Friday, October 30, 2009

Still miserable and muddy


Yup, the same old story, LOL. It's raining again, of course. One small bit of happiness tho, Halloween is supposed to be dry but cold. Looks like that cold front has finally made it's way here. I hope it freezes all the mud up for me so I can quit sloshing thru the barn lot!


Moo cow had a brush with death yesterday. Found her laid out flat in the barn doorway yesterday morning. It looks like she had been trying to get up but the barn doorway is slightly sloped and she wore herself out and gave up. She had a small bit of froth in her nose, I'll have to watch her carefully and possibly give her some medications. I was hoping to not have to give her any more but that's life I guess. She's still eating and drinking like she should and has occasional periods of where she tries to get up. Since I'm willing to tend her as long as she's still trying, she'll be okay I guess. She may not ever get back up.


I've got 2 ducks setting eggs! I guess the temps staying in the 60s during the day tricked them into thinking it was spring instead of fall. The Rouen has a nest with no telling how many eggs in it and the Muscovy cross has 9 chicken eggs and 5 duck eggs under her. Since chicken and duck eggs have different hatch times, I'll have to watch for the chicks hatching so I can grab them up. If I don't, she may get off the nest and not finish out the duck eggs since they need a week longer to hatch.


Speaking of chickens, I'm finally up to full egg production and we're picking up 35 eggs(not counting duck eggs) a day. I need to pick up a couple more egg customers!


I've been working on making cheese out of store bought milk but it's not going along as well as I'd hoped it would. The commercially processed milk is junk as far as I'm concerned and it's not good for anything, not even ricotta cheese making. The cheese, even with extended cook times and press times, comes out soft and slimey every time. I will not cave and go back to getting milk from the neighbor. To top insult and injury, apparently my (expensive) temperature control box for the cheese cave has mysteriously disappeared! Hmmm, they asked me if I had it. Well, duh, why would I have it? Last I saw it, it was on a fridge in their garage that contained 3 wheels of cheese aging......... Ah, I better quit on this subject or it will turn into a useless rant.


Anyhoo...... I'm working on finding a couple young milking heifers for the farm. I don't have any money to buy them yet so I'm just looking around. I figure I need something small with good milk production and reasonable butterfat content so I'll search for Jerseys. The goat will also be in milk come March so we'll be trying the goat cheese too.


Somebody the other day asked me for a Colby recipe that would work for their excess goats milk. I have one now but I can't find the email... if that person woudls end me another, I will send that recipe and directions to them........


I found a book at TSc the other day, it's got a bunch of old timey recipes in it. Several nice ones I'm going to try this weekend in the bread section. I will of course share the results.

Well, I must get back to the mud and the rain and finish my morning farm chores. Nothing big, just tending all the animals. I have to look at each one every morning to make sure they are all healthy and injury free while I'm feeding them...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's raining, again!

Geez I sound like a broken record, over and over, LOL. Well, it is raining again tho, no getting around that. The earth is like a wet dish towel, squishy and sloppy. Of course, the ducks just love it but I'm not so enthusiastic over it. Everything is slick and mushy, the tractor is leaving ruts everywhere we move it to. Hard to work on the equipment when you need to be laying in mud to do the work.

I finally got the part for the house oven, it cost me a whopping $40! Less than a year old and already burnt the element out. Guess when a manufacturer designs something like that, they don't take into account that somebody like me might buy it and actually use it! It's just another one of those trend things, companies make products designed to be throw aways. The average city folk that does not make thier own bread every day etc would have that stove a long time before the element, rated for 365 uses, would burn out. I really need to get that brick oven built!

Today I thought I would answer some previous post comments and questions if that's okay with you all.......

From the "World Turns" post
Goat Creek Grandma, I'm so happy to be an inspiration. I hope others will try some of the things I do here, they'll be glad they did!

Scifichick, I feel like we've known each other forever, wish you lived closer!

