Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve

A day filled with tradition and it should be. This day marks the end of the old and a new beginning. As a young adult, I often tended rowdy parties which, at the stroke of midnight (watching the televised ball drop in Times Square) the sounds of an old Scottish folk song plays. Auld Lang Syne. Well, what does that mean and why do they always play that song? It means for old times sake, days gone by, the old times. The song it's original form-

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.


So, in old Scottish tradition, remember all the good times, celebrate them with fond memory and get ready for the adventures of your new year! Celebrate safely and I hope to see you all in the coming year!

See ye efter!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Bread Day

Well, after getting all riled up over the thought of not being smart enough to feed myself in a healthy way, I had to do something to make myself feel better. So, I baked myself some bread! Of course, I smeared it with blackberry jam. Chemical and preservative free blackberry jam. Yep, home made. Just a little more of the poison food I feed myself with, LOL. I've had an interesting visitor to the blog yesterday and today. Someone from Ajinomto USA. For those of you that don't know who that is, it is a Japanese subsidiary of Ajinomoto Company, and creates food and food-related products, amino acid-based fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Welcome to the blog, hope you are enjoying it.

The seed catalogs are coming every day now and while my fuzzy socks are a must have item for around the house, I am dreaming of spring and planting. Just 6 more weeks........

Too Much Internet Time

This home internet thing is getting dangerous for me, again. I am reading way too much news and op-eds.

Pretty much a well known fact is how I feel about what our present clowns in control of our federal government are doing to our Constitutional rights as citizens but this little sneak attack called the Food Safety Modernization Act is enough to just make you puke over and over again. The total stupidity of it just burns my fur. How can politicians be so dumb? Do they check their brains and common sense at the door when they get elected to office?

Myself, I am livid over thinking that all these years I have been growing and eating my own food, I was too stupid to not know I was poisoning myself. Hmmm, since I wasn't consuming the poison the FDA has approved, I must be stupid. So, I guess I will just keep poisoning myself with my organic vegetables and steroid free meat until the food Nazis come and arrest me....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Small Things

Sometimes you just have to be thankful for the small things. Polar Bear, our Australian cattle dog-aka-blue heeler- loves her Christmas present. it's a stuffed coon toy from Rural King. They had a whole box full of critters on sale for $3 so I went ahead and got her one. She's been mauling that poor coon to death ever since. This morning, while doing chores, in the bunny stall of the old barn is a dead possum. It is obvious who killed it since "she" was proudly standing over it with the "look what I did, Mom" look on her face. Good dog! Saved the chickens and rabbits from the mean old possum. There's just nothing better than a smart farm dog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Coming to the end

Yep, we're coming to the end of this awful year. It has been awful, one of the worst I can remember for us. While we are sitting in a slightly better position now than we were last year at this time, it's still been a very rough ride both financially and emotionally. High stress and plenty of disappointments. A few growing and harvesting disappointments but most of them were life in general. All in all, I'm still alive, still eating well and still able to soldier on.

Now, as this year comes to a close, I am already dreaming of the new planting season and all the happiness that comes along with a new year. Baby goats, a baby cow, rabbits kits, new chicks, ducklings, the roses blooming... I have a wild rose I dug up from the side of the road that smells heavenly and it fills the entire farm with it's aroma. It reminds me of my Grandmothers gardens. Now all I need are a bunch of peonies, LOL.

The eggs ended up being scrambled and put in the freezer, just for now. My dehydrator does not have the fruit roll trays I need to dehydrate liquids. So, until I obtain what I need, the eggs will just be frozen. Hopefully I won't cook them all up before I can get those trays! LOL

A couple of my own chickens have decided it's okay to lay eggs again and I got 4 this morning. That figures, LOL. I just put them in with the 12 dozen I already had in the fridge. I guess better late than never! Or maybe, the ducks told them about the box of eggs and they're scared of becoming supper, hehehehe.

So, all in all, I'm still sitting pretty good with the homestead. Plenty to eat, plenty of firewood for heat and we're all healthy........

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

well, here it is, Christmas Eve and it's snowing. This is actually kind of rare for southern Illinois. This whole winter has been weird compared to what I have experienced since moving down here. The pictures are backwards, the bigger one was at 8am today and the dog was plowing the snow by noon. I was hoping that the camera would should how big and fat the snowflakes were but I guess they were floating down too quick for the shutter speed. The poor camera is on it's last leg anyway.

So, without further ado, Happy Birthday Jesus and Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eggs and more Eggs

Wow, check this out! There is a farm right up the road from the coalmine. This man creates eggs to supply a hatchery. When his young hens start laying, the eggs are not fertilized and do not hatch so he can't sell them to the hatchery. A couple times a year, he brings a truck load of eggs to the coal mine and gives them away to the miners. What in the world am I going to do with 30 dozen eggs?

LOL, last night I poked fun at Orvis and Mungo for wanting to dehydrate eggs and store them in their long term food preps. Guess what, I'm not giggling now! This evening I will be learning about how to dehydrate myself some eggs.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First thing I see

Here it is, the first thing I see every morning when I go out to take care of the critters. All my chickens and the ducks. They are better than any watchdog you could find, they make such a racket out there, you can't hear a thing. The flock is the first thing to be fed each day so I can do the rest of my chores in peace!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just too cool

This home internet thing is just too cool! I forgot how fun it could be!

Not only can I read up on every little thing that runs thru my head during the day, I can cook and bake while I'm doing it!

This is a recipe called 'tasty buns" and I printed it from 3 or 4 years ago. I really like that website, it's where I found the Gyros recipe and several other neat ones too. The nice rolls on the right are the ones I made like the recipe said to. The other are the dough left over, re-kneaded into dinner rolls. they came out soft and fluffy with great texture and a lightly sweet taste. I will definitely be baking more of these.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice but I'm already dreaming of my spring garden. I know, i do this every year! February 14th isn't that far off and I have soooo much work to do, planning, checking my seed supply, deciding where I'm going to plant what, how many new varieties I might try this time. Lots of work goes into growing everything I plan to eat! I'm sure I will change my whole plan 4 or 5 times before I even start any seeds (shup Scifichick), LOL. For sure I'm going to plant a few different types of grapes and new fruit trees....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Up too late

Yes, I am up waaay too late tonight. I'm not sleepy. I drove the tractor up the backroad today and put out some hay for the neighbors' cows. This is what's left of the snow and ice. It was just in the mid 30s today, not too bad. When I pulled up in the yard, I noticed Goober cow was standing in the barn lot! Apparently, when I finished cleaning out her stall this morning, i did not latch the door. It turns out that it wasn't a big thing, Goober followed me right back in the barn. Of course, since she was such a good girl, i had to give her a treat. Then everybody else in the barn insisted on a treat too. Oh well, it's okay I guess.

I didn't do too much around the farm today, I kind of slacked off and played on the internet all day. I went 6 months without home internet and I just felt like I had to make up some lost reading. Tomorrow I will behave much better, :).

I am going to make myself a nice, fat deer meatloaf with some of the home grown taters, carrots, corn and beans for supper. I am also working on a new recipe for sandwich buns. I am hoping this one will make a softer bun for the cry babies that live here ;) I might even feel like a pie....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Did I mention....

