Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Kid of the Season

Annette drug out her labor since before 2 this afternoon, but finally got down to business around 7 and had a single buckling about forty-five minutes later.  By the looks of her wideness, I really did think she had twins, if not triplets in there.  You can never really tell how many kids they have by their girth.  Nettie was really skinny one year, and that's when she had triplets.  Go figure.

But anyway, I'm finished babbling.  Here's what you came to see anyhow:

Goodnight all!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Once A Month Challenge

We celebrated Rhiannon's 4th birthday this weekend with a house full of kids.  Well, only four kids total, but when you're used to only one screaming toddler, four seems like a lot.

We ate pizza, birthday cake, cheezy poofs.  They ran around the house like crazed little monsters normal 4 year old kids that had consumed too much butter cream icing.

And we opened presents (too many, I might add).  And this morning, instead of just emailing or Facebooking our "Thank You's", we'll be writing out actual Thank You cards.  You know, by writing the words in pen, with our hands (well, mine at least), then putting the cards into an envelope, slapping a stamp on it and walking it up to the mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up.

I recently wrote an actual handwritten letter to a dear friend of mine.  It took about a million times longer to write out than it would have taken me to email or even type on the computer & print out but I felt like being "fancy" and didn't mind the extra time and hand-cramping that followed.  The happiness my friend expressed at receiving such an "outdated" mode of communication was amazing.  And then I thought about how much I liked getting mail.  

Real mail, like in the real mailbox:

I have nothing against email and social networks for communicating.  I use Facebook all the time to talk with my family and friends.  Email is just as good.  I even Skype once in a while so Grandpa can see Rhiannon.

But there's just something about getting a real piece of mail.  Instead of just sighing (or sobbing) when opening your mailbox, fully expecting nothing but a handful of Dish TV ads or medical and utility bills, there's something special in there.  Something not begging you to spend money, something not demanding payment for services rendered.  Something not for the "current resident" or "phone customer", but something for you; you the person.  The living, breathing, feeling soul that you are.   Something wonderful, even if it's just a piece of paper with a few sentences scribbled on it.  Something from someone who cares.

So, what's the Challenge, you ask?

I challenge you all to write one letter a month.  Like with pen and paper and an envelope and a stamp.  To anybody.  Even if it's just a "Howdy" scribbled on a note card.  Since it's already the end of February, I'll start my letter writing challenge on March 1st.  Anybody with me?  I'll try and remember to nag remind you all during the year in case we forget.

Now go practice your handwriting!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Name that Goat!

I am horrible at coming up with names for our animals and since so many of my blogging friends have the best names for theirs that I figured I would pick your brains for a bit.

We don't have any reasoning for the names really.  I thought about going the "themed" route in picking names each year as it seemed not only like a cute idea, but actually a good way to remember who was born when (i.e. 2009 was the year of the herb names, 2010 was the year for TV show names, etc.).  But I'm not that original.

Here are the names of our critters, past & present:

Cats past* and present (Meow*, Slurp*, Cheese*, Stupid*, Crackers, Evil Kitty, Black Susan, Outside Kitty)

Dogs past* and present (Nero*, Bubba*, Killer*, Luna*, Aragon*, Moonhsine, Harley*, Charlie)

Goats past* and present (Nettie, Ishtar*, Joyce*, Annette, Moo*, Cloud*, Stormy*, Chop Suey, Pan*, Pickles, Lily, Herman)

Equines (Ms. Melman and Nugget)

So, without using names we've already had on the farm, how'd you like to start tossing out suggestions?

The new goat is a Mini-Saanen (1/2 Pygmy and 1/2 Saanen) milk goat.  She's not only mini, but on the thin side.  No other "odd" things about her like extra nipples or anything, so "Nips" is out of the question I suppose.  Can't really say much more about her except that she's a sweetheart.

Not looking for names for her little buckling because I'm still unsure what we're going to do with him (or his "package") yet.  Because you know, as soon as we name him it will be almost impossible to get rid of him then.  And I don't want another buck.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

What was that I said about "No Horns"?

I'm just as bad as Lamb's husband at the feed store.