Katidids, oh yes, there's tons of stuff in the archives! As time allows, I will probably refresh some of the information I've shared over the last year again. Hopefully from the comfort of my own home in the next couple of weeks!

From the "Free Meat Day" post

Katidids, LOL, isn't it funny how those folks don't have a clue? I do that to everyone I can. They think the local processors sausage is a good example of venison, LMAO not hardly, eh?

Hello Gen! Oh yes, I'm a hunting fool! Hubby works midnights so if I want something hunted, I dang sure better do it for myself! I used to bow hunt all the time until my back injury, now I gun hunt.

Happy Hermit, heck yes you need to get paid back for all the free munching out of that garden! I'm a rabbit eater. The wild ones are very sparse here between the bobcats, coyotes and my own cats but the pens full of tame ones that get fed garden scraps make a great meal!

Hello Christine! Nope, I've not soaked deer meat in several years. Once I learned the fat/silver skin secret, I've never had another gamey tasting pile of meat. There's even times I don't "age" the meat for a day. I often will make deer meatloaf or sausage fresh while I'm finishing the processing. Standing there all that time working on the deer makes me hungry! Apple Cider vinegar sweets the meat up and it does change the taste. It could be why some people get turned off deer meat. It also covers the gamey taste from poor meat cleaning. Now, I do soak my rabbits in salt water for 12 hours but my chickens get the ice water bath while I'm processing to get the blood out of the meat and I often cook those fresh as well. But, I also don't pluck my chickens, I skin them.

Did it MY way, your'e absolutely right! The hunt is half the fun! I hate draggin the kill up but the hunt is awesome!

Hello Milton! a 6 point! That will make a nice deer caller. Middle of the rut the big does will even come to it. I prefer the smaller bucks, more tender meat. A nice sized spike or button for me if I don't see any does around.


Even city dwellers can enjoy hunting deer. Living in the Chicago area as a child and young adult, I know they are there. It may take a little time to find someone willing to allow you to hunt on their rural land and a bit of time to drive out away from the suburbs, but it's worth it. Even in a state as uptight as Illinois, the process to get deer tags isn't too complicated.

There's always alternatives to hunting if that's something you don't think you'd like to do. Chickens and rabbits are easy to raise and maintain in small areas and as long as you don't keep a rooster in the pen, the hens only cackle a bit when they lay an egg and the rest of the time they are quiet. Chicken and rabbit droppings make excellent fertilizer for your garden beds so you really can't go wrong.

For those of us out in the country, even a dairy breed cow makes for some good eating and you can get them as feeder calves dirt cheap. Don't forget about the alternative meats available as well. Goats, sheep and pigs are sometimes harder to keep penned up but easy to feed and all make good eating. The best part of feeding out your own is........ that's right! No chemicals, no steroids, no antibiotics!

Monday, October 26, 2009

As the World Turns

The world really does keep turning, even when you're not paying attention. In just a couple weeks, the blogs 1 year anniversary will be upon me. Hard to believe it's been a year already. I miss my home computer, the time I get to play at the library is so short, I hardly have time to review everything that's happened over this past year.

I remember finding Mayberrys blog, Shy Wolf at Wolf tracks blog and The Johnson Family blog one late November night. it was one of those "I can't sleep, surf the net nights". I'd been mulling over how to get a bit of traffic to the old geocities website and found out how easy it was to use blogger. Now look where we are! Now I can actually interact with like minded people.

Over the past year I've talked about raised bed gardening(one of my favorite ways to garden), container gardening, growing my own food, baking my own bread, how I use the livestock I raise to feed us. I've really enjoyed the blogging, it's made me feel like the world is right there with me on each of my adventures. Even when I was failing miserably to make cheese, the support I got from you guys kept me trying until I got it right. Sharing what I do here kept me pushing to get more and more done each day so I'd have more exciting stuff to share on the blog. It's really been a rewarding experience.

So, if you don't mind, I'd like to recap a little with you all about this past year on the self sustained farm we fondly call the Double M.....