I know I didn't tell you all about this nightmare... Tuesday morning it was -8F here. Nasty cold it was. So cold, my dually would not start. I ran the battery down lighting the glow plugs so it had to be charged up. Once the battery got warmed up, several hits on the glow plug and the dually fired to life. After the chores were finished, I intended on cleaning my new milking machine so I started some water on the stove( still working on replacing the hot water tank). I noticed we had low water pressure and immediately set out to find out why. Turns out, the water line under the tub had froze and cracked. Yay rah! Okay, for those of you that don't know, I live in a double wide trailer. It was here when I bought this land. I hate it but it's what I have to live in. Typical of mobile homes, the under side of the trailer has plastic stapled to the flooring and it's what holds the insulation in. If you cut it the insulation falls out. Long story on how I know about that, has to do with a lost pet snake........ Anyway, the drain on the bath tub has been broken for a while and it had been flooding the floor so we quit using it until I could fix it. Apparently, when this double wide was manufactured, the tub was installed before the inside walls were because you can not remove the one piece tub/shower enclosure thru the doorway. needless to say, I had to pull it out to fix the spraying water so it got destroyed. No big loss, it had to be removed to fix the floor and the rotten drain connection anyway. There goes my entire afternoon. Anyway, it's removed now the water line repaired and most of the rotten particle board has been removed. Now it's ready for me to repair come spring time.

I made my first wheel of colby cheese with the jersey milk. It's still working on drying a rind so I don't know how it tastes yet. Of course, I'm anxious to cut into it! We're making Christmas cookies today. Well, I am anyway, LOL. Everybody else will be ready to eat them...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Preppers Podcast

My good friend Scifichick just sent me a link to the new prepper podcast. One of the hosts, John Milandred, has rebroadcast an old pioneer living podcast interview I did with him several months back.

Thanks John.

Also, I am still contributing to the American Preppers Network forum, Freedom Thru Teaching Others Self Reliance. It's a great place to learn about being emergency prepared.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wow is it Cold!

We got us a little snow. Actually, it was pretty nice, it snowed all day Sunday. Now it has gotten horribly cold. -8 this morning at 5am ambient temperature, no wind chill. I am a bit concerned about what's coming for us, some sleet and ice is on the menu for tomorrow. That will keep me at the farm and away from the internet.

The critters are all doing fine, the chickens are staying huddled in the straw and not laying eggs. I really don't blame them, I'd not want to lay an egg either. It is putting a cramp in my baking style tho and a solar set-up for a heat lamp will get put on the "to-do" list. We can't go all winter without eggs, nope, can't do that.

Goober cow is behaving rather well with the new milker. It's amazing how simple the design is and how much strain it takes off my back with those darn rods in there. I broke down and pulled the thermal coveralls out, the cold weather has been making those rods cold and stiffing up my back muscles. The coveralls help a bunch.

I've got another gallon of milk saved up. I think I will try the Gouda again........

Friday, December 10, 2010

First cheese wheel

Woohoo! There it is, the very first wheel of cheese from the jersey cow! it's the half batch of cheddar I made the other day. The cheese has a richer, almost buttery taste to it and I suspect it is due to the high butterfat content of the milk. I tried to make some Gouda last night, it did not turn out so spectacular. I did not expect perfection for the first time making Gouda and I did learn a couple things as i went thru the process so I hope the next round will be better.

This morning was so much fun!!! I got a milker from Maggidans and used it for the first time this morning. No more dirt floaties in the milk, no dumped milk pail and no udder chasing! I never have to play rodeo clown again. I had morning chores all done and the cow milked in half the time it took me just to milk that cow yesterday. How cool is that? Best part of it is, there's no electric parts to break ( no electric at all). This neat little milker fits perfectly into my self sustained living plan. I love it when I find things like this.

The weather is goofy here still. it was 49F yesterday after the week of mid 20s. it's pouring rain now and the cold is coming. I can see the skating rink in the circle drive now.

Not too much else has been happening around the farm, just every day chores and some bread baking. I've had plenty of work on the neighbors farm tho. I'm ready to stay home for a few days!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cold Sunday

Yep, we got a tiny bit of freezing rain over night. The big chill with the snow never did turn into what the weatherman said it would, not that I'm complaining or anything. Yesterday started out kind of nice, not even really cold but during the day, the wind whipped up and the temperature dropped. It's all good tho, I spent most of the day lolling around the house, thinking about how I wished I had internet at the farm. This not having internet has long since gotten old. There just is no good net package available in this area. How sad is that? A simple land line phone package is $75 a month with taxes included and the line has static every time it rains so dial up is not an option, too much money, too slow and with the poor phone lines, it's hardly dependable. Hughes net wants way too much money for install, alltel eliminated their service to anyone not paying for a phone plan and verizons plan has a 5GB a month limit and a 2 year contract at $59 plus taxes a month. All out of this poor farmers price range. So many little things each day I'd love to share. The journey of living self sustained always has some cool little twists. Not all of those twists are pleasant but each one inter twines with the next experience.

So what's been going on since I last posted? Let's see...... Oh, all the chickens are in moult. A few look like naked birds and the rest look like they have wax on their feathers as the new feathers are coming on quickly. So, it's been 10 days since I found any eggs and we've finally eaten thru every one in the fridge. I broke down and picked up a couple dozen eggs from the lady down the road. Geez, that killed me! It's like lunch at the post office here, every chicken gotta moult at exactly the same time and take a month to do it too. No work ethic, LOL! Here it is, the time when I do all my pastry and cookie baking for the holidays and my chickens all gotta take lunch together, at the same time. I see how they are, LOL. Well, it's all part of living self sustained, you just gotta deal with what you've got and work with what you can produce for yourself. I almost felt like a hypocrite, buying those 2 cartons eggs. At least I had an option, I didn't have to buy factory produced eggs from a store, but still, not eggs produced on my own farm. ARG, depressing. But, if I can keep the hubster from eating them all in 2 days, I might have a dozen to make some goodies with. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the chickens will get back to laying by the end of this week so I don't have to shame myself by buying more to bake with.

The farm up the road I am tending ( besides my own) has finally given me a bit of a break. All the cows but 5 have been sold and moved. The lady's rent trailer is now occupied and the young man renting it is supposed to be feeding those cows every day. The lame donkey got turned back out, still lame, he decided to bite on the freezer cow. The darn thing is ready to be butchered right now but the lady wants to wait until February to take him off. Whatever, not mine to decide, I fed him to finished, as long as they keep the weight on him, not my worry. Guess it's just my personality and desire for perfection that makes me feel like it's a failure because he won't be butchered at perfection. Oh well, I have enough right here on my own farm to worry about anyway.

My 3 nanny goats all look good and fat and I'm hoping those big bellies have kids in them too. Hard to tell tho, just have to wait and see. I was hoping to have them in their own shed by now, instead of a make shift pen inside the hay barn. Not everything works out the way you want tho and you just do what you have to until it does. The billy is still tied to a post, next to the pen and a few pallets are set up so he can butt all he wants to. The butting behavior I'm sure is my fault from letting him run loose all summer and play with the dog. The 2 of them get along so well and they played constantly, now he's bored tied up all by himself with no one to play with. At least he's quiet now, tied up next to the girls.

The cow is settling down, finally. It's taken 4 days to get a gallon of milk to try a batch of cheese with. I've got my first one in the press right now. A stirred curd cheddar, a half batch wheel. This jersey milk is so much different than the brown swiss milk I learned to make cheese with. This milk is more than half cream and when I set my curd, there was very little whey to stir it in! As I started the cooking process, it was difficult to stir the curd without damaging it since it had no whey to float in. As it came to temperature tho, the whey cooked out of the curd some. By that time tho, the curd was broken up quite a bit. It did cook down decent and the first set in the press seemed to be correct and the wheel held together well. The wheel presses until 8pm tonight so we'll just have to wait until then to see how it comes out. A couple days of dry time before we can sample it is going to be the rough one.

