything, if we’re just smart about it.

Shilali Infante: Right, up to a point. The pigs, it’s time to feed em, I mean cause sometimes we’ll have as many as fourteen depending on how many litters are, you know, on the ground, different ages. You know, if you slip and fall during feeding time, you might not live.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, they get competitive in that environment.

Shilali Infante: And we’ve joked that we can sell their sounds, you know, to the movie industry for zombie background noises. They’re like, when we’re going to feed them, they sound like “Rawr! Rawr!” zombies.

Jack Spirko: Well maybe I should get you guys to do a recording for me for our zombie special for Halloween next year. We can work that in. That’d be fun

Shilali Infante: Oh that could work. Oh totally, that would work. Yeah, it’s amazing. And then once the food’s in the thing they’re just quiet, unless one of them gets stuck in the feeder. And one of them will get turned upside-down in the feeder sometimes, and then you just hear all kinds of squealing, it’s pretty entertaining.

Jack Spirko: They’re certainly interesting animals. I was hunting one time and there was a couple hitting a deer feeder. And I was waiting to see if there was any larger ones before I would take one. And one was a fairly young boar, and there was a sow with some piglets, and the piglet got too close to the boar, and he just basically picked one of em up and flung it. It looked like someone flinging like a baseball or something. It flung em about twenty feet. So they are strong animals, I guess there’s a lot of care that needs to go there. But you guys only feed them sprouted grains, do you wanna talk about why you do that?

Shilali Infante: Well I just don’t like to feed pre-mixed feeds. Like if I don’t know what’s in it, what if the feed store’s closed? I don’t know, I just, like most of those have medications and things in them, and I don’t always trust the sources of the protein. So sprouts, for humans as well as animals, are way more nutritious and they’re alive at that point. And so we sprout for four days. And one of the awesome things about grain and seed is that all that stored potential energy. And so when you only sprout for four days you still get quite a bit of that potential energy, as well as you get the quality of the live plant.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, you get more bang for your buck too, don’t you? Because you increase your biomass. I mean, Joel Saliton, when he was on the show, was talking about trying to come up with this automated chicken feeder that would do the same thing because you end up with, you know, you buy a hundred pounds of grain and you end up with almost four hundred pounds of sprouts.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, it about quadruples. Yeah, you get way more bang for your buck, and then they’re just healthier. I mean like, I don’t have any health issues with my animals. And that’s another thing I want to talk about, is like when you have livestock, you need to learn to do a lot of your own vetting. Cause vets are expensive and they don’t always agree with you. Like my vet, he’s one of the few in town, maybe the only one in the area, that will treat cows. And he’s a horse vet. I mean, he treats cows okay, but his philosophy is, “Oh, well, if she dies you can just buy another cow.” You know where as he’ll spend so much time and energy and money and resources on horses, but he won’t, he’s not interested in cows. And it’s like “Uh..yeah, this is a very valuable cow, we need to take care of her and get her fixed” you know? I’ve learned how to do a lot of my own vetting. I do my own castrations, on the goats and the hogs and the steers. I do all my own vaccinations, which I don’t do very many, I just do a little bit. De-horn the animals, you know, burn off the horn buds myself. I do the branding, I have sutures and all that kinda stuff. If something needs to be sewed up, which I’ve had to do before. You have to get the medical supplies and become more self-sufficient at that stuff, because when you’re doing this you don’t have the money on hand. We run pretty close to the line, there’s not a lot of extra, and so we do as much as we can ourselves.

Jack Spirko: Now do you guys sell any of your pork or do you use it all for yourselves?

Shilali Infante: We- it’s hard to sell, we have to sell it on the hoof and then they have to take it to a processor. And so we do some trading out with some people and I provide meat for my parents as well, some of the meat. The laws are just disgusting. I mean, you can’t go to a farm and look at the way the animals are raised, and even be there when they’re being butchered and processed, and decide that’s okay for your family to eat. But you can go buy a twinkie and that’s fine.