Here's I post about Self Sustained Living and one on container growing...one about growing coffee and tobacco, here's one I did with full step by step directions for making soap. Then there's the very first wheel of cheese and some of our home butchered meat made into sausage... looking back at the first wheel of cheese and realizing how far I've come with just that, all I can say is wow, what a cool new skill!

Then spring finally arrived and we had that inland hurricane and my lifestyle really proved to be top notch, keeping us moving along without much inconvienence.

We've even been thru some hard times this year, hubby getting hurt, workmans comp not doing anything to help his injury and sending him back to work without any real treatment, the mine letting him go after a few days back. We should have seen that set-up coming. Our lifestyle has once again proved to be an asset by keeping us fed, warm and dry. We can't pay the mortgage but we're not hungry! LOL gotta look on the bright side of it at least......

I'm already planning for the next growing season here. All the new things I want to try growing, the old tried and true stuff too... the new orchard and the berries, a new strawberry patch, the potato patch, I might even grow some gourds this next year. I've got these cool books on gourd carving, had them for a few years now and just the other day I sat down to read in them and got excited about gourds all over again. This next year we'll do a whole series of gourd carving posts and try a bunch of stuff with them. I'm even thinking of growing those great big bushel basket sized gourds. I think we can find some cool uses for those.......

So many things still to do and so little time..... stay with me and have the adventure with me......

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another Free Meat Day

Well, it's that time of year again, bow season is now is full swing here in Illinois. Plenty of deer around, there were 9 in the barn lot this morning. I consider deer to be the ultimate free meat. Here in southern Illinois you can't hardly throw a rock without hitting at least 2 deer and hunting is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. For the cost of a little time, one can put a nice chunk of meat on the dinner table.

I'm a picky deer eater. I will spend all the time it takes to process my own deer. I meticulously remove every bit of fat and every sliver of sliver skin from my meat. By doing that I eliminate the need to soak my meat in cider or vinegar to remove the "gamey" taste from it. People that don't like the taste of deer meat will eat a meal I prepare and never know that they were eating deer. Commercial processors just can not afford to take that kind of time during their butchering and the resulting meat is such a lower quality than you get if you do it yourself. Plus, doing it yourself eliminates the bill. As usual, I refuse to pay money to have something done I can do for myself.

If you don't own a bow or have no experience hunting with a bow, that's okay. Shotgun season will soon come along and hunting that way is just as good.

So, don't pass up the chance for a little free meat for your table and freezer, go out and get yourself a deer or 2! After all, if you have a garden, you probably fed those same deer all summer and doesn't it make sense to get just a little bit back from that?

Easing into things

Well here it is, mother nature has eased us into Fall. We had our first mild frost and the trees are turning quick now. Combine that with the last 3 days of steady drizzle and it's a mess here. I hate that the leaves are dropping so fast, no good pictures. The Shawnee Forest is so beautiful when the trees start turning. it's the wake up call for being winter prepared here. I always try to do a little bit of preparing ahead for the coming winter while I'm going thru the summer, every chance I get for some firewood and such to go ahead and take the time to get it. I hate it getting cold and all of the sudden I need to spend all my time gathering up firewood. That's really all that's left to do around here now aside from the normal daily stuff. What's funny about it is I don't have any more free time now than during planting or harvest! Go figure!

The heifer calf is now a resident of the farm. My neighbor gave up on her and was going to put her down so I brought her home. Like he and I discussed, the worst that will happen is that I feed my coyotes instead of his. I'm just not ready to give up on her yet. She's not a baby calf, she's a 5 month old heifer. We still have no clue what's got her down, even the vet has nothing which of course makes me feel a little less stupid. After all, he went to school and doesn't know any more than I do! LOL She's been here now for 4 days and I've managed to get her gums pinked back up and she's now eating 4lbs of grain in a sitting which is a serious improvement over her not touching the grain at all last week. She's up to 10 gallons of water a day and she's working her legs as she's spinning herself in circles. I know she's getting stronger because she's bracing herself and not allowing me to roll her over. Typical beef cow attitude, LOL. I'm thinking any day now she'll just get up.