A FB Post seen by me yesterday afternoon: Lady has to move out of state for medical reasons.  Long list of equipment and farm and domestic animals that need to find new homes asap.  Horses, dogs, chickens, trailer, coop, etc.

Oh, and this little lady.....

And her little kid....

And I do mean little.  The woman advertised her as a Saanen, which I no doubt agree that she is, but only partially.  The other "part" was a Pygmy.  So I now have a Mini-Saanen.   Technically, Annette is also a Mini-Saanen, but her sire was a Nigerian Dwarf so she's actually bigger than the new gal.

When we first pulled up to the seller's house and saw one of her daughters leading the goat out of the pen, I was a bit disappointed because I really was hoping for a full-sized Saanen.  I had also hoped that her male offspring was a Saanen as I have yet to find a buck for Nettie and this would solve my problem.  Except the mother was bred to another Pygmy buck.  So the bucking is 3/4 Pygmy and 1/4 Saanen; not so much what I was hoping for.

So now do I not only have yet another goat with horns, but have her male kid who is three weeks old and too old to be disbudded.  I admit, I was immediately tempted to tell the lady "Thanks, but no thanks" when I first saw how little the goat was, but when she came up to us and I gave her a quick once-over, she was sooooo stinking sweet.  Her udder isn't as big as I hoped, but I have a feeling I'll never get another udder as huge as Nettie's.  And she looks like she can use some fattening up.  So I'm hoping that some grain and some lov'n will get her in tip-top shape.

She and her son are in a separate kennel and will stay in there for a few weeks until we can reasonably make sure that they don't have any problems.  I gave her & her kid a drench of Probios and she had a pelleted goat wormer for supper.  When we first got her in the pen and I brought her a bucket of water, I swear she went at the bucket like she was crazed and drank over a gallon.  Since I though she may have been dehydrated, I decided to hold off on the C&DT shots until today; not sure if there would be any problems with giving it, but I wanted to be on the safe side.

I'll milk her later on today and see how that goes.  When we first looked her over at the seller's house, she was fine when I was "groping" her udder to see if she was kicky or shy, but she just stood there like nothing was happening.  I thought I was going to have to wait another two weeks for milk from Annette, but it seems like fresh milk is in our very, very near future!

Paul's Take
Sighs and shakes head.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ice Storm Preps

Number one on the list:

Make Raisin Bread!

Yeah, I have no idea why.  But it sounded good.  And technically, it IS one of the many things we do to prepare here for inclement weather (i.e. the possibility of the power going off for gawd knows how long).  Even though it looks as if we're going to miss the majority of the bad weather, I don't want to be ill-prepared just in case we end up with another doozy of an ice storm.

So here's what we do when an impending Ice Storm of Doom is predicted:

Plug in the truck.  Paul has to go to work, so the truck is the only thing that can manage to get up that huge hill in order to get out of here.

Our well pump goes out when the electricity does.  Fill all available 5-gallon buckets with water for the critters (and keep them indoors so they don't freeze over).  Fill up the bathtub with water.  This will be used to flush toilets, wash dishes and provide general washing-up water.  Fill up the pressure canner and other large pots with water for cooking.

Fill up the porch with firewood.  Maybe even fill the wheelbarrow and put it in the garage for ease of firewood access.

Give the hay-eating critters extra hay so I don't have to go out there so often.

Wash everybody and everything.  Hot showers / baths for the humans, wash every single dirty item of clothing (even if you only wiped your hands once on the hand towel in the guest bathroom).  If it's not raining & not too humid, use the clothesline to dry, otherwise hurry up and use the dryer before the power goes out.

Wash dishes.

Vacuum rugs.  Sweeping can occur during a power outage, but trying to get all the dog/cat fuzz and raisin bread crumbs out of the rugs can be pretty challenging without the use of a vacuum cleaner.  One day I'm going to get one of those non-electric floor sweepie things that your grandma used to have for the berber in the kitchen.

Make sure you know where all the flashlights are (and have new / charged batteries), where the oil lamps are (and filled) and location of matches & lighters.

Charge cell phones.

Make Ready-To-Eat and no-heating-required meals like quiche, bread, cookies and biscuits.  (No dieting during an ice storm!!)  Start thinking about what meals can be easily made on top of the wood stove.  Tonight is going to be Venison Chili & Cornbread.

