Thursday, April 28, 2011

Saving it for Later - Wild Onions

We’ve had an insane amount of rain this past week, but today we were spared the precipitation and had a sunny, albeit windy day.  Perfect time to pull some of the onions out of the front lawn:

I’ll use the fresh bulbs like garlic and the tops like chives.  But since I just can’t see using the billions of onion tops in our yard this spring, I figured I’d dehydrate some of them for use later in the season.
The bulbs themselves taste more like garlic than onion.  The middle part is pretty much too tough to eat, so I just use that part in soup or stews (and toss them when done), and the green tops have a very, very strong onion flavor.  But after dehydrating the tops, they lost some of their “oomph” and had a very mild, pleasant onion taste.

I’m hoping to do some more dehydrating this year, especially if I can get my herb garden as large as I’d like it.  I really like herbal teas so I’m planning on putting in a bunch of mints.  Since they are such a prolific plant, I was thinking of keeping them somewhat contained by planting them in tractor tires.  Now I just have to find some more tires! 
Or I can just steal the tires from the goat pen as they don’t seem to appreciate them.  Who would have thunk it?  Goats not jumping all over huge tractor tires. 
Ungrateful little buggers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eating the Weeds - Poke

More weed’s for dinner!

We had goat ribs in BBQ sauce, homemade bread, poke sautéed with butter/onion/garlic and corn for supper.  With the exception of the canned corn, everything came from or was made right here.  Ain’t that the greatest feeling?
Poke is one of my favorite spring wild greens.  I was introduced to poke several years ago by a dear friend, Rita.  She showed me some thick weeds starting up from her old garden area, handed me a knife and showed me which plants were poke & which were good (young enough) for eating.  She then had us over for dinner, which included the poke we gathered that afternoon.  After that, I was hooked.  Unfortunately we still lived in the suburbs at that time and I didn’t have any place to gather wild poke, so it didn’t grace our dinner plates for quite some time.
Once we moved here, I had several opportunities to gather poke.  In my real estate selling days, there would be times I would be showing raw land and end up coming back from our walk with a bag full of poke.  Got a few strange looks from a few of my clients, but I just couldn’t give up an opportunity to gather some.
Poke loves popping up in disturbed soils, and goodness knows we’ve been disturbing the land around our place lately, so I was hoping for a great harvest this year.  But there were only about a dozen more plants.  I guess I shouldn’t complain as it’s a dozen more than I had last year.
Poke should be gathered in the spring, just as the shoots appear or before the leaves get too big.  I try to gather them before the plant gets taller than 12”, but I’ve been known to pick the smaller leaves off taller plants. 
This plant is a little too large for harvesting, so I let it be.

Take the young leaves off the stalk & wash them off.  I start a pot of water to boil and toss the leaves in there for five minutes.  Then I drain off that water, add some more water and bring to a boil again for another five+ minutes.  Drain the water again & then add your preferred seasonings.  Like most greens, you need a lot of fresh leaves to make a meal of them as they shrink considerably. 
All these leaves made the teeny bowl in the first picture.
Poke is also known as Poke Weed or Poke Salad.  I try not to use the “Salad” part when I talk about it because it can be confusing; you definitely don’t want to make a traditional lettuce/greens salad using raw poke leaves.  Not sure how much raw plant you’d have to ingest to make yourself sick, but they are listed as being poisonous unless cooked in two changes of water.  And you also don’t want to eat the stalks, roots or berries.  I’ve read in several books that even a few poke berries could (have?) killed small children.

As always, make sure you have a positive ID on your wild food and don't assume that since one part of the plant is edible that the entire plant is good eating.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monsoon Monday

Well, since I finally got my tomato and pepper seedlings planted last week, figures we’d get rain.  Normally this is a good thing.  But we’ve been getting drenched for the past three days and the weather gurus say we’ve got another two days of it.  We’ve had the tornado sirens go off two or three times this weekend and our area is under a Flash Flood Warning.  A guy from Southern Missouri was swept away in his car when he tried crossing a wet-weather bridge (big no-no) and drowned.  The White River is also being watched very carefully.  We had record flooding on the White three years ago and it destroyed dozens of homes on the river.  This series of storms is making everyone nervous.
Although our home is far enough from the lake and river to avoid flooding, we’ve got our own moisture problems here nonetheless. My raised beds are totally saturated.  My turnips, which finally popped their little heads out of the soil last week, are now covered in a slurry of mud and water.  The peas, tomatoes, onions and peppers are still holding their own.  For now. 
There is a standing pool of water by the front porch…..
….and the little creek down the hill, which you can normally only hear on a quiet night, is a roaring river.  I went outside this morning to feed the goats – in between cloud bursts - and swore there was someone with a truck or some sort of mechanical equipment on our property.  But the low rumbling noise was the sound of the swollen & rushing creek.  Creepy.  Neat, but still creepy.  And again, far enough away that flooding isn’t an issue.
The goat pen has become poop-soup and you can’t go out there without proper wading attire......