I am pleased with a trade I did this weekend. I traded 4 deer roasts and some jerkey I made for a small turkey from the bird farm in the next town over. The farm is primarily a wild game farm, they raise chukar, quail and pheasant for sporting sales. I got a young tom, around 10lbs for the deer meat. A good trade I think, I'm pleased with it. The bird was live but they let me kill it right there. Whew, I'd rather leave the mess in their pile than bring it home anyway. Besides, they have this really cool plucker thingy that strips the feathers right off. Neatest thing I ever saw! Of course, watching that thing spit feathers out the bottom, I was thinking about how to use them to make a pillow or something. Might be an investment for later on, hmmmm.....

the mice this year are horrible! They are getting into my corn terribly and the process of hand shelling is becoming an every day chore for me. With no corn crib, I'm still storing it in the bags I harvested it with so I spend a couple hours a day now shelling it, trying to protect it. At least it's dry enough to store in barrels now. I've got probably 20 bushel still waiting to be shelled and I've lost maybe 2 bushel of it to the mice already. That's a weeks worth of feed I've lost so the need to get it protected is pretty great. The almanac must be right, again. It says the winter for my area is going to be cold and wet so the mice are feeding on everything. I even have at least one I know of in the house, it ran across my stove last night! At least there's 3 cats hot on it's trail so hopefully it won't make it too much longer. My poor counter tops, it's bad enough I bleach them twice a day now, with a mouse running around, it will be 10 times a day until that thing is dead! Hmmm, my poor hands too, LOL.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wild Week and Weekend

Well, this holiday season was a total bummer on the farm. As usual, I cooked and cleaned it all up too. Wednesday was a decent day, I got the milk cow paid off! I can't believe I managed to get the extra $500 I needed in 5 weeks with aluminum cans and misc farm work. I recruited the neighbor to bring it home for me and we made a deal to move her home first thing Friday morning. Of course, that did not happen. It was late Friday afternoon, almost dark before the truck and trailer showed up. So, settle the cow in the double horse stall in the dark and wait for daylight. Saturday morning came around and I'm pretty excited, I get to milk a cow! ¾ of a gallon is what the Amish man told me she was giving. Yah, right, hello! A quart is all she has in her. That Amish man sold me a cow he was drying off as a milker. I was also told that his kids milked this cow and she stands tied. Another yah right! Our first round of milking was a rodeo. The cow kicks, she knocks the pail over constantly and dances all over the place. It took me almost an hour to milk her out. Sunday morning went a bit better, I got smart and held the milk pail in one hand and milked one teat at a time. I still ended up with straw in the pail. I know how to milk a cow and this pretty little jersey cross is an outlaw. That'll change but it'll take time.

Oh but so much has happened in the past couple of days. More farm disasters, LOL. I got a text message first thing Friday morning, the last calf over at the farm I work on occasionally was dead. No big surprise, I knew it was going to die. The cows were thru the fence and in the hay field, again. I just don't understand that one, they have hay right up by the barn so why do they keep tearing the fence down for a dead hay field? Stupid cows. They tore up several of the round bales stored in the hay field. Slopping thru the mud in boots with holes in them was not my idea of big fun. Saturday morning was a little better. I met Gary to help move his cows. Half the herd went wild cow on us and would not come up. We spent 2 hours chasing them around 50 acres. I did manage to corral the good half up so when Gary was ready to give up, we headed back to the barn. Coming thru the run off ditch, I stepped in a mushy cow pie, slipped like a cartoon banana peel and popped a tendon on my forearm protecting the rods in my back. My forearm swelled almost instantly and boy, does it hurt! Which brings me back to milking the cow. That swelled up arm I can't straighten out right now sure did make it uncomfortable to milk a cow!

Okay, LOL, enough of my misery, eh? What about the wonderful celebration of giving Thanks for being alive??? Oh yes, I am very Thankful to be alive, Thankful for my good soil, my harvest and the bounty I am able to preserve. I am Thankful for my good health and still being able to walk and work. I prepared a nice meal of what is left of my butchered steer mixed with deer meat mixed into a nice meat loaf with chopped onion, green pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, a couple of eggs, oregano, thyme, marjoram and some bread crumbs. Side dishes of things I grew this year, potatoes, corn, beans, carrots and of course pies. One apple and a couple of pumpkins. Fresh bread topped it off. Perhaps next year I will manage to get a couple of turkeys raised up. I miss my turkey, LOL. Just could not bring myself to buy one from a store. My morals just would not allow it.

So, now it's back to enjoying the bounty of my harvest for the rest of the winter. It is winter now, even if the season is still technically fall. The last couple of days have been below 30F overnight and the water tubs all have ice in them. I actually like winter because it's when I do all my baking. It's too hot in the summer to do much baking and I love breads, pastries, pies, roasts and cookies. I make more pizzas during the cold months too. I love fresh, home made pizzas with fresh dough crust, sauce I made myself from tomatoes I grew, the veges I grew, meat I butchered and real cheese. It always reminds me of my childhood. My parents used to take us kids to this great pizza joint called Home Run Inn. I have never had pizza as good as that, anywhere else in the whole country. So, when I make my own pizza, that is what I measure it by. So, I am looking forward to a wonderful winter....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deer Season Again

There's the huge buck my friend got on Friday morning. I didn't take a better picture because I didn't want anybody to think I got that monster buck, LOL. It was a 13 pointer, monster big! My friend caped it to have it mounted, I don't blame him a bit. Very nice buck. The weekend ended good and I have a freezer full of deer meat. Deer season is always important around this farm because a good portion of our meat comes from hunting. Just another aspect of living as self sustained as we can. After all, we really do practice what we preach here. I spent 3 days butchering deer and am I ever glad that it's done for now! Of course, I still have plenty of cleaning work to do but I can do that as I use the meat.

We're still experiencing a drought here, very little rainfall and we sure are hoping to see some with this warm front. It is 70F here right now with a strong wind blowing. The poor rabbits have been panting all day. They've put on wonderful winter coats. The horses and goats like like huge furballs waiting on the cold weather. the persimmon seeds have spoons in them so I know it's coming......

The cow is not home yet. I still owe $250 on her and the poor weather kept me from any sidejob money last week. Hopefully I can get her home this weekend, side job willing............

Sunday, November 14, 2010

interesting and boring all together

I have a big sugar maple in the side yard. It's huge. Back when we had that inland hurricane, a large side branch had been knocked off it. The tree was apparently not too healthy to start with but you'd have never known, all the branches had leaves on them and it looked good. The truth of it is, the branches are mostly hollowed and every time we get a good storm, another gets knocked out of it. Well, we had another big storm and the tree is about done for. I will need to cut it down sooner or later. I hate to, but there's not much left of it. The branch now laying in the yard has not been cleaned up yet. It's full of bees. I mentioned this before, the bees were getting wiped out by the birds. Well, some made it thru the feeding frenzy and they are still active in the tree branch. I have decided to learn about bees and honey. I didn't come up with this brilliant plan on my own, one of my regular read magazines has a whole beehive article in it. I thought it was Mother Earth News but I just checked the latest issue online and it's not in it. Maybe it was Hobby Farms or Grit. I found this article online over at Living off Grid and it has the top bar beehive as well. This is what I plan to do about the bees before they swarm in the spring. Now, what am I going to do with that huge branch laying in the yard? Oh, I haven't a clue at the moment.