ARG, it's 2 days past due date on 2 of my rabbits and no kits! I've had this problem before with them, so I'm not worried about it, just annoyed. Nothing like feeding them with no results. Weather has some to do with it, and sometimes it's the chickens bothering them or the cats. It will work out, I just hate the lost time which makes less on the dinner plate.

I'm having a heck of a time finding an element for the oven. I guess manufacturers just make throw away products anymore. I am a little disgusted tho, it's a Frigidaire for goodness sake, you'd think it would hold up better than that, it's not a year old yet! I guess normal people just don't bake as much as I do. This is one time I'm sure sorry I didn't get a project done. I'd not be in this fix if I would have got the brick oven built. The old adage of "life is what happens when you're making other plans" comes to mind. Some things just can't be salvaged or scrounged. Hard to get fire brick and mortar. The project itself isn't the hard part especially with the great plans from the fornobravo site. With such simple, easy to understand directions, anyone should have a brick oven built in a weekend. Those darn supplies tho! LOL



I'll have some pictures for the next post...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nice and Quiet

Oh, that's the way I like it, nice and quiet. It's been that way here the last few days. I'm still working on the sick calf, I'm not ready to give up on her just yet. She's still pretty weak but she does try to get up every now and then. I've been medicating her with some different things, trying to help her. If she doesn't get up soon tho, I'll have to give up. I just hate to tho.

The rain is still upon us, a constant mist with occasional heavy rain. I hate it when everything is wet and muddy. I feel for the farmers in the area, this weather is no doubt keeping them behind in the harvest and will not bode well for the mold content in the grains. All's well here tho, I got all my corn picked by hand. I don't have to worry about the wet conditions clogging up my combine, I'm the combine! LOL I still get stuck in the mud every now and then but boots do pull out of it much easier than a 20 ton combine does.

I should have 2 new batches of baby bunnies pretty quick, they are due on the 20th. I so love the baby bunnies. I sold 3 of the last bunch I had and butchered the rest. We had the last one for supper 2 nights ago.

As usual, the need for frugality is overwhelming here, we've been 3 weeks without any income to speak of and with all the monthly bills due now and no paycheck for another week, nerves are once again getting jangled. I so hate being behind on anything. So, no projects going on around the farm, just the basic maintaining. At least we're all warm, dry, have full bellies and a good stock of coffee and sugar. Nothing going hungry here and that means more than anything else.

I found something good in the storage house yesterday. I'd forgotten I even had it. Way back in a corner of one of the closets, I found the old mini convection oven. It's more like a glorified toaster because it's so darn small but I'm pretty sure I can bake bread in it! I pulled it out, cleaned it and baked some corn bread in it to go with supper and it turned out just fine. Oh glory days, no more store bought bread! Having to buy bread for the last week has really depressed me. That stuff is garbage not to mention ridiculously expensive. $1.05 for a 1 lb loaf of generic bread full of chemicals is highway robbery. I'm so excited over it that I might even try that hamburger bun recipe. If it works well, I will share it.

I still haven't gotten to the ice cream recipe, just too much little stuff going on around the farm to get around to it. No soap making yet either. This weekend is already booked, back up to the neighbor with the beef cows place to help fix a broken barn roof. I really wanted to be tending to planting the winter wheat this weekend but once again it will be put on hold since getting paid is more important than a couple hundred pounds of wheat for the stock pile. i've got more in storage than I can possibly use in 3 years so if I don't get any planted, it will be okay.

I need to get a picture of Polar Bear posted for you all to see. Polar Bear is the blue heeler puppy we got just a little while ago. I've already taught her to fetch, sit and shake, she's very smart. Not quite big enough to train to stock yet but I'm doing what I can to put a good base on her for when we need to teach her the important stuff. I really hope she turns out to be an asset to the farm and not just a pet. A good stock dog will help me out tremendously.