Make sure husband has the generator "ready" in the event that the power is out for more than 8 hours.  At that point, we have to decide if the freezers / fridge needs to be run in order to keep everything frozen.

We're lucky enough that we don't have to make one of those "French Toast Emergency" runs to the store (i.e. get white bread, milk & eggs from the Walmart along with a million other ill-prepared folk) right before a storm, so we can avoid town and the madness that usually accompanies a severe storm warning.  Although I have to admit, it is kind'a funny to watch people fighting over a bag of Wonder Bread.  I mean, come on!  A crappy loaf of  bread is what's going to save your ass in the event of a natural disaster that may keep you at home for more than two days?  Do you think you're going to emerge from your house three days later, the lone survivor, and the only thing that saved you was your foresight in buying an extra loaf of white bread?!?  I mean, if I were in the strange predicament that I had to run to the store for last second emergency food, I'd be filling my cart with peanut butter and canned beans and granola bars and powdered milk.

But that's just me.  You know.  Eating homemade raisin bread while it's sleeting outside.

Hope those of you in the path of this storm are hunkered down and ready.

Anything I missed?  Let me know!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Getting ready to get ready

Annette is due to kid in ten days.  So I figured I should get my bum in gear and re-supply the kidding kit, re-fluff the bedding in the kidding stall and get her a C&DT shot.  Pregnant does are supposed to get the shot a month before kidding, but I forgot.  Nothing like waiting for the last minute, hugh?
Quit checking my butt and give me some darned grain already,
can't you see that I'm wasting away to nothing here?!?!
Since I had the medicine out, I grabbed enough syringes and needles for everyone.  So Nettie (who is now a month from kidding), Chop Suey, Herman, Lily and Pickles got their shots while I was playing country vet.

I'm not sure if Herman, Lily and Pickles ever got their C&DT shots when they were younger (doubt it though) so I went ahead and did it.  I suppose I should have given it to them when we first got them here, but I forgot.  At least now everyone will get their shots at the same time every year.

I use Bar Vac CD/T which is a vaccine for the prevention of enterotoxemia, or "overeating disease", and tetanus.  Each goat, regardless of size/weight, gets 2mL subcutaneously (i.e. under the skin) each year.

The kids will receive their shots at 2-3 weeks and a booster shot 4-6 weeks later.

Here is a good website explaining Enteroxtoxemia.

If you want to see my Kidding Kit, click here..

And if you want to see me in the next ten days, you can find me in the goat pen, checking out goat butts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cat got my tongue

Exactly why would a cat take somebody's tongue anyhow?  Do they secretly use the stolen tongue to groom cat body parts that aren't particularry tasty?  Do they make them into tacos?  Or is it just one of the ingredients in the mind-controlling potions they use on their human slaves?

Regardless of where that phrase comes from, it would seem as if my cats have indeed stolen my tongue.

I have had nothing of interest to blog about lately.  And I've been just as apathetic in my daily activities at home.  There are tons of things on the dreaded "To Do" list, but I haven't had the slightest inkling to do a one of them.

So what does one talk about when there is nothing to talk about?

The weather, of course!

We've had several days of rain in the past week.  And it's much appreciated after two years of scorching-hot and crispy-dry summers.  Up until today, the days have been very warm and we've been taking advantage of it by doing some hiking through the property.  The only problem with the warm winter is that the ticks really never went away.  After each walk, we've had to do "tick checks" on everyone (human and canine) and I've been picking ticks off Charlie and Moonshine every day, several times a day.  Apparently the chiggers are also taking advantage of the warm weather as poor Rhiannon got several bites.

I've also been going back & forth debating on if I should stick some peas in the ground.  We've only had a few nights in the mid to upper 20's so I'm kind of upset that I probably could have planted them weeks ago, but didn't.  Maybe I'll use the old seeds and if they die from a freeze, then no big loss.
Charlie & Rhiannon "preparing" the raised beds.
I've also got to get going on my tomato and pepper seed trays (i.e. empty egg carton bottoms).  I finally got a Baker Creek seed catalog a few days ago.  We used to get the seeds directly from their store up in Mansfield, but since I wanted to start seeds before our trip, I emailed them a request for a catalog.  We haven't received a catalog from them in several years and boy, was I ever surprised to see the quality of the catalog!  I almost feel guilty for asking them to send me one; it must have cost a fortune to print.  This baby practically qualifies as one of those "Coffee Table" books!

