Monday, February 28, 2011


Why is there a picture of a cows butt on the blog? hahahahaha It's almost time for a calf! Just look at the big ole bag full of milk! I am so excited, it's almost cheese making time again! I had my daughter snap a couple pictures while i was working on cleaning the stall. Can't have a dirty stall for the baby, nope, can't have that!

The farm chores were a little rough this morning, the storms that rolled all around us last night dumped a bunch more rain on us and everything is sloppy. The mud is pretty darn deep. Had to slop thru some of it to rescue my old roping horse, he's apparently caught a cold. So, he gets to hang out in the barn for a while, not that it's going to hurt his feelings, all that attention and feed 3 times a day. I can't complain about it, the animals have all been pretty healthy thru the rough winter.

I'm going to be canning more meat from the freezer today and baking some bread. maybe I'll have a calf this evening!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Special

There he is, the king of the couch back, Lucky the house goat! Lucky is more or less healing up from his encounter on the front porch with our unhappy stock dog, Polar Bear. He's learning to eat feed and I've been soaking alfalfa hay for him. What he doesn't eat during the day is happily munched by our old farm lady, Dusty (30 yr old quarterhorse) every evening. I'm beating the possum to the eggs now, I got 9 yesterday and 7 this morning. That possum is hiding under the pallets I stack my hay bales on and I just don't have the time, space and energy to move all that hay to find him under there. His days are numbered tho.

I had a blog comment asking if I had ever dehydrated cabbage. No, I haven't, but I did have a nice conversation just a couple weeks ago in the APN chat with someone that had done it and suggested I try it for myself. I will try a couple of dutch flat heads when I harvest this year. If anyone would like to join the chat, just put a chatname in where it says "guest" and click on connect. Or, just come in as guest. It's an irc chat and there's lots of good folks in there. I join the chat in the evenings, between 8 and 10 cst.

The seedlings are coming along, even the ones I had to restart (thanks Elvis). Pictures of seedlings soon...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dreamy Days

Yep, these are dreaming days.

We spend all day dreaming of spring time.

As each day passes, we dream of our crops growing, chicks hatching, bunnies being born, baby goats playing in the tall grass, hay baling and gardens growing. Oh, we can't forget the most exciting thing for us this year, the coming calf! When the calf arrives, so does the fresh milk. Then we get to make and eat cheese!

So, as it pours rain and the temperature hovers around uncomfortable, we keep dreaming.

Now, if I can just keep Elvis from eating the tops off my seedlings and the goat from destroying my seedling table......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February Blues

It's been overcast and a bit rainy for the last 2 days and it's giving me the February blues. Cabin fever is more like it. I want to be outside, doing the things I love to be doing. So, to pacify myself, I pulled out what's left of the butter in the freezer and canned it up. Now I have some deer meat cooking on the stove and I will can that up for future use as well.

The turmoil in the world that is causing the price of oil to rise concerns me. I don't much like that the actions of others, so far away, affects me in any way. It does tho, it will continue to ripple outward until it consumes the whole world. All I can think of is how I can protect my family from what's happening around us. There's not much I can do by myself beyond providing a roof and a meal anymore. I could stomp my feet, shake my fist and be all worked up over politics and government but what will it accomplish? Not much. So, each day, as more seedlings sprout, bunnies get born and eggs get laid, I see survival and I'm glad. To me, that's winning in the only way that matters....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Disturbing Morning

The news from around the world is very disturbing to me this morning. The commodities market has gone insane. The political venue in Wisconsin is becoming out of hand and the governor there has stated he will use "force" against American citizens. Do you realize what is going to happen if the National Guard opens fire on Americans?

May 2011 contract
$ / metric ton
Electronic 3,595.00
+3594.6501 +1027336.41% 10:12am ET

Oh! Say it isn't so! If this continues, i won't be able to afford chocolate!!! Now, if the commodities listing for Cocoa doesn't disturb you, I don't know what will. Oil has gone completely insane.

Oil (Light Crude)
April 2011 contract
$ / barrel
Floor 89.71
0.00 0.00% 2:33pm ET
Electronic 94.70
+4.99 +5.56% 10:35am ET

The huge earthquake in New Zealand was horrible but the after shock this morning has about done in what's left of that area. The world has literally come to an end for those people. My heart weeps for their suffering.