Well, once again my library time has come to an end... see you all again soon!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cow PT, go figure....


That's right, cow PT. It all stemmed from the sickness in my neighbors herd, the herd hubby and I helped vaccinate and medicate last weekend. 2 calves were down and out a couple days before we started the whole process and we picked them up out of the field and brought them up to the barn for our neighbor. he doesn't have a bucket loader on his tractor so ours is down at his place right now. We made up a sling out of mine belt to hoist the calves up and try to get them to use their legs a little. They've been laying down for almost 12 days and even with rolling them over a couple times a day, the circulation to their legs still is getting cut off. One calf isn't doing so well, seems to not even want to try at all. But the other is bright eyed and is trying, still has some fight left in her.

We spent 4 hours working with her yesterday, a bit too long I think, we wore her out but she did make some serious effort. She might come thru this okay. Still a long way to go for her.

Not much else going on, I picked another 2 rows of corn. The patch is super muddy and it was more work making it down the row than picking the ears but I got them in. Still a bit wet from the rain but should dry out quickly in the sacks. Since I didn't get the crib finished, I'm shelling it right away and it will dry in the burlap sacks. hate doing it that way, it doesn't dry as even as it does in a corn crib but beggars can't be choosers.

We got 8" of rain from the cold front that rolled over us. The 38 degree morning was a real eye opener. I did get the fireplace cleaned up good and set so we stayed nice and warm in the house. Everything is still soft and mushy, it may be all week drying out with these cooler temperatures we're experiencing. Just part of life now, winter is coming.

We're hanging on here, struggling to get those projects that need done before winter finished. Same old story here, no supplies to finish the jobs. We're working on it tho. Just part of the daily routine here. I think we've been fortunate, maybe more fortunate than some in this area. Even tho we had a stint of 2/3 pay (workmans comp), we still managed to get plenty done and put up plenty of hay for the critters and plenty of food for ourselves. Even with the 15% unemployment around us, we still pushed ahead like always and filled the pantry. I look forward to the winter when things slow down here and get quiet.

Oh, I almost forgot to add this in before I headed back to the house from the library computer..... Deborah, you asked about the Colby cheese recipe for your extra goats milk... drop me an email at mmpaints@yahoo.com and I'll send you what I've got for you to try......

Friday, October 9, 2009

A deja vu moment.......


Deja vu, that feeling like you've been someplace before, or seen something before, well I've got that nagging feeling now. It's been pouring rain for 2 days now and it's giving me that deja vu feeling. Feels like this past spring! Cold and wet, here we come again. My tomatoes will be wiped out tomorrow night as the weather forcast says 38 for the low. Geez, I'm really dreading that. The cold and damp always causes me trouble with my back. Makes me not want to get things done when I hurt all the time. The warm weather is always a welcome thing for me.


I spent most of the day working on a batch of Monterey Jack cheese. It may very well be my last batch with fresh milk for a while, I'm not too pleased with that neighbor and am considering not associating with them any more. Our friendship has been one of give and take, mostly me giving and them taking. This last little fumble of them taking a month to pay my son for showing cattle for them and then cheating him out of a substantial amount of money has me a bit miffed. Compound that with the farm equipment of mine, including my tractorthat they tore up this summer and all the tools they lost, the straw that's still being stored in my barn loft for them and it just doesn't even out for me. A couple of gallons of fresh cows milk a week just isn't enough for them treating me like they are entitled to take advantage of me. So, I may be working on cheese from store bought milk for a while. I hate the whole idea of it since store bought milk is worthless but I can not continue the way things are right now.