The goats are also stinking up the loafing area in the barn, because goodness knows, the rain would just kill them.  They also run to / from the barn to / from the hay feeder between rain storms.  Lots of pushing and shoving to grab as much hay as they can, as quickly as they can, then make a mad dash back to the barn, pushing and shoving again to get the “best” spot.  Not exactly sure where the best spot is, although I think it has more to do with the fact that somebody else is in that spot and not necessarily the comfort or dryness of the actual spot.
The chickens aren’t fairing much better, although at least they will eventually tire of hiding from the rain and venture out from under the barn.  So where did the term, “Madder than a wet hen” come from?  They are definitely wet – more like soaked – but none of them look particularly pissed off.
Not that I should really blame any of them for their antics.  I’m sitting dry and cozy at the kitchen table, sipping a cup of hot tea and typing on my laptop, unhindered by the relentless rainstorms outdoors.
That is until I have to don my raingear to do evening chores.  And hopefully avoid being struck by lightning or being sucked into the mucky mess of poop-soup.
At least this is a legitimate excuse to put off mowing the lawn for another week.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eating the Weeds - Henbit

Well what da ya know?  I’ve got more edibles in my front lawn.  I’d call it grass, but since less than a quarter of the greenery is actually a grass, I’ll just call it lawn.  Sounds more formal too.
Anyways, before we mow the lawn for the first time this year, I wanted to try and identify all of the non-grass species growing rampant in the front yard.  One weed I noticed a few days ago is called Henbit.  Lo and behold, it’s actually edible!  Yesterday I picked & washed a handful of it, chopped it up and tossed it into my scrambled eggs.  And I didn’t die.  So I figured I’d let the rest of the family in on the green bounty growing outside our doorstep and made everyone egg burritos with wild onion and henbit for breakfast this morning.
The general consensus is that it tastes pretty bland.  I thought it tastes kind of like parsley, with maybe a slight hint of pepper.  At least it looked good in the eggs. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Goat Logistics, Part 2

Our last two large square bales of hay pretty much, well, sucked.  There was so much straw in them that the mule even turned her nose up at a lot of it.  Don’t even get me started how much was wasted by the goats.  I’ve been able to pick up the unacceptable parts from the goat manger and use it as bedding for the chicken coop and as a top layer in the goat kidding stalls, but it still drives me nuts that we got such crappy hay for the money.
The feed store only had small squares of alfalfa hay available…..for $10.50 a bale!  No way was I going to pay that.  So I’ve been really working on giving the goats some time in the backyard pen where there is plenty of green to munch on.  Not only because I’m trying to reduce their hay consumption, but because they will benefit from the fresh greens.  I don’t want to put everyone down there at once so I’ve been giving them turns; two goats per day and everyone gets down there every other day.  Well, almost everyone.  Annette isn’t too keen on being moved as her kids aren’t bright enough to follow her to the back yard with me so she just yells & yells for her babies instead of munching grass.  So I’ve been cutting some grass for her and giving her some “alone” time with a bucket of fresh cut greens in the kidding pen.
Paul is planning on putting up some cattle panels in a few other green areas on the property as temporary grazing paddocks.  Unless there is inclement weather in the forecast, they’ll just spend the night in those paddocks so I won’t have to drag everyone back & forth to / from the goat barn.  I don’t see them spending more than a week in the temporary areas, not only because they’ll probably chomp down all the greenery, but because I really want to try and reduce their parasite load by rotating their grazing area.  I’m assuming that their worm problem stemmed from the fact that they had been living (and poop’n) in the same area for over a year.
Paul has also marked off the perimeter of a larger area of woods that we’ll eventually (hopefully this spring) enclose with permanent goat fencing.  I’d even like to have the larger area sectioned off into four separate sections so we can continue with the rotational grazing system.
In the meantime, I guess we’ll be on the lookout for some decent hay.  Going to be tough though as it’s been a long time since the last cuttings were baled last year and this year’s grass isn’t ready for haying yet.  I’ve considered giving the goats alfalfa pellets in lieu of hay until we can get fresh stuff, but I haven’t figured out how much to give (or how much it’s going to cost).  The alfalfa will definitely be better for the pregnant and milking goats, but I wonder how they will adjust to getting pellets instead of their usual fare of hay.

Friday, April 22, 2011

No HUD housing here!

It’s birdie time around Krazo Acres! 

The turkeys are gobbling up a storm, we saw our first hummingbird yesterday (and put out the hummingbird feeders), my sister's Silkie has gone broody and setting on three eggs and our resident pair of Phoebes have finished building their nest.  For the past four, maybe even five years they have built a nest on the beam underneath the roof on the back deck.  Although they haven’t had the best of luck raising young the past two years.  Last year a strong storm knocked the nest and eggs off the porch and the year before I caught a black snake in the process of devouring the young.  I was hoping that they would fare better this year.  It’s tough with all the black snakes and our resident felines constantly lurking around so I figured I’d try to keep an eye out for them.