Life here at the farm has been pretty boring the last few weeks. I am spending all my time around here cleaning up after others that live here. I have to say, it's gotten old darn quick. it's hard enough that I do everything around here all by myself anyway but having to play maid to others on top of everything else just pisses me off. Nobody ever misses supper but they sure can't seem to find the dish rag. Everybody loves the cats but nobody can clean up after them. Cats are NOT clean animals. No use putting them out, somebody just lets them back in when I'm not around. ARG is the only polite thing I can think of to say about it right now.

So, instead of catering to others this weekend, I have spent all my time going thru my pantry, looking at my stock of herbs and such. Working out in my mind and on a list, what I need to be concentrating on in the herb garden next season. I have also looked at things I can't grow that I still need to purchase or trade for. Since there isn't a good set-up for trade here yet, I guess the salt, sugar, noodles and various other odd stuff will have to be purchased. I hate that. I hate having to buy anything at all. The whole commercial thing just chaps me.

Here's something depressing. I just owe $200 on the cow and was hoping to have her home this coming weekend. I had a side job set up that would have given me what I needed. It fell thru. On top of that, I turned my front burner on the stove on this morning, the element has apparently burned out. Guess I used it too much. The stove isn't 3 years old yet. This is the same stove the oven element burned out of in just 8 months. It's a Frigidaire glass top. I haven't a clue how to even get to the elements to repair it. I will need to repair it, it's my cheese making element, the one that fits my cheese making pot perfect. Guess I just need to say ARG and move on with it.

You know it's a bad week when even baking bread doesn't cheer me up. This week it felt like a chore, a boring, time consuming, unrewarding chore. Wow, I need a vacation...........

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Never Dull Moments

Ah, once again, I'm fixing fence. Somebody elses of course. I always seem to be fixing other peoples things lately. Those darn cows are job security tho! LOL
Not much new going on around the farm, still dry as a bowl of popcorn. I did give a bread making lesson yesterday. it went well and the italian bread came out beautiful! I love it when a plan comes together, LOL.
Lost the alternator on the dually today so add that to what needs fixed. unfortunately, it won't wait long since hubby needs that truck to get to work. One night missed, no choice. The alternator is being rebuilt, will be ready tomorrow afternoon. There goes part of the mortgage money, dang. Still, better than having to buy a new one!
All else is good tho and no sign of any new possums. I will be baking this week and hopefully making cheese by the end of the month.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oh yah, it's that time of year again! It's down right cold overnight now, with temperatures heading toward the mid 20's for the end of this week. I am so not ready to be busting ice in November! But, what can you do other than just go with the flow.

Speaking of cold, have you read next years farmers almanac? Hmmm, cooler than normal and dry all thru the growing season. Might make for some poor crops next season. I hate to think we will see 2 years of drought. The way the almanac is reading, I won't get my warm crops out til mid June! That simply will not do! I will be applying some new techniques to keep the plants warm and growing this coming season.....

ARG, i still owe $500 on the milk cow so it's going to be a while before i get it home and milking for me.

I moved and restacked the 200 bales of hay in the big barn this weekend. I needed to clean up the pile a bit and move it down where I had some room to put the indoor goat pen back in the barn corner. I got a bit of a surprise about half way thru it. 2 possums hiding under a wood pallet! now I know what's been happening to all the chicken eggs! poor Polar Bear had been getting the suspicious looks. I killed one and she killed the other. I am already back up to a dozen eggs a day. I was only finding 3 or 4!

I'm back into the no kits thing. The rabbits have all been bred but no kits. I had this trouble a couple years ago too. I still don't know for sure what it is that causes that. maybe it's the weather change, maybe something else. I just keep breeding and waiting. Sooner or later I'll get a round of kits!

A friend has given me a whole stack of Taste of Home magazines so I'm sure to be cooking up something good this week.........

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weird Days

It seems like days are running together and those same days go from freezing cold in the morning to down right hot in the mid day. My second round of taters have failed miserably. The tubers rotted in the soil. I'm thinking it has something to do with the weird weather and the soil being too warm in the day, cold overnight. In the spring, the soil stays cooler as the tubers sprout up and grow. It makes sense to me but I have no real proof of it. Just what my mind has created to rationalize my crop failure.

Well, there he is, the leather bag filled with bones I've been tending to. The daily feeding of the correct amount has improved him greatly and put him on schedule for butchering in a timely manner. It has also helped for moving him to another pen so I could get calves separated this past weekend. Worked out pretty good right up until i whacked the feller who bought the calves in the head with a gate. Purely an accident but I still felt badly for it. Calves in the shoot backed up on me, had me caught in the gate I was holding to keep them in there, the feller came back to us, poked the calves, they ran forward relieved the pressure and as the gate came off my leg, he got whacked. How he managed to have his head down low enough for the gate to whack him, I'm not sure. It just happened too fast. I still feel badly tho.

My son is on my naughty list. he has been cheating his way thru morning chores on me and not feeding the ducks and chickens properly. I keep trying to explain to him that I don't grow all that corn, spend all that time picking and shucking it then grinding it for him to not feed the ducks and chickens! As a result of his poor chore work, I went 3 days this week without eggs for my breakfast. The chickens are now back to laying but have not gotten back to full production. I am not pleased with that boy right now. he's plenty old enough to know better, right foot left butt cheek........

I have finalized the milk cow deal and paid the man a down payment of the $200 I had put aside for the cow fund. I still owe him quite a bit but he is just fine with milking her until I get her paid off. I hope to have her home before the end of November and get some cheese made. There's going to be some headed out in the mail and you all know who you are on the receiving end... I'm really looking forward to it and to sharing the joy with others. Plus, one more thing that I can provide for myself and not have to buy! One more small step along the self sustained journey.

I just finished reading 2 books, Lucifers Hammer and the Last Centurion. I found both to be pretty interesting. Each time I come across something that is written down that reflects my opinions on the state of the world, I feel pretty good about it. It's nice to know others are out there that feel as I do. sometimes I feel like the lone ranger in a desperate fight of futility against an invisible monster. Silly, I know, but I do feel like that sometimes.

I still have not touched the garden spot or the back corn patch. it has been too windy to till for the wheat. There isn't any real rain forcast for our area and to till it and plant it is a waste of time with 30mph winds every day and no rain. Wheat will not germinate in popcorn fart dry dirt. Hmmm, I wonder if I will get it planted at all. I am not hurting for wheat and will not run out before next seasons crop but it will deplete my pile from normal use. hmmm

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another Long Week

EW! I just had the ickiest, hairiest spider in the park crawling on my arm. I had to smoosh him, too gross to let him live.

It's been another long week of chasing cows 3 days in a row, moving round bales of hay, mowing down dead grass and weeds, picking up junk. All for someone else. We're headed into our 4th week without a paycheck so I'm not really complaining about working, it is paying for the fuel for hubby to get to his first paycheck. It's just that so much needs done on my own farm. They boy is not doing all he should be from day to day and I am just plain tired of telling him. He knows better and still he is doing such a terrible job. good thing he's my son and not someone that works for me, they would be so fired!

I spent 5 hours today cleaning my kitchen and laundry room. No one else living here can seem to clean up after themselves. They've all wiped out everything I cooked last week for them and left me the mess to clean up. I have not cooked one single thing this weekend.

I brought my tractor home from the neighbors farm tho. I need to turn my corn patch and get wheat planted! the regular garden spot needs turned and compost added to it for the winter.

There's a sugar maple in the yard that has given up the ghost. That beautiful tree was damaged during our dericho and it hung on like a trooper this year but the storm we had Tuesday did her in. 2 more of the main branches have been damaged and broken off. With one huge limb falling came the honey bee hive and the birds are snapping up disgruntled honey bees left and right. I have no way to protect them, they are wild bees and I just can not risk being stung. I hate to see them killed. I will have to wait for them to finish moving their hive before i can clean up the mess in the yard. The whole tree will need removed, I may wait until spring to cut the trunk off.
That makes 3 of my main sources of shade around the farm wiped out this year.