I managed to get 9 bushels of corn picked on Wednesday afternoon before the rain came in. I spent all evening shelling it. I don't have a shelling machine so I have to do it by hand. It's not hard, just time consuming and a little messy. I end up shooting a few kernels on the floor and the puppy had fun dragging the empty cobs around and chewing on them. It kept her busy so I didn't take them from her. Better than having her chew holes in my feed sacks! Now with all this rain, it will be a while before I can pick the rest of my corn out back. The rain will raise the moisture content of it. Oh well, everything can't be easy or I'd be bored!
Here's a picture from the cell phone, it's Squeak, the latest house kitten. Squeak is a boy kitten and he's a real dandy. He attacks your fingers when you pet him, he's all for fighting and biting. He growls and purrs all at the same time! What a nut! He doesn't want to get away from you and if you set him away from you, he just comes back. He climbed all over me last night while I was shelling corn, sat on my shoulder for a while, attacked my hair and licked my face. He's a fat little bugger too! Can you tell I like cats? LOL
Not much else going on here with all the rain. All the harvesting is done but the feed corn. I should have the oven fixed by late next week so not even any baking going on. Maybe I'll make a batch of soap...


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cheese Day and a surprise

Hey everyone! I've been busy making some cheese again. I made a batch of Colby cheese yesterday since it was raining here all day. It's drying a rind on the cutting board right now. I whipped up a batch of bread dough and set the oven to preheat this morning and went out to do the morning chores. When I came back in and went to put the bread in, I got a big surprise. Apparently, the element on my oven has burned out. That figures! It's not quite a year old but I guess I use the heck out of it and now I am on the hunt for an element. Depending on how much a replacement costs, I might be out of an oven for a couple weeks. That is very depressing to me since I did not get the brick oven built this summer. All those projects you just can't do without a few extra dollars just didn't get done. The brick oven is one of those projects. Just can't salvage fire brick and heat resistant mortar.....
This morning was cold! The Farmers Almanac says this winter is going to be cold and wet. That's going to be a bummer, I hate it when it's sloppy around the farm. It makes feeding the critters so much harder and kind of miserable. With the chicken house still not finished, the birds are staying roosted on the rafters in the pole barn which is okay but they poop and it's all over the barn floor. It will also he kind of hard to give them any kind of heat source when the temps turn really cold. It's so frustrating to me to see that project so close to being finished and me just not able to finish it. For the lack of 3 pieces of plywood! A lousy $45 is all that stands between a cold, drafty barn and a warm and dry chicken house. Maybe next pay......


Time is running out for getting plants started if you want to have a window garden over the winter. The seeds are sensitive to drafts and cool temps and as the weather gets colder, the seeds will mold before they germinate. So, get your peat pellets and your ziploc bags going now! Keep them in a sunny window and when your seedlings sprout, use your cut off pop bottles to get them going good. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and herbs all go great in sunny windows thru the winter. You can even grow radishes, carrots, lettuce and chives, they go well in those long rectangle flower planters and can be direct planted instead of peat pelllet started.


Oh Julie, thanks so much for sharing the chicken picture, would you send it again tho, the cell phone is so touchy with those tiny buttons and I mistakenly deleted the email while I was trying to open the picture!

Hubby went back to work last night, boy was it quiet in the house last night! I forgot how quiet it can get around the farm. Surprisingly, he came home in pretty good shape this morning and is in a pretty good mood. I'm glad he had a good night.

You know, I really love it when you guys share with me via email. I'm always available via email at mmpaints@yahoo.com.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Monday of October

Wow, time has flown by this year. I remember when I couldn't wait to get the garden going and now here it is, done for the year. Guess I was just so busy this year I missed the chance to enjoy it more. That's a shame because this life is such a wonderful thing.

Oh, I still have tomatoes going! Nobody believes me since everyone else around me has had to pull theirs. Not me tho, the plants I put in that mineral tub are still going strong! I've got some side shoots looking a bit rough from the cold overnight temps but we've not hit frost temps yet and the plants are still flowering! This was the tub full of home made compost, the horse manure, rabbit manure and the creek sand mix. I put 12 plants in that tub, 3 for each tomato cage and the plants grew double what the cages could hold, spilled out and over, hung down to the ground and produced tons of Roma tomatoes. Folks always seem to forget about what heavy feeders tomatoes are and end up with only half a growing season on them from lack of nutrition. I always tout the rabbit poo as awesome stuff and it's because you simply can not buy a fertilizer that's more efficient than bunny poo. The levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and potash are always perfectly balanced, you can use it fresh without burning your plants and you can never overdoes with it, the plant only breaks down as much poo as it needs to feed itself. How can you go wrong? You can't, you just can't. Plus, you can eat the rabbits!