Since I have been neglecting taking pictures for the past few posts, I figured I’d take one of the Phoebe nest and add it to todays bird-blog.
I can’t really see inside the nest so I just took shoved the camera up close to the nest and took a few pictures.  When I downloaded them to the computer, here’s what I saw:

Four Phoebe eggs and a Cowbird egg! 
Cowbirds are brood parasites; they lay their eggs in another bird’s nest and let the surrogate parents brood and raise their young.  The cowbird egg will probably hatch sooner and will be competing with the Phoebe’s chicks for food. It’s also possible that the cowbird chick will kick the other eggs or chicks out of the nest.
Normally I’m not one that likes to mess with Mother Nature, but I just had to do something for “my” Phoebes this year.  I mean, come ON!  One year a wind storm knocks your nest & eggs over, the next year a snake strangles and eats your week-old chicks, and then the following year a stupid cowbird chick is taking food from your chicks.
Now I have to decide what to do with it. 
Chicken food?  Teeny-tiny omelette? 
Hmmmm……I do have an incubator.
Paul's Take
If she incubates that chick I'm going to kill her.  Don't we have enough livestock to take care of without hatching out a parasatic bird?  Then what do we do with it?  I bet she doesn't even know what it eats.   Then we'll be raising maggots or mealworms or something so it can be fed.  Yep, raising grubs......that's what I'm here for.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Thursday Already??

Wow has this been a busy week.  Although admittedly there are things that I have been putting off and now I’m having to run around trying to get them done.  My poor seedlings have been screaming to get planted into some real soil and I’ve only managed to get about a third of them into the raised beds.  I’d like to put the eggplant, some peppers, tomatoes and new berries into the berry garden, but we still have to put up the rails and wire.  There’s no way I’m going to plant seedlings that I’ve pampered for the past eight-plus weeks into a garden where the baby goats are known to roam around. 
And then there’s the fact that every single farm animal seems to have some sort of ailment, attitude problem or just being uncooperative.  Sickly goats, egg-bound hen (just wait for that blog post) and Nugget still only has one “nugget”.
Annette’s fever has gone down, although she’s still not 100%.  She’s had five straight days of probiotics and she still has five more days of antibiotic injections to go and I’m afraid before it’s over she’ll never want to get on the milk stand again (that’s where I give her the injection). 
Two of Nettie’s doelings have had scours the past two or three days, although it’s starting to clear up.  Not sure why all three didn’t have it.  Maybe they got into some goat-unfriendly patch of weeds or they’ve just been eating too many fresh greens too quickly.  I did see at least one of them snacking in the chicken feed pan which includes all of our leftovers.  Probably not “Goat-Mom Approved” foodstuffs.  They also got two doses of probiotics.
Nettie’s eyelid color hasn’t really improved at all.  I’ve wormed her with two different types of wormer and have been giving her Red Cell for four weeks now and I was hoping to see some improvement.  I’ve also been giving her Vitamin B injections.  Ideally she’d be getting Fortified B Vitamins, but the morons at the FDA have made some stink about Vitamin B and are not allowing the manufacturers to make anymore.  Everyone is out of it and there is no telling when, if ever, they will be able to get any. 
So I finally had a fecal done on Nettie and Annette.  Why is it that when you’re out with the goats they poop every fifteen seconds, but when you need to get a fresh sample from them they suddenly become constipated?  I was following goat butts with a zippy bag for what seemed like eternity before they cooperated.  I initially collected samples for Nettie, Annette, Ishtar and Cloud, but after finding out the tests were going to be $16 a pop (or should I say a “poop”?) I decided that the most important ones would be for Nettie and Annette.  Note to self: Buy microscope and learn to do fecal tests.
Annette came back “clean”.  Nettie’s sample had five pinworm eggs in it.  The vet said that it wasn’t anything to worry about as long as she gets wormed for them soon, so I’ll be going back to the feed store to get some wormer specifically for pinworms.  I was kind’a relieved that neither of the samples came back with a heavy worm load, but it still is making me wonder why Nettie is still looking anemic.  I’ve also started giving Nettie grain three times a day with a top dressing of rice bran and BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) in hopes that she’ll start to put some weight back on.  I’ve also debated drying her up once here kids are weaned or sold.  I’ll miss the extra milk, but I’d rather see her put her energy into gaining weight instead of producing milk. 
Besides, I’ll still have Annette, Ishtar and Cloud for milk.  Well, I will have milk eventually.  I haven’t been milking Annette because she’s on the antibiotics, Ishtar isn’t due to kid for another eleven days and Cloud’s kidding date is another month after Ishtar’s. 
Got Milk?  Well, sort of, not really, eventually………..