Jack Spirko: Well and, I mean, we had Darby Simpson on, he was talking about the way that mass-produced chicken is processed, and it just makes me not even wanna envision thinking about possibly one day eating commercial chicken ever again. From a cleanliness standpoint, from a quality standpoint, from just a cruelty standpoint to the animals. You clearly have no reservations with slaughtering an animal and butchering an animal. But you still have respect for the animal. And I think that’s something that just got completely lost in commercial operations. In fact I remember an article by Joel Salatin one time, he said “You shouldn’t slaughter every day, even if you have a big operation, because you don’t want to become fully desensitized. You want to feel something.”

Shilali Infante: And when you eat meat, you’re taking a life – that should be acknowledged and respected. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take that life to eat, but something has to die if you’re going to eat meat. Most of society is so far removed from that, that it is just unbelievable. Every animal that we butchered here, we stun em – well not the chickens – any mammal that gets butchered here is stunned with a .22 rifle and then their jugular is slit, and they bleed out. And as they’re bleeding out, I cradle their head in my lap and I thank them for feeding our family. The pigs get, the only time they get any processed food is right before they die because they love chicken feed but they’re not allowed to have the chicken feed. It’s not that processed, but they get a bowl full of chicken feed with a beer in it.

Jack Spirko: It’s their last meal.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, and they don’t know what hit em. I mean they’re happy, they’re eating, they’re slurping up beer, and then they’re gone.

Jack Spirko: I mean, and that’s the reality. I think that anybody that eats meat needs to, maybe not necessarily, not everyone’s cut out to do that kind of work, but you need to at least be in touch with the fact that someone else did. And the way that you described thanking the animal – I dunno if you ever saw Marjory Wildcraft’s DVD where she does the slaughter of the rabbit.

Shilali Infante: No.

Jack Spirko: And she’s gotten very in touch with kinda some native American traditions, and does some very, very similar things when she takes the life of something as humble as a rabbit. And I think there’s a real case for a reverence for life, and I think that it puts you more in touch with your own mortality. So, really encouraged to hear you say that.

Shilali Infante: And we thank the chickens too, but they don’t get-

Jack Spirko: They don’t get beer and chicken feed – they get chicken feed, but-

Shilali Infante: Yeah, they get hung upside-down in a traffic cone and then their throat’s slit. One of the things we need to talk about is somebody else has to do it if you’re going to eat meat. Recently I posted on facebook, I make fairly elaborate meals and I made what seemed like an instant meal to me – I opened up a jar of spaghetti sauce that I’d canned earlier in the season and I put a spaghetti squash in the oven and made a salad, and it was like “oh my gosh, this is so easy”, it was an instant meal. And I only had to raise a cow for two years, I had to walk the cow down the street to the bull, go through the pregnancy, raise the cow for two years. I had to butcher and process that cow. I had to start seeds in January, move them out, harden them off, put them in the garden, plant all the herbs, harvest everything, can it, and then now I have an instant meal. It’s like, there is no instant food. Even the highly processed crap you buy from the store, somebody had to grow and prepare food for you.

Jack Spirko: You know, I’m really excited to see people like yourself and other folks that are getting into producing their own food at all different levels. Whether it’s somebody with an herb garden in suburbia, or someone with a mircofarm like you have, or people with a little bit larger operation like Darby has, it’s encouraging because it’s also very discouraging when I do something like I go to a supermarket and I pick up something like a chayote squash or a jalapeño pepper, and then when I take it to the counter I have to tell the sixteen year old girl behind the counter who works at a grocery store what it is. Like they don’t know, and it’s like, unless it’s your first day, somebody at least has had to buy one before. How out of touch with our food supply are we that a person who works at a grocery store doesn’t even know what the food is unless it’s in a box with a label on it?

Shilali Infante: Yeah, a friend of mine was growing potatoes at a farmer’s market and one of the potatoes rolled off the table to the ground and the woman buying it said, “I don’t want that one, that was on the ground” and she was like, “They grow in the ground.”