I've been juicing on & off for the past month and I include sweet potatoes in the mix.  Since I was going through so many sweet potatoes, I started cutting off the ends and putting them in little trays (i.e. empty cat food cans) with water and sprouts have started.  I've never planted sweet potatoes, but figured this was a good way to start some slips without any cash-outlays.

So, that's about all that's going on around here for now.  Annette is due in two weeks, so I'll no doubt be boring you with pending goat labor & birth in the near future.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cyber Snacks

For all my blogging buddies:

Have a Valentine's Cupcake (or three, they're low-cal) on me!

Happy Valentine's Day :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Adios, Amigos

Since we have forty - yes forty - chickens running around the homestead, I figured it was about time I started to decrease the numbers of those pumped full of testosterone and sporting an avian attitude.  So Friday night I managed to wrangle two of them into a holding pen for butchering the next morning.

One of those roosters was the Easter Chick.  Go ahead, shed a tear if you must.  I might have felt just a smidgen guilty, but the peckerhead got in one last bite on the tender flesh on top of my hand.  Had he not already bought a reserved seat in the pressure cooker I would have rung his neck right then and there.  Go ahead, go all PETA on me.  But if you've ever had to deal with a jerk rooster, you know you'd do the same thing.  Or at least daydream of bashing it's head against the barn door.  And then flinging it across the yard.  And kicking it's sorry rooster-ass down the gravel driveway like one of those red kick balls from grade school.

Sorry.  Got a bit carried away.  Where was I?

Oh, the reduction of the rooster numbers.

Easter Chick and his partner in crime were butchered, plucked, pressure cooked and made into a wonderful Enchilada supper for us and some friends.  The heart & liver went to the dogs, the offal went into the compost pile.  The bones, skin & leftover bits from the cooked chicken went back into the pressure cooker with some onion, celery and a bay leaf and made some wonderful chicken stock.  Then the leftover-leftover bits were given to the chickens and the bones buried in the compost heap.  Normally I would have zipped the bones into a slurry in the blender, but they didn't soften up as much as I wanted them to and didn't want to break my blender.

So not only did I eliminate two jerk roosters & slightly lower my chicken-feed bill, I got almost two pounds of shredded chicken, about six or so ounces of cat food, a half-gallon of chicken stock, and a bit of food for the chickens.  I LOVE being able to make so much food for our family with so little waste.

We still have ten roosters running around the homestead.  And we do not need that many.  Time's a tick'n for about six of them.  And I'm thinking chicken pot pie, BBQ chickens sandwiches, chicken 'n dumplings.....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Head for the Hills.....

.....'cause I've got another spur of the moment foul-languaged rant coming on!

Just a few minutes ago, I saw a FB posting from one of my acquaintances (as in not an actual friend, but someone that is on my list for pseudo-business reasons) that read, and I quote:

"Car shopping today. Yay for taxes!"

I had to let myself calm down for several minutes before I replied.  And yes, I know that I didn't have to  reply.  I probably shouldn't have replied.  But I did.  And since I have to be nice to this person, I toned it WAY down.  To just a matter-of-fact question & then statement.  Nothing scathing or flaming, just a simple:

Uhm, "Yay" for taxes? No thanks, we pay more than our share.

I never received a reply back, thank goodness, and if I do, I hope I can ignore it & move on.  But in all honesty, I wasn't upset that I replied.  I still didn't word it like I should have, but I would have been upset had I written what immediately came to my mind when I first saw it.  Even though I technically got sucked-into writing something, I felt it at least wasn't mean.  And I hope that she will take a minute or five to think about why taxes may not be the best thing to be "happy" about.  