Monday, April 18, 2011

Goat Fever

Saturday morning Annette didn’t finish all of her breakfast and wasn’t acting as lively as usual.  So I kept an eye on her and by time Noon rolled around, she didn't seem any perkier.  I put her on the milk stand and took her temperature.  Normal goat temps are from 101.5 – 103.5 and hers was at 106.5 - not good, not good at all!  So I kept her on the milk stand while I ran into the house to get a needle and syringe filled with 3 mL of Oxytetracycline and administered the antibiotic sub-cutaniously (under the skin as opposed to in a vein or in the muscle).  By evening her temperature had dropped to 103.6, although she still didn’t finish all of her grain.  She did, however, seem to have enough energy to head-butt Chop Suey out of the way when I brought out the raisins.
Two years ago we lost a doe just a week after her first kidding.   It was a rough kidding for her and she never did accept her kid.  Lucky for us, Nettie was more than happy to adopt it - I didn’t really want to be raising a bottle baby.  Anyways, the doe wasn’t acting real happy even after a few days of extra grain, electrolytes and probiotics.   I eventually took her temperature and was aghast that it was 106!  Why the heak didn’t I do this before?  Of course, it was a Sunday and I couldn’t get a hold of a vet nor even get to a store that had some sort of medication that I could give her.  But it was probably too late even if I had gotten an antibiotic into her system.  I had just waited too long and her temperature kept rising.  I tried to get fluids down her and even cool her down with wet towels, but it was just too late.  Her body was shutting down and she was in pain.  Paul put her out of her misery.
Sunday morning she was still just picking at her feed.  I gave her another shot of antibiotic and some probiotics and checked her temperature.  The thermometer read 106, 107, 108, 109…it went up to 111!  So of course I totally freaked out!  I checked it again; same results.  I don’t know at what point a goat just up & keels over, but it seemed to me that with such a super-high fever that she should be, well, dead.  I called one of my vet friends (who doesn’t treat livestock anymore, but is always more than happy to talk to me about stuff) and she asked the usual questions:  when did she give birth, any cuts or abscesses, any bleeding, eating, drinking, etc.?  She also said I was doing basically what she’d suggest (giving antibiotics, electrolytes, probiotics, etc.) but a fever that high definitely justified an emergency vet visit.  Of course, it was Sunday.  Why do bad things always happen on a day when no vets are around????  I couldn’t really give her any more antibiotics yet and I didn’t have any Banamine (and you need a vet prescription to get it) or baby aspirin to help reduce the fever so I ran into town to get the baby aspirin.
On my mad-rush to the drugstore, I had a few minutes to think.  If Annette’s temperature was really that high, why wasn’t she down?  Why was she still walking around and eating and chewing cud?
Light bulb goes on.  What if the thermometer wasn’t working properly? 
So I get back home to Annette who is still walking around with a supposed 111 degree fever, give her a baby aspirin cleverly disguised in the middle of a prune and go inside to find a different thermometer. 
And guess what?   103.8 reading from the new thermometer.  And the old thermometer?  108, 109, 110, 111, 112….E.  As in Error. 
She’s still a bit on the high side, especially since she’d been in the barn where it was much cooler, but definitely not “Oh my gawd my goat’s going to cook to death!”. 
So, what lessons have I learned from this ordeal?  If something seems like it just can’t be (such an insane-high temp with a still-walking-around-goat), maybe it really isn’t what you think it is.
I will be keeping two digital thermometers on hand now and will also be buying another older style mercury thermometer.  We have both types for us, but we keep separate medical supplies for the animals (you know, it’s not like I’ve been sticking the thermometer under the goat’s tongue if you catch my drift).
I will keep a supply of baby aspirin on hand as well as asking my vet for a prescription of Banamine.  Also going to go through my livestock medicine cabinet to see if there are any missing “essentials”.  You may think that you’ll probably never need some of these meds, and that they will just sit in your cabinet (or fridge) until they expire and you have to toss them, but trust me, it’s worth the fifteen or twenty dollars a year in expired medications to have those items on hand right when you need them.
We’re not out of the woods yet.  Annette still isn’t acting quite normal although her temperature was 102.7 this morning.  I’ll keep up with the antibiotics for the full ten days and continue giving her some probiotics to keep her rumen going.  And I’ve got some researching to do to see if I can figure out what it is that caused the fever in the first place.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Egg'n on the Neighbors