Jack Spirko: <laughs> Yeah, there’s another one. There’s a person that wrote in to me that said that they raise chickens in their backyard and her neighbor came over and couldn’t believe that they ate the eggs that came right out of the chickens’ butt. And I was like, “Where does she think her eggs come from, a magical egg factory in the sky?” And that is something that I think is being corrected with more and more people getting active. Now one of the places where there’s been a lot of heat lately, and you might be closer to this issue than I am, is raw milk. With people having real issues with being able to just find the stuff. So do you have any thoughts on that?

Shilali Infante: Yeah. Well I think it’s horrible that you, once again like the meat, that you can’t decide to go and see the farm and decide if you’re happy with the level of sanitation and the conditions of the animals and be able to drink that milk. A lot of people have herdshares, where it’s not legal to buy raw milk. Where a lot of places, if you own the cow you can drink milk from your own cow. So far that’s still a preserved right, even though I know that judge was trying to say it wasn’t. So a lot of people that have cows in their backyard set up what’s called a herdshare program, where somebody actually comes in and purchases a share of the herd and signs a contract and they pay the farmer to board and care for their cow, or their share of the cow, month in and month out, whether there’s milk or not, cause cows have to be dried out two months before they give birth. And they get to drink their share of the milk, which depends on how the farmer works it out. It could be a gallon a week, or half a gallon, or two gallons a week. And they have to kind-of pick it up from the farm and provide their own containers. And so that’s a way that a lot of farmers can afford to keep cows and other livestock by those boarding fees that come in and help cover the cost of having them.

Jack Spirko: So it’s like fractional ownership of a cow.

Shilali Infante: Right, right.

Jack Spirko: Like somebody might have a fractional ownership of an airplane, cause an airplane’s very expensive, but ten families can each have a tenth ownership and they all have a private pilot they can all use. So it basically, the way this works is maybe two or three families fractionally own the cow and they’re entitled to their share of the produce from the cow.

Shilali Infante: Right, and they’re also entitled to pay for the upkeep when there is no produce from the cow. And that’s a very good test of this system, is people that have these, if their shareholders still pay when they receive either less milk or no milk for the dry period.

Jack Spirko: So they’re not buying milk at all, they’re paying for the cow to be taken care of. And then they’re acquiring their own milk from their own cow.

Shilali Infante: Exactly.

Jack Spirko: Well that’s interesting.

Shilali Infante: Well it is a loophole, to me it’s so completely inane that you have to go through something like that.

Jack Spirko: It’s a loophole, but it’s not a loophole like a bohemian bank account, where it’s ridiculous in the first place that you have to go through that much angst just to be able to know the cow that produced your milk and not have it full of RGBH. And I mean, some of the things that are allowable into the milk system, like in mass-produced milk, and I think some people would be shocked to hear this, but cows get infections in their udders and often times there’s pus in the milk. And that’s acceptable for USDA certified milk. Where I think if most people would own a cow that had an infection, they would fix the infection before they would continue to milk the cow.

Shilali Infante: Right. One thing I would like to clear up about what they feed the cows and what they allow in the milk in commercial dairies is pretty abhorable, but unhappy cows, truly unhappy cows, do not give milk. So in their twisted way they’re trying to keep those cows happy, as happy as they can and as comfortable as they can. Cows weren’t made to live in stockyards like that, and confined spaces but they do okay, they don’t suffer horribly emotionally.

Jack Spirko: They’re not treated like chickens, is one way to look at it.

Shilali Infante: Right. Like you can’t get milk from a cow that isn’t happy, that’s just a fact. When my girls are mad at me, like if I’ve given them a shot or done a palpation, they’re like, “You know what? You’re not getting milk today.”

Jack Spirko: So they’re like the milk nazi. “No milk for you!”

Shilali Infante: Yeah. But so what they’re fed and the conditions they live in are not natural to the cow. Like I heard of one dairy, that they were concerned that their cows were laying on the concrete so they brought in, they sell these waterbeds for cows. They’re like really thick-matted waterbeds that are on the floor so the cows can lay down on them. It’s like, “Pasture? That might be a better solution.” But they’re trying to meet the needs in a twisted way.

