Saturday, April 30, 2011

A break in the Clouds




We finally got a break from the constant rain. Everything is soggy of course but the boy was excited enough by even the prospect of getting to shoot skeet that he push mowed around the root cellar/duck pond. It's been a long time since we could even afford to shoot a couple clays around here. I got a few shots in while grilling our lunch, in between the flips. Even the college kid took a few shots. She just didn't want her brother to out-do her, LOL. They even conned a neighbor to pull for them, LOL. He didn't want to try it himself tho.

Check out those crazy kittens. There's 2 there from different Mommas with my old cat, Shadow. Shadow is 9 years old and has adopted both litters of kittens, tends them like they are her own.

Possible rain showers on and off thru Tuesday so I'm hoping to get a few things planted. The over night temps are still in the mid 40s.

I sold 7 bunnies to Rural King yesterday, my son's friends mother works there and they needed bunnies so they got some. Got a decent price for them, plus I don't have to feed them to butcher size. That's a win-win situation. I have 9 more that are 2 weeks old plus another batch I havent counted that were born 3 days ago. The rabbits are doing well this year.

Thank you all for your comments on the passing of my old mare, Dusty. I miss her very much.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Broken Heart



On February 9, 1983, a beautiful chestnut filly was born in Tallahassee Florida. I found her in the spring of 2000 and bought her as a barren mare. 2 foals later, countless trophies, show awards and 11 wonderful and exciting years with one of the smartest horses I have ever known, I write this with a broken heart. This morning was the last one for my friend Sheza Speck of Dust.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Still Storming


Yep, it's still raining! We did get a little break today, the sun even came out for a bit. But, here we are, getting rained on again, right at dark. I knew this one was coming so I milked and did evening chores a little early. We actually skated by in a tiny sliver and didn't get much of the storm, it's just raining more on us now. Like we need any more water here. Everywhere around us is flooded!

I made a little bit of money cutting a tree up for a farmer down the road and it burned a hole in my pocket. I spent it on plywood to fix the holes in the floor. I made myself a chicken laying box with the scrap. I hate to waste anything if I can avoid it so with just a tiny bit left over and a sturdy chicken box to hang, I'm a happy camper! And yes, I built it in the front room. It was raining outside! LOL

I've been having trouble getting the cows milk to form a good curd since she calved. I made a batch of colby tonight and added a bit of chloride to it that I have for the goats milk. It seemed to help some. I got a decent curd and it's in the press right now. I hope it looks good when it comes out of the press in the morning.

I have been mulling the idea of using those simple solar driveway lights for alternative lighting around the house. I picked up a couple of those single led lights and a couple of the 3 led spot light ones. The spot light ones are wonderful and 2 of them together puts off enough light to read by. They also have on/off switches. I have been using them out in the barn and they're working out great. I haven't quite gotten past the ideas in the head stage but I will share what I come up with when I get something solid worked out...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quiet Waiting


Here's a peek at one of the newest kittens on the farm. Butter cat had these hid in amongst my canning jar shelves.

We had a nasty squall of a storm roll thru here this past Tuesday. Ripped roofs off, knocked down trees and knocked power out to several thousand people in the area. Wednesday morning broke to show all the nasty damage. To add insult to injury, Thursday night brought the next round which is still pounding us today. There's a line from around Tulsa OK, where the storms are forming from, that just keeps coming, one right after another. This little anomaly has not moved east at all. It has dumped plenty of rain on us and if ever there was a time I was glad to not have anything in the garden yet, this is it!

Having trouble getting the milk from the jersey cow to form a good curd to make cheese with. Not sure what's going on with it but the curd does not want to cook down to firming up. I'm open to any ideas...

Happy Easter......

Monday, April 18, 2011

Self Sufficiency-bread making


Today is a day that I almost wish blogger had a scratch and sniff option. The whole house smelled wonderful while this was baking. My sour dough starter smelled like malt whiskey and worked into my daily bread recipe very nicely. It came out with a nice, light sour dough flavor. A sweet change from the every day bread I bake.

I did end up with a bubble at the top but I think it's because I rushed the rise a little bit. Or, maybe I didn't knead the air out of it good enough. I haven't heard any complaints from the bread eaters tho, LOL.

Just a simple bread recipe of 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon of oil to make it smooth. the sour dough starter was added in at 2/3 cup and I ended up adding in another 3/4 cup of flour to make the dough smooth and elastic. it came out beautiful!