Rhiannon and I went out for a buggy ride and egged houses yesterday morning.  No, not egging as in winging them at residences, but delivering eggs to a few of the neighbors.  Namely, those who live right around the pasture where we keep Ms. Melman and Nugget. 
Earlier in the week, our neighbor up the road drove down here to tell us that Nugget was out of the pasture; the least I could do was give him a dozen eggs (and he’ll probably be getting more).  And since we were wheeling around the neighborhood, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to drop off some eggs to the other neighbors along with our phone number just in case they saw one of the equines outside of their pasture.
As much as we like to think of ourselves as self-proclaimed hermit wanna-be’s, we also know that good neighbors are priceless.  Even if your closest neighbor is a half-mile or more up the road it pays to be friendly.
We’re lucky to have great next-door neighbors.  Before we even officially moved in here, they came down to say hello and introduce themselves when they saw my vehicle come down the road.  Although I guess it’s not only being neighborly, but making sure there wasn’t any funny business going on.  There are only two houses down this stretch of road, so if the neighbors don’t catch somebody going down the road, we do as we’re at the end.  Most people are just driving around and either don’t realize (or don’t care) that this is our driveway and not a county road. 
We’ve also traded farm duties with our neighbors when one of us manage to get away for a day or two.  They know our animals and we know theirs, so it isn’t much trouble at all to walk up the road and take care of everyone.  And as anyone who has livestock or pets knows, having a dependable pet (or chicken) sitter is priceless.
Do you know your neighbors?  Shouldn’t you know more about your neighbors?  I’m not necessarily suggesting that you have to be all buddy-buddy with them because goodness knows there are always “those” kind of people you don’t really gel with or just plain can’t stand.  But that’s still not a reason to have no idea who they are.  Know thy “enemy”, right?
I’ve heard it told by many people who’ve moved from the city to the country that they knew less about the neighbors that lived fifteen feet away from them than their new country neighbors that live a mile away.  Strange, isn’t it?  Maybe it’s because when you live in such a crowded environment you subconsciously try to find that seclusion by “hiding” from the city neighbors instead of socializing with them.
Or it could be that country folk are just so darned starved for non-animal company that they’ll latch onto any other Homo sapien within a five-mile radius.
Or they'll start a blog.  Hmmmmmm.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yer Nugget's Loose

Paul has been on vacation this week and he’s been busting his butt digging holes for my garden fence.  He got up early yesterday (again) in hopes of finally finishing the digging part of the construction, but was cut short when one of our neighbors drove down here to tell us Nugget (the mini-horse) was out of the pasture and at the house next door.
So off he went to round up the little bugger.  Nugget was contentedly grazing in the neighbor’s front yard.  Probably because the grass was greener over there.  He’s been pushing on a section of fence and it finally gave enough that he could slip underneath and out of the pasture.  Paul spent the next few hours reinforcing the fence with a couple extra t-posts and a string of barbed wire at the bottom in attempts to deter any more diabolical escape plans.
Paul came home, grabbed a quick lunch and went right back out to work on the post holes.  He was out there another hour or so when the fire pager went off – and off he went.  Didn’t get home until 6:30 and of course was exhausted, so that was the end of post hole digging for the day. 
My day was nothing as exhausting, nor exciting, although it was kind of sad.  I had finally placed an ad in the local paper to sell some of our goats and I got “the call” today. 
A lady was interested in Stormy, the Nigerian mix doe.   She already has a Nigerian doe and a buck and wanted another doe.  Apparently she isn’t going to be milking them (or eating them) but will be using them for entertainment purposes – she has sixteen grandkids!  And apparently the goats are the most exciting thing about going over to grandma’s house.  So I gave her Stormy’s records (d.o.b., vaccination and worming schedule, etc.) and we loaded the little black and white goat into the back seat of the woman’s car.  Paul, Rhiannon and I waved goodbye as they both drove away.  You could still hear Stormy with the car windows rolled up.  Hope that lady had earplugs!

So we’re “down” to eleven goats now.  That is, until Ishtar and Cloud have their kids. 
Paul's Take
Why do I even take vacation?  It's not like I get to do anything fun or relaxing.  And of course, once I start a project around here, there's always something else going on...... horse, mule, goats, chickens escaping from whatever enclosure they are supposed to be in, kids need their horns burned off, somebody starting a brush fire and it ends up going through the neighborhood......
This is why nothing ever gets finished around here. 
Next time I take vacation I'm not telling Carolyn.  I think I'll take the truck to "work", then just sit in the cab and sob for a while.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Goat Logistics, Part 1

Since the grass has started greening up (and probably could use a mowing), I moved Ishtar and Chop Suey to the back yard for some munching time. 

The rest of the goats and their kids are still in the goat yard.  Well, at least the moms are in the goat yard.
Nettie’s three doelings have taken it upon themselves to start roaming around the property.  My blueberry bushes are going to be sticks if we don’t get the garden fence up soon.  At least they occasionally find other greenery to chew on (like the daylilies, the iris, the forsythia, the tulips……).  They have also been eating grain every morning and although I haven’t actually seen them chewing cud yet, they must be as they consume quite a bit of hay and fresh greens now.
Annette’s buckling kids are six days old today and I think it’s past time to have them disbudded.  Can’t wait to tell Paul that he’s going to have to help me with that today. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Best Things in Life Aren't Things