Even here, on this peaceful little farm, what goes on around us in the big world affects us. Today I am canning up more butter and some of the deer meat in the freezer. I fear the wheat crop across the country has suffered from the extreme winter weather we all got a piece of. I know for a fact that the wheat here looks pitiful and will be stunted come harvest time. So, between wheat and corn, that covers just about every item on the grocery store shelf. The price of oil, corn and wheat go up, the world starts to suffer. High prices are here to stay and will go much higher very soon. If you are like the rest of the world, the paycheck isn't getting any bigger.

What will happen to the people that can not produce food for themselves? They will be at the mercy of the market. What will happen when there is just not enough to go around? Will the price of basic necessities climb to a level where they become unobtainable? In all appearances, it seems so. n
Society as a whole is very dependent on the "system". Well folks, the 'system" is just about broken beyond repair.

I am feeling the urge to plant more and more every day. I wonder if I will be able to tend such a huge garden all by myself? We shall see, I am not giving up and it is against my very nature to grow less.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Taters and Such

Well, it's been requested that I share how I dehydrate my taters. I learned how to do it correctly from Scifichick. Thanks Scifi, again, LOL. I use one of those mandolin slicers, they give me perfect, uniform slices that work great for dehydrating. Then, I blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes (a double boiler with the screen insert works great for this), drain them, pat them dry with a towel and spread them in a single layer in the dehydrator and dry them until they snap. I store them in plastic bags in a bucket. When I want to use them for fried taters or mashed, I simply simmer them until tender and finish cooking them into the desired dish.

Now for the rest of the news from the farm. Here we have some Roma tomato seed that I saved from what I grew last season. This was a test of the seed because I did not follow the recommended method for saving tomato seed. Everything I have read says that the seed must be soaked in water and fermented for a few days before drying them to save. I did not do that. I simply washed some seed out of the skins after I sent the tomatoes thru the food processor making pulp/juice. Dried the seed on the counter on a paper towel and just picked them off the towel the next day and stored them in a plastic bag. 3 of the 4 have sprouted and the 4th may sprout yet.

This baggie has some tobacco sprouting in it. This is also seed saved from last years crop. I just saved the seed pods in a plastic bag and when I was ready to start some, I just crushed the pods in the bag and used a teaspoon to get the seed. It is written that skin oil damages the germination rate of the seed so I do what I can to avoid having to handle those teeny tiny seeds. They look like dust in the bottom of the bag. There's probably 100 plants on that one peat pellet, as they get bigger, I will once again try to thin and separate the seedlings. It worked, kind of, last year. Some of the seedlings didn't make it thru my transplanting but the majority of them did.

The sweet pepper, cherry tomatoes, celery and coffee have not sprouted yet. The wait is killing me........

Friday, February 18, 2011

Joy and Heartbreak

Today has been a roller coaster of a day. It started out a little low since I didn't get to tend my animals for morning chores. Had to be the chauffeur for the hubster. Not one of my favorite things. When I got home, Lucky the goat was in pretty bad shape. Apparently, Polar Bear decided to attack Lucky on the front porch while my son was doing the morning chores. Lucky is pretty messed up right now. The dog bit him in the head, ears, around his eyes, neck, chest, legs and nose/mouth area. It took quite a while for the blood to quit pouring and poor Lucky is still slobbering a small bit of blood. I knew instantly, even before I saw the goat on the porch that something was very wrong as Polar Bear came crawling to me looking guilty. The boy didn't see it so he had no information to offer as to the motive being aggression or rough play. She is, after all, a herd dog. She also knows that she did something very bad. Lucky is resting now, under my chair. It's going to be a rough couple of days for both of us.

So, that's the heartbreak part of today. A brief moment of joy today tho, thru the agony of seeing my "pet" in such pain, some of my seeds have sprouted. It's a small joy compared to the day, but it is a promise of the coming bounty. The Roma tomato seeds I saved from what I grew last year are the strong sprouters with the tobacco and the 7 year old cherry tomato seeds coming in second. Still nothing from the sweet peppers and the celery. I have terrible luck getting that darn celery to sprout. That figures since I enjoy it so much. I was hoping it would all be sprouted before the cold front hits us the beginning of next week. Back to the 40's F during the day. This week has been such a tease with beautiful days in the low 70's and a stiff breeze to dry out the mud. The main garden has been rolled now, all the leaves, grass and manure the horses deposited on it for me has been rolled under. A second round on it maybe later next week if we don't get tons of rain.