Jack Spirko: It is good to hear that at least it’s not like the way chickens are treated, where they’re debeaked and they’re stacked on top of each other and they literally crap on top of each other. I mean anybody that has any doubts about what the poultry industry is like, all they need to do is get their butt in their car and drive on interstate highways long enough and sooner or later you will find a chicken truck transporting chickens. And when you do, all you have to do is look at that truck and go “Oh.” At that point, it’s like I’ve heard of people being pushed away from taking pictures of it before. And if you go on google and type in chicken truck and go to image search you’ll see why. They don’t want people to see this stuff.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, no. The way chickens are raised is awful. And we raise meat birds, like I said, for sale. We can legally sell them the day of slaughter on the farm, processed. You come pick them up from us. And we follow Joel Salatin’s model, I mean we’ve modified it some obviously to fit our space and climate. So our chickens get fresh air. And the thing with the meat birds is that they’re mutant birds. We raise them and I don’t like them.

Jack Spirko: They’re the rock crosses?

Shilali Infante: Yeah. It’s amazing to be done in seven weeks. To have a four and a half pound bird on your dinner plate in seven and a half weeks, it’s hard to beat. But these chickens are not like real chickens. They don’t run around, and we feed them sprouts, we feed them organic chicken feed, we feed them clabbered milk, and we have them on fresh grass every day. And you have to keep them enclosed in a tractor. Cause we have, our space is so small that they could potentially run free and there’s not a lot of predator problems. But if they wander too far away, they’re not going to know how to find their way back to the feed.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, I get why people raise them. I always look at it like if I want to product fifty birds a year, it’s what I would do. My personal utilization is I want to produce a dozen, and I have no real time line and I’m not trying to make any money. So I can take a dual-purpose bird like a buff orpington and let it hand-raise a brood a year, and maybe another hen raise a brood a year, and you can get a bird a month that way. But it makes sense, and the thing about it is when you go to slaughter these rock crosses, you don’t feel bad at all about it because they’re kinda ready to go. That’s kinda their life cycle. They’re not gonna live a year, it couldn’t happen.

Shilali Infante: Right and some of them are dying. I mean, we lose some of them to heart failure. You go out there like three days before slaughter and you’ll have like a seven pound bird on its back and it’s just like “Aww, man.” So we save those and feed them to the pigs, the meat to the pigs, because we don’t waste anything here.

Jack Spirko: You mentioned a really interesting term; you want to tell folks how you do this, what it actually is. You said clabbered milk.

Shilali Infante: Okay, clabbered milk. One of the things I love about a cow is that you can meet so many of your nutritional needs from a cow. If you have a cow you can get milk from her, she can produce a beef cow a year for you, you can put meat in your freezer. She has, in her milk are the cultures you can make cheese from. And if you slaughter the first calf at three days – I don’t do this, but you can, I can buy rennet – but if you slaughter her first calf at three days age, and I don’t know the entire process, but the stomach is what they make rennet from, animal rennet. And so you can have enough rennet to last you for years and years to make cheese, and next year you can get her calf and you can use her own milk and create a culture and then you can make cheddar, you can make all these cheeses, and you have the milk, and you have the beef coming in. So it’s no wonder Hindu’s worship cows, they didn’t eat them, I don’t think they had enough food to raise enough to eat, food for the cows, but they’re like miraculous with all the things you can get.

So clabbered milk, when I first got Sally I milked her out and a left some of that milk, like a pint of it, on the counter top until it got thick. Raw milk won’t rot, it will turn into something else. It will turn into clabbered milk, which is what you can make cottage cheese from, curds and whey, you know Little Miss Muffit. But that’s a food that you can eat. And so the first batch of clabbered that comes out is the thickened milk, it gets thick like yogurt. And eventually it’ll separate out into curds and whey, it’ll be a thin liquid and the solid white stuff. It was pretty rank. It smells kinda rotten. It wasn’t really rotten, we could’ve eaten it and it wouldn’t have hurt me but it was pretty sour and nasty. So I used a little bit of that stuff to culture the next batch, and that one was better, still not quite great. And I used a little bit of that to culture the third batch, and then it was awesome. It’s tart, it’s not as tart as yogurt. It cultures at room temperature so you just put a piece of cheese cloth over the top or a tea towel over the top of your vessel. You inoculate it with just a little bit of culture, use a quarter cup per gallon of milk. And so what we do is we take all of our extra milk and we skim the cream off to make butter, and what’s left is called skim milk for us, which is probably like whole milk in the store. And we put it in five gallon buckets and we add the clabbered milk from the previous batch to it and it cultures and it turns solid. And we scoop that out and feed it to the pigs and to the chickens.