Yesterday we made one of our bulk foods shopping trips.  It’s an hour and a half drive one way, so we don’t go but two or three times a year and when we do go, the car or truck is heavy with groceries.  Our pocketbook was much, much lighter.
I sometimes consider going back to work……for like ten seconds.  But the thought does cross my mind often as the extra income would be most welcome.  We had to make some major financial adjustments when we decided to move to our homestead - our income has literally been cut by 70% since we left the city.  And things aren’t 70% cheaper down here.  Most groceries are actually more expensive, especially the fresh items.  The only things that are cheaper here are property taxes and home prices, but since those were the two items that sucked the biggest portion of income from our wallets, it still made sense to move. 
But the biggest reasons for our move weren’t monetary in nature; if they were, we really screwed up.
We wanted a place with some elbow room.  Trees and hills and peace and quiet.  Some place where we could raise livestock without having to worry about conforming to some silly homeowner’s covenant.  A place where we could till up a huge patch of land and teach Rhiannon how to raise a garden.  Somewhere one could plink tin cans with a rifle and not have the cops show up at your door and arrest you for possessing a firearm.  A place where I could run outside in the middle of the day in nothing but my underwear, flailing my arms about and screaming at a baby goat that was munching on the leaves of a newly budded apple tree.  (Sorry about the mental picture.)
You can’t put a price tag on everything.  And even if you did slap a sticker on things like that, I wouldn’t sell it to you for twice that!
Well, maybe that baby goat……
So why do we do this?  You know, why do we do things the “hard” way.  Why give up a great-paying job to move to a hick town?  Why raise your own chickens when you can go to Walmart and buy one already butchered, plucked and packaged?  They also have eggs and milk and bread there you know.
I guess some people just don’t get it.
But then again, they don’t have to get it.  Just like I don’t have to get why someone would pay $4.50 for a cup of coffee every morning or want to live in a neighborhood where you’ll be fined for raising a chicken.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Avian Idol

Woke up around five this morning.  Nothing new for you real farmers, but I don’t do mornings.   Anyways…
One of the reasons I was up so early today is that we were able to sleep with the windows open last night.  So not only were we lulled to sleep by the sounds of crickets, peepers and the whip-or-will, but there was a cool breeze blowing.  What a wonderful way to end a productive day.
Then this morning, I was awaken by the sounds of our resident Barred Owl chatting with his owl neighbor.  A few minutes later I heard the soft pattering of rain on the roof and that wonderful cool breeze came through the windows again carrying the smell of a fresh spring rain.
The precipitation didn’t last but a few minutes and a short while later, the rest of the avian crew were waking up.  The whip-or-will gave us a few more chorus lines before turning in for the “night”, and every time the Barred Owl gave a big “whooot”, you could hear the turkeys gobble back.
Cardinals, Robins and a myriad of other songbirds that I can’t identify were belting out their ditties, each seemingly trying to out-twitter the others.  Oh, and don’t forget the roosters.  Charming as they are, it just isn’t the same waking up to a rooster’s crow.  The songbirds will gently nudge you awake, while the roosters just up and belt out a cock-a-doodle-get-the-heak-up-you-lazy-twit and you jolt from your peaceful slumber.
I love living out here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Twelve.  10 + 2.  Dozen. 

However you write it, we now have two more goats that we did just this morning.  And Krazo Acres is now at a dozen goats.  And there are still two more goats that need to kid.

At what point do you consider someone a freaky-goat-person?  If you came up to me five years ago and told me that I'd have a dozen goats in my yard I'd say that you were nuts.

Turns out I'm the one who's nuts. 

Annette's due date was today and she kidded right on schedule.  She started being really vocal around Noon today and I was in and out of the barn with her for about four hours before she really started getting to it.  Thankfully Grandma came over to watch Rhiannon so I could focus all my attention on the pending kidding.

I guess I could have just stayed in the house up until right before she started hard labor because I've had the baby monitor on, but she was being such a baby.  I had locked her in the kidding pen at Noon and she just cried and yelled and bellowed until I came back out there and sat with her.  So I read quite a few magazines, swatted about two dozen wasps, cleaned up every last goat turd in the stall and tried my best to comfort Annette during her contractions. 

It only took about a half hour from the time she lost her plug to her pushing out her second kid.  The first one was presented correctly and the second one had one leg forward and one back.  Before I could get in there and pull the other leg out she gave one last hard push and he was out.

Of course, we all hope for doelings, but these were both males.  I'd be more dissapointed except they are so darned cute!  I'm not sure what you'd call the color the second buckling is, it almost looks like he's black with silver / brown frosted tips and a white-tipped tail and little white hat (just like the father). 

Anyhow, it was a pretty smooth kidding.  They both stood up quickly and started nursing before I knew it.  Not sure if boys are faster at walking / nursing, but Nettie's doelings didn't get going as quickly as these little guys did.

Two kidding down, two more to go.

Back to your regularly scheduled farm blog

Annette’s due date is today.  Her ligaments aren't quite gone, but definately "going" and she’s definitely cranky when I touch here sides or back end.  When she was on the milk stand eating supper yesterday evening, I even felt one of the babies roll around.  Hopefully she’ll kindly wait until Friday so Paul can be here for kidding. 