Here it is, February already and I am still looking pretty good in the pantry. I didn't really consider last years harvest to be that good but the home canned foods I put in there are still at an amount better than I recall from this time last year. I think the dehydrating had something to do with it. Instead of losing some of my potatoes to rot and throwing them out to the critters, I still have plenty of dehydrated left. The garlic and onion crop is holding on well since I learned to 'cure" them more efficiently (properly, instead of just guessing on it, LOL). The only thing I seem to be running out of is field corn. I estimate my reserve is just around 4 bushel and I know that's not enough to make it to September. It's been a rough winter for both the critters and the vermin. It seems that mice can do major hurt on a stored crop of corn. I will strive to better protect it in the future...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh, to be a cat!

Old Charcoal loves to lay right in the middle of the floor, without a care in the world. As you can see, she will be the Momma of our first round of spring kittens. She lays around with her paws crossed like that all the time. Nope, she's not spoiled at all!

ARG, I'm on pins and needles waiting for my first round of seeds to sprout, 4 days and still no sprouts. I know, it takes a couple more days but still, I'm ready now!

Meanwhile, I have plenty to keep me busy. Yesterday was the first day I got to have my "farm life" back since the first of the year, that's a long story. Anyway, there was plenty to do out in the barn and I found a couple of banty chickens that didn't make it thru the intense cold we had. The barn got cleaned, the cow got tended properly and the next thing on the list is to move the corral panels from the garden spot and get it turned over. All the floors got scrubbed in the house yesterday and the curtains and windows all got washed. Today, I have 50 or so pounds of deer meat to process and a new bread recipe I'd like to play with. No rest for the wicked.........

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tons of Great Reads

While I'm in a holding pattern waiting for the first seeds I've started to sprout, I'm catching up on some of the great blogs I follow. There's plenty to read on the sidebar and 70 or so blogs I try hard to follow listed on my profile. Some are more active than others with plenty of strong opinions ( Mayberry and Bill Nye, Grumpyunk, Hermit Jim and commoncents) farming and sustainability (ga.farmwoman, sunflower hill, Pricilla, Lamb, Melonie, Barb and Steve, Scifichick, Debby and Modern Day Redneck) and so many others, all wonderful to read.

You should check em out!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Check this out-huge price increases

I found this off of Drudge Report and have not found a MSM article on it anywhere. Produce Prices Skyrocket

The article states that prices have doubled and tripled on items such as sweet peppers, cucumber, zucchini, asparagus and roma tomatoes with the asparagus crop being completely wiped out and roma tomatoes to follow shortly. Lettuce and spinach prices will be going up soon.

It's Time!

That's right, it's time to start seeds! All my warm weather plants that need started inside, before my last frost date are lined up on the counter, waiting to find their baggies. My Romas and Brandywines are calling to me. Hehehe Well, maybe not really calling to me but just thinking of those wonderful, sweet fruits makes it seem like they're calling to me. I'm going to plant 10 cherry tomato plants this year as well. I always just put out 3 or 4 but my son has taken to eating them too. Since I enjoy them so much, I better put more out so I don't have to share, LOL. I'll be starting my broccoli, brussel sprouts, sweet and hot peppers, squash and melons in the next couple of days. I may even start some tobacco and coffee plants. Might as well get a jump on them as the coffee can take up to a month to germinate and I'd like to get the tobacco to grow as much as possible before it goes to seed.

My enormous garden will be a formal protest against what is happening in our country. The idiotic laws aimed at controlling peoples every move, the corruption, the corporate takeover of America. My garden is telling my government I don't need you and I will not be controlled. I will not consume corporate poisons and I will not support the continuing taxation of every aspect of life. I will not be starved into submission. Yep, that about covers how I feel about it.

The gardens are sloppy right now. Mud is heavy and deep. We've got a bit of a breeze today but not even close to enough to dry it all out. This whole week is supposed to be in the mid 50sF and mostly sunny. perhaps by the end of the week I can possibly at least turn the ground over and clean it all out and up. Since I passed on the wheat in the garden spot this winter (glad I did) there's some grass that will need to be tilled under and some misc trash from around the farm that has blown in on it. It always amazes me how hay strings never stay in the trash cans.