Jack Spirko: I bet they love it, too.

Shilali Infante: I love it too, actually. It just sits at room temperature so after a week or so it gets a little kinda rank, because it gets wild yeast from the air. The first few scoops out of it I’m like “a handful for me, a handful for the pigs…” It’s really tasty. And we use that same culture to culture our butter. We do cultured butter. And then we have cultured buttermilk, which just a miracle.

Jack Spirko: Oh I love cultured buttermilk. That’s my secret to rapid sauerkraut, by the way. When I put cabbage in a crock, I do the Bavarian with the caraway seeds, and I’ll put just a tablespoon of cultured buttermilk in there. And you get a much quicker initial fermentation of the sauerkraut and it just seems to come out better.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, well cultured buttermilk is better than cold beer when you’ve been out working on a hot day. I mean, I drink it. A lot of people don’t like to drink it but it’s amazing. I like to marinate meat in it, I use it in various cookies. I don’t use it as much now because I’m not doing as much baking, I’ve gone paleo thanks to you. So I’m not doing a whole lot of baking.

Jack Spirko: Well I could give you one for the paleo using buttermilk. Get something like a nut, like almonds or pecans or both, and make a nut meal. And take your chicken and roll it in the buttermilk and then roll it in the nuts and then either bake or fry that. Like pan-fry or bake it. Oh my god. And that’s so much better for you than rolling in flour. You mentioned paleo, you’re feeding your animals kinda paleo. They’re getting sprouted grains instead of grains, they’re getting clabbered milk. You guys are rendering tallow and making butter, using lard. So you kinda made a shift, you used to be a wheat-eating girl. And you want to tell folks what it’s meant for you, that you’ve done that?

Shilali Infante: Well, yeah, I’m now pain-free. I’ve never had a diagnosis, I think I have fibromyalgia. I didn’t want to get diagnosed for insurance purposes, and I didn’t want to go to the doctor for it, I just lived with it. But I’ve had pain in my bones my whole life. I have memories of crying myself to sleep at night when I was three years old, and had pain and just had pain and I’ve just gotten used to it and lived with it. When storms would come in I would know several days in advance, and just have really achy bones and joints. And since two weeks after I went paleo, the pain quit. And then I had inadvertently eaten a little bit of gluten and I started hurting again the next day, so I have no doubt that gluten is a major cause. I think picking out legumes as well as the grains, reducing overall inflammation in my body. But it’s changed my life, and it’s just amazing how good I feel.

Jack Spirko: And I think you took what I was saying to you earlier before we started the interview, it’s amazing to me how I hear from so many different people that had so many very different-sounding issues that made one change and had similar experiences with the recovery. I was a fat guy and I was also hypoglycemic. And I would get sweaty, and like I said earlier, my wife called me the atomic buffalo, I’d get so mad and angry and sweaty. And a big, fat, angry, sweaty guy is not who I wanted to be. And that shift was immediate. I’ve heard of the one girl from Robb Wolf’s show that basically reversed MS symptoms. I’ve had plenty of people write in and say, “I’ve lost 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds or more.” And it just seems to me like, in spite of what the US-duh, as Joel Salatin calls them says, it seems to be a beneficial way to live.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, and as a homesteader now it makes me think that it would be a lot easier to do it. I always thought, “Well shoot, I just don’t have enough space to grow grains for my bread.” I don’t need bread now.

Jack Spirko: But grow grass and feed that to the cow, and eat the cow. When you’re talking about all these great products, pork, lard, and you guys render tallow. So do you want to talk a little bit about how you do that, and what do you guys do with your tallow?