When I was out in the goat yard feeding everyone, a huge opossum just sauntered through the fence, looked right at me, then went into the chicken coop.  Of course, I didn't have a firearm on me (bad, bad homesteader) so I ran into the house and got the .22 rifle.  Luckily there weren't any chickens in the coop, but he did managed to eat one egg in the minute and a half it took me to get the rifle.  He would have made a quick dinner of Christine's Silkies if he managed to make it up and over the wall to the other side oft he coop.  He is now composting in the back forty.
Rhiannon and I were working outside yesterday and I finally got some of the onion starts and pea seeds in the raised beds.  Late, but better than never I suppose.  Going to try and get out there again to plant some of the carrot and turnip seeds.
Most of my indoor seedlings are doing well, although the cabbage are still very spindly looking and not sure what I’ll do about them.  And even though I told myself that I was going to start the squash seeds directly outside this year, I couldn’t help myself and started some in the jiffy pots last week.  They sprouted in just a few days and are already towering over the pepper seedlings that I planted over a month ago. 
I also read about starting sweet potato slips and think I’m going to try it this week.   Technically it’s late in the season to be starting slips, but I figured I’d try anyhow.  Anyone every start slips like this?  And can you grow them in hay in tires like "regular" potatoes? 

Paul brought home some huge old tractor tires from work last year and the ones that the goats haven’t confiscated for their jumping pleasure will be used for growing the potatoes this year.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Get OFF the Gravy Train & Plant a Garden

I'm sure you've heard of the phrase, “….a death of a thousand cuts”?  Although the government is draining us of our wealth by those numerous nicks in the form of taxes, fees, permits, etc., we can do the same to it because it works both ways.
But it takes work.  Don’t feed the beast!  And, just as important, don’t take bribes from the beast!  Don’t share in its spoils because those spoils come at a cost. 
I’ve heard the excuses, my favorite being:  “But I’ve already paid into the system, I’m just getting my money back!”  Ok, sure, you’ve had your paycheck pilfered and now you feel that you deserve some of that booty.  But guess what?  That money is long gone.  So you think because you were stolen from it makes it ok to continue stealing from somebody else so you can get some of it back?
The cycle has got to stop.  And it will take selflessness….something that is severely lacking in society today.  In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons our country is in such shambles; everyone thinks that they are still owed something. 
It’s easier on the conscience if you think it’s the “Feds” that you are stealing from when you dip your ladle into the community welfare pot.  But you are stealing from your neighbors, your friends, your community…..your children.
Stop complaining about how you got screwed and instead try to prevent others from being victimized.  And let those leaches that do take advantage of the system know that you don’t approve of their theft.
So, how do we inflict those paper cuts?  What does the beast feed on?  Taxes.  So don’t pay taxes when you don’t have to.  There are hundreds of different ways to avoid taxes and which are perfectly legal (for now, at least).  Shop second-hand stores, thrift stores and garage sales where sales tax isn’t charged. 
Networking is a great way to trade items with friends and neighbors.  Make a party out of it!  Plan a date and place where all the members of your little group will bring in a particular “type” of item, say clothing, building materials, kitchen gadgets, veggies, etc. and have your own little market day.
Grow a frekking garden!  Yes, I know you hear everyone talking about this now.  But there’s a good reason for it……you need to EAT!  And why spend money at the grocery store (and pay taxes!) when you can supplement some of your grocery shopping at your home.  Being able to grow some of you own food is better than money in the bank!  Can’t eat a dollar or a silver coin.  Container gardens are small enough for apartment dwellers.  You don’t need 40 acres and a mule to garden!  Go over to Girl Gone Gardening and see all the neat things Nickie does on her little plot of heaven!
Reduce, reuse, recycle & repurpose!  Stop buying plastic zippy bags (and paying sales tax on them) and tossing them after you finished your sandwich - wash them!  Or better yet, buy a reusable sandwich container.  Use the aluminum foil you wrapped your baked potato in for another potato next time or if it’s beyond using, give it a quick wipe & put in in the recycling bin.  Wash that jelly jar out & store herbs or seeds in there.  Use cloth napkins & cloth towels for spills instead of paper products.
So, once again, what does all this have to do with gold?  Well, it has to do with money, or at least trying to save it.  Every little thing you do to become more self-sufficient makes you less dependent on the increasingly-manipulated-dollar.
Spend that “money” on tangibles.  Food, land, equipment, fencing, tools, getting out of debt.  You don’t have to be a farmer and have a herd of milk goats, flock of laying hens and pasture filled with walking hamburger in order to keep your monetary situation in check.  If inflation causes peanut butter to rise to $10 a jar, wouldn’t you be glad if you had your pantry stocked with a year’s worth of it at the $2.50 price tag?  You don’t need to live in the country to make your own bread.  You don’t need to be a gourmet cook to prepare meals other than Velveta Mac & Cheese.  You don’t need Jackie Clay’s pantry space in order to stock up on some rice or canned veggies.
Don’t think you have time?  Then schedule it in just like you would any other thing in your day.  Turn off Dancing with The Stars and bake a loaf of bread (or at least do it while watching the tv).
Save money on your gym membership and work out in the yard, planting fruit trees or working in the raised beds. 
Time to get back to the basics people.  Live more frugally, more simply and learn to enjoy the simple things…… while you still have a choice about it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Seventy-eight years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt  signed Presidential Executive Order 6102, claiming that the nation was in the midst of an emergency so serious that he was going to make owing more than $100 of a particular metal a felony.
What did this Executive Order of Extreme Importance mean?  It meant that if you possessed gold or gold coins worth $100 or more after May 1st of that year, you would be committing a crime.
What?  How could that be?  It’s a gold coin.  A tangible way to hold value, used for thousands of years.  A means of buying food, clothing, housing.  And, most importantly it is a legally obtained, privately owned piece of property.  Or at least it was.
Why would the simple act of having gold in your possession be considered illegal?
Because the Feds said so. 
There were of course some exceptions, but not for the “common” folk.  You had until May 1st, 1933 to turn in all your gold or you would be considered a felon.  You would be “hoarding” gold if you had more than $100 of it in your possession.   And if you were caught in this heinous, vicious, brutal crime, you could be fined $10,000 and put in the slammer for ten years.