Edited to add starter instructions-
1 tablespoon yeast (or 1 packet-not rapid rise)
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups flour
2 more cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar or honey (I used honey)

in a plastic bowl, dissolve yeast in the 1/2 cup water. Add flour, additional water and sugar/honey. Blend well. Place in a 2 quart jar ( room for expansion) and place on counter until desired sourness ( mine took 4 days). Stir it 2 or 3 times a day.

This mixture allows me to use 2/3 cup of starter at a time and to feed it afterward, I add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup flour and a teaspoon of sugar/honey. I'm storing it in the fridge now and each time I want to use it, I will let it warm up to room temperature. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Mornings


Sunday morning I always feel like I'm wiped out. I don't know if it's a psychological thing or not but here I am, feeling completely drained. It starts with Friday when I get up an hour early to get all my chores done so I can drive for 3 hours. A normal Friday has me not being home for more than 30 minutes all day. Running errands for other family members, paying bills etc. Any day I have to be away from the farm is one I do not enjoy. The price of fuel is something I enjoy even less. It's now officially highway robbery...

I was actually done quicker than usual Friday(on purpose) and was home in plenty of time to batten down the hatches. Wicked, nasty storm rolled over us, dime sized hail, strong winds, pouring rain, plenty of lightning. Knocked a few big limbs down for me. There was a reward for surviving the storm, a nice double rainbow. The second was very light and the camera did not pick it up very well.

It calmed down in the late afternoon and the temperature dropped. I have a new batch of baby bunnies and the cow milked great.

Saturday was unseasonably cold, just in the low 40s F for the day. Poor Lucky was shivering when I met him for chores. He is still limping around, his little knee is still swollen a bit. I haven't a clue what he did to it. I sponsored an APN meetup here at the house with a food storage discussion and a bread making demonstration that finished the afternoon for me.

This coming week has 70F days with overnights in the high 50s. Looks like I'll be planting this week (yay!!!!) My week will be busy, LOL. Today I must find my way up the back road, put out a bale or 2 and bring a couple home. I'm on my 2nd cup of coffee......

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rough Starts



When I get woke up before daylight, I know it's going to be a rough day. Never is it good news, not once. so, once again I have to move way before I'm ready and put on one of several "hats". Today was the road side mechanic hat. That crappy hyundai (throw away car) is not what I would have chosen for the daughter to drive (damn boyfriend of hers). Anyhoo, I got it home and she's off to school in my dually. How is it I'm still the one she calls when something goes wrong? What happened to the adult thing? Oh well...

Daisy calf christened me this morning during milking. Yep, I got pee'd on, again. Better than getting kicked on the fly-by I guess, LOL.

The bunnies are all out of the box in both pens now and the third doe is happy with her box and should kindle on Friday.

The chickens graced me with 18 eggs this morning. What a difference a little sunshine makes!

Oh, yesterdays mail brought me a nice surprise. I won a really sweet duffle bag from over at the EconomicalSurvivalinfo blog. It's a great blog with lots of interesting info, gear and stuff on it and a section of free prepper E-books. Yes, I am "into" the whole prepper thing, not because of bullets and bandaides but because it is a self reliance based ideal and it goes with the homesteading, self sustaining, self sufficiency thing. It just makes sense more and more with how the world and our own government is behaving to at least start to think more toward self reliance. Anyhoo, check out kottonm's site, it's nice.

We've (us down here in southern Illinois) still got a night or 2 of unfavorably cold for plants weather still to come for this week. I am very ready for the warm nights to start staying around so I can get my kitchen back! LOL This happens every spring so you'd think I'd just suck it up and get over it, LOL. I complain but I love it, every single messy second of it!

Enough time has passed for the latest round of medications to pass out of the cow and I saved the first round of milk this morning. I hope to be sharing some cheese making on the blog very soon...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food Freedom-op-ed time

Yep, I'm going to voice my opinion. Thank you Chicago Tribune for making me spit my coffee all over my desk this morning. Chicago school bans some lunches from home. This story has sparked some nasty controversy across the web and I wanted to point out a few things about it. First off, the story clearly states that this isn't something new, the school has been doing this for 6 years now. having lived relatively close to this area in my 20's, I know exactly what type of public school this is and the area that surrounds it. Have a look for yourself with the google map, just type in 2620 S Lawndale Ave, Chicago, Illinois and it brings you right to it. To see the school itself, the schoolyard, the businesses around it and the houses, simply zoom in.

Secondly and a continuance of my first point, if this school and/or the Chicago public school system in general has been practicing this for 6 years now, why all of the sudden is there media attention and where was the parents outrage at being told what to feed their own children, way back then?