Shilali Infante: The tallow that I’ve rendered is just the leaf fat, it’s around the organs of the cow. I just ran it through a grinder. It goes a lot quicker that way. You can also just cut it up into little half-inch chunks. You chill it first, and then when it comes out of the refrigerator it’s pretty darn solid. It gets stiff in a hurry. And then you just fill a stock pot with all the chunks, and you put maybe an inch – it depends how big your stock pot is – but about 1/20th is full of water, you know the bottom of it. And that just prevents the first scorching, that water will evaporate out. And you just cook it down until it’s oil and you run it through a strainer, I use cheese cloth, real cheese cloth, not the stuff you buy at the grocery store. Find mesh cheese cloth, and I keep it in three pound coffee cans. You can store it at room temperature. We cook everything in our own oils. I do buy olive oil for salad dressings, and that’s it. We use the lard and the tallow and the butter, and I make ghee also. And that’s what we cook with. So you can cook anything, like if you are a Crisco user, you can cook anything that you would make with Crisco with tallow or lard. The cast-iron pans are like non-stick Teflon now, they’re amazing. And it’s just good for you and it tastes good.

Jack Spirko: Oh yeah, we used to do it with deer. People would throw all that stuff away, and I mean, my grandfather would’ve had a heart attack if he threw away the tallow. And we rendered it exactly the way that you described. And one of the few things I still eat that I guess you would classify as a grain, is I occasionally will eat corn. Not a lot of it, but on occasion. And my grandma used to make these hushpuppies, basically, fried in deer tallow. And I just saw a video Dave Canterbury did where he was doing that out on the trail using deer tallow and making hushpuppies. I was like, “God, I’m fourteen years old again, eating those things in my grandma’s kitchen,” except they’re not here! It’s amazing how much better food tastes when it’s made with real products, instead of using synthetics and canola oil – it’s rapeseed, it what it actually is. It’s not designed for human consumption, it was genetically modified, one of the first genetically modified things, to make it not kill you. It’s amazing that we’ve convinced ourselves that the most natural products – raw milk, lard, tallow, butter, cheese – are the bad products, and then the highly processed, modern stuff we call “whole grain” because it’s like one-third whole grain flour in the product, is good for us.

Shilali Infante: Right, yeah. And like my thought on oils is that if it’s naturally greasy, it’s probably an okay oil to eat. You know, coconuts are greasy, and that’s a good oil. Pigs are greasy, that’s a good oil. Corn? Not greasy, probably shouldn’t eat it. Butter? Greasy, go ahead and eat it. If you have to change it so much to get grease to come out of it, you shouldn’t be eating it as grease.

Jack Spirko: <laughs> That makes perfect sense to me, it really does. I don’t know that I’ve ever put that way. You said something else interesting, because when I- basically I kept my mouth shut about the paleo thing for like eight months. Cause I knew I was losing weight, and even though I felt better in like the first month, I didn’t want to come out and still be 270 pounds and people go like, “That doesn’t work, look how fat that guy is.” So I just kept my mouth shut until I got to the end of it. When I first came out and said, “This is what I’ve done, this is why I’m not a big, fat, giant guy anymore,” the first thing people said was, “Well, yeah, that’s fine Jack. But how are we going to homestead now?” And my response was much what you said. I think it gets easier. Have you noticed that being able to feed yourself off your land is actually easier with that mindset?

Shilali Infante: Well we’ve never grown grains ourselves, that was something I was always wanting to do, try and figure out how to do that. So now I don’t even have to think about that. So that part’s easier. We didn’t have a garden the first couple years we were here because the livestock was just so- I was not necessarily a city girl, but I wasn’t farmer. And I jumped into it and got a cow and started going. So the learning curve was sharp. And we also doubled the size of our house, and that was a general contractor on that. So anyway, we finally have started gardening. And now this year I have a whole garden planned out, successive plantings so we get the vegetables, cause we were buying a lot of vegetables because we don’t have them now. And so that is so exciting. We had a garden last year, and it was less. But now it’s opened up a whole new world of potential food that we can produce for ourselves and that we’re eating.