Here's a bit of humor tho, I'll bet this fellow was beside himself! Local resident flushes up young squirrel.
I am so ready to get back to my fall farm schedule. There's still a couple weeks worth of helping the neighbor get her business taken care of before I will be able to take care of my own things. I just can not walk away from a neighbor that needs good, dependable help. It is going to make things tough on me for a little while but that's okay, I can take it. Now, if I can just whip my family into better shape, i'll be all set!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rough Week

It was a darn rough week. Today hardly feels like the start of a new week, i'm still trying to recover from the one I just finished! Here I am, sitting in the dinky jeep, all cramped up typing and is there ever a storm rolling in on us. It hasn't rained in so long here, everything is dead. I hate to see it rain like mad for just a couple minutes. That will not help us at all.

As you can see, the kittens haven't a care in the world! Me, I spent the weekend picking my feed corn by hand. I have roughly 70 bushels of corn to shuck now. Not too bad from just a half acre of hand planted corn with no pesticides. The deer were a little bit rough on it but not as bad as i expected. With the dry weather we've had, the corn is low moisture and I havent seen any mold at all yet.

More from around the farm soon.......

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BRRR and ouch

Aw, Cojack loves me. That darn kitten is not happy unless she's laying on me. She sleeps with me even. Oh well, I guess that's what i get for feeding them, LOL.

Downright cold last night, we got our first frost of the season. Looks like the tomatoes are done for now.

A few nights ago, I had a fire going out on the porch and popped some popcorn. I have a hull stuck in my gums, next to a molar and it is now infected. I can't seem to get it pried out and boy, is it uncomfortable! I'm on my third day of salt water rinse, it seems to be helping. Wish I could get to that hull. Hopefully it will push out before too much longer.

I'm still bush hogging for the neighbor and fixing that darn thing every day. Wow, I never thought I would hate a piece of farm equipment as much as I hate that bush hog!

Being gone from the farm for most of the day is really starting to affect my eating habits. Guess I need to roll out of bed a couple hours earlier to get my bread baked. I guess I can survive until the job is done on just 3 or 4 hours of sleep, LOL.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thinking outside the box

In a big way, LOL. I've been busy all week working on a neighbors' farm. I need the money and they need the help, a win-win situation. I've had a few come-aparts this week but the hubby has always come up with some interesting in the field fixes for me to keep going with. Check out how he fixed the pto spring pin breakage! That silly fix made it thru 30 acres of bush hogging, LOL. The other picture is a coyote that was much closer than the phone picture makes her seem. She was just 15 or so yards off and stood there watching me for a few minutes.

I have a solid lead on 2 young heifers for milking, just a bit more than I was planning to spend but nice little jersey holstein crosses. the man said he would hold them for me and take payments so I think I'm going to be making cheese soon!

Not too much else is going on around here. The nights are down right cold this week and it leaves me wondering where our nice fall season went. The trees are not as colorful as they normally are and I blame the lack of rain and the sudden cold temperatures. I'm ready to start a fire and read a good book, LOL.

speaking of a good book, this was national Banned Book week and I did my part. I ordered "atlas shrugged" and "farenheit 451" from the library. My local branch didn't have a copy of either but they got them on the exchange just in time. I hope to crack the first one tonight!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cold Nights

It's down right cold sitting here at the park tonight. I wanted to play online earlier but I had a few things I needed to do. Here's what I was doing! Putting a little food on the table. I butchered the last 15 bunnies I had ready to go, sold 10 to a neighbor for some fuel money. Can't beat that, eh? The nights are around 55F for all this coming week, time to close the windows up at dusk. I won't mind too much, i can throw all those darn cats out and they'll stay out! No more finding the trash can dumped every morning or dirty paw prints on my table! Those kitties just don't know how lucky they are.

This week, I've got myself a small paying job on a farm close to me. The folks need some help and it looks to be right up my alley. Another tank or 2 of fuel is always a good thing. I just can't pass up the chance to help us make it to the first paycheck. I'd be a fool if I did.

I've not given up on the cow search, I have a line on a nice 5 yr old cow milking now but it will take me a couple more weeks of picking up cans since it's going to cost me more than what I have in the cow fund. The people told me the cow isn't going anywhere so I should be in good shape. I am so ready to make some cheese!

Dang it's cold tonight! My fingers are freezing!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting a bit Wormy

Today I am a little miffed. I'm sitting here, at the park, minding my own business when a woman pulls up in a mini van, starts unloading a bunch of items, says to me "we're going to have a meeting here, are you going to move?" Uhm, I don't think so. She looked at me like I was the boogeyman, stomped off and set up in the next pavilion down. Public park, 3 pavilions and I need to move?

Anyhoo, I just read this interesting article on one of my favorite subjects, MSG. That's right, monsodium glutamate. This will not be the first time I lament on how terrible this poison is and how it is in everything available for consumption on the commercial food shelf. this nasty little bugger has no smell, no flavor and is used to make you addicted to a particular food item. Sweet, huh?

So, on that note, how about another installment of 'grow your own food"? Carrots are the vegetable of choice today. These sweet little roots are easy to grow provided you have soil that is deep, loose and stone free. The more organic matter in it, the better. Carrots like regular waterings and prefer to be moist but not soaked. Carrots also prefer a moderate amount of nitrogen, over fertilizing causes root branching and you end up with nothing like what you are used to seeing when you imagine carrots. Raised bed planting is ideal and they will grow well in containers provided they have adequate room for root growth. A pH level of 5.5 to 7.5 will support carrots but they prefer slightly below neutral. Plant your seeds 1/2" deep, lightly covered, rows 12" apart in full sun. 59 to 80 days to harvest.

Oh, remember 2 posts back? Here's a tidbit from a fellow that has the same ideas about where our country is headed as I do. Deindustrialization of America. Interesting read.

I am a bit wormy today, we've completely run out of cash. there's $1.07 in the bank account, the paycheck (acutally 2 still owed to him) from the mine hubby was let go from has not arrived in the mail yet, big surprise. His physical is Tuesday morning, 90 miles from here and the mortgage will be defaulted in 5 days. Geez, I so hate this kind of stress! So, I'm most certainly wormed out. I'm trying really hard to not scarf down the entire bowl of cookie dough I made last night. Chocolate chip cookies always make me feel better, LOL.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lots to talk about-updated

Oh my, has the past few days been a roller coaster ride...... Okay, let's start at the beginning which was a week ago Sunday night...The ventilation fan for the coal mine hubby works in goes down, it's broke, needs parts, gonna be a couple days. A couple days turns into 4 and he goes back to work Thursday night for his regular Friday shift. Sunday morning we get a call, his cousin and good friend (my friend too) has passed away from a heart attack. Sunday night comes around, he goes to work and they call him aside and fire him. Something about a single piece of paper he did not even know he was supposed to fill out over his underground injury a month ago. So, he comes home jobless. Monday we spend all day passing out resumes, filing his unemployment claim and talking about how we are going to cover our mortgage ( haven't paid it this month yet, property taxes wiped us out). Tuesday morning a call comes in, we take a drive and hubby has a new job he will start Sunday night. The Tuesday evening wake and the Wednesday morning funeral were pretty hard on both of us. Meanwhile, we have 3 tiny kittens pooping all over the house, all 3 are sick, the daughter had a blowout on our purple truck as well. No spare of course and the tread peeled off and ripped part of the fender well off the truck too. At least she made it to work, going the last half block on the flat. The goats keep escaping and some do-gooder driving by had the consideration to call the state police and complain my goats were too close to the road for them. needless to say, the police officer was very polite and asked if we'd try to keep them from grazing by the end of the drive and left right away. Funny thing is, he didn't have anything to say about the 30 year old sway backed horse that's been wandering all over the farm for the past 4 months.