It's not hard to grow any vegetable in a bucket. It's just like planting it in the ground with minor adjustments for watering and feeding. You must water your container plants more often than you would plants in the ground. The sunlight heats the soil and evaporates the moisture quicker than it can in a ground garden. The more you water something, the more you wash the nutrients out. If you'll think about that fact, the poor gardens in areas where there was so much spring rains will make sense. We had soooo much rain this past spring in the southern Illinois area that the regular gardens did horrible and if the plants were not supplemented with some sort of fertilizer, the crops simply did not even come up! Even with all the land I have here that could be planted with food crops for my family, I still put plants in containers. Every growing season I spend a day mixing up my special concoction of container planting soil mix. Each year and I am pleasantly surprised at how well the container grown plants perform for me. So, when you're out and about, always keep your eyes open for contaiers you can plant in. Remember tho, some plants need at least a 5 gallon bucket worth of root space!

Oh my aching back! I spent 2 days with my favorite neighbor helping to vaccinate 90 Charlois(I think that's how you spell it) beef cows. They are a creamy white cow with plenty of attitude! I got to be the sticker, I loaded all the needles and poked every cow with at least 3 needles, a few got up to 6 needles! Got chased by a young bull(he was most certainly angry) and slobbered with plenty of cow poop. Several of the young heifers scared the fire out of me, they're much bigger and are so much different than the pets I raise to butcher. There's something to be said for naming your feeder calf and playing with it every day! At least I knew how to catch the tiny calves, they weren't too much trouble but they sure did make my back hurt. Just not as young as I used to be......

I've got my winter kitchen window garden started. The tobacco I grew in the ice cream bucket is flowering, I used a q-tip to pollinate the flowers by hand yesterday. I've never done that before so I'm not sure if it will work as well as tomatoes and cantalopes do, just have to wait and see if I can get seed pods from it. The coffee plants are still going strong, I might split them up into their own containers in the next week or so. I need to have about an hour of free time to do it tho and I haven't even had time to make a good supper lately. Good thing I put bread and a few meals in the freezer or I'd be one hungry farmer!

Soon the ground will be frosting in the morning and I'll have time to do all those little projects I want to get done. Like what's in Hobby Farms Home magazine this month. It's a nice little article about using your eggs to make ornaments. I've had a kit and book to make those Czech design eggs(pyansksa or something like that) I'd look at the book but since I'm at the library....

I'll bet I have 6 dozen duck eggs in the fridge right now. Since I've been so busy running around at other peoples farms, I've just not had the opportunity to use all my eggs in those delicious recipes I have stashed in that notebook. I need to be cooking sometime soon! The duck eggs are nice and large and would make great shells for the ornament decorating.

I also wanted to get into a whole rant about something in this months Mother Earth News, 11 great places you (maybe) never heard of. They listed Carbondale, Illinois as one of those great places. Hello?!? The author must have visited another Carbondale, Illinois and for sure not the one I hate to drive to....... Or perhaps didn't even visit at all and just phone interviewed the head of the local food co-op and someone from the tourism office. They sure didn't mention the crime or the traffice or the garbage all over the streets and the tourist spots in the Shawnee Forest that have been ruined by ignornace, trash on the ground and spray paint.... shame shame Mother Earth News, I'm pretty disappointed with you all for this one.......