Oh, but don’t worry.  The Feds would gladly replace your gold with their paper dollars “equal” to what they said the gold was worth.
What the HELL is wrong with this?  More importantly, have we learned anything since 1933?
Sadly, there are few still alive that remember this.  And even worse is the fact that this isn’t taught to our children. 
So, back to 2011.  Seeing any familiar themes?  Inflation.  Sky-high unemployment numbers.  The Great Depression (Oh, sorry, am I supposed to keep calling it the Great Recession?)  Gold and silver skyrocketing.
Is it any wonder why those precious metals keep going up & up while the dollar keeps going down the drain?  Just in case you’ve forgotten your first lesson in Economics 101; it’s because the morons keep printing more paper money!  Oh wait, we’re calling it Quantative Easing, right?  What are we at now?  QE2, 3 and 4 didn’t work, let’s just keep doing it until it works!  (Actually, I have no idea what QE number we’re at now.)
So what’s going to happen when those pieces of paper start bearing Zimbabwe-type numbers?

People will resort to using the age-old means of trading, and using - you guessed it - gold and silver and other precious metals.  But the Feds can’t have that happen.  And whatever-iddiot-is-in-charge will sign another Executive Order making those of us refusing to use their fiat paper currency into felons. 
So there’s your quick history lesson and  madd-rant for the day.
But what am I supposed to do about it?  What can my family do?
Grow some cucumbers!    Buy clothing at a thrift store!
What the heak do vegetables and second-hand clothing have to do with this? 
I’ll continue my ranting tomorrow.  You’ve been warned.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Since I spent most of the weekend outside working on the yard and spending time with the goats, the indoor housework has been neglected.  It also didn’t help that my Mom hasn’t been able to visit due to a cold.  She’s usually the main reason I clean the house.  And even after I hurriedly tidy up before her arrival, she’ll still manage to wash windows or vacuum the cats or dust the inside of the dishwasher once she does get here.
Since Mom will eventually get better and manage to drop by, I figured I’d better pick up the house.  I wanted to plant some peas in the new hoop houses today, but it was icky, damp, cold and windy so I couldn’t use that as an excuse to avoid cleaning. I hate housework.  Especially with a toddler.  It seems as if I’m picking up stuff every fifteen minutes.  Add that to the fact that we have three cats and a dog and shoes that are always bringing in farm-dirt it seems as if I’m constantly vacuuming rugs or sweeping the floors.  So Rhiannon and I rolled up our sleeves, slung our aprons over our heads and started to it. 

Granted, now that I’m a SAHM, I have more time to do those things.  I also have more time to take care of the animals, make home cooked meals, homeschool Rhiannon (just starting) and work on a garden.  But I also know that some of you do all of these things and have a “conventional” job outside of the home.  I don’t know how you working women and Moms keep a house when you have to be away from said house 50 hours of the week.  You are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Hoop Houses

In our attempt to provide as many home grown edibles as possible, we’ve been expanding our gardening space.  But why just expand the space available when we could also extend the time available for growing?

Technically we bought a used greenhouse from a friend of ours, but it is still in pieces.  Not just because we haven’t had time to put it up, but because we’re still debating on where to put it.  So since Paul put in two raised beds right in front of the house last year, I figured that would be perfect setup for hoop houses.  The framework was already there, we just needed to attach hoops & plastic sheeting.
 We used ½” PVC water pipe and ¾” clamps to hold the hoops in place.  I had an extra sheet of plastic sold as a painter’s drop cloth from my room painting projects last year and it fit perfectly.  Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to attach it to the frame and beds.  In the mean time the plastic went back into the garage. 

Luckily I didn’t figure it out yesterday because it probably would have been blown across to the next county.  The wind picked up last night and we had a storm come through early this morning.  So we went from an eighty-five degree day yesterday to a damp and fifty degrees this afternoon.

Rhiannon and I had a hot cup of tea with our honey oat bread and jam for lunch.  And I broke down and started a small fire in the wood stove to take the chill out of the air.  

I suppose I'll be complaining about the heat next week.