This is a younger woman with four beautiful kids and a husband that supports them.  So maybe just the fact that they "got money back" (or more likely, even "made" money with 4 kids to add to their child tax credit) on their tax return was just such great news that she couldn't contain her excitement.  And I'm sorry if I put a damper on her car purchasing adventure today.  But it needed to be said.  People need to be EDUCATED about taxes.  That all that "free" money comes from someone ELSE.  Not from the Government, not from a magic bank account, but from the pockets of hard working people.  From her neighbors, from her friends, from her family, from her own kids' and grandkids' future.

I'm sorry if she does not have the discipline to save money for a car and has to have the government force her to "save" via state and federal income taxes.  It is not the government's responsibility to force someone to save money, be it in the form of "refunded money previously confiscated from a paycheck" or in the form of social "security".

There is nothing, and I mean, NOTHING to be happy about when talking about income taxes.  And don't give me that crap "It's just the price we pay for living in a civilized society".  I'm so frekking sick of hearing people say that.  That "price" is overly-inflated, filled with scams, theft, coercion and lies.  That, and the fact that most of us have to pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to have our taxes done every year.  Because the tax laws are so numerous, so cryptic and ever-changing that we mere mortals cannot be expected to understand these laws, nor all the hidden loopholes the special people get when they can afford an accountant that knows of those little secrets.  

While in town last week, I saw a lady dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume (badly made & poorly fit, at that) dancing on the sidewalk (either that or having an epileptic seizure) near one of the companies that provides income tax services.  Ironically, the name of the company is "Liberty Tax Service".  What better example of how construed our thoughts of "Liberty" and "Taxes" have become.  They don't belong in the same sentence, let alone the name of a company.
Mama Pea, I'm beginning to understand why you aren't on Facebook.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More convenience foods

It's still bow season for deer here, so Paul got us another one this past weekend.  In a continuing effort to use the least amount of freezer space, I went to cooking up & canning the meat almost immediately.

The front legs were slow roasted almost as soon as they were cut off the carcass.  They go into the oven at 325 degrees for about five or six hours.  You'll know they're done when you can stick a fork in the meat and it easily pulls from the bone and there is no tough connective tissue left (it just melts away).  After letting the meat cool, I picked it apart and put it into the fridge for the next day.  Too late to finish canning and honestly, all I wanted to do this late in the evening was to sit on the couch, sip some tea and read a little.

The next morning I took the venison out of the fridge, made a batch of homemade BBQ sauce, mixed the meat & sauce together and warmed it up.  While the meat was warming, I put the pressure canner on the stove and got it heated up.  I packed the hot meat into the jars, stuck them in the canner and went about my daily mundane house chores.  I set a timer at five to ten-minute intervals so I can check on the pressure gauge.  I have yet to get my stove to the point where I can just set the heat and walk away.  The pints only needed an hour & fifteen minutes at 11-lbs. of pressure, but the quarts needed an hour & a half, so they all went in for the hour & half time.

There was a pint jar that was only 3/4's full, so I let Paul dig into it for supper.  Just to make sure that it was good.  Because you know, if there's a Zombie Apocalypse, I don't want to have to be eating sub-par BBQ sandwiches.

I love having these types of items in our pantry.  Pull a few previously-made-then-frozen buns from the freezer, pop open a jar of BBQ venison, heat everything up, and enjoy!  Ten minutes and I've got the makings of a quick, yet homemade dinner.  Now that's a REAL convenience food!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Goat Waiting Game

I've been anticipating a date night for Lily for quite some time now.  She's ten months old and I was hoping to have her bred before the winter was over.  But I wasn't happy with her size and weight.  Pickles is three months younger than Lily and is just as big, if not slightly bigger than Lily.

Since I can't breed our Boer buck to Lily (he's her brother), I had to go in search of another Boer buck.  And I finally got in touch with a lady about an hour and a half from here that raises registered and non-registered Boers.  She has a nice buck that is full-blodded Boer, but not registered and she was willing to either let us take her buck, let us bring Lily for the day, or keep Lily there at her place for a month (just to make sure the breeding took).  I could also have her bred to one of her "fancy-pants" registered bucks, but figured since we weren't going to sell the offspring I didn't want to / need to spend the extra money.  I expressed my concerns about Lily's weight to her and she said that she normally waits until the does are eighty pounds or a year old.  So off I went to weigh the girls.

