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.