So, it's been a pretty wild and stressful few days. The dishes need done, the floors need mopped, the laundry needs washed and I need some time to reflex and cry over the loss of my friend.

Meanwhile, life continues to go by............

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The World, Economy and the Farm

I have often been ridiculed by my peers for not being "herd mentality". I have always preferred to stand alone in what I chose to do, right or wrong. I hate being one in a crowd, I hate crowds. I have never been one to "keep up with the Jones",LOL, I never liked them anyway. This attitude has actually kept me out of trouble more times than not. It has proven beyond a doubt that I chose correctly when we were out of work with no income and we were still eating. There is really something to be said for food on the table when all else fails.

It is hard for me to understand why more people can not see what is happening in our country. The MSM spews lies daily and it seems like no one even notices. I offer these tidbits of news as examples of how pitiful it is now- Mass delusion-american style
10 signs the US is becoming a third world country
18 signs America is rotting

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. We have given up our frugal upbringing to be pampered by fast food and instant gratification and given away any chance we have at survival. We have lost the art of self reliance. We have become a nation full of people that would rather pay to have it done for them instead of just doing it for themselves. We are even incapable of entertaining ourselves without television or video games. We have drown ourselves in revolving credit and ridiculous percentage rates we can never dream of paying for, leaving us to choose between making the monthly house payment or feeding our kids. In order to survive into the future, we must change ourselves. The world as we have known it is gone. It's not coming back any time soon.

I have taken steps to ensure my own sustainability. I have eliminated all the credit cards and took the time to learn to do as much as I can for myself. Every day, I strive to learn something else that I can use to take care of myself and my family. My plan isn't perfect and not even close to being complete but I keep at it. I keep trying to get others around me to think a little more frugally and do what I can to help them do for themselves instead of having others do it.

Sharing ideas and thoughts with others is a good thing. there's lots of talk out there about the end of the world as we know it. Survivalists have their own views, so do preppers, there's even several different religious views on the subject. Even some scientists and NASA have put their 2 cents in lately. Me, I'm just a simple homesteader. I think if the economy collapses, I will be able to feed myself just fine. If civilization comes to end, at least I won't have to worry about paying my property taxes or inflated insurance premiums!

As I mentioned before, we are truly doomed to repeat history since we are unable to learn from it. We can not continue to buy everything from others and produce nothing for ourselves. You can not keep importing goods when you have nothing to export. Spending money you can not replace is simply not sustainable. To me, this concept is as plain as the nose on my face. Why is it so hard for others to see? This article isn't exactly how I look at it but it's decent enough. Where are the jobs?

Tomorrow is Constitution Day in America. In Ohio, government has banned (tried to anyway) the Andover Tea Party group from having a rally in town square to celebrate our Constitution because they claim the group has "political affiliation". Well, duh. Lawsuit has been filed, ruling should come today. I liked this article named Government using anti-terrorism laws to
crush dissent.

I found this little tidbit as well yesterday. Corn syrup producers change name to "corn sugar" as awareness over health concerns grow. The first 2 ingredients in the cheap blackberry jam that Dollar General sells around here is corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. This stuff is poison folks, it is in every single prepackaged food item on the grocery shelf. Here's a quote from a book written in the 1940's by Ed and Carolyn Robinson named "The have More Plan". Thanks to Melissa for sharing this wonderful book on her blog. Chapter 13 is called "the importance of raising part of your familys food". {The health of millions of Americans would be far better if every family raised part of the food it eats.} The chapter goes on to talk about the lack of vitamins and minerals of store bought foods and so on. It is a great book written 70 years ago and it applies very well to the world around us right now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Too much produce?

I found this tidbit of news yesterday and saved it to read when I got home. Boy, did it ever fire me up! I wanted to run right back to the park and make another blog post! Alas, I had to wait until this afternoon to get to the internet connection and my fired up attitude was dampened by finding my favorite cat run over. Poor Mozart, now I have 3 tiny kittens to look after.

Anyway, here's the story, County Sues Farmer;too many crops. I find this whole thing to be absolutely ridiculous. How is this even possible in America? Every single person around him needs to immediately turn their lawns into gardens and grow fruits and vegetables in protest of this idiotic county and their harassment of this man.

On a side note, here's a piece of good news... The 1099 insurrection.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hmmmm-small rant

ARG! If I read one more BS news story about how our country is bouncing back from recession, I'm going to just vomit all over the computer! Well, maybe not, the keyboard is already hanging on by a thread but you know what I mean. I see more and more people paying for their goods with the welfare program link card and the people using my local church food pantry have doubled. The same paycheck that used to allow us to pay our bills and save a little bit each week for farm equipment and things we would like to have to improve our self sustaining situation no longer covers even our simple bills. Things such as mortgage(we still owe on our farm), the electric bill which should be lower without a stove and a hot water tank but it instead keeps going up, the property taxes on the farm that used to be worth 4 times what it is now(funny, the tax bill hasn't decreased) and our biggest expense - fuel to get to work. It's very depressing to go week to week and have nothing left. What's even more depressing is thinking about how much we would NOT have to buy food. Thank God I grow so much here. Now, I know everyone around me has all these same bills. So, how is it they can go to McDonalds a couple times a week, buy new vehicles, clothes and all the latest hot cell phones? Is everyone around me living on credit cards?

How can this country come up out of recession and the job market come back when the jobs are continually outsourced to other countries? What happened to our industrial base? It's gone, that's what happened to it. Most of what we consume now is produced and imported from another country. This is not sustainable and this very thing has brought several great empires thru history to their knees.

What do we do about this? On a large scale, there isn't anything we can do about it. On an individual basis we can stop buying imported goods and start doing more for ourselves. Grow food, raise our own meat, use wind, solar or water to power our homes, what ever we can use. Our government is NOT going to fix this, they can't even see the forest for the trees. They are too busy blaming everyone else around them for what is wrong here when they should be blaming themselves. Our government keeps thinking they can cure all our problems by throwing money at them. What happens when there's no more money(worthless paper) to throw? It is obvious that we have not learned from history so we are certainly doomed to repeat it.

I don't like being the working poor but it seems I don't have much choice in the matter anymore. So, I will continue to do the best I can with what I have and expand my garden spot in the spring. Perhaps I can trade some of what I grow to help ease the tightening noose I feel around my neck. At least I'll be eating well!

Whew, I feel a little better now. What do you think about that killer kitten? hardly big enough to fit in the palm of my hand but she sure whipped that wood shrew!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Self Sustaining Food-tomatoes

ARG, my backspace button has decided to not function and I have written this post 4 times now. Every time I misspell a word, I end up having to start over! I read at several forum boards across the internet, mostly at the APN where we are all trying to help each other become more self sufficient. I have noticed a trend that disturbs me. People do not seem that interested in gardening or working on learning how to produce their own food. It seems to be the norm to continue to stock up on store bought items. Now, I don't have anything against that, to me it's all good if a person is stocking up store bought food. Everyone has to eat so it's all a good thing. The problem comes in when you think about how store bought food will sooner or later be consumed. It's not a sustainable source.