Lucky the goat is growing like crazy, chewing on everything (he chewed my new keyboard cord in half!) He loves me tho, he laid on the couch and watched a movie with me last night. He had his head on my leg, he loves his Mommy.

Other than that, it's just life here, the same chores every day and so on and so forth. Life continues on......

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Food Survival

I've been reading again. I know I shouldn't do that first thing in the morning but it's kind of become a routine for me in the winter time. I'm just not over excited about going outside to do chores at 7am when it's 9F.

I read this one over at Alex Jones' prison Planet called 14 Disturbing Facts... it's about global food shortages we're really experiencing right now. And another I found at Matt Drudges site about the chili shortage in Indonesia. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had his own idea: Plant them in your own garden.

Wow, how simple is that?He's right you know, if you don't like the high prices and lack of supply, get out there and grow yourself some. We're so used to just running to the store and getting things we want right now that we've forgotten where those things come from. Everybody eats and just a few work to provide that food. It comes from somewhere, it doesn't just appear on the grocery store shelves. Somewhere, someone labored hard to get it to that shelf.

So we have a couple choices here. 1-We can pay the higher prices and continue to consume like we always do until there is no more supply. 2- When the supply runs out or we can no longer pay the price we can all line up for government handouts(if there are any) and/or begin to starve. 3-We take responsibility for what we eat and grow food for ourselves. Option 3 completely removes starvation from the equation.

You have to be living on another planet to not notice the rising food prices. The higher costs that you are seeing now are not going to go away any time soon. There's lots of people eating and a lower supply of food on the market. How long will it take until the prices go high enough for you to not be able to eat? How long before some things just aren't available at any price? Will you starve or survive?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Keep Going

There's not much else one can do but to keep going. Pitching a fit doesn't fix anything and sure doesn't make any problems go away. It sure doesn't feed ya! Our lifeline to the paycheck threw a fit yesterday tho. We've been nursing it along for a while now and it needed attention. So, Lucky didn't want to be left out and made sure to hand me a bunch of tools even if I didn't need them.

It's snowing again. This is by far, the craziest winter I have seen since I've been here. In years past, I would have already had a full window full of seedlings growing. Not this year tho, it's been much too cold and the seeds are not liking it one bit.

I lost another rabbit to the cold. Frozen solid, poor thing. Even with them being in the barn, the sub zero nights are proving to be too much for them. I need to look into a couple solar panels to provide electric for heat lamps in the future. Hard to sustain a supply of bunnies for the table if I can't keep them alive thru the winter anymore.

So, this weeks survival consists of trying to stay warm and carefully planning meals with the food I harvested and preserved. Fresh food from the cold crops looks to be still at least month away.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Everyday Survival

Warning- this is me rambling today and it's kind of depressing...

As each day goes by, reading stories of what's happening all over this country and around the world, I am so very grateful to be able to grow food here. Regardless of what the MSM spouts as economic recovery, the area I live in continues to sink into oblivion. This is coal country and the majority of work here is coal mining. It is becoming ever more apparent that the government of this country intends to bankrupt the coal industry and close down our coal fired power plants. One coal mine closing it's door here will completely devastate this area and put 500 to 1,000 men out of work. I wonder what the government plans to replace it all with? Imaginary power plants with magical powers??? While most of the country sees our government as some sort of unicorn with a magical horn, all I can see is a jackass with a plunger stuck to it's head.

Combine the ever increasing price of imported fuel with the rising cost of grain and you get food that comes from some big corporation, produced by pouring pesticides on it, filled with chemicals and provided by a government that subsidizes it all. The small farmer producing healthy food no longer exists.

Even if the MSM doesn't report on it, there are hundreds of homeless people right here, in this area. Some find a place to sleep in homeless shelters, some in their cars, others trespass and hide in barns and garages. Home invasions are becoming more and more common, hungry people breaking into rural homes looking for something to eat. Not a peep about it anywhere in the news. No one is talking about it. Plenty of news coverage for the current unemployment statistic lie tho.

Everyday living has become all about simple survival. Something to drink, something to eat and someplace dry and half way warm to sleep. How many people in this country are a pink slip away from joining them? While the de-industrialization of America continues.......