Pickles, born on June 28th of last year weighed exactly sixty pounds.  Lily, born almost three months later than Pickles, weighed fifty-seven pounds.  Not sure why Pickles grew faster than Lily.  Although we did leave bottle feed Pickles for twelve weeks and I honestly have no idea how long Lily was on her dam as we bought her when she was almost six months old.  You know, from the guy who wanted to start raising Boers for a living.  The guy who just let the bucks run with the three & four month old doelings and said that they weren't being bred because they were "too young".  Ugh.  So maybe I just got suckered into buying a runt goat.

Guess breeding is going to be held off for a while.  Which I suppose isn't that bad.  Even if I did have Lily bred now, she'd be kidding in the middle of summer.  Not so much fun when it's a billion degrees outside and the bugs are out in full force.  So I'll wait a few more months and have Lily and Pickles bred around the same time for a late Fall kidding.  Lily to the nice goat lady's buck, and Pickles to our buck, Herman.  I've never planned a kidding other than in the late winter or early spring, so I'm hoping that there's no big disadvantage to it.

Do any of my goat blogging buddies have any experience with Fall kiddings?  I'd love to hear about them if you do!

And speaking of waiting, Annette is getting rather rotund.  She's due to kid in twenty-four days.   And Nettie will kid just shy of three weeks after that.  So we'll be back in milk before you know it!

Friday, February 1, 2013

When the Dust Settles

WARNING:  Non-Farming, Non-Homesteading, Non-Happy Rant to follow.

I'm not sure why I do this to myself.  I went to the library and picked up several books on The Great Depression (the depression from the 30's, not this one).  I have to admit that I didn't know much about it nor the Dust Bowl, probably just what I "had" to learn in school.  All I knew is that it was bad.  People where out of jobs, and it was really, really dusty.

I just finished reading the first book and I don't know what to think.  There are so many emotions that come with reading the trials, tribulations and disasters befallen those during that period of time.  And even though you all know me as a typical conspiracy-theory anit-government nutjob, I would find it hard for anyone to believe that the government didn't play a huge part in the creation of the Dust Bowl.  Not just the economic part, but the physical dustiness of the Dust Bowl itself.

****I had an insanely long rant post written about this.  Like rambling-on insane-mad kind of post.  Not mad as in crazy, but mad as in pissed.  There are so many things that went wrong, so much stupidity.   But I would probably have used up my Blogger memory space had I published it all here and I'm too cheap to pay Blogger for extra memory.  Or somebody would find out where I live and turn me into the State Insane Asylum for being kooky.  So you're only going to get the abridged version.****

When things finally collapsed (economy & the environment itself) in the 30's there were foreclosures, bank holidays, bank closings, massive unemployment, starving families.  Horrible, horrible things.

All those things that happened back then were terrible.  But we've learned, right?  Because we wouldn't do these things again:

1) Be a homesteader with little or no money down, regardless of the ability to pay!
2) Trust the Feds to determine the safety of agriculture in unknown territory!
3) Get rich quick in the wheat market!
4) Buy lots of stuff on credit!
5) Don't worry about your money, it's safe in the bank!
6) When things get bad, maybe the Feds will give you some food or a crappy job.  Paid for by other taxpayers who may be in the same situation as you, or worse, but refuse to rely on government handouts.
7) Don't worry about where the money is coming from.

So, did we learn anything, I mean ANY frekking thing, from our not-so-distant past?

1) Swap "homeowner" for "homesteader".
2) Replace "agriculture" with "GMO's" or "Roundup".
3)  Replace "wheat" with "stock market" or "house flipping".
4) No change here.  Except now we're buying iPhones.
5) No change here either, except the Fed's "guarantee" your deposits up to $250K.  Never mind the fact they'll just reimburse you with money printed out in the latest QE Scam therefore making everyone's money less valuable.
6) Same here.  But now you can get a free cell phone!
7) Don't worry about the $16 trillion in national debt.  Too many numbers to comprehend anyhow.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.  Turn on your reality show, eat your frozen meal & pay your taxes.

So now we're back to the foreclosure "crisis", the unemployment "crisis", the threat of a Bank Holiday.  But that would never happen here!  Could never happen here!