I promised to talk a bit about growing tomatoes so let's do that now. Tomatoes are easier to grow than people think. All you need is a 5 gallon bucket, some rich soil, good drainage and at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. Don't forget the fertilizer, tomatoes are heavy feeders and need some help thru the fruiting season. Tomatoes can tolerate a pH level as low as 5.5 but prefer closer to neutral (7). There are plenty of heirloom tomatoes available in either plant form or seed form. The bushy types of plants (determinate) or the vining types(indeterminate). Don't forget about those wonderful cherry tomatoes, they are great for fresh eating and will produce tons of fruits thru the season. Tomatoes do the best when they are supplied with even moisture. Not too wet tho, tomatoes hate wet roots but if they lack water, they simply do not produce or your fruits will have blossom end rot. You will know you lack moisture if your fruits have black spots on the bottoms. Even moisture also prevents the fruits from cracking from a sudden, heavy rain. Indeterminate plants that vine out will need to be supported in some way. You could always just let them sprawl but the plants tend to do better, contract less disease and are easier to harvest from if they are tied to a trellis or a stake. tomato plants can very quickly grow upwards of 5' so be prepared with a tall and well anchored stake or trellis to support them. Pinching off side suckers that grow off the main branch next to leaf stems will help you to keep you tomato plat growing up instead of out. Tomatoes prefer weather between 55F and 90F, above or below can cause poor fruiting.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday brings pain

Oh! My aching back! There "she" is, Hermine, bearing down on southern Illinois. That witch woke me up in the middle of the night in horrible pain. I'll be glad when she rolls right on by and goes away!

Yesterday, early evening, I had a wonderful visitor. We spent a couple of hours reviewing the finer art of butchering rabbits. I did 4, my visitor did 2. It's been so long since I had any company, I was actually kind of nervous for a while. The lady was absolutely delightful and easy to talk to. Thank you for a wonderful evening Stephanie!

I even showed off my grain grinder, which I never do, LOL, and showed off a little of the home baked bread and ground flour. I think I need to go buy a sack of commercial flour to show the difference between mine and store bought. Maybe I will.

Not too much is going on around here. I got all the hay that was on the ground done so now I'm just in a nice holding pattern. Nothing wrong with a little break every now and then. Tomorrow I'll be writing about growing tomatoes and perhaps in a day or so, I'll do another post on making soap...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day work

That's right, while everyone around me was having a party or a BBQ, I was working a 10 hour day in the hay field. My back, butt and knee are killing me. But, I got a bunch done so it's all good. I hope everything goes smooth for tomorrow and I will get a couple days break. I am so ready to get to baking some bread!

Look what I've got! Are they cute or what? My cat Mozart has 3 calico and one smoke grey kitten. They were under the porch getting the eye ick so I had to scoop them up and bring them in. They are already looking better. Kittens haven't fared too well around here this year. Out of 5 batches, only 2 kittens previous to this batch have survived. All have been sickly this year.

I was having a discussion this evening with a friend, Hey Scifi, about real life old timey pioneer living. The concept is pretty popular lately along with what I'm doing with the self sufficient, self sustaining life. There's plenty of things I do here that would qualify as pioneer living. I grow all my own food and don't buy any prepackaged food from the grocery, I garden for the most part without power equipment and harvest all but my wheat by hand. It's all done the old fashioned way, in the ground in rows and plots. I also use containers and the new tire sets for the potatoes but with no special gadgets or specialty growing helpers. I grind my own grains for animal feed and flour, live without air conditioning, cook quite a bit with a wood fire and make all our meals from scratch. I even butcher for myself. These are all qualities I would consider as skills contributing to a pioneer way of living. So, would I be considered at least partly living a pioneer lifestyle? What about those people out there that just claim to be living like that, buying their food from the grocery while growing food in the garden to sell to others? Coating their wares with pesticides while claiming it's all grown the old fashioned way. Or, people out there trying to sell something, using the "pioneer living" as a sales hook?

What counts as self sustained then? Anything you can produce for yourself, more than once. Growing a crop and seed saving to produce a future crop. That is making that item self sustained. Planting fruit trees or berry bushes is another way to self sustain. Those items produce for you without having to make a monetary input each crop. Growing corn to feed to a chicken is self sustaining. You get eggs and meat and new chickens by feeding the corn you grew from the seed you saved and planted. Cool, huh?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Well the weather has cooled down just a little, wish it was this nice 2 days ago when I hit that metal pipe sticking out of the ground and tore up my hay cutter! 7 sickle teeth, the reel guide got bent up pretty bad and 4 pick up tines got broke off. I was NOT a happy camper! The sky picture was supposed to be a red tailed hawk that was circling for the field mice i was chasing out for him but apparently I missed him in the sunlight. Kind of hard to look at the phone while bouncing up and down on the tractor, plus the glare from the sun. maybe I'll catch him next time, LOL. I spent 4 hours raking today just to watch the round baler break down. Glad that darn thing isn't mine! Even more glad I wasn't pulling it when it broke!

I spoke with a couple of neighbors on the backroad
who filled me in on all the latest gossip in my township plus some interesting tidbits on grocery prices, utility costs, etc. Looks like prices keep going up on everything. I also read this evening over at blacklisted news about food riots in Africa (even found a mildly written article on Foxnews about it) over the cost of their bread. Could that type of behavior happen here in the USA? I think it could. Just a few years ago, I'm pretty sure my family had a solid middle class life. Now, we feel more like the working poor. The same money that covered our mortgage, insurance and taxes is not doing such a good job. It's not a low wage paycheck I'm talking about either. How are people living on minimum wage surviving? How are people making less than $20 an hour surviving? Plus, those people are spending money on groceries. Thank God I don't have to do that or we'd really be in a mess.

There has never been a better time than now to work on becoming even just a little bit self sustained. Even a small reduction in your utility use is going to help. Not making a bunch of small trips to the store for just one item helps too. Learning more about cooking and baking, preparing food for yourself instead of eating out saves big bucks each month. I think we are all going to need to think more about these expenses and cut out everything not absolutely necessary in the immediate future to survive this economy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mondays vege growing installment

The weekend at the State fair was really enjoyable. All the standardbreds were very pleasant to be around. I have officially been reinfected with the horse racing bug. Poor Yogi, he's in for it, LOL.

While I was enjoying the horses, my mind was moving in multiple directions (as usual) and I thought about this post and what I'd like to share. As you can probably already tell, I want to share some thoughts on growing corn. Corn is actually much easier than some folks make it out to be and you don't need a 100 acre field to enjoy any type of corn. The plant consists of 2 parts for pollination, the tassle on the top and the silks on the stalk. The silks are where the ear of corn comes from. The particles from the tassle fall down onto the silks and make the ear. So, it is much better to plant your corn in clumps or blocks as opposed to just a couple long rows. Corn is a heavy feeder and loves rich soil. Corn prefers well drained, slightly acidic soil with plenty of moisture. Consistent watering through ear development is the key to a good crop. Planting is pretty simple, the soil needs to be at least 55F, deep and well worked. Set your seeds around 1” deep, around 4” apart, rows should be around 30” apart to allow for crop maintenance with in ground crops, raised beds and container plantings can be spaced much closer. Corn has plenty of roots close to the surface so close cultivation is difficult. Mulching around the stalks helps reduce weeds. There are a couple simple signs to let you know if your corn is growing properly. Purple tinged leaves signals phosphorus deficiency and pale green leaves signals nitrogen deficiency. Side dress as needed. If you planted sweet corn, the ears are ready when the silks are brown but still moist. A quick check of the kernels by pricking one- clear liquid means the ear is not ready. Milky liquid means it's ready and no liquid means it is past it's prime. Within 24 hours of being picked, sweet corn has turned more than half it's sugar to starch so it's best to eat or process your corn quickly after picking for the freshest, sweetest taste. If you planted popcorn, feed corn or cornmeal corn, it is best to allow the ears to dry on the stalk for as long as you can before picking.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend Escape

Hey all! I got myself invited to work in the test barn for the horse races at the State Fair this weekend. It will be a nice change of pace for me to hang out with the winning race horse instead of the one that came home 5th... I'll see you all on Monday......