For me, the struggle to keep the mortgage paid goes on. The new gardening season is about here and a whole new crop of good, healthy food awaits. I may not be able to enjoy the great American dream anymore but I can sure have something good to eat.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Seed Starting time, almost

It's almost that time again, Seed starting time! Penny asked me to post about the seed starting in the ziploc bag plan. so, i went back thru last years posts and I realized I had done more than one so I figured it would be just as easy to write a new one, LOL.

The small ziploc bags hold 3 peat pellets perfectly. I just soak the pellets to expand them, plant the seed in them and place the pellets into the baggie and zip it closed. I deposit the bag in the window where it will get the warmth of the sun and wait for my little sprouts. Once the seedling starts to grow, I open the bag, fold the top edge down to keep it open. The bag itself works well to hold water and allows the seedling to grow freely. What I like the most about this method is how easy it is to control. I have never had good luck with the peat pellet grow boxes. I always end up with moldy peat pellets and no sprouts. The ziploc bag works just like a micro greenhouse and keeps any stray draft off the seeds. I have never had a moldy peat pellet with this method.

This plan works well with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, egg plant, various herbs, flowers and tobacco. It does not work well with coffee seeds or gourds.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another Day down

Yep, it's snowing here, again. I think that groundhog lied!

Lucky goat is growing like mad and he's getting into plenty of trouble including a short period of him marking his territory. Yay rah on that one. For some reason he just got it in his head he needed to pee on everything. The last day has been pretty good tho, he's not "marked" anything, anywhere he's not supposed to. if it wasn't 15F out, he would have found himself marking to his hearts content out in the barn!

Elvis the cat got jealous and wanted her picture taken too. But, when I snapped it, she played coy and looked away on me.

I couldn't take it, I had to start some seeds. Just the promise of them growing is all it took. The seeds are ones I got off of ebay from a questionable seller. Why did I buy them then? Simply because they are unusual seeds and they might grow. Plus, they were cheap, really cheap. I started some grapes and some tangerine seeds with the old paper towel and ziploc method. If they're going to not want to sprout, they'll have a tough time avoiding it with this method. Even old seeds sprout in the ziploc bag. I will try to have a little patience in starting my food crop seeds tho. This time of year is really difficult for me as I can't wait to start a whole new season of growing things. It's just one thing I do really well and enjoy so much. It's something I am kind of selfish about. Starting warm weather plants now will just make them spindly for transplanting time.

Hmmm, I was going to rant about a few things I'd read on the news but now that I've written about gardening, thought about gardening while writing, I can't remember what it was that had me so mad. Go figure, I self medicated with garden seeds! LOL Might be a good thing....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Time Drags on

No cool pictures today, I finally got up enough change to get new batteries for the camera, changed them and the pictures are gone. That figures. The huge blizzard missed us almost completely. We saw a day of pouring rain and another day of light snow flurries that is gone already, even with the bitter cold temperature. Hmmm, what a disappointment.

I'm getting kind of antsy waiting those last few days before I can officially start seeds. I may not make it this year, LOL. I think I recall that I didn't make it last year either! My local Rural King has tons of seeds set out and several heirloom varieties. The packs are calling to me! I can hear them whispering "come plant me". I am pretty excited about this coming season. So many things to do, so many plants to grow. I can't wait to work additional dirt for the tobacco and the new spot for the beans and corn. with the prices on the commodities market continuing to climb, my home grown feed corn is more of a necessity than it ever was. I used to grow it because I could, now I will grow it because I need to grow it to survive. I may even try a crop of summer wheat to add into my flour mix.

Oh, the cow is officially dried off until she calves. Goober was actually drying herself off, giving a little bit less every day. Guess mother nature knows best. Since the Amish fellow I bought her from hadn't a clue when she is actually due, I'm guessing at it as well. The calf inside her is still rolling around so I know it's not in the next few days at least. The goat milking isn't going as well as I had hoped it would but I'll get that worked out sooner or later. The doe is the brown and white one I got from another Amish fellow and she's about the same as the cow, rodeo material. I don't mess with her near as much as I should, she's hard to catch.

So, not much else is going on around here, just waiting on spring to come around so I can get to cleaning up the farm, working the gardens and getting another season of feeding us going....