Jack Spirko: And all that stuff is acceptable in the paleo world. I had this epiphany when I started doing it, like all the stuff that you can grow that’s easy to grow, that tastes really good, that’s better fresh than kept around for a while, is very, very paleo in nature. Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, things like that. So like a tomato that’s had some sugar content, so you only eat so much of it per day or whatever. But it’s all the easy stuff that everybody grows anyway. When we go outside of paleo, that’s where all the hard stuff is – wheat, oats, barley – that’s complicated stuff to grow.

Shilali Infante: And meat’s really easy to grow. We’ve talked about if the end of days come or whatever, well we have two beefs on the hoof. Like we’d keep one milk cow, we’d have to walk her up and down the freeway to graze her so she’d get enough to eat, that might be somebody’s full-time job. But we have a lot of potential food that we don’t have to store in a freezer or in a can or on the pantry shelf, because it’s walking around on the hoof.


Jack Spirko: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I look at it, like even small livestock like rabbits. You can’t live on clover and alfalfa and do well, but a rabbit can. And then the rabbit converts that to meat, and then we can eat the rabbit. So it’s like that’s the animal’s function in the food chain is to convert this high-cellulose material that they can ruminate on and digest it in a multistage process, and they can digest that and we can’t. But we can then digest them. It just seems like, “Duh, why are we fighting the system?”

Shilali Infante: I know, that’s the miracle of ruminants. They take the cellulose and turn it into protein. It’s just amazing. The other thing I wanted to mention with the paleo thing is I’ve been doing a lot of research and stuff on it. And milk, a lot of people have trouble with milk, and so I love milk. I have milk cows, I love milk. But I wanted to find out if milk was causing a problem, cause I also want to be healthy. And so I did a six week milk-free period, dairy-free period. And I’m happy to say I have no problems with milk.

Jack Spirko: That’s great. Now when I started, I did the full-tilt bore for about sixty days. So I did some of the stuff Robb suggests, like no dairy and all. But I never intended that to be permanent, I just thought because I’d been eating such a processed lifestyle of food I have so much of this crud that I need to get out of my body, I’ll just go almost pure carnivore for the first sixty days and then I’ll slowly bring back other things. I don’t drink a lot of milk, but it’s probably because I don’t have a source of raw milk and I’d have to drink stuff from the store. So pretty much I use cream in my coffee. So that’s why I may be less informed about that whole world than I would be if it was closer to home for me.

Shilali Infante: Yeah, I love milk. I don’t even drink cold milk very often cause I drink the milk. My favorite time of the day is milking the cows. I love milking the girls and then pouring that glass of warm milk when I come in after it’s been filtered.

Jack Spirko: I think that happens with a lot of stuff, though. Cause my wife was always okay with canned soups and stuff. We keep some of that stuff because it’s convenient, it’s easy, and it is a good storage product with a long shelf life and we don’t really eat much of it anymore so when it reaches the end we’ll give it to the food bank and replace some of it, but we’ve gotten into more of doing our own canning and stuff like that. Making our own soups. But for like a couple years I’d make soup, we’d buy free range chickens, we would eat till there’s not much left, I’d save maybe two carcasses up and then we’d boil them and I’d make soup. And after me making all these natural soups and all, but one day she was like, “I don’t want to cook tonight.” She went back into our rotational shelf. She pulled out some can of Campbell’s something or other , she heated it up, and she goes, “I can’t even eat this, I’m gonna go try something else.” So she tries a different one, and it’s totally different soup, and she goes, “I can’t eat this either.” She’s like, “You’ve ruined everything.” I’m like, “No, I fixed everything.” She said, “It tastes institutionalized.” It’s almost like you can taste the processing in the food, but if you eat it all the time you don’t know it’s there anymore. Like if you’re a smoker and you walk into a place where people smoke, you don’t realize it stinks. But if you quit smoking for a week or two or there or a month and you walk into a place where people smoke, you’re like, “I can’t believe I used to smell that way, or my house used to smell that way.” And I think that the food is very much the same way. People have become; you get into school, they feed you the same crud in the cafeterias in the schools and people become institutionalized with the institutional food. But when you break it, just for a couple months, it’s almost like, “How did I ever eat that?”



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