This is stupidity, on so many levels. Are we so numb to our surroundings, brainwashed by the television, lulled into complacency by the main stream media lies that we can't see ourselves being enslaved, completely controlled? How did we come to a place where we would allow local, state or federal governmental entities to tell us how to raise and feed our own children? Are we lemmings or citizens of a free nation?

Now, if you are using the example of what the public school here in southern Illinois is feeding the children as being a healthy meal and a guideline for eating healthy, you need to be institutionalized. It has not been very long since my youngest was in grade school and the crap they were passing off as food was not fit to be fed to my dog. I seriously doubt it has suddenly improved. Now, granted, I use home grown whole foods to create healthy meals for my family but a person can learn to choose healthy foods even at Walmarts grocery section. A "haystack" made with crushed Doritos, some mystery garbage laced with ammonia they pass off as ground beef, fake cheese because you can't serve real cheese and wilty lettuce is NOT a healthy meal I would choose for my children. Nor is some frozen fish sticks a healthy choice.

Wake up people, take responsibility for yourselves and quit letting 545 idiots make decisions for the rest of the 306 million people in this country.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Rain



A quiet morning. I like it. Weekends here aren't fun anymore. They are full of disruptions of my normal schedule. Not to mention the time consumed that I could be doing other things with. My week days are much more rewarding.

A little spring rain today, it's been raining since early this morning. Normally, this time of year, rain would be a welcome thing but I see 2 or 3 cold nights (in the 40s F) coming for this week and that simply will not do for the tender seedlings. So, nothing gets planted outside yet. By Thursday, I should have a full round of corn, onions, garlic, carrot and radish put out. Another week before the plants taking over my kitchen even have a chance of hitting the dirt.

Johnny, the billy goat, got some free time this weekend. The goat pen is in need of serious repair so a free range romp around the farm was in order. Critters get bored being penned up with no where to run and play. So, everyone got a free day to run around, graze and act like goats. Of course that meant a few minutes of extra work like setting gates up here and there but the stress reduction on the critters is worth it.

Well, off to get work done, the dirty cow pen awaits.....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Really Nice Mornings





Well, compared to yesterday anyway.
Is that fat bunny just too cute or what? I don't think he's uncomfortable, LOL. He was born the same day as the other bunnies and is twice their size. He's also in no hurry to jump out of the box, he and his litter mates are still laying in the fur.

There's Lucky goat, sporting his swelled face from the bad dog. He's been working on that piece of string all morning. I tried to get it away from him but that didn't work out so well.

There's my big Australorp hen, she's working on one of those monster big eggs she lays for me every day. Big as a duck egg. A critter got into the banty hens' nest over night and ate all the eggs. The hen got smart and fled so at least I still have her around. She's a bit ruffled this morning and I don't blame her one bit. Here's a 3 minute windows media player clip of Daisy calf this morning after milking.
video

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If It Ain't One Thing...


It's another. Nothing is ever easy here. It just never goes as planned, ever. For every aspect of good here, all my hard work, I am always punished with something bad. Anyone who thinks being self sustained, growing all your own food is easy or fun is definitely mistaken.

Between the sick milk cow(again), the temporarily psychotic herd dog( bad dog, again), the suddenly insane rabbits, the daily easter egg hunt and mother nature throwing curve balls (Sundays storm blew part of the old barn roof off), things just keep rolling up into a ball.

Just for once, I would love to have things here be just simple and go the way they are supposed to. Sometimes I wonder how our unbelievably tough and resilient ancestors managed to not go completely insane.

I almost hate to even say that my seedlings are doing well for fear of waking up tomorrow to a table full of dead plants. At least I still have seeds germinating. A few items I've planted this year have taken longer than normal to sprout (cold weather, overcast days) and some have popped right up like I always expect them to do. Some are on the table doing so well, I will need to transplant them into bigger containers before the garden soil has warmed up enough and some aren't growing as quickly as they should be.

How about a good day for tomorrow??

Monday, April 4, 2011

Self Sustained -Food is Survival

I read this yesterday and it made me very angry so I put it on the back burner until I got over my initial urge to , well, something. The original article is posted over at naturalnews.com and the title of the article is FDA says you have no right to real food unless they give you permission first. Excuse me? Needless to say, time has not lessened my intense anger over this. To put it frankly, who the hell do they think they are? There is no one breathing, on this earth that will tell me what I can and can not eat. I will consume whatever I damn well please, when ever I damn well please! The FDA can kiss my furry butt! As a matter of fact, I slobbered my breakfast toast with fresh, home made butter, made from unpasteurized cream and ate fresh from the chicken eggs too! And, God forbid, I'm drinking unpasteurized milk in my coffee!