Well, once again my time on the library computer has come to an end and I must stop. I really need to get back to the farm and at least act like I want to do chores today! LOL

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Self Sustaining lifestyle

I get questions all the time-how do you do it? and is it really possible to be self sustained in this era? I just always smile and shake my head. Sometimes trying to explain to people is an exercise in futility. Not everyone is tho, some folks get it right away and those people end up being aqaintances for a while.

What is it that I do that makes my lifestyle so different from everyone elses? Well, I guess it's because I spend almost all my time in the pursuit of feeding myself and bettering the world around me. Not with expensive consumer goods but with down to earth, useful items that will help me feed myself and my family in a more efficient manner. We don't spend our free time walking around the mall or shopping, we don't even go to the grocery store unless we need some sugar or salt and pepper.

Living self sustained isn't for everyone, that's for sure. If you must go to a job for 8 hours a day and spend an hour or so driving back and forth to that job, your day is consumed already and there's really not much time left to plant 5 acres of crops and tend livestock. Even baling hay would be out of the question. I did the rat race working for others thing and I'm not saying working for yourself is any better because it's feast or famine here all the time, but I spend most all my time outdoors and out of those horrid flourescent lights and filtered air, I never have to dress up in uncomfortable clothing or shoes and the livestock does not even care if I brushed my hair before coming out to work! LOL goats don't care if your coat matches your shoes as long as you have a bucket of grain in your hand!

Living self sustained takes some serious mental and physical sacrifices. I gave up television(how refreshing that is!) I gave up fast food(and lost 10lbs) and I don't drive anywhere that isn't necessary to the workings of the farm so I'm consuming less fossil fuels. I've also forgone the commercially produced foods, I can my own tomatoes, vegetables, grow my own potatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and butcher my own meats. I learned all this a little at a time, on my own thru books and the internet. Trial and error were also good teachers. Not every crop I plant even now goes the way I plan for it to go. I have finally gotten the bread baking and the cheese making down pretty well. Every batch is slightly different but it's all consistently good now. I always hear the arguement "everybody needs somebody every now and then", well, that is true, that's why I married a like minded man. Between the 2 of us, we can easily handle anything and everything that comes along. We actually prefer to do it ourselves. Now, when we get old enough, we might need help, but until then, we're doing it all by ourselves and it's working.

The only challenges left for me is to be completely solar and to process my own diesel fuel. Maybe next year.....

Okay, remember the ice cream I was going to make? Well, I got side tracked and have not had the chance to make it yet. A neighbor came to me with a little work. He needed some help getting some sick calves up to the barn and some round bales moved out of a fresh pasture. He wants to turn his cows out in it and doesn't want them to tear the winter hay supply up before winter. Can't blame him there. All I had planned was to bake a little bread, make some pork sausage, do a batch or 2 of cheese and make that ice cream. Didn't got any of that done! I spent 13 hours working for the neighbor instead. A good day, I got it all done for him but today I'm sore and tired! Those calves were pretty darn big! Tomorrow hubby and I will fix a tractor for the same man and move some hay from another field he has to closer to his barn. We got the water bill paid with the money he paid us plus he gave us an old hay wagon that needs a new deck on it. It will be a good winter project for us and we can hook it right to the back of the square baler so we don't have to pick bales up off the ground. I'm not as young as I used to be and the walking thru the field picking up the bales off the ground wears me out. The hay trailer is a very good thing.

I've got about a third of the materials I need gathered up to build the corn crib. I've got the bottom of the crib built, just scrap 2x6's cut 4' long with boards on each end to finish the box and 2 short pieces of plywood, butted together to make the floor. The plywood was scrap so it's not perfect but good enough to hold corn. The crib isn't super big, it's just 4' long and roughly 2 1/2' wide but it should hold all the corn I grew with some room left over. I still need some slats to finish it, the pallet wood only went a foot up the sides.

Ah, I can't wait to get the home computer fixed, Polar Bear is growing like crazy! She's a smart little dog. I hope she turns out to be a good farm dog.

Well, Iv'e reached the end of my time at the public library on their computer, see you all again real soon!