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thinking about beans

Yes, I know I already posted this picture but my Mom and I were just talking about it and I realized what a truly great little snapshot it is(thanks Mom!). It's getting harder and harder to ignore the hard truth about the direction this country is headed. Our economy is in the tank, we're bleeding jobs by the hundreds of thousands, the middle class is all but sank to the new working poor. Folks are starting to accept the horrible truth that we are not in a recession but a full blown working depression and things are NOT getting better. Price increases over the past several months on all basic necessities have driven some people to pass on paying their mortgage and other bills to maintain their dietary habits. Food prices are not going down, drought, fire, floods all affecting the bottom line. Electricity rates keep going up and I even read a report just this morning that says the amount of people "paying" for television services is at the lowest level in history. Well, that's good, we all need to turn the dang thing off anyway, LOL.

There is nothing wrong with having a good supply of healthy food stored up in your pantry, cabinets, closet, someplace. Everyone should have a good food supply, it just makes sense. You just never know when you will find yourself out of work or be in some sort of other financial disaster. You have to eat so why not have a little insurance policy to make sure you keep on eating well?

Growing yourself a little food should not be an idea that makes you cringe, it's really not all that difficult. Look at that picture, there is probably just 30 bean plants piled in that truck bed. Beans are prolific plants, the bush varieties will produce a huge amount of beans, all at once and require just a small bit of attention. Beans like soil temperatures to be at least 70F, prefer a loose, moist soil and a pH slightly below neutral. The seeds like to be 1-2 inches deep, 5-7" apart and like to be watered regularly until sprouting which usually takes 8 to 10 days in full sun. Beans like to have some compost or well seasoned manure about half way thru the growing season. Mulching also benefits them as their roots are shallow and helps to retain moisture. Bush varieties grow well almost anywhere, including containers, raised beds and tire gardens. Vine type beans need some sort of support like a trellis or teepee that should be set up before starting the plants to eliminate disturbing the roots. The vine types have a longer production period but as just are good as the bush types, just more work.

Don't be afraid to grow yourself some food, if you don't believe me, just think about how much food gets grown on that tiny lot in California.......

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thoughts on 'dirty" food

You know, I was just thinking about chickens and eggs. Not a big leap since the huge egg recall is all over the news. 3 of the brand names on the recall list are popular brands sold almost at every grocery around here. Salmonella is a nasty bacteria. It can give you all sorts of nasty sickness. I actually know a little bit about this particular bacteria. When I first introduced chickens to this farm, all my horses suffered from a bout of Salmonella from eating the chicken droppings.

There is no fresher, healthier for you egg than the one just laid right here on the farm in a clean straw nest by a free ranging chicken. No chicken poop in the nest or stuck to the backside of the chicken to spread Salmonella, the egg shell is spotless so there is no reason to "dip" it in some dirty bucket of antibacterial solution 10,000 other eggs got dipped into first.

Our government via the FDA and the USDA is now calling for "stricter" food safety laws. Of course they are! Let's have stricter measures in place so no one but large corporations with tons of bribe money can produce food. Wake up folks, commercially produced food is poisoning us and the amount of antibiotics being pumped into those poor critters is making us immune to medications we'd need to cure what ails us from eating commercially produced food.

Hmmm, that food co-op is looking better and better, eh? Time to find a farmer and make friends. Or, better yet, produce that food for yourself!

late summer running

Here's the view I've been seeing about every day for the last week. I've been up and down this road at least 20 times going back and forth to the neighbors' place trying to help 2 of my neighbors out. As a result, I haven't gotten much done around my own farm. Ah, I shouldn't say that really, maybe just nothing majorly constructive got done. I still feed the critters every day, grind feed, pick up eggs and clean up after my house full of hogs etc.

We finally got a break in the heat, today is a beautiful day, medium humidity and at least 10 degrees cooler than it was yesterday. Rain must be coming, LOL.

The egg recall happening right now has turned out kind of good for me, for the first time this year I have sold every single egg I have and still have folks looking for some. For once a government agency has done well for me, LOL.

I've been reading the news paper quite a bit lately. Not having internet at home is kind of a drag. I have decided that reading the news paper is more for the distraction than it is for any real news. I find it very hard to find anything pertinent in the paper anymore. I think I'll just roll them into fire starters and forget about it, LOL.

The cow is still not here yet. I've changed my approach on it a little. Since the feller that keeps promising to get me the cow has not done it yet, I am working on getting directions to the farm and I'll just go get the darn thing myself. Getting the directions will probably take at least a week the way this boy is operating so it will give me time to come up with fuel money and a trailer to haul it with, LOL. Always something, isn't it? I am sooo ready to get milking!

Goat breeding season is in full swing and Johnny Boy is driving me crazy! He never shuts up and you can smell him from 50 yards away. Why do I keep a billy goat???

I'm thinking about starting another round of tire taters. I know it's almost September but the tires keep so much heat and I can always build a plastic tent over the tops. I think I'm going to try it......

Monday, August 23, 2010

gone too long

Okay, I see I've been remiss in posting... I am working on a good post.....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's hot again

Even nastier sitting here in the truck. The storm we had last Saturday knocked the wi-fi dish for the library out of line so I am back to finding a signal where I can in the truck. Oh well, such is life.

The article I linked to in the last post has really been on my mind hard. It is of course, a subject I get worked up over pretty easily. Especially when I feel like my government is trying to encroach on my freedom. What freedom this week? LOL My freedom to choose what I eat of course!

Did you watch the video that went with the article? The Dervaes family grows all that food on a tiny lot in California. Their forum board site is Freedom Gardens. I've been a member there for quite a while. What is being done on that tiny California lot is proof that anyone can feed themselves. I am a little ashamed tho when I look at pictures of their garden. My garden is bigger than their entire lot, home and all and they still out produce me! Guess i better get after it and shape up, huh?

But wait, not everyone has the ability to grow a garden like that, right? Ah, the proverbial "green thumb" thing is a myth. It is, I promise you. How do I know that? LOL well, I didn't start out a super gardener and I killed my fair share of plants. I just kept trying. The desire was there and helped me to keep on trying and learning. It took more than 10 years to get me to the point of being able to say that I don't buy food from the grocery store.

I know not everyone is ready or able to devote the time it takes to be completely free of commercially produced foods. Some people don't have the space to keep rabbits, chickens, a pig or 2 or a couple cows. That doesn't mean you still can't provide a considerable amount of food for yourself. Even if it's just 10 lbs of diced carrots and beans or a couple cases of diced tomatoes. Grow a pumpkin vine and you will never regret canning your own pumpkin for a pie. Even growing common cooking herbs helps. Have you priced any at the grocery lately? Outrageous! Fruit trees are nice too. Landscaping you can eat. Think about adding some raspberry or blackberries to your security or privacy fence. Add some strawberry plants to the flower bed, grow a couple tomatoes in with the marigolds.

I have some hay sitting in the field waiting to be baled up. I'm sure i will be thinking more on this subject as I circle the field on the tractor....