Wake up folks, this is what your tax dollars go to support. This is what your government has in mind for you, complete and total control. Our government intends to push foods laden with chemicals and preservatives down our throats and we are supposed to be good little mindless slaves and like it. But, don't worry, when we all get sick from the fake food we've been told to eat, there is the universal healthcare mandate waiting to decide if we get proper health care! Of course, the government will be in full control over that too, very soon. So, keep going to your job every day and keep working so you can keep paying your taxes and the government can stay funded and control every aspect of your life.

As for me, all I have to say isn't very Christian of me, so I'll just keep it to myself for now while I figure out how to produce more real food in the garden spot I have. I will continue to eat what I produce for myself. I will not be forced to consume commercial foods, not now, not ever.

April Showers

Yep, it's pouring down rain here. Thunder right with it. A beautiful, warm weekend we had tho. Lots of yard work got done.

I whipped up a wheel of colby (or tried to) yesterday and I'm not looking forward to it coming out of the press. I don't think I got the curd cooked down enough. It seemed good until after the 15 minutes of cool down time and when I put it in the press, it just didnt seem right. Oh well, I guess the learning curve for the jersey cow milk continues ;)

Polar Bear has been a good girl and I'm glad of it. She's such a good dog and so very smart. 14 days until the puppies arrive...

The seedlings are still growing and waiting. I have more of everything in baggies, working on germination. The new coffee plants have not emerged tho. I am always on pins and needles waiting for them. It better hurry up and warm up outside before my tobacco plants need transplanted tho. I think I started them a week too early ;)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rambling Day in Pain


Fuzzball, the really cute siamese colored kitten from the cockeyed cat Charcoal had an accident last night. Polar Bear, my blue heeler (australian cattle dog) mangled the little thing a bit last night. PB grabbed the kitten in mid air as it leaped up onto my leg. Needless to say, I broke 3 fingers on my right hand during the rescue. PB is in the dog house for a while. As smart as she is, she should know better than to eat the kittens. Perhaps it's the dingo genetics. Her momma is a cat killing machine. The struggle to all live happy together continues....

The farm is starting to clean up nice, I've been clearing the weed stalks and generally cleaning up the messes that got made around the place by people that just don't know how to clean up after themselves. Soon it will be time to start planting some of the cool weather crops and within a couple weeks the beans and corn will be going in. There's still plenty of work to do on the main garden plus the new spot I need to work up and fertilize for the tobacco. Thankfully, the compost pile is as big as it always is with plenty of great soil for garden improvement.

I've got 2 gallons of fresh milk in the fridge and I think I will make a round of colby cheese today. Hopefully I'll get it finished better than the last round of cheddar came out ;) Daisy calf is cute as a bug. She molests me every milking and I have officially been licked from head to toe now. I have been trying to figure out how to video her without her slobbering up the camera. She really has some personality.

Lucky goat is getting better about his new digs every day. He is just coming up to the porch once or twice a day now, looking for attention. I have turned his momma out to run loose with him and they've made friends. He's learning to be a goat now.

The bunnies are starting to jump out of the box now and they are just as cute as they always are. I wish they would stay small and cute but if they did, what would I do with them?

No progress has been made in the fencing department or the goat pen department. Finances just are not improving. Not surprising tho, the cost of electric has gone up and the price of fuel has reached outer space. The fight continues.

I've contemplated writing my opinion of what's going on in the world here on the blog and actually started a post and revised it several times. When Bill Simmons, the stuffed shirt CEO of walmart (cough, gag) did his interview over at USAtoday, I gave up on the op-ed. It just read way too hostile. Does that man have 2 functioning brain cells? Where's he been hiding for the last couple of years? Some of us, out here in the real world, have suffered with rising costs, dealt with them and done things to protect ourselves from corporate market manipulations for quite a while now. Gardening, producing food for yourself, is the only protection you have from rising food costs. I won't even get into the chemicals, preservatives, etc in processed foods. Just plain, good old fashioned real food. I could go on and on about how poor our economy is but unless you see it for yourself, you're not going to believe me anyway. Growing your own food is economic survival, plain and simple. Even on a small scale, much smaller than what I do here, will help. Recapturing skills that have been forgotten such as cooking and baking will also help you survive the disaster our country is moving toward. Unless of course, you're happy paying $3.29 a lb for ground beef, $2.29 for 4 tiny green peppers and $4.99 for a softball sized watermelon. There's 2 hours worth of pay at a minimum wage job, not counting the fuel it cost you to get to that job...

So, today I'm off to make some cheese, talk to my seedlings and bake some bread. Pork loin on the grill this afternoon........